Increasing Nutritional & Psychological Quotients of Children Appearing for Board Examinations

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“A mental marathon like Board examination needs a calm mind, healthy body, correct nutrition and psychological grooming without any stress to sail successfully.”

With board exams round the corner, what matters the most to the parents and students are ‘grades’ though we all configure that grades do not qualify much; but the truth is that everyone wants quantified results of the board examinations and even the environment endorses it as admissions to good colleges and schools are more or less based and biased on the number and percentage game. If you are a parent to a would-be-appearing board exam student or a student experiencing examination blues, you might be trying hard to cope-up with the living realities and stress associated with it.

As rightly told, board exams are like a mental marathon and students need to keep their energy levels up, brains at the sharpest and their bodies free of diseases. During times of such intense exam pressure, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a nutritional diet is very important for the students to keep their stress levels to minimum to help them getting through all of their papers with flying colours, as they work hard for it and they deserve  good results.

Wrong dietary choices can make students feel anxious and slow down their comprehensive thinking process. So, there is an univocal requirement of addressing the nutritional aspect co-opted with psychological grooming for bright young children to ace the board exams in a better manner.

Firstly, lets uncover the reasons and the effects of the Examinations with the coordinated Pandemic on Mind & Body of students appearing for the Board Examinations. Reasons for  pressure during such  time may be due to peer, parents, environmental and above all the students’ expectations from themselves. These have compounded more because of less interactions forced by the pandemic like restricted outdoor movements, online classes, on screen presence more than desired and the fear of unknown in their unconscious minds.

The effect of such pressure as per nutritional & psychological research and studies can be situations like indulgence in stress eating pattern, developing unhealthy eating habits, weight gain and laziness, sleep pattern disturbance, lack of concentration and focus, memory at reduced level, weak Immunity and above all an anxious behavior.

Apropos, what is desired?

To cope up with situations precisely not under control, we have certain corrective measures, which eventually would help students to ace the board exams well as planned; if followed.

Balancing diet with Study Time – When faced with repetitive revisions, nutritional requirement often slides way down on the priority list. But, this is the time when the brain requires the best nutrition fuel.

Students should eat a healthy & balanced diet which is rich with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein-rich foods. Consuming food rich in complex carbohydrate & protein provides brain with adequate nourishment to aid in memory retention and keep energising the brain tissues.

Hence must try…..to have servings of whole grains, pulses, fruits, vegetable, milk, curd, nuts & eggs daily in your diet. Avoid junk, refined and processed foods, eat natural and healthy energy boosters like brown rice, fruits like Banana, Apple, Guava, Oranges, Strawberries, Fatty fishes, sweet Potato, Eggs, curd, flax seeds etc., Eat more protein rich foods like Eggs, legumes (pulses), chicken, dry fruits or nuts, milk, Salmon, paneer, soya products etc. Healthy carbs from sweet potatoes can also help stay energised for longer duration.

Give stress on Food that relieves stress – The stress aspect is there with everyone but how we handle it; can make all the difference. Stress management can be a powerful tool for wellness, since too much stress is bad, there are many strategies, but most important is to understand, what you eat. Food can help tame stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm Dalia or oatmeal boosts level of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other food can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline; stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. 

Here are some stress buster super foods; a must during preparing for the exams…

Eggs – contain choline, a nutrient that is needed for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that impacts the portion of the brain responsible for regulating mood and reducing stress.

Whole Grains – All carbs prompt the brain to make more serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbs, which take longer to digest. Good choices include whole-grain cereals like Wheat, Oat, Ragi, Jowar, Bajra etc. Complex carbs can also help feel balanced by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Dietitians usually recommend steering clear of simple carbs, which include sweets and soda. But in a pinch, these foods can hit the spot. They’re digested quickly, leading to a spike in serotonin. Still, it doesn’t last long and simple carbs can also spike blood sugar, There are better options. So don’t make these a stress-relieving habit; you should limit them.

Oranges – Oranges are one of the best source of vitamin ‘C’. Studies suggest this vitamin can curb levels of stress hormones and also strengthen the immune system. 

Raw Vegetables – Crunchy raw vegetables can also help ease stress in a purely mechanical way. Munching celery or carrot sticks helps release a clenched jaw, and that can ward off tension too.

Dark Leafy vegetables – Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress. One cup of spinach soup or vegetable helps you stock back up on magnesium. Don’t like spinach?…Other green, leafy vegetables too are good magnesium sources. 

Flax seeds – It provides omega-3 fatty acids, which is known to be mood lifting and possibly help in combating depression.

Fatty fishes – To keep stress in check, make choices with naturally fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones. For a healthy supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat at least 100 gms of fatty fish at least twice a week.

Almonds – Almonds are chock-full of helpful vitamins; vitamin E to bolster the immune system, plus B vitamins, which may make you more resilient during bouts of stress or depression. To get the benefits, snack on a quarter of a cup every day.

Warm Milk – Research shows that calcium eases anxiety and mood. Dietitians typically recommend skim or low-fat lukewarm  milk daily.

Overall one has to re-evaluate his/her dietary approach towards exam preparation to beat stress

Strengthening Immune System – Students should avoid having digestive issues and getting cold, mild flue or other unwelcome sicknesses during preparation period. Hence try Probiotic Foods, avoid large meal in one go and take small amount of frequent mealsTo ensure a steady stream of energy, better digestion and a calming effect on the brain, eat intermittently.

Control the caffeine intake (though it soothes your routine) Caffeine leaves you dehydrated and more stressed and restless. This generates insomnia, headache, rapid or abnormal heart rhythm, anxiety and dependency on such hot beverages. Instead sip on green tea or any caffeine-free herbal tea.

Don’t wait for the hunger pangs to arrive as hunger pangs make things worse &may generate gas and stomachacheheadache and make you binge more in your next meal. So, ideal is that take 3 main meals with 3 snacks in between daily. Snack with healthy option like fruits, nuts, seeds or other homemade foods.

Hydration is one of the most important aspect which one thinks that he/she has to drink water/fluid only when he/she is thirsty. It’s not about quenching thirst, it’s about drenching your system with fluids as store house to help other system run smoothly. It is important because it delivers nutrients to the cells, removes constipation, regulates body temperature, prevent infections, improves sleep quality, mood & cognition & supports memory functions. It is advised that one must drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. Water breaks between study timings is important.

Take out enough time to relish your food. Slow down during your meal.   Eat mindfullychew your food nicelyavoid any distraction & Enjoy your meal. After every meal one should feel more fulfilled. It will also refresh & prepare body & mind for long hours of studies.

Meals on Time habit. Always have your meals on time; a routine like everyone follows classes. Never forget your eating and sleeping schedule and never skip your breakfast.Have something within 1 hour after getting up. Eat  last meal as early in the evening as possibleHave 1 cup of warm milk with jaggery & 1 tsp of turmeric powder before bedtimeIt saves time and keeps your mind and body healthy.

Sleep – Never compromise on the sleep aspect. It promotes cognition and memory, facilitates learning, recharges our mental and physical batteries, and generally helps us make the most out of our days. With plentiful sleep, we improve our mental and physical health and it reduces stress and further maintains the routine that is critical for healthy routine functioning. A good night’s sleep can significantly improve mood, concentration and academic performance; It’s a tested fact. Try not to sacrifice your sleep for late-night cramming, It makes the mind irritable. Students should avoid studying until the early hours and must avail a full eight hours of sleep.

Exercise Regularly – Besides changing dietary habits one of the best stress-busting strategies is to start exercising. Aerobic exercises boost oxygen circulation and spur our body to make the much required  feel-good chemicals called endorphins. One must aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. It should not be taken as a wastage of time. Exercises keep children mentally relaxed and calm, helping them study more and efficiently. Even if a student/child is feeling short of time or overwhelmed, he/she must allow themselves breaks. By doing this, you refresh yourself and regain focus on what is required. Neglecting physical and mental health can do more harm in longer run and to the aim & concentration.

Eat well, sleep adequately, stay fit and study smart. Doing and minding all this will boost a non-stop success and requisite grades in the Board exams which every child aims for. Have trust in yourself and must remember that the best is yet to happen.

 Even every parent should take the Board examination of their children as part & parcel of their test. It is the test of grit of the parent’s hard work which they have done paving way for their children, their sacrifices, their grooming and above all expectations of a good future of their children. Try to stay calm & stress free; wear smile. Plan in advance with your child for the future courses of actions and create a distraction free environment for study and be a support system to the child. Take care of them with their daily routine – Eat, sleep & exerciseMust set realistic goals and expectation anduse motivating words to them; They need your friendly support.

MUST HELP “THE FUTURE” PREPARE FOR THEIR FUTURE REALISTICALLY & MINDFULLY.

Anxiety & Worries…. Let’s Help Ourselves with Rudimentary Ways & Nutrition

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Fear of unknown and the same transcending to the mind affecting daily life and physical symptoms like cramps in stomach, unable to concentrate, an unusual heartbeat, sweating abnormally and feeling of sickness may be happening because of the ‘ANXIETY SYNDROME’ and more particularly this might be prominent during these days i.e. Corona times’.

Not getting into the nitty – gritty of the same i.e. Science behind getting Anxious…. Many psychologists have done extensive research work on the subject, and are on it every day. New vistas are opening as to why people are going through this disorder. Science behind it is surely complex.

Getting forced to adapt new norms like masks, social distancing, isolation, online Offices & Classes, compulsory worries from the News updates,  Blurred timelines for the vaccine, Worries regarding finances, Health concerns for elder and old family members staying away and many more other trivial things are bringing this Anxiety… in you, me and everyone.

Avoidance may not help, as we all are socially woven to have concerns alive both for self and others. But what might help is to understand that we have little or no control on what happens with the corona virus or the economy or with our near dear ones…..but what we can control is ‘how we RESPOND to them’.

After interacting with various segments of people i.e. friends, family members, clients and near dear ones….what I prescribe as a friend and well -wisher is to follow the following:-

* Stick fast to a routine….as a timeline sort of… from getting up early in the morning to the good night sleep. It will give a sense of predictability, when everything is changing.

* Prefer doing Yoga & Meditation (Try, it really helps….I have done it and vouch for it…).

* Try to have your meals together, listen to music…..rekindle your youth days, share great and simple life stories with your family…. Be happy for nothing.•

* Take notice of things which make you feel good…try and do things which you thought you could and enjoyed doing that but relegated them for later.

* Avoid those News Channels which used to irritate you even during pre- corona times. Try to see and read something regarding your history….you will feel rejuvenated…..

And lastly some Nutritional take … and advice what I follow and would recommend…

* You may consider to eat foods containing nutrients which help reducing anxiety like Banana, Curd, and Fatty fishes, Eggs, Pumpkins, Mushroom and Turmeric in much quantity than usual.

* If you are experiencing lack of sleep due to Anxiety Vitamin B6 supplement may help as it aids the production of Melatonin, the hormone responsible to aid you in sleeping.

* Also try and include spinach, whole grains, milk, cheese, egg & fish in your dietary habit.

Someone has rightly told, ‘Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you.’… So,Itis your strong will with your sub conscious mind which can provide the wherewithal to sail through this anxiety.

Should We Leave Our Health Audit To Fitness Trackers

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Getting up in the morning and letting the fitness band strapped on the wrist like seen in a sci-fi movie which charts your physical activity 24 x 7 through its sensors and inbuilt monitors; has become a new way of life……. How accurate are these fitness trackers?? Are they driving you to the fools’ paradise or these are just to console that you are monitoring your health. Let’s get into the nuts & bolts of it.

The technology, Artificial Intelligence, Biometrics and other paradigm tech evolutions have even forced to find digitally working pals/assistants monitoring or tracking the body systems’ progress, so that we don’t miss out on the health aspects in this fast pace moving life.  So to start we must know that almost all fitness trackers rely on a heart rate monitor and motion sensors to detect the calorie count and movement respectively.  In a layman’s term; if you work harder……your heart will be pumping more…..so some mathematics and calorie count is up the sleeve on a digital platform; i.e. on a fitness tracker.

The technology is based on pulse oximetry wherein the infra-red light penetrates the skin and looks for changes in the colour of the blood…. the changes are because of increase in heartbeat.

Further these fitness trackers use complex algorithms which analyse the movements or activities.  It’s hard to digest……..but heart rate alone is not an ideal indicator of calorie burn.  In actuals ……Heart rate is proportional to many factors like….. blood pressure, air pressure, temperature, mood, emotions…. so even a fast pace game on your mobiles may give rise to your heart rate. But it is not indicative of calorie burn. Though it is mentioned on the manuals that these fitness trackers entirely do not work on heart rates alone but the latest ones too, have still not proved it…  It charts the pattern derived from our body. It is a machine overall, may be inaccurate; and might keep you happy or perturbed about your gains or losses.

There are various other factors like your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate); the number of calories required for the various physical activities……… your Muscle built…….. your Hormonal balance; as a higher level of testosterone will burn more calories …and many more internal things.

Apropos, in a nutshell, fitness trackers are actually machines doing an audit sort of duty of your physical responses…. the body system is too complicated to bring simple digital feeds of fitness trackers and go ahead with it.

Nothing against these fitness tracker; at least these strap-on devices are giving some inputs which prompt you to find a solution and making you aware of something wrong. But a total dependence on them may land you in trouble, if not augmented with physical activity & self-consciousness of your cognitive mind. These fitness machine trackers may help, but mindful machining will work….

#Mind Your Tongue

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Better healthy eating habits evolve with a controlled tongue… sounds very abstract, but it is. Try taking out your tongue with a neutral movement, you will find that the tongue tends to go up, defying the universal gravitational force; unless you force it downwards …. For those of you trying this at this moment…..It actually works…Yes, our tongue…is controlled by mind…and brain.

Our ability to taste come from tiny molecules released when we chew, drink or digest food; these molecules stimulate special sensory cells in the mouth called gustatory cells which are clustered within the taste buds.

Do we know when does these taste buds develop in our body??…..

When the foetus is just 13-15 weeks old, it can taste different flavours from the mother’s diet. Interestingly, this exposure to the baby in womb inside the uterus via amniotic fluid has a lot of influence on the eating habits of the child when he/she grows up. Also the child’s age wise stage within 6 month to 1 year is very critical in terms of food exposure and development of taste buds. During this time the child recognises taste, texture and appearance of food. If you wisely invest your time during this period in developing good eating habits in your child, then you will carve out yourself from the category of these 8 out of the 10 mothers, who always complain about fussy eating habits of their child.

Once the child attains an age of 2 years… he/she has already developed his/her taste buds. Generally after this age every effort of the parent, to find the right track goes belated… and in vain. So if you want to inculcate healthy eating habits, start early. There is another interesting fact about these taste buds; a child is born with about 10,000 taste buds, but this numerical quantity decreases with the growing age……by the time we reach an age of 50, it decreases down to a mere 40 -50 taste buds alive in women and 50-60 in men. And it is where we become so stubborn with our food habits with the age of 50s setting in.

As it is….it’s daily affair that food preparation which is served on platter, on the dining table is decided on the basis of our taste buds…..that’s why it’s Everyday Decision Vacuum Syndrome…‘What is the food today?’… ‘What to prepare?’

….and the answer is there in our mind; forced by our taste buds…..

It’s not the nutritional value but our convenience and taste that makes us decide our eating practice … Andit percolates down as our habit of eating; i.e. as per our likings and not as per our metabolic requirement.

Somewhere the tongue…. hence, needs to be controlled by our mind…Overall controlling our tongue can make a difference i.e. a disciplined tongue or minding our tongue can do great favours to ourselves in getting absolved in binge eating habits and thus making us healthier, fitter and better….

Just a food for thought…

#WithThePinchOfSalt

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#Namak

Apart from the universal stake on the importance of SALT or NAMAK…; It has left its indispensible requisite image from times immemorial. Be it Romans, who paid their legions; ‘Salt’ as reward for their duty or even the advent of the word salt is understood to be carved out of ‘salary’….. Also…Gandhiji’s Satyagrah and Dandi March breaking ‘Salt Law’ or movies ‘Namak Halal’….. and ‘Sholay’ for ‘Maine to aapka namak khaya hai’….. ‘Namak’ has been an essence of living….

From taste buds to its nutrient requirements … ‘Salt’ if not kept at balanced level ruins the flavour of the food. So lets explore….. what it is?? and how to control this ‘ingredient of nuisance value but important too’…with a pinch of salt.

Firstly… Knowing what it is?? Edible salt is found in different forms vide, Table Salt…..Sea Salt….. Grey, Pink, Black, Red, Truffle …..kosher and many more….. but primarily to understand, it is ‘NaCl’ ….i.e. Sodium Chloride….40% of Sodium & 60% of Chloride….. It is required for adding flavour and is used as binder, preservative or stabiliser. Some claim it contains Iodine, added Anti caking Agents, minerals….. but to a normal mind what needs to be kept in mind is ….. The level of Sodium content…It is this ‘Sodium’ content which is associated with blood pressure or increase in risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Secondly ……. How to know that the amount or pinch of Salt what I am taking is good or bad??….. As per studies an adult should have maximum 6-8 gms of salt per day with a sedentary to mid level active lifestyle with certain exceptions; if you are toiling too hard in Gym or running and dehydrating yourself, quite off and on. Ready to eat food packets Nutrition labels talks of it ..…. take a look on the food / snack packets … to understand it. Now a days colour codes like Red for high, amber for medium & green for low salt levels are also given.

Thirdly…… Presence of added salt in most of food product we buy today!!…Yes…. in terms of preservatives or hidden salt… So in actuals we add up eating more of salt with these types of food; adding up to the agony to our blood pressure levels or the heart ailments.

Fourthly………The science behind taking this Salt in large intake and inviting health issues ……. Precisely Sodium is essential for fluid balance and cellular homeostasis. We, humans require a small unit….. say upto 1.5 tea spoons daily for all of us with a normal working lifestyle of homemakers to working individuals….. for the conduct of nerve impulses. But if it is in excess, the kidneys have trouble in accumulating it….. Then the body tries to hold on water in terms of water retention to dilute the Sodium part of it….This further entails more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels….and that’s all about it’s Science.

Fifthly…… Then How to reduce it?…… So if it is not advisable…. then we can reduce its intake by either….. not keeping the salt holder on the table or….try flavouring the food with pepper, herbs, garlic, spices or lemon to keep a balance..Try including salads in your food palate with somewhat bland taste like radish ..so that every time you take a piece of it your normal salt taste gives you better impulse even if it is less..actually it is something akin to theory of relativity…… it works …..

Try and avoid..the pre packed food elements which looks tempting…especially for kids. Be more nutrition conscious……or Don’t put too much of Soya sauces……it contains lots of hidden salt..…And also….smoke less cigarettes or stop smoking (if you can)…. So as to revigorate your taste buds to normal…..

Lastly ……. Take control of these small pinches of salt….. these small pinches one day convert to mountain from molehill…….Let’s cut down.

Eating Less For Losing More Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Kamaljit, male, 44years, height 170 cm, Weight 94 Kg, having a sedentary lifestyle, 9 to 5 job type work life. He was kept on a very low calorie diet; Eat less and lose more types diet.  Initial results were very encouraging. A feel good weight loss was evident to everyone; 5 kgs in just 25 days. Actually he was kept on a 1200 Kcal diet. Without getting into technical aspect of 1200 Kcal for sustenance of a 94 kg body seems too miser and stringent.

Kamaljit, one fine morning while moving to his office, had a minor heart attack and was rushed to a hospital by his daily cab driver…initial test results and Cardiologists remarks were astonishing. He was saved after spending 15 days in hospital and coughing a sum of 6 lacs as the bill.

Try to understand the science of diet given below. Don’t be in haste while losing weight. If you have taken time to gain those kilos, give some time to lose them too; Even a driver who drives uphill, keeps lower gear to go up and follows the same while coming down.

But let me explain this…..He was consuming less calorie than his BMR. His BMR was 1621.50 Kcal and he was just taking 1200 kcal.

BMR or Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the total number of calories that your body needs to perform basic, life-sustaining functions. These basal functions include circulation, breathing, cell production, nutrient processing, protein synthesis and ion transport. But Kamaljit wanted weight loss at a fast pace and his Nutritionist prescribed him 1200 Kcal diet without considering it and rest everything is history to say the least.

You can calculate the basal metabolic rate using a mathematical formula. If you are looking to reach or maintain a healthy weight may find it helpful to calculate your BMR. You can either find the number using a formula designed by scientists, you can get it tested in a lab, or you can use an online calculator. No method is perfectly accurate, but a lab test will probably give you the best estimate. But since lab tests can be costly, many dieters and exercisers use one of the other two methods to determine basal metabolic rate and/or the total number of calories they burn each day.

The Harris-Benedict equation is often used to estimate basal metabolic rate.

Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)

Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

You can use this information to figure out how many calories you should be consuming to maintain your weight as it is. On active days, you’ll need more calories, so it’s okay to eat a little more than you would on an average day. But on more sedentary days, you may want to reduce your calorie intake. If you want to lose weight, try to stay below your calorie needs or increase your activity level. However, make sure you are eating nutritious meals and not restricting your calories too much – eating too little or losing weight rapidly can be unhealthy and dangerous.

Once you understand the concept of BMR it will help you to reach or maintain a healthy weight first. First you can try to increase your basal metabolic rate, then you can increase the total number of calories you burn each day to help you reach your goal. A combination of factors determines your Basal Metabolic Rate. Genetic factors, age, gender and body composition all play a role. There’s not much you can do to control genetics, age or gender. But you can change your body’s fat to muscle ratio to boost your metabolism. So how do you change your body composition? Build muscle! Even when your body is at rest, lean muscle mass will burn more calories than fat. And you don’t even have to be a bodybuilder to see benefits. Several studies have shown that after just a few weeks of resistance training you may be able to see a 7% – 8% increase in resting metabolic rate.

The total number of calories you burn each day is heavily dependent on your basal metabolic rate. But you can also burn more calories each day by making changes to your diet and activity level. Your basal metabolic rate combined with two other factors can give you an idea of the total number of calories you burn each day. 

  • Basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60%-75% of total calories burned each day. Increase muscle mass to burn more calories.
  • Activity thermogenesis: (non-exercise movement and exercise) accounts for about 15%-30% of total calories burned each day. Increase daily movement to burn more calories.
  • Thermic effect of food: (calories burned from eating and digestion) accounts for about 10% of total calories burned each day. Choose healthy protein-rich foods to make a small difference.

If you can burn more calories than you consume, you will create a calorie deficit or negative energy balance. A calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day should result in a ½ or 1 kg weight loss per week. So cutting the long story short; what should have Kamaljit opted. May be 1800 Kcal diet with mix of some physical activity, better sleep management and a slow but steady weight loss …… to avoid a dangerous health issue later.

The Failing Heart Beats in 40’s

Gone are the times when the heart attacks were only the old age taboo. Every now and then we hear about our near and dear ones collapsing due to heart ailments without giving any signals and time to recuperate. Most of such cases even do not have any conventional symptoms which we hear all through. Once we do the post damage analysis of such cases, it is surprising to find out that many of them were having a healthy lifestyle; may be as we notice superficially. A recent example is Saurav Ganguli, a sportsman, though now mostly living a sedentary life, was fit. 

If we take the face value of such cases falling within age category of 40s, we come across statements like, ‘He/she was a slim & fit guy; How can he/she go through a spell of heart attack’?  But nobody might have noticed that he/she had some morbidities like high blood pressure or diabetes which he/she always took lightly. We assimilate that ‘He/she never smoked or took alcoholic drinks’…. but we forget that he/she might have passively smoked even more in the poisonous polluted urban environment which damages the beta cells of blood vessels more than the actual cigarettes. Such people might have been regular with the caffeinated or aerated drinks during office hours to quench the thirst during breaks, scheduled meetings/ get togethers. Also statements like, ‘He/she was physically fit and was quite regular with his/her exercises, running & cycling etc.’…. but nobody noticed that they never cared about the excessive heart rate pumping because of their physical over exertion that their system was not able to take on. 

One has to understand that with growing age one wouldn’t be able to compete with youngsters flaunting abs in gyms or creating a daily presence on social media showcasing the same. Start slow, be in the grid and never over-exert as one has to understand how much is too much for him/her. But nevertheless, fitness has no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, which is the key of relieving ourselves with heart ailments.

Another statement you might have come across is that ’He/she was vegetarian and never touched meat’…..but may have ignored that he/she was continuously having those packaged food or injected vegetables/ milk products, living in super polluted urban environment.  And similarly, to these facts we might have heard that, ‘He/she was a happy go lucky guy’…. but nobody might have noticed the stress pattern he/she would have groped because of the rat race at his/her work station where one target led to another.

Let’s understand the rudimentary thing about this cardiac arrest situation; it’s a clinical condition in which the heart loses the ability to eject blood to meet the requirements of tissues of the body. Blood flows to heart through coronary arteries; any disturbance in flow in terms of blockage can cause a heart attack. When deposits of fat and other substances build up in the inner linings of the artery, the blood clot blocks blood flow to the heart. Without blood, tissues lose oxygen and these tissues die and thus such attacks happen.

Another contributor is the pseudo killer i.e., stress in your life. When under stress, the brain sends a signal to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells. This causes arteries to become inflamed and thus results in blockage. Stress can also be connected to binge eating, drinking and smoking, creating a vicious cycle for blockages.

Some takeaways…As it is difficult to anticipate that which of our habit in routine can develop further in chronic condition because of our ignorance and poor lifestyle choices; prophylactic dietary intervention is a must to restore the nutritional balance. These include a suitable change in calorie intake to maintain balance between being obese and even malnourished. Choose a diet full of nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts and must cut down significantly on the salt intake and try to introduce other minerals/ herbs substitute in lieu. 

Apart from having healthy balanced diet, we must try to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and invest in an active way of living and getting the screening tests done on yearly basis. For most of us participating in physical activity; such attacks can be avoided to some levels. However, people having medical history of high BP, Diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol etc. must check and be advised before they start becoming more active physically. As you don’t have to be an athlete to be fit. A brisk walk for half an hour every day can help you reach a good level of fitness. You can also aim for at least 150 minutes/week of the physical activity you love to do.

Heart attack in an early age has become a new normal, hence the wellness experts suggest one and all to live a contended and stress-free life and keep a holistic check to situations which bring such conditions. Of various researches conducted worldwide, one aspect which is highly recommendable is, to keep yourself fit…. through healthy diet, physical exercise, living a stress-free life, getting 7-8 hours sleep and keep addressing the rogue symptoms of the body through proper check-ups on yearly basis. We have to bring a full stop or deaccelerate the habits connecting to substance abuse like drinking and smoking and invest in personal hobbies….to live another beautiful day beyond the awesome 40s.

IMMUNITY: THE MOST TALKED ABOUT NUTRITION FAD IN 2020

The year that was worth forgetting but with resolutions to remember the lessons learnt, what the  COVID pandemic has taught us. While all of us, if rewind events like a cassette film, we would shiver and sometimes even laugh at moments we lived in like complete lockdown, the plate saucer banging, lighting diyas, year of  Bollywood drugs shemozzle, Mahabharata & Ramayana rescreening, corona warriors fighting every days war, Rishi Kapoor, Sushant Singh & Irrfan Khan leaving the portals forever, Ads of Dream Eleven Team, Kamala & Biden taking over the world order, Ladakh crisis for the armed forces & the nation, Mirzapur, Delhi Crime & other OTR shows, Lucky Ali’s rejuvenating songs and many such flickers etc. & etc. But the most negative word of 2020 remained ‘POSITIVE’….. COVID Positive.

Most importantly, this year has taken a toll on all those who had some health issues or comorbidities and they left us for the heavenly abode like Pranab Mukherjee, Tarun Gogoi, Amar Singh,  Ram Vilas Paswan, Diego Maradona, S P Balasubramanian, Sean Connery, Saroj Khan, Pt Jasraj, Wajid Khan, Basu Chatterjee, Bejan Daruwala, Alison Lurie, John le Carre, Jagdeep and many more. The prima facie revelations emerge with one thing that year 2020 taught us to revive, rebuild & reinvigorate our IMMUNITY….

So, let’s take a dive into the immunity zest ….. What is immunity???  Immunity is our body’s ability to fight the unwanted foreign elements disrupting its living system by utilizing three distinct layers, depending on the nature of the threat: Physical (e.g. skin, epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts); Biochemical barriers (e.g. secretions, mucus and gastric acid) numerous different immune cells (e.g. granulocytes, CD4 or CD8, T & B cells) and Antibodies (i.e. immunoglobins). 

 Immunity can either be ‘Innate ‘ or ‘Adaptive’. Innate Immunity is something which we are born with  and combine with physical and biochemical barriers with a non-specific, leukocyte-mediated cellular response to fight against pathogens; they kill the germs & forget without transferring the information to other parts/ system.

The other one is ‘Adaptive’… If the pathogens manage to avoid these innate defences, a more complex, adaptive, antigen-specific response is triggered, mediated by T & B lymphocytes, which produce antibodies to target and destroy the pathogens. Our body remembers this foreign hostile antigen…tries to fight with it ( generally takes 14 days) and makes antibodies. Then memorises the antigen’s characteristics and fights with it relentlessly. In the world of Nutrition, Healthcare & Medical Sciences, we have to work hard on this Adaptive Immunity. This can be acquired with Good Nutrition, Stressless Life Style and  Preventive prophylactic Care.

Even during this pandemic, a person infected with COVID, unless with severe complexities was advised to take rest, quarantine himself and improve immunity through vitamining and other prescribed supplements. Those who were aloof from the infections tried hard to do every bit to surge their immunity factor.

With the vaccine for the COVID in light &  almost ready to be injected soon; many of us have even reservation towards being injected. Still the forum of uncertainty is there and we will not be able to completely eliminate the risk of getting infected. But the positive aspect is that even researches have shown that improving immunity with nutrition will make a difference. 

We must include micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) which support the immune system of our body such as Vit A, B, C, D, E & other minerals like Selenium, Iron and Zinc. How these support structures will help reviving our immunity, let’s discuss.

Vit A – It helps in making antibodies which neutralises the pathogens that cause infection. These antibodies fight with the infections as a team. Various respiratory infections like COVID can be fought by maintaining the cell structure of skin, respiratory tract and the gut. Foods like dairy products, egg yolk, liver, nuts, whole grains, fatty fishes, fruits like mango, papaya and even vegetables like carrot, broccoli, pumpkin etc (contain B-carotene which our body converts to vitamin A) help in taking Vit A . 

Vit B – It acts like sentries and conduct the activities of natural killer cells and implode the infected cells in the body. Vit B responds once our body has recognised any pathogen. The important immunity booster Vit B are B6, B9(folate) & B12. We can find plenty of B6 in wheat germ, Green leafy vegetable, peanut, soyabean, pork oat, banana, fish & meat, also B9 or folate in whole grain, liver, sea food, liver, sunflower seeds, beans, peanut, green leafy vegetables and legumes & B12 in meat, fish, milk, poultry, eggs and cheese.

Vit C – This is one of the most important immunity boosters as it stops the inflammation caused by the oxidative stress leading to infection carrying free radicals. It mounts up the immune response. It cleans the infected body system. Citrus fruits (oranges, lime, lemons, kiwi, guava), Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, broccoli are some of the great sources of Vit C. Even Vit C supplements are there in plenty in the market.

Vit D – Our body immune cells carve for Vit D  to destroy pathogens that causes infections. Outdoor exposure (sun) is one of its important sources; Other food sources are milk variants, egg yolk, fatty fish ( salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel), liver and red meat. Even Vit D supplements are there in the market; It is a must for a person who is Vit D deficient. A person with such deficiency has trouble fighting against acute respiratory infections.

Vit E – It works something akin to Vit C as it also protects the cell walls from the pathogens. Important source of Vit E are wheat germ oil, Green Leafy Vegetables, vegetable Oils ( sunflower, safflower, soyabean), peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin and red bell pepper.

Zinc – The immunity cell grows with Zinc and is instrumental in killing the pathogens. It also helps regulating our enzymes to recognise the pathogens. Zinc supplements are generally antioxidants, they clean the damage caused by the pathogens. It is found in whole grains, legumes, shellfish, seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs and meat.

Iron  – It plays crucial role in immune cells proliferation and maturation, particularly lymphocytes, associated with the generation of a specific response to infection. It is found in liver (but avoid during pregnancy), red meat, beans, dried fruits (apricot, dates) and soyabean.

Selenium –  It is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. It protects the body from damage caused by free radicals and infections. It is found in Brazil nut, meat, ham, pork, beef, turkey, seeds, nuts, dairy products and eggs.

There are ways and means, far too many;  to reinvigorate our immune system. These micronutrients help in building strong bunker type defences to fight the foreign elements and these defences are never complete; it’s an ongoing process which requires continuous effort with our age. Let’s our herd make a resolve to be adaptive to the world of antigens, and boost our immunity ; as  this Corona may go….but are we sure that other symmetrical or more dangerous strains will not evolve?

Parenting: Analogy For Some; Metaphor For Many

It was just a matter of time that transformed us from toddlers and adolescents and to young ones and here is a moment in our lives that we start dwelling upon issues related to looking after our own kids, their future and their well being. When did we grow up? Are we prepared and equipped for this role? The important question which arisesq when we log on to the world of parenting which starts immediately after conceiving and shelving the child in our womb is ‘which child are we raising the real child, the child in me or the child of my dreams’? Are we forcing our dreams and expectations on them? Have we forgotten what it felt to us as kids when yelled, forced to do something we didn’t like? Are we creating a next generation for revenge? Let us introspect whether we are moving to the right parenting path or not.

Parents form part of the most ‘defensive’ species in the modern society as everyone wants to inculcate the best ideologies in their children but parenting is actually a wholesome & holistic package of parent’s practical ideologies; As parents, what we do? How do we care? What attitude we wear? How do we appear socially? How do we go along as husbands and wives? How do we treat our parents? How much we are on social media/on screen? What pains are we inflicting on us to raise the kids despite we both as parents are working? As our child grows, the challenges change, so will our thinking also evolve; but our approach should be consistent, firm and loving. It’s important to help our children learn through experience that making an effort builds confidence and to tackle challenges. It’s better to calibrate our expectations so as to what the child is capable of doing independently, rather spoon feeding and forcing or policing him or her.

Parenting is a complicated endeavour with big responsibility. Children notice and grasp the situation faster than even what we endure; they perceive and believe that we are the best mom and dad. They watch us whether we get along well and share affection to each other as parents. In true sense whatever happens between the parents; they should figure out ways and means to get along and must show physical affection. The reflection of parents getting along and their behaviour boomerangs on the child. The child who feels loved evolves with great self esteem and emotional quotient and this minimises chances of them becoming aggressive and groped with other behavioural problems.

Parents must invest quality time with their children. It can be anything; be it any sports, helping with chores, learning with the kid the strings of any musical instrument.   A passionate involvement today with children would surely pay dividends tomorrow because today we may find our busy life cocktailed with the aura of promotions and success a hindrance in giving them time and attention what the child requires but life may come a full circle to find us in soup when we have time and the children wings; and then they would be flying leaving us to have only remorse.

            In their adolescence, we embark upon the child for getting good grades, doing well and make them obsessed with grades and quantifiable.  In actual why should the child succumb to such educational system where he or she is coping up, dummying and getting arrested to tuition culture and coaching mediums to get that quantified grades and not evolve and shape himself or herself to face the exam of variables of life. The child needs to learn to ‘read’ and not to ‘study’. Once they are used to reading and absorbing what they read, automatically they will find studying more interesting with reading the indefinable and in bargain they would be well prepared to be rewarded with good grades.

            One more important aspect is that as parents we must listen to our kids and just not hear them. We must understand their thoughts, fears and concerns as acknowledging children’s thoughts help a child to develop confidence in them later on to take risks and challenges upfront. Our neglect or avoidance and lack of indulgence will initially force him or her to share his/her fears to their friends who may not take the concerns seriously but such prevailing trends would force the child to be docile or introvert and this may percolate down in his nature.         Binomial to this is too much indulgence and getting confused with discipline and punishment. Punishment is all about making kids averse and makes them suffer for their wrong doings while discipline is all about teaching them to be conscious of not doing wrong and be self disciplined to make better choices themselves down the road.  

Overall parenting is an ongoing procedure; a feeling lived every day, a responsibility donned every moment and relished to see part of your own growing with values, grit and success you dream and not thrust upon. They may have their own goals, feelings & hence a commensurate thought process; we are here to teach them how to take decision. As parents we cannot control the end result but at least endure to be better parents if not best to suit the environmental and the kid’s requirement on a parallel axis, so that when they become adults, they have the skills to think long term and also make the best choices in life.

You are not Fat, You have Fat….Melt it….

Rightly told that ‘You are not Fat’….You have Fat. And you have fat because you collected it, grabbed it piecemeal….. unknowingly. Undoubtedly, fatty foods contribute to obesity…. Fat part of the food groups are the most calorie dense of all and if you have a broader waistline it might be primarily because of this calorie dense Fat content. Being overweight and fat has proven to be a risk factor for many diseases including Heart disease. So, let’s melt the facts of this complex biomolecule and understand it…. May be you will be wiser to be cosy with those fat or will try to shed some …..

Fat is one of the most important bio-molecules which provides energy to our body to do any work. Fat is of two types namely Saturated (generally solid at room temperature) & Unsaturated (generally liquid at room temperature). 1 gram of Fat whether Saturated or Unsaturated provides 9 Kcal of energy; Protein & Carbohydrate with 1 gm provides only 4 Kcal of energy. Also, we take nutrients or supplements like Vit D, Vit A, Vit E & Vit K….. its real benefit is translated by fats only because these vitamins are absorbed by fats. So, obviously ‘Fat’ cannot be left aside….It’s a ‘Necessary Evil’. But being wise to choose which fat to eat and which not is the decision dilemma.

Any Fat that is not used by our body’s cells in any work/ workout is converted into body fat; don’t be surprised……even unused Carbs & Proteins turn into body fat…..May be this is the reason, a person with more flabs of Fat is advised to workout more.

Coming back to the nuts & bolts of Saturated & Unsaturated Fat; Saturated Fats mainly come from animal sources as well as some plants, like Palm & Coconut. If we eat meat, sausages, ghee, butter, cheese, cream, chocolate, pastries….we are mostly taking saturated fat part. Second one is Unsaturated; it is abundantly found in oils from plants and fish. Unsaturated fat can be either be Monounsaturated or Polyunsaturated. Mono ones are found in olive oil, nuts (Almond, Peanut etc.) and Polyunsaturated in some fishes, corn, sunflower etc. Mustard oil is a mixture of both Saturated and Unsaturated fat (80% Unsaturated – both Mono & Poly and 20% Saturated).

The real game starts with the entry of another sleeping fat giant i.e. Cholesterol; it is a waxy, fat – like substance that is found in all cells of your body and performs the function of making some hormones, vit D and substances that help in digestion of food…..your body makes all the cholesterol it needs…..But when you  start eating saturated fat in more than RECOMMENDED quantity on routine basis then it starts showing its effect on the body , it raises the LDL (low density lipoprotein) or ‘Bad’ Cholesterol in the body that increases the risk of heart/cardiovascular diseases. As discussed earlier the Monounsaturated (part of unsaturated fat) Fat helps protect your heart/ maintaining level of ‘good’ or HDL Cholesterol while reducing level of LDL Cholesterol. Even Polyunsaturated Fat (Omega 3 & Omega 6) mainly found in some walnuts, oats, fish, flax seed, sunflower oil etc. helps lowering the levels of bad LDL Cholesterol.

Another participant in this flab producing fat game are Trans fats; which are found naturally at low levels in meat, dairy products and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

With these stats and knowledge base; what is the take away ?….

Yes; we surely need to reduce or cutdown the intake of foods & drinks that are high on Saturated Fats and Trans Fats and replace them with Unsaturated players. As per dietary recommendations, a healthy man should not eat more than 30 gms of total Fat and a woman not more than 20 gms. Further adults should not consume more than 5 gms of Trans Fat. See the Nutrition label on the product; Low Fat is 3 gms of Fat or less/ 100 gm or 1.5 gm of fat/ 100 ml of liquid content.

Reduction of Fat content is not a complex issue; it’s simple….the taste increases with every drop of increase of oil, cream, ghee in the food we prepare; but obviously not every part of  the taste is dependent on oil content. The greasy part has to be avoided in routine.

The information given above is not invented, it is just a sharing of facts which I wholeheartedly follow to lead a healthy but not too restrictive life. Being Fat is not your fault but savouring it or having it is …..surely. Because what fatty delicious lip smacking food you eat in private is that you wear as flabs on your body in public.

Decide to be f A t or f I t….. A-Avoid it or I- Instill it……

Ande Ka Funda EGGS; A Complete Food

Ande Ka Funda EGGS; A Complete Food

Egg is one of the few foods that is considered to be containing much more than we can expect from a staple diet. It is supposed to be a power house for protein as it contains all essential amino acids which naturally our body can’t produce on its own.
To understand an egg; the white part is complete protein & water and the yolk part contains minerals like Iron, Vit A, Vit D, Phosphorus, Calcium, Riboflavin, Lecithin, an effective emulsifier and above all proteins like in white part. In a nutshell, Eggs are packed with a wide range of Nutrients which are important for good health; and the most of it is found in its yolk (yellow part)….so be sure to eat the whole egg and not only the white part which most of us think and follow. Even the fat content (5-6 gm in 1 egg) is mostly unsaturated and are known to have omega-3.
The best thing about eggs are that they are quite filling; they will stop you from eating more even if the taste buds are craving and are best when taken as boiled or par boiled or cooked with less oil & salt. An egg, with only 70 calories provides 12% of Vit D, 14% of Phosphorus, 8% Vit A and 15% of riboflavin.
Benefits are many; To include….. Improves brain functioning, weight management, muscle building, bone strengthening, improves mood (B12), protects eyes and takes care of skin glow & hair issues.
But certain precautions too need paying heed to like….Storage of eggs (keep it fresh preferred refrigeration), Expiry date or sell by date is 3-4 weeks. Unwashed eggs have longer shelf life of 6 weeks, avoid eating raw (though certain fitness trainers promulgate this idea; but you will not be able to find out contaminate if any in raw state or getting Biotin poisoning giving dry rashes, brittle hair & fatigue.
So, enjoy the egg-cellent food called eggs; it is full of wanted ingredients and more so, even it is itself an important ingredient of healthy body & mind. So make the best out it….Sunday or Monday……Anday……anyday…

Plastic and Food: Are we Safe?

Upon interaction with various segments of people i.e. from homemaker, business professional, office goers or even to the section of college and school going students during my workshops or talk I found that because of very high usage of plastics in our daily life, actually we are consuming part of it as a slow but a distinct poison. It’s all because of the necessary evil use of plastic products such as pet water bottles, plastic food containers, lunch boxes, the so called microwave proof plastic containers. Plastic products have become a very integral unavoidable household necessity because of its easy availability, light weight, durability, affordability, non-breakage, low maintenance and above all colourful that attracts our eyes. Many of these plastic containers come with a tag of being ‘safe’…. But there is nothing called safe plastic once it is amalgamated with food discipline be it for storage, heating or temporarily keeping of any items.

In short all plastic releases or leaches some chemicals into food or water they contain by seeping it becomes more dangerous if the plastic itself or the food is warmer or even if it is used for freezing or storing in refrigerators.

To understand in brief; plastic contains synthetic chemicals like BPA(bisphenol) and BPS apart from Phthalate, Parabens, PCB, PVC etc. & etc. They mostly fall under the obesogens category of chemicals which are man-made and affects the regulatory system that control the weight of the body. It increases the fat cells and decreases the calorie burn. Also they are found to be ‘Endocrine disruptors’, thus it disrupts your body hormones; mainly female oestrogen. Such disruption may result into Thyroid, Blood sugar imbalances, Infertility, Menstrual symptoms, Breast cancer, Weight gain, Prostrate cancer in men, sometimes gender dysphoria and other issues related to men genital problems.

We unknowingly use these plastic products as a necessary evil in the form of plastic cook wares, utensils, some cosmetics, perfumes, vinyl products, canned tins etc.

So, to mend ways we can reduce use of these plastic ware in kitchen; should avoid microwave plastic food containers; reduce use of canned food; can opt for use of glass or steel containers, by not giving children plastic lunch boxes. You can look for the recycle codes on the boxes or plastic utensils…. Codes level 3 to 7 contains high BPA levels.

Above all if everyone is advocating less or no use of plastic to save the environment; there is obviously some method in madness too…..at least we can begin it from our kitchen, refrigerators…. Be safe….as there is nothing known as safe plastic if it is associated anywhere with your food and nutrition.