Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wat-er way to lose weight!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 30 2010 7:44AM

You know you should be drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day. You know how essential it is for your skin, hair, your kidneys and your survival. But do you know water can also help you lose weight? Read on…
Water speeds metabolism by 30 per cent
In 2003, Berlin researchers studied the effect of drinking water on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation rates in 14 normal-weight subjects. They found that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30 per cent. In men, lipids (fat) mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate while in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source.

Water can fill you up

Even if you suffer slight dehydration, you may mistake thirst for hunger and eat when your body is actually craving fluid. As most food contains some water, if you don't drink much, you may be subconsciously driven to eat more to get the necessary water. But, what you also get with food are unwanted calories. Drinking more water can prevent you from overeating and help you lose weight. So the next time you feel hungry, drink some water 15 minutes before you sit down to eat.

Water reduces water-retention
Most people retain a little water and women especially notice an increase in water retention during the week before their period. Water retention is common when you are dehydrated or low on water. Your body tends to conserve water, and retain a bit in order to keep you hydrated. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day will help you shed extra water. The amount you drink should be increased if you exercise, or if the weather is hot and dry.

Many people don't like drinking plain water. Gaining water from eating fruit high in water content e.g. watermelons, cucumbers, citrus fruits, etc. is a great way to boost water consumption without drinking it directly. Fruit will also help fill up the stomach with low calories and gain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to increase vitality.

People with kidney problems or other conditions where fluid intake needs to be limited should follow their doctor’s recommendations with correct sodium intake.  One potential but rare side-effect of fluid intake can be hypoatremia in which electrolytes become imbalanced. Seek doctor’s advice before trying out a new diet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book review: One Heart to Live - Heart Care A to Z

Author: Dr A K Mukherjee
Publisher: Vidharbha Medical Foundation, Nagpur
Pages: 378
Price: Rs 200

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Mumbai Mirror on Friday, October 01, 2010 at 06:16:49 PM
Posted on Times Wellness on Monday, October 25, 2010   

At a glance, Dr A K Mukherjee's One Heart to Live may be mistaken for a textbook for medical students. You turn to the back cover and you find the book is "intended as a quick learning tool for common man, medical students, physicians, pediatricians and cardiologists - who need quick and comprehensive information regarding the different aspects of heart diseases in human being."

Never mind the grammatical errors (and there are plenty), One Heart to Live is actually a handy guide for those who are at risk of heart disease. It starts with a description of the heart's anatomy and functions, moving on to the complications and risks associated with age, diet, lifestyle and habits. While a lot of information seems as commonplace as "Smoking is injurious to your health," Dr Mukherjee does well to write about what you should do in case of emergency such as a heart attack and what kind of treatments and processes you shall expect at the coronary care unit (CCU). About the CCU, he describes:

"Advantages of CCU: Continuous monitoring the ECG provides facility to detect and treat life threatening ventricular arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation. Facilities are available in CCU to reduce the acute mortality, immediate treatment of complication such as heart failure or shocked condition requiring intubation, ventilation or cardiac pacing.

"Disadvantages of CCU:
  • Fear due unnatural surroundings and high technology
  • Fear due to death of other patient in CCU
  • Fear may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system to cause arrythmias.

"How long to stay in the hospital?
A typical stay in the coronary care unit (CCU) will be two or three days for an uncompliated heart attack. If the heart attack has been ruled out, a stay in CCU may be only 24 hours. If complications occur, the stay in CCU can be extended to four to five days or even longer. Once you have been stabilised and acute events surrounding your heart attack have been treated, you will enter what most hospital call, "a step down unit". You will stay there for 4 to 6 days, while you complete your recovery, and begin your rehabilitation from the heart attack."

It is in descriptions like these where the book scores with the readers. Seldom, in this country, does the common man know what to expect in terms of procedures and processes at hospitals before actually getting to a hospital. One Heart to Live is a comprehensive text on the heart, its ills and its cures, tailored for an Indian reader.

Readers may find this book a little too technical. There are several instances in the book where the author has used a medical term without defining it for the layman. Overlook the shortcomings of language and prose and you have a fine book that can save you a heartache!

Recycle idea: Single old socks

Socks are a problem. You always buy them in pairs. You've got to get the colour right. And they've got to go with your shoes (and attitude). Misplace one of the pair, and the other gets cast aside, making way for a new pair in the drawer. Age doesn't matter. The twin does. But single old socks can be handy in various ways too. Here's how:

As gloves: Need to take the stuff out of the microwave, use a sock instead of a glove. It works the same way, unless it's your hand you intend to microwave.

As dusters: No, don't spend money on those rags. Use socks instead. Glove them and you can wipe the dirt off any surface you like. Socks are good for furniture, window sills, computer screens, floor spills, handles, and blinds.

As shoe-shiners: Old socks make great shoe polishers. You can also use them to shine the shoe after polishing.

As soap-holders: You don't want a bar of washing soap to just melt away in your hand. A sock will keep the blue off your hands.

As coin-purses: Don't know where to keep all those coins? Well, an old, clean ankle sock will hold them for you. You can also decorate it with sequins and acrylic colours to get your own coin-purse.

As packing material: You're moving and you've run out of bubble wrap for your ceramics and glassware. Fret not. Sock it. Stuff them into your glasses and they'll be just fine.

For more recycle ideas check out The Green Elephant

Friday, September 24, 2010

Think Positive!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 23 2010 2:07PM

Human beings love to compare. You want a house that is bigger than the one you have. You want a paycheck that's bigger than your boss'. You want a car that's sleeker than your friend's. Why you even want the largest slice of the pizza you ordered for lunch! And when you don't get what you want, you get angry, bottle up your feelings, hide your insecurities, buckle under stress and ultimately die of a heart attack.

But instead, if you believed that the house, paycheck, car or slice was yours and cherished them, you might actually end up getting what you want. This declaration that something is true to enable you to get it for yourself is called Positive Affirmation.

What's Positive Affirmation?Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation. They are repeated many times, in order to impress the subconscious mind and trigger it into positive action. For greater effectiveness of the affirmations, they have to be repeated with attention, conviction, interest and desire.

Repeat affirmations that are short, specific and easy to remember
  • When your mind is not engaged in something in particular, such as while traveling in a bus or a train, waiting in line, walking etc, but do not affirm while driving or crossing a street. You may also repeat them in special sessions of 5-10 minutes each, several times a day.
  • After relaxing your physical, mental and emotional stresses. The stronger the concentration, the stronger and faster will be the results
  • By choosing only positive words such as, "I am getting slim" instead of "I am not fat"
  • Always in the present tense, not the future tense e.g. "Wealth is pouring into my life" instead of "I will be rich one day"

Conquer your thoughts

In Rhonda Byrne's book, The Secret that describes how good thoughts attract positive results, breast cancer-survivor Cathy Goodman writes:

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I truly believed in my heart, with my strong faith, that I was already healed. Each day I would say, 'Thank you for my healing.' On and on and on I went, "Thank you for my healing." I believed in my heart I was healed. I saw myself as if cancer was never in my body. One of the things I did to heal myself was to watch very funny movies. That's all we would do was just laugh, laugh and laugh. We couldn't afford to put any stress in my life, because we knew stress was one of the worst things you can do while you're trying to heal yourself. From the time I was diagnosed to the time I was healed was approximately three months. And that's without any radiation or chemotherapy."

Affirmations help you focus your mind on your aim, and automatically build corresponding mental images in the conscious mind, which affect the subconscious mind. The conscious mind, the mind you think with, starts this process, and then the subconscious mind takes charge. By using this process consciously and intently, you can affect your subconscious mind and thereby transform your habits, behaviour, mental attitude and reactions, and even reshape your external life.

No short cuts here

Results with positive affirmations can vary. Sometimes results appear quickly, but often more time is required. Depending on your goal, sometimes you might attain immediate results, and sometimes it might take days, weeks, months or more. Getting results depends on several factors, such as the time, focus, faith and feelings you invest in repeating your affirmations, on the strength of your desire, and on how big or small your goal is.

Stop negative thoughts

People, often, repeat in their minds negative statements regarding situations and events in their lives and consequently bring upon themselves undesirable situations. Words and statements work both ways, to build or destroy. Keep the “No” phrases away.

Do they work?

Positive affirmations often don’t work because they are not very specific. You need to identify your goal properly – car, romance, health, raise, etc. Also, if you repeat positive affirmations for a few minutes, and then think negatively the rest of the day, the positive words will be neutralized. And more importantly, you then need to act. Just thinking is not always enough!

Curves are back, the Bips' way

Without crash diets and 'size-zero' aspirations, Bipasha Basu has worked her way to becoming one of the fittest actresses in India
Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 23 2010 1:16PM

Eat everything, eat in moderation but work out in excess, is Bipasha Basu's mantra. From being a chubby teenager brought up on an carbohydrate-and-fat-rich Bengali diet, the 31-year-old actress has transformed herself into a style diva and a role model for fitness freaks. And to share the secret of how she got her fabulous body, she has come up with a 25-minute workout video with the help of celebrity fitness trainer Deanne Pandey called Love Yourself.  

In an interview during the launch of the DVD earlier this year, she said, "Six years ago, I was very unhealthy. I was rich, successful and had achieved a lot in life but in spite of being very young, I used to fall ill frequently. I realised I had very bad lifestyle...I was putting in 18 hours of work a day and that is when I decided to start training myself for a healthy body. It worked very well and I also tried a similar regimen on a friend who was very satisfied. That is when I realised that there are millions more who are in a similar position. The first excuse for not following a regimen, which everybody offers, is time constraints, so I decided to launch a 25-minutes-a-day schedule. And you know what? It has got quite a good response."

The only non-sportsperson to endorse Reebok, Bipasha overcome criticism for being overweight, with a combination of weight and cardio training, along with a strict diet plant to achieve a well-toned and sculpted figure. So what can you do to have a body like Bipasha's?

Sweat it out

You need good disciple and strong willpower to follow Bipasha's six-days-a-week, 45 minutes-to-one-hour-at-a-time fitness schedule. Mix up your workout regime by allotting:
  • Day 1 for upper body workout                                         
  • Day 2 for abdomen workout
  • Day 3 for legs and lower body workout
  • Day 4 for gluteus maximus (butt) workout
  • Day 5 for upper body workout
  • Day 6 for abdomen and gluteus maximus workouts
Having injured her knee earlier, Bipasha does not recommend too much of running on the treadmill. If you have to run for long, run on soft ground instead, keeping in mind your body’s and joints’ requirements.
Space out your cardio workouts within a 50 minute session:

  •     20 minutes – Treadmill
  •     10 minutes – Elliptical Trainer
  •     20 minutes – Rowing Machine
You may also aspire to match up to her 108 suryanamaskars everyday.  Bipasha doesn’t train when she is very tired and averages six-and-a-half hours of sleep.

Balance your diet
There's no point in going for crash diets because what you lose one day, you make up for it on the next. Start your day with drinking a glass of hot water with lime; this is followed by a handful of badams that have been soaked overnight and a cup of tea.
If you’ve worked out on an empty stomach, like Bipasha, you should eat a large breakfast comprising six egg whites, brown toast and fruits, an hour after you have stopped exercising. Follow it up with a simple, light lunch of sabzi (vegetables) and chapatis cooked in olive oil. Keep the pooris and the parathas for a few occasions. Avoid rice altogether. Instead mix wheat and bajra or wheat and soya flour to make rotis and chapatis for more nutritious meals. Have a light dinner with dal, salad, three vegetables cooked in olive oil, grilled fish or chicken with a miniscule portion of dessert.
Get hydrated
To get skin as beautiful as Bipasha’s you need to flush out all the toxins from the body by drinking not less than 10 glasses of water per day. Using good sunscreen and keeping your body hydrated also goes a long way in avoiding any skin problems.

While many of her counterparts have opted for the size zero look, Bipasha has instead gone ahead and popularised curves. Take a leaf out of her book and you will love your body, heart and soul.

B for Energy!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 23 2010 1:45PM

As energy-booster and memory-enhancer, vitamin B complex has evolved from just another dietary nutrient in fruits, nuts, fish and leafy green vegetables to a potent supplement in the form of capsules, pills and injections.

The B vitamins help activate enzymes that catalyse the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose for energy and fats and proteins for the functioning of the nervous system, muscle tone in the stomach and intestinal tract, and healthy skin, hair, and eyes.

B1 (Thiamine) helps the body turn carbohydrates into energy and also helps metabolise proteins and fats
Requirement: 10-50 mg/day
Deficiency: Affects the functioning of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and peripheral nervous systems, causes Beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

B2 (Riboflavin) is required for activation of vitamin B6, folate, niacin, and vitamin K and for normal reproduction, growth, repair of skin, hair, nails, connective tissue and immune system
Requirement: 10-50 mg/day

B3 (Niacin) is required for cell respiration, metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, circulation, functioning of the nervous system, bile and stomach secretions, ridding the body of toxins and production of sex and stress hormones in the adrenal glands
Requirement: 25 mg/day

B6 (Pyridoxine) aids in the formation of healthy red blood cells and in amino acid metabolism
Requirement: 50 – 200 mg/day

B9 (Folic acid) has a direct effect on lessening depression, regulating sleep, and appetite. It is crucial for brain function
Requirement: 400 – 800 mcg/day
Deficiency: In pregnant mothers can cause severe birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, known as neural tube defects

B12 (Cyanocobalamin) aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body's genetic material
Requirement: 50 - 100 mcg/day
Deficiency: Can cause fatigue, diarrhoea, tingling sensation in the fingers and toes

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is involved in energy production, catabolism of fatty acids and amino acids, synthesis of fatty acids, phospholipids, cholesterol and steroid hormones, haeme and neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is necessary for the manufacture of energy from both sugars and fats
Requirement: 25 - 150 mg/day

B7 (Biotin) is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids
Requirement: 30 – 300 mcg
Deficiency: May result in hair loss, dry scaly skin, swollen and painful tongue, dry eyes, insomnia, and depression

B vitamins are water-soluble and excreted in the urine. They need to be replenished regularly. B supplements should ideally be taken in the morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Pranayama Therapy

Eisha Sarkar

Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 22 2010 9:53PM

Hold your breath and your troubles will go away! From asthma sufferers to diabetics, from heart patients to insomniacs, Pranayama, the ancient yogic practice of breath control, has now become a popular form of therapy.

The Sanskrit word ’prana’ means breath or life force, while ‘ayama’ means regulation or control. The process of breathing chiefly involves inhalation and exhalation. In normal breathing you use only one fourth of your lung capacity. The deep and systematic breathing in Pranayama strengthens your lungs, improves blood circulation and relaxes the mind.

How to do Pranayama
  • Wear loose-fitted clothing. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs folded and back straight. Relax your shoulders and concentrate with your eyes closed.
  • Practise sectional breathing by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath by expanding your stomach. Keep your chest stable. Count till five while slowly releasing the air by contracting the stomach
  • Repeat the same hand position and this time breathe in to fill your chest. Feel your shoulders lift, while you keep your stomach stable. Exhale and feel your shoulders and chest relax
  • Fill your stomach and chest with air by expanding your stomach. Your shoulders will lift simultaneously. Expel the air very slowly by contracting the stomach and relaxing your shoulders
  • Use your right thumb to gently pinch your right nostril. Inhale and exhale through your left nostril five times. Now use the little finger of your right hand to pinch your left nostril and breathe in and out through your right nostril.
  • Inhale through your right nostril while blocking the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through your left nostril by blocking the right nostril with the thumb. Do it for five counts and then swap.

Other than its calming effect, Pranayama helps improve blood circulation, concentration, immunity, and the digestive system while keeping anger, depression and anxiety at bay.

Pranayama should not be done right after yoga postures. There should be a gap of at least 45 minutes. Do NOT do Pranayama if you are pregnant, hungry or have fever.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review: The Secret

Author: Rhonda Byrne
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 198
Price: Rs 550

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Times Wellness on  Sunday, October 03, 2010

When Australian author Rhonda Byrne's book The Secret first released in 2006, little did she know that it would have gone on to sell 20 million copies worldwide. In many ways the success of the book lies in the theory that it propagates - The Law of Attraction.

Thoughts can attract too!
Byrne writes, "The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is impersonal and it does not see good things or bad things... When you focus your thoughts on something you want, and you hold that focus, you are in that moment summoning what you want with the mightiest power in the Universe. The law of attraction doesn't compute 'don't' or 'not' or 'no', or any other words of negation. As you speak the words of negation, this is what the law of attraction is receiving:

'I don't want to spill something on this outfit.'
'I want to spill something on this outfit and I want to spill more things.'  

Have some faith
The book emphasizes the use of positive affirmation, visualization techniques, gratitude and faith to help focus your mental energy. The individual has to strongly in the process for the desired results, which could range from owning a sleek car to getting better grades in exams, becoming a millionaire to overcoming breast cancer.

One Cathy Goodman writes: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I truly believed in my heart, with my strong faith, that I was already healed. Each day I would say, 'Thank you for my healing.' On and on and on I went, "Thank you for my healing." I believed in my heart I was healed. I saw myself as if cancer was never in my body. One of the things I did to heal myself was to watch very funny movies. That's all we would do was just laugh, laugh and laugh. We couldn't afford to put any stress in my life, because we knew stress was one of the worst things you can do while you're trying to heal yourself. From the time I was diagnosed to the time I was healed was approximately three months. And that's without any radiation or chemotherapy." 

Think to a better future!
In the book brings together an assortment of philosophers, psychologists, Feng Shui masters, life coaches, motivational speakers, and business professionals who reveal their understanding of the Law of Attraction and how it affects reality. They advise you to keep negative thoughts at bay and concentrate only on positive ones for good results.

The verdict
The book holds together a string of anecdotes, quotes and experiences, which seem repetitive after a point. Though Byrne talks about the 'ancient' secret that has been understood by Plato, Beethoven, Edison, Carnegie and Einstein, she maintains the mystery around the source of that knowledge. The book is also heavily focused on wealth and creating abundance. However, it does coax you to try out positive affirmations.
Whether they deliver or not depends on how much faith you have in the process. If you read the book from cover to cover at one go, you're more likely to be confused than to comply. Instead, read it in small doses and you may actually be inspired to take control of your life.

3 healthy office snacks that won't pile on the pounds

Eisha SarkarPosted on Hello Wellness on Sep 21 2010 10:05AM

You take the stairs instead of waiting for the lift, conduct meetings on-the-go and head to the gym instead of the canteen during lunch. Then why do you tuck into a bag of chips for the five o'clock snack? You say it's handy. But it's also full of all those calories you don't need. Instead, here are three healthy snacks that you can carry with you to office:

Nuts: Full of protein and a good source of healthy fats, vitamins (including antioxidants) and minerals, nuts make for an ideal snack. Keep a bag of nuts in your office drawer. You can mix peanuts and walnuts that contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids with magnesium rich pistachios, iron-rich cashews and vitamin E-rich almonds. Don’t run through the entire bag at one go because nuts do contain fats and avoid salted ones because they add excess sodium to your diet that can increase your blood pressure.

Bananas: Not only are bananas creamy and sweet, they are also nutritious and are available year-round. Just eat bananas as is, toss them in your breakfast cereal, or simply blend bananas with low-fat milk to make a delicious smoothie. This grab-and-go snack is a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C and fiber as well as manganese. In addition, a piece of banana provides approximately 460 milligrams of potassium, making it a heart-friendly health snack.

Chopped veggies: Slice some healthy raw vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Place them plastic bags and take them to work along with a healthy dip such as salsa or hummus. When the urge to snack hits you, you’ll be satisfying your hunger as well as eating a serving of vegetables rich in carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and antioxidants.

Snacking can be healthy too, if you do it in moderation and the snack contains all the essential nutrients your body needs. Go, grab a bite!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Don't Worry Be Happy

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 20 2010 1:13AM

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” Well, like most things Gandhi had said, this too has been confined to the history books as well. You worry about marks in school, admissions to colleges of your choice, job interviews, pay scales, finding the right partner, approaching deadlines, shrinking budgets, rising taxes, inflation and so on.

You worry for hours and hours of invaluable time that you are never going to get back again. Every system in your body is affected by worry. It raises your blood pressure, increases blood-clotting and can prompt your liver to produce more cholesterol, which can raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. Muscle tension gives rise to headaches and back pain. Worry may slow or speed up muscle contractions in the intestines, giving you stomach aches, constipation, diarrhoea, gas or heartburn. It can also bring on rash and can aggravate asthma. And too much of it all the time can you so weak that you fall prey to bacteria, viruses and even cancer.

It's not easy when someone tells you to stop worrying. You try to distract yourself but your mind keeps racing back to the object of worry. Intead,

Identify the stinger

Zero in on the cause of worry. You may not be assessing the situation correctly, and find yourself engrossed, thinking about possibilities, which may not happen. Adopt a realistic approach and analyse the situation in totality. It may help you deal with the worry more effectively. Identify the distressful and worrisome thoughts, and list down few positive substitution statements.

Control your thoughts

When you have negative thoughts, consciously issue the command “Stop!”  Then, try to replace the negative thoughts with more realistic and positive feelings and ideas.

Be optimistic

Hope for the best. Having a positive attitude can do wonders, and prevent you from the getting obsessed and worried. As the same time, it is necessary to be prepared for the worst. Identify the worst case scenario, how likely it will happen and start working towards improving it.

Jot them down

Write down your worries and tackle them one at a time. The key is to plan well and have realistic expectations. Having trust in yourself can help you handle the situation in a much better way. People who have leisure to bother tend to be more miserable. When you feel that you are worrying unnecessarily, try to distract yourself by calling up a friend, cleaning the room, taking the dog for a walk, reading a book or paper.

Ask for support

It can be quite beneficial to have a support group, but when talking to your friends, do not exaggerate things. The way you internalise the situation directly affects the level of stress or worry you experience.


Meditation is now becoming popular on how to stop worrying, and find relaxation. There are many forms of meditative practices, and you can choose based on your need and time available. Few people also find strength in spirituality that helps them stop worrying. Staying rested can also help deal with situation in a better way.

Work those muscles
Exercise is a fantastic way to relieve stress, burn calories, decrease depression and work toward wellness. If you are always on the run and find little time for exercising, then try doing this simple relaxation exercise. All you have to do is lie down straight on the bed or on a mat on the floor. Keep your body relaxed and still. Now imagine tension moving out and down your body muscles. Imagine that all your tension has finally escaped out of your body through your feet and into the ground. This relaxation technique requires just few minutes and brings about instant sense of well-bring.

Do not binge on fries, soft drinks and chocolates to make the worry go away. They may give you momentary relief but will add to your woes by piling on those calories. Instead, think ahead and think positive and worry will make you sorry no more!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

10 Tips to Keep Cancer at Bay

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 18 2010 12:15AM

You wait helplessly. A war rages inside you. You've got your body blasted with radiation and chemicals to harness the tumours but they haven't stopped. Had you the money, you would have bombarded them with gold particles. Not that it would have helped much, but you still would have tried - anything to make the pain go away.  

Cancer is a nightmare for those suffer from it. So here are 10 small steps you can take to keep the deadly disease at bay:

Give up the C-stick
One of the best ways to prevent cancer is to quit smoking or never start. Also, avoid secondhand smoke exhaled from a smoker or a lit cigarette, pipe or cigar that contains more than 60 known carcinogens which interrupt normal cell development induce cancer.

Reduce fat in your diet
Keep your diet low in total fat and very low in saturated fats. Tumour cells need low density lipoproteins (LDL's) to grow. Therefore, a diet that helps to lower LDL levels could keep potentially cancerous cells from growing. Eating fat also stimulates the production of bile, which if left to stagnate in the large intestine for a long period of time, is converted into apcholic acid, a proven carcinogen. Your daily fat intake should be less than 20 per cent of your total food calories.

Cut the flabObesity is one of the leading risk factors for cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Increased fat tissue also raises circulating estrogen levels, which increase the risk of breast cancer. Obese men have a higher rate of prostate cancer. Stay lean by exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week and maintaining healthy eating habits.

Increase fiberFiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables moves potential carcinogens through the intestines faster, decreasing the contact time between carcinogens and the intestinal wall. Fiber also absorbs bile acids, keeping them from acting on bacteria to produce fecapentanes, the cancerous substances that are formed by decaying foods within the colon. Eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day.

Eat lots of raw fruits and vegetablesPlants contain phytochemicals such as phenols, indols, flavones, cumines, and isothiocyanates, which are natural blocking agents against carcinogens. Eating cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli could lower your risk of breast and colon cancer by 40 per cent.  Beta carotene from sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins and spinach can block the growth of potentially cancerous cells. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which enhances the absorption and utilisation of beta carotene, so eating tomatoes with beta carotene-rich foods provides an added boost.

Switch from red meat to seafood Eating red meat and processed meats is highly associated with increased risk of colon cancer. Instead, try fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Practice safe sex
Unsafe sex can result in the infection of the human papillomairus (HPV), a known cause for cervical cancer. HIV/AIDS is also associated with some types of cancers, namely Kaposi's sarcoma.

Reduce alcohol consumptionDrinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly increases your risk of cancer. Men who consume two alcoholic drinks per day and women who have one alcoholic drink per day significantly increase their risk factors for certain types of cancer.

Pack in antioxidantsVitamin C and E lower the risk of cancer by protecting the membrane of intestinal cells and preventing free-radical reactions in the body. Supplement your diet with these vitamins.

Increase calcium intakeCalcium controls the multiplication of epithelial cells lining the colon. When these cells proliferate at a fast rate, the risk of cancer increases. Calcium also binds cancer-producing bile acids and keeps them from irritating the colon wall. To lower your risk of colorectal cancer, consider taking between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate daily. Best sources of calcium are dairy products, such as yogurt, and bony fish.

Nearly one-third of the cancers are diet-related and by consuming foods rich in vitamins, fiber and low in fat, you can actually reduce your risk of cancer. But the best diet will be effective only if your mind is at ease. Reduce stress in your life and you'll keep cancer away.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quit the puff, chew instead

Various nicotine substitutes can help you cope with the withdrawal symptoms after giving up smoking
Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 16 2010 10:34AM
Quit you must but you can't let go of the puff. It's not the cigarette that worries you but what will become of you without it. That smoking is injurious to health is common knowledge. But it's the thought of withdrawal symptoms that makes quitting difficult.

Why is nicotine addictive?

Nicotine itself is non-toxic. It is only one of 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette, some of which cause disease. 
As nicotine enters the body, it is distributed quickly through the bloodstream. It increases dopamine levels in the brain, bringing about feelings of pleasure and well-being. The effects wear off within minutes, so people must continue dosing themselves to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms begin as soon as four hours after the last cigarette, peak in intensity at three to five days, and disappear after two weeks.  Symptoms include tingling sensation in hands and feet, sweating, cramps, nausea, headaches, respiratory discomfort, temper tantrums, cravings, insomnia, confusion, irritability, anxiety and/or depression.

Does NRT help?

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) provides nicotine without the other toxic components of tobacco. Nicotine substitutes treat the very difficult withdrawal symptoms.  NRT works slowly, delivering less nicotine in the bloodstream compared to smoking.
Types of nicotine substitutes are:

Nicotine patch
Applied in the morning to a clean, dry area of the skin without much hair, the patch provides a measured dose of nicotine through the skin. As nicotine doses are lowered over a course of weeks:
Weeks 1-4: Full-strength patch (15-22 mg of nicotine) daily
Weeks 5-8: A weaker patch (5-14 mg of nicotine)
Side-effects: Mild skin irritations, dizziness, racing heartbeat, sleep problems, headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches and stiffness can be alleviated by changing brands or reducing the amount of nicotine
Availability: Can be purchased without a prescription. Brands: Nicotinell Tts 17.5 mg, 35 mg, 52.5 mg

Nicotine gum
Nicotine polacrilex is absorbed through the mucous membrane of the mouth. Chew the gum slowly until you note a peppery taste. "Park" it against the cheek, chewing it and parking it off and on for 30 minutes. Avoid coffee, juices, and soft drinks for at least 15 minutes before and during gum use.
Heavy smokers may start with the higher dose, 4 mg gum with no more than 20 pieces in a day for one to three months.
Side-effects: Bad taste, throat irritation, mouth ulcers, hiccups, nausea, jaw discomfort and racing heartbeat. Stomach symptoms are usually caused by swallowing nicotine or chewing too rapidly.
Availability: Can be bought without prescription. Brands: Nicotex, Nicorette - Pharmacia & Upjohn Gum 2mg, NuLife Eucomint and NuLife Good Kha

Nicotine Lozenges
Small doses of nicotine are released and absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth, from where it then travels quickly to the brain. Nicotine will continue to be absorbed even after the lozenge has dissolved. It’s particularly efficient with nicotine cravings. Smokers are advised to follow a 12-week schedule:
Weeks 1-6:  One lozenge taken every one or two hours
Weeks 7-9: One lozenge every two to four hours
Weeks 10-12: One lozenge should be taken every four to eight hours. By this time the nicotine intake is so low that you should be ready to stop the treatment altogether
No more than 20 lozenges should be consumed in one day
Side-effects: Irritation of the teeth, gums and throat, indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation, flatulence, insomnia, hiccups, headache, and coughing may disappear with continuous use
Availability: Brands such as Commit are available at few pharmacies

Nicotine Nasal Spray
As nicotine is absorbed through the nose, it enters the bloodstream quickly, offering immediate relief for withdrawal symptoms.
Side-effects: Nasal irritation, throat irritation, and coughing. Check with your doctor if you have asthma, allergies, nasal polyps, or sinus problems
Availability: Only by prescription

Research suggests smokers using a patch and nicotine lozenge together are more likely to quit at seven days. NRT should not be used as the only method for helping the smoker but should be combined with those that address the psychological component of smoking.

NRT should NOT be used if you plan to continue to smoke or use other tobacco products and should be avoided by pregnant women.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Super Spirulina

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 14 2010 1:16AM

Who would have thought the green slime on stagnant water ponds would make for health supplements? But the spiral-shaped microscopic blue-green algae (Arthrospira) packed with 70 per cent protein, vitamins and phytochemicals has been bottled as remedy for everything from weight-loss to diabetes in the form of spirulina. So what makes spirulina a superfood?

Powerful antioxidant
Spirulina contains antioxidant vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and minerals selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and chromium. Its antioxidant capabilities reduce the toxic effects of cadmium and of free radicals generated by inflammatory processes.

Combats cancer
Animal studies have shown that spirulina produces tumor regression. In one human trial, where the effects of spirulina on oral carcinogenesis were studied, researchers found that 45 per cent of their subjects showed complete regression of leukoplakia, after taking spirulina supplements for one year.

Lowers cholesterol
Studies in Japan and India showed that several grams of spirulina daily can reduce serum LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). In a 2007 study, 36 human subjects ingested 4.5 grams of spirulina daily for six weeks without making any other modifications in their diets or lifestyles. After the six week period, total cholesterol concentrations and levels of body fat were lowered. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure was reduced.

Fights off fatigue
Spirulina restores the body to a state of high energy probably because of its high levels of polysaccharides and essential fatty acids. It is one of the few sources of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), providing 30 mg per serving. Spirulina may also boost energy through the lactobacilli in the intestinal tract, which aid in the release of nutrients from food, and enabling energy production for promoting Vitamin B6.

People with a metabolic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU), who can’t metabolise phenylalanine amino acid, should avoid taking spirulina which is rich in all amino acids, including phenylalanine. If you have an autoimmune disease, e.g. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, you should avoid spirulina as it could stimulate your immune system, making your condition worse.

Consult a health care provider before taking the supplement.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Common herbs for good health

Time-tested Ayurvedic remedies have far-reaching impact on your overall well-being

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 12 2010

From brain tonics to re-vitalizing syrups, from digestive powders to herbal capsules, consumers nowadays are spoilt for choice when it comes to Ayurvedic remedies. With the West looking increasingly at non-allopathic cures to diseases (especially chronic ones such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes), the wisdom of the rishis has found its way into labelled bottles mass-produced for a health-conscious audience. 

Here are some commonly found herbs that can do you a world of good:

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Often called the "Indian Ginseng", Ashwagandha helps the body relieve stress, fatigue and sleeplessness. It is a well-known aphrodasiac. Though smelly like a horse, the Ashwagandha root is rich in phytochemicals such as withenolide, choline, anaferine, tropine, and alkaloids.

Benefits: It helps in cases of arthritic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, respiratory disorders, nervous disorders, female and male infertility and impotence

Side-effects:  Ashwagandha is slightly difficult to digest and should be avoided in the case of gastric and duodenal ulcers. Very large doses of Ashwagandha taken during pregnancy can result in abortion.

Lasuna (Allium sativum Linn)

Garlic or lasuna is used more as a food ingredient in India than as herbal remedy. But the bulb’s phytochemicals such as allicin show strong medicinal properties.

Benefits: Garlic is said to lower bad cholesterol (though scientific studies have thrown up conflicting results regarding its efficacy), combat bacterial infections, lower blood pressure and sugar levels, rejuvenate and detoxify

Side-effects: Garlic causes bad breath or halitosis and too much of it can damage the digestive tract. It is also a blood-thinner and might be dangerous when combined with anticoagulants such as heparin

Tagara (Valeriana wallichi)

The Tagara rootstock aromatic and yields oil, which contains valeric acid that is said to be a good relaxant and cure for insomnia.

Benefits:  The paste of its roots helps wounds heal better and alleviates pain in rheumatic joints. When consumed internally, Tagara works as a sedative and is used in the Ayurvedic therapy of delirium, insomnia, epilepsy and behavioral disorders. It also helps in digestive disorders such as anorexia, flatulence, abdominal pain and hepatitis. It is diuretic and is an effective remedy for dysmenorrheal (severe uterine pain during menstruation).

Side-effects: Tagara should not be taken for more than two to three weeks at a time. Prolonged use may lead to addiction. Large doses may produce poisoning and extreme high doses may even cause paralysis and weaken the heart

Amalaki (Emblica officinalis)

Also known as Amla, the Indian Gooseberry is the richest natural source of vitamin C. Packed with bioflavonoids, flavones, polyphenols and carotenoids, Amalaki works as anti-oxidant, immunomodulator, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, hypotensive, antacid, tonic and mild laxative. It is also a major ingredient in Ayurvedic health remedies such as Triphala and Chyavanprash.

Benefits: Amalaki is used, either as a single herb or in combination with other herbs, for treating acidity, anaemia, baldness, mouth ulcers, cataract, chicken-pox, common cold, constipation, diabetes, dyspepsia, dysentery, premature ejaculation, gout, high blood pressure, indigestion, pimples, piles, poisonous insect-bites, rashes and even restlessness.

Side-effects: None documented

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)

Brahmi has gained worldwide recognition as a memory booster and is widely used in improving the brain cell functions.

Benefits: The herb has an extremely positive effect on blood circulation and function of the liver, lungs and kidneys. It is taken internally for Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), memory problems, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety disorder,  stress, post-natal depression, mental and physical fatigue, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, increasing sex drive, bronchitis, coughs and hoarseness, asthma and high cholesterol levels.

Side-effects: Brahmi may cause temporary hearing loss in women, especially those who have problems of excess production of estrogen in the body or are under estrogen replacement therapy or are on regular courses of contraceptives

Ayurveda is about holistic healing - balancing your diet and fitness, physical and mental stresses and attaining your spiritual goals. So if you're looking for a cure for high blood pressure by taking half a teaspoon of 'potent' herbal powder everyday without changing your diet, it's not going to help you. Do it the right way, without going overboard and these herbs will bring you health!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A weighty struggle for Indian women

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 10 2010 3:43PM

Second attempt! This one will definitely be better. You try on the other little black dress. You see yourself in the mirror. It fits well... except for that muffin-like bulge on the side of your waist. And you thought you'd lost weight!

You go for the medium size dress of an international label and you find that you need a 'large'. And you aren't even fat. So why does the trial room experience put you on trial?

Women have a number of barriers towards maintaining a healthy weight. And for Indian women, with their genes and disposition to put on weight, it becomes a tad too complex.

Men lose it, women don't
Face it: Women won't lose as much fat as men or at the same rate.
Why? Fat in women is stored around the hips, butt and breasts to support her through pregnancy even during periods where food may be scarce. This fat is less mobile than the fat men store around the mid-section. It reduces women’s risk of cardiovascular disease when compared with men of the same age. Post menopause, women can begin to store fat more readily around the mid-section thus increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Tip: Manage your body fat prior to menopause as it becomes more difficult with time.

Oily diet, slippery goals
Face it: Indian cooking requires the use of oil, ghee, or butter but the popular belief that you use more oil to fry the masala for better taste, is not justified.
Slippery goals: Indian women find it difficult to adhere to strict Western weight loss regimes because of the demands of their Indian palates.
Tip: Avoid deep-fried foods. For cooking, measure the oil with a teaspoon instead of pouring it out of a can.

Get slimmer, quicker
Face it: Many more women than men have attempted to and achieved weight loss through various crazy and unproven, although popular, weight loss strategies.
The yo-yo effect: Women are under more pressure than men to achieve an unrealistically lean body shape. This may lead to psychological consequences, especially if they are not genetically predisposed to looking like the desired body shape. With each severe bout of weight loss the body becomes increasingly protective of the energy it has left, making any further weight loss even more difficult.
Tip: Opt for a combination of balanced diet and regular exercise.

Go crash it!
Face it: Women are at greater risk of the vicious cycle of dieting than men.
Strained: A person can feel unhappy about their body image and decide to go on a diet. As a result they may feel deprived, then angry. In this state of mind the person is more likely to binge and food can become a coping strategy. The over-restrained eater can last for long periods of time until a situation (such as pregnancy) arises that give them an excuse to break their restriction and the gorging begins.
Tip: Fad is bad. Say no!

Eating for two at pregnancy
Face it: The prevalent misconception that a pregnant mother should eat fatty foods such as ghee and halwa for the baby to grow. This result: Rapid weight gain.
Tip: You don't need to eat twice as much. An increase of only 300 calories per day is good enough for  you and your baby.

Water, water, everywhere
Face it: Women often notice an increase in water retention during the week before menstruation.  If it’s minor, it’s ok. Yet if it seems major and occurs all the time, it can is result in puffiness or excessive weight gain.
Tip: Drink more water. Water retention happens when you are low on water. The body tends toward conserving water, and will retain a bit to keep you hydrated. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day helps shed extra water, reducing water retention. Also minimize extra sodium in the diet.

Stress adds up

Face it: Women experience anxiety much more than men and are more exposed to the effects of stress on weight loss.
Tip: The key is to reduce the guilt about eating. Should you really have to earn food by losing pounds?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oh soy!

The humble soyabean is one of the best protein sources for muscle-building activities

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 9 2010 3:08PM

Once used as for preparing fire-fighting foam, paper coatings and making Henry Ford's 'silk' suits, isolated soy protein has come a long way back into our diet as one of the best protein sources available to us.

What is soy protein isolate?

By removing most of the fats and carbohydrates in soy meal, you get a product with a very neutral flavor and with 90 per cent protein. Pure soy protein isolate is difficult to find. It is mainly found combined with flavours, minerals and vitamins e.g. Protis Power 90%, Mega-Pro Pure Veg Soy Protein, etc. in select health stores or pharmacies.  

Soy protein isolate can be added to juices, milk shakes or smoothies, or can be sprinkled on cereal to boost the protein content.  Soy helps in many ways:

Muscle formation
Soy protein contains higher amounts of arginine than whey, casein and egg white. Arginine stimulates the release of anabolic hormones that promote muscle formation, helps reduce physiological stress and boosts immunity.

For high-intensity exercise
Soy consumption over a four-month period can help improve the maximal oxygen uptake for exercising under a set of defined conditions, thus a greater capacity to sustain high-intensity exercise for longer than four to five minutes.

For endurance
Soy protein isolate contains branched chain amino acids such as Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Glutamine and Arginine that are used as energy source during exercise after the body utilizes the muscle glycogen in the first 20 minutes of exercise.

Glutamine boosts protein synthesis, helps buffer lactic acid build-up that occurs during exercising and reduces central nervous system fatigue.

Muscle recovery
Athletes training hard produce free radicals which contribute to upper-respiratory infections and muscle inflammation, therefore increasing recovery time. Studies have found that male subjects fed soy protein showed a rise in plasma total antioxidants, associated with the reduction of muscle enzymes in the blood indicating less oxidative stress and damage occurring in the muscle tissues. Thus, soy may help to reduce muscle injury and inflammation, hence shortening recovery time. Athletes can then train sooner and harder.

Reducing fatigue
Studies with the Romanian Olympic Rowing Team showed that an intake of soy protein at 1.5 g per kg body weight in addition to the regular intake of protein in the diet (2 g/kg body weight) may be responsible for reduced fatigue post exercise.

Essential proteins
Soy protein meets or exceeds the essential amino acid requirements of both children and adults. It is highly digestible, readily absorbable, and maintains positive nitrogen balance when fed as the sole protein source, even at minimum intake levels.

Kidney function
Experts are often concerned whether high protein intake will negatively affect kidney function. Many athletes consume a higher protein intake in order to facilitate muscle building and re-synthesis of muscle after a long endurance event. A soy protein diet (1.5 g/kg body weight) helps decrease glomerular filtration rate, reducing the workload of the kidneys.

Stronger bones
Soy protein is an excellent source of calcium, which represents 50 per cent of the daily value of this important nutrient per serving.

Low heart risks
In men, the isoflavones in soy lower risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, promote prostate health, and protect colon tissues.

Soy protein isolate may have less health benefits than whole soybeans or soy protein concentrates. During the production of soy protein isolate the protein is washed with alcohol, removing most of the isoflavones.

Does soy have feminising effects on men?
Soy isoflavones are said to exert estrogen-like effects in some conditions. Researchers have demonstrated how isoflavone genistin inhibits enzyme 3b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, which is involved in reactions that convert cholesterol into testosterone.
This does not mean you avoid soy altogether. Studies have found that isoflavone exposure to levels greatly exceeding dietary intake doesn’t affect blood testosterone or estrogen levels in men or sperm and semen parameters. Erectile dysfunction in rats may be due to excessive isoflavone exposure and different isoflavone metabolism in rodents.

While scientists debate on whether soy can make you sorry, you can’t ignore the benefits it offers. It is the dose that makes the poison. Don’t overdo it and you’ll be just fine.

Just Chill: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Relaxed

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 8 2010 8:24PM

You begin the day early only because you have a one-hour commute to office. You sweat it out 10 hours a day for six days a week at work, only to carry more work home. You get the Sunday off - well, most often - which you keep aside for cleaning, kids, shopping, movies and sleep. You hate it when your friends ask, "Wasup?" "Nothing much," you tell them. After all, you’ve been following the same routine, day after day, week after week.

Stringent deadlines and demanding bosses, jangled nerves and anxious moments, traffic woes, tobacco smoke, fast food on-the-go, pollution and flu in the air, alcohol and fun, contaminated water that gives you the ‘runs’, matchbox houses and neighbourhood grouses, away from home and all alone – living in a metro is not easy.  And when the stress becomes unbearable, it can lead to a host of serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, depression, autoimmune diseases and reproductive problems.

You don’t have to change your job or city to beat stress. These five tips will help you stay relaxed:

Manage your time
Are most of your days cluttered with "assignments" and "to-do's"? Time management experts recommend taking care of as much of the small stuff as possible right away. For instance, stop on any quick errands you can on your way to work, then write back any quick e-mails, make any quick phone calls and get any other fast tasks out of the way immediately.

That way, you can completely forget about these things, rather than holding them somewhere in the back of your mind to accumulate and do later. The result: You feel less cluttered, less overwhelmed and less stressed.

Avoid alcohol and tobacco
While a peg or two will make you feel relaxed, alcohol stresses your body in many ways - through dehydration and intoxication. Alcohol can numb the senses into believing that they are relaxed when in all reality you feel just as stressed as you did beforehand only with alcohol taking the proverbial edge off things.

Excessive alcohol can make you feel more stressed, even depressed and can make you aggressive. Cigarettes work in a similar fashion. You smoke thinking you'll relax when all it does is give you temporary relief before the problem comes to haunt to you again.

Go take a walk
The next time you feel the tension in a room, simply take a walk. Walking gives you time to think, time to get away from the stressors, and also think about solutions. Even simple stretching exercises can do wonders for stress relief. Certain forms of exercise (jogging, swimming, hiking and cycling) require a fairly consistent repetitive motion that can alter one's state of consciousness like what happens during meditation.  Breathing and movements may in part be responsible for the feelings of calmness and tranquility you feel after exercise.

Meditate for mental clarity
Meditation lowers resting heart rate, stress, anxiety, frustration, and rate of breathing. It reduces risk of heart disease and is associated with the increase of emotional intelligence and mental clarity. So put on some soothing meditation music and let your body relax.

Laugh out loud! There's a reason why you find more laughing clubs now than you did say, 10 years ago. People just don't laugh enough and need time, space and company to laugh. Having a good laugh can make stress melt away in an instant. Plus, it decreases blood pressure and heart rate, increases oxygen in the blood and makes the body secrete an enzyme that helps protect your stomach from ulcers. So tap into your funny bone and laugh your guts out!

Sitting on the phone making sales calls for six hours straight, or staring at the computer for five, is stressful, simply because of the repetitiveness of the activity. Break up your workday, by taking a walk outside, a “power nap,” stopping to grab a bite to eat or even switching to a different work-related task, will help you to feel more invigorated and less tense. Remember, variety adds spice to life!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A cough from a puff ain't cool, Lady

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 7 2010 1:08PM
From keeping hunger at bay to being part of the 'cool gang' in college, women have many more reasons to smoke today than they had 20 years ago. But what starts as a fad, soon becomes fashion and then addiction. While tobacco smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes contain chemicals that are harmful to both men and women, women stand much more to lose for the puff. Smoking simply does NOT go with:

Oral contraceptives

Women smokers who use oral contraceptives show increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. This risk increases with age and women over 35 who smoke should not use oral contraceptives. This effect is more marked in women over 45.


Chemicals in tobacco are passed from pregnant mothers through the bloodstream to the foetus and are associated with pre-term delivery, low birth-weight, placenta praevia, miscarriage and neonatal death. Smoking increases the chances of sudden infant death syndrome, infant and perinatal deaths, learning disorders, attention deficit disorder and disruptive behaviour. Newborns whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have the same nicotine levels in their bloodstream’s as adults who smoke, and they go through withdrawal during their first days of life.


The fertility of smoking women is 72 per cent that of non-smokers. Studies have found that 38 per cent of non-smokers conceived in their first cycle compared with 28 per cent of smokers and smokers are 3.4 times more likely than non-smokers to have taken more than one year to conceive.

Menstruation and menopause

Smokers often experience irregular periods are also more likely to experience unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding. Smoking causes women to reach natural menopause one to two years earlier than non-smokers or ex-smokers. Menstrual abnormalities and early menopause may be caused by a toxic effect on the ovaries or by the significantly lower levels of estrogens. Beginning to smoke as a teenager increases a woman’s risk of early menopause three times.


Women who smoke 20 cigarettes a day through adulthood will have reduced their bone density by around five to 10 per cent by the time they reach menopause, compared to non-smokers. This deficit in bone density is enough to increase the risk of fracture.


Smoking causes women to enter menopause sooner and interrupts the menstrual cycle. While estrogen replacement therapy provides protection to menopausal women against osteoporosis, women who smoke face a serious increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke when using estrogens.


Women who smoke and take hormone therapy are at a much higher risk of dying of lung cancer. Once rare among women, lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of female cancer death in some countries.


Smoking restricts blood vessels, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the skin. Thus, smokers appear pale and unhealthy. Studies have also linked smoking to an increased risk of getting a type of skin rash called psoriasis. Cigarettes also leave smokers with a condition called halitosis, or persistent bad breath.

Uterine health

Women who smoke cigarettes have a greater risk of developing cancers of the cervix and vulva. It is estimated that 19 per cent of cervical cancer and 40 per cent of vulvar cancer is caused by smoking.

Going smoke-free

Decide to quit on a particular date. You may have tried this before but there’s no harm in trying again. Every time you crave a cigarette, focus on something else (writing, work outs, people, hobbies, etc) or perform a few deep-breathing exercises. Drinking lots of water and fluids can help flush out the nicotine and other poisons from your body. Stay away from alcohol, sugar and coffee as these tend to stimulate the desire for a cigarette. Avoid fatty foods too, as your metabolism will slow down a bit without the nicotine, and you may gain weight even if you eat the same amount as before quitting. But most importantly, keep reminding yourself that you are a non-smoker and you choose to live a healthier life!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Manage Your Cholesterol Levels

Eisha Sarkar

Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 6 2010 3:19PM

"Diet," your doctor tells you, just like the last time you got your cholesterol checked. You smile sheepishly and promise to have fruits for the rest of the week. But the next morning you remember your friend's twenty-fifth anniversary. It wouldn’t be criminal to tuck into butter chicken once in a while, you think. And anyway, how many promises can you keep?

Whatever the reasons may be for your high blood cholesterol level - diet, heredity, or both, the only treatment your doctor will prescribe you is diet. And as enticing the thought of popping pills to lower cholesterol may seem to you, it is your diet you have to change.

So what should you avoid?
  • High-fat food: There are two major types of dietary fat - saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat raises your blood cholesterol level more than anything else in your diet. The best way to reduce your blood cholesterol level is to reduce the amount of fat you eat
  • Piling on weight: If you are overweight, weight loss is another important step in lowering blood cholesterol levels. If you are not overweight, replace the fat calories by eating food high in complex carbohydrates
  • Animal Fats: Butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, eggs and cream contain high amounts of saturated fat. Poultry, fish, and shellfish also contain saturated fat, although generally less than meat
  • Hydrogenated Fat: Trans fats are created during the food manufacturing process when cheap vegetable oils undergo a process called "hydrogenation" (a process where hydrogen is added to make them solid and less likely to become rancid). Found in packaged foods, fries, cookies, cakes, flavoured coffees, chocolates (especially those high on nuts), trans fats unfortunately encourage atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)

In a healthy diet, 25 to 35 per cent of your total daily calories can come from fat — but saturated fat should account for less than 10 per cent of your total daily calories.

So what should you do?
  • Increase fiber: Soluble fiber in foods such as apples, pears, legumes, onions, sweet potatoes, oats, carrots and broccoli reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. 
  • Go for garlic: Allicin in garlic helps decrease LDL (by as much as 20 mg/dL), increase good cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lower blood pressure. Use garlic in foods regularly or take garlic supplements e.g. Ranbaxy's Garlic Pearls and Himalaya’s Lasuna
  • Something fishy: Eating fatty fish such as salmon and tuna can be heart-healthy because of they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil — or omega-3 fatty acids — reduces the risk of sudden death. Bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you decide to take a fish oil supplement, watch your diet and eat lean meat or vegetables in place of fish
  • Go nuts: Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachio nuts, etc. can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. Eating about a handful a day of most nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure they aren't salted or coated with sugar
  • Drizzle with olive oil: Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol but leave your "good" (HDL) cholesterol untouched. Saute vegetables in it, mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing or use it in place of butter with bread - just two tablespoons of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet can have many heart-healthy benefits.  Choose extra-virgin olive oil that contains more heart-healthy antioxidants
  • Add plant sterols: Choose margarine spreads, orange juice, cereals, and granola bars fortified with plant sterols that have cholesterol-lowering properties
  • Work out: Exercise increases the amount of HDL in your blood, while reducing the amount of LDL. It promotes weight loss and weight control and helps tone up your body's circulation, helping to clear away clots in the blood vessels

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boost your health with black

A cocktail of antioxidants, a cuppa without milk and sugar can actually keep illnesses at bay
Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Sep 4 2010 12:59PM


Bad for your bones, good for your nerves. Bad for your heart, good for weight loss. There is so much about caffeine that has been researched, scrutinized and written about that you would now hesitate before drinking a second cuppa. But is coffee all that bad?

In 1583, Leonhard Rauwolf, a German physician, gave this description of coffee after returning from a 10-year trip to the Near East (the Arabian Peninsula): “A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu.”

Initially used for spiritual rituals and later as a cure, coffee has gradually turned into a leisure drink giving rise to multinational coffee chains which provide for different kinds of lattes, blends and flavours. Unfortunately, as with sugar and cream (its accompaniments), coffee too has fallen to disrepute. But having it black and plain could do more than give you the morning jolt, for coffee:

Saves your liver:
Studies conducted by Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in California show that subjects who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had 80 per cent less chance of developing liver cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers and 23 per cent less chance of dying from liver cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers

Helps oxidize fat: Researchers have found that caffeine in coffee increases thermogenesis in part by increasing our body’s ability to oxidise fat. It appears that the weight loss that comes with drinking coffee may be due to increased lipid metabolism which burns away excess body fat

Helps the skin: Research has shown that caffeine encourages harmful cells, which can go on to cause non-melanoma skin cancers, to die

Brings a smile to your face: Caffeine increases the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates pleasure centers in certain parts of the brain

Packs you with antioxidants: A cup of coffee has up to four times more polyphenols to combat the free radicals formed due to oxidative stress in your body than a cup of green tea. Scientists at the Nestlé Research Center studied the metabolism of coffee antioxidants and found that they have a long-lasting release in the blood, even up to 12-14 hours after consumption

Cuts risk of colon cancer: A 12-year study on Japanese women found that drinking three or more cups of coffee per day may actually halve the risk of developing colon cancer

Reduces diabetes risk: A 2004 Dutch study has shown shown that men who drink six cups of coffee a day reduce their chances of developing type-2 diabetes by half, and women who drink the same amount cut their risk by 30 percent

May save your memory: Caffeine is a psychostimulant. Older women who drink three or more cups of coffee or tea a day have less memory loss and cognitive decline than their counterparts who drink less or none. Unfortunately, caffeine consumption doesn’t seem to have any preventative effect against dementia.

Fights cavities: Roasted coffee has some antibacterial properties, particularly against Streptococcus mutans, a major cause of dental caries. Just avoid all the sugar and the milk!

Reduces muscle pain from exercise: Researchers at the University of Georgia found that caffeine reduced thigh muscle pain during cycling exercise. The natural ingredient that is added to many sports nutrition products to 'enhance performance' could actually be a pain-inhibiter that is more effective than aspirin

How much should you drink?From adding fiber to your diet to reducing your risk of dying from cardiac disease, coffee has been touted as a remedy for all ills. But too much of caffeine can cause insomnia, restlessness, nervousness, gastrointestinal disturbances and heart palpitations. Limit your caffeine intake to 400 milligrams a day (300 mg for a pregnant woman or a woman who is trying to get pregnant), i.e. one or two cups per day and preferably not after noon.

Live Life, Anil Ambani Style

The marathon-running tycoon is an inspiration for those who want to lead a healthier, fuller life

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on  Sep 5 2010 7:55AM

An enthusiastic blogger writes, "I just got the complete details on what Anil Ambani gets to eat every day. Apparently, he gets up at 5.00 am, jogs till 6.30 am, and begins his day with a banana and some cereals washed down with protein milk at 8.00 am. At lunchtime, he gets to be a little hungry and so indulges in some sprouts, a cup of dal and two chappatis. He repeats the same menu for dinner. He goes to bed at 10.30 pm sharp. What’s the point in accumulating all that wealth amounting to Rs 50,000 crore, if all you get to eat are some meagre sprouts and an uninviting banana? Can someone explain?"

It is hard to understand why the chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group would want to run 100 kms a week or not down a glass of champagne at a party. But how many billiionaires actually run marathons? Money can’t buy you health. You have to earn it yourself. And Anil Ambani inspires those who find it difficult to balance their health and wealth aspirations.

In a 2002 interview, Ambani narrated an incident that changed the way he looked at himself. He was at an investor meeting in New York where one of the investors after the presentation was over said, “Well, Mr Ambani, the company looks in great shape and we have great confidence in its future. But have you looked at yourself recently in the mirror?” Ambani responded, “Well, that's a personal question, can we discuss it separately?” The investor didn’t budge. “No. I have the guts to ask this question in front of everybody, so I need the answer now.” Ambani said, “No I've not looked at myself recently in the mirror.” The investor remarked, “If you are not in a good shape, I don't think your company can be in good shape.” After the presentation, Ambani looked at himself in the mirror. He was 103 kilos in weight and he said, “I look awful.”
 Thus, he started a ‘change in lifestyle’ programme. He shed 35 kilos and changed his complete lifestyle to sustain himself and he continues with it till this day.

So how do you live like Anil Ambani (minus the billions)?

Be on the run: Wake up at 4.00 am like Ambani and go for a long run. You may even go trekking, hiking on trails or play polo.  Besides exercising those muscles, it will help clear your head and even bring you 'some of the best business ideas'.

Go vegetarian:
Though Ambani swears by pav-bhaji (without oodles of butter) he follows a strict pure vegetarian diet. Before noon, he eats only fruits and drinks juices. He takes no white products – no iodised salt, no refined flour, so sugar and no milk products. He prefers crushed rock salt and uses honey instead of sugar. He never mixes cereals. No dal-roti sabzi-chawal for him too but a bajra or jawar roti. He always eats fruits before meals and never mixes sweet and sour fruits.

Be disciplined: Rujuta Diwekar, who trained Ambani for a year for the 2005 Mumbai Marathon, says Ambani has a strong sense of responsibility towards his fitness. He always finds time daily to train, run, stretch and eat right. And you don't have to be rich to do that!

Sleep in rhythm: Though Ambani sleeps just five hours a day he manages to start the day afresh. So it doesn't really matter how many hours you sleep - six, seven or eight - but how well you sleep.

Abstain from alcohol and nicotine: Teetotalling may have something to do with Anil Ambani's clear-headedness and foresight and you may want to follow his example to live life king size.

Invest in not just wealth: As Ambani says, "I think you have to work with people, and when I talk about managing relationships, don’t think the derogatory 'managed relationships'. It is a question of sharing emotion and feelings. The common denominator of everything can’t be money, and it should not be money."