Sunday, October 31, 2010

Power nap to combat stress

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 30 2010 9:17PM

Feel like a half-asleep zombie after sitting through a 45-minute presentation by the boss? Well, it might just be the time to catch a few winks. As much as your boss would like to disagree, power napping is actually good for you.

Our bodies seem to be programmed to sleep after lunch. It is believed that our bodies have evolved to trying to drive us out of the midday sun, particularly in tropical countries. Researchers have found in recent years that the human body requires only as much sleep as the brain will allow it. So long as the brain is functioning at full capacity, there’s no great requirement for sleep. But then the brain needs a rest every now and then, and can refresh itself with just a short, 20-minute power nap.

Here's how a short nap can help you:

Focus: Research has shown that even a 10 minute nap can increase your performance, alertness and concentration. A short nap is especially beneficial if you’ve had poor sleep the night before

Sleep better at night: Being “over tired” is a common reason for insomnia, which a short nap may alleviate. Beware, however, of long naps, which can make it more difficult to sleep at night. Ten to thirty minutes or so is best

Improve memory and learning: Research in Germany has shown that even a relatively short nap (20 mintues or so) can have a pronounced effect on memory.  Napping also helps give the brain a chance to repair some of the over-used circuits

Drive safely: Sleep experts report that taking a short nap before you begin a long drive can reduce your chances of a “drowsy driving” accident. They also recommend that you pull over and take a 20 minute nap if you feel drowsy. Following that nap with a caffeinated drink before you hit the road again is best

Reduce stress: Since stress is often tied to being tired and overwhelmed, a short nap during the day can be a great stress reliever. You’ll wake feeling more refreshed and better able to cope with the stresses of the day

Cat-naps are no compensation for lack of sleep at night. At the end of the day, you should be able to get the optimal amount of sleep (about seven hours) for your body. Sufficient sleep improves performance, health, and learning and simply makes you feel better.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Honey Trap!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 29 2010 1:13PM

Sugar or honey? The debate rages on. If sugar is sweet, honey is sweeter. Sugar is widely used. Honey has stood the test of time. Sugar has 'empty calories'. Honey has even more calories. Sugar's white (well, mostly). Honey's gold! Sugar's not 'natural'. Honey is. Sugar is cheap. Honey’s not quite. Sugar is bad. Honey is good. But does honey really score over sugar?

Glycemic index
One factor to consider when considering whether a natural sugar substitute is healthy is the effect it has on blood sugar levels. The University of Sydney's website, lists table sugar (sucrose) with a glycemic index of 60-84. Honey, which mainly contains glucose and fructose, is said to have glycemic index in the range of 35-65 (though some other sources list higher indices in the range of 75-83). The higher the glycemic index, the more rapidly glucose is released into the bloodstream. Honey is also slightly higher in calories at 64 calories per tablespoon compared to table sugar's 50 calories. One health advantage of honey is that it has a rich, concentrated taste which may allow you to use less of it to get the same degree of sweetness.

Nutritional value
Both sweeteners contain glucose and fructose. However, the manufacturing process of sugar results in the loss of organic acids, protein, nitrogen elements, enzymes and vitamins from sugarcane, whereas honey subjects only to minimal heating and retains its minerals and vitamins. Even then, the difference isn’t much when you compare one tablespoon of honey with sugar.

Not for babies
Another potential problem with honey is that it contains bacterial spores that can cause botulism, a form of paralysis, in infants under the age of one year. For this reason, honey should never be given to babies less than twelve months of age.

Maybe, if you have a cough
Honey does seem to have antibacterial properties and can be quite beneficial if you're suffering from cold symptoms. It has the ability to soothe a sore throat. Studies have also shown that honey given at bedtime reduces night-time cough in children more effectively than over-the-counter cough medications.

Although honey may not give significant advantages over table sugar as an alternative sweetener, it does have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which make it useful for treating the effects of colds and sinus infections. A jar of fresh honey may very well come in handy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Energy drinks: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 28 2010 11:33AM

As Glucon-C gives way to Red Bull, a whole new crop of teenagers and athletes are willing to shell out the money for a can of 'something extra' to jolt them out of inertia. But is that energy drink really good for you?

Energy drinks are soft drinks advertised as boosting energy through stimulants, vitamins, and herbal supplements the manufacturer has combined. The drinks include methylxanthines (including caffeine), vitamin B and herbs.

Some of the ingredients you may find in popular energy drinks are:
  • Ephedrine: A stimulant, it works on the central nervous system. But there have been concerns about its effects on the heart
  • Taurine: A natural amino acid produced by the body that helps regulate heartbeat and muscle contractions
  • Ginseng: A root believed by some to have several medicinal properties, including reducing stress and boosting energy levels
  • B-vitamins: Can help convert sugar to energy and improve muscle tone
  • Guarana seed: A stimulant that comes from a small shrub native to Venezuela and Brazil
  • Carnitine: An amino acid that plays a role in fatty acid metabolism
  • Creatine: An organic acid that helps supply energy for muscle contractions.
  • Inositol: Helps relay messages within cells in the body
  • Ginkgo biloba: Is believed to enhance memory 


High energy drinks are rich in carbohydrates and are used by endurance athletes to replace glycogen, a form of glucose that is stored in the body to release energy. Glucose and maltodextrin triggered reward or pleasure circuits in the brain that are thought to reduce the athletes' perceptions of how much effort they are putting into the exercise, allowing them to work harder for longer.

Compare with a cuppa…

A typical energy drink can contain up to 80 mg of caffeine, about the same amount as a cup of coffee.  Caffeine is a stimulant and consuming a lot of it can lead to heart palpitations, irritability, anxiety and insomnia. Over time, it can become addictive. It is also a diuretic so drinking an energy drink while you're exercising can severely dehydrate you.  Pregnant women and young children should avoid them.

Don't mix them with alcohol

Often used as mixers with alcohol because they lessen effects of intoxication such as dizziness and headache, energy drinks can mask the influence of alcohol and a person may misinterpret their actual level of intoxication. People who drink mixers are more likely than non-mixers to drink more alcohol, and suffer alcohol-related consequences such as assault, injury or being an intoxicated driver.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How sandalwood calms your nerves

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 27 2010 5:28PM

Think 'aroma' and you think of sandalwood. From incense sticks and beads to soaps, from anti-burn creams to traditional attars (fragrances), from statues and temple gates to aphrodasiacs, chandan is as much a part of every Indian's life as is a cup of tea.

Uses of sandalwood
Distilled from the roots and heartwood of Santalum album that take 50 to 80 years to reach full maturity (and hence it’s expensive), sandalwood essential oil finds its use in aromatherapy and Ayurveda for its property to induce a calm and meditative state. Sandalwood is also anti-inflammatory, antifungal, astringent, sedative, insecticide, urinary and lung antiseptic and relieves lung congestion and nausea.

Effect on Central Nervous System
One of sandalwood’s most important uses is to sedate the nervous system, subduing nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and to some degree, reducing nerve pain. Santalol, a major component of sandalwood oil, has been reported to have central nervous system depressant effects such as sedation.

Modus operandi

In a 2007 study, researchers at the Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Japan investigated the effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats. They found that santalol caused a significant decrease in total waking time and an increase in total non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep time. The research also suggested that santalol may act via the circulatory system rather than the olfactory system i.e. it probably is absorbed into the blood through the respiratory mucosa, and then exerts its action.The results concluded that santalol may be useful in patients having difficulty maintaining sleep without being affected by individual differences in perfume-related preference.

A word of caution

Although sandalwood offers plenty of benefits, certain precautions need to be taken when you use it. Direct application of the oil is not recommended. It has to be diluted with water or some other carrier oil (e.g rose or neroli), otherwise undiluted essential oil may lead to skin irritation. Ingesting sandalwood essential oil internally without being diluted can also cause health problems. Also the purity of the oil is often questionable as pure sandalwood is very expensive. Consult with a licensed health care provider before using it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Every breath you take...

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 24 2010 11:17AM

Rarely do you think about your lungs. You worry about your liver and spine, your stomach and bladder, your kidneys and of course, your heart. But lungs, no. Not unless you're a smoker. While with every gasp of breath a smoker realises the abuse his/her lungs have undergone, so-called healthy people don't get such reminders. Lungs don’t make headlines. Lungs don’t even make conversations!
Years of smoking and breathing in pollution can take a toll on the lungs, causing symptoms such as lung irritation, smoker's cough, bronchitis and shortness of breath. While giving up smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke is the first step to improving lung health, it’s not enough.
Keep those lungs in shape!
Exercise can go a long way in giving you clean and healthy lungs, and in turn, a healthier body. Here's how:
  • Pranayama: 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 (the ancient yogic practice of breath control) strengthens your lungs, improves blood circulation and relaxes the mind.
  • On the run: Aerobic exercises such as jogging, walking and cycling can dramatically increase the functions of your lungs by allowing them to be stronger and cleaner than they may have ever been otherwise.
  • Swimming: During lap swimming, you typically breathe every few strokes. Between the strokes, you hold your breath underwater. This lung exercise helps to increases in lung capacity over time and can be very beneficial for older adults as lung capacity begins to diminish with age. Additionally, swimming in less-chlorinated pools can help children and adults with asthma.
Watch what you eat
You don't necessarily have to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to have difficulties breathing after a large meal. As the amount of food in your stomach increases, it often pushes against the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Eat in moderation and avoid gassy foods e.g. cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, which also have the same effect.
Help your lungs by reducing the amount of sugar you consume. Sugar has a negative effect on the body's immune system, lowering its efficiency. If you want to keep not only your lungs healthy, but also the rest of your body, reduce your intake of sugar and sugary products.
Whether you already have a problem with your lungs or simply want to live healthier, cut down on your intake of saturated fats and salty foods. Sodium causes you to retain fluids and people with lung problems find that makes it more difficult to breathe. Fats clog your arteries resulting in fluid building up in your lungs.  Keep them to a minimum and you’ll be just fine.
Pack in those vitamins
Eat colourful fruits and vegetables such as apricots, carrots, tomatoes and watermelon which contain high amounts of vitamin A that can actually help heal the lungs.  Getting more vitamin C from citrus fruits, vegetables and supplements into your diet can help enhance the antioxidant action of vitamin E to protect your lung cells from damage from free radicals. Vitamin D is also crucial for lung health. Research shows that vitamin D helps to slow declining lung function in people with asthma. Scientists tested cell cultures from both asthmatics and non-asthmatics and found that calcitriol, a type of vitamin D, slowed muscle proliferation in airways.  Muscle proliferation reduces lung function.  Calcitriol, is also anti-inflammatory. You can get vitamin D from exposure to the sun, but also from fish and supplements.
Clean up!
Just a simple thing like washing your hands can keep away germs that cause coughs and colds.  Avoid air-conditoner lungs (characterised by episodes of fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath) by cleaning the humidifiers and the piping of air conditioner ducts that contain spores and germs that  may cause infections and allergies.
When breathing becomes a task, life loses its purpose. Lungs carry out a variety of important functions. The more you look after them, the better they will be in bringing oxygen into your system and getting rid of carbon dioxide and guard against harmful substances that can ruin your body. Take care today, for a better tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What it takes to be an Ironman

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 23 2010 3:27PM

Eisha SarkarPosted on Hello Wellness on Oct 23 2010 3:27PM
A 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon, all in 17 hours and without a break! You need more than just nerves of steel to get to the finish line at an Ironman Race. Organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), athletes, CEOs, students, professionals and pensioners push their limits of fitness and endurance at the World Championship at Hawaii every year.
When the going gets tough
The original Ironman is held in conditions which are punishing for endurance racing: the Hawaii water is warm enough that helpfully buoyant wetsuits are not allowed; though the cycling hills have only moderate gradients they are normally crossed by strong winds; and the marathon leg of the race is usually extremely hot. If you complete one of these races within the 17-hour time limit, you can call yourself an Ironman.
The tough get going
Preparing for an Ironman may take anywhere between six months to a year. Here are a few tips:
  • Establish a routine: Start with an "unstructured training" where you train what you want to and how you feel like. After a while, you begin to feel a difference in your legs. You can sense your muscles' ability to absorb greater capacity and volume. Your runs will get faster and feel easier.
  • Assess your fitness: It is better to run shorter intervals that allow for short recovery. If you want to measure your 5km pace, do a session like this: 3 by 800m and 1 by 400m. Take only 40 seconds rest between each repeat. This gives you a better guide where your running is vulnerable. It also gives a hint at what your current running speed is and what your maximum heart rate is currently. Your heart rate can go higher as your fitness increases.
  • Gradually increase training volume: Build your miles over time. Do not make sudden changes to your training. Increase your miles over a two-week period and then cut back your training volume in the third week.
  • Rest days: You may feel so good that you want to maintain your training but rest will take your training to a higher level. Be disciplined about your rest days.
  • Get nutrition: Your body is constantly being pushed so good food and vitamins are vital as they also boost immunity.
Once it’s over
After the race, drink plenty of water, have nutritious food and rest. You may resume light workouts within a few days of your race. Avoid endurance runs though. Without the intense focus you've been placing on your race, your thoughts may seem scattered. Be patient and all will be well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's fowl!

Gaggles of geese, solitary cranes and various waterfowl dot the fields and wetlands of Kheda and Anand districts in Gujarat

Little Cormorant
"Pariej?" The chaiwala at Tarapur chowk sleepily shakes his head. It's 6am. Our Gujarati driver tries again. "Pariyaj?" "That way," the chaiwala points to his right. In spite of excellent roads and helpful locals, getting around rural Gujarat can be difficult because everything rests on pronunciation. You get the name of a place right, you'll find your way. You pronounce it differently and you’ll be in another part of the state. And as if that's not enough, adjacent districts have places bearing the same names! But then if you have to go birdwatching around Gujarat's numerous wetlands, you have to be patient and keep searching.

Pariyaj Reservoir
No water in the reservoir

We pass through a huge gate that welcomes you to the 'Pariej Wetland Bird Watchers Paradise', Matar taluka in Kheda district of Gujarat. Pariej (80 km from Vadodara) boasts of around 60 species of birds. We head to the "Observation Post" marked with pictures of different types of cranes, flamingoes and ducks that you are likely to find in the Rann-like marsh fringed with lotuses and weeds. The 445 ha water storage reservoir that fulfills the drinking water requirement for 52 surrounding villages is almost dry.

A skein of noisy black geese flies overhead. You notice white and grey spots at the far edge of the "reservoir" - gulls, terns, waders, coots, grebes, cormorants, ibises, storks and egrets, we confirm with our binoculars. Under the cloudy sky, they do little to brighten the landscape. In the absence of human guides, a couple of dogs will lead you to the watchtower, which is not higher than a building’s first floor, from where you may spot some sand plovers, sandpipers, ruffs and if you are lucky, the Steppe Eagle.

"Kam paani mein hi zyaada birds aate hain. These birds can’t feed when the reservoir is full. You will find many more birds here in December-January," says Satish Chaudhary, a police inspector from Ahmedabad, who is here for election duty and has spent the night four-room resthouse-cum-office at Pariej.

To serious birders, Pariej is a place to find new feathered friends. However, the lack of facilities will force you to look for accommodation at Tarapur.


Though this tiny village in Anand district is erroneously marked next to a huge reservoir on the Gujarat map, it has many water-channels and pools teeming with fish that make it a great feeding site for birds, some of which come all the way down from Central Europe during the winter months. Lined along the water-bodies, you will find statue-like egrets and pelicans, camera-shy Sarus cranes, black cormorants drying their wings, gaggles of geese and solitary grebes, cranes and storks.

Sarus Crane (Grus antigone)


The road from Tarapur to Bagodara in the south is picturesque with lush green paddy fields. We find Sarus cranes (in the breeding season, it’s easy to spot 50 of them in a day), black ibises, egrets, kingfishers, etc sharing their space with mynas, sparrows, swallows, pigeons and woodpeckers. We follow the birds to the 625 ha-Villa Kanewal Lake, the largest reservoir in the district. The land surrounding the reservoir is salt-affected and remains dry in the summer. During monsoon, the whole area is inundated and migratory waterfowl such as Dalmatian Pelicans (one of the world’s heaviest flying species from south-east Europe), Red-crested Pochards (Netta Rufina), Sarus cranes, Demoiselle Cranes (Grus virgo).

"Conservation is necessary"

"Gujarat’s wetlands see a large number of migratory birds. Eco-tourism can turn into a major industry here," says Dr Anika Tere of Department of Zoology of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda who has worked extensively in documenting the avifauna in the Kheda-Anand belt. "While tourism will help create awareness about such ecosystems, the government should chart out a proper wetland management plan to maintain and sustain them," she adds.

Getting there: Tarapur is located 80 km from Vadodara on the Vadodara-Rajkot highway. You get buses from Vadodara but will have to rent auto or car from Tarapur to Periej, Kanavad and Kanewal, all 15-20 km away. Closest airport: Ahmedabad (60 km).

Birdwatching tips:

  • The best time for birdwatching is early morning and evening. Migratory birds areseen mainly from October to March
  • Wear clothes in earthen shades to blend with the surroundings
  • Do not disturb the birds or get too close to them
  • Carry binoculars and cameras with powerful zoom lenses
  • Do not carry or throw plastic bags

Contact information:

For Periej
Range Forest Officer, 7-Gopal Shopping Centre, Above Meda, Opp Gayatri Hospital, Matar, Distt- Kheda
Gujarat. Tel: +91 2584285406 Mob: +91 9998983088 Email:

3 ways to cope with change

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 22 2010 10:56AM
You know change is necessary for growth. Only the dead don't grow. You think about the last time you tried to do something really different with your hair. That was change! But you will think twice before you do it again. Change is good, you've been told. Then why do you fear it so much?
Fear of change is one of the top fears many people have. When facing a change, most people invariably feel insecure, lost and overwhelmed. Homeostasis is as much a state of balance for your mind as it is for your body. Change upsets the apple cart by disrupting the careful balance of consistency and predictability that you’ve struck in your life. 
But here's how you can cope with change effectively:
  • Make friends: Having family and friends you can confide in is always a great comfort and being able to discuss the challenges that you are currently facing goes a long way towards relieving the stress
  • Be positive: Being able to reframe your thinking and attaching positive meaning to the changes you experience in your life will enable you to cope with change. If you view change as a threat, you will experience fear and anxiety and most likely be resistant to the change you are about to undergo. Having a positive attitude will help you to feel good about yourself and is also an important part of your day-to-day health. Think about what you like and appreciate about yourself. List them and you'll find quite a few surprises that will boost your self-esteem.
  • Take care of yourself: Don't kill yourself by worrying over how you will cope in a new environment. Pay attention to your diet, exercise regularly and sleep well. The last thing you would want to do is face up to the challenge of change sleep-deprived and hungry.
Self-help publications, support groups, friends, money, loving family members, special talents, good health, time and a positive attitude can help you a lot when you're facing change. Recognise them, learn from them and use them to your advantage.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bengali food in Ahmedabad

Finding non-veg joints in the largely vegetarian Ahmedabad can be difficult, but is extremely rewarding. Due to low consumption of poultry, meats and fish, restaurants serve only the very best to their clients. On my recent trip there for Durga Puja (pandals at Vastrapur, Gandhinagar and Shola Road), I discovered a few restaurants and caterers for Bengali food.

Abhiruchi: Flavours of Bengal

Ethnic Bengali Fine Dining Restaurant (Veg and non-veg)

Where: First floor, 101-a, Sachet-1, Near Swastik Char Rasta, B/h City Centre, Above Dominos Pizza, Off C.G. Road, Ahmedabad-15

Phone: (079) 40077465/66, 9978965171

Specialities: Fish fry, Moghlai Paratha, Begun Bhaja (brinjal cut in elongated shapes, marinated and shallow fried), Aloo Posto (cubes of potato cooked in poppy or khus paste with mustard oil), Sukto (an appetizer made of several seasonal vegetables cooked in coarsely ground mustard paste), Narkal diye Cholar dal (thick Bengal gram pulse cooked with grated coconut and finished with broiled spices), Mochar Ghanto (dry vegetable preparation of shredded banana flower cooked with ethnic spices and chopped coconut), Daab chingri (Spicy marinated shrimps stuffed in green coconut shell and baked in open fire), Doi ilish (fillet of hilsa cooked in spicy yoghurt gravy), kasa mangsho (dry mutton preparation slowly cooked with tomato juices and spices in mustard oil), misti pulao, loochi, misti doi

Prices: Veg starters Rs 40-60, Non-veg starters Rs 70-Rs 250, Veg Main-courses Rs 120, Non-veg Main Courses Rs 220-Rs 350 (the latter for fish specialities)

The restaurant offers 'Service on Call' where if you place an order upwards of Rs 2,000 for home delivery, they will send one of their stewards to serve you as well.

They also arrrange the food and decor for Bengali weddings.

Tripti Restaurant and Fast Food

Where: Shop No. 7, Super Plaza, Neel Deep Apt, Sandesh Press Road, Bodakdev, Ahmedabad-54

Phone: (079) 30150472 / 9377596661

Specialities: Biryani, Mughlai Paratha, fisholi (fish fried in batter), fish fry, mutton cutlet, vegetable chop

Shree Durga Sweets

Animesh Catering Service and Tiffin Service

Specialities: Biryani, fish fry, kasa mangsho, maccher jhol, etc

Contact: 9327647266 / 9376725507

Kolkata's Special

Madhai Catering

Specialities: Biryani, Mughlai Paratha, fish fry, egg dabeli

Contact: Madhai Sardar 9879983863 / 9974366234

Specialties: Biryani, Mughlai Paratha, fish fry, egg dabeli

Get the Zen back into your life

Eisha Sarkar 
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 19 2010 11:27PM

Much has been talked, discussed and debated about Zen. Is it religion, mysticism or philosophy? Is it an altered state or is the way to inner and global peace? Zen is all those things, and essentially, none of them. Though rooted in Buddhism, Zen is beyond doctrine.

Zen and Zazen

The Japanese word for Zen derives from the Chinese character ch’an which derives from the Sanskrit word dhyana or meditation. At the heart of Zen is zazen or seated meditation. The aim of zazen is just sitting, "opening the hand of thought". In Zen Buddhism, zazen is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment (satori).

Zazen: How and when?

Articulated and perfected by Zen master Dogen Zenji (the founder of the Soto Lineage of Buddhism in Japan), zazen involves the emptying of the mind unlike other spiritual practices that use meditation that involve putting a thought or image into the mind. You can zazen any time of the day and as many times you want. Meditating early in the morning will energise you. Meditating before bedtime will help you wind down and process the events of the day, clearing your mind for a good night’s sleep. Meditating when you feel anxious or when you have so much going on in your life or in your mind that you can’t think straight will help you get a grip and will refresh you. A great time to zazen is in the middle of a busy or sluggish day. It’s amazing how much a 10-minute walking or quiet sitting zazen at lunch can calm you down or perk you up.

5 concepts of Zen you can use in your daily life
Zen is practical and allows you to attain well-being, happiness and even enlightenment, without pressurising you take up austere vows and a monastic life. You can be yourself and practice Zen daily by:
  • Striving to be calm: It’s possible to be actively calm even during times of chaos. Practising to be both calmly active and actively calm at all times with a focused mind can increase your energy and enable you to complete your tasks more quickly. Through walking or sitting meditation, you train your mind to focus on everything, though nothing “in the moment,” with clarity and calmness.
  • Living in the present: Let go of longings for the past or the discomfort in an uncertain future. The future is an illusion that will never come. Make each moment a choice for the present – an action, a thought, or a word that supports your ‘now’ and the world around you. Practise zazen to maintain openness to the ‘here’ and ‘now’, mindfully calm within the presence of “nothingness” without expectation.  
  • Accepting everyone: Hui-neng (676-713 AD), the true founder of Chinese Zen taught that we must return to our original self-nature, which is free from duality. Zen calls for blurring the lines between here and there, blue and yellow, round and square, plant and animal, mind and body, you and me. It is easy to love those who love you back, but to accept and love those whom you do not know and those who do not like you is to accept everyone for who they are. 
  • Showing loving-kindness: When the mind is at ease, it’s friendly and receptive to all, despite the circumstances. Loving-kindness is a tool to eliminate the negative in life. Everyday at work, you pass those who you do not know or collaborate with on a daily basis and you fail to acknowledge their presence and contributions. Consciously seek them out and pass on a kind hello. Help those who need help and support.
  • Holding no grudges: Carrying around anger, hurt and resentment (which nearly always travel together) about something from the past spoils today and poisons tomorrow. Let go of the emotions and expectations. Take a walk outside, concentrating only on your movement and breathing to help calm you down and get some peace.
You cannot become a Zen master overnight. Like most things in the world you need practice to perfect the art of Zen. Go steady, go slow and breathe easy.

The Black Swan

Book: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 366
Price: Rs 395

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Mumbai Mirror on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 02:42:42 PM

"Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the current tight real-estate market will allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly." The Black Swan could be one of those books. A staple read for MBAs, CEOs, leaders of the state (e.g. British Prime Minister David Cameron who uses the black swan robustness idea for his programme) and behavioral economists such as Malcolm Gladwell, Nassim Nicholas Taleb's bestseller is more likely to remain on your shelf for months before you open it. And when you do, you wonder why it has taken you this long.

New York-based Taleb, a philosophical essayist, scholar and practitioner of mathematical financial economics, has come up with a compelling book that describes the random events that underlie our lives, from bestsellers to world disasters. They are nearly impossible to predict, like the existence of the black swan was till Australia was discovered. Events like 9/11, the collapse of long-term capital management and most wars are Black Swans.  No one sees them coming, but in retrospect people manage to explain them. Taleb talks about the scandals of prediction, why the bell curve in statistics is the Great Intellectual Fraud and the aesthetics of randomness. He focuses on the outliers ("normal is often irrelevant"), dismisses newspapers and risk-assessment experts, resists schedules ("Missing a train is only painful if you run after it!"), makes 19th century German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss a villain and cautions about the pull of the sensational:

"Terrorism kills, but the biggest killer remains the environment, responsible for close to 1.3 million deaths annually. But terrorism causes outrage, which makes us overestimate the likelihood of a potential terrorist attack - and react more violently to one when that happens. We feel the sting of man-made damage far more than that caused by nature."

While understanding the risk in markets is the central theme of the book, Taleb manages well to blend skepticism with certainties, conservatism with aggressiveness, psychology with mathematics, history with predictability and the intellectual with practicality. He keep going back to his roots in the Levantine (he refuses to call it Lebanon) to come up with stories, narratives, reports and anecdotes to spice up his commentary. He introduces new ideas, concepts such as Mediocristan and Extremistan, new words like antibrary and even little-known authors and philosophers who defied convention with their theories. He concludes with the message, "You can always control what you do; so make this your end."

In spite of all the talk of randomness it contains, the sequence of the book "follows a simple logic from what can be labelled purely literary (in subject and treatment) to what can be deemed entirely scientific (in subject though not in treatment)". While the prose is simple, some of the concepts in the book are purely mathematical. By way of cross-referencing, Taleb subtly nudges you to re-read some of the chapters to understand them better. And what you certainly don’t want to miss are the footnotes on each page. Immensely readable and packed with humour, sarcasm and cynicism, they come up as welcome breaks between the heavy prose.

 Provocative and powerful, the Black Swan is a masterpiece. Don't let it rest unread on your shelf for too long.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10 Minute Zen

Book: 10 Minute Zen - Easy Tips to Lead You Down the Path of Enlightenment
Authors: Colleen Sell and Rosemary Roberts
Publisher: Wisdom Tree
Pages: 254
Price: Rs 145

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Times Wellness on Monday, November 08, 2010

Some think Zen is religion. Others think it is mysticism. Some think it is philosophy. For others, it is the way of life. Some believe it is psychology, others say it is a spiritual practice. For all the definitions that have been attributed to it, Zen remains indefinable. 

In their book 10 Minute Zen, authors Colleen Sell and Rosemary Roberts attempt to decode the mystical aspect of Zen, while advocating its practical applications in day-to-day life. "Zen is as simple and natural and as accessible and as liberating as breathing. But even something fundamental as breathing can become erratic when we feel confused, anxious, or out of our element," they write.

Sell and Roberts trace the origin of Zen, all the way back to Buddha, its various branches in China and Japan and its spread from the monasteries of the East to living rooms in the West. They describe Zazen or silent motionless meditation that is central to Zen, standing, reclining and working meditations, focussed body energy and chakras, chants and mantras. They have done well to describe Buddhist iconography, flags, beads, symbols, altar pieces and ceremonies and their significance.

Written in simple, conversational English, the book coaxes the reader to make Zen a way of life. "Zen isn't about floating in the clouds, out of reach of the tough stuff happening down here on Earth. It's about being real. Because being real - knowing the skinny, having right view - is where all the good stuff comes from." 10 Minute Zen stresses on using Zen in daily life by:

  • Striving to be calm as it increase your energy and enable you to complete your tasks more quickly
  • Living in the present because the future is an illusion that will never come 
  • Accepting everyone because our original self-nature is free from duality
  • Showing loving-kindness to those you fail to acknowledge everyday
  • Holding no grudges because carrying around anger, hurt and resentment about something from the past spoils today and poisons tomorrow

Your journey to nirvana will include quieting your monkey mind, finding your spiritual centre, giving and receiving compassion, living the dharma and loving yourself and the world.
The book is a perfect beginner's guide to Zen. It stays away from the literary and focuses more on action. The prose is broken into parts that are interspersed with insightful Chinese proverbs and quotes. The authors also cite their own experiences and examples which connect with the reader. The book promises, "You don't have to sit under a bodhi tree and meditate as the Buddha did to become enlightened. With this easy, engaging guide, you can start bringing more compassion, joy, serenity, and happiness into your life today, right from your own home."

While you may need a lot of practice to gain enlightenment and find the Buddha in you, but the very compact 10 Minute Zen proves to be a fantastic guide to help you find your way to a more positive, peaceful and pleasurable life.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Build up with Creatine

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 12 2010 6:19PM

Named after the Greek word for meat, creatine is now gaining popularity among gym rats and bodybuilders as a muscle-enhancing supplement. At the same time, there are lots of debates over its use and abuse, its benefits and side-effects and whether you should be taking it at all.

What's creatine?

The nitrogenous organic acid occurs naturally in vertebrates. Creatine is NOT an essential nutrient and is naturally produced in the human body from amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine in the kidney and liver. It is transported in the blood for use by muscles. Phosphocreatine stores energy in muscles and provides energy for contractions. It is needed for regenerating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules, which is the main fuel for muscle activity. 

Performance booster
As dietary supplement creatine monohydrate, is used by bodybuilders and athletes for high-intensity workouts, increased strength, increased muscular mass and faster post-workout recovery. There is scientific evidence that short-term creatine use can increase maximum power and performance in high-intensity anaerobic repetitive work by five to 15 per cent. This is mainly bouts of running or cycling sprints and multiple sets of low RM weightlifting. While its influence on physical performance has been well-documented since the 1920s, it came into public view following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It was reported that Linford Christie, the gold medal winner at 100 meters, had used creatine before the Olympics. Several medal-winning British rowers were also said to have used creatine during their preparations for the Barcelona games.

How much should you take?

There are two scientifically proven ways to supplement with creatine. The first is through a loading phase, in which 20 grams per day for a period of five to seven days, followed by a maintenance phase of three to five grams a day for two to three months at a time. The second consists of taking three to 10 grams of creatine per day for a period of two to three months with no loading phase. It is generally recommended to take at least one to two weeks off from creatine supplementation in order to maintain a proper response mechanism in the body.

While short-term creatine supplementation in healthy individuals is safe, those with kidney disease should avoid it due to possible risks of renal dysfunction. Creatine cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to a lack of scientific information.

Top 5 immune-boosting foods

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 12 2010 6:02PM

Much of what your body needs to fight off infection can be found in foods. Only, you don't eat enough. Poor diet can make you susceptible to a host of diseases and it takes more than an apple to keep the doctor away. Here are five foods and ingredients that boost your body's immunity:

  • Vitamin C: This vital nutrient tops the list of immune boosters. Available naturally in many fruits and vegetables, vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses. As an added perk, persons whose diets are higher in vitamin C have lower rates of colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
  • Garlic: Known more for its pungent flavour, garlic stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white blood cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production. Some research suggests it may have anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Tea: Have it white, black or green, the popular beverage has an anti-microbial affect. A 2003 study by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School showed that immune system blood cells from tea drinkers responded five times faster to germs than did the blood cells of coffee drinkers.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: The omega 3 fatty acids in flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, may be useful in the management of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
  • Yoghurt: Studies have shown that consumption of lactic acid bacteria in yoghurt increase the production of interferons and interleukins that are important members of our body’s immune response system. Lactic acid bacteria also cause increases in the numbers and activity of natural killer (NK) cells that kill virus-infected cells.

Trace elements such as Selenium and Zinc found in beef, pork, and lamb are vital to the production of powerful anti-oxidant enzymes - superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase - that are part of the body's defence mechanism.  Add zinc and selenium supplements to your diet, if necessary.

While you do need to feed your immune system to boost its fighting power, just eating right is not enough. Supplement your diet with some exercise and you'll be fit and fine as a fiddle!

Chamomile, the Sleep Aid

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 12 2010 6:16PM

The national flower of Russia, the daisy-like Chamomile, has evolved as one of the best natural sleep-inducers worldwide. Originally from central and southern Europe, Matricaria camomilla, is now widely cultivated in USA, Australia, Argentina, Egypt, and northern Africa and packaged as tea that can be purchased over the counter.

A tea for bed!

Chamomile has been used throughout the ages as a very effective sleep aid. Chamomile tea, which is made from the dried flowers and leaves of this common plant, is most effective when sipped a half an hour to forty-five minutes before going to bed. Chamomile can also be used in a sachet placed underneath a pillow.

Chamomile Tea Recipe (One Serving)

• 1 cup water
• 1 tsp dried chamomile flowers
• lemon juice
• honey

Bring the water to the boil in a pan. Add dried chamomile flowers to it and boil for 30 to 45 seconds with the lid on. Remove tea from the heat and let the flowers steep for another minute and then strain it. Served with honey and a little lemon juice, the tea can help you unwind after a busy day. Its calming properties usually begin to take effect within a half hour of drinking a cup.

How does it work?
Chrysin, a flavonoid component of chamomile, is the chemical attributed to chamomile’s ability to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. In rodent studies, chrysin has been found to be anxiolytic i.e. it can be used in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Unlike some herbal sleep remedies, chamomile does not have to be used on a regular basis to be effective as treatment for insomnia. It can be used on the spot to provide quick relief for sleeplessness and anxiety.
Chamomile is also known to reduce the histamine-based swelling produced by allergic reactions, and is an excellent solution when congested sinuses or food allergies contribute to sleeplessness.

A word of caution

Though chamomile has been traditionally used for 100 ailments and conditions, few have undergone scientific study on humans and animals. In some persons, chamomile may induce rare allergic reactions, atopic dermatitis (skin rash), drowsiness or sedation and even has the potential to stimulate the uterus, leading to miscarriage. It also increases drowsiness if taken with lorazepam or diazepam, barbiturates, phenobarbital, narcotics, antidepressants and alcohol. Consult a doctor before its use.

Breathing meditation calms your mind

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 18 2010 7:47AM

It’s only when you try to sleep, you become aware of how disturbed your mind really is. You want to meditate, but you don't know how to start. Well, luckily for an overworked individual like you, Buddhism suggests a very simple breathing meditation technique that requires little time to learn, but provides peace and happiness that last for long.

Meditate for peace

Breathing meditation helps you calm makes you happy. Why breath? Because it is portable; you have it with you and don’t have to bother about forgetting your worry beads. Breath is free, is complete, is 100 per cent natural (you can't get more organic than this), is effortless and has a connection with vital life force. The simple, natural rhythm breath follows leads you to peace.

How do you do it?
Sustained attention on the breath is training in stillness, the ability to be content with little and to remain attentive. Here's how you do it:

  • Sit down for meditation and fix your attention on the breath at that point where you most easily notice it say, at the belly. Very consciously watch the sequence of inhalation and exhalation as you watch your abdomen rise and fall. Begin counting each breath. Do this for about 10 to 30 minutes at one sitting, twice a day for several weeks.
  • Mentally follow the course of the breath. Hold your attention at the belly and observe the physical phenomenon of breathing, the progress of inhalation, the start of the exhalation. Do this for 30 to 60 minutes; twice a day for several months.
  • When you are mindful of your breathing, the breath becomes more and more subtle - serene and tranquil. The body calms and ceases to feel fatigue. The breath becomes more and more subtle until it seems that it has ceased. At this point, your mind is free from the five hindrances  --  sensual desire, anger, drowsiness, restlessness and doubt.

Is it difficult?
Some people experience feelings of restlessness or discomfort in the beginning because their tense bodies resist relaxation. Once you master this stress-reducing technique, the mind and body will be much stronger and healthier and ready to face the pressures that await the day. Just watch your breath and you will be able to blow your troubles away.

Trimmed waistlines, bigger bottom lines!

Corporate Wellness Programs go a long way in increasing employee productivity
Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 12 2010 5:58PM

Stress at work is inevitable. Employees complain of long hours, demanding bosses, tight deadlines, irreverent subordinates, absent colleagues, sleepless nights, back aches and other health problems. The managements hold their own without realising that such stresses can do damage to more than just employees. According to a recent report, preventable job stress drains $730 million a year from the Australian economy. And that's just one country!

The study conducted by the University of Melbourne's School of Population Health and Tasmania's Menzies Research Institute also suggests that employers would be the major beneficiaries of reducing job strain over the long term, because the greatest costs fall on employers due to lost productivity absenteeism, compensation claims, health insurance and medical expenses.

In 1998, the non-profit Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) reported a study of 46,026 staffers from six large organisations for three years. Staffers with an inactive lifestyle had 10 per cent higher costs; staff members with depression had 70 per cent higher costs. To set a few wrongs right, many companies have now started implementing corporate wellness programs for the benefit of their employees.

What's a corporate wellness program?
Alternatively called workplace wellness program, a corporate wellness program combines educational, organisational, and environmental activities to support behaviour conducive to the health of employees in a business and their families.

Workplace wellness initiatives may include:
  • Awareness raising activities: Through health newsletters, emails, fliers
  • Health Risk Assessment (HRA): Employee health screenings, wellness fairs, health risk appraisals
  • Educational Programs: Lunch-and learn wellness presentations, guest speakers at staff meetings
  • Skill Building: Healthy cooking demonstrations, activity challenges, stress management classes, weight management classes
  • Interventions: Massage, tobacco cessation, and skills to help you get the most out of your doctor visit
  • Physical environment: Healthy items in the vending machines and cafeterias, clean air practices, well-lit staircases
  • Evaluation: Worker needs assessment, assessment of Corporate Health Promotion Initiative
While corporate wellness programs normally evolve out of an employer's need to cut health care costs, they also help reduce chronic disease risk, decrease rates of illness, injury and disability, reduce absenteeism, increase employee productivity and efficiency, improve morale and lower stress levels and enhance retention of healthy employees.

How does it help the company?
Costs are always a concern for businesses, and corporate wellness programs are effective in lowering them. Studies conducted by the University of Michigan's Health Management Research Center showed savings for an individual company of $80 million dollars after the implementation of an effective wellness program.  Another report stated that The Canada Life Assurance Company realised a four per cent rise in productivity after beginning an employee fitness program while employee absenteeism dropped by 42 per cent. Healthier employees mean healthier bottom lines!

However, cost-savings are realised over the long term, and on an aggregate population. The actual costs of implementing a wellness program are immediate, per employee, and getting bigger by the year.

Shaping up can be rewarding
When corporate wellness programs first emerged two decades ago, companies tried to woo participants with the promise of better health, and inexpensive gifts such as T-shirts, baseball caps, backpacks, emblazoned water-bottles, and gift-vouchers.

But these days, CEOs are willing to put real money on the table for widespread employee participation in wellness programs.  In order to get their employees in shape, companies have started providing much more than gyms and low-calorie meals.

Employees of The Kellogg Company can shave up to $1,100 per year off their health insurance premiums if they complete an HRA, demonstrate that they are non-smokers (or participate in a cessation program), and engage in other healthy lifestyle change. They can also earn additional rewards for getting vaccinated against influenza, meeting weight-loss goals, participating in health-coaching programs, and taking part in company fitness challenges.

In their paper, Bottom Line Booster Shot: Corporate Wellness Programs, Barbara Hendrickson and Stacie Pinnavaia note, “A long-term study by Johnson and Johnson indicated that healthcare costs were $225 less for each employee who participated during a four-year period and that voluntary participation increased from 26 per cent to 90 per cent when incentives were offered."

Companies with wellness programs offer employees incentives to reach a number of different goals. A company with a lot of men over 40, for instance, might reward proper diet and exercise; one with a lot of women under 40, obtaining pre-natal care during pregnancy; and one whose employees do a lot of driving on the job, wearing their seat-belts. The most frequent goal, by far, is to have employees quit smoking, but other common goals include better health via aerobics, biking, jogging, walking, or swimming and losing weight.

Greater job satisfaction
While they help improve attendance rates and lower insurance costs, corporate wellness programs have been shown to lead to higher levels of job satisfaction among employees. The employees in turn, generally have higher levels of satisfaction for the companies with which they are employed. That means higher levels of employee motivation and morale, which, in turn, higher productivity. No longer does it remain just another job!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Aromatherapy: A Cure for Insomnia

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 10 2010 12:45AM

Once the preserve of Eastern aristocrats, aromatherapy is now becoming increasingly popular worldwide as a complimentary cure for insomnia and nervous disorders.  

How does it work?
In aromatherapy, the essential oils are said to stimulate an area of the brain, known as the limbic system that controls mood and emotion. Though aromatherapy lacks solid scientific backing, many people find it helps ease tension, promote relaxation and aid in sleep.

So if you have spent the last few nights tossing and turning in bed trying to get some sleep, don't reach out for those sleeping pills. Instead, use these time-tested essential oils distilled from bark, flowers, berries, leaves or fruit to help you relax:
  • Lavender: It calms the nervous system, relaxes the body and enables blissful sleep
  • Chamomile: The sweet-fragrant oil helps those who suffer from insomnia. However, it can cause dermatitis in some people
  • Rose: This non-toxic, non-irritant oil is useful for the treatment of insomnia, nervous tension, depression, headaches, painful periods, nausea, asthma, the loss of sex drive
  • Jasmine: It is relaxing and soothing, anti-depressant, sedative, aphrodisiac, and expectorant
  • Bergamot: Its lovely citrus scent will make you feel refreshed and give you a sense of well-being
  • Sandalwood: Acalming agent, sandalwood relieves nervous tension and helps you relax
How do you use essential oils?
  • Add a few drops of essential oil to warm water for a relaxing bath or footbath, or spritz the oil onto a small pillow. You can also apply a few drops to a diffuser near your bed to spread the scent through the room or use a specially made ring placed on the lightbulb where the heat of the bulb will diffuse the scent
  • You may use a combination of scents e.g. Lavender, chamomile and bergamot in jojoba oil
  • If you must use an essential oil for massage, dilute it with sunflower oil or sweet almond oil. Use 7 -10 drops of essential oil to 25ml of almond oil for adults, 3-5 drops for children under seven and 1-3 drops for children under three. Do not use essential oils on newborns
  • Any oil can be used in the bath. Add 5-10 drops for adults, 3-5 drops for children over two, and only one drop of gentle oil such as chamomile or lavender for younger children

If perfumed beds, scented baths, aromatherapy massages and flowers are not exactly ‘your kind of thing’, just lighting a few scented candles will bring you relief. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Workout High!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 6 2010 7:38PM

You've had a stressful day at work and you just want to relax. You down a few pegs and suddenly feel like you can take on the world. And then you wake up the next morning, feeling dehydrated and even more miserable. For all the good that alcohol does temporarily, it is not healthy. So what do you do?

Forget the bar, head for the gym
Need a high? Grab a dumbbell instead of a beer can. Like alcohol, exercise stimulates the pituitary gland in the brain to release endorphins. These morphine-like hormones enter the brain's neurons and park on receptors that normally send pain-signaling molecules back to other parts of the brain. Some say endorphins are even more powerful and yield a more euphoric feeling than even morphine and opium, which park on the same receptors when introduced to the body. The more intense the workout, the more endorphins your body produces. Do it thrice a week, and you’ll be on a high!

Work out to reduce stress

Alcohol is a depressant and offers only temporary relief to stress. That explains the hangover. It also gives you stomach cramps and a host of other problems. Instead, a 30-minute workout produces endorphins, provides more oxygen to your organs and muscles and makes you feel better about yourself. Exercise also helps you sleep more soundly. Could there be a better stress-buster?

Watch what you eat
A peg of whiskey doesn't go down well without some crunchy snacks or peanuts to accompany it. That means more calories with every sip of alcohol you take. By working out in the evening, you may actually be able to regulate the amount of food you eat at dinner. You’ll think of how many more crunches you’ll have to do to burn off that extra helping of butter chicken!

Is evening a good time to exercise?
Research shows that afternoon 3 pm to 7 pm is the best time to exercise. For most people, the body temperature and hormone levels peak at 6 pm. Exercising three hours before or after the peak will give your best workout for both endurance and building muscle. You may be able to work out harder or faster in the afternoon or early evening.

You may say that pouring a drink to help you relax is way easier than running on a treadmill. It certainly is. But then being healthy does take some effort, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Q for your heart!

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 5 2010 9:37AM

From being a functionary in mitochondrial respiratory chain in the cell, Coenzyme Q has now gained prominence around the world as a heart energizer. Known variously as Coenzyme Q10, ubiquinone, coenzyme Q, CoQ, Q10, or Q, this fat-soluble strong antioxidant is necessary for a well-functioning system. It is present in small amounts in meat, fish, chicken liver, parsley, vegetable oils and is produced by all cells of the body.

Although CoQ10 can be synthesized within the body, there are a number of circumstances where the body simply does not make sufficient amounts. Its deficiency could be a result of impaired CoQ10 synthesis due to nutritional deficiencies, a genetic or acquired defect in CoQ10 synthesis, or increased tissue needs such as in the case of heart or vascular disease. Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins also impair the CoQ10 production process. CoQ10 levels are also known to decline with advancing age.

Supplementation with CoQ10 may help:

1.       The heart: Oxidation of the circulating LDL (bad cholesterol) is thought to play a key role in atherosclerosis, which may lead to heart attack. The content of ubiquinol (the reduced form of CoQ10) in human LDL affords protection against the oxidative modifications of LDL, thus reducing risk of atherosclerosis

2.       Deal with migraines: Supplementation of coenzyme Q10 in dosages of 150-300 mg/day has been found to have a beneficial effect on the condition of some sufferers of migraine headaches 

3.       Improve blood pressure: CoQ10 deficiency has been shown to be present in 39 per cent of patients with high blood pressure. CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension by about 17/7 mm Hg. The effect of CoQ10 on blood pressure is usually not seen until after 4-12 weeks of therapy

4.       Periodontal disease: Gum disease affects 60 per cent of young adults and 90 per cent of individuals over age 65. Healing and repair of periodontal tissue requires efficient energy production, a metabolic function dependent on an adequate supply of CoQ10. CoQ10 deficiency has been reported in gingival tissue of patients with periodontal disease

5.       In Parkinson's disease: A 2002 study in 80 Parkinson's disease patients found 1200 mg/day reduced the progression by 44 per cent

The usual dosage recommendation for CoQ10 is 50 to 150 mg/day. Though Coenzyme Q10 has no side-effects even with long-term use, its safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been proven. Consult with your doctor before taking CoQ10 supplements.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Smokers need not apply"

Lost work hours, illnesses and poor social habits due to smoking can harm your career prospects

Eisha Sarkar
Posted on Hello Wellness on Oct 1 2010 9:07AM
You saunter in through the office door. You stop dead in your tracks. Your boss is waiting at your desk. "Where the hell were you?" You try to hold your nicotine-laden breath. Your boss wouldn't understand your need for another smoke-break. He doesn't smoke. And that spells trouble.

Smoking can harm not only your health but also your career. In 2004, senior Irish politician John Deasy was sacked and faced prosecution charges for having a cigarette yards from Leinster House (home of the Irish Parliament) where the country's new smoking ban became law. But it's more than just disrespect for non-smoking laws that can hamper your career.

More breaks cost work hours
Smokers take at least three or four breaks in a typical work day. These 15-minute breaks add up to an average of 20 hours in a month. That means roughly 240 hours per year lost to taking smoke breaks! Now wouldn't the company be better off hiring a non-smoker?

Higher medical claims
Smokers suffer from more illnesses and miss more work than do non-smokers. The medical bills are higher and medical insurance coverage is more limited for people who smoke. Many companies now realise that they stand to save money and become more profitable if their employees do not smoke.

Dull employees are no good
Scientists have proved that smoking damages the brain's frontal lobes, which are responsible for multiple functions of everyday life, including your ability to accurately judge or anticipate the consequences of your actions. Smoking also harms the area of the brain responsible for motor skills and may lower IQ. That certainly does not help your career!

Bad breath, few friends
Smoking weakens your gums and causes bad breath. While non-smoker friends and work colleagues joke about your brushing habit, your client may simply brush you off.

Smoking is not cool. You may share conversation and nicotine with other smokers at work, but the benefits are not going to last for long. Instead, ask your non-smoker friends to help you quit the puff.