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Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't take things with a pinch of salt

On the occasion of World Health Day on April 7, Young Indians (Yi), the youth wing of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Vadodara organized a panel discussion on hypertension or high blood pressure at Hotel Express Residency, Alkapuri. Moderated by counseller-cum-journalist, Darshana Dave, the event turned out to be an enlightening session on the disorder that affects one in five Indians and how we should not take things with a pinch of salt, literally. The panelists included physician, Dr Dhaval Vaishnav, Dr Suneeta Chandorkar from the Department of Food and Nutrition at the Faculty of Family and Community Sciences at M S University, Gyan Rajput, the owner of Gold's Gym and yoga expert Smita Shah. Key takeaways from the discussion:

  • You've got hypertension if you have a consistent mercury reading of blood pressure at 140/90 and above. So don't blame the spike on stress.
  • High blood pressure may or may not have symptoms. You may be hypertensive and still may not feel weak/dizzy/lethargic. That said, high blood pressure can cause damage to your heart, kidneys, eyes and even lead to a stroke.
  • Blood pressure has to be objectively observed by a physician. He/she will have to take five/six readings at different times to diagnose if you suffer from chronic hypertension. Electronic over-the-counter instruments need to be calibrated properly before they are used. If not, they can be very inaccurate. So if you're checking your blood pressure at home, please consult a physician before you take any medication or make drastic changes in your diet.
  • Non-pharmacological way of treating hypertension – through control in diet, less salt intake, yoga, exercise and less stress – should be a continuous process.
  • Hypersensitivity to health does no good to anyone. Quit being a Net maniac. Being oversensitive about blood pressure will cause it to rise.
  • Obese people tend to be more apprehensive about diet guidance. But if you can't help yourself, no one else will.
  • On an average, an Indian takes 10 g of salt a day. You need to bring it down, grain by grain to 5 g of salt.
  • Packaged foods in India often under-report the amount of salt/sodium content on the labels. Some foods may contain monosodium glutamate which is extremely harmful, others may have it in the form Class II preservatives, protein hydrolyzates or yeast extract. Stay away from foods containing these ingredients. Sodium also comes in the form of flavour enhancers, additives and preservatives. Packaged foods such as alu bhujia, ketchup, pickles, papads, noodles, baked salted chips and soups have very high salt content – sometimes upto 4 g of sodium per 100 g of the product.
  • Hydrogenation of fat in the Indian food industry is not a well-regulated process. Foods with “no trans fat” labels such as Nutri Choice biscuits actually contain a lot of trans fat.
  • Babies do not know the taste of salt. Quit adding salt to their food or reduce the amount of salt in  their food so that they get accustomed to low-salt diets.
  • Supplements are essentially just that. They should be taken only in consultation with a physician. Fat supplements and contraceptives shoot blood pressure up. Supplements should be taken for no more than three months at a time, unless you have been specifically advised to do so. Calcium-iron combination supplements are useless, for you cannot absorb either when they are consumed together. Beware of marketing gimmicks which claim that they are good for women. Vitamin B12 in very large doses could be toxic too.
  • Eat foods low in sodium and high in potassium such as whole grains, pulses, citrus fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy (and no cheese, please!) The best fast food is fruit. Nothing can be quicker than peeling a banana and eating it.
  • Exercise is good for your body. If you are hypertensive, you should consult with a physician before joining a gym. Indians need the most workout in the world. Starting at the age of 14-15 is a good idea.
  • Forward bends in yoga slow down the heart rate and are good for hypertensive individuals. Yoganidra meditation is ideal for hypertensives for it relaxes the body and the soul. Deep breathing is good for you. Inhalation stimulates the brain and exhalation calms down the nervous system. Pranayam should be done after asanas, which make the arteries more elastic and relax the diaphragm, and should not be a replacement for them. It should also not be done while sitting but while lying down.
  • Eat less, work hard and sleep well!     

1 comment:

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