Saturday, February 28, 2009

Super Spice Secrets: Can This Miracle Spice Stop Cancer, Alzheimer's and Arthritis?

By Dr. Mercola

For more than 5,000 years, turmeric has been an important part of Eastern cultural traditions, including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Valued for its medicinal properties and warm, peppery flavor, this yellow-orange spice has more recently earned a name for itself in Western medicine as well.


Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, which is native to Indonesia and southern India, and is widely used as an ingredient in curry dishes and yellow mustard. As research into this powerful spice has increased, it has emerged as one of nature's most powerful potential healers.


Said Dr. David Frawely, founder and director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico:

"If I had only one single herb to depend upon for all possible health and dietary needs, I would without much hesitation choose the Indian spice Turmeric. There is little it cannot do in the realm of healing and much that no other herb is able to accomplish.


Turmeric has a broad spectrum of actions, mild but certain effects, and is beneficial for long term and daily usage. Though it is a common spice, few people, including herbalists know of its great value and are using it to the extent possible. It is an herb that one should get to know and live with."


Turmeric's Beneficial Effects in a Nutshell

Strengthens and improves digestion

  • Reduces gas and bloating
  • Assists in the digestion of protein and with rice and bean dishes
  • Improves your body's ability to digest fats
  • Promotes proper metabolism, correcting both excesses and deficiencies
  • Maintains and improves intestinal flora
  • Improves elimination of wastes and toxins

Supports healthy liver function and detox

  • Turmeric helps increase bile flow making it a liver cleanser that can rejuvenate your liver cells and recharge their capability to break down toxins
  • Helps to prevent alcohol and other toxins from being converted into compounds that may be harmful to your liver
  • Supports formation of healthy tissue

Purifies your blood

  • Stimulates formation of new blood tissue
  • Anti-inflammatory: Helps to reduce irritation to tissues characterized by pain, redness, swelling and heat

Contains curcuminoids that fight cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer's

  • Curcuminoids are potent phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) that contain powerful antioxidant properties
  • Counteract the damaging effects of free radicals in your body
  • Relieve arthritis pain and stiffness, anti-inflammatory agent
  • Anti-carcinogenic: "Curcumin has been shown to prevent a large of number of cancers in animal studies. Laboratory data indicate that curcumin can inhibit tumor initiation, promotion, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis."[1]
  • Supports treatment of Alzheimer's disease: "Because Alzheimer's disease is caused in part by amyloid-induced inflammation, curcumin has been shown to be effective against Alzheimer's. Clinical trials are in progress at UCLA with curcumin for Alzheimer's."[2]

Curcumin: Turmeric's Active Anti-Inflammatory "Ingredient"

Most notably turmeric is known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, which come from curcumin -- the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow-orange color, and which is thought to be responsible for many of its medicinal effects. There are an estimated three to five grams of curcumin in 100 grams of turmeric.


Curcumin has been shown to influence more than 700 genes, and it can inhibit both the activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), as well as other enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation.[3]


Turmeric's Cancer-Fighting Properties

In India where turmeric is widely used, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers -- colon, breast, prostate and lung -- is 10 times lower. In fact, prostate cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in U.S. men, is rare in India and this is attributed, in part, to turmeric.


Numerous studies have looked into this potential cancer-fighting link, with promising results. For instance, curcumin has been found to:

  • Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells
  • Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
  • Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Enhance liver function
  • Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
  • Prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth

As for the results of research studies, a study in Biochemical Pharmacology found that curcumin can slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.[4]

"Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch," said lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal. "Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells."

A second study in Biochemical Pharmacology also found that curcumin inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, a regulatory molecule that signals genes to produce a slew of inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer cell growth.[5]


Turmeric's Essential Role for Your Liver

Your liver's primary role is to process and remove toxins carried in your bloodstream. When functioning at its peak, it can filter up to two liters of blood per minute and easily break apart toxic molecules to reduce their toxicity. Your liver is also a crucial part of vitamin, mineral, protein, fat, carbohydrate and hormonal metabolism.


However, poor diet, allergens, pollution and stress can cause your liver to become sluggish, and this can impair its vital functions. This is where turmeric can be a very useful part of your liver support system. Studies have shown that it:

  • May increase important detoxification enzymes in your liver

  • Induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes

Turmeric is also a natural cholagogue, a medicinal agent that promotes the discharge of bile from your system. Increased bile flow is important to help your liver detoxify and to help your body digest fats.


Turmeric for Your Heart, Brain and Overall Health

Turmeric inhibits free radical damage of fats, including cholesterol. When cholesterol is damaged in this way, or oxidized, it can then damage your blood vessels and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, research suggests that turmeric's ability to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol may be beneficial for your heart. It's also rich in vitamin B6, high intakes of which are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.


Meanwhile, turmeric appears to be highly protective against neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, in India levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's are very low, and studies have shown that curcumin can slow the progression of Alzheimer's in mice. The compound has also proven capable of blocking the progression of multiple sclerosis.


Further, Professor Moolky Nagabhushan from the Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, who has been studying turmeric for the last 20 years, believes that turmeric can protect against harmful environmental chemicals, and in so doing protect against childhood leukemia. The research showed that curcumin in turmeric can:[7]

  • Inhibit the toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (cancer-causing chemicals in the environment)
  • Inhibit radiation-induced chromosome damage
  • Prevent the formation of harmful heterocyclic amines and nitroso compounds, which may result in the body when eating certain processed foods, such as processed meat products
  • Irreversibly inhibit the multiplication of leukemia cells in a cell culture

Turmeric's volatile oils also have external anti-bacterial action. As such, they may help prevent bacterial wound infections and accelerate wound healing. Johnson & Johnson even sells a curcumin-containing Band-Aid in India!

And the therapeutic potential of turmeric and curcumin do not end there. Evidence suggests the spice may also be beneficial for:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Crohn's disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Gallstones
  • Muscle regeneration
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Which Type of Turmeric is Best?

For use in cooking, choose a pure turmeric powder, rather than a curry powder. At least one study has found that curry powders tend to contain very little curcumin, compared to turmeric powder. Turmeric is also available in supplement form and for many this is a more convenient method to obtain these health benefits discussed above, especially if they are from a high-quality organic source and if one doesn't particularly enjoy the taste of curry.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To prevent excess weight it's not only what, but how you eat

10:21AM Monday February 16, 2009

Wolfing down your meal may double your risk of being overweight. Drinking just the right amount of alcohol is the key to staying lean.

It is not just what you eat but how you eat that can make all the difference.

Eating fast causes obesity. A Japanese study looking at eating speed and feelings of fullness showed that 84 per cent of men who eat fast are more likely to become overweight and 50 per cent of women are likely to suffer the same fate.

The study also showed that people who ate fast and waited until they felt full were over three times more likely to become overweight.

This is because the signals to the brain from your stomach to tell you when to stop eating, are slow. If you eat too fast your stomach will fill before you can register that it is full.

This problem may have been caused by people learning in childhood to eat more and quickly. It could also be an evolutionary advantage - grab more food while it is available.

Studies have shown that the old wives' tale to chew your food 20 times before swallowing is true - this way you will never overfill yourself before the signal to stop eating reaches your brain.

How about those of you who only eat when you are hungry?

If you wish to maintain your weight this is not a good idea because if you wait until you are hungry you will eat the handiest thing available which may well be a poor choice.

The hunger messenger in your brain - called ghrelin activates centres - form part of a primitive reward system that is involved in addictive behaviours. So you see "a reward" more when you are hungry.

This leads to more desperate food behaviour - you will grasp the nearest and quickest thing available, rather than making a wise food choice.

It is best for you to eat regularly and not allow yourself to become hungry.

When it comes to alcohol, anything over four alcohol drinks a day, or binge drinking, increases obesity.

It is best to drink less than five drinks a week if you want to maintain your weight.

Also watch out for that drink before a meal because this increases your appetite and you eat more.

Eating in front of the TV certainly leads to obesity because you don't notice how much you are eating.

Studies have shown that women who watch three hours of television eat 1.9 times more than those watching one hour of television.

In men the figure is 2.2 times more.

So, eating is an art. If you want to manage your weight smartly, you need to think about the way you eat, not just what you eat.

- Dr Frances Pitsilis

Pictured above: Eating healthy food is a start, but to really tackle excess weight, you need to think about how you eat. Photo / Wairarapa Times-Age

How to Increase Memory and Exercise your Brain

Everyone can take steps to improve their memory, and with time and practice most people can gain the ability to memorize seemingly impossible amounts of information. Whether you want to win the World Memory Championships, ace your history test, or simply remember where you put your keys, this article can get you started. Scientists believe that exercising your brain can create a 'cognitive reserve' that will help you stay sharp as you age.

1. Convince yourself that you do have a good memory that will improve. Too many people get stuck here and convince themselves that their memory is bad, that they are just not good with names, that numbers just slip out of their minds for some reason. Erase those thoughts and vow to improve your memory. Commit yourself to the task and bask in your achievements — it's hard to keep motivated if you beat yourself down every time you make a little bit of progress.

2. Keep your brain active. The brain is not a muscle, but regularly "exercising" the brain actually does keep it growing and spurs the development of new nerve connections that can help improve memory. By developing new mental skills—especially complex ones such as learning a new language or learning to play a new musical instrument—and challenging your brain with puzzles and games you can keep your brain active and improve its physiological functioning.
3. Exercise daily. Regular aerobic exercise improves circulation and efficiency throughout the body, including in the brain, and can help ward off the memory loss that comes with aging. Exercise also makes you more alert and relaxed, and can thereby improve your memory uptake, allowing you to take better mental "pictures."
4. Reduce stress. Chronic stress, although it does not physically damage the brain, can make remembering much more difficult. Even temporary stresses can make it more difficult to effectively focus on concepts and observe things. Try to relax, regularly practice yoga or other stretching exercises, and see a doctor if you have severe chronic stress.
5. Eat well and eat right. There are a lot of herbal supplements on the market that claim to improve memory, but none have yet been shown to be effective in clinical tests (although small studies have shown some promising results for ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine). A healthy diet, however, contributes to a healthy brain, and foods containing antioxidants—broccoli, blueberries, spinach, and berries, for example—and Omega-3 fatty acids appear to promote healthy brain functioning. Feed your brain with such supplements as Thiamine, Vitamin E, Niacin and Vitamin B-6. Grazing, eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, also seems to improve mental functioning (including memory) by limiting dips in blood sugar, which may negatively affect the brain.
6. Take better pictures. Often we forget things not because our memory is bad, but rather because our observational skills need work. One common situation where this occurs (and which almost everyone can relate to) is meeting new people. Often we don't really learn people's names at first because we aren't really concentrating on remembering them. You'll find that if you make a conscious effort to remember such things, you'll do much better. One way to train yourself to be more observant is to look at an unfamiliar photograph for a few seconds and then turn the photograph over and describe or write down as many details as you can about the photograph. Try closing your eyes and picturing the photo in your mind. Use a new photograph each time you try this exercise, and with regular practice you will find you're able to remember more details with even shorter glimpses of the photos.
7. Give yourself time to form a memory. Memories are very fragile in the short-term, and distractions can make you quickly forget something as simple as a phone number. The key to avoid losing memories before you can even form them is to be able to focus on the thing to be remembered for a while without thinking about other things, so when you're trying to remember something, avoid distractions and complicated tasks for a few minutes.

8. Create vivid, memorable images. You remember information more easily if you can visualize it. If you want to associate a child with a book, try not to visualize the child reading the book – that's too simple and forgettable. Instead, come up with something more jarring, something that sticks, like the book chasing the child, or the child eating the book. It's your mind – make the images as shocking and emotional as possible to keep the associations strong.

9. Repeat things you need to learn. The more times you hear, see, or think about something, the more surely you'll remember it, right? It's a no-brainer. When you want to remember something, be it your new coworker's name or your best friend's birthday, repeat it, either out loud or silently. Try writing it down; think about it.

10. Group things you need to remember. Random lists of things (a shopping list, for example) can be especially difficult to remember. To make it easier, try categorizing the individual things from the list. If you can remember that, among other things, you wanted to buy four different kinds of vegetables, you'll find it easier to remember all four.

11. Organize your life. Keep items that you frequently need, such as keys and eyeglasses, in the same place every time. Use an electronic organizer or daily planner to keep track of appointments, due dates for bills, and other tasks. Keep phone numbers and addresses in an address book or enter them into your computer or cell phone. Improved organization can help free up your powers of concentration so that you can remember less routine things. Even if being organized doesn't improve your memory, you'll receive a lot of the same benefits (i.e. you won't have to search for your keys anymore).

12. Try meditation. Research now suggests that people who regularly practice "mindfulness" meditation are able to focus better and may have better memories. Mindfulness (also known as awareness or insight meditation) is the type commonly practiced in Western countries and is easy to learn. Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital show that regular meditation thickens the cerebral cortex in the brain by increasing the blood flow to that region. Some researchers believe this can enhance attention span, focus, and memory.

13. Sleep well. The amount of sleep we get affects the brain's ability to recall recently learned information. Getting a good night's sleep – a minimum of seven hours a night – may improve your short-term memory and long-term relational memory, according to recent studies conducted at the Harvard Medical School.

14. Build your memorization arsenal. Learn pegs, memory palaces, and the Dominic System. These techniques form the foundation for mnemonic techniques, and will visibly improve your memory.

15. Venture out and learn from your mistakes. Go ahead and take a stab at memorizing the first one hundred digits of pi, or, if you've done that already, the first one thousand. Memorize the monarchs of England through your memory palaces, or your grocery list through visualization. Through diligent effort you will eventually master the art of memorization.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tips to Reduce Overweight


Physical activity:

  1. Determine the type of physical activity that suits your life style.
  2. Regular aerobic exercise like brisk walking, jogging or swimming, is a key factor in achieving permanent weight loss and improving health
  3. Health experts recommend exercising 30 minutes or more on all, days of the week for maximum benefits. The exercises should be moderately vigorous to be most effective but not exhausting.
  4. Incorporate few simple measures to burn calories effectively. Like- taking an after dinner walk, using stairs instead of escalators or elevators, parking the car farther away to have a longer walk etc.
  5. Exercises also improve sense of well being ,decreases stress and decreases appetite in some.

To decrease weight and get rid of obesity three things must be kept in mind:

  • Controlling eating habits.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Avoiding the causes of weight gain


Diet recommended to lose weight

  • Early morning
    Juice of half a lemon mixed in a glass of warm water and a teaspoon of honey.

  • Breakfast
    Wheat or Mung bean sprouts and a cup of skimmed milk.

  • Midmorning
    A glass of orange, pineapple or carrot juice.

  • Lunch
    • Salad of raw vegetables such as carrot, beet, cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes. Steamed or boiled vegetables
    • Whole grain bread or whole wheat chapatis (Indian bread) and a glass of buttermilk.
    • Roasted cumin seeds, green coriander leaves, a little salt and some grated ginger mixed in the buttermilk.


  • Mid-afternoon
    • Coconut water
    • Dry fruits
    • Lemon tea
    • Fresh vegetable soup


  • Dinner
    • Whole grain bread or chapatis
    • Steamed vegetables
    • Seasonal fruits except banana and apple.

Home Remedies for Losing Weight

  • Increase the quantity of fruits and vegetables and low calorie foods.
  • Avoid intake of too much salt as it may be a factor for increasing body weight.
  • Milk products like cheese, butter etc. and non-vegetarian foods should be avoided as they are rich in fat.
  • Mint is very beneficial in losing weight. A chutney of green mint with some simple spices can be taken with meals. Mint tea also helps.
  • Spices like dry ginger, cinnamon, black pepper etc. are good for loosing weight and can be used in a number of ways.
  • Regular intake of carrot juice.
  • Avoid rice and potato, which contain a lot of carbohydrates. Among cereals wheat is good.
  • Vegetables like bitter gourd (Karela), and bitter variety of drumstick are useful in loosing weight.
  • Honey is an excellent home remedy for obesity. It mobilizes the extra deposited fat in the body allowing it to be utilized as energy for normal functions.
    Dosage: One should start with small quantity of about 10 grams or a tablespoon, taken with hot water early in the morning. A teaspoonful of fresh lemon juice may also be added.
  • Fasting on honey and lime- juice is highly beneficial in the treatment of obesity without the loss of energy and appetite. For this, mix one teaspoon of fresh honey with the juice of half a lime in a glass of lukewarm water.
    Dosage: Take several times a day at regular intervals.
  • Raw or cooked cabbage inhibits the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat. Hence, it is of great value in weight reduction.
  • Exercise is an important part of any weight reduction plan. It helps to use up calories stored in body as fat.
  • Walking is the best exercise to begin with and may be followed by running, swimming or rowing.
  • The gum of Commiphora Mukul called 'guggulu' is the drug of choice for the treatment of obesity

Sunday, February 15, 2009

5 Happiness Secrets For Tough Times

By Chandni Jhunjhunwala

Expert tips to help you cope with a bad economy, and increase your bursts of happiness throughout the day.


Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin Press, 2008) has researched the science of happiness for years. Her book -- not your typical self-help manual -- offers feel-good strategies grounded in research.

1. Avoid Overthinking

"You could spend a lot of time ruminating," says Lyubomirsky. "But that just makes you feel even more pessimistic, more out of control, and effects your self esteem. Your relationships will suffer and your job performance will suffer."

Get rid of pessimism. One of the most effective ways to cope when things are difficult is to adopt a positive thinking strategy. "What can I learn from this? Times are tough, I've been furloughed at work, but I can spend more time with the kids, adopt a new hobby, or learn a new set of skills."

2. Practice Acts of Kindness

Now more than ever we need each other to survive. Lyubomirsky found that doing good things for friends, family, or strangers can make you happier. Think of practical, everyday gestures that can make someone's life a little bit easier.

For example, Lyubomirsky says, "Maybe now many of us can't afford to take a cab to the airport, so offer to give a friend a ride."

3. Focus on Your Relationships

You don't need an expert to tell you that relationships are critical to happiness. Not being the bread-winner anymore or not being able to fulfill your kid's needs can weighh down hard on your family life. But the trick is to stop feeling guilty and focus on nurturing your loved ones.

"I was at a psychology conference where an expert was talking about the effects of this economy on families and how parents can't afford to buy their kids luxuries like toys anymore," says Lyubomirsky. "But what they don't realize is that kids don't care about toys -- what they care about is parents being grumpy and taking it out on them."

4. Pick a Goal

"If you find a happy person you will find a project," says Lyubomirsky. "Happy people all have goals they care about."

Commit yourself to a project – whether it is a business you want to start or a dance you want to learn. But it's also important to remember to be flexible in these times. Don't get frustrated if circumstances are stopping you from meeting your goals. Adopt and change!

"If your spouse has lost their job you might have to change your goal," says Lyubomirsky. "Or you might have to learn a whole new skill for a new job."

5. Take Care of Your Body

When times are tough, it's easy to get skip your regular workouts in favor of moping in front of the TV and eating a bag of chips. Your thinking is "I have more important things to worry about right now than looking good."

But carve out a small part of your day to give your body some TLC. It will go a long way in boosting your happiness. "Even if you can't afford to go to the gym," Lyubomirsky says, "take time out to exercise at home or meditate."

Apinch ’o salt!

Conflicting research on beauty and fitness often makes the mind boggle. How much of it should we take seriously, wonders Kalpana Sharma as she goes myth busting

 FOR years now, the eight glasses of water a day mantra has been touted as a powerful health fact! If you've blindly followed that rule, you just may have been on the wrong track. Contradictory findings state that there's no scientific evidence to prove decisively that drinking eight glasses of water is good for your system. Even, drinking tea isn't all that therapeutic. Myth busting is becoming the favourite pastime of researchers. But in the process, how do we, the consumers and ardent fans of all 'proven research' distinguish between what's valid and what's not? Some health myths are further reinforced thanks to Bollywood stars who consistently maintain that drinking 'lots' of water, for instance, plays a pivotal role in their beauty regimen. Actor Neha Dhupia swears by the benefits of water saying, "I guzzle at least three litres per day to get rid of toxins."
    So what about the theory that one should follow body signals or thirst when it comes to water consumption? On the contrary, excess water induces water intoxication in people leading a sedentary lifestyle. Fit
ness guru Leena Mogre says, "If you're into heavy workouts, drink ample water to replenish lost fluids."
    Rahul Murada, consultant psychiatrist at Sitaram Bhartia and North Point Hospital, Delhi, also breaks the myth of tea being beneficial in curing cancer and heart strokes. He states, "Green tea helps fight cancer. Not our regular Indian black tea
boiled with ample amounts of sugar and
milk." Honey Shah, a dietician at Max Healthcare, Delhi explains, "New researches keep cropping up, one day claiming something and the other day refuting it. It's best not to consult a specialist. Don't blindly follow research."

    Breaking another popular Indian health myth that acne is caused due to impure blood or constipation, Dr Alok Agarwal, a senior consultant at Indraprasta Apollo Hospital, Delhi clears the air, "Acne's caused by excessive secretion of sebaceous glands, hormonal imbalances and stress."
    There's also good news for all bookworms. The conventional belief that reading in poor
light ruins one's eyesight, is nothing but an old wives' tale. "Reading in dim light merely strains the eyes temporarily causing headaches and not damaging or making it prone to eye infections," he adds.
    Our favourite indulgence chocolate is often blamed for poor teeth. But, chocoholics can now rejoice as he adds, "Chocolate has no reason to make your teeth bad. In fact, a sticky cheesy pizza is likely to damage your teeth more than a harmless bar of chocolate. Anything that sticks to your teeth needs to be cleaned as it causes tooth decay." So, bust the health fads and hit the treadmill instead as the latest medical research states that it's not necessary to sweat profusely while working out. Sweating has nothing to do with weight loss. Fitness guru Rahul Dev says, "You sweat as your body gets heated due to workouts. Sweating or perspiration cools the body down. The level of perspiration varies according to one's age, sex and the environment one is working out."
    So, the next time you want to dig into some sinfully irrestible chocolate or read that book under the covers before you shut your eyes — go easy on the guilt trip!
    (With inputs by Raja Rymbai Sharma)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why Indians are stressed and unhealthy

Manmohan Singh had his arteries bypassed on Saturday, a procedure that
increasing numbers of Indians are having. Last year, medical journal
Lancet reported a study of 20,000 Indian patients and found that 60
per cent of the world's heart disease patients are in India, which has
15 per cent of the world's population.
This number is surprising because reports of obesity and heart disease
focus on fat Americans and their food. What could account for Indians
being so susceptible -- more even than burger-and-fries-eating
Four things: diet, culture, stress and lack of fitness.
There is no doctrinal prescription for vegetarianism in Hindu diet,
and some texts explicitly sanction the eating of meat. But
vegetarianism has become dogma.
Indian food is assumed to be strongly vegetarian, but it is actually
lacking in vegetables. Our diet is centred around wheat, in the north,
and rice, in the south. The second most important element is daal in
its various forms. By weight, vegetables are not consumed much. You
could have an entire South Indian vegetarian meal without encountering
a vegetable. The most important vegetable is the starchy aloo. Greens
are not cooked flash-fried in the healthy manner of the Chinese, but
boiled or fried till much of the nutrient value is killed.
Gujaratis and Punjabis are the two Indian communities most susceptible
to heart disease. Their vulnerability is recent. Both have a large
peasant population -- Patels and Jats -- who in the last few decades
have moved from an agrarian life to an urban one. They have retained
their diet and if anything made it richer, but their bodies do not
work as much. This transition from a physical life to a sedentary one
has made them vulnerable.
Gujaratis lead the toll for diabetes as well, and the dietary aspect
of this is really the fallout of the state's economic success. Unlike
most Indian states, Gujarat has a rich and developed urban culture
because of the mercantile nature of its society. Gujaratis have been
living in cities for centuries.
His prosperity has given the Gujarati surplus money and, importantly,
surplus time. These in turn have led to snacky foods, some deep fried,
some steamed and some, uniquely in India, baked with yeast. Most
Indians are familiar with the Gujarati family on holiday, pulling out
vast quantities of snacks the moment the train pushes off.
Gujarati peasant food -- bajra (millet) roti, a lightly cooked green,
garlic and red chilli chutney, and buttermilk -- is actually supremely
healthy. But the peasant Patel has succumbed to the food of the
'higher' trader and now prefers the oily and the sweet.
Marathi peasant food is similar, but not as wholesome with a thick and
pasty porridge called zunka replacing the green.
Bombay's junk food was invented in the 19th century to service
Gujarati traders leaving Fort's business district late in the evening
after a long day. Pao bhaji, mashed leftover vegetables in a tomato
gravy served with shallow-fried buns of bread, was one such invention.
The most popular snack in Bombay is vada pao, which has a batter-fried
potato ball stuck in a bun. The bun -- yeast bread -- is not native to
India and gets its name pao from the Portuguese who brought it in the
16th century. Bal Thackeray encouraged Bombay's unemployed Marathi
boys to set up vada pao stalls in the 60s, which they did and still
The travelling chef and TV star Anthony Bourdain called vada pao the
best Indian thing he had ever eaten, but it is heart attack food.
Though Jains are a very small part (one per cent or thereabouts) of
the Gujarati population, such is their cultural dominance through
trade that many South Bombay restaurants have a 'Jain' option on the
menu. This is food without garlic and ginger. Since they are both
tubers (as also are potatoes), Jains do not eat them, because in
uprooting them from the soil, living organisms may be killed (no
religious restriction on butter and cheese, however!). The vast
majority of Ahmedabad's restaurants are vegetarian. Gujaratis have no
tolerance for meat-eaters and one way of keeping Muslims out of their
neighbourhoods is to do it through banning 'non-vegetarians' from
purchasing property in apartment buildings.
Even in Bombay, this intolerance prevails. Domino's, the famous pizza
chain, has a vegetarian-only pizza outlet on Malabar Hill (Jinnah's
neighbourhood). Foreigners like Indian food, and it is very popular in
England, but they find our sweets too sweet. This taste for excess
sugar extends also to beverage: Maulana Azad called Indian tea 'liquid
halwa'. Only in the last decade have cafes begun offering sugar on the
side, as diabetes has spread.
India's culture encourages swift consumption. There is no conversation
at meal-time, as there is in Europe. Because there are no courses, the
eating is relentless. You can be seated, served and be finished eating
at a Gujarati or Marathi or South Indian thali restaurant in 15
minutes. It is eating in the manner of animals: for pure nourishment.
We eat with fingers, as opposed to knives and forks, or chopsticks,
resulting in the scooping up of bigger mouthfuls. Because the nature
of the food does not allow for leisurely eating, Indians do not have a
drink with their meals. We drink before and then stagger to the table.
As is the case in societies of scarcity, rich food is considered good
-- and ghee is a sacred word in all Indian languages. There is no
escape from fat. In India, advertising for healthy eating also shows
food deep fried, but in lower-cholesterol oil.
The insistence by family - 'thoda aur le lo' -- at the table is part
of our culture of hospitality, as is the offering of tea and perhaps
also a snack to visiting guests and strangers. Middle class Indians,
even families that earn Rs10,000 a month, will have servants. Work
that the European and American does, the Indian does not want to do:
cooking, cleaning, washing up.
Painting the house, changing tyres, tinkering in the garage, moving
things around, getting a cup of tea at the office, these are things
the Indian gets someone else to do for him. There is no sense of
private space and the constant presence of the servant is accepted.
Gandhi's value to India was not on his political side, but through his
religious and cultural reforms. What Gandhi attempted to drill into
Indians through living a life of action was a change in our culture of
lethargy and dependence. Gandhi stressed physical self-sufficiency,
and even cleaned his toilet out himself.
But he wasn't successful in making us change, and most Indians will
not associate Gandhi with physical self-sufficiency though that was
his principal message. Indian men do no work around the house. Middle
class women do little, especially after childbirth. Many cook, but the
cutting and cleaning is done by the servant. Slim in their teens, they
turn thick-waisted in their 20s, within a few years of marriage.
Since we are dependent on other people, we have less control over
events. The Indian is under stress and is anxious. This is bad for his
health. He must be on constant guard against the world, which takes
advantage of him: the servant's perfidy, encroachment by his
neighbours, cars cutting in front of him in traffic, the vendor's rate
that must be haggled down. Almost nothing is orderly and everything
must be worried about.
In the Indian office, the payroll is a secret, and nobody is told what
the other makes. Knowledge causes great stress, though the lack of
information is also stressful, leading to spy games and office gossip.
Because there is no individualism in India, merit comes from seniority
and the talented but young executive is stressed by the knowledge that
he's not holding the position he deserves. Indians are peerless
detectors of social standing and the vertical hierarchy of the Indian
office is sacrosanct.
Dennis Kux pointed out that Indian diplomats do not engage officially
with an American of lower rank, even if the American was authorised to
decide the matter. In the last decade, when Indians began owning
companies abroad, the Wall Street Journal reported on cultural
problems that arose. Their foreign employees learnt quickly that
saying 'no' would cause their Indian bosses great offence, so they
learnt to communicate with them as with children.
Indians shine in the west where their culture doesn't hold them back.
In India honour is high and the individual is alert to slights from
those below him, which discomfort him greatly.. There is no culture of
physical fitness, and because of this Indians don't have an active old
Past 60, they crumble. Within society they must step back and play
their scripted role. Widows at that age, even younger, have no hope of
remarriage because sacrifice is expected of them. Widowers at 60 must
also reconcile to singlehood, and the family would be aghast if they
showed interest in the opposite sex at that age, even though this
would be normal in another culture.
Elders are cared for within the family, but are defanged when they
pass on their wealth to their son in the joint family. They lose their
self-esteem as they understand their irrelevance, and wither.
The writer is a former newspaper editor who lives in Bombay.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am a 50-year-old woman and a teacher by profession. My height is 5 feet 4 inches while I weigh 57 kgs. I am not overweight and am quite healthy. I walk daily for 45-minutes. Since my profession requires me to stand for at least four to five hours a day and then sit at the desk for the rest of the day correcting papers and going through books - my legs and upper body tends to feel stiff and tired by the end of the day. Please can you suggest some stretches that will give me relief from tired and sore muscles? I have no time to go to a gym and want to do something simple at home.
    — Trina

Dear Trina,
Repetitive strain on the upper body and legs can be due to long hours of sitting or standing. This could strain on your muscles, tendons and connective tissue.
    Stretching promotes relaxation; resulting in release of muscular fatigue and tension. It is one of the key components of a balanced fitness programme. Remember, a muscle in constant contraction requires more energy to accomplish activities.
    It is a great idea to take short breaks to simply stretch and release stiffness and tension from your muscles while at work. Make use of
small available opportunities to stretch - lunch break, in between classes, even while sitting at your desk (do the upper body stretch routine).
Take a giant step forward with the right foot, keeping the right leg bent and left leg straight. Then, move your hips forward toward your bent right knee. Keep both feet pointing forward and left heel hanging on the ground. Hold in this position for few seconds then change sides.

Stand tall; grasp right foot with right hand. Bring your foot towards the hip, keeping knees together. Hold and then repeat with the other leg.

Slowly raise one leg and rest it on an elevated platform, such as a park bench or ledge. Keeping your hips square, bend at your waist and lower your trunk forward. Hold and repeat with the other leg.

With your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and toes pointing straight ahead, place your right hand on your hip while you extend your left arm over your head. Slowly bend at the waist to the side and hold. Repeat on the other side.


Cross the right arm horizontally over your chest, placing your left hand or forearm just above your elbow joint. Now, pull the right arm closer towards your chest.

Sit with both your hands behind your back. Now, clasp your hands behind your back and slowly lift your hands up until you feel a stretch in your pectorals.
Clasp your hands in front of you so that you feel the stretch in your upper back. Lower your head during the stretch so that your chin is close to your chest.
Drop your head to the right side bringing your ear close to your shoulder. Then slowly return to the center. Now, switch sides. And repeat.


• Stretch smoothly, never bounce.

• Breathe slowly, deeply and naturally.

• Remain relaxed and feel the stretch.

• Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds.


Flaunting the latest in fashion earns you the tag of a 'trend-setter', but experts warn that it could come at the cost of your health, reports Vikas Hotwani

Stilettos may add that sex appeal, but walking on stilts is certainly not the most natural state for your body. "The make-up of the human body is such that we are meant to walk on the entire foot. Stilettos give you added height, but meanwhile, the centre of gravity is pushed forward. Carry on strutting around in stilettos and in the long run, you might end up with back and knee aches," says physiotherapist Dr Rangwala of G D Somani school Polyclinic, Cuffe Parade.
    The long-term health hazards of sporting stilettos are many, the most common ones being 'bunions' and foot deformity that leads to swelling at the base of the toe. Even celebrities are not immune to these. Last year, Victoria Beckham reportedly developed bunions thanks to strutting around in high heels for long hours. Rangwala adds, "If you the the stilettos you wear are closed and extremely tight at the end, they will cramp
your the feet and you may develop hammertoes in the long run." Damage Control: Give up stilettos altogether! If that's not a viable option, try not to wear them for long hours. Taking a walk barefoot for 15 minutes every day is also a good idea; it exercises the various acupressure points in the foot. When buying heels, see that your toes have enough space. Also, shop for heels at dusk since your feet tend to naturally expand, ever so slightly, at that time of the day.
Thongs are certainly not the best option if you want to steer clear of nasty infections and keep your fertility intact. Tight undergarments rub against your skin every time you walk and don't provide breathing space for your genitals. Elaborates sexologist Dr Mahinder Watsa, "Anything other than cotton makes it difficult for your skin to breathe. Moreover, in
Mumbai's humid weather where your private areas tend to sweat a lot, it can lead to higher chances of contracting an infection. This holds true for both men and women."
    In fact, men face an added risk factor. "It is believed that the testicles are situated out of the male body because it's important for them to remain cool. Their temperature must be maintained at a degree less than normal body temperature. Wearing thongs pulls the testicles closer to the body and keeps them warmer. This might affect fertility in the long run," warns Dr Watsa. Damage Control: Again, ditch 'em. But if you still can't resist wearing them, Dr Watsa advises, "Make sure the material is pure cotton. When at home, don't wear underwear. It's important to keep the area cool and dry."
Skinny jeans may flaunt your toned legs, but aren't the best option if you care for your skin. "The tight fitting hardly allows aeration for the skin, making the sweat to stay longer on the skin. This increases the risk of suffering from frequent fungal infections," says dermatologist Dr Raj Parikh of Skinodent Clinic in Ghatkopar.
    Moreover, the pitfalls for men don't end here. "In case of men, skinny jeans might put more pressure on the scrotum and even cause damage to
testicles in the long run. Also, the tight-fit might damage the hair follicles on the legs, lead to excessive pulling and thereby causing folliculitis.
Damage Control: Strike a balance. Make sure your wardrobe isn't overloaded with skinny fits. At the first signs of a skin issue, give them up and contact your dermatologist.

You may love your oversized totes for squeezing your world into them, but the bad news is that they cause posture problems. "Over-weight bags strapped on one shoulder increase chances of you tilting to one side. This affects your gait and walking around with that unnatural tilt might lead to back and shoulder pain in the long run. Moreover, it affects your overall posture and strains the shoulder blade," says Dr Rangwala. Damage Control: Keep alternating the bag between your shoulders, so that one shoulder doesn't bear the brunt. Also, try to go for bags with a wider strap so that the weight is distributed over a wider area of the shoulder. Most importantly, remind yourself that every small thing you put in to the bag contributes to the overall burden. So, think twice before you dump your stuff in. If you can't reduce the burden, go for a two-shoulder backpack.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

World Cancer Day And Docs Say The Disease Will Soon Outpace Heart Ailment

Big C set to be biggest killer in 2 yrs

Ranjani Rajendra I TNN

Mumbai: Call it the bite of the Big C. With growing westernisation, the boomtowns of India are seeing increasing cases of various forms of cancer, said doctors on the occasion of World Cancer Day on Wednesday.
    According to the update in the National Registry of Cancer by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), cancer of the colon, breasts and oesophagus are particularly on the rise. The ICMR registry shows that the incidence of breast cancer is, for the first time, higher than cervical cancer among Mumbai's women. Cancer of the oral cavity and
the gastro-oesophageal channel is on the rise among men.
    What is most worrying, said city doctors, is a recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that cancer is all set to outpace heart ailments as the biggest killer in the next two years. According to WHO, cancer diagnoses have been steadily rising and will soon touch the 12 million mark this year. It also suggests that by 2030, new cancer cases could rise to 27 million with up to 17 million deaths. "This is a reality. Age is proving to be a major risk factor these days. With life expectancy having gone up by five to seven years, risk of both cancer and heart diseases has gone up,''
said Dr Rajan Badwe, director of Tata Memorial Hospital.
    Dr Badwe, a breast cancer specialist himself, said there has been a phenomenal in
crease in the incidence of cancer over the last 10 years. "Earlier, we used to see 1,800 new cases of breast cancer every year. But since the last 10 years, 3,200 new patients are being diagnosed with breast cancer at the Tata Memorial Hospital,'' Dr Badwe said. The hospital now sees 25,000 new patients seeking treatment for some form of cancer today as opposed to 15,000 new cases 10 years ago.
    The most common form of cancer in India are breast and cervical cancer among women and lung and oral cancer among men. While factors like better hygiene and circumcision have been a major factor in the decline of cervical cancer, incidences of breast, ovarian, lung and oral cancer are all on the rise, said Dr Badwe.
    He added that the rate of incidence of cancer in the West is five times more than that in
India or any other developing country, but the rate of survival is much higher in the West.
    What are the factors contributing to this rise? According to leading oncologists, this is largely due to the changing lifestyle and dietary patterns among urban Indians. People are shunning traditional food that is rich in fibre in favour of fast food.
    Moreover, women have fewer babies and lactate for shorter periods than, say, their mothers and grandmothers. This increases the risk of breast cancer among women. However, doctors point out that cancer is, in most cases, preventable if people follow a healthy lifestyle.


 Alkem's Jeevanprash is the only Chywanprash which while retaining the goodness of original Chywanprash fortifies the same with much needed herbs to meet present day challenges. Jeevanprash has no sugar and no Ghee. Jeevanprash contains Fructo Oligo Saccharide (FOS) which imparts sweetness. FOS's low glycemic index makes it ideal for diabetics and calorie conscious people. FOS, a soluble fibre also helps in reducing cholesterol.
    Amla in Jeevaprash has 30 times more Vitamin C than orange and helps in strengthening the immune syetem and accelerating the healing process. Regular intake of Jeevanprash strengthens digestion, absorption and assimilation of food
and balances stomach acids.
    Jeevanprash contains Brahmi which nourishes the brain cells and enhances co-ordination and memory power. Jeevanprash is good for students as it increases retention and recall.
    Aloe vera in Jeevanprash exfoliates the skin, and makes it look radiant.The natural goodness of Rose Petals and Amla have excellent cleansing properties. Jeevanprash rids the body of toxins consumed everyday through foods and pollutants.
    Jeevanprash is an ideal tonic for physical and Mental health for people of all age groups and should be consumed round the year for round the year health.

Effects of High Blood Pressure