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Nutrition for Autism

Nutrition for Autism.

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Nutrition for Autism

AutisticChild

2nd April is the world Autism Awareness Day. On this occasion, let’s see what is autism and how nutrition can be helpful for its treatment. Autism is a complex biological disorder characterized by difficulties with speech; abnormalities of posture or gesture; problems with understanding the feelings of others; sensory and visual misconceptions, fears and anxieties; and behavioral abnormalities such as compulsive/obsessive behavior and ritualistic movements. It is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

There is growing evidence that nutritional therapy can really make a big difference to children with autism. Many autistic children complain about digestion problems, eating disorders, food sensitivities & allergies or nutrient deficiencies; so correcting or treating these problems with diet is the key for a better productive life.

Following nutritional tips might be helpful

  • Improve digestion.

Many of the autistic children might be on the antibiotics due to various infections; respiratory or ear infections are the common ones. Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill good as well as bad bacteria in the gut, and this may be why autistic children commonly have bowel irregularities. Also research suggests that as many as nine out of 10 individuals with the condition also suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and ‘leaky gut’ due to lesser gut friendly bacteria. Eating curd (probiotic), fruits, vegetables in the form of soups & steamed salads or fermented products (over-fermentation should be avoided) might balance the gut flora & thus improve the digestion. A paper published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology shows that properly controlled fermentation may often amplify the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of foods, the ultimate value of which may associated with mental health; furthermore, the microbes (for example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species) associated with fermented foods may also influence brain health via direct and indirect pathways.”

  • Improving blood sugar levels

For Autistic children who show signs of hyperactivity, improving blood sugar balance is a key. When a child is regularly snacking on refined carbohydrates, sweets, chocolate, cold drinks, juices and has low fiber in the diet, the levels of glucose in their blood will fluctuate continuously and that will in turn trigger the fluctuations in their levels of activity, concentration, focus and behavior. This is definitely not a positive sign for any child’s brain function.So avoiding processed food, sweets, aerated drinks, fruit juices, sugar candies, over-eating cakes, chocolates & pastries will be helpful in maintaining the sugar levels.

  •  Avoid artificial sweeteners, coloring agents, genetically modified food, and preservatives.

These are also linked with hyperactivity & allergies; and can create a havoc for the brain so should be avoided.

  •  Include omega-3 fatty acids

Deficiencies in essential fats are common in people with autism. Research has shown that some autistic children have an enzymatic defect that removes essential fats from brain cell membranes more quickly than it should. This means that an autistic child is likely to need a higher intake of essential fats than the average. And it has been found that supplementing essential fatty acid, which can slow the activity of the defective enzyme, has clinically improved behavior, mood, imagination, spontaneous speech, sleep patterns and focus of autistic children. The good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds, fish, olive oil, walnuts etc. Including these sources will be helpful.

  •  Treating nutrient deficiencies

The pioneering research by Dr Bernard Rimland of the Institute for Child Behavior Research in San Diego, California showed that vitamin B6, C and magnesium supplements significantly improved symptoms in autistic children. B6 in particular may help, in part because many children with autism or learning difficulties have pyroluria, a condition in which, for genetic reasons, high levels of compounds called kryptopyrroles are excreted in the urine, causing a deficiency of zinc and vitamin B6

  •  Write a food diary & child’s behavior

This will help to identify any food allergy or sensitivity or its reaction on child’s mental development and behavior.

  •  Take the help of a qualified dietitian

There may be confusion and lack of proper knowledge about nutrition approach. There are claims that removing wheat or milk will be helpful. However, these food items contain essential nutrients, so they should be carefully replaced. This is best done under a nutrition expert.

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A glimpse of the Dietetics World: On The Occasion Of National Dietetics Day

Since last year, 10th January is marked as “National Dietetics day” in India to promote an awareness regarding diet & nutrition. On this occasion, let’s have a look in the dietetics world & understand the dietitians better.

Why a need for the Dietitian?

• The nutrition science is both preventive & curative science.
• Studies indicate that around 95% of the diseases are linked to certain deficiency of nutrients or lifestyle disorders.
• According to WHO, a healthy diet helps to prevent obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, stroke, & cancer.
• In today’s modern world, where information is available at the click of a button, the chances of getting wrong or inadequate information from TV, media, social media, internet, family friends & so-called or self-proclaimed health & nutrition experts & fitness gurus have increased. This can cause more harm & confusion.
• A qualified dietitian is capable of giving correct nutritional information & thus can prove beneficial in promoting health & wellness among the community & building a healthy nation.
• Research shows that better nutrition is like a health investment which equips you to deal with health complications in an effective way.
Who is a dietitian?
A dietitian is a professional who has been trained in dietetics, who has a bachelor or post-graduate degree in nutrition & applied science & who has passed the registration board examination conducted by Indian Dietetics Association. A PhD degree serves an added advantage.
Dietitians study a wide range of subjects like physiology, clinical biochemistry, microbiology, pathology of diseases etc. in connection with nutrition & diet. They study how a particular diet or food is helpful or harmful in particular disease condition & how the body works. They also carry out a dissertation; undergo hospital internship as a part of the curriculum. They also study nutrition needs during different age groups & physiological stages. They are trained to calculate nutritive values of food& plan therapeutic diets considering the age, sex, activity, culture, personal likes.
When dietitian advises you to use less oil, they have actually cooked the food in less oil in food labs. Thus, the dietetic training is evidence based & practical.
To conclude, a dietitian studies food, its action & impact inside our body, body needs &prescribes a well planned diet which is best suited to you & your body needs.
People’s perception about Dietitians & Reality Check?

• Dietitians always talk about food &diet.
Your diet is not just related to food. It is a reflection of how you think, your cultural background, your likes & dislikes, moods & your physical & mental state. So the dietitian will assess everything to give a suitable dietary advice.
• Dietitians will advise to eat less.
Dietitians will prepare or train you to eat the right foods in right amount. So it is not eating less but eating right by your choice & not by compulsion. When it’s a choice, it makes you happy & you no longer crave for those wrong food or habits.
• Dietitians will not eat sweets, fried food, chocolates & ice creams themselves.
There is a general interest to see what’s there in a dietitian’s plate. People are curious to see what the dietitian’s are eating & cooking. A good dietitian knows how to balance the meals & practices mindful eating; so she can enjoy a variety of food. She teaches the same to her patients.
• Dietitians will oppose partying, festive celebrations, eating out & using oil.
They will guide you & suggest plenty of options to stick to healthy eating during the festive times & change your approach to look at such occasions.
• It’s easy to become dietitian course. Anybody can become a dietitian.
There are a growing number of students interested in this field as there are plenty of research & job opportunities. Students have to appear for a written test & selected students need to clear an interview to join the course. The course too demands a lot of hard work as it needs some project work, assignments & community work, presentations to be done. For the registration, you need to complete a hospital internship selected by Indian Dietetic Association & a dissertation under a registered dietitian, & clear the exam. Only students who have a degree in bio-science, homeopathy, medicines, nutrition, dietetics & home science are eligible to do a post-graduate dietetic course. Certain universities take only dietetic students or those who have a life science background. So getting admission & becoming a dietitian is not an easy process.
• Dietitian course is a cookery course.
Dietitians are trained to formulate & cook different therapeutic recipes eg. Recipes good for heart diseases, kidney diseases, cancer, low-calorie recipes, tube feeds etc.

How the dietitians work?
• Dietitians carry out a complete assessment of the patient by taking his medical & family history, understanding his daily diet, likes & dislikes, beliefs ( beliefs play a major role in our diet) etc.
• Dietitians keep a record of the weight & height of the patients.
• Dietitians may suggest you some pathological tests if necessary.
• Dietitian gives you complete information about your health, future health threats, present health complication if any, the diet being prescribed & helps to clear out the doubts & misconceptions.
• Dietitians prescribe a diet based on the patient’s assessment and after calculating his calorie & nutrient needs.
• Counsel the patients thoroughly.
• Evaluate his progress, motivates him to stick to his plan.

A qualified dietitian is the trusted source of nutrition & diet information.
However, it is important to note that only a qualified dietitian can advise or prescribe a diet that is beneficial to you. The knowledge & training gained by a qualified dietitian( as a part of her course curriculum) is or cannot be compared with the people who has done certificate or short-term courses or sales person or doctors or any other health professional.
We consult a dentist for tooth problems, doctors for medical problem, then why not consult a dietitian for diet or nutrition related problems. Unfortunately, currently our country does not have a dietetic council which can put a hold on the wrong dietetic practice. . So do consult a qualified dietitian.
After all,
Better Nutrition, Better Lives!!!

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World Diabetes Day Theme 2014: Healthy Eating & Diabetes

World Diabetes Day Theme 2014: Healthy Eating & Diabetes

World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated every year on November 14. The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation  (IDF) and its member associations to create & promote an awareness regarding diabetes.

The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight.

World Diabetes Day is a campaign that features a new theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation each year to address issues facing the global diabetes community.

Healthy Living and Diabetes is the World Diabetes Day theme for 2014-2016.images (7)

There is no standard meal plan or eating pattern as such that works universally for all people with diabetes. In order to be effective, nutrition therapy should be individualized for each patient/client based on his or her individual health goals; personal and cultural preferences ; access to healthful choices, his medications & physical activity and readiness, willingness, and ability to change. However, certain dietary guidelines are very helpful to keep the disease under control. Nutrition interventions should emphasize a variety of minimally processed nutrient-dense foods in appropriate portion sizes as part of a healthful eating pattern and provide the individual with diabetes with practical tools for day-to-day food plan and behavior change that can be maintained over the long term.

Dietary guidelines for diabetes

  1. Understand diabetes

It is very important to understand diabetes in order to live with it. Clear out all your doubts with periodic visit to endocrinologist & dietitian.

  1. Have small spaced meals

Eat every 2/3 hourly in order to prevent episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). At the very time, do not overeat as suddenly the blood glucose levels may raise. Keeping the meals small & spaced will minimize blood sugar fluctuations (such fluctuations is not very healthy sign)

  1. Avoid fruit juices, cold drinks

Fruit juices contain lots of sugar; so it is best to avoid them. Cold drinks contain approximately 10 tsp of sugar. So it is not at all advisable to diabetics. People often opt for diet drinks as they are low in sugar. However, it should be noted that its use should be kept minimal to avoid complications.  A study published in 2010 in the “Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine” found those who drink heavy amounts of diet soda are more likely to be obese than those who don’t drink diet soda, and obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes.

  1. Portion size

Diabetes is all about managing your portion size. Watching your serving sizes can help you keep the complications of diabetes in check. A dietitian or certified diabetes educator can tell you how many servings from each food group you should eat per day.

  1. Follow the meal & medicine timings strictly

In order to avoid episodes of hypo & hyperglycemia, it is very important to follow the meal & medicine timings strictly.

  1. Limit the artificial sweetener

Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without the same calories. Artificial sweeteners do not affect blood sugar levels, but some foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect blood sugar because of other carbohydrates or proteins in these foods. There is a growing research on the side effects of artificial sweeteners which may range from minor to serious health complication. So it is advisable not to use these sweeteners freely & consult the dietitian.

  1. Be aware of diabetic snacks

Nowadays, many types of snacks are sold under the name of “diabetic snack”. However, not all are good. They may be high in fats & artificial sweeteners. Read the labels carefully.

  1. Carbohydrate counting

All food items contain carbohydrates. The amounts may vary. Also its release into the bloodstream is different. A good dietitian will educate you regarding this. Once you understand this relation, it is becomes easy to manage your diabetes.

  1. Avoid saturated fats, red meat

Research shows that diabetic patients are at higher risk (nearly 80%) of developing heart problems. So it is advisable to avoid saturated fats & red meat.

  1. Include variety of vegetables

Vegetables are rich in fiber which helps to regulate the blood sugar. They are also rich in antioxidants which have an additional health benefits.

  1. Fruits & Nuts

Portion size of fruits & nuts & the timing of eating is the key to enjoy them without adversely affecting your blood sugar levels. You can eat variety of fruits & nuts if your sugar levels are under control (Gly Hemoglobin gives a clear picture of your diabetic control). However, it should be within the prescribed amount. Get your diet planned by the dietitian & follow it strictly to enjoy a happier life.

  1. Stay active

Physical activity improves insulin sensitivity. There is also a benefit of the “feel good hormones” released during exercise. But, diabetic patients should avoid heavy exercises. Walking is the best exercise for them. Consult your endocrinologist & physiotherapist before starting any exercise regime.

  1. Carry sugar candies for emergency

Always carry some candies or some munches or glucose powder in case of any emergency.

  1. Consult your dietitian before following any dietary or home remedies blindly

Nowadays, there is an easy access to the information, thanks to the modern internet & mobile technology. However, not all the information given is correct & if you follow it without consulting a dietitian expert, it can prove dangerous for you. To avoid such incidences, consult a well qualified or registered dietitian.

Initially, you may find it difficult or confusing to follow a healthy lifestyle. However, believing in it,  sticking to it & accepting it will help you to master this art.

Eat well, feel well.

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Diet Tips For Diwali

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Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It is the “festival of lights”. It is celebrated with lightening small earthen lamps (diyas), preparing delicious snacks (faral) & enjoying it with friends & family. It also signifies the new year for the Hindus.

It symbolically honors the victory of knowledge over ignorance, of hope over despair, and of good over evil. So let’s get fooducated & enjoy this Diwali to the fullest.

Diet Tips:

  • Enjoy with friends & family: Connect with the people with love & care. The happiness & satisfaction which you get while spending quality time with your loved ones is far more & important than eating an exotic dish.
  • Portion Size: Celebrating any festival doesn’t mean that you have to eat mindlessly. Mindfully eating the food will not kill the joy of eating. Infact, it will give you more satisfaction later on as you could control your craving, a kind of victory to you. Share your food with loved ones as the joy gets doubled with sharing.
  • Savor each bite: Enjoy each bite of your food. It gives some time to your brain to send signals of fullness.
  • Homemade is good: The advantage of homemade food is you know the ingredients & amounts. You can replace the high fat items or lessen its amount. So homemade snacks are comparatively lesser in calories apart from being more hygienic.
  • Have a balanced diet: Avoid eating other fried items. ( faral items are calorically dense) Eat chapattis or rotis instead of parathhas & puris. Don’t forget to include fruits & vegetables. Balanced diet will ensure adequate nutrients which will be utilized for the digestion & thus can prevent indigestion, stomach fullness & bloating.
  • Drink plenty of water: If you are not hydrated well, you may misunderstand thirst as hunger resulting into overeating.
  • Read the labels carefully: If you opt to buy readymade food, check on the ingredients. Sweets labeled as sugar free may be containing artificial sweeteners in large quantities or may be high in fats. Paying attention to only calories & not to the nutritional value is not wise. Studies have indicated that sweeteners in large quantities can be potentially hazardous. Pregnant & lactating mothers should avoid them due to its undesirable harmful effects on the infants.
  • Be innovative: If you want to give a break to the traditional food items, you can prepare some healthy recipes or can prepare the traditional food in nontraditional way like baking or air frying instead of frying.
  • It is always better to discuss your festive diet with the dietitian if you have any major health complication like diabetes, kidney disease & heart diseases.

May this Diwali illuminate each heart with hope & its light empowers each one of us to commit good deeds that brings us closer to each other & to the nature.

Have a prosperous & safe Diwali with lots of love, fun, goodness & well-being.

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Eating healthy during Ganesh festival

ganeshaji

Our dear elephant god has already arrived in style & there is a pleasant environment filled with high energy & enthusiasm. The festival is celebrated with an assortment of mouth watering, rich, irresistible sweets like modaks, ladoos etc.. It is very difficult to stay away from them. Ideally, such calorically dense sweets are meant for such occasions & we should keep them reserve only for such occasions. But, with the better financial conditions & easy food availability, we are consuming them on a regular basis. The outcome is obvious with increased cases of life style diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes etc. But it does not mean that you have to deprive yourself from the “Prasad” or “Naividyam” of our dear God. Following tips might help you to stay healthy during the festival..

1) Mindful eating– Enjoying food does not mean that you have to eat mindlessly. At the same time, paying attention to what you eat does not take away the pleasure of eating unless you are overdoing it. Just do not loose your mind while eating to prevent overeating. Otherwise, it might create unwanted health incidences which will surely spoil the festive mood. Remember you are eating prasad. So treat it like that. It is not your lunch or dinner.

2) Have a nutritious breakfast– Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal, or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger. So do not skip your breakfast to compensate sweets.

3) Balance your meals– Festive season accompanies high calorie food. If you plan your meals carefully eg.avoiding  fried stuff or high fat gravies or cheese & including more of fibrous vegetables, eating chapattis instead of parathhas  , you can definitely enjoy your delicacies without any guilt.

4) Portion size – Portion size is the key. Have small portions of the sweets. Chew it properly.

5) Savor each bite– Enjoy each bite. It is a blessing from the God. Take a break in between. This will enable the body to give you a sense of satiety.

6) Stay hydrated– If you are not hydrated well, body might treat thirst as hunger. This can push you towards overeating.

7) Be smart– Be smart in planning your prasads. Choose your ingredients & method of cooking carefully. Eg. use skimmed milk instead of regular milk, jaggery/ honey/ fruit instead of sugar. You can include nuts & dryfruits as well. Choose  steamed modaks over fried ones, puran poli over gujiyas or kadaboo( gujjiyas made up of puran), Barfis over gulab jamuns.

8) Be active– Go for a walk, exercise or visit a gym.

9) Share your food– Sharing your food not only reduces your caloric consumption but it also increases your happiness. 

God Ganesha is a God of wisdom & intellect. We worship him first before any auspicious beginnings. May god Ganesha gives you the strength, wisdom & insight to make the right decisions & brings a new beginning…

 

Ganapati Bappa Morya!!!

 

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Tips to manage food cravings

Tips to manage food cravings
Knowing the reasons of cravings is not enough to handle cravings. The food you crave is so tempting that you often can not resist it. Here are some tips which will be helpful to you.

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1. Listen to your cravings
In the previous article; we have seen that food craving is an unconscious effort of the body to meet the deprived nutrients. So listen to your craving carefully. Stock healthier options instead of unhealthy options & choose the right available option.

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2. Associate image with the unhealthy food craving
Visualization plays a big part. List the unhealthy food you crave & dangers of overeating them on the paper. You can also collect different pictures of the food you usually crave for. Eg. If you crave for sweets & ice creams, stick the pictures of them on your cupboard/door. Now if you eat them daily, you don’t require a dietitian to tell you that you will gain weight (unless you have an extra-ordinary metabolism to burn those calories). So stick a picture of obese person alongside the other pictures. Imagine yourself if you don’t have a control over your cravings, you too can become obese. If you have recently lost weight, recall how much efforts you had taken to loose that weight, & now because of a loose moment you have to start all over again. Is it worth doing? Slight thinking will definitely help you in making a right decision.

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3. Distract yourself
Controlling craving is a mind game. Divert your mind towards something interesting. Listen to your favorite music, read a book, talk to your friend or go for a small walk. Shifting the focus to something else will reduce the urge to eat unhealthy food.

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4. Enjoy & savor
Beginners might not be able to control the strong cravings. Relax…instead of eating with guilt, make it a special occasion. Yes, you read it correctly. Make a special place to eat these unhealthy food options. Eg. Eat in your favorite bowl sitting on your favorite chair in front of mirror. But instead of eating large portion have small portion of it & savour each bite of it. Eating in front of mirror makes you conscious but creating a special atmosphere gives you more pleasure.

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5. Exercise
People who exercise report fewer cravings than non-exercisers due to the mood altering Endorphin released during physical activity. Exercisers tend to feel more in control of their bodies & may be less likely to binge.

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6. Be prepared
Often only willpower doesn’t work with these powerful brain chemicals, so we need to select a strategy to handle them. Remember it’s all in your mind. “It’s much easier to control your urges if you do it beforehand than if they take you by surprise.” If you have already planned what you are going to do when you crave for something, it’s easier for you to handle them. Select any of the tip mentioned above & try your best to follow it when you have the craving. I am sure gradually, you will be able handle your cravings effectively & would be able to stay away from the unhealthy food.

If you think, it’s impossible to handle cravings or they are too frequent, consult a good professional dietitian.

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Why am I having food cravings??

The Secret behind the Food Cravings

At some point or another, most of us experience a craving for a particular food. It is not the feeling of hunger but a strong desire to have a particular food. (Many a times this craving is for an unhealthy food.). This is also different from addiction. Most of the people have a craving for chocolates (esp. women), salty food, sweets (how many of you say that I need to have something sweet after my meals?)or fried items. There could be some unusual cravings like some of the pregnant women experience. The craving does not go even after we have that food. So, how to satisfy this longing?? To know the answer, we need to first understand that the reasons for the cravings.

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Why is this craving??

It’s all in the brain…

The craving is usually a signal that the body sends to make one realise that there is an urgent need of some nutrients. It is our body’s way to say that you need this nutrient. Get it now. Our body tries to find them in the food. This nutrient can be found in natural food as well as processed food. Interestingly, the brain area which is responsible for sensing pleasure becomes more prominent. This is the reason our body craves for that food or chooses that food which is giving more pleasure rather than the food packed with nutrients.

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Psychological Story…

Cravings also have a psychological angle to it. They often have something to do with emotions. Research says that food cravings arise to satisfy emotional needs, such as calming stress and reducing anxiety. This is the reason, most of us experience cravings when we are stressed out or depressed. During this period, body’s serotonin levels drops down. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the regulation of mood, appetite, memory & sleep.

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It’s all in the genes…

It is undisputed that our genes play a vital part in our behaviour, metabolism, physical characters etc. These genes are a gift from our ancestors. Sometimes, our bodies might be programmed to crave food high in calories. Also, several studies have suggested that eating a diet lacking in variety can lead to more food cravings.

So, it is clear that food craving is nothing but a signal/message which is misinterpreted or misunderstood by the body due to confusions created by brain.

 

What is the actual message??

Science has now understood these signs that codes for the needed nutrient. Certain less healthy or less nutritious food item do contain the needed nutrient in small amounts but they give more pleasure so our brain remembers them better. But as these food items contain the needed nutrient in very less amount, eating these foods gives us a temporary relief. But it is best treated by eating natural food as they have a superior nutrient absorption & contains nutrients in abundance. Following table will give an idea about different food cravings, needed nutrient & the best natural sources…

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Food Craving Nutrient Needed Function of the nutrient Other food sources
Chocolate Magnesium Needed for almost 300 biochemical reactions mainly for muscle relaxation, nerve & muscle action, cell metabolism, enzyme activation. Almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, garden cress seeds, legumes, pulses, fruits like peach, ripe mango, potato.
Sugary food, sweets Chromium To regulate blood sugar levels Dairy products, broccoli, ginger, nutmeg, meat products, eggs.(chromium content of the food depends upon the soil content of chromium. A balanced diet low in simple sugars & processed food should be included.
Carbon One of the elements from which sugar is made Fresh fruits, whole grains.
Phosphorus Helps the body produce energy, in metabolic function, bone/teeth & nucleic acid formation. Bajra, maize, rice bran, pulses, carrots, nuts
Sulphur Helps to remove toxins Cruciferous vegetables
Tryptophan Regulation of serotonin Spinach, raisins, sweet potato
Refined carbs like bread, pasta Nitrogen Biosynthesis of nucleic acid & proteins. Protein rich food like milk, curd, eggs, fish, chicken, sprouts.
Oily & fatty food Calcium Bone & teeth health, blood clotting, nerve transmission, muscle contraction. Milk & milk products esp. skimmed milk powder, ragi, poppy seeds
Ice Iron Synthesis of blood, acts as an enzyme cofactor. Garden cress, rice flakes, raisins, black currants, watermelon,
Salty food Chloride To maintain acid-base balance, osmotic pressure, HCl in stomach Fish, drumsticks, lotus stem, musk melon.

Learn what your body actually needs, give exactly the same it needs & your body will not crave for wrong food. However, not choosing a pleasurable food over a healthy food requires a self control. In my next article, we will read more on how to manage the food cravings. Till then, be healthy & be happy….

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Is your kitchen ready for the summer??

Is your kitchen ready for the summer??
Summer is almost reaching its peak here in India. It is the hottest time of the year in most of the parts( some lucky hilly regions are excluded from the list)of this tropical country. Scorching sun, hot winds, heat, sweat, thirst, loss of appetite are some of the salient features of this season. With so many changes in weather and in-turn in our body, summer calls or rather demands for a change in the diet.
download (10)Challenges For Our Body
Health-wise, this is a very demanding season. The rising heat affects almost all the parts of our body as our body tries to maintain its normal temperature. However, from diet point’s of view, following are the major challenges that our body has to face.

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  1. Dehydration- With the rising mercury level, our body temperature also rises. Our body tries to maintain the normal temperature by producing sweat. Sweat when evaporates, cools our body. However, in doing so our body looses its precious store of water and electrolytes. If our body continues to loose water and electrolytes through sweat and urination, its equilibrium will be disturbed. This may also lead to dehydration. If left untreated, it can cause stroke and coma. So we need to replenish our body with its depleted water and electrolytes stores.
  2. Irritation, tiredness, weakness, susceptibility to infections- During the summer season, body’s main focus is on temperature control through perspiration. For this, a good blood circulation is required & hence major blood flow is diverted for this purpose. If our body do not have a continuous supply of water & electrolytes, other body parts will get lesser blood supply than they usually get. Because of this symptoms like tiredness, weakness may occur. This puts a stress on body’s defense system & body becomes vulnerable for bacterial & viral infections which thrive in this season.
  3. Gastrointestinal problems- Body’s attempts to maintain its normal temperature puts a burden on its gastrointestinal system which becomes prone to other diseases. If we further put a load on it by having heavy, oily, spicy meals , it may cause indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea which will further worsen dehydration. Unhygienic food may cause food poisoning.

Get ready for the summer..

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As the heat reaches its peak, we start looking for our sleeveless tops, cotton pants, hot pants etc. We start planning about what should be our skin care routine, how we should do our make-up, which sunscreen should we use. Like all these plannings, it is also important to have a good nutrition planning for the summer so that our health is not affected because of the heat. Following are points that will help you to prepare yourself for this season.

 

What we should avoid??
We should avoid all those food habits or food items which will put an additional pressure on our body’s systems which already has handful of work to do.
Avoid eating fried, fatty food like pakodas, samosas, pizzas, sweets, wadapav etc.
Avoid having carbonated beverages. Although, initially they quench our thirst, later on they lead to more water loss through urination. Also they require more water for its metabolism so you will feel more thirsty afterwards.
Avoid eating large meals. People often complain of loss of appetite during this season. But sometimes they do not realize that 1 pizza or burger or saomos, has far more calories than 2 rotis. So they land up eating more than their usual meals.
Avoid eating ice creams or too cold drinks.
What we should have??
Thanks to the wonderful nature who has plenty of options to nurture us during this season. We need to eat those items which will not only replenish the lost water level but also the electrolytes that we loose through sweat and urination. Fruits and vegetables are thus ideal to beat the heat due to their high vitamin & mineral content. Seasonal fruits and vegetables like mango, melons, kokum, gourd vegetables should be high on our list. We should enjoy these seasonal delights to get the maximum health benefits from them.
Summer Food collection

  • Watermelon- 

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Watermelons are a must for the summer season due its various health benefits. Watermelon has around 92-95%(depending upon type) of water and a good source of minerals sufficient to quench the thirst. It also has an amino acid called citrulline which is converted to arginine, an essential amino acid which relaxes the muscles & and improves the blood circulation. Adequate blood flow is necessary for better sweat production. Though sweating is not that pleasant experience it maintains our body temperature. It is like removing the heat from our body. Watermelon also has anti-inflammatory properties which helps our body to fight infections.

  • Muskmelon-

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Like its brother watermelon, it too has good amount of water (almost equal) and Vitamins like Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, E, K,A, C.
Minerals provided by this fruit are Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, potassium, Zinc. Important factor present in musk melon which is known as Zea-xanthin gives protection against UV rays which aids in protecting your eye and skin. If you are worried about the calories, musk melon is a fruit for you as it is low in calories & high in fiber.

  • Mango- 

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It is the king of fruits & why not it is a fruit packed with plenty of nutrients. It is extremely rich in minerals, antioxidants, vitamins A, C & enzymes. This is helpful to keep our body’s immune system healthy & strong. Tartaric acid, malic acid, and traces of citric acid found in mangoes help to maintain the alkalinity of the body. Enzymes in the fruit help in digestion. The fiber too helps in digestion and elimination. The raw mango acts as a coolant in summers. Juice of the green mango helps cool down the body and prevents sun stroke. Mango is rich in Vitamin B-6 which is essential for Gamma-Amino Butyric acid (GABA) hormone production. GABA is an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, inhibiting nerve transmission in the brain, thus causing a calming effect.

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  • Palmyra Fruit or Sugar Palm Fruit or Ice Apple

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It is a natural coolant for the body as it contains almost 92% water. It is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It improves appetite. It is used in the treatment of nausea & vomiting & also worm infestation.

  • Coconut water

This naturally refreshing & sterile( contains no microorganisms thus reducing the chances of food contamination related diseases.) drink is a must in summer as it has good amount of electrolytes & is nutritionally a far better drink than any commercial drinks available in the market.

  • Kokum

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Kokum or Garcinia Indica is a fruit which is famous for its healthy and refreshing cool drink. It is very popular in Maharashtra & Kerala regions of India.
Kokum juice is not only delicious but it also has several health benefits. It is a rich source of powerful anti-oxidant vitamin C in the form of citric acid, malic acid, acetic acid, ascorbic acid, hydro citric acid and hydroxycitric acid.
Garcinol is the major active ingredient of Kokum and it has antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It does not contain cholesterol or saturated fats.
Fresh Kokum fruit highly contains B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folates and thiamin which are co-factors of many biochemical reactions.
It is delicious and has a cooling effect on the body. It is very refreshing drink. It not only quenches your thirst, but also helps to prevents dehydration and sunstroke due to heat. Kokum juice improves the digestion and appetite. It is also used to treat piles and dysentery. It promotes cell regeneration and repair. It helps to reduce fever and allergic reactions.It can relieve you from gastric problems like acidity, flatulence, constipation and indigestion.

  • Gulkand

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Gulkand is made from the rose petals which has cooling effect on the body. It is not unfamiliar to Indian homes. It is beneficial in alleviating all heat related problems like tiredness, lethargy, itching, aches and pains, reduces burning sensations in the soles and palms.
It treats mouth ulcers, makes teeth and gums strong and also reduces redness and inflammation of the eyes.
It improves appetite and digestion.
It is an excellent tonic, reduces stress, strengthens the heart, liver and central nervous system.
Gulkand reduces acidity and reduces heat in the stomach, treats ulcers and swelling in the intestine.
It protects us from sunstroke, controls nose bleed in summer.
Normal dose of gulkand is 1 tsp 2 times a day, morning and evening.
Gulkand can be taken on its own or added to milk, lassi or juices.

  • Tomato & Cucumber

Tomato enters this list due to its antioxidant properties owing to different phytonutrients & its water content which is around 94%.
Cucumber also has around 96% water just like melon brothers. It is a natural diuretic which removes toxins from the body. The fiber in it helps in digestion.

  • Vegetables with high water content

If we choose those vegetables which have naturally more water, it helps our body in hydration.
All the vegetables in gourd family eg. Ash gourd, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, ridge gourd , contain around 96% water so are ideal choices for summer.
Other vegetables which has substantial amount of water are pumpkin(92.6%), parwar(92%), Knol khol(92.7%), French beans (91%), radish white & red(94%), spinach (92%),lettuce (90%), cabbage(91.9%), amaranth(90%).
If you have any health complications like diabetes, kidney problems, check with your dietitian before incorporating any new food into your diet.

Along-with all these items, it is also important to have plenty of water in summer. Water acts as clutch, the summer-friendly food acts as an accelerators and breaks are fried, fatty items & carbonated beverages. If you want to run your engine( body) smoothly in summer, you need to have a functional clutch( sufficient amount of water) & accelerators( sufficient amount of summer-friendly food) & you need to put a break on unhealthy food & habits.

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Have a healthy & joyful summer.

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Diet Mania

What comes to your mind, when you think of diet???

You just want to run away from the diet…as if it is a ghost whom you don’t want to see in your wildest of the dreams.
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You think whatever you eat even if its pastries & your favorite pizzas it’s not going to harm you anyway…you believe you are a super human being..(or YOU ARE JUST TAKING YOUR BODY FOR GRANTED)
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You think diet is not your cup of tea.
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You feel diet is monotonous and you can’t continue with it…There are so many tempting dishes in the world that you must enjoy without any restriction after all life is short and we should enjoy it by eating whatever we (our taste-buds) wants. Probably, your motto is live to eat rather than eat to live.
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These are some of the representations of common reactions when people think of diet.Diet is one cruel villain in their life which does not deserve any sympathy.

What is this” Diet” actually??
Diet is a combination of specific food items. Different people eat different food items. People have their own preferences about the food depending upon availability of food, culture, liking, age, body needs etc. It is these factors which decide a person’s diet. People decide their own diets. So whatever you are eating presently is actually nothing but your diet. People think only sick people or crazy people follow a diet. The truth is we all follow a particular diet. So technically we all are dieting.
Your diet remains the same until the deciding factors remain the same. Whenever there is a change in one or more of the factors, there is or should be a change in your diet. eg. seasonal changes, migration, change in personal liking or health changes like someone has developed diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney problems, hormonal problems, liver disorders etc.

What is the problem?
Problem with the diet arises whenever people are not able to accept this dietary change mostly because they are habituated to their previous diet. They just refuse to change their diet. The diet has become their choice. It is a part of their lifestyle. If this change is because of their changing body needs like a health complication,this refusal can create few more complications which can be more dangerous.

What should be done?
A professional dietitian or a nutritionist will help you to decide a diet which is best suited for you. But it should be noted that people can help you if you help yourself. It is only YOU who can bring about a change in yourself with the help of a professional dietitian. You should accept that the change is for your betterment. At the start, this is going to be difficult. At this stage you just need to discipline yourself. Stick to the changes you have made, keep reminding yourself that only those food items which are not good for my health are replaced by some better food options. Then your changes will become your habits which in turn will become your lifestyle.

Diet is not eating less, but eating the right food in right amounts at right intervals. You can enjoy your outings, parties by making some smart choices. Initially, you have to make extra efforts to make these choices. But, later on they will become your habits by your choice. You will no longer crave for those earlier choices. You need to change your thought-process to bring about the dietary change. Here, also a dietitian can help you to change your perception about the food.

To conclude, I will say that diet is nothing but the food we eat as per our specific requirement. It is just asking oneself the following question,

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Enjoy healthy eating & make it your lifestyle.

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