Author - Dr. Nitin Gupte

Wheat Is A Healthy Cereal!

Wheat Is As Healthy As Any Other Cereal!

Wheat is the second largest cultivated cereal crop of the world.

Next to rice, wheat is the largest staple food of the world population.

The crop cultivation covers more land than any other cereal in the world.

Its turnover in the world market is larger than that of all other cereals put together.

The wheat grain, like all other cereals, has three parts, the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

The bran is the protective outer cover of the grain, the germ develops into a new plant when the seed germinates and the endosperm is the store house of the food of the seed, that the grain uses for energy when the new plant is being developed.

The wheat grain has 71 % carbohydrates, 13 % proteins, fibre, some B vitamins, folate, Vitamins E, some minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and some good fatty acids.

Wheat provides us with 327 calories per hundred gm.

Of these, most of the fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fatty acids and 25% of the proteins in the wheat grain are housed in the bran and the germ while the most of the carbohydrates and 75% of the proteins are housed in the endosperm.

The carbohydrates in the whole wheat grain are starch, fibre and some sugars.

Of these, the starch and the fibre are the complex carbohydrates while the sugars are the simple carbohydrates.

Thus wheat is a very important source of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, small amounts of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals of a large proportion of the population of the world.

Wheat, like all other cereals, is deficient in the essential amino acid lysine and hence, by itself it is not a good source of complete proteins.

On the other hand, pulses have lysine but they are deficient in the essential amino acids methionine, tryptophan and cysteine.

And wheat has methionine, tryptophan, and cysteine.

So wheat and pulses together supply us all the essential amino acids and together they become a good source of better quality proteins in a vegetarian diet.

That is why we have chapatis, rice, bhakri together with ‘varan’ / ‘amti’ / ‘dal’ / ‘sambar’ / ‘curry’ or ‘usal’ in both lunch and dinner in our regular meals.

Chapatis, rice, bhakri are all cereals and ‘varan’ / ‘amti’ / ‘dal’ / ‘sambar’ / ‘curry’ or ‘usal’ are all pulses.

Together they provide most of the better quality proteins in a vegetarian diet.

Wheat chapatis or roti are the main ingredient of regular meals for most Indians.

The wheat protein is majorly composed of gluten, constituting 75 to 80 per cent of the wheat protein.

A few people in the world have gluten intolerance and they can’t digest gluten properly and develop abdominal pain, gases, constipation or diarrhoea when they eat wheat.

About 0.5 to 1 per cent people in the world suffer from Celiac disease, a severe autoimmune, chronic disease and can’t eat wheat at all.

Their number is slowly rising probably because of the newer crops developed to increase the yield and disease fighting abilities of the crop and body’s inability to adapt quickly to it. It also may appear to increase because of increased awareness about the illness and also improved diagnosis of the disease.

It is definite that such people shouldn’t eat wheat but that still cannot not be the reason for most of the world population to stop eating wheat which is their staple food.

It is also not right to equate rava and maida with whole wheat, just because they are made from wheat.

Whole wheat is robbed of most of its good nutrition by grinding and separating the germ and the bran from endosperm which is further ground and refined to make rava and maida.

So when we eat rava or maida, we consume only the less nutritious endosperm of the wheat.

Glycemic index of whole wheat is 41, that is low, and that of rava is 66, that is medium and that of maida is over 70, that is high.

That is why rava and maida are bad nutrition

On the other hand, when we eat chapatis made from whole wheat flour, we consume the bran, germ and endosperm together in the whole ground wheat flour.

Currently it has become fashionable to label wheat as unhealthy food.

It is like blaming carbohydrates for weight gain.

Both are passing fads.

But all cereals have more or less similar nutrition.

Various researchers give us slightly variable figures of calories but generally we can say that nachani (325), wheat (329), rice (341 ते 346), jwari (349) and bajri (361) give us more or less similar calories per 100 gm.

Also their glycemic indices and loads are similar.

The whole grain wheat is as nutritious every other cereal.

So you can eat wheat chapatis or bhakri made from nachani, jowar or bajri.

Also read the article ‘Effects Of Rava And Maida On Health’ on this website.

Intermittent Fasting

Studying The Effects Of Intermittent Fasting On Health

Intermittent fasting is as ancient as civilisation and has been practiced in all religions for centuries.

An ‘enthusiastic’ paper published by a British doctor over a hundred years ago and lapped up merrily by lay press and very energetically canvassed from time to time by some enthusiastic doctors, all over the world, since the sixties has made sure that it a well known and popular diet.

Some body builders in the West have used intermittent fasting for a long time.

Intermittent fasting includes various kind of diets in which the dieter fasts for different periods of time, with or, more often, without  planned calorie restrictions.

Intermittent fasting are diets in which one goes through regular periods of eating and fasting.

It includes a wide variety of patterns.

Some of the well known varieties are:

Time restricted fasting: It involves fasting for 12 hours or longer and eating two or more meals in the rest of the time window.

The 16:8 or 14:10 kind of diets are of this type. On these diets you eat ad libitum during the 8 hour or 10 hour window and fast for 16 or 14 hours respectively.

The 5:2 diet: It involves eating ad libitum for five days and then eating around 500 or 600 calories for two days, sometimes one day at a time twice a week, or on two consecutive days.

Eat stop eat diet: It involves a full 24 hour fast once or twice a week and eating ad libitum for  the rest of the week. This is an extreme version of the 5:2 diet.

Alternate day diet: It involves eating ad libitum and going on complete fast on alternate days.

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Ad libitum means ‘at one’s pleasure’, meaning eating as much as you please, of whatever you please.

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Available scientific information about intermittent fasting:

Intermittent fasting has generated a fair amount of scientific interest in the last few decades.

Most of the scientific research on the subject has involved animal studies and whatever human studies have been done are of shorter duration and many of them have not taken into account such factors as calorie intake, balance of nutrition and physical activity.

Most of the research on human beings has centred around athletic performance of athletes observing Ramadan. The results are varied, most showing decline in performance of athletes, in both mid and high intensity sports, and none reporting any improvement in performance.

And the results are conflicting, based on the outcome investigated and the methodology used.

Some studies have found worsening of lipids in people gorging on high fat, high sugar, high calorie food in one or two meals than those who nibbled on frequent smaller meals.

This is a very likely outcome, if people will eat two or three high fat, high calorie meals in a window of 10 or even 8 hours and fasted for 14 or 16 hours or even one or two meals in a smaller time window than 8 hours and fasted longer than 16 hours.

Early epidemiological studies have shown increased cardiovascular disease risk on reduced meal frequency and lower total and LDL cholesterol levels in people who reported four or more meals a day as compared to those who reported having one or two meals only.

According to another large cohort study, the Malmo Diet And Cancer Study, the people who ate six or more meals a day had reduced risk of obesity than those who ate three or less meals and the frequent eaters also had lower waist circumference.

On the other hand, animal studies have shown improvement in weight and metabolic markers like blood sugar and blood pressure LDL cholesterol.

According to a 2018 review, different studies show 2.5 to 9.5 per cent of weight and fat loss, but there is little evidence that it is superior to other diets or eating patterns in promoting weight loss.

Calorie restriction is known to improve insulin resistance. After a period of fasting, insulin sensitivity increases and insulin levels drop. These changes result in improved blood sugar levels both during fasting and shortly after eating.

The benefits of fasting also appear to be linked to the Circadian rhythm, which is sometimes also called the ‘body clock’. It is natural for humans to eat during the day and mice to feed during the night.

So the benefits of intermittent fasting are seen when we eat during the day time and fast during the night and exactly the reverse is seen in case of mice.

Abnormal Circadian rhythms may be linked to obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder and sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Intermittent fasting may also cause dizziness, nausea, insomnia, syncope (sudden fainting attacks with loss of consciousness), falls, migraine, weakness, excessive hunger, dehydration and hypotension, in some people.

Diabetics are more likely to suffer from these ill effects. Certain drugs prescribed for the treatment of diabetes also increase the risk of developing these illnesses.

Besides these, many people complain of developing severe hyper acidity on these diets.

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Inference:

There appear to be some benefits of intermittent fasting. Diets based on it could help lower some weight and improve metabolic markers like blood sugar and blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.

These benefits are available only if you don’t gorge on high fat, high sugar, high calorie food in one or two meals during the window of eating. That means you can’t really eat ad libitum.

Eating ad libitum, anything you fancy, as much as you please will not bring you the desired health benefits, even if you follow the rules of intermittent fasting strictly.

It means you still have to eat healthy, you still have to observe the rules of balanced nutrition to get the full benefits of intermittent fasting.

And also the health benefits of intermittent fasting are available only if you follow the Circadian rhythm, that is to eat during the day and fast during the night.

Intermittent fasting is not the only way to improve your blood insulin levels, insulin resistance and blood sugar, much less of losing weight and lowering your blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels and increasing your  HDL cholesterol levels.

If intermittent fasting helps people lose between 2.5 to 9.5 per cent of their excess weight, a 5 foot 70 kg lady can lose approximately between under 2 to 7 kg weight and a 5 foot 6 inch 80 kg man can lose approximately between 2 to 8 kg weight.

On the other hand, balanced food in three or more meals a day and exercising regularly can help both lose full 20 kg weight and get completely slim and have much better metabolic markers, especially the abdominal circumference.

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Intermittent fasting versus balanced nutrition and normal meals:

Intermittent fasting can give you some weight loss and improved metabolic markers.

Most times, intermittent fasting programs are run on mass scale as a diabetes control campaign and not as an individual treatment, individual nutrition is not planned, people are left to choose to their own food, eating ad libitum could be dangerous and exercise may not be a part of the regimen.

Individually planned balanced nutrition in regular meal pattern with three or more meals and regular exercise can give you complete weight loss and much improved metabolic markers.

Those people who habitually eat only two meals a day, viz. lunch and dinner and are not used to having a breakfast, could find intermittent fasting suitable.

Those people who have fixed time slots available for lunch and an early dinner, could find intermittent fasting suitable.

If your work schedule doesn’t allow regular meal hours, intermittent fasting may not suit you.

Many people on intermittent fasting could soon complain of hyper acidity, hunger pangs, possibly headaches and fainting spells.

Such people might not find intermittent fasting suitable.

Some people find it difficult to continue with the intermittent fasting regimen a year or two after starting it successfully initially, for one reason or another and give it up.

There are no long term studies to show how many people stay on, on intermittent fasting long term.

Most people are used to eating at least three meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, spread over the day.

So they are more likely to be more comfortable eating in the same pattern all their lives, than switch to eating  two meals during a smaller time window.

So it is for you to take a call on which of the two regimens suits you better.

Please also read ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ and ‘Simple Steps To Slimming’ on this website.

Benefits Of Exercise After Meals

Effect Of Post Meal Exercise On Weight, Blood Sugar And Insulin

Exercise any time is extremely beneficial to our health and its effects on your our health are well documented in international research.

Exercise boosts the levels of endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters,
Reduces stress,

Lifts gloom and depression,

Improves self-esteem,

Improves cardiovascular fitness,

Improves lung function,

Lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, total cholesterol, and LDL Cholesterol and triglycerides,

Improves HDL, the good Cholesterol,

Protects us from hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and strokes,
And boosts immunity.

Exercise also improves our metabolic health.

People with better metabolic health generate more energy and and use it more efficiently, burn fat better and maintain a healthy weight easier. They also have more energy and better memories.

Effect of insulin and exercise after a meal on blood sugar:

Carbohydrates in our food raise our blood glucose levels, when they are digested and absorbed in our small intestines.

Our body releases insulin in response to the raised blood sugar levels. Insulin influences muscle, blood, liver and fat cells, amongst others, to absorb this extra sugar from the blood, so the blood sugar levels are brought down to normal.

Research has shown that exercising after a meal has similar effect on blood sugar and much better effect on overall health.

How exactly does post meal exercise lower our blood sugar?

Exercising after a meal triggers three mechanisms to occur simultaneously.
It causes the heart to pump more glucose rich blood to our muscles, triggers complex changes in certain enzymes further boosting glucose transport to muscles and the muscle membranes to become more efficient at absorbing glucose.

Exercise increases glucose uptake by muscles fifty times more than in a sedentary person.

With the result, our muscle cells get the extra glucose they need during a workout and our blood glucose levels drop, without the body needing to deploy extra insulin.

This is the reason why exercise after a meal lowers both the blood sugar levels as well as blood insulin levels.

Sustained high levels of insulin are harmful to the body as they eventually lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Maintaining low insulin levels is very beneficial to health.

When is the best time to exercise after a meal, to lower our blood sugar?

New research suggests that post meal exercise has special benefits if done after thirty minutes of a meal, up to maximum of six hours after the meal. As per one study, the best time is between thirty minutes to two hours.

But if you consume a liquid meal like a milkshake or a smoothie, the best time is to exercise immediately after the meal, as the blood sugar spikes immediately as liquid meals are absorbed much faster than a solid meal.

Which kind of exercise is most beneficial to lower blood sugar and insulin levels best?

Researchers have found that medium intensity exercise like walking lowers blood sugar and insulin best.

How much time should one walk after meals to lower blood sugar and insulin levels?

Thirty minutes would be ideal, but even ten minutes would be fine compared to being sedentary post meals.

Keeping moving around a little every half hour too would be more beneficial than being sedentary.

To summarise:

Exercising after a meal helps improve our metabolic health, lowers our blood sugar and blood insulin levels and helps us maintain a healthy weight and boosts our energy levels and memory.

That is the reason why exercising after a meal is very beneficial to our long term health!

Also read the articles ‘Science Of Exercise’ and ‘Walking To be Slim And Healthy’, on this website.

Glycemic Index (GI) And Glycemic Load (GL)

Learning What GI And GL Are And How They Affect Blood Sugar

Most people have heard about the Glycemic Index (GI) And Glycemic Load (GL).

Let’s learn what they exactly are.

Glycemic Index is a numerical value assigned to a food as per how quickly or slowly it raises your blood sugar when compared with 100 gm pure glucose. The speed of 100 gm glucose is considered 100 and all other foods are given a numerical value of between 0 and 100, as per the speed at which they raise the blood sugar.

The thumb rule is, the more processed a food is, the higher its GI, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower it’s GI.

The lower the Glycemic Index of a food, the slower it raises your blood sugar and the higher the Glycemic Index of a food, the faster it raises your blood sugar.

So obviously, we should be looking to avoid high Glycemic Index foods if we are watching our blood sugar or watching our weight and health in general.

But does Glycemic Index tell us the whole story?

No, it doesn’t.

Glycemic Index of water melon is pretty high, between 75 to 80, but the amount of glucose in a serving of it is very low, so its Glycemic Load is very low, at 5. This means diabetic people can eat watermelon in spite of its high Glycemic Index, without worrying about their sugar climbing up much.

This is the reason why we need another kind of measurement system of a food’s impact on our blood sugar.

Glycemic Load fulfils that requirement.

Glycemic Load is the number that tells us how much a food is going to raise our blood sugar, not just how quickly, when we consume it. The amount of rise in our blood sugar is considered as one unit, when we consume 1 gm glucose.

So obviously the Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Load are two different measures of the effect of a food on our blood sugar.

Glycemic Load is calculated by multiplying the grams of available carbohydrate in the food by the food’s glycemic index, and then dividing by 100.

Thus the Glycemic Load not only takes into account both how quickly a food raises our blood sugar, but also how much glucose it delivers into our blood, per serving.

Glycemic Load can be calculated for any size serving of a food, an entire meal, or an entire day’s meals.

The verdict:

There are experts who advocate using one or both of the above numbers in choosing your food if you are a diabetic. Others believe that using these numbers is too complex.

The American Diabetes Association, on the other hand, says that the total amount of carbohydrate in a food, rather than its glycemic index or load, is a stronger predictor of what will happen to blood sugar.

But reaching and staying at a healthy weight is more important for our blood sugar and our overall health.

So instead of worrying too much about Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load, learn to eat healthy, balanced food in moderation, focusing on food that includes whole grain cereals and pulses in moderation and vegetables and fruits and avoiding simple and processed carbohydrates and excess fat and lose weight by walking or taking up any more vigorous cardiovascular exercise if you are fitter.

The slimmer and fitter that you are, the better will be your sugar control.

Read the articles ‘Basics Of Nutrition’, ‘Preventing Diabetes’ and ‘The Good And The Bad Carbohydrates’ on this website.

How To Get Balanced Nutrition!

Learning What Makes Our Nutrition Balanced!

Our body needs to get calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, various vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and water from our daily food.

Our food is majorly composed of cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, oil, milk and milk products like curds, buttermilk, butter, ghee, paneer, cheese and in mix diet people, eggs, flesh and fish.

In a vegetarian diet, cereals and pulses provide us with most of the calories we need throughout the day, carbohydrates, proteins, some fats, fibre, various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Fresh vegetables and fruits provide us with fibre, various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Milk and milk products, eggs, flesh and fish provide us with excellent quality proteins, fats, various vitamins and minerals.

Oil, cream, butter, ghee, hydrogenated oils provide us with fats.

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Cereals have more carbohydrates than pulses and pulses have more proteins and fibre than carbohydrates.

Cereals and pulses are not only the major source of energy and carbohydrates but also the major source of of proteins in a vegetarian diet.

Even mix food eaters eat non vegetarian food on a few days in a week or two, so on most days, cereals and pulses are the major source of proteins in their diets too.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, meaning amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Some of these amino acids can be synthesised by our body from other amino acids, while it cannot synthesise some other amino acids from other amino acids.

While both kinds of amino acids are equally essential for our body, the type that cannot be synthesised by our body are called essential amino acids. We have to get them from our food.

Milk and milk products and eggs, flesh and fish individually contain the complete range of essential amino acids, so they provide us with excellent quality, complete proteins.

In a vegetarian diet, cereals and pulses provide us with most proteins we need.

But cereals and pulses individually contain incomplete range of essential amino acids, so the proteins in them are incomplete.

Cereals lack the essential amino acid lysine and pulses lack tryptophan and cysteine.

But pulses have lysine and cereals have tryptophan and cysteine.

So when consumed together, they provide us with complete proteins.

That is the reason why we must consume cereals and pulses together in breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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We get adequate amount of good quality proteins if we take cereals and pulses together in major meals and include adequate amount of milk in our daily food.

That is why vegetarians don’t need to to eating non vegetarian food to simply to get adequate good quality proteins.

Today many pure vegetarians are forced to consume multiple eggs through the day on various ill conceived, so called high protein slimming diets.

There is absolutely no need to punish oneself with eggs on such bad diets.

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So in a vegetarian diet, we need cereals, pulses, vegetables and moderate amount of oil to cook them, in every major meal to get balanced nutrition.

But such meals still don’t provide us with Vitamin B12.

Only milk, eggs, flesh and fish have Vitamin B12.

So vegetarians need to include milk in their diet to get Vitamin B12.

We also get excellent quality proteins and ample calcium and B vitamins and other minerals in milk.

It is very likely that you have heard that milk causes weight gain and diabetes.

This is absolutely untrue.

Like vegetables, fruits too provide us with ample fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

They also provide us with energy.

That is why adding fruits and milk to the above described balanced meals makes your nutrition complete.

The only nutrient missing in the above diet is the heart and nervous system friendly sea source omega 3 fatty acid.

For us, it is available only in sea fish.

If you can add sea fish to your food, though few people eat fish, it becomes a wonderfully balanced diet.

It helps keep you heart healthy.

But omega 3 is not the only factor that keeps your heart healthy and purely vegetarian people too live to be a hundred, so no great harm done, if you don’t eat fish!

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We have already seen that to get well balanced nutrition, we need to get carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, various vitamins and minerals and antioxidants in balanced proportions.

In such balanced nutrition we need to have:

Cereals in the form of chapatis, bhakri, rice singly or in any combination,

Pulses in the form of varan, amti, dal, usal, pithla.

Vegetables,

And moderate amount of healthy oil needed to cook them, in our lunch and dinner.

The mix food eaters, who also have non vegetarian food, should look to have sea fish twice a week to get adequate omega 3 and meats like turkey or chicken or goat (not lamb) meat once a week and one whole egg thrice a week on the no non vegetarian food days, to keep the cholesterol consumption under control.

Such a plan will provide balanced nutrition.

Please read  the articles ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ and the ‘Good And The Bad Fats’ on this website.

Golden Tips To Healthy Weight Loss!

Weight Loss Tips To Get Slim and Healthy!

Diets never work!

At least not long term.

All diets are low calorie and most border on starvation.

Doesn’t matter which category diet you try.

You  never feel good on a diet.

On any kind of diet, you soon start feeling the the ill effects.

You lose glycogen and the water molecules associated with it and you get dehydrated.

Glycogen is a carbohydrate that is stored majorly in our liver and muscles and is used as a ready source of energy that the body can draw upon whenever needed.

You keep feeling hungry and irritable, you feel run down instead of feeling fresh and energetic, soon start feeling fatigued and tired all day.

You get constipated and there could be discomforting gases, you could end up developing fissures and piles.

You start suffering from hyper acidity which you may never have experienced before then.

In general you feel miserable.

If there is weight loss, you may initially see your blood pressure and sugar dipping a little and this may lure you into continuing with these diets.

You will soon start suffering from various nutritional deficiencies.

Your haemoglobin starts going down and you start looking pale, anaemic.

You begin to lose proteins from the collagen connective tissue holding your skin firm and it begins to wrinkle and sag and you start looking older. You also lose muscle mass and proteins from other tissues and organs.

Your bones start losing calcium and you develop bone pains and later osteopenia and osteoporosis, if you persist with these diets.

Some people still manage to hang on to these for months and even lose 10 or 20 kg braving such diets.

But it is impossible to continue with these diets for ever and the weight bounces back and the blood pressure and sugar climb back with vengeance as soon as they start eating their regular food.

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But then how should we eat to lose weight healthily?

If we really want to be slim and healthy for a lifetime, we must lose weight on our own normal, every day food, viz. chapati, rice, bhakri, dal / varan / amti, usal and vegetables.

Or idli, dosa, sambar, rice, if you are a South Indian.

And we must have at least breakfast, lunch and dinner as the major meals and ample low fat dairy (low fat milk, curds, buttermilk) and fruits in between the major meals.

This gives you the best balanced food even if you are a vegetarian.

It not only provides balanced nutrition and keeps you feeling satiated all day and night, it also prevents development of hyper acidity.

Non vegetarians can also have eggs, fish and flesh in appropriate kind and amounts.

But if you are a vegetarian, you needn’t add eggs or chicken or protein powders to your food just to lose weight.

You can definitely lose weight on a vegetarian diet.

A lacto-vegan diet (vegetarian diet plus milk) is very much a well balanced diet.

This is the only kind of food plan that we can follow all our lives.

Simply because this is how we have eaten all our lives, for generations.

And no other kind of diet can make you slim and healthy for a lifetime because we cannot live on any other kind of diet for a lifetime.

All we need is to learn to eat our own normal, daily food, only nutritionally fine tuned with a little bit of discipline and at least walk regularly, to get slim and healthy for a lifetime!

And this discipline is enjoyable for most people and not in any way bothersome!

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Remember:

All diets are temporary and so are their results,

Eating healthy is permanent and so are its results!

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And all you need is to eat healthy and walk regularly to get slim and healthily for a lifetime.

And if you are younger and fitter, you can jog, run, dance, take up aerobics, pedal a stationary exercise bike or a street bicycle, swim if you are an expert swimmer, or workout on treadmill or an elliptical trainer, or play a fast sport like tennis. In short take up any cardiovascular activity that you enjoy to become slim, fit and heart healthy, for a lifetime.

Yoga, floor exercises or lifting weights (strength training) won’t burn comparable calories and will not help you lose weight as well, or get as heart healthy, as the cardiovascular exercises will.

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This quote of a great American philosopher, thinker, author and philanthropist, perfectly sums up the philosophy of our process of the treatment of getting slim and healthy perfectly:

‘When we begin to work on ourselves, sometimes things get worse before they get better. It’s ok if that happens. It’s the beginning of the process. It’s untangling of old threads. We need to just flow with it. It takes time and effort to learn what we need to learn. We might not see changes instantly.

Impatience is the only resistance to learning. It means we want the goal without going through the process. We need to let ourselves learn, step by step. It will get easier as we go along.’

Louise L Hay

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And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Lose weight at your own comfortable pace, focus only on the process and keep following it and your body will take care of the rest.

As you begin to follow the process, you will begin to feel fresh and energetic, your fitness will improve, you will start looking slimmer, healthier and younger, your skin and complexion will begin to glow with your newfound health and your hair health will improve significantly.

Soon your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels will start improving and you will be protected against hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and strokes and PCOD, infertility and miscarriages and many other chronic diseases including some cancers.

Also read the article ‘Simple Steps To Slimming’ on this website.

Dietary Cholesterol, Saturated Fats, Simple Carbohydrates And Coronary Heart Disease

Effect Of Dietary Cholesterol, Saturated Fats And Simple Carbohydrates On Blood Cholesterol

Until 2013 it was generally accepted that dietary consumption of cholesterol should not exceed 300 mg daily for people who are not at a risk of developing coronary heart disease and 200 mg daily for people who are at a risk of developing coronary heart disease.

But research across the world could not establish a direct link between dietary cholesterol and raised blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk and hence the contemporary guidelines for coronary heart disease risk reduction from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have not issued explicit guidance for dietary cholesterol.

Researchers have found that it is not dietary cholesterol, but presence of excess saturated fatty acids in diet that lead to raised blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk.

But most of the high cholesterol foods, viz. full cream milk and animal flesh are also high in saturated fats.

So eating high cholesterol foods also adds excess saturated fats to your diet.

One notable exception of a high cholesterol food that is not high in saturated fat is egg.

Having said this, the two diets highly recommended for prevention of heart disease, the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet are both low cholesterol diets.

And although the American Heart Association and the American College Of Cardiology and the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have not issued explicit guidelines for dietary cholesterol for lowering the blood cholesterol levels, they still recommend healthy eating patterns involving relatively low levels of dietary cholesterol and advice against excessive consumption of cholesterol.

These healthy food patterns and the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet both lay emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean protein sources, nuts, seeds, and liquid vegetable oils.

So even if there is insufficient evidence that dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol significantly, it is prudent to keep your dietary cholesterol consumption low.

Luckily the dietary habits of most Indians are based more on vegetarian food than non vegetarian food.

So we any way consume little dietary cholesterol.

But we must guard against eating excess saturated fatty acid rich foods, namely milk fats and solid at room temperature vegetable oils.

We must also guard against excessive consumption of milk based sweets which are commonly made from full cream milk and also have ample sugar.

Full cream milk is rich in cholesterol as well as saturated fats.

Eating too much sugar also leads to raised levels of triglycerides which in turn lead to raised levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol.

Eating too much simple carbohydrates viz. refined flours like rava, maida, refined cornflour and bakery products principally made from maida, also causes raised levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

So being vegetarian and not consuming full cream milk is no guarantee against high blood cholesterol levels.

Thus eating too much sugar, sweets made from full cream milk and eating too much simple carbohydrates also raises the blood cholesterol levels.

They can all lead to coronary artery disease and strokes.

Also read the articles ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ and ‘What You Must Know About Cholesterol’ on this website.

Breakfast: Oats Or Breakfast Cereals!

Healthy Vs Unhealthy Breakfast!

Breakfast cereals like corn flakes and wheat flakes are popular breakfast choices.

You don’t need to cook them at all.

All you need is to put them in a bowl and pour cold milk on them and eat!

They are crunchy, sweet, often flavoured with chocolate and are tasty.

Oats are another choice as a breakfast.

Oats are also a easy to cook breakfast but they need to be cooked in milk or water for a few minutes.

And they aren’t sweetened.

Oats are not edible for human beings in their natural form.

Oats too need to be processed to make them edible for us.

But the process of preparing oats and breakfast cereals like corn flakes or wheat flakes is entirely different.

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Oats:

Oats in their natural form are made of the same three components that all cereals are made from, viz. the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

Like in all cereals, the bran and the nutrient rich germ contain all the fibre, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, plant compounds or phytochemicals and some complex carbohydrates, about twenty five per cent of the proteins in the whole grain, all the good fats, while the endosperm contains mostly starch and seventy five per cent of proteins. The endosperm does not have any fibre or vitamins and minerals or antioxidants or phytochemicals.

The groat or the kernel of oat grain are contained in a double layer of bracts or hulls that protects the groat while it is developing but dries up and lacks any nutrition once the groat matures.

Oats are inedible for humans when contained in the hulls.

When processing oats, only the good quality oat grains are selected for processing, cleaned of impurities and other grains and then dehulled in a impact dehuller and polished and then sent to a kiln in which the grains are subjected to slow drying and partial toasting by hot air.

This destroys the enzyme systems that can harm the healthy fatty acids within the grain bran and germ, and turn them rancid. Thus the healthy fats in the grain are rendered safe.

After kilning the oats are subjected to steel cutting or steel cutting and flaking.

In both processes there is no harming of the nutrients within the grain.

Thus the complex processing coverts the healthy oat grain from a form unfit for human consumption to a form wholly edible and palatable to us, while retaining all the good nutrition in the grain.

So the processed oats retain all the good nutrition in the original grain

Also it is rich in soluble fibre that helps lower our blood sugar and cholesterol and thus protects us from diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

This is the reason why oats are a healthy breakfast option.

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Breakfast Cereals: Corn Flakes and Wheat Flakes:

When breakfast cereals like corn flakes or wheat flakes are prepared, the whole corn or wheat grains are ground and the healthy bran and the nutrient rich germ in the whole grain are separated from the endosperm. It is the endosperm that is then used for making the breakfast cereals.

The separated endosperm contains only starch and 75 per cent of the protein in the grain.

But it lacks all the fibre, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, plant compounds or phytochemicals and the good fats and some complex carbohydrates and 25 per cent of the proteins that the whole grain originally had, as they are removed when the nutrient rich germ and bran are separated from the endosperm.

The endosperm is then cooked and ingredients like sugar, salt, cocoa and water are added to it.

The cooked endosperm is then subjected to processes like extrusion at high temperatures and then it is dried and shaped in different shapes to make them attractive, especially to children.

Thus the breakfast cereals like corn flakes or wheat flakes contain only starch, some protein and extra added sugar and salt and are unhealthy.

Some manufacturers may add a little whole grain flour to the endosperm so that they can claim that the breakfast cereal is whole grain.

But that bit of whole grain does not make the cereal healthy.

And if you still must eat them, check if one helping or serving contains less than 5 gm added sugar and at least more than 3 gm fibre.

And even then eat them very moderately.

Being crunchy and tasty, you can easily eat much more and consume far too much sugar and salt and unhealthy, simple carbohydrates.

That is the reason why breakfast cereals like corn flakes or wheat flakes are an unhealthy breakfast option.

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Verdict:

So the jury and the verdict is that while it is healthy to eat oats in breakfast, it is not healthy to eat breakfast cereals like corn flakes or wheat flakes

Please also read the articles ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ and ‘Effects Of Rava And Maida On Health‘.

Dangers Of Eating Too Much Sugar!

Excess Sugar Harms Every Tissue Of The Body

Sugar is nearly hundred per cent simple carbohydrate and provides no other nutrient.

It therefore has no nutritional value and plays no role in our nutrition.

Excess sugar consumption adversely affects every tissue of our body.

Sugar is metabolised in the liver and excess sugar is converted into fat and this leads to excess accumulation of fat in the liver. This can lead to a condition called non alcoholic fatty liver disease. This leads to inflammation of the liver tissue and eventually scarring of it which can lead to liver cirrhosis and will finally need a liver transplant.

When we eat calories that the body doesn’t need immediately, these excess calories are converted into triglycerides, a circulating fat in the blood and stored in fat cells in the body. Body releases energy from this store of triglycerides when the body needs calories between meals.

When we eat excess sugar regularly, the blood levels of triglycerides increase and this leads to raised levels of LDL or the bad cholesterol in our blood.

Sugar also inhibits an enzyme that releases energy from triglycerides.

This leads to further increase in the blood triglycerides levels.

Thus eating excess sugary food increases the levels of triglycerides.

LDL cholesterol causes plaque formation in the walls of the coronary and brain arteries and leads to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

HDL cholesterol clears the LDL cholesterol deposits from the coronary and brain arteries and removes them to liver which breaks it down to be removed from the body, thus preventing heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Excess sugar in your food increases the levels of the LDL or the bad cholesterol and suppresses the levels of the HDL or the good cholesterol in the blood.

So the high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Excess sugar leads to raised levels of insulin in the blood and this causes inflammation and damage to the arterial walls all over the body, they thicken and become hard and less elastic.

This puts excess pressure on the heart and raises the blood pressure. Inflammation also damages the endothelium, the innermost lining of the arterial walls and this leads to platelets and white cells of the blood clumping together and forming clots and plaque formation in the arteries and heart disease, myocardial infarcts and strokes.

Eating sugar causes a surge of a feel good chemical called dopamine to be released in the brain. It gives you a feeling of pleasure. The brain doesn’t release the same amount of dopamine if you eat complex carbohydrate foods or even fruits. And gradually you need more sugar to get the same amount of dopamine surge to get the same amount of pleasure. This is the reason why you get the cravings for eating something sweet from time to time in a day.

It is because they have been accustomed to eating excess sweet before and used to the pleasure derived from eating them.

This may explain the strong cravings for sweets that many people feel when they try to lose weight on balanced, wholesome food. It is because they have been accustomed to eating excess sweet before and used to the pleasure derived from eating them.

Eating a cookie or a candy gives you a burst of energy due to sudden surge in blood sugar but soon the cells absorb the excess blood sugar and you experience sugar crash, translating into a low, jittery feeling.

Continuous consumption of excess sugar has been linked to depression.

Excess sugar also leads to dental caries.

Excess sugar also causes inflammation of the joints and increase the joint pains. It is also linked to increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Excessive sugar intake leads to increased excretion of calcium, magnesium and potassium in urine and loss of calcium and magnesium lead to osteoporosis.

Research has also proved that excess sugar consumption also reduces the availability of active Vitamin D in the body, increased calcium loss from bones, poorer quality of bone formation and increased risk of fractures.

Earlier researchers thought that salt is more damaging to the bone health, but now they have found out that sugar is the bigger threat to the bone health!

It also increases the levels of cortisol as well as insulin in the body, high levels of both hormones are damaging to the body.

It also damages the collagen and elastin fibre in the skin those keep the skin looking younger and wrinkle free. Damage to these tissues leads to wrinkling and ageing of the skin.

High sugar intake raises the blood sugar which causes inflammation of the skin as it causes in all other tissues of the body. So it causes inflammation in the skin of the scalp too and this leads to drying up of the scalp, dandruff and damages the hair root follicles, leading to hair loss, thinning of hair and loss of quality of the hair.

Excess sugar also adds excess calories to your daily intake. Calories coming from sugary liquids like tea, coffee, aerated cold drinks do not satisfy hunger like solid food can. Thus you tend to consume more solid food, as the brain doesn’t register the liquid calories, adding too many calories to your food and this leads to weight gain.

Excess sugar also causes inflammation of the fat cells which release harmful chemicals which cause weight gain.

This in turn is detrimental to the health of your joints and vertebral column and leads to diseases like osteoarthritis of the knees and degenerative diseases of the vertebral column like prolapse disks.

Cholecystitis is common amongst the obese, especially women.

Obesity also leads to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

And you can consume sugar not just under the name of sugar but also under the names of jaggery, honey, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, corn syrup, maple syrup, beat sugar etc. fifty or sixty names.

So stop eating too much sugar and sweet foods.

Also read article ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ on this website.

Heart Healthy Diet And Lifestyle!

Eating And Living Heart Healthy!

India is home to the world’s largest number of heart disease patients.

We Indians are genetically more prone to develop heart disease and that is to ten years before the people of the developed countries.

We not only catch heart disease early but it also appears to progress faster in our people.

The number of our people dying of heart disease and strokes is significantly higher than people of the Western world.

According to the Global Burden Of Disease study, the age-standardized death rate of Indians per 100000 due to coronary heart disease is 272, way higher than the world average of 235.

It is vital for us to eat heart-healthy food and lead a heart-healthy lifestyle to prevent developing heart disease and strokes.

In a heart-healthy diet, we primarily have to rely on a vegetarian diet.

Luckily the majority of Indians are vegetarians and those who eat non-vegetarian food also eat it only in a few meals a week, unlike the Western people who eat it in every meal of the day all week.

That is the reason why eating a heart-healthy vegetarian diet is far easier for us than for Western people.

In a heart-healthy diet, we need to eat whole grain cereals and pulses, ample fresh vegetables and fruits, moderate amounts of preferably mono unsaturated fatty acid dominant, cold-pressed groundnut or sesame seed oil or olive oil, and skimmed milk.

It is maybe easier to eat either groundnut or sesame seed oil in India and olive oil in the West.

Most of us have whole grain cereals in the form of chapati, rice, bhakri, and pulses in the form of dals, varan, amti, usal and vegetables in both lunch and dinner.

Thus we must have cereals, pulses, and vegetables in both lunch and dinner.

In addition, we must keep our consumption of salt low, shift over to using the above oils and start eating ample fruits.

If you are a fish eater, it is very beneficial to eat sea fish 200 gm twice a week for getting adequate amounts of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

But few amongst us eat non-vegetarian food and even fewer eat fish. Because of this, only a few can eat fish adequately enough.

Omega 3 is also available in supplement form for those who don’t eat fish, but as a rule, most nutrients are better absorbed and assimilated by the body from food than from nutritional supplements.

And if you are taking omega 3 supplements, you must watch your lipid profile as some of these supplements develop high levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol. Levels of HDL cholesterol higher than normal too can be harmful to the heart.

So you must take omega 3 supplements only under the advice and supervision of your doctor.

Omega 3 fatty acids lower the levels of your triglycerides and prevent or reduce inflammation and improve the health of the endothelium of the arteries and keep you heart-healthy.

But the health of the heart depends upon many other factors too.

Pure vegetarian people have been known to stay heart-healthy till their nineties and beyond.

In a heart-healthy diet, we can eat one whole egg three or four days a week, preferably on days on which we don’t eat any other non-vegetarian food. But you should consult your doctor about eating eggs if you are suffering from heart disease.

In non-vegetarian foods turkey, goat meat and skinned chicken can be had in moderation, the less the better. Lamb, beef, and pork are best avoided as they are high in saturated fats and cholesterol.

It is advisable to keep the consumption of sugar, jaggery, honey, ‘rava’, ‘maida’, refined corn flour, sago, cream, ghee, butter, cheese, full cream paneer, groundnuts, coconut, sesame, fast food like pizza, burger, wada, fried snacks like chips, French fries, ‘bakarwadi’, ‘chakli’, ‘shev’, ‘farsan’, bakery products like bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries to the minimum.

Hydrogenated oils or vanaspati ghee and bakery products made from it and fried foods have trans fatty acids which are very harmful to the heart. They are best avoided.

Dry fruit nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, pistachios are high fat (50 to 60 percent fat), high-calorie foods.

Most heart disease patients are overweight or obese.

So they are better off avoiding dry fruit nuts.

Avoid mayonnaise, ketchup, and sauces like soya, barbecue, oyster, Worcestershire sauce as they are high in salt and sodium.

Also avoid frozen foods like ham, salami, sausages, nuggets, and also frozen vegetables. They too are high in salt and sodium.

Avoid ice creams and desert sweets or ‘mithai’.

Eating on these lines will keep your sugar, salt, saturated fats, cholesterol, and calorie consumption low and help you lose weight and get heart healthy.

In addition, you must look to improve your lifestyle, maintain healthy hours of meals, take adequate rest, sleep adequately and at regular hours, exercise regularly, walking too is an excellent exercise, if possible practice ‘pranayam’, meditation or yoga Nidra to be happy and peaceful.

Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.

Stop smoking and consuming tobacco in any form, it is harmful to heart health in any form.

Minimize or stop alcohol.

These guidelines will help protect you from hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.

Please also read the articles ‘Basics Of Nutrition’ and the ‘Good And The Bad Fats’ on this website.