How not to fall sick as seasons change!

To many of us, changing seasons are synonymous with falling sick, be it cold, headaches, flu or viral fever. This is almost assumed to be a norm  as the changing season itself. But should we really consider this a norm? Other animals in nature don’t fall sick as seasons change.  then why us?

When the season is changing from say, summer to the monsoon, our body is trying to adjust/cope with changes in the atmosphere. This is the body’s nature or intuitive wisdom, very much a part of our DNA.  to do this, it borrows energy that would otherwise be used for our normal functioning such as digestion, repair work and elimination. As a result, immunity goes a little low and digestion becomes a bit sluggish. At such a point, we need to help the body by making appropriate changes in diet /lifestyle, else we run the risk of falling sick.

What are some of these changes we can look at making ?

1. Slow down, make the time to relax and rest more. If possible sleep more. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel more sleepy than usual at seasonal cusps. This is our body’s wisdom showing us the way, and if we just listen, we’ll sail through. In any case if we fall sick, we are forced to pull the brakes, so is it not better to slow down before that, and prevent from falling sick ? If we just listen to the body, we’ll realize its not asking for much. A 20 minute power nap, or just a half an hour extra in the night can in fact work wonders.

2. Eat light. which basically translates to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially seasonal ones. These take up less energy to digest, and energize the body to be able to adapt to change.

3. Cleanse the system.  Our body uses the maximum energy to digest food, and if we give it a break from that by fasting, we can actually free up that energy for many other useful functions. And if we simultaneously replace food with pure fruit and vegetable juices, flooding our system with essential nutrients, the effects for the rest of the season can be quite amazing! We can choose to go on a juice fast for a day, 3 days or 5 days, depending on various factors such as – age, health history and current lifestyle. If juice fasting is too extreme, one can at least support the system with one green juice a day, consuming cleansing foods such as Sweet basil seeds and Aloe Vera, or having warm herbal teas in the morning or during the day.

4. Consume anti bacterial foods. Some really common anti bacterials that already exist in our diet are ginger, turmeric, onion and garlic. Add these in generous quantities. A great immunity booster shot that you can have each morning is drinking a shot of Ginger -Turmeric Tea. Boil raw turmeric powder and fresh ginger in water, add jaggery syrup to it and your shot is ready.

That said, nourishment takes place over a period of time and immunity cannot be built overnight. Immunity building needs to take place throughout the year, along with changes in lifestyle that are more in rhythm with nature, so that we can be ready for change at any time:)

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I can still run :)))

I recently participated in the Running and Living 5 kilo metre run. I was able to complete the run quite comfortably, and in fact I was one of the first in the women’s category to complete it. I was thrilled J You might ask what the big deal is about completing a 5 km run is. After all, people do a lot more all the time. But considering I have not done any running or major cardio vascular exercise in the last 5 years, doing this with such ease and comfort was a pleasant surprise.

In the last 3 years, one of the biggest shifts I have made is in my diet – moving to a whole foods plant based diet. This basically means I have been off the commonly known proteins such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, paneer etc. and instead replenished with a whole lot of healthy plant based protein like sprouts, leafy greens, beans, whole pulses and grains like amaranth. Approximately 50% of my diet is raw, which works beautifully in the tropical Mumbai climate.

This way of eating had a miraculous effect on my health. I rid myself of many chronic acidity and sinus, low blood pressure and general weakness in the process. It has supported my near consistent yoga practice too. Although weight was never my concern, I have lost a few kilos and am now more slender and toned up. So far so good, however what I now wanted to test was whether this way of eating had the capacity to support active and energy expending sport like running. Completing the 5 km with such ease, that too without any practice once again convinced me that this works!

More surprises lay in store as the day progressed .

During my growing up years, running was a part of life. However we would plan 5 km runs only on Sunday, so that we could relax the whole day after the morning run. Even at the time I ran the first Mumbai marathon (Standard chartered) more than a decade ago, I needed the rest of the day to recover from the exhaustion of the run.

But to my surprise I felt no exhaustion after this run. I went in for a hearty south Indian breakfast with friends, lazed around with the newspaper for an hour or so at home and then went about the rest of the day pretty actively, like any other.

This reminded me of something a dear friend and long time marathon runner Venkatraman Pichumani had shared with me a few years ago. Pichumani has been running marathons for the longest time. He turned to a plant based diet a few years ago. I asked him what difference he felt in his running and fitness after the change in diet, since he was so fit anyway. His reply was that the difference was not so much in the running as it was in his recovery. Plant based foods made his body environment alkaline and further aided his quick rejuvenation. Proteins have never been a problem, since there are a super range of plant based proteins that take up less energy to digest and give off more life energy. He could now go running long distances in the morning, and go about the rest of the day just like any other non running day.  Pichumani is in his 60s !!!

I had found his experience incredible to hear. But experiencing it first hand was even more incredible!

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Love Fats ? Its not your fault !!!

A cousin of mine was on a 6000km long road trip, meeting chefs all over India for a food based website he is soon launching. He shared a thought provoking trade secret that not one, but many chefs shared with him, and that is  ‘if you’re not sure of the taste of the dish, add fat to it.’

Explains why so much of the restaurant food is full of fat!!! But also makes me wonder, are all these chefs not sure of themselves?

Whatever be the case, fact remains – We love fat! We simply cannot keep our hands away from all the fried, cheesy, buttery stuff  if it happens to be around us. A popular potato crisps jingle is so true to the times ‘ No one can eat just one.’

Do you feel guilty about it ? Well, you need not, because its not your fault ! You are built to love fat !

Dr. Christiane Northup, one of America’s leading health and wellness experts says,  “You are programmed to put on fat, whenever there is food available. But now there is a lot of food available, but it’s the wrong kind.’

To understand, we need to rewind a 12,000 years ago.. to the time when humans were hunter gatherers. They basically lived off gathering fruits, berries and vegetables, and when these were not available, they hunted to survive. This was a time of extreme uncertainty,  no one knew where his next meal was coming from. Periods of plenty were interspersed with periods of no food. Spring could bring with it bounty, followed by a harsh winter, when there was absolutely nothing for months at end. Refrigerators, preservation and cold storage were still thousands of years away, and hence the body itself became like one, storing food in the form of FAT, to help the body survive when nothing would be available. Storing fat is our body’s survival mechanism, and remains to this day.

The problem now is that we now live in an endless period of bounty. If you are sitting and reading this, and excess fat happens to be your concern, you definitely belong to that percentage of the world’s population, for whom droughts and winters of food do not exist. You are pretty sure not just of where your next meal is coming from, but also where your next month’s and next years meals are coming from.

Our lives have evolved from the active hunter gatherers to sitting on the desk, all day species, but our bodies are yet to catch up.

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The other problem is that we are having fats  which are so far from their natural form, which are so highly processed in ways that make them completely harmful for us. And hence we have to deal with things like obesity, cholesterol or heart disease that are commonly attributed to excess of fat, issues the hunter gatherer never had to bother about..

So the question that arises is – should we have fats or should we not ?

Just as a machine needs to be oiled to run smoothly, we need to be oiled too 😉  to function smoothly. Our Brain is nearly 60 % fats. Fatty acids from fats are what the brain uses to create the specialized cells that allow you to think and feel. Fats help build cell membranes and the sheaths surrounding nerves. They are vital to blood clotting, muscle contraction and relaxation, and inflammation.

The question then (which is on everyone’s mind ) is what is good fat and what is bad fat.

I found a really good article from Harvard Med School that explains good fats and bad fats in a simple clear manner.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Truth-about-fats.shtml

As for me, I love the good old fats, the way nature gave them. Nuts and seeds in their whole, natural and untampered form. The kind of processing I do is blend them into butters, whip up sauces and dips with them, sprinkle them on salads and cereal.

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Health experts will tell you – that we simply cannot beat nature. It provides fat along with fibre, it makes us full faster, hence we never really can go overboard on it. With any kind of processed fat ( which is an extract, with all fibre stripped off)  there’s no knowing, till the stomach feels heavy much after we finished eating.

A wellness expert who loved cashew nuts decided to see how much cashew nuts she could have. She started with 250 grams.  Then ate more, and more, till she was nearly a kilo of cashews down. That was it. She was so full, that she was done with cashews for the next 10 years! Her mind and body just said no, when cashews came in front of her.

So here’s to all the nuts in the world.. the healthiest and yummiest fat in the world  that will rarely make us fat 🙂

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home made peanut butter