Eating Healthy Tips for the Weekend

If weekends are what you live for, then chances are that binges and overeating may be the centre of it, followed up with feelings of guilt and overcompensation by dieting. If you’re wondering how to break from from this viscious cycle, read on.

The key to good health and healthy eating habits lies in progress, not perfection. So throw that restrictive diet out of the window and focus your efforts on building healthy habits through a little bit of self discipline. Here are five things you can do (this weekend) –

  1. Get good rest over the weekend. Rest is food too! Take some ‘me time’ out. You will be surprised at how nourished and satiated you will feel with some extra sleep, a head massage, a spa or just doing nothing for a couple of hours. This will eliminate the need to satisfy yourself with wrong foods
  2. Always eat something healthy before stepping out. It could be a bowl of fruits, a green smoothie, a sprout salad or a big vegetable soup. This will ensure you are not super hungry and do not end up stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods when out.
  1. When eating out, always order a simple salad (no creamy, oily dressings please) along with meal. It is lighter on your system and provide live enzymes to help break down other foods too!
  2. Stick to one grain per meal only. Avoid multigrain breads or mixed grains in any other form.
  3. Leave the dessert for home. Even when one has gone out for a meal, one usually comes home and wants to eat something before sleeping. So why not use that to have a good dessert at home? Mumbai is now brimming with dessert suppliers that are sugar free and dairy free. Stock those up at home, and return to their sweet comforts:)

Wishing you all a happy, healthful and guilt-free weekend ahead 🙂

 

 

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Rescue your gut. Get Probiotics!

 

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Its the first week of the New Year, and you’re done with that super awesome vacation, bonding over rich food, sinful desserts, and alcohol.. You now want to kickstart a whole new health regimen – get the healthy food and exercise back into your schedule to lose all those pounds that piled on in the last month.. A great thing to accelerate and get your whole digestive track in order is to add – Probiotics!

So what exactly are probiotics ?

Probiotic foods are foods containing healthy strains of bacteria. Pro simply means – pro meaning affirming and biotics means life.

Why do we need them?

Well, believe it or not, our bodies are carrying a whole lot of bacteria on it and inside it. The number of bacteria we carry are 10 times the number of cells! So in effect we could say that we are more bacteria than human haha! These bacteria are not just hanging around us for nothing, they all have specific functions they help us with. The ones outside help build our immunity. the ones inside help with loads of other things.

The bacteria in our gut, also called the Gut Flora, works to digest and absorb certain carbohydrates, produce vitamins, absorb minerals, eliminate toxins and prevent various kinds of allergies. The good bacteria also inhibit the growth of unhealthy bacteria.

Biologists even go to the extent of saying that the root of any illness lies in the gut, and if our gut is healthy, it is unlikely we will be unhealthy or sick.

If you have symptoms such as bloating and gas, fatigue, uncontrollable sugar cravings, nausea, headaches or indigestion, and are also struggling with losing weight, it is likely your good and bad bacteria are not in balance.

Bad bacteria grow when they are fed their food, which is mainly sugar, refined and processed foods or alcohol and good bacteria is starved of their food which is – soluble fibre (fruits and vegetables with skin, whole grains, chia seeds, aloe vera etc.). Hence

Organic foods have a much higher percentage of healthy bacteria that inorganic, because commercial pesticides, and various chemicals used in different stages of food production such as artificially ripening etc. kill the good bacteria.

Which basically means that all of us who have indulged ourselves during the vacations would do great with some high quality probiotic foods!

What can I find probiotics in?

The best probiotics are found in raw fermented foods such as Kombucha, Keffir, Kimchi and saurkraut. Other fermented foods such as idli, cultured vegetables, yogurt, sourdough bread and nutritional yeast too can give us some good bacteria. Probiotic capsules too are available off the shelf and can be taken in consultation with you doctor.

Building a healthy gut takes time, so we may need to supplement over a long period of a few months at least. Another thing that can help is to get enough soluble fibre in your diet daily,  that is necessary to build good bacteria colonies.

Lastly cut back on sugar, refined foods and alcohol as it feeds the unhealthy bacteria, yeast and fungus in the gut.

Now for some action! You can make a super awesome probiotic drink right at home. No exotic ingredients, no complications. Delicious, simple and effective!  Head over to my recipe blog to get the recipe of KANJI. 

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Photo Credits – Gargi Kukreti

Vitamin B 12

Statistics say that approximately 15% of the world’s population suffers from B12 deficiency, due to our lifestyles. Even among my clients I have often noticed that they don’t know enough about this important nutrient. B12 is important for replication of our DNA. It is vital for the formation of Rd blood cells and for the proper working of our central nervous system.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency are wide ranging. Some of the common symptoms are weakness, apathy, memory loss, acidity, loss of weight, nausea and vomiting, anaemia, mental confusion, delusions, paranoia, respiratory symptoms, allergies. Long-term deficiency can even lead to heart attacks or stroke and irreversible damage to brain and nervous system.

What is interesting to know is that B12 in fact is not a vitamin at all. It is a bacteria produced by soil microbes that live in symbiotic relationship with plant roots. In a more natural world, vitamin B12 would be naturally available in organic fruits and vegetables straight off the farm and water in natural sources such as ponds and rivers. We would never find an outdoor person working in the soil such as a or a farmers would always have enough of B12, because they would absorb it directly from the soil. However most of us living in the city do not have enough contact with soil and hence are always short on B12.

We tend to look B12 in animal foods such as milk and meat, as these animals are getting the B12 from the soil. However these days, vegetarians and non-vegetarians may be deficient in B 12 for a number of reasons. There is not enough b12 in the animal foods, because animals are being farmed and they don’t feed form the soil any more. Their food is inorganic, and hence lacks the bacteria. Secondly, B 12 may not be getting absorbed if our gut flora is destroyed.

Use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers in the soil, and injection of chemicals into food, use of preservatives chlorine in the water, chemical toothpastes which destroy oral bacteria, all end up destroying the naturally existing and available B12.

The best way to get B 12 naturally would be to eat as much organic produce as possible and get out in the soil. However, if you’re suffering any symptoms, do get your levels checked and consult a doctor for supplementation!

Illness is a gateway to Wellness!!!

Are Illness and Wellness two different roads?  I’ve actually come to beleive that exactly the opposite is true. Illness in fact is the Gateway to Wellness.

Most of us look at illness as a monster we never want to encounter, but in fact illness is an important signal from our body, that it is cleansing itself, fighting infections, and fighting to get healthier and better. So it is something we should be grateful for.

Our immune system is the system within our body that protects us against disease. Basically there are cells in the body that keep moving around like security guards. The moment they see something which does not belong to the body, like a bad bacteria or virus they restrict entry. If these are in big numbers, then they need to put up a fight. This is when, say we have an infection, a swelling, an inflamation or a fever. These are all signs that the body is putting up a fight.

It is really important that our security guards be strong, because how long the fight goes on, and whether we win or lose, depends entirely on the strength of these guards or our immune system. A strong immune system will fight it out in a short time, a weak system on the other hand will take longer to fight the same infection.

What determines the strength – everything that we always keep talking about on this page – the quality of our food, our physical activity, how it is digested and assimilated, the quality of our sleep, emotions and attitude, they all together build immunity.

What else determines how we fight, is what do we do when we are ill. It is important to support the body when it is fighting. Because the body knows how to heal. So here are a few things to keep in mind –

  1. REST. I’ve often seen that just resting a lot itself is half the battle won. If we use our energy in doing other things while we are ill, it is almost like Kargil War is on, and we are diverting supplies from the base to other states. Without supplies, how will the army fight.
  2. EAT LIGHT ENERGISINBG FOODS. Other things to keep in mind are to eat light, and eat foods, which give more energy and take up less digestive energy. Fruits and leafy greens are great!
  3. Go easy on exercize.
  4. CONSUME ANTI BACTERIALS. Nature has given us the perfect anti bacterials like onion, garlic, turmeric and ginger. We take these in measured doses throughout the year. Our body anyway cannot take big quantities as their smell and flavor are pungent and strong. And this is the quality that repels bacteria too!

Turmeric is a great antiseptic. Juice of onion is great for bringing fever down naturally. Even children can be given spoonfuls. Ginger works wonderfully to soothe inflammation and pain.

The way these anti bacterials work is that they destroy the bad bacteria. However when we end taking them in big quantities, they may also end up destroying some of the good bacteria within. Hence, once better, it is a good idea to take some probiotics to improve good bacteria counts within our system 🙂Slide1

Concerned about Protein?

Protein

A lot of vegetarians are hugely concerned about the lack of protein in their diet. Their concerns, however are misplaced, as they can get enough to meet their daily needs and more through a healthy wholesome vegan diet has.

What is protein ? It is a food for growth and repair.

The next question we need to ask is – how much protein do we really need?

Human milk contains 1.5 to 2.7% protein and this amount is sufficient to help a new born grow rather rapidly. It doubles its weight in 6 months and triples it in one year, after which the rate of growth slows down. As adults, we require only 3 – 8 % of our calories to come from protein to have a sufficient amount, and this is not at all difficult on a plant based diet as all plant foods have protein.

If you’re still not convinced, look to animals in nature for the conviction. Some of the strongest animals are herbivores, not carnivores. Elephants and horses don’t have any meat, and meet all their requirements from plants, and they are never deficient. Examine the human body and you will find it has more similarities to herbivores than carnivores.

Some excellent sources of protein from plant sources are – sprouts, nuts, seeds, peanuts, dark leafy greens, peas, whole grains, chickpeas, soya beans, tofu, beans and legumes.

So go ahead, include these in your diet in good measure and rest assured, you are not going to be lacking in protein 🙂 

Organic Foods

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I had such a lovely Sunday morning at the farmer’s market. it was Sunday morning, and the market was buzzing with people trying to get a week’s worth of vegetables and fruits from the farmers themselves.

A thought came to my head – that till the 1950s all food was organic only. Inorganic farming only began in 1950s and 60s, and has now completely taken over. The way I look at it, organic food should be called  just ‘food’ and, inorganic food should be labelled ‘inorganic food’, because that came in later.

Also from the perspective of the body, our body is organic. It only understands and accepts what is organic. Anything inorganic – is regarded as a toxin, has no use in the body, and is in fact potentially harmful if it remains in the system. Various studies show the relation between increased intake of pesticides and cancer, reproductive dysfunction, autism, asthma and Alzheimer.

Despite this evidence, there is a resistance among some for going organic, cost and easy availability being two reasons for this. Here’s what I have to say about these reasons :

Cost of foods is a function of various factors. It is more expensive to grow organic as it is not as subsidized as inorganic. Secondly inorganic food may be monetarily cheaper, but a lot more expensive when you add social and environmental costs of growing it. If these were added to the costs, organic food would be the cheapest 🙂

Both of these are issues we can take up as a community and work to rectify with the Govt. agencies. But even if this remains so, we can look at eating organic as an investment, and pay the farmer now, instead of paying doctors later. Its also an investment towards a better, cleaner environment for ourselves and our future generations.

A superb cost saving tip would be – go for as much seasonal produce as possible, as it will be the cheapest in season, and the most nutritiously satisfying as well !

The other contention that organic is not easily available is also nothing that we cannot work around. Organic grain, cereal, pulses and spices are easily available off the shelf so those should not be an issue. For the rest, the transition could be done in phases. One could go for fruits and vegetables from markets as and when they are available, or look for good suppliers who do weekly doorstep deliveries. When these feel light, one can more to looking for organic household items, toiletries, cosmetics, clothing, and so on.. Even if you can’t source 100%, do as much as you can. And that is good enough too!

Another big contention against organic, that one often hears is – that if everyone goes organic, would there be enough food to feed everyone? This is pretty unfounded, because currently, there is a huge amount of overproduction of food, and yet everyone is not fed! Only 43% of the cereal grains grown world-wide becomes food for people; 35% becomes livestock feed, and 10% goes into making bio fuels, high-fructose corn syrup and other processed products. One-third of food produced for humans, in any case gets wasted. So the problem is not so much about quantity but usage, storage and distribution of food. If this can be rectified, then the quantity of food required itself is much lesser than what is produced currently.

How to balance health during the festive season

We’re already dancing to Dandiya tunes, and Dusshera and Diwali are around the corner. Its that time of the year, when one evening of slipping, can become a reason for letting ourselves just slip away. Lets get this straight, being ‘healthier than thou’, is a serious challenge during this time, and restricting ourselves can be quite a challenge.

Hence, here are a few simple tips to stick by, which may not seem so heavy, but really work wonders to keep you close to track!

  1. Eat enough of fresh fruit and raw salads – as they help to balance out the heavy food. They also keep you hydrated and energized, also because  your sleep hours may be erratic.
  2. The key is balance. A great practice would be to eat really light after a late night and heavy food. Eat fresh fruits, and sprout salad for breakfast. Let the body recover and detoxify.
  3. Drink lots of lemon infused water. Lemon is highly alkalizing.
  4. Always eat something healthy before stepping out.  Have a green smoothie, a hearty vegetable soup, or a sprout salad, so that when you reach the venue, you are not starving. This way you will not end up attacking anything that comes your way.
  5. Get exercise every day, even if it is only 10 -15 minutes. It could be two rounds of the 7 minute HIIT, 11 surya namaskars, or a 15 minute jog, doesn’t matter what. This helps our circulation, boosts our metabolism, and helps release toxins through breathing and skin too.  If exercize does not happen, do functional things like, take the stairs instead of lift, if you’re going somewhere close by, walk it instead of driving.

None of what I am saying is anything new. We all know it, the thing then is to put it into practice. And the easiest way to start is to pick one thing. Make a habit of it, make it sing, conquer it completely, till it is not a effort to be doing it any longer. Then move to the next. And the one after. And on this note, here’s wishing you all a super fantastic festive season ahead!