Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ideal diet before and after a workout

What you eat before and after a workout is as important as the regimen itself. An effective workout depends on many factors - the most important one being your diet. What you eat before a workout prepares your body for the stress and the meal after that is responsible for muscle building and body repair. Here's what you must keep in mind so as to tailor your meals and maximise your workout.

- Get the carbs: Give your body a dose of carbohydrates one hour before you hit the gym. Eat a fruit (apple would be ideal). You may also have toast, cornflakes or idlis. You could also just eat a banana for the complex carbohydrates it provides. These foods need comparatively little time to digest, are easy on the body and provide you with maximum energy during the workout. Also, ensure that you drink a glass of water before the workout, so that your body is well hydrated.

- Never go hungry: Do not hit the gym on an empty stomach. The stress that exercise has on the body, combined with the lack of sugar (energy) will lead to hypoglycemia, a condition that will make you prone to fatigue.

- After a heavy meal: For a diabetic, it is very important to workout soon after a heavy meal. However, normal individuals must maintain a gap of two to three hours between a heavy meal and the workout. The logic is to allow the sugar level in the body to reach an optimum level.

- Use the window: During a workout, the level of cortisol (also known as the destructive hormone) in the body increases, thereby making it prone to infections. That's precisely why the hour just after a workout is known as the 'window period', as it allows for infections to enter the body. Use this opportunity and eat as soon as possible.

- Get a drink: The body loses salt due to sweating. That is why it's very important to compensate via a rich source of electrolyte such as ORT.

- Have proteins, but...: Do not rely completely on proteins for your supply of energy, as they are far more difficult to digest and take a toll on your kidneys. To aid digestion, make sure you include lots of greens in your meal, as they are rich in fibre.

- Create supplements: The body needs a high-protein diet for muscle building. However, relying on supplements is not the answer. The best option for a post workout DIY supplement is to take the watery part of curd (that is very rich in proteins), chop a banana and apple into it and put it in the blender. It's a perfect combination of proteins and carbohydrates. Not to forget, the apple is rich in fibre.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eggs are good for the heart!

Eggs are not bad for heart health, say experts.

US egg expert Dr Don McNamara insists that their bad reputation is no longer warranted and even Heart Foundation has lifted its recommended intake to six eggs a week. "Seniors have been afraid to eat eggs because for 40 years they have been worried about the dietary cholesterol,'''' the Herald Sun quoted nutritional biochemist McNamara as saying.

"But, over the years, the research has clearly shown that cholesterol in our food doesn't impact our risk for heart disease - (what causes) that is saturated fat and trans fat,''' he added. Eggs are low in saturated fat and consist of some of the vital compounds like choline that are considered good for metabolism and for foetal brain development during pregnancy. It also contains lutein, which is known to lower the risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.

McNamara said those who eat eggs for breakfast feel fuller for longer and reduce the risk of overeating at lunch. "Eggs have the highest quality protein you can buy in the supermarket for the lowest cost, and they contain every vitamin and mineral we need except for vitamin C,'' he said. "So they easily fit into a healthy diet for people with normal cholesterol levels, people with high cholesterol levels, diabetics and people with metabolic syndrome,'' he added.

The Heart Foundation had conducted a survey earlier this year and reissued its guideline to recommend people eat up to six eggs a week. "Cholesterol in food doesn't equal cholesterol in the blood,'''' said the foundation's healthy weight spokeswoman Monique Blunden. "It's the saturated fat and trans fat we consume that is directly related to the rise in cholesterol in the blood,'' she added.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Over-training causes health problems

Excessive-workouts and over-training can lead to severe health problems, experts tell. So far, stories of stars working towards acquiring washboard flat abs and six packs have always sent aspiring wannabes packing to the gyms to get those envious cuts and curves. But the ill-effects of excessive gymming will hopefully alarm gymmers to now consider the downside of excessive gymming and avoid gym-related injuries, which health experts and trainers claim have been a fairly common occurrence.

Fitness expert Nawaz Modi Singhania says, "People are succumbing to the pressures of looking good. They set unrealistic goals for themselves and then set out on gruelling exercise regimes. The usual mindset is that if their trainer asks them to work out for 20 minutes, they try and double it to achieve the results faster. They do not realise that the energy is not pulled from their fat after a point, but their muscles. Hence instead of feeling refreshed, they will feel tired and drained of energy. Indicators that something about your workout is not right," she says.

Back pain, frozen shoulder, joint aches, feeling sore are some of the signs that a body gives out that one should pay heed to. But according to trainers, people often ignore their own body needs, and continue to push it even when their body sends out signals to tell them to stop. A point echoed by clinical fitness specialist Namita Jain. "Too much, too soon is what they want and they pay a heavy price for it. Apart from pushing their bodies to extremes, they do not compensate it with proper rest and most importantly adequate diet. They go on high protein diets ignoring the carbs completely. The carbs intake has to be maintained, otherwise it accelerates the burnout process of the body." Namita also emphasises on the importance of working out under a well-trained fitness instructor. "Anyone who promises quick results should be totally avoided. On the contrary, people make the mistake of rushing to instructors promising them just that," she adds.

The ill-effects are more prominent in women, who may even suffer from hormonal imbalances. "The women often compromise when it comes to their diet and that in the long run can cause irreversible damage," adds Nawaz.

Acquiring a well-toned fit body depends on several factors like an individual's body-type, lifestyle, food habits, work pressures, the intensity of workouts, the type of workouts and their durations. And in their bid to get sculpted hot bods, people often overlook these very vital elements.

Signs to watch out for
- Muscle soreness that lasts for more than 24 hours.
- Any acute or sudden pain in the muscle.
- Difficulty in lifting weights, which you could have easily done earlier.
- Any pain in the joints while running on the treadmill or on the stepper.
- Extreme fatigue and feeling of tiredness
- Irritability
- Change in sleeping and eating pattern
- Unsteady pulse
- (In women) Irregular menstruation cycle
- Frozen shoulder or stiffness in limbs
- Back ache, specially lower back

How to avoid gym injuries
- Train only under a certified trainer and share all medical concerns with them before devising any workout plan.
- Plan a workout, knowing your fitness level and keeping in mind your body requirements.
- Stick to that plan and any change should only be made after consultation with your trainer.
- Check out the progress of your body, but do not use anyone else's workout regime as a yardstick. Different bodies adapt to same exercises differently.
- It's perfectly healthy to work for about 45 minutes to an hour each day or even on alternate days. If you are into rigorous and intense training, remember to take at least one day off to let your muscles recuperate.
- Understand that six eight packs are hard to acquire and harder to maintain. The focus should be on staying healthy.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet that includes proteins, carbs, fruits and vegetables. Carbs give you energy to through tough training sessions, while protein helps muscles rebuild after breaking down during exercise.
- Understand your body signals and don't push yourself too hard.
- Working out smart is the key word to get the best results.

Monday, March 28, 2011

LoL: Laughter affects the body like exercise!

Repetitive laughter could have the same effects on the body as exercise, according to a new study.

Results of the study, from Loma Linda University's Schools of Allied Health (SAHP) and Medicine, showed that laughing not only enhances a positive mood, but lowers stress hormones, increases immune activity, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, similar to moderate exercise.

In the study, 14 healthy volunteers were recruited to a three-week study to examine the effects that eustress (mirthful laughter) and distress have on modulating the key hormones that control appetite.

During the study, each subject was required to watch one 20-minute video at random that was either upsetting (distress) or humorous (eustress) in nature.

During the study, the researchers measured each subject's blood pressure and took blood samples immediately before and after watching the respective videos.

Each blood sample was separated out into its components and the liquid serum was examined for the levels of two hormones involved in appetite, leptin and ghrelin, for each time point used in the study.

When the researchers compared the hormone levels pre- and post-viewing, they found that the volunteers who watched the distressing video showed no statistically significant change in their appetite hormone levels during the 20-minutes they spent watching the video.

In contrast, the subjects who watched the humorous video had changes in blood pressure and also changes in the leptin and ghrelin levels.

Specifically, the level of leptin decreased as the level of ghrelin increased, much like the acute effect of moderate physical exercise that is often associated with increased appetite.

Dr. Lee S. Berk, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunology researcher at Loma Linda University's Schools of Allied Health (SAHP) and Medicine, said that this research does not conclude that humour increases appetite.

"The ultimate reality of this research is that laughter causes a wide variety of modulation and that the body's response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise," he said.

"The value of the research is that it may provide for those who are health care providers with new insights and understandings, and thus further potential options for patients who cannot use physical activity to normalize or enhance their appetite," he added.

The study is being presented at the 2010 Experimental Biology conference.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Want a flat tummy? Avoid low fat foods

Trying to lose weight by adopting a low fat diet? Well, you may be committing the biggest mistake of your ''weight loss regime,'' says an Oz fitness expert. Celebrity trainer James Duigan, whose clients include model Elle Macpherson, said, "I see so many people trying their best and it's just not working because they don't understand that it's not fat that makes you fat, it's sugar and it's carbohydrates."

"You need a healthy balanced diet with fish and chicken and meat and vegetables and berries and nuts and things like that. (Low-fat diets) just don't work - it's not sustainable. You need to look at how you can keep yourself happy and healthy throughout your life," Stuff quoted him as saying.

Duigan, whose second book ''Clean & Lean: Flat Tummy Fast!'' is out, has suggested some small steps one can follow for a flattened stomach.
- Don't overcook your food as you'll kill off or reduce the nutrient content. Try to make sure around 50 per cent of the food on your plate is raw. If you can stomach it, eat all your vegetables raw.
- Don't buy cheap meat - organic meat is more expensive, but it also contains less toxic junk such as antibiotics. If you can afford only one organic thing make sure it's meat.
- Don't eat foods that weaken your abdominal wall, as this will make it slack and lead to a protruding stomach. Foods that can weaken your abdominal wall often contain gluten.
- Avoid sugar, in all its forms, as it fattens your mid-section.
- Make sure you eat enough fibre. A lack of fibre will lead to inflammation in the bowel. Eat plenty of vegetables (ideally raw) and drink at least two litres of still, room temperature water every day.
- Having the occasional ''cheat'' meal, so you can eat a piece of cake or a brownie and actually help your weight loss. "Feed your soul because you can't live your whole life in denial. And it helps the fat-burning process, it can boost your metabolism and get you leaner the next day. The key is to keep it to one meal," he said.
- Another factor for a healthy lifestyle is reducing stress.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Benefits of breathing exercises in modern life

Breathing exercises are among the most popular stress relievers. Not only do they work swiftly, they require very little practise and you can do them anywhere.

Here's why you should opt for them...
- Stress is known to wreak havoc on you both physically and mentally. Breathing exercises are a great way to relieve stress as well as give you relief from hyperventillation, bad headaches, burnout, fatigue, help you sleep better, reduce anxiety and depression.

- You can go in for breathing exercises when you're overcome by stress and want to feel better, when you feel overwhelmed in a situation and don't know what to do, you want to clear your thoughts, your body wants a release, you feel irritated when things don't go your way or when you're in the middle of an argument and want to calm down.

- When practised regularly, you will notice that you're able to handle stressful situations way better than what you used to.

You can find simple explanation of pranayama (breathing techniques in yoga) with instructions here (click to go to the website)

Friday, March 18, 2011

All you need to know about avoiding & combating the FLU!

Most people in Mumbai are battling a combination of sore throat, incessant coughing, body or headaches, running nose and fever. A fact Dr Hemant Thakkar, Consultant Physician at Jaslok and Breach Candy Hospital substantiates and says, “The shift from winter to summer has been unusually long this year. This has made Mumbai a hotbed of upper respiratory diseases.” The city has been experiencing major temperature fluctuations almost on a daily basis. Cold evenings to clammy afternoons, the climate is ideal for the spread of contagious disease like a viral infection.

Triggered infection
Our body’s immune system is designed to identify and respond to any external infection. While the exposure to pollutants and carriers is much higher in cities, this season in particular sees these numbers peak. The measure of the small levels of pollutants in air, water or body fluids, also called parts per million (ppm), is high in the atmosphere. People living close to construction sites and industries, constantly breathe in dust, smoke, gasoline effluents and suspended particles. Mumbai, with its countless infrastructure and residential projects under construction, suspends a considerably inflated number of dust and dirt particles in the atmosphere in addition to its choking gasoline emission. Dr Uday Pol, an ENT surgeon based in Navi Mumbai, says, “There are allergens present around us such as dust mites in our homes, especially in our bed linen that are particular irritants to the respiratory system. Additionally, pollen, mold, dander (from pets) and weeds all add to our daily exposure to infection. We also consume allergens through the consumption of street food.”

The Consequences
If a respiratory problem is not treated at its nascent stage, a minor influenza infection like acute bronchitis might lead to chronic bronchitis and even laryngitis. A worst case scenario might even lead to pneumonia. There is also a risk of increase in the frequency of asthma attacks amongst the asthmatics. Among those in the high-risk category for flu infections are infants, children and senior citizens. If not treated in children they may get adenoid infection, mouth-breathing, and learning disorders resulting in a lack of concentration.

Long term changes also include a change in vocal cord nodules causing a permanent change in voice. Others who are immuno-compromised are asthma patients and diabetics, who are most prone to respiratory infections. They are at high risk and should take preventive vaccines as prescribed by their doctor.
► The most common sigh of a respiratory problem is the nasal blockage as well as a running nose. An inflammation or redness in the throat is possible. Patients, whose voice changes because of the soreness in the throat, also experience an inflammation in the voice box. Dry cough, especially at night, and dryness of the throat is frequent.
► Extreme itchiness in the throat leads to breathlessness.
► Redness or irritation in the eyes, relapsing fever and weakness are also common symptoms.

► Anti-allergic medicine and a Paracetamol in appropriate dose are necessary to get the infection under control.
► Some simple home remedies can be had to fight the infections such as steam inhalation.
► One should bear in mind that hydrating the body is very important. Drink warm water to hydrate the throat and body. Ideally, a little honey in water also helps soothe the dryness in the throat that warm water will induce.
► Drinking boiled water with fresh ginger, pepper corns, tulsi leaves and honey also helps to heal a sore throat.
► Consuming garlic as a whole or as tablets help combat the spread of the infection.

► Wear a mask in a dusty location.
► Asthma patients should increase their doses of bronchodilators.
► Avoid sudden temperature change like immediately entering an AC room from the outside heat.
► Don’t drink cold water because sudden changes increases the body temperature.
► A diet that does not include throat-irritants such as fried or cold food.

While most cities grapple with a change-of-season viral flu, Mumbai has a tough time controlling the spread given its high human density and proximity to infection. There are more people competing for the same amount of fresh air, hence increasing the likelihood to get infected.

So for this season, be careful, be healthy!


Monday, March 14, 2011

What lies beneath: Don't let depression go unnoticed!

The city of Mumbai woke up, on Tuesday, to the horrifying news of a seemingly jolly 31-year-old chartered cccountant Nidhi Gupta plunging to death from the 19th floor of a Malad building along with her two children.

Gupta’s kin are as perplexed by her actions and this incident has brought to the fore how a severely depressed person could go unnoticed. In fact, a gregarious person is the first to fly under the radar for emotional distress.

While some people mask their unhappiness in colourful ways, it is crucial to identify suicidal tendencies. Psychiatrists Harish Shetty and Shalet Fernandes highlight signs of masked depression.

- Dress it up: At times a person going through a low phase may overdress for simple errands. A lot of effort is put into looking happy and presentable. This excessive play of dress-up is often accompanied by an overtly happy persona, excessive joking and impulsive shopping.

- Happy but irritable: Look out for signs that show they get upset about little things before laughing them off. The irritability, which would be justified, comes as a surprise to close friends and family. They are forgotten, however, since they are often succeeded by a lighter moment.

- Helping hands: Many extroverts cling to their friends and offer help during crisis. Though being with someone in a crisis is normal, when depressed, the helpful attitude becomes disproportionate. They may come up with unreasonably large-hearted gestures such as offering to quit their job to be by a friend’s side during his/her divorce. Or they may enforce ideas and cling to friends overwhelmingly, forcing them to go to a particular doctor, etc. This helps distract them from their personal issues and provide temporary meaning to their life.

- Bottle-friendly: It’s common for people to party or drink a lot more when they go through a slump. They look for opportunities to have a laugh and a good time. They may joke and intermittently share thoughts like, ‘life sucks big time’, or ‘you guys don’t call me often’. Usually there is no reason for this provocation. They also tend to stay later at parties than others or display bouts of anger and sadness after a night of drinking.

- The procrastinator: When a usually efficient person starts getting complacent and missing deadlines, it’s a red flag. Vague excuses for a dip in performance are handed out. These may even include blaming their loved ones.

- Internet blues: A student in her 20s suddenly began staying awake late into the night, chatting on the net. Her parents were livid. On examination it was found that this popular captain of the college volleyball team was clinically depressed. She used the internet to distract herself and keep awake.

- Denial mode: A medical practitioner continued working even though she was suffering from suicidal thoughts. “Duty is duty,” she said. She was sad, felt worthless and refused treatment until she was forced into it. Some people bury themselves in work so much that it's hard to tell that something is amiss.

- Work on it: If you have identified emotional distress within yourself, it’s important to work on accepting the reality and sharing it close ones.
Often, just sharing doesn’t rectify the underlying causes for depression. To aid the process, undergo a mental health screening and take the help of a psychiatrist.

Faced with someone who is resisting asking for help, you can try and break them out of their shell. Ask pointed existential questions about what makes them happy, or why they seem unhappy of late. Heartfelt questions can result in them breaking down. Gently encourage them to open up, seek help and express themselves. This will go a long way in them acknowledging their ailment.



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