Monday, November 3, 2008

Glowing soft skin – The Healthy Diet way

What do you first observe when you first see yourself in the mirror… black spot near your beautiful eyes or a new born bump turning into acne on your forehead? There is so much emphasis given to physical appearance in today’s times and why not? .After all “Looking good” is equal to “Feeling good” “Being more confident”.Every woman dream is to have a glowing and soft skin. A fortune is spent on cosmetics to have the desired effect.

So why not look out for a way to enhance our looks without getting bankrupt. Yes! There are some very simple natural and cheap ways to the destination of beauty. Lets understand the causes of acne followed with some dos and don’t.

What Causes Acne?
The exact cause of acne is unknown, but dermatologists believe it results from several related factors.
• One important factor is an increase in hormones called androgens (male sex hormones). These increase in both boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills can also cause acne.
• Another factor is heredity or genetics. For example, studies have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family history of the disorder.
• Certain drugs, including androgens and lithium are known to cause acne.
• Greasy cosmetics may block the pores and unable them to breathe oxygen .Lack of oxygen may lead to acne.
• However, there are some researches blaming the diet of a person — eating refined carbohydrates and sugar leads to a surge in insulin. This in turn leads to an excess of male hormones, which encourage the skin to excrete large amounts of sebum. This grease-like substance encourages the growth of bacteria responsible for acne. Therefore the scientists believe the modern Western diet is one of the major causes. The simple formula is:
refined carbs/sugar = more insulin = more hormones = more sebum (oil) = more bacteria = more acne

The conclusion is our body needs complete nutrition to promote healthy skin and to prevent acne. The fact is, people with imbalanced diet are deficient in vitamins, minerals and herbs due to fast food diet. The nutrients are powerful antioxidants that flush out free radicals and toxins from our body. It helps to detox the body. Some even have antibacterial effects and promote immunity. Vitamins are important in keeping the pores clean and in healing the damaged skin tissue.

Excess consumption of REFINED AND SUGARY FOODSExcess consumption of sugary foods like chocolate, sweets etc is one of the main cause of acne. Refined and tinned foods are huge skin sinners. A diet that is high in sugar may make your system even more susceptible to bacterial infections, which may further aggravate spots and other skin conditions. Instead have wheat bread, oats and other grains instead. Substitute white rice with brown rice, chickpeas and lentils. Alternate white sugar with honey or brown sugar.
Excess consumption of fatty foods can cause sluggish digestion, cloudy thinking and stimulate the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil leading to an oily skin. While eating spicy foods can also lead to acidity .A diet high in fried foods, butter, cheese, pickles, fried papad etc are also low in fibre thus making it tougher for the body to clear wastes. One should substitute spice with some ginger and herbs which may stimulate digestion and help to subside acidity.
Excess of TEA AND COFFEEWomen who drink a lot of tea, coffee, cola, hot chocolate and any kind of aerated drinks are more likely to have tired-looking skin and suffer from conditions such as greasy skin and spots. This is because these drinks contain caffeine, which increases the excretion of vitamins and minerals from the body. Try to drink not more than two cups of coffee, tea or other caffeine containing drinks a day.
Excess ALCOHOL INTAKE Excessive alcohol intakes may lead to skin problems such as split veins. Alcoholic beverages are diuretic and increase the water loss from the body leading to a very dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin can develop wrinkles very easily. In fact many women are allergic to hard drinks and may develop rash. Avoid having alcohol as much as possible.
Excess/Chain SMOKINGNicotine does not help to keep a healthy skin. It attacks the blood vessels that feed the skin with nutrients and oxygen, as well as those that drain away the waste products from the skin. At the same time your skin also suffers from lack of oxygen. Result - aging effect to the skin.
Drink plenty of WATERDrink at least 2 litres of mineral water daily. Drinking plenty of water helps reduce acne by flushing toxins out of your system and keeping your kidneys, liver and bowel functioning effectively. A sluggish digestive system is often linked to acne. Drinking plenty of water will keep your insides healthy. Water will also help keep your skin supple and hydrated. Dehydrated skin can become dry and flaky, the skin's natural exfoliation slows down and pores become blocked which in turn can cause spots.
Feed yourself with plenty of ANTIOXIDANTS Include loads of yellow and orange colour foods eg Carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow and orange bell peppers, oranges, tangerines, mangoes, papayas and apricots. These foods are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A .Vitamin C is highly beneficial to skin and responsible for an efficient immune system. Vitamin C promotes and protects collagen and helps us fighting back any kind of infections. Collagen provides support and elasticity to your skin thus delaying the onset of wrinkles. It acts as cement in our skin.
 Eat atleast 50gms of Greens per day. One can have veggies like Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, green bell peppers, kale, kiwi and spinach. These greens are rich in iron. It’s said that ladies having iron deficient diet mainly have dark circles.
 Berries like Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, beets, plums, and red grapes are a great source of polyphenols, antioxidants that are known for their anti-aging capabilities and for providing pink glow to the skin.
 Include herbal teas. Green tea is one of the delicious ways to include antioxidants in any diet. Having 2 cups of this green tea can do wonders to the skin. Its polyphenols may be 100 times more effective than Vitamin C and 25 times more effective than Vitamin E. Infact you can also include lemon (Vitamin C rich)and ginger tea (improves digestion)in your diet for its varied health benefits.
Women having flaky and dry skin require good fats to have a desired soft texture. One should use oils rich in poly and monounsaturated fats like sesame, mustard and olive oil for cooking to overcome dryness. These oils are at the same time very heart friendly as they contain good amount of omega 3 fatty acids.
Eat loads of FIBRE CONTAINING FOODSFibre helps to promote the digestive process and remove toxins from the body leading to a clear spot free skin. Daily intake of fibre should be atleast 25 – 35gms per day. You can include foods like oats, barley, ragi, bajra, whole wheat grains, different variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. These cereals are also rich in B vitamins, which aid new skin-cell growth.
Binge on VITAMIN E RICH FOODSDaily dose of Vitamin E is a basic requirement to have a glowing smooth skin. Vitamin E, an antioxidant helps to prevent cellular damage by preventing the formation of free radicals. Vitamin E also enhances healing and tissue repair process .It slows down the cellular aging thus prevent wrinkle formation. Vitamin E is found naturally in almonds, asparagus, avocados, fishes, Brazil nuts, broccoli, canola oil, corn, cottonseed oil, fortified cereals, hazelnuts, soy bean oil, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, wheat germ and wheat germ oil. The flesh of a ripe avocado soothes sunburn skin. Just cut the fruit in half and rub it gently over the affected areas. Infact avocado paste can easily be applied on a rough and dry skin to make it smooth.
Adopt a regular exercise routine. Exercise benefits skin as it boosts circulation and encourages blood flow. Regular exercise will nourish and cleanse your skin from within. However, it is always better to check with your doctor before you start any kind of exercise program. Regular change in your activity schedule helps to avoid boredom. Jog for couple of days, play squash, hit the gym or go for a swim the other day. Always keep looking out for new activities.
Adequate RESTOne should sleep for atleast 6 – 7 hours. Getting sufficient sleep is very important as the skin's cellular repair activity works at its optimum during this resting period. Irregular sleep and stress can also cause dark circles.

Try to make these few modifications a part of your daily routine and enhance your natural beauty.

Pamper your skin without spending a bomb and get an inner and outer makeover.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Diwali Dhamaka - Low Cal Festive Delights

Low Cal Festive Delights

Festive season is come, October- November is welcomed. As the festive atmosphere sets in, the days seem to be shorter. Festivals (Diwali) bring light, happiness, togetherness, warmth, noise and also calories…. lots of sweets and delicacies.

During this period we all seem to be in a holiday mood. We don’t mind feasting without thinking of rebalancing it. Festivals are often used as excuses to laze around, skip the exercise routine and just party. This happens as most of us suffer from lack of time and lack of our favorite food, in any case during these festivals if prefer to treat ourselves and binge.

Few ways to kick off those extra calories that might peep in your diet during festive parties and get-togethers.

1.Since during this festive time parties is one thing that cannot be avoided, one should plan ahead .One should partially fill his/her stomach before stepping out of the house. Now this can be done by having a bowl of soup or a bowl of mix fruits. And if you are going in a restaurant plan your menu before walking in. Always watch out for hidden fats. Creamy soups, white breads, flaky pastries and mayonnaise – based salad dressings add unnecessary fats to the food. Try consuming broths instead of creamy soups.

2.Eat healthy foods first. Eat foods that are healthy and low in calories first so that when it comes time to enjoy your favorites — sweets or junk food— you won't be so hungry. For example you can always search or ask for green salad in a party to be brought to the table before the main course. Instead of mayonnaise dressing use variety of condiments and flavoring agents such as lemon, vinegar, herbs, onion and garlic to improve the palatability of your salad. Remember, a gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate.

3.Look out for alternatives. Ask for grilled, baked, boiled or broiled food rather fried foods. In place of fries or fried onion rings, order corn on the cob, green beans or baked beans.

4.Pay attention to portions. Serve meals already dished onto plates. Take slightly less than what you think you'll eat. You can always have seconds, if really necessary.

5.Instead of cake or pastries, fresh fruits with yogurt and honey dressing or just a mix bowl of fresh fruits can be an ideal dessert.

6.Replenish the body with water. Drink at least 2 glasses of water before and after you start your main meal. You can also call for an unsweetened fruit juice or vegetable juice with your main meals.

7.Weigh yourself regularly. Monitoring your weight can tell you whether your efforts are working and can help you detect small weight gains before they become even larger.

I would suggest you to try some innovative ways to feast with out missing out the festive fun. Here is a low cal sweet dish recipe for you which you and your guest can enjoy without any guilt.

Low cal Indian Dessert (Festive Delight)

Fat Free Shahi Tukhda

Brown Bread – 2 slice
Milk – 150ml
Sugar – 1- 11/2 tp
Almond- 2 nos
Grounded Cinnamon – For garnishing

1. Cut each slice of Brown bread into 4 pieces.
2. Toast it in a toaster.
3. Dissolve sugar in the milk. Now dip each toasted piece of bread in the sweet milk and remove.
4. Garnish it with cinnamon. Place a piece of almond in the centre.
5. Keep in the refrigerator for some time. Serve it cold.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hypertension – A Slow Poison

Can youth suffer from high blood pressure? No way!! High blood pressure is just for old people!

If this is what you believe, you are not totally different from most of the people in this planet who associate hypertension or high blood pressure with aging. You also probably wouldn't believe that one in 5 youngsters is suffering from this incommunicable disease! This may sound odd to you but this is an unfortunate fact.

In the 21st century, most of the parts of our society are affected by this condition. Nowadays it is best for the parents to get their and their teens blood pressures checked every once in a while. It will be a very critical step in ensuring the health of your kids.

What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is defined as the pressure or force your blood exerts against your blood vessels as the heart pumps. The pressure typically rises as your heart pumps (systolic pressure) and falls when the heart relaxes (diastolic pressure). The normal blood pressure for a normal adult should be 120 over 80 mm Hg. A blood pressure reading of 140 over 90 mm Hg, on the other hand, can already be considered high.
There are no specific symptoms to discover this condition. Many times one comes to know about his high blood pressure incidentally during an unrelated medical examination. This state of raised blood pressure can remain dormant for years with out one feeling any major symptoms till they become very serious. This dormant state later can manifest with complications like heart diseases (angina, stroke, myocardial infarction) and kidney diseases. Therefore hypertension is known as a “Silent killer”.

Still the most common symptoms observed when the blood pressure rises are headaches, dizziness, impaired vision and gastrointestinal disturbances. However the extent of symptoms depends upon the rise and the length of time this condition is present.
Blood pressure can be influenced by a number of factors. Among these are the degree of rest, physical activity or stress, heredity, a person eating habits, lifestyle, emotions and medications being taken.

Here are some ways to get control of this blood pressure:
Dos for hypertensive people

Strive to maintain your weight height ratio. Basal metabolic rate decreases as the age increases therefore do not set very high goals for yourself. Try to have a balanced diet. Do not go on starvation or crash diets to lose weight as its effect may reverse.
Always concentrate on the quality of food then the quantity. In a diet the ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat for hypertensive people is an important consideration. eg protein should contribute 20% from the total energy, fat – 15% and rest can come from carbohydrates.
In case of carbohydrates, emphasis on foods high in complex carbohydrates such as dietary fibre rather than simple sugars (any kind of processed, preserved or fast foods- pasta/noodles etc). Increase fibre in your diet by including lots of fruits and salads. Make sure that you have at least two fruits per day.
Since you are hypertensive, decrease the intake of salt/sodium. Avoid using more than 2 – 3grams of salt per day .However the extent of salt restriction depends on the rise of blood pressure. Try to have at least a bowl of salad before dinner without salt. You can add a variety of condiments and flavoring agents such as lemon, vinegar, herbs, onion and garlic to improve the palatability of salt free food.
Adequate potassium intake can be a part of the treatment. Good sources of potassium like tomato, chickoo, watermelon, banana, leafy vegetables, bitter gourd, brinjal, potatoes, apricots and legumes can be included in the diet. However hypertensive person with kidney disease should avoid a high intake of potassium as it puts an excessive load on the kidney.
You can have 1- 2 cloves of garlic early morning with one glass of lukewarm water everyday.
Rest is very important; you should take at least 6 – 7 hours of sound sleep.
Adopt a regular exercise routine. Regular exercise can give you lot of benefits. It can help prevent you and your kids from becoming overweight and aid in shedding off those excess pounds, thus keeping your heart and blood vessels in top condition. However, it is always better to check with your doctor before you start any kind of exercise program. Also, consult an experienced personal trainer or coach prior to beginning a weight lifting program. This can help prevent injuries.
Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Don’ts for hypertensive people
Do not use:
Salt at the table (use salt lightly in cooking)
Salt preserved foods such as salted or smoked meat (ham, bacon, sausages etc), salted or smoked fish.
Shell fishers such as shrimp, crab, lobster.
Highly salted foods such as potato chips, salted nuts, popcorn, highly salted biscuits and other salted snacks.
Food with sodium as preservative such as ketchup, chilli sauce, soya sauce, garlic sauce, pickle and various chutneys.
Baking powder, baking soda or anything containing these.
Flavour enhancers like ajinomoto. This means Chinese foods.
Bread, pav and processed cheese.
Alcohol. Heavy drinking may lead to the development of the disease.
Smoking is never considered a healthy habit. What's worse is that smoking and high blood pressure is a deadly combination. The combination of these two can lead to a heart attack or stroke later on in life.

These few modifications will not only help you to get a control on your systolic and diastolic pressures but will also help to reduce your body weight and get you in shape.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Soups and kids can be friends

There is nothing in the world like a bowl of hot delicious soup-so invigorating, warm, comforting and so practical with all the good things in one single bowl. Anytime is a perfect time to satisfy your soul with a piping hot bowl of broth based soup. Soup is well known for its ability to get people together like a young boy with his father sipping in hot vegetable broth in winter –the best comfort food you can name .Soup is a filling food that can be low in calories. In fact, a healthy and a balanced meal can be made out of a soup bowl. Calorie control is just one benefit of including more soups in the daily diet.
Soups are warming and satisfying, adding a nourishing comfort to your kid’s day. They are made of variety of vegetables thus including loads of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients act as a catalyst to the growth of a child. Soups are also low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. At the same time the volume of most soups fills you up without a lot of calories. Children always look out for variation in their diet than nutrition -Soup is a meal that helps to add variety and colour to the diet thus breaking the monotony of a regular chappati bhaji meal.
To add an extra festive element that is to increase the attractiveness and nutritive value of the soup for your kids, make use of various ingredients/soup garnishes like:

• Drop the beaten curds/chana flour paste on the red or white soup in a circle with a spoon, slowly to get a round swirl.
• Grating cheese, boiled egg on the soup or by adding boiled chicken pieces and soya granules will help you to add protein to his meal.
• Finely chopped greens like capsicum, coriander, mint, parsley, lettuce or bread crumbs can be used to make a design on the soup. ie his /her name initial or any other object like a bat or a smiley face. This will make him feel special and he will enjoy his soup.
• Shredded lemon rind, sliced mushroom, olives or grilled paneer pieces will make the soup more attractive and thus add an extra zing to it.
• Topping of tiny pieces of capsicum/ broccoli /corn/spring onion can be used to add colour and various micronutrients to the soup.
• Addition of Roasted rajma, almonds or Fried noodles will not only give a crunchy flavour but will also add a festive element to it.
• The starchy foods like rice, barley, oatmeal, noodles, tapioca, sago and macaroni makes the soup more eye appealing to kids.

Always serve soups with accompaniments as only soups alone may not be welcomed by kids. Accompaniments are foods that not only improve the flavor/taste but also at the same time make it more appetizing and nutritious, depending it a healthy food option. Some of the accompaniments enjoyed by kids are:
 Garlic brown bread fingers
 Herbed croutons(use brown bread and herbs like oregano or basil)
 Chinese bhel (fried noodles and veggies like capsicum, carrots, onions, tomatoes)
 Toasted vegetable sandwich
 Bean tacos
 Anything that is crispy and crunchy like cheese sticks, khakras, spicy roasted chick peas, flavored nachos or flavored soup sticks like jeera soup sticks and masala soup sticks.
 Bhel with roasted chanas/corn bhel
 Canapies filled with grated veggies and topped with tomato ketchup.
 Many unusual and fancy forms of whole wheat macaroni or the plain varieties of Italian pastes with loads of veggies like onion, tomato, capsicum, cabbage, carrots, corn etc.

Soups like tangy carrot soup, dudhi tomato soup can be served in tall glasses instead of a bowl. Remember a change is always welcomed by kids. Ingredients like garlic, ginger, clove and ginseng should be used in soups as it not only improves the flavour but also has various health giving properties like aids digestion and blood purification. Ginseng may also be served in a soup with red dates (jujubes), which are thought to improve blood circulation. Purees of beans, peas, lentils, potatoes and other vegetables should be used to increase the nutritive value of the soup thus making it a wholesome meal. Soups are ideal party foods as they can be prepared ahead of time and then only require few finishing touches before serving. So if we go to see soups can be health food, diet food, comfort food and lot more things therefore now it should be made mandatory at your place.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Excess weight – The upcoming health hazard

Excess weight – The upcoming health hazard

“Why this happens with me”, sighed Suzan, 19 year old teen. Coming up was the most happening party; suzan knew this was the right occasion to impress her long time crush. She wanted to wear her favorite dress that had attracted loads of compliments last month. She tried the outfit, but the jeans refuse to reach her waist. REASON – Increase in the waistline.

AT this moment you observe the extra flab, extra weight in your body. You curse the afternoon fried chicken you relished just 5 hours ago.

It’s high time; we realize the problem of excess weight that is confronting more and more people in the prosperous communities. Deviations of the body weight beyond certain limits from the normal not only affect your appearances but also predisposes to many other disorders.

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 1.6 billion overweight adults in the world. That number is projected to grow by 40% over the next 10 years. In clinical terms when a person is 20% or more above the ideal body weight it is considered to be overweight.
In relation to body weight and health, it is important to know the body composition i.e. The body fat for a normal adult man is 12% of the total body weight and for woman is 26%.Accordingly, obesity occurs when the percentage of body fat in total body weight is more than 20% in men and more than 30% in women.

Mortality vs. Excess body weight
The relation of mortality and body weight is very close. i.e. the mortality increases as the body weight increases. Excess body weight can lead to many psychological and physiological problems like:

Overweight people often feel neglected, humiliated and unhappy. They suffer from inferiority complex.
 Excess body weight can cause flat feet and arthritis leading to pain in the hips, knees and spine.
 Regular movements of obese people become slow and difficult thus making them more prone to accidents.
 Adipose tissue in the chest and under the diaphragm interferes with normal respiration and predisposes to bronchitis. In short, it prevents you from being active.
 Excess weight can also cause high blood pressure and many other cardiac problems like heart attack or stroke.

Tips for Weight Loss

Hydrate your body
. Drink at least 10 – 12 glasses of water everyday. Start your morning with a glass of lukewarm water.
Increase fiber in your meals
. Include variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Having a bowl of salad before your dinner should be a mandatory practice. Always ask for green salad to be brought to the table before the main course. This will keep you nibbling and fill your stomach while you wait for your order.
Eat at regular intervals
. Have at least 5 meals a day in which three can be the main meals i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner, while other two meals can consist of foods which are handy and nutritious at the same time. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs, provides consistent energy, and maintains the metabolism efficiency.
Early and light dinners
. Have your dinner at least three hours before you go to sleep. This is because your metabolic activity slows down by the end of the day.
Always watch out for hidden fats
. Creamy soups, white breads, flaky pastries and mayonnaise – based salad dressings add unnecessary fats to the food. Try consuming broths instead of creamy soups. Remember, a gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate. Ask for grilled, baked, boiled or broiled food rather fried foods.
Overcome your cravings
. People having sweet tooth should try to substitute sweet with a fruit. Drink a glass of water after your meal sending an indication that the meal is over and thus overcome your sweet craving. Distract yourself or keep yourself occupied - call a friend, hear music or dance, the craving will come and go without you realizing it.
Avoid salt preserved foods
. Excess Salt can cause water retention and hyperthyroidism thus causing a hike in body weight. Avoid foods like pickles, sauces, papad and canned foods.
Avoid alcoholic and carbonated beverages
. Pure alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and only just under the caloric value for fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you want to lose weight and reduce excess body fat, alcohol is not a good choice. Regular beer has 13 grams of carbs and 150 calories.
Be active
. Participate in your child’s activities at the park. Create opportunities to burn those extra calories like climb stairs, park your car far from office and walk the distance, wash your car whenever possible.
Exercise 30 – 40 mins everyday
. Adopt a regular exercise routine. Regular exercise can give you lot of benefits. It can help prevent you from becoming overweight and aid in shedding off those excess pounds, thus keeping your heart and blood vessels in top condition. However, it is always better to check with your doctor before you start any kind of exercise program. Regularly change in your activity schedule helps to avoid boredom. Jog for couple of days, play squash, hit the gym or go for a swim the other day. Always keep looking out for new activities.
Weigh yourself regularly
. Monitoring your weight can tell you whether your efforts are working and can help you detect small weight gains before they become even larger. Checking your weight in the morning empty stomach will help you to know your exact body weight.