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Health Tips
Stay healthy by reading wellness advice from our top specialists.

Did you know the history of tea goes back some 5000 years? As a matter of fact, the earliest variants of tea were very different from how we perceive the beverage today. Back then, tea was drunk as a concoction to keep one warm and fortified with vital nutrients. Somewhere down the line with the introduction of milk and a various other innovative herbs, tea became a beverage for leisure. But, the truth is that tea is indeed replete with many medicinal benefits. Black tea is a type of tea that has a very strong flavour and is one of the most popular teas across the world. It is true that black tea is a variant that is the most oxidised, but if consumed in moderation, black tea's strong antioxidants could help regulate cholesterol levels, improve heart health, boost immunity and energy levels, and also regulate weight loss. Yes, you heard us! Think weight loss and the only tea you would ever associate with it is green tea, which is not wrong. The abundant amount of catechins does help burn belly fat. Similarly, black tea has its own mechanism to steer weight loss.

Here's why you may want to include black tea in your weight diet:

1. The gut connection: According to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, black tea, with help of a specific mechanism through the gut microbiome, may also contribute to good health and weight loss in humans. This mechanism is different from the one adopted by green tea particles. However, the scientists said that both the teas were effective in cutting down weight in the mice model.

2. Lowers triglyceride levels: The flavonoids present in your cup full of black tea may prevent inflammation-induced obesity and lower triglyceride levels and visceral fats.

3. Low-calorie beverage: Did you know that the calorie count of your cup of black tea is almost negligible (approximately 2 calories per cup). It also has zero percent saturated fat and cholesterol. The amount of calories in tea is linked to other products added to it such as sugar, honey or milk. It is best to steep your black tea in nothing but water to derive its best weight loss benefits.

Please Note: It needs to be understood that anything in excess is not a sustainable strategy for weight loss. Caffeine content of black tea is significantly higher when compared to green tea. Excess of caffeine can leave you dehydrated. Black tea also contains natural substances called tannins, which gives black tea a characteristic strong flavour. Tannins are present in types of tea, but they are slightly in higher concentration in black tea. In moderate quantities tannins don't harm, but when consumed in excess, tannins upset our stomach or may cause nausea and vomiting.

Therefore, include black tea in your weight loss diet, but make sure you do keep everything sugary or fattening products away from your concoction. Also keep a tab on your tea intake. Make sure you do not overdo it in a bid to lose weight.

There are many kinds of food items that can do us a world of good. But there are certain man made food items that are synthetic in nature, and have more demerits than merits when it comes to our health. There is a long standing debate on the merits of various beverages, including soft drinks and alcohol.

Which one is the healthier choice?

To begin with, we cannot avoid a good beverage during social interactions, so we would do well to make a healthier choice. Here are the details about the healthier choice between alcohol and soft drinks.

Kilo calories: It is a well-known fact that both alcohol and soft drinks have plenty of kilo calories with one cola containing over 1000 kilojoules as they are known. Yet, as per this parameter, it would be a healthier choice if you were to choose soft drinks because even though they both have the same amount of calories, one tends to drink soft drinks at a slower pace, which means that you consume less of it. Once you start enjoying an alcoholic drink, you tend to take more of them and much faster. Also, alcohol makes you hungry, which implies that you start reaching out for various kinds of snacks and other unhealthy food. In such cases, you will tend to gain weight much faster if you choose alcohol every time. This will not really be the case when you choose soft drinks.

Toxins: The way alcohol is brewed ensures that it carries a whole lot of toxins, which are not good for your liver and heart in the long run. These toxins can easily clog your arteries and create complications for the functioning of the liver as well.

Glycemic index: This is the count that is accorded to the level of insulin resistance in one’s drink of choice. For alcohol, the glycemic resistance is much higher, which means that you have better insulin resistance as compared to other soft drinks, which are high in sugar content. Therefore, it makes alcohol a highly unhealthy choice, which can also result in diabetes in the long run, if one ingests too much of it.

Nutrition: From the nutrition point of view, cola and other soft drinks have absolutely no nutritional value because processed sugar is one of the main components. This will give rise to the toxin influx in the body and bring down the insulin resistance, which makes you susceptible to diseases like diabetes. Therefore, it would be healthier to have a beer rather than a cola because it has a small amount of protein due to the ingredients used when it is brewed for consumption. It also has some amount of antioxidants and potassium.

Pumpkin seeds are a perfect choice for a healthy snack to munch on during boring afternoons. They are not just tasty, but immensely healthy. These seeds can be called as nutritional powerhouse that are packed with nutrients, which are required for the overall sustenance of health. Some of the most impressive benefits of pumpkin seeds include:

1.Magnesium for healthy heart: One-fourth cup of pumpkin seeds contains about half of the regularly suggested intake of magnesium which in turn helps the body in performing a wide range of vital physiological functions. When an individual takes the required amount of magnesium, it boosts the production of ATP, synthesis of RNA molecules, rhythmic pumping of the heart, proper formation of the tooth and bone and relaxation of the veins and vessels carrying blood. It has been shown that eating pumpkin seeds regularly keeps the blood pressure under control and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke as well.

2.Zinc for assisting immunity: Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of zinc, and one ounce of this seed contains about 2 mg of the mineral. Zinc is essential for the body for a host of reasons such as immunity, growth of cells, proper sleep, lifting mood, replenishing the senses and is critical to eye and skin health. It is also known to help in regulating the insulin levels and improving male sexual power. Quite many people around the world do not get the right supply of this beneficial mineral due to mineral depletion of soil, effects of harmful drugs and consumption of plant-based diets. One can consume pumpkin seeds daily to combat common health issues such as cold and flu, depression, skin problems and acne and chronic fatigue.

3.Omega-3 fatty acids to control cholesterol: Nuts and seeds including pumpkin seeds are known to be viable sources of Omega-3 fatty acids or alpha-linolenic acid. It is required by all individuals and the body then converts it to the more useful fats called the DHA and EPA. By eating an ounce of pumpkin seeds every day, one can intake an excellent source of good cholesterol.

4.Tryptophan for restful sleep: Tryptophan belongs to the amino acid group. This is a protein building block found in abundance in the pumpkin seeds. This tryptophan is converted into serotonin by the body which in turn is transformed into melatonin or the sleep hormone. Those who have trouble sleeping can take a handful of pumpkin seeds along with some fruit pieces right before going to bed to see desirable results. The pumpkin seeds will supply the body with the required amount of tryptophan which will be converted to the sleep hormone and promote a restful sleep all through the night.
The pumpkin seeds can be stored and carried easily and require no refrigeration. Charged with a lot of nutrients ranging from copper to manganese, zinc to protein, pumpkin seeds should be considered as a healthy snack that can regularly be taken to enjoy a host of health advantages. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ayurveda.

There are times when we tend to consume various beverages on a daily basis assuming that they'd be healthy for us. However, that might not be the case always. Be it milkshakes or fizzy drinks, almost all of these contain artificial flavours and sweeteners that can prove to be quite harmful for our overall health. Here, we have got you 5 beverages that could probably do more harm than good to your body. Read on to know more about them.

1. Sweetened Nut Milks

Nut milks are known to be packed rich vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium. However, there's no denying the fact that the nut milks available in the market are made using artificial sweeteners that can do more harm than good. Only the organic nut milk is considered to be the purest and richest in terms of vitamins and minerals.

2. Market Smoothies

This one's for all the smoothie lovers out there! Smoothies are an excellent alternative to unhealthy drinks and indeed provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. However, the ones available in the market usually have additional preservatives which can cut down the nutritional value of the beverage. So instead of spending those extra bucks in buying those fancy smoothies, try making them at home and enjoy their real nutritional value.

3. Fizzy Drinks

When it comes to being unhealthy, fizzy drinks top the charts. This is primarily because fizzy drinks are loaded with artificial sweeteners and flavours. Try replacing your soft drinks with homemade juices and smoothies.

4. Diet Soft Drinks

If you happen to be a diet freak who believes in having diet soft drinks over regular aerated drinks, thinking that they are comparatively healthier, then it's time for you to get a reality check. The diet versions of soft drinks are actually loaded with artificial sugars which could possibly lead to weight gain and other health related issues.

5. Packaged Fruit Juice

Fruit juices are supposed to be healthy as they are rich in minerals, vitamins and healthy dietary fibers. Well, that's what we think! The packaged fruit juices which are available in the market are not really healthy as they contain sugar and flavouring agents.

So the next time you're thirsty, try replacing the above mentioned beverages with healthy and organic drinks instead.

We all love to sip on our favourite beverages using a plastic straw. Be it a smoothie or a soft drink, an energy drink or a cold coffee - using a straw is a super convenient and fuss-free way of enjoying any cold drink. Many like to enjoy their drinks this way because using a straw reduces the exposure to sugary and carbonated drinks in the mouth, preventing acid erosion of the teeth out enamel. While it may be convenient to drink beverages using plastic straws, it might not be an eco-friendly option. Moreover, this could be an unhealthy practice too. If you haven't known the health hazards plastic straws can bring, we unveil some of them.According to Chief Nutritionist Priya Bharma, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, "We sip our drinks through straw because it is simply easier. It has somehow become our habit to use straw while sipping cold or hot drink that is poured in a glass. It's highly recommended to not use straw as they are supposed to be made of polyethylene compounds and contains harmful chemicals that enter your body and welcome many diseases while we sip. Try not to use straw but if you wish you may use paper straw or bamboo straw."

While drinking beverages using a straw, the movement of the mouth area may encourage the breakdown of collagen and elasticity more quickly and easily, causing unnecessary wrinkle and fine lines. This may be true in case of regular sipping on beverages with a plastic straw.

Another reason to drop the straw is the presence of many chemicals in the plastic. Most straws contain petroleum based plastic called polypropylene and Bisphenol A (BPA) that can easily leak chemicals in the liquid, especially if it's a hot cup that heats and melts the plastic. These plastic chemicals are known to cause obesity and, in extreme cases, even cancer.

Along with drinking just liquid using a straw, you are also swallowing excess air unknowingly that is responsible for causing gas and bloating in your stomach. Therefore, it is always better to drink your beverage directly from the glass rather than using a second source.

Another concern related to plastic straws is that it may cause cavities; this however has to do with the location at which you place the straw in the mouth and how you sip. Most people sip with the straw in the middle of their mouth. Sipping through a straw can concentrate the exposure of sugar to one area, causing tooth cavity or decay over prolonged usage.

It is good to give up on plastic straws as they have the potential of not only harming your health, but also doing nothing good for the environment considering they are non-recyclable. Drop the straw and enjoy your lemonade and iced teas without any external health risks.

Dr. Dhanraj Helambe
Dr. Dhanraj Helambe
BAMS, Ayurveda Family Physician, 20 yrs, Pune
Dr. Rajendra Lahore
Dr. Rajendra Lahore
MS/MD - Ayurveda, Ophthalmologist, 11 yrs, Pune
Dr. Abhijeet  Shinde
Dr. Abhijeet Shinde
DNB, Cardiologist Diabetologist, 13 yrs, Pune
Dr. Jitendar Choudhary
Dr. Jitendar Choudhary
BHMS, Homeopath, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Sheetal Gulhane
Dr. Sheetal Gulhane
BAMS, Ayurveda Dermatologist, 10 yrs, Pune