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

Happy Valentine's Day 2017! While we may call February the season of love, it is also a month dedicated to matters of the heart i.e it is Heart Month. Health organisations across the globe have come together to spread awareness about heart diseases and how our current lifestyle habits are triggering many dangerous heart diseases. The heart is a vital organ which is responsible for keeping the body functioning by pumping blood, which carries oxygen and removes waste materials, within the body. If the heart stops pumping then our body stops living. It is therefore of utmost importance to take care of the heart and keep it healthy. Now the lifestyles we lead today, with unhealthy eating habits and sedentary way of life, we are making ourselves more and more susceptible to clogging of the arteries, which eventually leads to heart attack. So it is time we started paying more attention to what is good and what we must absolutely avoid.The first step is to make a few lifestyle changes, which can put you back on the right track to preventing heart ailments. According to a recent study done by University of Maryland in the US, just 30 minutes of running on a treadmill can reshape your damaged heart tissue! So you see it's all about making lifestyle changes. Here are 10 expert tips that can help you get started -

1. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats that are advised by health experts to be included in one's daily diet. According to a study done by Stanford University, where they pooled in data from various researches that had measured blood or tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids, they found that blood levels of seafood and plant-basedomega-3 fatty acids are moderately associated with a lower risk of dying from heart attacks. They stated that eating omega-3 food sources such as salmon, trout, walnuts and flaxseed oil may significantly cut the incidence of developing a heart disease.

2. Eat Fruits Like Cranberries and Blueberries

It's not without reason that health experts advise us to include fruits and veggies in our regular diet. They come loaded with essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that are great for our well-being. Take cranberries for instance. According to a study done by Boston University, cranberries could protect the gut microbiota and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions that benefit the cardiovascular system, metabolism and immune function. Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants called anthocyanin which cuts down cholesterol levels.

3. Eat Less Salt and Cut Down Junk Food

As much as we love our regional Indian salty snacks, too much of it can cause harm to our health. A recent study conducted by an Australian firm has revealed that Indians love salt a little too much. The study suggests that an average Indian consumes about 119% more salt than the WHO recommendation. Doctors have always recommended to consume less salt because excess of it cause spike up blood pressure levels, leading to heart issues. So you need to cut down on junk and processed food because they contain high amounts of salt.

4. Dark Chocolates Could Be Good

Good news for dark chocolate lovers! Eating a little bit of dark chocolate daily can actually be good for your heart. Scientists have found that consuming flavanol-rich cocoa products such as dark chocolates may benefit cardiovascular health. They also saw significant declines in blood glucose and insulin, as well as another indicator of insulin resistance called HOMA-IR. But remember, it doesn't apply to white chocolates and chocolate candies which come loaded with sugar.

5. Sip Healthy Beverages

Most often we don't pay heed to our eating habits. While we love that cup of sugar loaded masala chai early in the morning, it may not be the best thing for your health. Scientists say that green tea and coffee, if made a regular part of the diet, could benefit the heart by reducing risks of stroke. Green tea is a great source of antioxidants and it prevents blood clotting, whereas just two mugs of coffee can cut the odds of cardiac trouble.

6. Include Whole Grains

According to Dr. Rupali Datta, Consultant Nutritionist, "Whole grains are excellent sources of fiber and other nutrients that provide protection to the heart. Have at least three servings of whole grains in a day. Include whole-grain atta and multi-grain breakfast cereals which provide at least 3-5 gm fiber/serving. Be adventurous, substitute refined cereals with these healthy whole grains: barley, oats, quinoa and buckwheat."

7. Include Unsaturated Fats

These are the good guys and they include food sources like nuts, salmon, tofu, soy, olive oil, etc. What you must avoid are transfats, which is commonly available in junk food; and reduce saturated fats like red meat, butter, etc. These are known to increase bad cholesterol in the body, which leads to heart issues.

8. Vitamin C to the Rescue

According to Dr. Gargi Sharma, Weight Management expert, "include Vitamin C rich foods like oranges, lemons, and amla in your diet. It is a proven fact that Vitamin C helps in lowering the risk of heart diseases because of its antioxidant properties."

9. Exercise and ExercisePhysical activity is a compulsion to maintain a healthy heart. Regular exercise helps in blood circulation and flushing out toxins from the body. According to a Swedish study, moderate amount of physical activity, particularly walking and bicycling for 20 minutes daily, can significantly lower the risk of heart failure. So if you don't have time for your cardio exercises, Zumba, Pilates, etc. just go out for a brisk walk.

10. Give Up Smoking

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. The health hazards of nicotine are enormous, leading to various diseases.

Most people associate fibre to be good for the digestive system. It helps to add roughage and therefore helps in avoiding constipation. When we dig deeper, the fibre seems to do good not just to the stomach but to the heart as well. Those who are prone to develop heart disease should make an attempt to include more fibre in their diet and reap the rich benefits it offers.

There are two classifications of fibres

Dietary are found in diet products and functional being added fibre through various food supplements. Soluble and insoluble fibre, based on their solubility in water. Most foods contain some amounts of both. The insoluble one has more digestive benefits, as it adds to the roughage. Both types have cardiac benefits.

Read on to know some of the cardiac benefits of fibres.

Weight management: Eating fibre means more bulk and fewer calories so that a person feels full after eating smaller amounts. This is a great way to lose weight and bring preexisting heart disease under control.
Stroke prevention: The circulating cholesterol usually gets sluggish and settles down along the walls of the blood vessels. This attracts more cholesterol, which eventually forms what is knowns as plaque. When this plaque attains a considerable size, it gets dislodged, circulates in the blood stream, and can reach any of the vital organs. When it reaches the heart or brain, it can lead to heart attack or stroke. By removing the cholesterol which leads to all these complications, fibre reduces the incidence of stroke and heart attacks.
Management of diabetes: Blood pressure, increased weight, and heart disease all are predisposing factors and have common contributing factors as does diabetes. Controlling all these helps in prolonging the onset of diabetes and reducing its severity too.
High-fiber diet mainly reduces cholesterol which helps in multiple ways to maintain not just a healthy body but also improves the overall quality of life.

Eating out and eating healthy usually do not go hand in hand. You would be more likely to gorge on junk food instead of its healthier counterparts while eating out with your family. When it comes to eating out, you may not always know about the healthy items available at your disposal; this very fact pushes you more towards the unhealthier variants.

But hey! We’ve got ways to stop you getting swept off by that hungry tide churning in your belly. Below mentioned are just a few tips that could come in handy, if you decide to finally drop by that uber cool restaurant you were planning to go to!

1:- Read the menu carefully: Go through the menu carefully before ordering your food. Look for dishes that are less oily and do not contain hidden sugars. If you are not sure about the calorific content of the dish, you could ask the person in charge about it. Or, go for options that you already are aware of; both the food and its supposed calorie content.

2. Eat a healthy snack before your meal: To reduce your portion size of the main course, you can eat a healthy snack to act as filler. Opt for healthy snacks such as chickpeas or a handful of almonds before eating out; it can make you eat less during the main course.

3. Drink water right before the meal: Drinking a glass or two of water right before the meal serves as a technique widely used by diligent weight watchers. Water contains no calories and acts as an internal cleanser for your body.

4. Skip the dessert: The dessert is one portion of the meal that is filled with empty calories. In this country, the dessert occupies a generous space in every foodie’s list and belly. However, remember that it is often the dessert that is responsible for the saggy abdominal fat you hate to look at. If you don’t want to skip the dessert, readily go for simpler alternatives like the humble plain curd topped with slices of fresh fruits or the ever gratifying Greek yogurt. Sweet indulgence at its healthiest best!

5.Say vinegar: Might not sound very intelligent, but then try mixing a teaspoon of vinegar to a glass of water and then drink it. Vinegar is known to have properties that reduce your cravings. It also lowers the blood sugar levels in the body. Surprised, you will be.

6.Control your portion sizes: The buffet spread could just be your undoing at the dinner table. Don’t get overboard looking at the variety and try to keep a check on the portion sizes. Keep the portions small and avoid taking any extra helping. If the hunger pangs do not subside, go for salads. Don’t get bored already. Salads can come in a delicious platter and amaze you with its health benefits. The Russian salad can never go wrong.

7. Avoid carbonated drinks: Carbonated beverages should not be brewing in your head if you are a weight watcher. Cold drinks and other carbonated beverages contain empty calories that should be absolutely got over with; irrespective of how health conscious you are.

Bay leaves are commonly found in biryani, pulao, soups, curries and most Indian dishes. Also known as tej patta, this culinary herb makes for an integral part of the Indian cuisine, thanks to its distinctive flavour and fragrance. Apart from this, it is also known for its age-old medicinal properties. Scientifically known as Laurus Nobilis, bay leaves are used for treating various health conditions. The presence of vitamin A and C along with folic acid and various minerals in bay leaf makes it a nutrient-dense herb. If you haven't known already, these benefits will convince you to add bay leaves in your next delicacy.

1. Helps In Improving Digestion

Bay leaf is said to have strong effects on the gastrointestinal system. It helps decrease the toxicity of the body and further helps the body in functioning well. Organic compounds found in bay leaves are effective for settling an upset stomach and soothe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some of the complex proteins cannot be easily digested by the body, which is when bay leaves play a major role. The unique enzymes present in these leaves help facilitate efficient digestion.

2. Heart-Friendly

Organic compounds including caffeic acid and rutin that are found in bay leaves enhance our heart health. They both strengthen capillary walls in the heart and further eliminate LDL or bad cholesterol from the cardiovascular system.

3. A Herb Perfect For Diabetics

According to the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 1-3 grams of bay leaf per day for 30 days experienced a drop in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides. Bay leaves are responsible for improving insulin function, which is a boon for diabetics.

4. Acts As A Stress-Buster

The presence of linalool can lower the level of stress hormones in the body. These leaves help you calm down and combat symptoms of depression.

5. Protects Your Body From Inflammation

One of the most important benefits of bay leaves is that it has anti-inflammatory properties; thanks to the presence of a unique phyto-nutrient called parthenolide that can reduce inflammation significantly, further reducing the chances of developing conditions like arthritis.

6. Natural Wound Healer

According to BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, bay leaves have antimicrobial properties that help the wound heal completely.
Make bay leaves a part of your daily diet; add 2-3 dried leaves in your delicacies and experience health at its best.

Curd and buttermilk are both milk based products, have the same composition, and more or less the same nutrients, yet there remains a persistent question as to which out of the two is better?

The basic difference between curd and buttermilk is the process of dilution by the addition of water. The more water you put in curd, the less concentrated the buttermilk becomes. According to Ayurveda, the churning (Manthana) of the curd into buttermilk, gives it additional properties. Churning induces the proteins in the buttermilk to be easily digested due to their degraded structure.

Here are a few pointers that could help you choose which out of the two suits your needs more:

Calorie content -
If you are looking to reduce your weight and prefer a controlled diet, you should opt for buttermilk. 100 grams of buttermilk contains 40 calories, whereas 100 grams of curd contains close to 98 calories. So, for undernourished children or people looking forward to gain weight, curd should be opted because it is nutrient dense.

Nutrient content -
Buttermilk is rich in calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, iboflavin and proteins. It helps in keeping your bones healthy, lowering the level of bad cholesterol, preventing cancer, battling stress and anemia due to the presence of these nutrients. On the other hand, curd contains calcium, phosphorus, vitamins B12, B5, B2, potassium, proteins, and molybdenum. These nutrients prove to be beneficial in preventing chances of hypertension and heart diseases, promoting teeth and bone health and reducing stress and anxiety.

Fluid content -
Buttermilk has significant fluid content, so it can be consumed in extremely hot weather conditions to curb dehydration and as a replacement to other fluids. On the contrary, curd has limited fluid content, which makes it suitable for consumption by people who have been instructed to adhere to a fluid restricted diet, but require an intake of good quality proteins.
Probiotics content - Both curd and buttermilk are rich in probiotics or good bacteria, which help in strengthening your immune system and increase longevity.
Remember, make either of the two a part of your regular diet!

Dr. Shivdas Patil
Dr. Shivdas Patil
BAMS, Family Physician, 8 yrs, Pune
Dr. Pramod Bharambe
Dr. Pramod Bharambe
DHMS, Family Physician Homeopath, 30 yrs, Pune
Dr. Nirnjn P.
Dr. Nirnjn P.
MD - Allopathy, Diabetologist Physician, 9 yrs, Pune
Dr. Pratibha Labade
Dr. Pratibha Labade
BAMS, Ayurveda Immuno Dermatologist, 19 yrs, Pune
Dr. Rahul Pawargi
Dr. Rahul Pawargi
BAMS, Family Physician General Physician, 19 yrs, Pune