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M. P. Ravindra Nathan


Editor's Note: This series is designed to give you heads up on healthy living and graceful aging.

Hope all of you have enjoyed the season's festivities and kept your tasty holiday feasts low on calories. In our culture full of ethnic celebrations and annual holidays, it is not easy to be self-disciplined and stay on course. Anyway, it is time to make some lifestyle changes and get your diet back on track. Your New Year resolution should be, "I will stick to a diet that will help me live long and healthy." Here are a few points to ponder.

Eating is certainly one of the greatest pleasures of life, but too much of the wrong foods and too little of the right foods can lead to diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity and heart disease. "You are what you eat and drink" is an often quoted saying among health experts. If you ask Jack LaLane, the 93-year-old supremely fit athlete and exercise guru, he would say, "There are two things which are extremely important for your health. If 'nutrition' is the queen and 'exercise' is the king and if you can combine them, what do you get? A kingdom, i.e., your life." More about exercise later.

Dietitians and preventive medicine experts have worked together to put the role of diet in perspective. There is no question that what you eat now will influence your longevity later. Look at the vegetarians, especially those living in India. Most of them live long. While in medical school many years ago, one common observation we students used to make was, "How come we don't see many vegetarian heart patients?" Maybe, their diet was low in saturated fats, but high in fiber and other nutrients as well as antioxidants. Many of them ate a Spartan diet too. The less calories consumed, the better for long life. However, more recent statistics show that the present-day vegetarians also are vulnerable to heart disease and diabetes, but may be to a lesser extent.

Diet for Longevity

One of my Indian colleagues, a 63-year-old physician, is quite fit and athletic. During a recent hospital semiannual meeting where gourmet food was lavished, I watched him eating. First, he filled his plate with fruits and then a round of salad before eating a small amount of entrée and just a bit of the dessert while most others were indulging in culinary delights such as roast beef, shrimp, cheese cake and lemon meringue pie. His argument, "Once you fill up your stomach with fruits and veggies, there is less room for other food, so it is easy to resist temptation." I had to wholeheartedly agree with him since he doesn't take a single pill and is always bursting with energy.

Often before you sit down for dinner, the main meal of the day, you may have already worked up a voracious appetite and hence tend to overeat to satisfy your craving. As they say, "Cravings are worse when you let yourself reach the ravenous point." The diet gurus suggest eating three decent meals about 4-6 hours apart and perhaps two to three small snacks in between. That should keep your weight down and give you day long energy and well-being. This is the main reason dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner of Chicago tells, "Fill half your plate with produce, its fiber and water content will help you feel fuller on fewer calories."

"Western diet is a global heart risk - fried and salty foods are bad for the heart wherever you live" says Salim Yusuf, professor of medicine at McMaster University and Director of the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario. This conclusion was based on The INTERHEART study conducted by Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario under the leadership of Dr. Yusuf. They examined and followed the dietary trends among more than 16,000 participants in 52 countries who were recruited between 1999 and 2003.

On the other hand, there is strong evidence for a beneficial effect on the risk of death from all causes, including heart disease and cancer in U.S. population, from Mediterranean diet, which puts great emphasis on vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish and a high monounsaturated fat-saturated fat ratio as in olive oil.

(Diet for Longevity will continue in the next issue)

Cardiologist Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan, director of Hernando Heart Clinic in Brooksville, lives in Brooksville.



Controlling diabetes with pills and controlling diabetes with proper diet and exercise is the most important choice diabetic patients and potential diabetic patients must make. Physician consultation and professional fitness associates' consultation is extremely important for diabetic patients, yet, there are many simple way to change the lifestyle to cure this deadly disease.

Diabetes is caused by an imbalance in insulin hormone. Insulin regulates the glucose metabolism and maintains the sugar level in the body. Now, how do we intake the glucose? Well, any high-calorie food or high carbohydrate food gets converted into glucose in our body, which increases the glucose (sugar) level and normally insulin maintains the lower level of glucose. In diabetic patients, obviously the insulin function is abnormal.

Therefore, the first step we can take is to decrease the intake of high-calorie food. Second, we can increase our metabolism with exercise. Let our body use excess glucose so if there is insulin deficiency, it does not become a severe problem because our body is using that glucose (sugar).

The best way to use excess glucose is to perform cardio and aerobic exercises, which make part of the body move. This movement requires energy and the body gets its energy through glucose. Then, we use the extra glucose.

Once a week, exercises will not help or generate results in diabetic patient. Diabetic patient must exercise 30 minutes every day. Then, gradually increase those 30 minutes into 45 minutes and maximum into 1 hour a day.

" Start with five minutes of stretching exercise. This will help you get flexible before cardio or aerobic exercise. It also warms up your body for a 30- minute continuous exercise. The five-minute stretch will help minimize any injury and help burn calories.

" Then follow by 30 minutes of walking, jogging, bicycling, steps, elliptical machine in gym, etc. These exercises do not include carrying any extra weight or overwhelming your capacity. Jut push yourself to one little step farther than you would normally walk, jog, bicycle or do steps. Elders who do not go to the gym can perform the step at home. You can easily perform 100 to 200 steps in 30 minutes. That is a good exercise. In fact, I suggest everyone do the exercise at home.

Diet also is extremely important. Diabetic patients must eat four to five times a day. Now, your meals must not have heavy-calorie items. Each meal cannot be more than 200 to 300 calories. Eating small portions will help you maintain insulin regulation as well.

Diabetic patient must say goodbye to potatoes, rice, banana, mango, ghee, whole milk, any milk or ghee containing sweets, suran, dates and coconut.

Diabetic patient must love fruits such as apple, pear, all types of berries, and oranges; vegetables such as broccoli, salary, spinach, methi, okra, karela, tindora - generally any green vegetables. Diabetic people must include oatmeal, millet (bajri) and juwar flour as a substitute to wheat and rice.

Achut Mashruwala of Fitness Guru Inc. can be reached at (813) 857-5103 or e-mail

Payal Patel

I get a lot of parents in the office who are proud to say how well their child is learning and focusing because of TV and videogames. Nowadays, kids are plopped in front of a TV even before they can sit up because the caregiver observes that they seem interested in the TV and seem to like it, without realizing the consequences.

Television has a tremendous influence on our kids. It does have positive influence because the kids are smarter and learn a variety of new things, but because of the excessive time spent in front of a TV, computer or playing videogames, it does have a lot of negative affects.

Many children spend more time in front of a TV than in school. Also, these days we don't see a lot of children playing outside or interacting with their peers like before, leading to a lack of communication and social interaction. This also is true for siblings and parents.

Most kids are not reading at grade level nowadays because TV, videogames, etc., are taking away from valuable reading time, which would enhance their vocabulary and thinking capacity. It leads to a decrease in school performance as they are hurried in homework time, and watching TV when they should be going to sleep at an appropriate time.

TV and videogames also lead to a more aggressive behavior because of the numbing effect watching violent cartoons and playing violent videogames has on a child. Because a child is unable to reason the amount or extent of aggression they see, they may think it is normal for them to behave the same way as portrayed on TV, etc.

To prevent such behavior, it is important to encourage other activity. The most important intervention is limiting TV watching and videogame time to 1-2 hours per day depending on the age of the child. A 4- to 5-year-old should have no more than 30 minutes to one hour in front of the TV, while an 8-year-old may watch or play videogames 1-2 hours.

n weekends, you may allow them 30 minutes to an hour more depending on family values and age of the child. Setting a time limit helps your child focus his time elsewhere such as interacting with the family or friends, playing outside, reading, sports, music, etc.

Introducing interest in books early on promotes reading and vocabulary enhancement as they grow up. Parents should read to their child even before they are a year old as valuable time spent together, and to boost interest in books.

TV or videogames should never be used as a distraction or a babysitter because this form of entertainment becomes unsupervised, leading to younger children watching violent or inappropriate shows. TV videogames should never interfere with bedtime. Setting a routine for the child as to when it is a good time to watch shows is a good habit that will last through the years.

A good time is right after school, when they want to relax for an hour before starting their homework. This way it does not interfere with learning, family time at the dinner table, and scheduled bed time.

Talking to your child about what is considered an appropriate show also is important so they realize the reasons mom and dad don't allow certain TV watching. Buy videogames that are age appropriate and do not contain violence.

Also, make sure you set a good example by not watching too much TV yourself or inappropriate shows in front of them. Always enforce that the TV be turned off once their time is over, giving more value to family-based interaction.

Although TV and videogames can teach focus, attention to details, enhance their imagination, etc, excessive and inappropriate TV and videogames has a negative impact on our kids. Therefore, setting and maintaining routines for TV and videogames is important for a child's intellectual development.

Happy holidays and a Happy New Year.

Dr. Payal Patel is a board-certified pediatrician at Sunshine Pediatrics, 18928 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Suite 102, Lutz. For information, call (813) 948-2679.

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