Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness



“U.S. is moving toward an unprecedented scale of healthcare rationing,” wrote Tyler Cowen, a professor of Economics at George Mason University, in New York Times recently. Hence, your focus should be on prevention and wellness and not getting sick. President Obama’s landmark health care reform legislation includes easy access to key preventive services at no charge. The following New Year resolutions, assuming you can keep them, will certainly go a long way to assure a healthy future for you.

1. Eat right: A plant-based, protein-rich diet with a generous helping of fish and egg white for those who are not vegans would be ideal. Go easy on sauces and other condiments that contain high-saturated fats (such as creamy dressings). Soy products are great for vegetarians. Several helpings of fruits and nuts a day will do you wonders (but beware of their calories). Credit should go to omega 3 fatty acids found in plenty in fish and nuts such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. Pecan and peanuts are good too; cashews, macadamia nuts and pistachios have a higher percent of saturated fats. Almond, canola and olive oil are the best with high mono-unsaturated fats that are cardio-protective.

2. Hold the salt, please. Salt, although it adds to the taste of your foods, is a major contributory factor for hypertension, a widely prevalent problem among us. And South Asians indulge in too much of it through the pickles, sauces and curries. Some people add salt to everything, including cut fruits! Bad habit, folks. You must stick to a less than 4 gm sodium diet; the average consumption in the United States is close to 10 gm a day!

3. Drink more water. I see a lot of older people walking around with significant dehydration. The recommended quantity is at least 8 glasses of fluids (no, not beer!) a day and H2O fits the bill perfectly since you all know that over 90 percent of your body is made up of water. If you don’t like plain water, flavor it with a little fruit juice. Green tea is also good for you. How about starting the day with a tall glass of water before your first cup of coffee or tea?

4. Less sweets and keep diabetes at bay. You know the statistics already. Diabetes is steadily increasing all over the world, especially among Indians. Our dietary habits and lack of exercise may be the prime reasons. Sugar has been dubbed as the ‘white poison’ by some medical scientists and I agree with this. Reduce sugar and refined starch in every form; cane sugar, sweets, white rice, white bread, potato, big portions of sweet, ripe fruits, etc., have a high glycemic index. Give a chance to whole grain breads or pasta, whole wheat chapattis, whole grain oats, millet, corn, wild rice, apples, nectarines, etc., will help you prevent or at least postpone diabetes.

5. Get your weight down
Did you know that nowhere in the world are there as many obese people as in America? Yes, nearly 60 percent of us are overweight. About 20 percent of our kids are obese too! Inactivity and junk foods are the main culprits. Food is on everyone’s minds and is in abundance. Observe the ‘hara hachi bu’ (push away from the table when sated) principle of the Japanese. Portion control is the first step in the right direction. And “waist watchers live longer,” since they don’t develop a fat belly, which is bad for your heart.

6. Exercise daily: Exercise improves your cognitive functions and is a stress-buster too. Vigorous exercises for young people and medium intensity (or whatever you can tolerate) for older people, ideally about 30 minutes a day for six or even seven days a week. Slow and steady wins the race, so be consistent. Join the “Let us move” initiative of Michelle Obama to create a physically fit nation. As the surgeon general put it, “Exercise is therapy.” Daily exercise can keep diabetes at bay; in fact, some may even be able to quit the diabetic pills and keep blood sugar and HbA1 C under check. Think about that for minute! So ready, get set and go.

7. Limit your TV and computer time: This is more applicable to kids, but adults also suffer from the problem. Kids may protest, but we need to protect their health and adults can set an example. Obesity in kids (Indian kids too) is increasing significantly and we are paving the way for an unhealthy nation in future.

8. Quit all bad habits: No smoking, of course and if you are the one who has difficulty to get off cigarettes, there are many smoking cessation therapies available. Nicotine lozenges in combination with nicotine patches provide the greatest benefit for smokers trying to quit. Needless to reiterate, ‘say no to drugs’ and limit your alcohol consumption to the recommended limit of one glass red wine for women and two for men. No unlimited boozing, guys, even during the holidays!

*Part II will appear in the next issue

Dr. M.P. Ravindra Nathan is a Brooksville cardiologist and director of the Hernando Heart Clinic.

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