APRIL 2024
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness


Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan

By Dr. Venkit Iyer, MD, FACS

You are in a restaurant with a mouthwatering list of items on the menu. What are you going to order? Internal conflict arises between what you like to taste and what you know is healthy. Sometimes, your tongue wins and other times your brain prevails. 

What we eat matters. Variety of medical problems such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, vascular problems, cancers, dementia, osteoporosis and obesity and reduced life expectancy can be related to diet.

With attention to proper healthy diet and nutrition, we can postpone the onset of many of these disorders, live longer and healthier. One example of a healthy diet is Mediterranean diet. It is similar to a diet called MIND that helps to improve cognitive function and delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It is also the same diet that is claimed to prevent heart attacks, cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and stroke or plaque buildup in the arteries.

Plant-based diet is considered better for health. Green leafy vegetables, vegetables of multiple colors, roots, beans, lentils, legumes, peas, corn are used in various formats. Whole grain products, Matta rice (Kerala red rice), brown rice, wheat, oats or quinoa are the staple components. These give nutrients, fiber, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. Soy products and tofu are usable for proteins and other nutrients. Nonvegetarians should try to avoid red meat (beef, lamb, pork) and instead use white meat (chicken, fish and seafood) whenever possible. Eggs are acceptable. Tuna fish salad or sandwich is another option.

Spices such as turmeric (containing curcumin) ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom or garlic are added. Black pepper is a natural alkaloid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory qualities through a compound called piperine. The spices reduce chances of chronic illnesses and inflammation.

Fruits of different colors and taste are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. They also add to fiber. Nuts of different types can be used as snacks or added to the meal. They are good with minerals, proteins, vitamins and polyunsaturated fats. Peanut can be used in the form of peanut butter or humus or added to food items.

Probiotics are getting more attention lately. They can be obtained through yogurt, kimchi, kombucha or buttermilk. They bring back gut bacteria, protect stomach lining, reduce indigestion or diarrhea and lower blood pressure.

Avoid drinking any type of cola drinks or sugary soft drinks. Instead, drink plain water whenever possible. One or two cups of coffee or tea are considered healthy, as are fruit juices. Alcohol in any form is best avoided or minimized. A small amount of red wine is believed to be beneficial during social hours or dinner. It contains resveratrol to reduce plaque formations. However, alcohol use must be in moderation.

In choosing a cooking oil, it is preferrable to use vegetable oils such as olive oil, avocado oil or sesame oil that contain polyunsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive oil is used over salad. Fish and fish oil are good with omega 3 fatty acids. It is advised to avoid margarine, ghee, shortening and butter. One needs to avoid trans fats and processed foods as far as possible. These are hydrogenated and processed oils with harmful saturated fats.

Salt and sugar are reduced as much as possible. Salt increases chances of atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Sugar increases calories rapidly. It is best to avoid taking sugary desserts. Instead, one may consume fresh fruits or dark chocolates.

Individuals with preexisting conditions need to take extra precautions with their diet. Diabetics must be extra cautious about intake of carbohydrates, sugars and sugary drinks and desserts. Those with kidney stones need to avoid oxalate in their diet. If there is Parkinson’s disease, opt for a low-protein diet. Others may have food allergies. 

Why do we need fiber in the diet? Low-residue diet leads to constipation, cancer of colon and diverticular disease. These individuals tend to consume more calories. Fiber helps to have regular easy bowel movements and reduces chances of colorectal disorders and overall intake of calories.

To maintain ideal body weight and obesity, watch calorie intake. Avoidance of sugary drinks and sugary desserts and snacks will help toward the goal. Slow eating with long chewing time reduces total food intake. Stop when you are three quarter full, instead of filling up to the maximum. Another option is partial or intermittent fasting.

Taste is one of the five primary senses and is often ignored in our busy life. Elegant dining is an art by itself. Eating is one of the pleasurable actions in life. So, why not have a good time at it, while also building up chances for a healthy life.

Dr. Venkit S. Iyer, MD, FACS, is a retired general and vascular surgeon. He has authored six books: “Decision making in clinical surgery” first and second editions; “Aging well and reaching beyond,” “The Clinic,” “Geriatrics Handbook” and “Iyer’s story book for children.” They are available through Amazon or from the author. His website venkitiyer.com has necessary links and contact information.

Editor’s Note: Khaas Baat sincerely thanks Dr. Ravindra Nathan for his valuablecontributions through his monthly health column starting with our first year of publication.


March is Workplace Vision Protection Month

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan


Vision, a precious asset often overlooked until compromised, demands vigilant protection in the workplace. Be it a construction site, laboratory or office, proactive measures are indispensable to thwart potential eye injuries. This article explores the criticality of workplace eye safety, identifies prevalent hazards and offers preventive strategies.

Given their delicate nature and exposure to diverse risks, eyes are highly susceptible to injuries in work environments. Chemicals, projectiles, radiation, and digital screens are among the culprits contributing to workplace-related eye injuries, impacting personal well-being and productivity.

Common Hazards
1. Chemicals: Exposure to corrosive substances like acids or solvents can lead to severe eye damage if not promptly treated.
2. Flying particles: Dust, debris, or fragments from construction, machining, or grinding activities pose a threat of penetrating the eye.
3. Radiation: Welding arcs, lasers or UV light can result in eye burns or long-term damage without proper protection.
4. Impact: Mishandling of tools, machinery or equipment may cause blunt force trauma, ranging from minor scratches to severe lacerations.
5. Digital eye strain: Prolonged screen exposure can cause discomfort and dryness, collectively termed computer vision syndrome.

Prevention Strategies
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ensure all personnel wear suitable eye protection such as safety glasses, goggles or face shields tailored to their work environment's hazards.
2. Hazard assessments: Regularly evaluate workplace conditions to pinpoint potential eye hazards and implement requisite controls such as machine guards or engineering solutions.
3. Training and education: Provide comprehensive instruction on eye safety practices encompassing proper PPE use, emergency protocols for eye injuries, and hazard awareness.
4. Eye care practices: Encourage periodic breaks, particularly during extended screen use, to alleviate digital eye strain. Emphasize prompt rinsing with water in cases of chemical exposure.
5. Regular eye exams: Advocate for routine eye checkups to promptly address any vision anomalies, ensuring optimal eye health for employees.

Management Options
Simple workplace accidents, including chemicals, foreign bodies or wind-assisted impacted particles can be addressed with minimally invasive treatments with your local eye doctor.
More invasive accidents and exposures need immediate treatment using advanced diagnostics and non-surgical or surgical interventions from ocular surface correction to corneal tear injuries, lens damage and or internal eye bleeding. These not only require management at the time of injury but also long-term follow-up, especially in situations like radiation or intense chemical exposures and possibly cause scarring in the future and adversely involves vision.

Preserving workplace eye safety necessitates proactive measures, education and sustained vigilance. By prioritizing preventive actions and fostering a culture of awareness, organizations can uphold employees' vision and well-being, fostering a safer and more productive work milieu. Remember, safeguarding eyesight today ensures a clearer, brighter vision for tomorrow.

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