By Dr Anjali Mukerjee January 2007 Food is the prime player in health management. here is a comprehensive guide to the right food to prevent major lifestyle diseases When thousands of people die in the US due to terrorist attack, it is rightly considered to be a tragedy with global implications. But when thousands of deaths occur each day due to unnecessary disease, nobody even thinks about it! Disease that could have been prevented by implementing the right diet with minor changes in lifestyle to bring about years of vibrant health. The primary cause of disease is improper nutrition and lack of exercise, coupled with increasing environmental pollution. All this triggers a host of terrorist or free radical activity within the body, which slowly disintegrates our immune system. Once your immunity begins to fail, your body becomes open to any disease include atherosclerosis, cancer, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, respiratory tract infection, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis, stroke, obesity, etc. Diet and LifestyleWhat you choose to put into your mouth right from the cradle to the coffin, determines your future health to a large extent. The human body is a truly incomparable machine. If you feed it with the right fuel, it functions smoothly. The more toxins we injest, the faster we precipitate disease and age. Our fast-paced lives are moving us away from nature. We eat devitalized foods from fast food joints. Canning and processing of foods has made life easy for us but the body has to work harder to eliminate the chemicals and additives injested. These lifestyle diseases precipitate due to an urban lifestyle, little or no exercise, eating refined foods, poor stress managemen, excessive drinking, etc. When we eat a lot of dessert, white breads, pasta, white rice, maida biscuits, pizzas, burgers, pastries, naans, rumali rotis, noodles and other highly processed starches and restaurant foods, our ability to utilize insulin gets hampered and we become prediabetic. At this stage, one can develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and Type II diabetes. A high triglyceride reading coupled with a low HDL reading implies prediabetic conditions known as insulin resistance. This condition leads to premature and unnecessary aging, affecting your heart, your arteries (giving rise to blood pressure), your liver, eyes, extremities, your appearance, your moods, your emotional state, almost everything. As your body gets chemicalized by eating depleted food, imbalances are created in the body, resulting in lifestyle diseases. DiabetesWhat would happen if your body reacts to junk food, just the way your hand reacts when it touches something hot? Among the advantages, you would be assured of remaining free of diabetes. Type II diabetes, which most people suffer from, is a lifestyle disease. While juvenile diabetes, the kind that affects children and adolescents, happens if you wrongly chose your ancestors. It may even happen due to a viral infection early in life. But most of the time no one knows how or why this happens in some children and not others. Diet and diabetes have always been intimately connected. Type II diabetes does not happen over night. Wrong choices of foods begin the degenerative process in those who are vulnerable to diabetes. Most Type II diabetics are overweight. They don’t have a shortage of insulin, but their cells are resistant to its effects. When they lose weight, the cells become more responsive. When this happens, their blood sugar drops and the need for additional insulin reduce, as the insulin that their body is producing may prove to be adequate. Therefore, an overweight diabetic should try and achieve ideal body weight in order to get control of his blood sugar and wean off oral antidiabetic drugs according to requirement. Preventive Foods• Avoid refined foods like white rice, maida, dessert, soft drinks, chocolates, sugar and foods rich in fat.• Increase fibre in your diet. You can do this easily by eating whole grains, whole pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. You can also take one tablespoon of isabgol daily to increase fibre intake.• Eat some sprouts every day as they are rich in protein, calcium and nutrients that help increase immunity and balance blood sugar.• Antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E and minerals like selenium, zinc, chromium, selenium and magnesium help to control blood sugar imbalances• Karneem made from karela and syrup made from jamun known as jambuasav are a few herbs which help to control blood sugar. Heart DiseaseHeart disease would include any of the several abnormalities that affect the heart muscle or the blood vessels of the heart. Heart disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease can lead to congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump sufficient blood to meet the demands of the body. The various forms of heart disease may also cause disturbances in normal heartbeat, called arrhythmia. Stroke is a condition which happens due to the lack of oxygen to the brain that may lead to reversible or irreversible paralysis. Stroke is linked to advanced age, high blood pressure, previous attacks of poor circulation, cigarette smoking, heart disorders, embolism, diabetes mellitus, weight gain, high cholesterol – all of which are in some way related to our eating patterns. Preventive FoodsCorrect food intake can help keep the arteries clean, elastic and free of hazardous clots. Food does this by preventing cholesterol build-up (if it is already high, it can lower it), and by keeping the blood thin and clot free.• Coenzyme Q10 is an absolute must to maintain a healthy heart. It strengthens the heart muscle which is major dependent on CoQ10 to meet its energy needs. It is especially beneficial for people suffering from mitral valve prolapsed, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy. It is a potent antioxidant that can protect our body from free radical damage.• Vegetables are rich in soluble fiber and help lower blood cholesterol.• Eat at least two or three fruits every day.• Consume two tablespoons of alsi seeds powder as they are rich in Omega-3 fats, which are beneficial to the heart. They help increase HDL levels (good cholesterol) and thereby reduce the heart-risk ratio.• Eat two cloves of chopped raw garlic as it is a vaso-dilator and helps lower blood pressure. Its antioxidants protect against cancer and it has blood thinning properties.• If you are already suffering from heart disease, include raw onions, ginger, black mushrooms, garlic and green tea in your daily diet as these foods help to fight blood clots. The way your blood clots is the single greatest determinant of whether you precipitate a heart attack or not.• In case you have Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), consume a bowlful of black channa or green channa, boiled and tossed with salad, and a teaspoon of olive oil as dressing, regularly. It contains soluble fiber which brings down cholesterol and folic acid, which reduces homocysteine levels. High levels of this are implicated in heart diseases.• Above all, avoid fried foods, maida-based products and sugar-laden desserts, as these end up as blood fats. ObesityWe develop fattening metabolisms by consuming refined foods like white rice, white flour, refined sugar, cornstarch, sweets, etc. The food that you consume today may get stored as fat or utilized as energy, depending upon your body’s hormones, enzymes and fat-handling capacity. Preventive Foods• Fibre is an important element for weight as it provides bulk, a sense of fullness and prevents unnecessary hunger.• Snack on fruits and high-fiber biscuits made from millet or whole wheat or soybean. This will take care of in-between hunger pangs.• Zinc and chromium picolinate are important minerals as they sensitize the tissues to insulin and help to minimize sugar cravings.• Some herbs and spices like saunf, methi powder and cloves help balance blood sugar and control hunger. steoporosisOsteoporosis is a condition where the body become fragile and porous – ‘osteo’ meaning bone and ‘paresis’ means porous. As we age, the body’s calcium reserves are depleted and this makes the bones fragile and weak. Apart from the gender and age factor, food also plays an important role in shaping the calcium reserves. The body’s calcium needs must be continuously replenished through food and calcium supplements. Substances like caffeine, salt and tobacco are detrimental to building calcium deposits. Items like decaffeinated coffee, herbal teas and foods that are flavored with garlic, onions and lemon juice, help the body to accumulate calcium and thus diminish the possibility of osteoporosis. Although there is no known cure for osteoporosis, precautions and proper nutrition can reduce the chances of affliction. The best way to stave off osteoporosis is to build up adequate calcium reserves and improve the calcium absorption and retention levels of the body. are not inert as is generally believed. Composed of a protein framework, they have a calcium cover. In fact, 90 per cent of the body’s calcium reserves are concentrated in the bones and the teeth. The structure and content of the bones are constantly changed and remodeled according to the needs of the body. The flow of calcium and other biological substances are regulated through the blood supply. The body needs calcium not only to fortify the bones but also for other physiological activities like normal muscle contraction and the blood-clotting process. When we are young, greater amounts of calcium are deposited and supply is far higher than demand. But as the body ages and the various metabolisms slow down, the demand for calcium is far greater than its supply. To compensate, the calcium from the bones are use
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