By Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Staying young and healthy is a conscious choice that involves caring for the body, mind and spirit
Join me on an amazing adventure. What might it be like if you truly felt ‘vibrant’ and ‘alive’ not just occasionally, but throughout your life – decade after decade!
The catalyst that propels most of us towards healthy living could be a major one like the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or as minor as the passing remark of a stranger. Nevertheless, when the right conditions prevail, seeds of change germinate in all of us sooner or later, and we prepare ourselves for the road to health.
Good health can be achieved by each and every one of us. And the means to achieve this lies within you rather than in global remedies. This is because our body has self-healing powers or ‘prana’ or ‘bio-energy’. All that we need to do is to support the activity of this energy system by correcting our eating and living habits. As we continue to grow in technology, we create conditions that systematically interfere with our state of health. We use chemical fertilisers to increase yield, we use pesticides to increase the shelf life of our fresh produce. We use food additives to increase the shelf life of our packaged products. In our pursuit to improve the shelf life of edible products, we are in turn reducing our own shelf life! The net result is that we suffer more from bad eating and living habits, than from actual disease. Today, we suffer more from lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and cancer, rather than from germ-based diseases like cholera or typhoid. How should we take charge of our health? Firstly, listen to your body. Many people drag their way through life. They complain of vague symptoms like back pain, muscular aches, low energy, a bloated feeling especially around the abdominal region, constipation, mild depression, dry skin, unexplained weight gain or hair loss. They just don’t feel good. But instead of listening to their body’s wisdom they just pop a pill and ‘wish’ it away. Your body is screaming to be heard. Take time out to listen to your body. Minor changes in your diet can help make major changes in your health.
• Change your diet: To begin with stop eating white flour. That includes rumali roti, naan, white bread and all other foods made from maida. It is a depleted food. It borrows more nutrients from your body in order to get metabolised. Switch to wholewheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, soya milk instead of whole milk. Snack on sprouts, or roasted whole channa instead of farsan and fried snacks. Eat whole fruits instead of juice concentrates. Eat whole grains like jowar, bajri, naachini and whole pulses.
• Detoxify regularly: Inner cleansing or detoxification is a process of clearing toxins from the body thereby cleansing it of mucus and congestion. It makes you feel energised, light and revitalized. It is as important as an overall lifestyle change and needs specific dietary changes. It is an important tool in treating obesity, as obesity is always associated with toxicity. Almost everyone needs to detoxify from time to time. Some of us who lead a life of excesses, and those who eat excessively at night, need to detox more frequently (twice a year). Others with toxicity symptoms like headaches, congestion, backaches, digestive problems, allergies will benefit greatly by detoxification. Consume antioxidants. Free radicals are known to accelerate the aging process. Antioxidants such as vitamins E, C, A, selenium, bioflavinoids and polyphenols are known to douse free radical activity and slow down the aging process. Today’s modern man is overfed and undernourished. He needs to consume antioxidants.
• Get in shape: Eat food with a new approach. Look at its nutrient density rather than its caloric value. For example, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts, though rich in calories, contain beneficial oils and a full range of nutrients that improve your health. They do not cause weight gain if eaten in moderation. While eating less fat is good, eating oil-free diets may deprive your body of fat soluble vitamins and also affect your menstrual cycle. Eating less sugar is beneficial but consuming large quantities of artificially sweetened dessert will cause more toxic overload in the body. By learning to make the right food choices, coupled with a 40-min brisk walk, we can begin a healing process unlike any other. Most diseases are a result of toxic overload. When you overeat denatured foods, which are improperly prepared, overfried, boiled to death, refried, containing artificial flavours and preservatives, your body gets filled with toxic wastes, and all this upsets your digestion. In spite of being aware of this, abstaining from such food is unpleasant for most people. When you begin eating healthily, drinking vegetable juices, eating freshly prepared food and snacking on nuts, seeds, fruits and juices, you will develop a healthy immune system, which can add years to your life and help delay the aging process.
• Control stress: It begins with the mind. A youthful state has more to do with what’s going on in your mind than with what’s going on in your body. Each one of us participates consciously or unconsciously in creating our own illnesses. Your attitude towards life shapes your health and looks. Some people remain calm and collected under most situations. Stress has little impact on the physical and mental health of such people. There are others who get irritated over small issues like traffic jams, loud music, delayed breakfasts, or waiting for appointments. Ordinary day-to-day events seem to be very stressful to such individuals. They are more prone to stress-related conditions like high blood pressure, migraine, eczema, insomnia, backache, or muscular pains. Stress eventually wears out the body.
• Nourish your relationships to stay healthy: Try to develop loving relationships with your family, friends, spouse, pets – everyone! Love is rejuvenating. It makes life meaningful.
It has healing energy. It is a powerful stimulant to the immune system. People who bond well with family and friends feel contented and are better equipped to fight disease. The act of giving and receiving love, acts as a shield from the stresses of life and prevents needless aging. A loving relationship with anyone – even plants and pets – is good for longevity and youthfulness.
• Stop negative thinking: Negative thoughts make you take negative action, which brings about negative reactions from others. This increases stress in your life. Negative thinking can make you depressed and look old. Every time you become negative, consciously shift your thoughts. Alternatively, go for a walk on the beach or in a garden or tend to your plants at home. Connect with nature. It helps dissolve negativity.
• Stop smoking: Stub out that cigarette! This is probably the single best thing you can do to stay young and healthy.
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