Monday, 14 January 2019

Healthy winter diet: The best foods to eat to stay well this winter

Although there are fewer foods that are in season in winter than in summer, winter boasts some surprising health superstars.

As the temperature begins to dip, our thoughts will no doubt turn to hot soups, shakarkand chaats, beet thoran, nihari, undhiyo, gajar ka halwa, noren gur sandesh, moong dal laddoo and other winter warming comfort food.

There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little over the winter months, but how do you make sure you get all the nutrition your body needs to fight off colds and flu?

Here are some top tips for what to eat to stay well this winter…

Start your day with porridge:-

Start your day with a healthy slow-release breakfast, which will keep you full of energy until lunch. Porridge or sattu made from oats, barley, gram flour, nachni/ragi etc are a great way to start your morning. Add nuts or seeds and some seasonal winter fruit like apples, pears, jardalu or dates.

Choose fruit and veggies rich in vitamin C:-

Add foods like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, Shimla Mirch and citrus fruits to your meals as they contain vitamin C, which plays an important role in the immune system and energy levels, especially important if you regularly exercise.

Look for sources of zinc:-

During the winter months, we can come into contact with viruses that can cause colds or flu. So, it’s important that our immune system functions normally and zinc contributes to this. Foods such as seafood, spinach, and legumes are good sources of zinc.

Eat more iron-rich foods:-

Red meats, lentils, and green leafy vegetables are good sources of iron, which supports a healthy immune system. If you’re not getting all your iron requirements from food sources alone to consider taking a natural iron food supplement.

Up your intake of vitamin B12:-

Fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as milk, eggs, and cheese, are a great source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system and also contributes to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.


 5 of the healthiest winter foods you should be eating.
 
1. Tulsi, Pepper, and Ginger
 Nothing can warm you better than a cup of piping hot ginger and tulsi tea on a cold wintery day. Add some soonth (dried ginger powder) and you will keep colds, infections and a sore throat at bay

2. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, methi, amaranth (chaulai) and mustard greens (sarson) thrive in the chill of winter. These greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C, and K and are also excellent sources of folate, important for women of childbearing age.

3. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits, including lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, are at their juiciest in the wintertime and can add sunshine to the dreary winter. Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C—one medium orange delivers more than 100 percent of your daily dose. Citrus fruits are also rich sources of flavonoids. The predominant flavonoid in these fruits—hesperidin—is credited with boosting “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

4. Potatoes
Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap for being a white starch, thrown into the same category as white rice or white bread. But unlike those other starches, which have indeed been stripped of healthful nutrients, potatoes are whole foods that contain several beneficial nutrients. They are an excellent source of two immunity boosters—vitamins C and B6. They are also a good source of folate, which is especially important for women of childbearing age.

5. Dried fruit, Nuts and Seeds
Raisins, almonds, walnuts, dates, figs, pine nuts, chironji, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, melon seeds, sesame seeds etc are all excellent choices in the winter. 

Stay warm, stay happy, stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Cooking WithOUT Alcohol

It’s the holiday season…a season to be jolly…a season to be in HIGH SPIRITS!!! So what do you do when a recipe calls for a specific kind of alcohol and you don't want to add it? Cooking with alcohol can be tricky, and not everyone wants it as an ingredient; if you're going to be serving the dish to children or to someone who doesn't drink alcoholic beverages, it's not always appropriate. Here are some suggestions which will help you substitute different alcoholic ingredients with non-alcoholic ones.

P.S The end result may be different from the original, but that does not have to be a bad thing

Amaretto
Instead of this almond-flavoured liqueur, simply use almond extract or almond essence. 

Beer or Ale
For light beers, substitute chicken broth or grape juice. For heavier beers, use a stronger chicken or mushroom broth or stock. Non-alcoholic beers may also be substituted.

Brandy 
Substitute apple or grape or orange juice. You can also use a brandy flavoured extract or vanilla or lemon extract if the recipe only calls for a small amount.

Calvados
Substitute apple juice for this apple brandy.

Chambord  
For this black raspberry liqueur, you can substitute raspberry juice, syrup or extract.

Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Sparkling white grape juice or ginger ale are fine non-alcoholic alternatives.

Claret or Bordeaux 
Non-alcoholic wine, diluted red currant or grape juice, cherry syrup work well.

Cognac  
This aged, double-distilled wine can be replaced with peach, apricot or pear juice.

Cointreau  
You can substitute frozen orange juice concentrate or regular orange juice for this French, orange-flavoured liqueur. If you use orange juice, first reduce (boil) it to give it a thicker consistency before adding to your recipe.

Curacao 
Liqueur made from bitter Seville oranges is another ingredient that can be replaced with frozen orange juice concentrate or reduced fresh orange juice.

Creme de Menthe  
This thick and syrupy, sweetened mint liqueur, comes in both clear and green varieties. If your recipe needs the green colour, just add a drop of green food colouring. You can use spearmint extract or oil mixed with a little water or grapefruit juice.

Framboise 
This is a French raspberry liqueur can be substituted with raspberry juice or syrup or even seedless raspberry jam, depending on the recipe.

Frangelico  
Italian hazelnut liqueur which can be replaced with hazelnut or almond extract.

Galliano  
This golden Italian anise liqueur has a very specific taste, but can be substituted with either anise or licorice extract.

Grand Marnier  
Another orange-flavoured French liqueur which is easily substituted with frozen orange juice concentrate or reduced fresh orange juice.

Grappa 
This is a very sweet Italian grape brandy, so you can use either grape juice or reduced non-alcoholic red wine in its place.

Grenadine  
The main ingredient in a Shirley Temple comes in alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties, so opt for the non-alcoholic one.

Hard Cider 
Fermented, alcoholic cider can be swapped for apple cider or apple juice.

Kahlua 
This sweet, syrupy Mexican liqueur made with coffee and cocoa beans can be substituted with strong coffee or espresso combined with a touch of cocoa powder.

Kirsch 
Colourless liqueur made of cherries is easily replaced with any of the following juices: black cherry, raspberry, currant, or grape, or any of the corresponding flavours of syrup, depending on how thick you want your recipe.

Red Burgundy 
Dry French wine which can be substituted with a non-alcoholic variety, grape juice or red wine vinegar, depending on how sweet the recipe needs to be.

Red Wine
Non-alcoholic wine, chicken broth or stock, diluted red wine vinegar, red grape juice diluted with red wine vinegar or rice vinegar, tomato juice, and liquid from canned mushrooms are all possibilities.

Rum  
For light rum, use pineapple juice flavoured with almond extract. For dark rum, use molasses thinned with pineapple juice and flavoured with almond extract. You could also try rum extract flavouring.

Sake  
This Asian fermented rice drink can be swapped for rice vinegar, but be careful of the consistency. Vinegar will obviously be a bit more pungent, so use lesser.

Schnapps 
Flavoured, colourless liquor which can be replaced with the corresponding flavoured extract such as peppermint, peach, and so on.

Sherry  
Known as a dessert wine, sherry can be swapped for orange or pineapple juice in most recipes.

Tequila  
Agave nectar is an acceptable substitute for tequila .

Triple Sec 
Another orange-flavored liqueur which can be replaced with orange juice frozen concentrate or reduced fresh orange juice.

Vermouth  
The key ingredient in a proper martini, vermouth is a wine-based drink infused with herbs, which may be sweet or dry. If your recipe calls for sweet vermouth, use non-alcoholic sweet wine, apple or grape juice or aged balsamic vinegar. For dry vermouth, use non-alcoholic white wine, white grape juice or white wine vinegar.

Whiskey
This may be the one alcohol that can't easily be substituted with a non-alcoholic alternative. If the recipe calls for a small amount, it may be omitted altogether.

White Wine  
Use non-alcoholic wine, chicken broth or stock, diluted white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, white grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar, ginger ale, canned mushroom liquid, or water. For marinades, substitute with 1/4 cup vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

Enjoy the festivities and stay blessed with Good Health…Always!!! 

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

World Mental Health Day - 10th Oct 2018 

Mental wellness plays a role in order to be healthy as a whole. The goal of ‘World Mental Health Day’ is to increase awareness about mental health and its importance in the overall health of a person. The theme this year is "Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.” 

Youngsters today are vulnerable to eating disorders, mental distress and anguish, peer pressure and stress….more so than ever before. Our teenagers need to be sensitively handled. If their mental health issues are not recognized, diagnosed and managed expertly, it can lead to mental illness. The stigma attached to mental health prevents most people from speaking about their fears, apprehensions and mental traumas.

Research shows that nearly half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14…an age when youngsters have to tackle changes in their hormones, make new friends, excel in studies etc. All this leads to increasing stress levels. Alarmingly, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among those in the age group of 15 and 25.

We take our children for vaccinations, dental check-ups, eye check-ups…but mental health check-ups? Never! Preventing mental illness begins with awareness of early signs and symptoms. Good mental health and coping ability are of prime importance.

As parents, how can we help our young children build their mental resilience in order to dodge all the curve balls life throws at them? The answer to that is nutrition. The solution to most health issues can be found on our meal plate rather than on the shelf of the neighborhood chemist.

There is a strong connection between what we eat, how our body functions and how we feel.

The Gastro-Intestinal Tract (GIT) or gut is your secondary brain. It makes neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol, which are then carried to your brain. So if you are eating a healthy, unprocessed, balanced diet, more serotonin and dopamine are produced…. Else the stress hormone cortisol will be produced in amounts larger than the body can handle. This impacts:-
  • Sleep
  • Emotional Stability
  • Appetite
  • Thoughts
  • Pain Threshold

In order to ensure the mental well-being of youngsters ( w.r.t eating disorders, depression, mood swings, stress, and anxiety), their diet should include the following:-
  • Good Quality Proteins which provide Essential Amino Acids needed for physical & emotional health.
  • B Complex vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Let us also ensure that our family environment is one where the child feels loved, valued, trusted and safe. Let us nurture a positive self-image…set an example by showing them how resilient we are. Most importantly, let us learn to accept who our children are, what are their limitations and what they are good at.
May we all be blessed with good mental and physical health…always !!!

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.

Friday, 17 August 2018


Men and their ‘Manopause’

You’ve heard of 'menopause'-that stage in a woman’s life when her sex hormone levels begin to decline, ultimately leading to the cessation of her monthly period. The term ‘manopause’ or andropause, however, is used to describe the correlating condition in aging males.

Symptoms of ‘manopause’ include:

  • A reduced libido… sexual thoughts/desire/drive
  • Trouble achieving/maintaining an erection
  • A decrease in energy levels
  • Mood changes/mood swings
  • Loss of muscle mass and bone density
  • Reduction in cognitive function

Chronic stress and a nutritionally deficient diet can inhibit the production of the male hormone testosterone. This hormone plays a vital role in male health. It impacts cardiovascular health, sexual health, total body composition, cognitive function, and mood. Men need to take care of their protein, essential fatty acids, zinc and selenium intake to provide the necessary building blocks for testosterone production. They should also try various methods to keep stress levels minimal because the ingredients needed for testosterone production are also used to produce the stress hormone cortisol. A highly stressed male body will make more cortisol and lesser testosterone.

What can you do to delay the onset of ‘manopause’?

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, minerals and essential fatty acids to provide all of the building blocks for healthy testosterone production.
  • Maintain a healthy body composition, keep body fat levels down to reduce the conversion of testosterone to the female hormone estrogen.
  • Decrease sugar and alcohol consumption.
  • Manage stress effectively. 
  • Ensure good quality sleep to regulate cortisol production, which is crucial for maintaining healthy testosterone levels as you age.               

Most of the older couples who consult us take time to come to terms with manopause and menopause. Even if the more superficial aspects of testosterone deficiency are not of concern, the role that testosterone plays in wellness and aging means that all men who wish to live a long and healthy life should be looking to support their testosterone levels in a natural, holistic manner. So if you are feeling fatigued or cranky, your mojo isn’t wasn’t it used to be or you notice that you are losing muscle mass, chances are that your testosterone levels are on the decline. Please consult a qualified dietician/clinical nutritionist to address manopause scientifically.

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Listen To Your Body

New and contradictory findings in the field of nutrition, health, and wellness can be puzzling and overwhelming! Veganism is in! NO, it’s not! Coffee is good! Coffee is bad. Keto diets are a blessing! Yes, but what about keto flu, libido changes, bone density changes and the fact that in medicine, a keto diet is primarily used to treat epilepsy in children? Red wine is healthy. No, it’s not! The truth is that science is constantly evolving and things are rarely black and white.

The fact that there are so many unqualified people dishing out ‘gems’ of nutritional advice for free, makes the process of knowing what foods, diets, and health plans are the right ones even more difficult. These quacks have no real education in nutrition and health. They simply collate random bits of information from the internet, put it together and come up with skewed and absurd versions of scientific facts.

The best way to choose which plan is working for you is by listening to your own body....so that you do not have to hear it scream! By paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you, you will be able to find the right path to good health. Keep a record of what you feel when you eat certain foods. Is your dietary regimen making you feel lethargic and bloated, unable to clear properly, dull and listless? Or are you feeling light, happy, energised, with improved digestion and physical and mental satiety?

Just as in life, nutrition is all about balance and any extreme diet will never work in the long run….for anyone. Also, a regimen that works very well for your friend may not work at all for you. The blood type diet/Paleo diet/macrobiotic diet may have worked for you in the past, but currently, the vegan diet/ Zone diet/ intermittent fasting is keeping you healthy…so listen to your body and follow your gut.

Do your due diligence by researching the nutritional benefits of the new foods you are incorporating into your daily meal plan. Seek the guidance of a qualified dietician /nutritionist if you have a health issue. She will help you sort out good science from nonsense. More importantly, she will never sell you supplements, pills and portions…..although she may share the recipe to a spice mix which you can make at home ;-)

Stay curious, stay true, stay healthy, stay you!!! 

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Kidney Stones

The kidneys are among the most important organs in the human body. The kidneys help to detox and filter impurities from the blood, discarding waste products out and regulating fluid balance.

Kidney stones form when the kidneys are not able to process and excrete waste products, excess minerals, and toxins. The crystals of unprocessed minerals, especially calcium, begin to accumulate. Kidney stones, if they’re large enough, may cause tearing and pain, some even block urine flow.

Diet-wise, limit your intake of sodium, non-veg protein, foods rich in oxalates like palak, beetroots, buckwheat or kuttu, wheat bran, nuts, and chocolate. Excess supplemental Vit C, above 2000 mg, can also increase the risk of kidney stone formation.

The following tips should help improve kidney health:-

1. Water- Staying well hydrated is key to good kidney health. Up your water intake if you have high uric acid levels and are prone to kidney stone formation. Drink water at regular intervals through the day.

2. Lemon juice- Lemons contain citrate, which is a chemical that prevents calcium stones from forming in your kidneys. Citrate can also break up smaller kidney stones, allowing them to pass out more easily. Adding half a deseeded lemon to your bottle of water will help flush your system.

3. Basil juice- Basil contains acetic acid, which helps to break down the kidney stones and helps to reduce pain. It also lowers uric acid levels, which reduces your risk for future kidney stones. Simply add a few mulled basil leaves to your bottle of water or have 1 tsp basil juice thrice a day.

4. Apple cider vinegar- Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid. Citric acid helps to dissolve kidney stones. Apple cider vinegar can help alkalize blood and urine and increase stomach acids to prevent the formation of new kidney stones. Start with 1 tsp organic ACV (with the cloudy substance called mother) thrice a day.

5. Celery juice- Celery juice clears away toxins that contribute to kidney stone formation. It also helps flush out toxins from the body so you can pass the stone. Add 2 stalks of celery to your bottle of water. Celery acts as a diuretic and will decrease edema. It also helps lower BP, so it is a good option for those with hypertension. Do avoid if your BP is generally on the lower side.

6. SaCha’s TheraSpice- Using a heating pad or a warm compress like SaCha’s TheraSpice will help ease the pain associated with the passing out of kidney stones. Place the warm compress near your ribs or stomach or apply it on the area of maximum discomfort.

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.


Monday, 16 July 2018

 SIBO Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth 

Good gut health starts with supporting greater diversity and numbers of 'good' gut bacteria in the large intestine.

In the small intestine, however, an overgrowth known as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a sign of a digestive disorder. In this part of our gastrointestinal tract, we want less, not more bacteria.

Due to the fact that it is often a secondary disease, SIBO is difficult to manage and can take years to eradicate, if ever.

The primary cause is suspected to be a combination of decreased small intestine motility (muscular movement), bile acids and pancreatic enzymes. 

There are disease states that we know can lead to SIBO (secondary disease) and can be treated: 

  • Active small bowel inflammation (e.g. Coeliac, Crohn's)
  • Adhesive disease
  • Collagen vascular disease
  • Diabetic enteropathy
  • Gut dysmotility
  • Small bowel diverticular disease
  • Small bowel structuring disease (e.g. Crohn's, NSAIDs)

Common symptoms overlap with those of IBS and include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Malnutrition
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Vitamin (esp. A, D, E, K & B12) & mineral (esp. calcium, iron, magnesium) deficiency
  • Weight loss 

In addition, because of brush border inflammation, fructose and lactase (enzymes that break down fructose and lactose respectively) deficiency may develop as a result of SIBO.

Diagnosis is usually via the non-invasive Hydrogen Breath Tests where patients drink a lactulose or glucose solution. The resulting hydrogen or methane, which can only be produced by bacteria present in the small intestine, is measured. Your GP or gastroenterologist will interpret the results.

We know the following increase your risk of developing SIBO:

  • Aging
  • Alcoholism
  • Chronic antacid/PPI use (leads to gastric achlorhydria)
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Gastroparesis (slow emptying of the stomach)
  • GI infections 
Treatment is with antibiotic therapy for 14 days, followed by a repeat breath test and some dietary changes to address possible nutritional deficiencies and minimize symptoms.
The low-FODMAP diet is clinically proven to help manage IBS in around 70% of sufferers. Carbohydrate intolerance is common among patients with SIBO, and the Low-FODMAP diet may, therefore, be very helpful. Other possible treatment diets are based on anecdotal evidence and include GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome diet) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet).

As with all diets, the choice of which is best suited depends on the patient and should be personalized by your nutritionist.

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.