Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Healthy foods for the monsoon

After the scorching summer heat, the monsoon showers are welcomed by all. They bring down the temperatures, ensure lush greenery everywhere and are a blessing for our farmers and for us:-)

The smell of the wet earth immediately after a heavy downpour conjures up images of a steaming hot cup of pudina chai and yum pakodas…baked, fried or air-fried!!!

Eating the right foods this monsoon is very essential because the wrong foods can give you an upset stomach and keep you away from work or school or play. Here is a list of foods to eat during this season to ensure you stay healthy.

Lentils: Both moong dal and masoor dal are easy to digest. They provide sufficient amounts of protein and calcium and are also a good source of dietary fiber. Pressure cook and then temper these lentils with curry leaves, ajwain, jeera, garlic and juliennes of ginger. You can even cool the cooked lentils and puree them to convert them into a yummy soup!

Soups: Be wary of eating raw salads this season. Instead, pressure cook your veggies, puree them, add fresh herbs and tuck into a delicious and heartwarming bowl of soup. To add a twist, grill the veggies esp bell peppers and then make the soup.

Herbal teas and herbal infusions: Bring a liter of water to boil. Add a couple of cloves, a few strands of kesar, 2 green elaichi, 10 mint leaves and 5 tulsi leaves. Steep for 10 minutes and pour into a flask (you can strain out the herbs and spices if you want to) Add a few slices of lemon…your immunity booster is ready! Drink this through the day.

Herbs and spices: In order to boost your immunity and also to enhance digestion, incorporate garlic, ginger, peppercorns, green elaichi, haldi, jeera, tulsi and mint into your regular meals. They have anti-inflammatory properties, keep the flu, colds, and coughs at bay and also help in digestion.

Gourds: Up your calcium, magnesium and manganese intake during the rainy season with gourds like bottle gourd or white pumpkin ( doodhi or lauki), red pumpkin ( bhopla), pointed gourd (parwal), snake gourd, bitter gourd (karela), ash gourd (petha), apple gourd ( tinda), ridge gourd ( turia) and zucchini.

Millets: Nachni, jowar, and bajra are rich in calcium and iron so add these grains to your rotis, theplas, bread etc to strengthen your immune system and to keep infections away.

So have a happy and healthy monsoon!!!

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Snoring
When asked if they snore at night, most people say they don’t…and then the spouse pipes in “YES!!! Loud enough to wake the neighbors”. Snoring is a natural occurrence – something that happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. Plenty of people are the victim or the culprit of sawing logs all night long.

Just about everyone snores occasionally, and it’s usually not something to worry about. But if you regularly snore at night, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. Snoring can lead to irritability in both the snorer and the one lying awake because of the snoring. It has been the bane of many a happy marriage.
Snoring and sleep apnea are NOT the same thing.

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that should receive medical attention. Sleep apnea is typically caused by a breathing obstruction, which awakens the sleeper, at which point the person begins breathing again. Normal snoring usually does not affect the quality of sleep as much as sleep apnea.

Common causes of snoring:

  • Aging- As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower and the muscle tone in your throat decreases. 
  • Being overweight or not in shape- Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. 
  • The way you’re built- Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore…though women can still pack a punch !! A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. 
  • Nasal and sinus problems- Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
  • Alcohol, smoking, certain medications- These can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
  • Sleep posture- Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. 
Rule out sleep apnea and consult your doctor if you or your partner has noticed any of the following:

  • You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.
  • You stop breathing, you gasp or choke during sleep.
  • You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or a meal or 5 minutes after you get into your car…and you are driving!!
Tips to prevent snoring:
  • Side sleeping: If your snoring problem is minor, then just changing your sleep position might do the trick. 
  • Using SaCha’s TheraSpice Hot Compress: Simply warm the compress and keep it next to your pillow at bedtime. The herbs and spices in the compress prevent nasal congestion. Check our website www.goodhealthalways.in for more details
  • Drinking ajwain pani: Digestion plays a big role in our sleep patterns and indigestion can cause snoring. Eating large meals or having dairy or soy milk at bedtime can attribute to snoring. Drinking a glass of ajwain pani or a mug of ajwain tea after dinner can prevent snoring brought about by indigestion.
  • Ginger steam inhalation: The sinuses can obstruct the airways, causing the mouth to open and the uvula, to vibrate and create the annoyance of an all-night snore. A ginger stem inhalation will help prevent this.
  • Keeping your bedroom air moist: Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help.
  • Losing weight: Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease, or even stop, snoring. 
  • Quitting cigarette smoking: If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring. While quitting is easier said than done, it can bring quick snoring relief.
  • Avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives: They relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. 

So if you snore (be sure to ask your spouse/bedpartner/roommate…if you haven’t been informed already via a soft nudge or a hard kick) please do something to stop it…to help yourself and your partner live happily ever after

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Thursday, 17 May 2018

High Blood Pressure / Hypertension

Why does the doctor check your BP each time you visit him? Why is low BP or high BP such a big deal?

BP is a measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries, which carry blood throughout the body. High BP or hypertension is dangerous...a 'silent killer'… because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and contributes to hardening of arteries, or atherosclerosis and to the development of heart failure.

Symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision

Causes of high BP:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Too much salt in the diet
  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Old age
  • Family history of high BP
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid issues

Remedies:

  • Eat foods rich in potassium like bananas, watermelon, celery, parsley, mint, and coriander.
  • Eat seeds like pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, cucumber seeds and flax seeds...... unsalted!
  • Avoid salty foods and snacks including processed meats like bacon salami and ham, packaged soups,  wafers, sauces and pickles.
  • Relax, exercise, meditate...do whatever it takes to get your stress levels down.

“One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills” - Earl Wilson.

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Rosacea

A rosy glow on your face can be quite lovely, but when that hint of pink/red on the cheeks begins to become a permanent thing, you may be suffering from rosacea.

Rosacea is a very common skin disease that commonly develops during teenage years or someone’s 20's and they can become worse into the 30's or 40's. It often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. It causes redness on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Some people get little bumps and pimples on the red parts of their faces. It can also cause burning and soreness in your eyes. The redness can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. Even the ears, chest, and back can be red all the time. With time, people who have rosacea often see permanent redness in the center of their face.

Rosacea can cause more than redness. There are so many signs and symptoms that rosacea has four subtypes:

  1. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Redness, flushing, visible blood vessels.
  2. Papulopustular rosacea: Redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts.
  3. Phymatous rosacea: Skin thickens and has a bumpy texture.
  4. Ocular rosacea: Eyes red and irritated, eyelids can be swollen, and the person may have what looks like a sty.  

When it comes to skin flare-ups — whether from rosacea, acne, eczema, hives, or other conditions — usually there are some specific triggers that cause skin symptoms to emerge. It isn’t always possible to completely “solve” rosacea, but following the rosacea treatment suggestions below can limit your exposure to triggers that increase inflammation.

Identify any triggers in your diet- Since rosacea already makes skin sensitive, many people find that simply addressing the noticeable symptoms — for example, by using harsh chemical creams, prescriptions, light therapy and various lotions — actually winds up making skin symptoms even worse. For some people, these rosacea treatments can lower signs and symptoms, at least temporarily, but they don’t address the root cause of the problem.

Experts say stress is an important trigger of rosacea. Any measures to reduce stress levels will help prevent flare-ups and existing symptoms from getting worse.
Steps to reduce stress may include regular exercise, getting at least 7 hours of good quality sleep every night, and eating a healthy and well-balanced diet.
As vigorous exercise is often a trigger, patients with rosacea are advised to do low-intensity exercises, such as walking or swimming.
Yoga, tai-chi, breathing exercises and meditation may also help reduce stress.

Inflammation stemming from gut-related problems seems to be an especially important issue and the root cause of skin disorders. Your skin is ultimately a reflection of your overall health.
Since inflammation that shows up on your skin can be a clue that you’re experiencing inflammation in your gut, identifying food triggers is an important first step.

The best foods for treating rosacea: 

- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil, sesame oil ( in small amounts )
- Lean protein sources
- Anti-inflammatory herbs like oregano, mint, coriander, parsley, and celery

Foods to avoid: 

- Anything that may trigger allergies like mushrooms, certain lentils, egg whites etc
- Alcohol
- Caffeine
- Sugar
- Processed food
- Dairy products
- Fried foods
- Trans fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Friday, 4 May 2018

Brain Boosters

Wait…er…er…now what was I going to say? I forgot…Just give me a minute…it’s at the top of my head…or the tip of my tongue!!!

Does the food we eat have a bearing on our memory? If so, how can we increase our memory with food? Turns out that brain foods matter …especially for our grey matter 😊

In a culture based on overstimulation and multitasking, it’s no surprise that many of us have a hard time remembering things. Well, if you can remember to eat them, there are several memory superfoods that will keep you sharp as a tac! Here is a list of a mix of fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, oils and even chocolate…yes, you read that right... there is something to please everyone !!!

Fatty fish like salmon, rawas, rohu, katla, tilapia, mackerel/bangda, kingfish/surmai, hilsa, pomfret, sardines, and sea bass
  • Egg yolks
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Beetroots
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Green tea
  • Turmeric
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Coconut oil 
  • Olive oil
  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate

So please don’t forget (!) to add lots of these foods to your daily diet!

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Non-stick cookware …beware!

When non-stick cookware was first released in the market, people eagerly bought kadhais, frying pans, tavas, griddles etc. The non-stick coating was great for flipping parathas, frying eggs and making dosas. Its benefits included not having to scrape through burnt food stuck stubbornly in pans, being able to fry with less or no oil, faster cooking time etc. 

Non-stick cookware is coated with Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. Unfortunately, this contains a harmful chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which has been linked to some health conditions like chronic kidney disease, thyroid disease, heart disease and strokes, testicular cancer, liver disease, infertility, low birth weight infants etc.

Following widespread protests from consumers, all leading non-stick cookware brands including Teflon have been PFOA-free since 2013. So, Teflon generally is today considered safe. However, at temperatures above 300°C, Teflon coating on cookware begins to break down and release toxic chemicals. In fact, high temperature cooking for long hours can lead to ‘Teflon Flu’ or ‘polymer fume fever’ from inhaling all the gases emitted from your non-stick cookware. Symptoms include influenza with headaches, chills, and fever. Lung damage can also occur.

You can minimize your risk of exposure to harmful chemicals while cooking in non-stick cookware by using the following tips
  1. Don't preheat an empty non-stick pot, pan or tava. When empty, they heat up quickly, break down the coating (at a molecular level not visible to the human eye) and release harmful polymer fumes.
  2. Choose a heavy weight non-stick pan as opposed to a light-weight one which will heat up quickly.
  3. Cook on low or medium heat as against high heat when using non-stick cookware.
  4. Avoid broiling of food in non-stick cookware.
  5. Use wooden or silicon spoons when stirring food. Regular stainless steel spoons can scratch out the coating.
  6. Ventilate your kitchen by opening up windows or turning on an exhaust fan….to help clear any toxic fumes.
  7. Do not use steel wool or metal scouring pads to clean non-stick cookware.
  8. Do not stack non-stick pans one on top of the other…use a paper towel between them if you want to save space on your kitchen shelf or utensil cabinet.
  9.  Once the coating begins to chip or flake or peel or get scratched out, discard and replace immediately.
  10. Most importantly, if you cook with oil, be sure to clean off all the cooking oil after each use. Else layers of oil will build up, reducing the non-stick properties of your cookware. Sadly, if you vigorously scrub off the layers of oil, you will also scrape off the non-stick coating. An easy way out of this conundrum is to not use oil !!!
Personally, we use stainless steel pans and ceramic-coated cast iron cookware (Le Creuset)….expensive…heavy to handle while doing pot washing (which we do ourselves)…but really good to cook in. The ceramic coating is a better heat conductor and does not contain toxic chemicals. Traditional cast iron pans and stoneware (both of which have been seasoned well) and ceramic cookware are also good to cook in. Ceramic cookware is free of PTFE and PFOA.

How about you? Are you a fan of non-stick cookware?  Whichever cookware you choose to cook in, it is important to recognize that the way you cook and clean your pan can have as much or more of an impact on cookware longevity ( and your own longevity) than the coating itself !!!

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Monday, 16 April 2018

Dysthymia or High functioning Depression

When you hear about depression, you probably associate the word with people who are severely depressed, very sad, lonely and don’t even want to or cannot get out of bed. While that is definitely a form of severe depression, there is another type that is not often talked about…called dysthymia or high functioning depression.

What is Dysthymia? 

High functioning depression or dysthymia is a “depressed mood for most of the day, for more days of the month than not, for at least two years.” It includes the presence of two or more of the following symptoms:
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration 
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair

The uniquely tricky thing about high-functioning depression is that it’s hard to spot precisely because the people dealing with it look ‘normal’ from the outside like they’re in control of their lives and are holding it all together. 

In other words, someone struggling with dysthymia may still be able to get up and go to their demanding, prestigious job, be in a romantic relationship, post the believable smiley photos on Facebook and Instagram, regularly get together with their workmates for happy hour at a local bar and generally handle all the logistical adulting stuff of their life — passing for someone who doesn’t “look depressed.”

How do you know if you may be suffering from dysthymia? 
  • Inability or difficulty experiencing joy
  • Relentless criticality of self and others
  • Constant self-doubt
  • Diminished energy
  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Small things feel like huge things
  • Feelings of guilt or worry over the past and future
  • Relying on your coping strategies more and more
  • Generalized sadness 
  • Seeking perfection 
  • Inability to rest and slow down 

If you see yourself in these symptoms, it is important to seek help and not be ashamed of something that is actually quite common. 

The reality with high-functioning depression and moving through your days is that it can often feel like you’re attempting to build a huge castle on a foundation of quicksand.
Your kitchen has several ingredients that can help you cope.
  • Elaichi powder is an anti-depressant which when taken at bedtime with soaked strands of saffron and haldi powder will ensure that the symptoms of dysthymia decrease in intensity.
  • Star anise therapeutic water will up your energy levels. Please stop having this by 7pm so that your sleep cycle is not affected.
  • Khuskhus and nutmeg paste will help with sleep.
  • Eating a wide variety of different colored fruits and vegetables daily will ensure that your vitamin and mineral needs are adequately met.
  • Omega fatty acids, Fish oils, cold pressed coconut oil, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, cashews and almonds are all good to boost serotonin levels and to ensure that you ‘feel good’

Stay blessed with good health…always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza