Good Health Always with Charmaine is a blog by Charmaine D’Souza, who is a nutrition and health consultant with more than 25 years of experience in assisting clients who are interested in improving their health and general well-being through better nutrition and healthy changes in their lifestyle.
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:-
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
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 !!!
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.
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!!!
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.
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)
Collagen vascular disease
Small bowel diverticular disease
Small bowel structuring disease (e.g. Crohn's, NSAIDs)
Common symptoms overlap with those of IBS and include:
Nausea & vomiting
Vitamin (esp. A, D, E, K & B12) & mineral (esp. calcium, iron, magnesium) deficiency
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:
Chronic antacid/PPI use (leads to gastric achlorhydria)
Gastroparesis (slow emptying of the stomach)
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.
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!!!
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