Sunday, 30 October 2016

It's Halloween... a good time for some healthy pumpkin

It’s Halloween…the first day of a three-day observance of Allhallowtide; the second day being All Saints Day followed by All Souls day. So before you plan your costume parties, go trick-or-treating, or decide how to spook your friends, you have to carve jack o’lanterns from huge orange pumpkins. What better day then, to write about this nutrient-dense vegetable/fruit which is a veritable power-house of vitamins and minerals….and not just a Halloween decoration, or a pie filling for Thanksgiving.

Health benefits of Pumpkin
  • They contain good amounts of potassium which stabilizes blood pressure. In fact the daily consumption of this vegetable will bring down both systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure in just 12 weeks.
  • Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss  of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
  • They contain vitamin C which is good for improving immunity and also for providing an immunity boost during times of illness.
  • Their fiber content helps maintain proper digestive health and prevents constipation. It also helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time and keeps hunger pangs at bay.
  • The iron in pumpkins has been shown to boost fertility in females.
  • They are a good source of Vitamin A (beta carotene) and antioxidants which could augment eye health and help you see better in dim light, decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration and prevent other types of degenerative damage to the eye.
  • The beta carotenes in pumpkin reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer like cancer of the colon and of the prostate gland.
  • Beta carotenes also protect against asthma and help prevent heart disease. They also help form and maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.
  • The vitamin A in pumpkin (beta-carotene ) is  essential during pregnancy and lactation for the proper synthesis of hormones.
  • Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of nutrients and make an interesting, satiating snack. They are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body make serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter hormone that helps you relax and sleep better.
  • The zinc in pumpkin seeds helps improve sexual health and testosterone levels in males.
  • Pumpkin seed oil protects prostate health.

Consuming just one cup of cooked pumpkin daily will provide over 100 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin A !! Apart from this you will also get 20 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 10 percent  for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese, and at least 5 percent for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
So make a lip-smacking pumpkin curry or sabji, oven-roast cubes of pumpkin to make a hearty soup, add steamed and grated pumpkin to your rotis, theplas, parathas, raitas and salads, puree cooked pumpkin and combine it with herbs/ yoghurt to make an interesting dip or sandwich spread….you can even add it to a smoothie along with soymilk or coconut milk and some chia seeds. A pureed pumpkin face pack will provide an instant glow to your skin and fetch you many compliments.

Happy Halloween !!!

Stay blessed with good health .…always !!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Thursday, 27 October 2016

'chEATING OUT' this Diwali

Having cardiac disease, diabetes or trying to lose weight is hard enough. Trying to manage your cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels or weight during the festival season is sometimes harder. My patients often ask if they can have 'cheat days' when they can consume, albeit in moderation, one of their favourite foods. Something they can tuck into without it doing much harm to their cholesterol or blood sugar levels...or to their body fat percentage. It is indeed very hard for them when there is a special occasion and there is yummy but unhealthy food everywhere...and they can only eat the salad options. I tell them to indulge in moderation and then consume an additional amount of their spice mix. They have to remember that this does not give them 'carte blanche' to over indulge all the time. If you are not on the spice mix, have a tsp of cinnamon and fenugreek seed powder, increase your exercise activity and carefully monitor your blood parameters.

This guide should help you:

1 fried samosa- 25 min slope walking
1 serving sev puri- 30 min on the treadmill
1 serving chaat- 1 game of tennis
1 small packet of wafers- Climb up 8 floors
1 bowl popcorn- 15 min skipping
1 small bowl farsaan- 2000 steps in the balcony
1 serving fried pakora- 45 min cardio
1 batata wada- 30 min football
1 serving bhajia- 30 min zumba
2 slices veg pizza- 25 min bollywood dance
1 chocolate brownie- 1 hour treadmill
1 scoop of icecream- 40 laps in the pool
1 piece of burfi- 30 min spot jogging
1 ras malai- 2 games badminton
1 gulab jamun- 30 min jog
1 slice fruit cake- 100 jumping jacks
1 peg of whiskey- 1 hour brisk walk
1 pint beer- 80 laps in the pool
1 glass of wine- 1 game of squash
1 glass of iced tea- Climb up 10 floors

It is important to test your blood sugar levels post exercise and post indulgence.

Have a happy Diwali !!!

Stay blessed with good health….always !!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Thursday, 20 October 2016

20th October 2016- World Osteoporosis Day

The word "osteoporosis" means porous bones. When this occurs, the bones become so weak and brittle that even mild stresses like bending over to pick up a wallet, pushing a grocery cart in a food mall, or coughing, can cause a fracture.

Our bone strength is related to its mass or density due to minerals like calcium, phosphorus etc present in it. In osteoporosis, bone strength decreases as calcium, phosphorus and other minerals get depleted. Bone strength depends on an adequate supply of dietary calcium. Estrogen plays an important role in bone health by promoting bone growth.

Risk factors:

- Sex - fractures from osteoporosis are more common in women than in men.
- Age - the older the individual, the higher the risk for osteoporosis.
- Family history - having a close female relative with osteoporosis may increase ones risk.
- Small body frame - generally, the smaller the body frame, the thinner the bone.
- Lifestyle - smoking, consumption of too much caffeine and alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle all      contribute to bone loss.
- Early menopause
- Calcium deficiency
- Estrogen deficiency, which occurs at menopause, accelerates bone loss
- Certain medications like corticosteroids, drugs for asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis; too much   thyroid hormone can cause bone loss


- Ideally, calcium supplementation should be done during adolescence...a time when it is needed for  bone development.
- Beans contain phytates which prevent calcium always soak beans for 6-8 hours in  water, wash them well and then cook them.
- Opt for weight bearing physical activity or load bearing exercises which will strengthen your bones.
- Estrogen replacement therapy if opted for, should be monitored by the physician because of the  breast cancer and uterine cancer risks involved.
- Limit your sugar intake because sugar inhibits the absorption of calcium and depletes the levels of  phosphorus ( a mineral needed to absorb calcium)
- Reduce your sodium intake because excess salt can cause excessive calcium excretion through the  kidneys.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages because they leach out calcium from the bones and sap them of their  strength.
- Eat adequate amounts of calcium and its osteoporosis- fighting partner vitamin D3, which are  important for building bone mass in younger years and for delaying bone loss in later years
- Avoid drinking colas because they contain phosphoric acid which prevents calcium absorption.
- Do bone- building exercises like walking, jogging, stair climbing etc

Sources of dietary calcium:

1 cup plain dahi - 400 mg
1 cup milk - 300 mg
30 gms Swiss cheese - 270 mg
30 gms cheddar cheese - 205 mg
30 gms Mozzarella - 185 mg
100 gms paneer - 155 mg
75 gms tofu - 130 mg
90 gms salmon - 205 mg
100 gms sardines - 185 mg
100 gms papaya - 75 mg
100 gms orange - 50 mg
30 gms almonds - 75 mg

Stay blessed with good health….always !!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

12th October2016- World Arthritis Day

The theme for this year’s World Arthritis Day is ‘The future is in your hands, take action’.  We must encourage arthritic patients to take action daily and to live their life to the fullest, in the healthiest way that they possibly can.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases is not easy and can be physically and mentally crippling. The symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Arthritic joint inflammation causes joint stiffness, swelling, tenderness, redness and warmth in the affected area.

Regular exercise with the help of a physiotherapist, a healthy diet and the strong support of a family/friend group will go a long way in helping the patient enjoy a good quality of life and have better self-worth.

Improved medications now ensure that there is no longer as much joint damage, especially to the hands…something that would previously alert everyone that a person had arthritis. However, everyday tasks like opening a dabba of ghee, or buttoning a shirt, climbing a flight of stairs or even opening a strip of medicine can be challenging.

Unfortunately, there is no dietary CURE for arthritis….but you can add certain foods to your diet to ease the pain, fight the inflammation, strengthen your bones, boost your immunity and make you feel better.

You could try adding the following to your daily diet:-

- Haldi powder….add 1 tsp to your juice shot, smoothie, dal etc

- Amba halad.…grate and add to salads, chutneys, gravies etc

- Garlic….decreases the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes present in the cells.

- Olive oil and coconut oil….extra virgin, cold pressed….1 tbsp of each

- Precursors to vit D like dark green leafy veggies, dairy foods, eggs….to increase your bone  strength, enable the absorption of calcium and also boost immunity.

- Vit C-rich foods like oranges and lemons….prevent inflammation and maintain healthy joints and  cartilage.

- Soy protein….will prevent inflammation, Avoid if you have a hypothyroid condition.

- Fish….another anti-inflammatory food.

- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower….apart from vit K and vit C, they also have a  compound called sulforaphane which prevents the progression of osteoarthritis. Avoid if you have a  hypothyroid condition.

- Cherries and cranberries….for their anti-inflammatory effect, especially for those with gout and  high uric acid levels.

- Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, sunflowers seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds,  sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp etc….for their mineral content.

- Green tea….loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants, it can reduce inflammation and slow    cartilage destruction.

Stay blessed with good health….always !!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Monday, 10 October 2016

Pumpkin Seeds

Back in the day, the rich would use slivers of pistachio as a garnish for mithai while the poor would have to make do with pumpkin seeds.

These flat green seeds are one of nature’s most nourishing foods. Here is why :

- They contain high amounts of vitamin E, B-complex, magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Pumpkin seeds promote overall prostate health and alleviate difficult urination associated with an      enlarged prostate gland.
- They are an excellent source of tryptophan, the amino acid which is needed for good quality sleep  and for keeping anxiety and depression at bay.
- The B-complex vitamins in pumpkin seeds work as co-factors in the body to help reduce cholesterol  and enhance GABA activity which is also known to reduce anxiety and neurological disorders.
- Pumpkin seeds also contain anti-inflammatory properties which provide benefit for those that suffer  with chronic inflammation such as in sinusitis, arthritis, bursitis, and other autoimmune disorders.
- Pumpkin seeds have high concentrations of phytosterols that can help to inhibit the absorption of  cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract which ultimately can help reduce the bad cholesterol in the  body. 
- Since they are high in zinc, pumpkin seeds help to prevent kidney stones and osteoporosis. 
- They are a natural cure for tapeworms and intestinal parasites.

Roasted pumpkin seeds have a nutty flavor. You can easily roast them at home

- Cut a portion of red pumpkin and immediately pull out the seeds.
- Rinse the seeds in cold water and remove the pulp and fibrous strings.
- Place the seeds in a heated pan or on a baking tray if you wish to roast them in an oven..
- Add a tsp of oil and stir well to coat the seeds.
- Roast until they are crunchy, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent them from getting burnt.
- Cool and store in an airtight container.

Sprinkle these roasted pumpkin seeds on salads, add them to your breakfast cereal or porridge or hummus or dips or trail mixes, or mix them with figs apricots and dates to make your own healthy energy bars.

Stay blessed with good health ...always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza