Monday, 30 October 2017

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

Tuesday, 24 October 2017


We are very aware nowadays that we share our existence with a plethora of microorganisms, not all of them friendly to the human body: bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. These microorganisms, which we call pathogens, are the cause of many diseases.

The lymphatic system plays an important role in the ongoing struggle to keep us healthy. Lymphocytes, the primary cells of the lymphatic system, contribute to our ability to resist infection and disease by responding to the presence of pathogens in our systems. They attempt to eliminate these threats through a combination of physical and chemical means. For this reason, lymphocytes are said to provide a ‘specific defence’, known as the immune response.

The efficiency of our lymphatic system in keeping us free of disease, through its interaction with the cells and tissues of our other systems, determines our level of immunity.

Although we associate cancer and HIV with auto-immune deficiencies, many other diseases fall into this category: Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, hemolytic anemia, lupus erythmatosus, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Raynaud’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, vasculitis, vitiligo, etc. Auto-immune deficiencies may be suspected in many other undiagnosed progressive deteriorations of health.
Causes of Imbalances:

Heredity, allergies, poor nutrition, environmental pollution and stress are all factors influencing the state of our immune system.

Effects of Imbalance: 

Enlarged lymph nodes, weakness and fatigue, skin lesions or red streaks on the skin, respiratory problems and allergies, recurrent or chronic infections, and candidiasis, are all signs of a weakened immune system.


A healthy diet from infancy is the best preventive measure one can take against immune system disorders. A poorly nourished, toxic body has no resources to fight back with, which is the reason we increasingly encounter autoimmune deficiency syndromes and other serious diseases such as cancer.

Low stomach acid, candidiasis, food allergies and hypothyroidism must be recognized and addressed to allow the body to heal itself.
Antioxidants, co-enzyme Q10, Essential Fatty Acids, vitamin E and zinc are necessary to support a strong immune system.

The lymphatic system does not have a pump to drain out toxins…you have to be that pump. So use a standing desk, walk as much as you can, jump on a trampoline, bounce while sitting on an exercise ball, use the sauna regularly, take a hydrotherapy shower by simply alternating between hot and cold water, get a lymphatic drainage massage, brush your body with a stiff, dry brush, breathe deeply……….to help pump and decongest lymphatic fluid from the entire body

On the psycho-spiritual level, we know that the immune system responds to our thoughts and emotions, either positive or negative. Sustained thoughts of anger, bitterness, hate or resentment tend to weaken the immune system. To support our immune systems, it is important to cultivate harmonious thoughts, open up to love and see the beauty around us.

Stay blessed with good health ….always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

'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

Friday, 13 October 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness annual campaign to raise awareness of the disease and to honour women at every step of their breast cancer journey.

The loop of pink ribbon which has become the symbol of breast cancer awareness has now reached its 25th year. Is wearing pink the only way to show support?

We can all do our bit to help and support, to walk alongside and hold the hands of our female/male (Yes breast cancer affects males too) relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances as they walk through their difficult journey of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Support that will help to reach the day (hopefully in the near future) when breast cancer has claimed its last life and is no longer life-threatening.

The 3 main risk factors are:
- Being a woman
- Growing older
- Having an immediate family history

If this applies to a vast majority of women, please ensure that you consult your physician and get the following tests done:

- Mammography
- CA 15.3
- Breast FNAC

Stay well informed, stay safe, stay blessed with good health...always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Bacopa Monnieri and Gotu Kola (Brahmi)

If you need help with enhancing your memory and cognitive ability, concentrating on the tasks at hand, promoting energy levels during the day and sleep at night, boosting libido, lowering stress and inflammation, improving the health of your hair and nails and most importantly, balancing your hormones as well as your emotional state….. then Herb of Grace / Waterhyssop is what you need. Before you go scurrying for this herb and its Hindi name, let us help- it is Brahmi, the herb with a range of therapeutic benefits which you should incorporate into your daily meal plan.
Both forms of Brahmi- Bacopa monnieri and Gotu kola are mind and heart tonics and have amazing effects on the nervous system. While Bacopa monnieri helps with mental issues caused by stress and exhaustion, Gotu kola helps in mental aggravations and emotional turmoil. If constipation brought on by stress is your health issue, then opt for Bacopa monnieri. If you want to relax your mind and slow down the effects of aging, then Gotu kola is what you should use.
Brahmi has the ability to reduce the onset of cognitive disorders as we age, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It helps keep our minds sharp well into our dotage.

Use Brahmi in the following ways:

Chew on 2-3 Brahmi leaves SOS, to relieve stress and induce a feeling of calmness.
Rub Brahmi leaves on affected body parts, to reduce swelling, skin irritation and inflammation associated with arthritis, gouty uricaemia etc
Brew a few Brahmi leaves or 1 tsp of Brahmi powder in water, to boost immunity, relieve upper respiratory infections, liquefy phlegm, decongest the nasal pathway and provide antioxidants.
Apply the juice of a few Brahmi leaves on your skin, to speed up wound healing, disinfect your skin and reduce scars and pigmentation.
Have 1 tsp Brahmi oil/extract with 1 tsp cinnamon powder, to help control blood sugar fluctuations.

A Word of Caution:

Like any other herbal supplement, long-term use of Brahmi is not encouraged. It should only be used SOS when you need it to alleviate a certain symptom or illness. Avoid its use if you suffer from low blood sugar, very low pulse rate, chronic asthma and recurrent urinary tract infections. If you wish to use a tsp of it regularly as a mood enhancer and memory booster, be sure to discontinue its usage for a fortnight after every 2 months.

Stay blessed with good health ….always!!!

Warm regards,

Charmaine D’Souza