Saturday, 27 February 2016

Healthy Kids are Happy Kids

Getting children and teenagers to take a liking for nutritious food is challenging. Children naturally develop an inclination for the foods they enjoy most, so the challenge is to make healthy choices appealing.

Healthy eating can boost energy, increase height, improve memory and concentration and enhance immunity. The amount children should eat depends on their age, appetite and activity levels.

 Breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. Oils and margarine should be consumed in small amounts while confectionery, soft drinks, chips and crisps should be avoided. It’s also important for children and adolescents to consume plenty of water as part of a balanced diet.

Keep fruits, vegetables, whole grain, snacks and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible, so your children become used to healthy snacking instead of gorging on junk food like soda, chips or cookies.

By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a positive impact on your child’s health and give them the best chance to grow into healthy, confident and happy adults.

Sports Nutrition for Children

Many a times this question pops up in the mind of parents of child athletes: What should my child eat and drink to gain a competitive edge?
Active kids and teens play football, cricket, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, and squash. They participate in the swimming and track teams and sometimes parents even send them to sports camps in the summer. Not only are they full of energy and incredible athletes in their own right but nothing can slow them down except for improper nutrition. Often parents are bombarded with nutrition facts which are confusing and thus they seem misinformed about what foods their child requires for good health and the demands of regular physical activity and athletic competition.

Focus on hydration: Dehydration leads to fatigue during exercise. To properly hydrate you need to drink all day. Athletes should have something to drink on them AT ALL TIMES to ensure balanced fluid and electrolyte levels. The more you sweat the more fluid you need to replace.
Low-fat chocolate milk has it all for proper post workout recovery: protein, carbs, fluid and electrolytes. If dairy isn’t an option, try chocolate soy milk.

Pick nutrient dense foods: Athletes need vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep those muscles pumping. Calcium, iron, Vitamins C and D, and B-vitamins can be found in dairy, fruits, veggies, breads and cereals. Pack high-carbohydrate, moderate protein, low-fat snacks such as energy bars, nuts, fruit, peanut butter and bread and fluids.

A pre-exercise meal is important to prevent hunger and to supply energy to athletes' working muscles. The night before competition and 2 hours before exercise: focus on carbs, moderate protein, low-fat foods and fluids (pasta with veggies and chicken, fruit, milk, cereal, yogurt, toast, juice).

Nutritious foods help to fuel physical activity and thereby help your child play their best. Healthy examples of foods for child athletes include: low-fibre cereal with milk and fruit; a energy bar with yogurt and a banana; a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread; a glass of milk and an apple. Opt for foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat, sugar and salt. Protein can also be included (just keep the overall amounts relatively small, as protein can be slow to digest). 


Your body's powerhouse your liver plays a key role in relieving digestive issues, such as a sluggish metabolism, gas, bloating, and constipation. It regulates blood sugar levels, which when out of balance can cause sugar cravings, fatigue, and fuzzy thinking.

Some super foods which could be included in your diet are:

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables: Green Veggies absorb environmental toxins, increase bile production and neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, which lowers the burden on the liver.
  2. Cruciferous Vegetables: Crucifers contain vital phytonutrients to help your liver neutralize chemicals. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and daikon, a root rich in phenolic compounds that could prevent the formation of carcinogen in your stomach in response to foods made with hydrogenated oils and sodium nitrite.
  3. Tea: Make yourself a nice cup of green or black tea. Brimming with antioxidants, they can help protect your body’s cells against damage and mutation. Green tea also contains a powerful antioxidant that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, while black tea can boost the immune system, lower the risk of stroke and may help prevent osteoporosis.
  4. Avocado: A vital source of monounsaturated fat rich in oleic acid. Avocados contain glutathione, which is an essential nutrient for liver health.
  5. Olive Oil: Organic oils such as olive, hemp and flax-seed are rich in phenols (the same anti-inflammatory compounds found in berries and apples) which are a great support for the liver. Daily consumption of olive oil supports the liver in decreasing oxidative stress in the body. A toxic liver can lead to inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and autoimmune diseases. Without a healthy liver, you may suffer from hormonal imbalances that can cause headaches, mood swings, and depression. So, don’t forget to nurture this amazing organ!


We are increasingly interested not only in what we eat and drink, but in how our diet might be affecting our general health and well-being. It has long been recognized that dietary deficiencies and imbalances can cause serious medical conditions. Remember the stories from your school days about sailors getting scurvy on long voyages, until an early nutritionist worked out that adding limes and lemons to their diet would eliminate the problem? That was nutritional therapy in action. Life span, health, immunity, energy, metabolism, complexion, strength, enthusiasm, mental and emotional clarity are all adversely affected by food.
Actually, you are what you digest and assimilate, and you become diseased by the foods that your body does not digest. People are plagued with many illnesses, primarily due to unhealthy dietary choices. Even those who have an interest in eating well are overwhelmed by the myriad of temporary popular views; these must be juggled with eating habits deeply ingrained in us from childhood. Here are some basic eating guidelines which have been tested and proved over thousands of years which we should try to cultivate in our eating habits
  • Do not confuse thirst with hunger. Many times people confuse thirst with hunger. Grab a glass of water before eating anything in between meals. You might be just thirsty and not hungry.
  • Try to eat at almost the same times every day for the digestive system to function efficiently.
  • Last meal should be two hour before going to sleep.
  • Sit down when eating and eat in a peaceful environment (that means no TV, reading, heated discussions, etc.).
  • There is a relationship between mood and food. People tend to eat wrong foods like brownies, chocolates, pizzas etc when emotionally upset. Try to indulge in some activity like dancing or cycling and distress your mind.
  • Don't over eat just because it’s tasty. Overeating causes problems like indigestion, acidity and creates toxins in the digestive tract.
  • As much as possible, eat fresh and seasonal foods.

These dietary changes may feel like sacrifices in the beginning, but your optimum health and longevity is worth it. In understanding why diet is such a factor in optimum health, we can stay inspired to make these lifelong changes and reap many benefits at all stages of life.

Let Food Be Your Medicine & Not Medicine Your Food

In today’s world of fatigue, stress, anxiety, migraines, heart disease, cholesterol, etc., the way we eat, how much we eat and what we eat matter. Good nutrition is considered a big part of a healthy lifestyle. The role of food and nutrition in health is a valuable tool that can support many medicines currently in use to rid people of the large number of diseases plaguing them today. A well-balanced meal is translating into smarter ways to eat for health.

Of course, all foods are functional because they provide varying amounts of nutrients and energy to sustain growth or support vital processes. However, a class of foods called Functional Foods, are generally considered to offer additional benefits that may reduce the risk of disease or promote optimal health. 

Some foods are said to be inherently functional foods, such as:
  • Green Tea, which has antioxidants, has chemo preventive effects.
  • Garlic which has sulphur therefore it has cancer chemo preventive, antibiotic, anti-hypertensive, and cholesterol-lowering properties
  • Dairy Products are one of the best sources of calcium, an essential nutrient which can prevent osteoporosis. They also contain probiotics which improves intestinal microbial balance.
  • Flaxseeds which contain omega-3 fatty acid reduce total and LDL cholesterol as well as platelet aggregation.
  • Tomatoes contain lycopene which is good for cancer prevention and has antioxidant properties.
  • Fish, particularly Salmon, contains omega 3 fatty acids, has cardio protective effect.
  • Fenugreek has active constituents like saponins, dietary fiber, amino acids, which help lower blood sugar.

Eating the right amounts of the food in the right combination and at the right time can give positive results and cater to your body needs in order to function optimally. One needs to ensure that they take the right guidance from a professional to know which foods are suited to their body and which are not.


Parents will always be concerned about their children. During the growing years, parents get apprehensive about issues such as immunity, height and eyesight. You can use some of these accessible foods in your diet which will make them stronger and healthier.


School going children tend to fall sick at times by catching some illness from school. Repetitive occurrences of falling ill cause the immune system to weaken.
Immune system boosting foods include: Mushrooms, almonds, wheat germs, yogurt, spinach, sweet potato, broccoli, etc. Some tips to make a healthier meal include adding wheat germ to flour to make chapattis; mixing sweet potato and spinach with potato to make cutlets.

Your height depends on your genes and can be altered by external factors, diet and exercise to a specific extent. The height is determined by the Human growth hormone (HGH) which is secreted by the pituitary gland. Certain foods are able to enhance the human growth hormone secretion which can also help to increase height.
A balanced diet inclusive of fish, eggs, milk, legumes, almonds, dairy products, sea foods, avocado, etc. are essential during adolescent years. Similarly foods like spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, peas, etc. are rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, chlorides, iron and manganese. For eg. Soya beans can be used to make cutlets or filling in kathi rolls can be really beneficial during the growing years as it is rich in protein.

Exposure to the TVs, Computers and mobile phones, weaken the eye sight of children. Eye problems left untreated can worsen leading to serious problems. A balanced lifestyle with lots of exercise and good nutrition can protect children from eye strain and related eye issues.
Foods rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, β Carotene, Lutin help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Spinach, broccoli, tomato, carrot, pumpkin, bell peppers, eggs and oranges can be consumed to improve the eye sight.

In today's world, children are plagued with digestive problems. Although digestive problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and even inflammatory bowel diseases can stem from a horde of reasons, ultimately it comes down to bad or irregular eating habits.

Foods like curds, buttermilk, yogurt (contains probiotics i.e. “good bacteria” which are good for the bowels) can be really beneficial for the digestive system. Natural laxatives like papaya, banana, spinach, and pear can be added to your diet to provide relief from constipation. Also water is a simple remedy to relieve your digestion and constipation problems, so make your children drink enough water every day.

Nutritional Guide for Marathon Runners

If you are taking a challenge this year, be it 10 k, 21 k or 42 k, whether you are first time runner or have been running marathon, getting a nutrition plan in place will help you complete the race not with just good run time but also fatigue and injury free. Right nutrition can fuel your run; get you better run time and reach the finish line without aches and pains.

Following points should be considered with regards to right nutrition:

1. Good Quality Protein: Good quality protein is important and integral part of training. Protein from egg whites, fish, and cottage cheese will not only improve your muscle but will also help you in recovering faster.

2. Small Frequent Meals: It is important to consider what you eat entire day. Small, frequent, nutritious wholesome foods will make sure you don’t deposit the food into fat but instead your muscle utilizes it.

3. Include Nuts & Seeds: Nuts like almonds, walnuts and seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, contain crucial mix of nutrients and are packed with health boosting compounds. They contain good quality of proteins and fats, which will energize the run and reduce inflammation caused during running.

4. Whey Protein: Make sure to have whey protein either in processed form or natural form within 15-20 minutes of run. Whey protein will help in recovering from training and will replace the amino acids that have been scavenged and thereby reduce the muscle breakdown.

5. Include Beetroot Juice Before Run: Including beetroot juice 2 hours before run increases the oxygen capacity and makes you run faster.

6. Don’t Have Cheat Meal After The Long Run: After the long run the body is in the phase of exhaustion. It is important to emphasize on recovery and fill the body with nutritious foods like cottage cheese, smoothies with fruits and nuts, soups with different colour vegetables etc.

Nutrition For Women

Women have different daily nutritional requirements to men. In terms of a balanced diet, there are some simple rules to follow like getting your five-a-day, including three servings of whole-grains and choosing more fish, poultry and less red meat while opting for low-fat dairy foods. The intake of the right kinds of foods provide women with plenty of energy, the means for lifelong weight control, and the key ingredients for looking and feeling great at any age.

What you eat has a major effect on your food cravings, your stress levels, and your energy throughout the day. By making smart food choices and developing healthy eating habits, you’ll find it much easier to stay slim, control cravings, and feel energetic all day long. One of the main ways to ensure you have an energetic day is by having a healthy and well balanced breakfast. In case you feel hungry during the day, snack on NUTS. Nuts are little nutrition nuggets – packed with essential fats, vitamin E and B vitamins. A small handful daily will give you energy and keep your hair and nails in good shape.

The two minerals that women tend to fall short on are: Calcium and Iron.

Bone up on calcium
Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. While dairy products are high in calcium, their animal fat and protein can accelerate bone loss. So also consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.

Iron your diets
Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.

Besides this, supplying the body with antioxidants and Vitamins (Mainly A, C and E) may be beneficial in relieving the results of oxygen stress in women and menopause symptoms.

Glossy hair, strong nails and glowing skin may be signs of a great beauty regime, but the importance of a great diet shouldn't be underestimated. 


is an endocrine disorder that prevents ovaries from releasing egg each month, resulting in cyst like formations inside or outside the ovaries. In simple words it is outcome of Hormonal Imbalance.

Type and severity of symptoms varies from person to person.
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods.
  • Excessive hair growth on the face, chest and stomach [Hirsutism].
  • Scalp hair loss [Alopecia].
  • Acne.
  • Darkening of skin around the neck and shoulder joint
  • Obesity and difficulty in losing weight.
  • Infertility or reduced fertility.
Right foods to manage PCOS:
  • Calcium, potassium and magnesium: These are needed for the production of insulin, egg maturation and follicle development in the ovaries. It also helps relieve period pain and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Calcium is abundant in kale, broccoli, spinach, and also in herbs like thyme, oregano and basil.
  • Potassium is needed for FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) production, insulin metabolism and energy production. It reduces PMS and assists in weight loss. Abundant in white beans, spinach, kale, potatoes, squash, avocados and mushrooms.
  • B - Vitamins: Green leafy vegetables are rich sources in all B-vitamins like B2, B6, which strongly alleviate PCOD symptoms. Sources are spinach, amaranth, methi, lettuce, asparagus, raddish, turnip etc.
  • Fruits: Anthocyanins result in insulin sensitivity and thus have a preventive action. Source for the same are cherries, plums, grape fruit, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and apple. These sources are low in Glycemic Index [GI] thus good option for snacking.
Strictly say NO to:
  • A diet high in sugar, directly affect the insulin levels and hinders ovulation, so avoid sugary desserts and refined carbohydrates like doughnuts, cakes, pastries etc.
  • Caffeine: Excess of this triggers the inflammation, affects the insulin which contributes to PCOD also interferes the production of Progesterone.
  • Alcohol: When consumed in excess places burden on liver function, causes inflammation that can impair glucose tolerance.
  • Processed Foods – Food additive, colors, chemical flavors and preservatives in ready to eat foods such as salami and ham stimulate certain fatty acids [Prostaglandins] that trigger inflammation.

Role of Vitamins in Human Body

Vitamins are essential nutrients that play a role in promoting health and preventing diseases. Everyone is aware of the importance of the vitamins for normal function of all the body system. Vitamins affect how our digestive system works, how our muscles work and grow, how good our eyesight is, how well our heart and nervous system functions, as well as how well our hair and nails will look. It is safe to say that only with appropriate and balanced level of the vitamins can we function properly.
When person considers need to take vitamin supplements, it should be primarily underlined that one should satisfy vitamin needs through healthy and well balanced diet. So, it is important to maintain good and well balanced food intake to satisfy nutritional needs in a natural way. Only in cases of certain situations or medical conditions there is need for supplementing vitamin needs for example for babies and preschool children, pregnant women or adults over 50.
Excess use of supplements:

Supplements are beneficial if taken in an appropriate dosage. High doses of Vitamins can cause toxicities that damage your liver, kidney and other organs and tissues in your body. There is no use of taking extreme doses of vitamin supplements and expect wonders. Even contrary, high dosages of certain vitamins can be harmful for person. Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc and Selenium are particularly toxic in high doses. Large amounts of Vitamin B6 and Fluoride also have harmful side effects. Taking more than 2000 mg of Vitamin C, for example, may cause diarrhea gastrointestinal problems, and is not recommended. High doses of Vitamin A can cause serious liver problems, and condition called fibrosis creation of excessive cell tissue.
Another important problem that can show up when person uses vitamin supplements is negative interaction with drug therapy that person must take. For example Vitamin D supplements can interfere with therapy for high cholesterol. In all cases when person is under therapy, it is necessary to consult physician before taking any vitamin supplements. In order to assure you are benefitting from the Vitamin supplements, it is also important to ensure to take them properly. It really makes a difference if one takes vitamins with room temperature water, instead of with hot or cold drink. It is also beneficial if person doesn’t have tea or coffee after taking vitamin supplements. Also, it is important to follow any instructions that come with supplements. For example, if instructions say to take vitamins after the meal, it is advisable to follow it. Only instructed use of vitamin supplements will assure its proper effect.   

Friday, 19 February 2016

Know your cooking oils.

While oil is an important ingredient in cooking, not many of us are aware that in our journey to good health, cooking oils play an important role. As much as we should know the healthy oils, it is equally necessary to know the oils to avoid. 

Though it may come as a surprise, there are good enough reasons to avoid vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, canola, soya bean oil and corn oil. We will tell you why!

Let us look at some of the important reasons to avoid these oils:
  1. Vegetable oils like canola, soya bean oil, corn oil, sunflower and safflower are genetically modified which makes them unhealthy. These oils are best avoided.
  2. What makes them unhealthy is - during the extraction process of these oils, the seeds are subjected to extremely high temperatures,that alters their chemical structure. This results in a complete loss of all the vital vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. It also negatively impacts the taste and flavour. To understand the bad influence of such cooking oils, it is important to know that fat is a major component of every living cell in our body, not merely fat cells as is commonly thought! Therefore the quality of fats in the food impacts the efficiency of body cells.
    To prove this, let us look at the way Canola oil is extracted, Canola oil is extracted from a toxic seed called rapeseed. Harsh chemicals are employed during the extraction process in a bid to make it healthy for the heart!
  3. Vegetable oils contain omega 6 fatty acids in increasing levels. Overdose of omega 6 results in inflammatory diseases in our body.
    There is an increasing risk of conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, heart diseases, asthma, IBS and Rheumatoid Arthritis with consumption of vegetable oils. Those with the condition could experience worsening of the condition if they continue to use vegetable oils.
Healthier cooking oil options:

Often, we have faced questions if oils from seeds or nuts such as groundnut or sesame are healthier than vegetable oils. To clarify,
  1. Groundnut, sesame and mustard oils, found easily in India,  have the right combination of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.Even though there is an evident shift towards canola, soya or rice bran, it is wise to use groundnut, sesame and mustard oils. The filtered varieties of these oils are recommended rather than the refined ones.
  2. Coconut oil is the magic oil for body, skin and hair. This is because of its unparalleled anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Research has also proved  that  consumption of coconut oil helps improve key risk factors like Total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, and offset heart disease.
  3. Tap into the unique fatty acid structure present in clarified butter or desi ghee, which is an option we wish to highlight. Desi ghee is a healthier option because it targets the obstinate fat from the body and helps mobilize it.
So it's time to take stock of the oils stacked in your kitchen cabinet and replace them with healthier options.