Part 1: Understanding Menopause

Hi Friends

Happy Friday! How are you all?

Today’s post is something that I have recently researched a lot on. One of my close friends is undergoing a ‘surgical menopause‘ (due to ovarian cyst) and the sudden stopping of hormone supply in her body has left her very disturbed: physically and mentally. The symptoms associated with menopause is what makes the word itself scary, to me and I am sure, to everyone else.

I am a strict follower of the notion that most of our life-problems can be cured/reversed/prevented/managed/maintained through suitable nutrition combined with some lifestyle changes (which invariably includes physical fitness). This belief led me to read and research more on menopause and related things – which I now want to share with you.

I am sure it is important for women to know what to expect so as to cope better when menopause happens. And it is equally important for men too , in order to be supportive when it happens.

First, What Is Menopause?

Menopause is the final period for a woman which occurs when ovaries stop producing the governing hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. It is considered confirmed when no periods happen for 12 consecutive months.  It is not a reversible process.

I have seen many friends and family members including my mom, go through it and experiencing a lot of discomfort, due to it all.

Did You Know?

Like the start of periods, to predict someone’s menopausal age, it is often said to look at the mother. The daughter is more likely to get both – periods and menopause, at the same age as her mother. So, genetics works yes. Do you also know that ‘genetics’ can be changed by nutrition and physical fitness? But more on that, some other day!

Types/Causes of Menopause

  • Naturally Occurring – Most common form, natural menopause happens between the age of 40 to 58. It happens gradually over a period of years – ranging from 4 to 10 years
  • Premature Menopause – Happens before the age of 40, premature menopause is considered abnormal and is often associated with autoimmune disorders as well as increased risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Induced Menopause – Happens when ovaries get injured in some way or with chemotherapy, radiation or a surgery. Induced or surgical menopause is sudden and the symptoms could be intense, as you are left unprepared

Other Associated Terms

  • Perimenopause – starts happening in 40s commonly. Might induce weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods etc. Since menopause doesn’t happen overnight normally, the ovaries gradually decrease the production of hormones. This gradual process can take several years and is often referred to as menopausal transition, average being 4 years. Some months, the hormone production could be normal, in some not so normal. However, many women do not get any symptoms till actual menopause
  • Premenopause – no changes or symptoms per say, just a gradual shift in the body/hormones
  • Postmenopause – means the period after menopause

Menopausal Symptoms – Different for every woman and ranging from mild to severe, menopausal (or perimenopausal) symptoms include:

  • Lighter and irregular periods in general
  • Hot flashes/flushes – ranging from moderate to severe, these could also bring anxiety or heart palpitations/racing heart issues. Lasting for 1-5 minutes and can occur once every day….to many per day!
  • Vaginal dryness – due to a lack of oestrogen, the walls lose moisture as well as volume and become dry, getting easily irritated
  • Dry skin, mouth and eyes
  • Disturbed sleep, insomnia, night sweating etc
  • Emotional symptoms – anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • Weight gain – especially in waist region, this type of weight gain is quite unhealthy and increases the risk of heart concerns
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Tender breasts
  • UTIs and urinary-inconsistency
  • Headaches
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Hair thinning/loss on head
  • Joint pains

The first thing to do when one start experiencing menopausal or premenopausal symptoms, is to see a good gynaecologist. When I say good, I mean someone who would be patient enough to explain everything and answer all our queries. It is a taxing time for women – physically and mentally, both. A difficult or ‘too busy’ doctor would be the last thing we would want, right?

There are various tests to confirm the menopause process which the doctor might suggest. Also, you already might be on certain medications or might require additional investigation for let’s say, thyroid etc.

In The End

Menopause is simply a part of the process of getting older, not a disease. The good news is that in naturally occurring menopause, most women do not require any medical treatment. One can always discuss hormone-replacement therapies and other medication (for severe symptoms) as well as supplements (calcium/D3 etc) with their gynaecologist, if needed.

One would also benefit greatly with certain lifestyle changes such as a good, balanced diet, meditation and some sort of physical activities. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol-intake helps too. Some strength-training would be great as we start losing muscles as well as have weaker bones now. Make sure to talk to a mental health expert in case you face any sort of stress that you feel unable to cope with, on your own.

This was all for today’s post on the basics of menopause. In the next post, let’s discuss various things/changes and foods (including phytoestrogens) that might help with the menopausal/perimenopausal symptoms once you are through with your preliminary visit to the gynaecologist in this regard.

Meanwhile if you are interested in understanding olive oil and various facts/myths associated with it, do keep checking my Instagram stories.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 2: How To Fix Gut-Health

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all?

Today’s post is going to be a small one for two reasons – one, I have a test due in the next couple of days. If you remember, I am currently pursuing an advance course in nutrition from a renowned American institute which once completed in next 5 months, would enable me to work professionally as a “Health Consultant“. I very much look forward to work with my clients on their overall health, strength, fitness & nutrition! And if you want a flat belly or even abs…at whatever age, gender and even after multiple pregnancies, we can work on it too! As long as you are ready to put some work in it 🙂


a little shady shot from last month

Second, my last post on Part 1: gut-health, covered most of what I wanted to say on this certain topic. If you missed it, do read it first here. It would talk about why is taking care of gut-health important…some facts that would convince you to do so if you are not doing it already…how to know if your gut is healthy (or unhealthy)…what causes the imbalance etc

The good news is that it does not require a lot of effort on your part to take care of gut-health. It generally takes care of itself if you are taking care of your diet and health in general which we should any which way. If you are physically active and follow a good, balanced diet…your body is self-equipped to take care of its gut-health, on its own.

However, if you smoke or have been on antibiotics a lot…or feel your diet isn’t good enough…or going through some sort of stress…. or already have some symptoms of unhealthy gut (refer last post for these), worry not. If you are willing to make a change, it is easy and takes only a 2-4 weeks to get your gut-health back to good, to a lot of extent!

What Can I Do To Fix My Gut?

Before you read further, do know that it is not a choice or ‘pick a few’. We need to follow most of the below-mentioned points, to the best of our capabilities:

  • Eat well – Eat whole grains, whole fresh fruits and veggies (with peel/skin whenever possible), nuts, beans etc. Fermented foods are good for gut-health too e.g. kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, plain yogurt or even our own curd! And foods rich in polyphenols (micronutrients from plant-based foods) such as cocoa, broccoli, green tea, almonds, blueberries etc. Eating food slowly and chewing it well, helps too
  • Limit sugar and processed foods – Not only are these bad for our health in general, these also cause gut-imbalance. Even artificial sweeteners! Keep your diet high in fibre for friendly bacteria to thrive
  • Maintain good dental hygiene – There is a direct link between good dental hygiene and our gut health. So, apart from daily brush/floss, it is important to get regular dental check-ups done. Bacteria from our mouth can get into our stomach and cause harm
  • Stay physically active – One way or the other, you gotta do it!
  • Avoid smoking – not just our lungs and heart, smoking is injurious to our gut-flora also
  • Drink alcohol moderately  
  • Stay hydrated – Drink around 3 litres of water a day as it helps intestinal mucosal lining. Check my previous post on hydration, if you want
  • Sleep adequate– Get enough sleep, not less than 6-7 hours a day. One can always seek medical advice if sleep still evades
  • Bust stress – Easy said than done but let’s try our best! Getting proper sleep, going slow on caffeine, staying active physically, a healthy diet and meditation etc help generally. Spending more time with family, friends and pets or doing what one loves is helpful too
  • Take a probiotic and a prebiotic – Other than foods already mentioned in point 1 and 2, one can take probiotic and prebiotic supplements, if needed. In case you wish to know more about probiotics and prebiotics, do read the previous posts at the hyperlinks. For natural sources of prebiotics, add bananas, onions, garlic, chicory, peas, beans, legumes and whole grains to the diet
  • Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics – We do tend to take antibiotics at the smallest ailment, don’t we? Thankfully, most doctors today too, advise and prescribe non-antibiotic treatments

Hope you liked today’s post. See you next Friday! Do join me on Instagram on the link below for more such health/nutrition related stories and trivia.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Love, Health & Peace

Part 1: Gut Health Is Super Important

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all? What is your gut feeling about the covid-19 vaccination? Soon or not so soon?

Ever wondered why we say gut feeling? Gut here means our intestine, colon or large intestine more specifically. Since when our intestines feel or say anything, leave alone predicting anything? Ever wondered? Actually, it has something to do with our gut-health. In this first part today, let us know more about the importance of a healthy gut.

Why Is A Healthy Gut Important?

Do you know that our gut-microbiome is made up of around 100 trillion microorganisms of 300-500 species, consisting of bacteria, viruses or fungi? Almost like a vital organ in itself, it would be very difficult for us to survive without these micro-organisms. These start affecting us as a newborn baby and eventually, we become more bacteria than human! Am not exaggerating! We have around 30 trillion human-cells in our body and 40 trillion bacteria cells.

For ages, it was believed that our intestine is a simple organ that just helps in bowel-management and digestion of food. However, it is much, much beyond that. It is also complex eco-system of micro-organisms and there is so much happening in our guts with so many little bacteria living inside and doing so much of chemical actions and reactions…all the time! It impacts:

  • Digestion including effective digestion of breast milk in newborns
  • Prevents stomach aches, bowel disorders, bloating and cramps etc
  • Digestion of fibre which in turn controls weight loss, diabetes, blood pressure etc
  • Protection of Gastro-Intestinal barrier i.e. intestinal-lining, thereby preventing ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut syndrome, in short, can be held responsible for breast cancer, obesity, chronic fatigue and depression etc
  • Immunity – by protecting us from infections from foreign bacteria, fungi and virus. In fact these gut-bacteria make up for more than 75% of our immune system! The better your gut-health is, the better your immunity would be!
  • Weight management and metabolism regulation
  • Blood sugar management
  • Heart health
  • Cholestrol management
  • Brain and nervous system health – Gut-bacteria produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate moods, memory and other learnings
  • Hormones
  • Sleep
  • Prevents some cancers and auto-immune diseases
  • Destroying of harmful bacteria
  • Production of vitamin K, folate and short-chain fatty acids

Did You Know?

Our friendly bacteria in the gut, make 95% of our body’s supply of serotonin. Serotonin is also called ‘Happy Hormone’ as it makes us feel well and happy. Happiness in the gut, really?

Our brain and intestine are deeply interlinked. If one is in trouble, the other gets affected. Our gastro-intestinal tract is sensitive to all our emotions. Have you ever noticed that you feel nervous, feel like throwing up or have ‘butterflies in stomach’ before a big presentation or performance? Or when you are stressed out, you get a heartburn?

How Do I Know If My gut Is Healthy?

If you suffer from one or many of the below, you might want to take better care of your gut-health:

  • Frequent or chronic stomach-upsets such as diarrhea, bloating, constipation etc
  • Frequent heartburns or stomach aches or nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Sleep issues
  • Frequent colds and low immunity in general
  • Skin conditions such as eczema etc

How Does It Get Imbalanced?

Our gut health gets negatively affected by our diet and lifestyle such as;

  • A high-sugar diet
  • A limited diet which does not have much of whole foods and whole grains. The diversity in food is important to have a healthy gut-flora. The diverse we eat, the diverse the bacteria grow
  • A lack of probiotics in diet
  • Eating too much processed food
  • Due to use of antibiotics – Antibiotics do not differentiate between good and bad bacteria. While they kill bad bacteria, good bacteria are lost too. The effects could last for a couple of weeks…to two years!
  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Lack of physical activity – People who are physically fit and active have more butyrate (a short-chained fatty acid) produced in body which is important for gut health
  • Smoking
  • Lack of good sleep
  • Stress

In my next week’s post, we shall discuss how we can take care of our gut-health, now that we know how important it is.

The good news is that it is not that hard to take care of our gut health. A little effort on our part can have a tremendous impact on our gut-health and our overall health. It is just that we were never taught to take care of our gut-health in particular, the way we are told to take care of our cardiac health or diabetes or even weight loss.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Arsenic In Our Rice

Hi friends, how are you all? Hope all good.

As for me, I feel a little restless for the last few days. The time that we live in today, seems like a very disappointing situation to me especially since I read about arsenic in our rice. I mean, we keep reading about even worse stuff all the time…animal cruelty and exploitation of natural resources etc but there is some feeling of betrayal with the issue of arsenic in rice and say, if you still remember, in salt a few months back when found with high levels of potassium ferrocyanide? Don’t you feel disappointed too?

We humans, in our greed and carelessness over decades, have altered so many natural processes in our bio-environment and that too with huge long-term impacts that direct and indirect effects/consequences  are coming back to haunt us eventually.

Whole life-cycles have turned dangerous for many things…what we thought was a simple nutritious thing like rice, has become a major cause of concern now! Things have become so complicated these days…with genetically modified fruits and vegetables…to waxed produce…to cyanide in food, to lead in noodles…to the supermarket shelves full of refined products…to the various scams of misinformation on the labels, it is no wonder that most of us end up with low immunities and unexplained allergies as well as all kinds of diseases.

At first I thought this ‘arsenic in rice’ issue is just a shocker (plenty of those come, from time to time!) and half-baked information to scare us but the more I read, the more I realize it’s true and scarier in reality. Imagine we Indians start the food for a baby when she/he turns 6 months, with rice-milk kheer/pudding!

What Is Arsenic?

No doubt that Arsenic is a highly toxic trace element. It is naturally present in many forms in air, water and soil but today, the levels are alarmingly increasing beyond ‘safe’ levels due to increasing pollution, mostly through pesticides/herbicides that we spray on our crops. Its various forms can be divided into two categories:

  • Organic Arsenic – combined with carbon, found in plants and animals both
  • Inorganic Arsenic – not combined with carbon but with other elements, inorganic is the more toxic form. It is often found dissolved in water and in soil

Did You Know?

Arsenic is naturally present in most food and the water that we drink, all over the world. Some places the levels are low and at some, serious enough. Most seafood also contain the less toxic organic form of arsenic.

In general, arsenic leaves human body in a few days but inorganic arsenic tends to remain even for months, making it a concern.

How Does It All Start With Rice?

Rice is a staple food for Indians as well as many communities, all over the world. Rice is more prone to accumulate arsenic because it grows in water-filled fields, or rather polluted water fields! Rice crops absorb more water in general and the contaminated water as well as the soil (over time) make it worse!

And this arsenic is the more toxic one i.e. inorganic arsenic. This arsenic enters the food-chain through this contaminated water and gets accumulated in the plants and eventually in us humans as well as other animals (read meat).

Not just rice, it also passes on to the widely available rice-based products such as baby food, rice cereals and rice syrups etc.

Where Does This Toxic Arsenic Come From?

Majorly through human activities (not surprisingly!) such as herbicides/pesticides, fertilizers, wood preservatives, coal burning, industrial waste and mining etc. Not just leeching into our crops etc, it also contaminates ground water such as water-wells and irrigation water etc

This inorganic arsenic is highly toxic and frequent exposure to it may cause many fatal diseases such as cancer (lung, skin and bladder mostly), high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes and various neurological disorders. The worst part is that a fetus can get affected before she/he is even born. Even a baby, with so little of body weight is more vulnerable to the levels of arsenic in her/his food.

Small doses can cause headaches, stomach aches, drowsiness, confusion and diarrhea etc.

What Can Be Done?

It is practically impossible to test and certify every bag of rice or a rice product though it needs to be done now. Till then, we need to take things in our own hands:

  • Make sure you eat a varied diet and not just rice all the time. This would decrease your exposure to the arsenic in rice. In fact, eating a balanced and varied diet is always advised, arsenic or no. Amaranth, buckwheat and millet have almost zero arsenic content and barley has very low levels. Quinoa has much lesser than rice. Oats is good choice too
  • Wash the rice in clean, filtered water before cooking. Though this reduces the arsenic contamination by a small percentage only
  • While cooking, make sure you first leave the rice in clean filtered, boiled water for 5 minutes in 6:1 ratio, 6 being water. Throw this water after 5 minutes and cook the rice normally (like we do pasta). This might reduce the arsenic content by around 60%. Though it would reduce nutrition also. You see why I feel betrayed?
  • Some studies suggest that basmati rice has relatively lower arsenic content. In this sense, we Indians are luckier than most!
  • Brown rice has been found to have more arsenic content than white rice as the arsenic gets accumulated in the bran. And we thought brown was better than white because of this bran!!
  • Do know that it doesn’t matter much whether your rice is organic or wild or red, in terms of arsenic contamination as it comes from the soil/water which can retain inorganic arsenic for more than 50 years
  • Veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, kale etc are found to help with better toxin flush-out in our bodies as they contain a compound called sulforaphane
  • Work on your gut-health
  • Some brands already do (hopefully more would start now) publish on their product-labels, their independent testing for arsenic levels
  • Be very careful while choosing rice and rice-products for babies as they have less body weight
  • People who are on gluten-free diets need to be all the more careful if their gluten-free diet is rich in rice

In The End

The only solace in this whole arsenic-rice saga is that arsenic is water soluble and hence leaves our bodies in a few days if our exposure is limited. We can adopt a cooking method which would remove a lot of contamination. Also a varied diet with more grains etc, can reduce our risk.

And very important, as humans let’s work in some way, in our own capacity to keep our planet a little safer by being more vigilant and thoughtful. Hard and inconvenient but there is no easy way, is there?

Hope you found today’s post relevant and useful. Do share around to your friends and family. Join me on Instagram on link below:

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Carbs: Good or Bad?

Hi Friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Did you use the BMI-calculator that I put in my blog-post, last Friday? Did you fall in the Asian normal (or even western normal) range? If you did, great! Keep doing whatever you are doing.

If you didn’t fall into the normal healthy range, please start with some lifestyle modifications at the soonest so that you can nip any weight-related diseases/illnesses, in the bud only.

If you already are in early stages of any lifestyle-related disease or illness, don’t worry. If you take care now, majority of them are either reversed or easily managed. Don’t underestimate human body or nutrition!

I keep on writing about various things that one can do and about many others that we can take care of through our diets, to achieve our health and fitness goals. Whether you want to feel/look great or you simply want to manage certain medical issues, there is no easy way around. You have to start…and stay consistent. However, the good news is that it isn’t that hard either! You just need to give it 3 months and these good habits would take care of themselves after these initial three months. Why? You would know on your own, just try. It’s magic!

And when you do start to make lifestyle/diet/fitness related changes, make sure that you don’t treat the precious carbs as your worst enemies! Carbs or carbohydrates, are vital to us. They are the primary fuel-source for our body and our bodies are designed that way only. Any other way is neither natural nor sustainable for long!

What Exactly Are Carbs

One of the basic food groups (or macronutrients), carbohydrates are the sugar, starch and fibre component of any food that we eat. Almost every food that we eat has carbs in it.

In our body, sugar and starch is broken down for glucose, for energy. In human body, glucose is the main source of energy. This energy is required for our body to perform all daily activities. Each single cell, each of the vital functions of the internal organs as well as daily voluntary or involuntary actions that we do, need energy.

Dietary fibre doesn’t get broken down in our body however is needed for gut-bacteria as well as our digestive health.

Carbohydrates are divided into 3 types:

  • Monosaccharides – are simple sugars e.g. glucose. Other types of monosaccharides are galactose and fructose
  • Diasaccharides – When two monosaccharides form a bond e.g. lactose, maltose, sucrose
  • Polysaccharides – A long chain of monosaccharides e.g. starch, cellulose, glycogen etc.

Simple carbs are naturally present in fruits, veggies, milk, honey, white sugar etc as well as in the form of additional sugars that is added to most processed foods. Foods rich in starch and fibre can also be referred to as Complex carbs.

Now, coming to how carbs got a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss. We can divide carbs in two categories: good carbs and bad carbs, for the ease of understanding and to simplify it all.

Good carbs are present in high-fibre foods and our body takes a longer time to break them down. Examples of good carbs are – whole grains, products made of whole grains, vegetables and fruits (with the peels/skin whenever possible).

Foods that have a low fibre content are generally called bad carbs. Some examples are – white bread, white flour products, bakery items, cookies, fruit juices etc

Good Carb Sources

Not all carbs are same! However, one would not need to count carbs if one eats a diet full of whole veggies, whole fruits, legumes and whole grains. The fibre content makes all the difference, be it the soluble or insoluble kind.

Would I Gain Weight If I Eat Carbs?

As a person specializing in nutrition, I would not think of food – for weight loss alone or in terms of carbs only. Neither should a person interested in weight loss. It also is about the other nutrients that we get from the food that we eat. And carbs are NOT the “cause” for your weight gain!

Yes, too much of sugar can result into fat-deposits in our body but one can’t blame the entire food group ‘carbohydrate’ for it.

Personally, I never measure carbohydrates in my own daily diet. It is more about calories and nutrition, to be honest. Fibre is super important. As long as I am eating a well-balanced diet which has all the macronutrients including fibre, I am good. Same goes for everyone else!

Any diet which is low-carb might give you a jump-start in your weight loss plan however it is not sustainable in long run. Diets which are low-carb and high-fat, should be taken with proper care as the presence of unhealthy fat/oils in such foods might cause heart diseases later.

For long-term, our best bet is to stick with a balanced diet with everything in moderation. Diets rich in whole grain, veggies and fruits are the best and easiest to follow. They are nutrient-rich and are easily sustainable as well as enjoyable.

I hope that with this post today, you would know that carbs are vital for us and to cut them off completely, would be a bad idea. Rather stick to moderation and remember one thumb rule, “fibre is good”. Do join me on Instagram for many more mini-blogs and nutrition/health info in my daily stories!

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

The Very First Step To Health: BMI

Hi Friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Hope all healthy and happy.

As for me, it has suddenly become a little more hectic (never thought it could become any more hectic but hey, what do we know?) because of my nutrition classes. I swear I have started having serious time-lapses on weekends now. When I am studying, I don’t even realize where the three hours went by and once I finish, it’s like I am three-hours behind everything! I stay disoriented for a long time and it’s not exactly pleasant!

The first thing we learnt in our first class, was how to assess a person’s current health before we start a diet and fitness regime for her/him. The first tools are BMI and body fat content, among a few others. Most of us have at least heard of the term BMI. Today’s post elaborates upon it some more and if you didn’t know about it, here we are.

What Exactly is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a way to measure body fat based on certain factors – such as weight and height.

Though not an absolute indicator of health and fitness, BMI still provides a good insight into it. For a normal adult person, male or female, BMI gives a good enough start to assess the health and risks associated with non-normal BMI ranges.

Why is BMI important?

BMI is a useful indicator and tells us whether we are at risk for many diseases. Once we understand the risk, we can work on our nutrition and lifestyle to lower the risk. We can consider BMI as a “risk-forecast” for our body and health!

BMI, waist circumference (to assess abdominal fat content) and assessment of various risk factors such as smoking and concerns related to obesity…combined together, can give us a fair idea of what’s wrong with our bodies, how we can prevent any further damages as well as their management, even reversal of a few!

Risks of What?

Type 2 diabetes (high blood glucose), blood pressure (hypertension), arthritis, cholesterol issues (high LDL and low HDL), cardiovascular diseases and many other obesity-related diseases as well as certain cancers.

Worldwide, people with BMI equal to or higher than 30 are considered obese and these people need to immediately start working on lifestyle correction including weight loss. Same goes with overweight people (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9). They also need to work on weight management to lead a healthy and active life, free of obesity-related complications.

Did You Know?

For Asians including Indians, the indicators are different as we are more vulnerable genetically, to cardiovascular and obesity-related diseases and disorders.

What Can Be Done?

Even a little weight loss means a lower risk of contracting diseases related to obesity. With a calorie-appropriate diet and some physical fitness activities included in the lifestyle on a regular basis, one can work on lowering BMI and other parameters. Consistency is the keyword here.

The ideal would be to stop ourselves and take a control of our health much earlier. Don’t wait, use the adult calculator-link below and a get an estimated BMI for yourself, right now. If it falls in a normal/healthy range, you can work on keeping it that way. If it falls in any other slab, start immediately on preventing any further damages to your health. Do note that for kids, the calculator is different.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

Please consider consulting your doctor or dietician in case you get a non-normal BMI read today.

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

The Palm Oil Story

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you doing? I hope a lot better than last month! At least, now all the items in our grocery list are available, online as well as offline. One can happily go back to the brands or types of products one is used to. I am very grateful that the brand of peanut butter I use is again available online. I am also very grateful that I am now able to make my own blend of wholegrain-multigrain atta/flour, once more.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to make rotis from the packaged atta/flour. Once you get used to eating rotis made of your own blend, you simply can’t enjoy them any other way! Same with peanut butter. The store-bought ones just don’t cut it anymore for me. And for good, I say.

Anyways, today’s post isn’t about peanut butter but palm oil. I am sure you have heard already that palm oil is not good to use but hardly a few know why.

What Exactly Is Palm Oil

Among all types of cooking oils that we use, palm oil is probably the one we would never consider using, in our kitchen even if it is the most-used oil commercially.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruit of African oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis. These trees are native to Africa however, are now grown extensively in Asia, North America and South America as the oil is much in demand everywhere today. Palm oil greatly contributes to the GDP of the producing countries. Indonesia and Malaysia make up for 85% of global palm oil supply today.

It is extensively used in most commercial food products be it ice-cream, doughnuts, toothpaste, cosmetics or animal feed…even your soap! Around half of the products that we use today have palm oil in them. Why? Because it is extremely versatile and cheap! It can give products higher shelf life. It gives the crispy, crunchy texture to the fried food like your french fries! It has no colour or smell so it is easy to use in food products.

Is Palm Oil Bad For Health?

It has a high saturated fat content which can be harmful for us and is linked to heart diseases. however many studies also say that if you eat a balanced diet (meaning less of junk), the effect is negligible.

Some other studies say that palm oil is rich in tocotrienols which is a form of vitamin-E. These protect our cells and reduce our risk of heart disease as well as cancer.

So, What’s The Verdict?

Palm oil might be okay for our health in moderation. If we consume less junk and processed food, the intake is very low. Which we should anyways and not just for palm oil!

Though one thing is sure. Palm oil is definitely bad for our environment. It is one of the major causes of deforestation around the world, especially the rainforests.

The palm oil tree normally lives for around 30 years but when it grows too tall and it becomes hard collecting fruit from it, it gets chopped down to make way for a new tree. And this chopping down leads to deforestation. This, in turn, leads us to climate changes and loss of habitats to many animal species such as Orangutans! Who said the earth belongs to humans only?

The use of less expensive palm oil is so extensive across industries everywhere that it results into massive destruction of forests and the environmental impact is huge today!

The worst part is that it has become impossible to avoid products that use palm oil. It is everywhere! Imagine my surprise when I noticed that motichoor laddoos that I got from a famous sweet brand, were made in palm oil too! I thought that brand wouldn’t use palm oil at least as every decent sweet brand/shop boasts of using ghee/ in its sweets!

By the way, did you know that ghee-flavoured oils are also freely available in the market today?

Why Not Find Alternative Oils?

Unfortunately, that is not possible commercially. Palm oil is an efficient crop. This means that it produces more palm oil per land than any other oil-crop such as soyabean oil or coconut oil. Thus means that much, much more land would be needed if not for palm oil. This would not address the problem at the core.

What Can We Do?

For starters and to safeguard our planet, we can identify and use products which contain only sustainable palm oil in them. How to identify? WWF has a rating tool for brands that you can easily use. The link is below:

https://palmoilscorecard.panda.org/

We can switch to alternate oils for personal consumption. In processed products that we buy, we can choose products or brands which are RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) certified. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the local communities involved in its production. It is very much possible e.g. in 2016, 75% of UK’s total palm oil import was sustainable.

This is all for today. And if you think that since palm oil doesn’t directly affects your health much and that you need not bother too much about it, think again! It is destroying our home, brick-by-brick!

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

Is Transformation Your Goal?

Hi friends, happy Friday! How have you all been keeping?

Life has, to a lot of extent, returned to a less panicked state, hasn’t it? Whether it’s due to better survival rate nowadays or to the fact that we are adapting to the new norm of masks, sanitizers and social-distancing, knowing that there is no other way any time soon. Doesn’t mean I am not hopeful of a vaccination this year only. I still am!

And after experiencing this pandemic and seeing how important, more than ever…it is to stay healthy and have good immunity, what better time to start than now?

Also, a big thank you everyone, for your overwhelming response over my last post on Instagram which was me doing one-handed handstand, against the wall. I hope one day, I’ll be able to do that without the wall support 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Today’s post is just a short one! I simply want to stress on the fact that it is very important to stay healthy, have a balanced diet and lead an active life. We all know it already. Much has been said and written already. By me and countless others.

Many of you have recently asked me about my diet chart etc. I wish I could give you one formula but I don’t have one. I have again and again said that one need to combine diet and a basic fitness regime for overall health and strength. Either of this combination alone, would not take you where you want to be.

And weight management is just one factor in the whole health equation. Though it is perfectly alright to start with that motive and any motive is good enough 🙂

Nutrition is a very powerful tool, no doubt. But it isn’t easy! It needs a strong willpower where one could think of food in terms of neither punishment nor entertainment but in terms of nourishment. It is entirely possible to eat what you want but with modifications and moderation.

And if one says that they have done all they could in terms of diets and still reached nowhere, I would still  understand. I have been there.

For starters, it is not the same for everyone. And second, if you reached nowhere, you haven’t done it either right (for you)…or enough! In my case, I did not do it at all! Till I started, I did not know what I was missing out on.

Let’s say you started on a journey which means to take 6 months. You started enthusiastically but stopped after 3 months…would you still reach your destination? Obviously not! You stopped mid-way. You stopped walking!

One thing is for sure, if you gave it 6 months, you would never want to go back! Neither in terms of diet modifications nor in terms of physical fitness. The success, the transformation would keep you coming back for more! It would become a lifelong habit, trust me. Do you remember the golden 21/90 rule? If not, do read this previous post here.

All you need in this journey is to show up…every time you are supposed to. Whether you work on your own or take external assistance, consistency is the key. Even if you make no special efforts, you are sure to move ahead…just by the virtue of showing up. All you need is 1% a day after all!

There is another issue that many of my old friends have come up with and I will write about it in my next post. It is more specific to women than men but all the men who read my blogs, need to read it too 🙂

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Salt: Good or Bad?

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Have you started calling your helps back? I am thinking of calling one of my helps who works exclusively at my place, for a couple of hours every day. It has been 7 months without them but now that my classes are starting from tomorrow, I need more free time to read and study.

I already have a Diploma in Health & Nutrition but from long back. I feel it is a bit obsolete now and to acquire new skills and insight, am starting this foundation+advanced program in nutrition from a prestigious international institute. I hope that one day soon, I will be able to help you in your fitness journey professionally. I can’t even begin to describe what proper nutrition can do to our mind, body and soul!! Not to count our genes!!!

But more on that some other time. Right now, just wish me luck! 🙂

Also, many of you have DMed asking me about a weighing scale to measure food. What I use is a very basic, non-expensive kitchen scale, bought from Amazon. It served me well for 3 years, broke last week and I already bought it again. Initially, till you figure out the calories and food portions, it is worth buying. If you want to buy, you can check the one I have, on the link below:

https://amzn.to/2HEedCa

When anyone first starts her/his fitness journey, she/he is advised to reduce processed-sugar intake. And it’s right also. Such sugar means empty calories and it does way more harm than any good whatsoever.

What we should also reduce while we are at it, is our salt-intake as well. No, this doesn’t mean we start eating bland food!

It’s just that the processed food and junk food is so high in salt that we overshoot our daily salt intake recommendation. Salt is present in almost all processed food whether you taste it or not!

By no means, I want to imply that salt is as bad as sugar. Our body would do just fine without any additional sugar but salt is vital for it! We definitely do not need to cut it off completely from our diets…unlike sugar.

Myth

Pink salt, Black salt, Himalayan salt etc might carry a little more trace minerals but in the end, it is all salt. Thinking that it won’t be harmful to consume more of these, is not correct!

What Is Salt?

Salt is NaCl (sodium chloride) which contains 40% sodium and rest of 60% is chlorine. Generally, we use salt and sodium word as one and the same.

Is Salt Good or Bad?

Depends.

Our body uses salt to maintain balance of fluids and regulate blood pressure. It works as an important electrolyte for us. It is also needed for various muscular and nervous functions.

Salt is important but too much consumption is not good at all.

Many dietary guidelines recommend that we do not eat more than 5 gms of salt in a day which is equivalent to one teaspoon. Most of us consume almost double of it every day though. From the salt that we put in our food and salads…from ketchup to chips, dips and pickles…from the snacks we eat with tea and the salt we put in our fruits in the form of chaat masalas! Even cheese!

Eating too little salt also can be bad for us. Best is to eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods and adequately flavor what we cook. No harm in that and no need to eat tasteless meal!

However, people who already have blood-pressure concerns, kidney ailments, heart issues or diabetes etc would do well to keep their salt intake in check. A normal healthy person with a balanced diet would get by just fine but if you are already prone to these medical issues, best reduce your intake.

Less of processed food is good for everyone though, by default. Reading the food-labels is a great habit too.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

The Confusing Business Of Calories

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all?

At my end, it has been pretty hectic lately. No helps still and the house is full of never-ending chores. Everyone in the family (two elders, one Other Half, two little ones and one dog…they all do their bits to help out but at the end of the day, the lady of the house gets the lion’s share of…err, chores, isn’t it?

Anyways, all this keeps me on my toes whole day (now night also, thanks to the latest addition of Kia, the pup. At 5 months, she is now tall enough to pull my hair while I am dreaming at night). I am sure your story is quite similar to mine and a big hug to all of us brave hearts!!

Amidst all the chaos, have you continued your fitness routine or diet plans? Or started any? Tell me if you have!

It does get all very confusing at the end of the day, isn’t it? Especially the term calories! Calories…low calories…zero calories…empty calories…high calorie food…calorie-dense food etc. What are these calories after all? Almost a scary word today especially for weight watchers. Let’s decode calories today!

What Are Calories?

Calories in simple terms, is energy that we need for day to day functioning.

Technically, ‘calorie’ word is the unit of energy that we get from a certain food item. This is how we measure energy. All food items provide us energy – be it sugars, fats, proteins or carbs. The amount of energy or calories each food provides varies. Every single cell in our body needs this energy.

Depending upon the goals and lifestyle, the daily calorie requirement ranges from 1600-2400 calories for adult females and for adult males, 2000-3000. However, men shouldn’t eat less than 1500 calories and women not less than 1200 calories per day – to get all the energy and nutrients required by the body for optimal day-to-day functioning.

Empty Calories

Empty calories come from food which would give us energy for sure but without any significant nutrients. Such foods are what we call as junk food also. Interestingly, one can lose weight on empty calories too, whether it would be healthy or not, is anybody’s guess. A few examples are pizzas, burgers and sugary foods/drinks.

Zero Calories or Low Calories

Products having zero calories such as diet foods and drinks are not necessarily any healthier, if you ask me. Replacing a good balanced meal with a low calorie meal-replacement bar/shake is not a great idea in long run! It just is not sustainable and can easily backfire unless accompanied by a healthy lifestyle change.

High Calories/Calorie Dense Foods  

This include foods that are high on calories in a relatively smaller portion such as butter or sugary sweets. Interestingly, some very healthy foods are very high in calories as well e.g. quinoa (yes, the superfood quinoa), avocados, dried fruits, olive oil etc

Similarly, low calorie foods have low amount of calories relative to the portion size such as many fruits and leafy greens.

How Many Calories Per Day?

The answer to this question would differ from person to person. It depends upon that person’s activity level and resting metabolic rate.

It is important to consume sufficient calories even if one is trying to lose weight. The calories consumed should be balanced out by calories spent.

Under-eating, over a period of time lowers our resting metabolic rate which in turn, affects our capacity to burn calories. So, if you crash-diet or starve yourself in the name of dieting, know that it is going to be rendered ineffective soon enough.

I have found an easy calculator online which should help you to with your daily calorie requirement. The credit goes to the website for it:

https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

So, What Kinds Of Calories Should We Consume?

That’s a very important detail and the turning point for you if you have specific goals such as muscle-building, fat loss, weight loss etc. Ideally, 45-65% of calories should come from carbs, 20-25% from fat and 10-35% from protein. Of course, it also depends upon your lifestyle, medical history and goals. Kids need more energy coming from fat as they are growing.

Do you want to know a few easy ways to reduce your calorie consumption? Do let me know.

In The End

It is crucial that we change our lifestyle in such a way that the focus is on staying healthy- physically and mentally. This is the only way to enjoy the process and keep it sustainable in the long run. This enables us to have fun while staying active and healthy. World-cruise at 60, anyone?

Also, it is important to consult a nutritionist or your doctor if you plan to make a big dietary change/switch or go on any low-calorie diets.

Hope you found today’s post informative and it cleared away a few doubts. To join me on Instagram for more tips/tricks on health & nutrition, follow the link below. Your support means a lot to me 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace