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

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

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

Only You Can Take Care Of Yourself

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by for you? It was alright for me, hectic and a bit contemplative.

Like you, I also am a member to many WhatsApp groups and in one of the groups, I received a forward (of a made-up story, of course) which was about a guy whose spouse died and the caller called him after a few days, to check up on him, to offer condolences and see how he is coping up with the deep void in his life. To this caller’s amazement, the guy seemed to be doing great, playing golf (or something) with buddies while his parents and kids were getting cared for, nicely, by hired helps.

By no means I want this to be taken gender-specific, in any way. Also, this post is not about me and many of you probably won’t be able to relate to what I am saying, however, I will still say it. For those who could relate!

What hit me hard was the fact that it could be true…for anyone. I myself have seen it happen so many times. The world doesn’t stop for anyone…the show must go on and all that. Barring the immediate family members especially the kids, people move on quickly. Beyond a RIP and folded-hands emoji, no one cares for very long. Only a handful would really miss the departed and even those learn to…or are forced to, adapt to the void. Nothing wrong in it and that’s the way it probably should be.

What about the departed? So much for the deeply loved house that one decorated with much care, the family members for whom one sacrificed all personal hobbies and even own health, the sacrifices one made, the time we never found for ourselves because we were needed somewhere else…for someone else, the job that required all our attention, the boss who couldn’t let us take an off even for a day (and we agreed) and all that money in the bank account!!

And this feels even truer for non-earning member of the family. We might think we are indispensable but no-one is, I guess. The show does really go on…or have to!!

By no means am I preaching selfishness/shunning our responsibilities for our own fun and frolic! We each have to play our part to the best of our abilities.

The point I am trying to make here is that while we are busy taking care of the entire world, let us take a couple of hours for ourselves too. This ‘me-time’ should be non-negotiable. People who really care for us won’t ever grudge us these couple hours, even if slightly inconvenient for them. Like we don’t grudge theirs! Do we?

This post doesn’t mean to be a ‘this-is-a-sad-reality’ kind of post either. This one is supposed to be a wake-up call to all of us who think the world would stop if they took even 30 minutes out for health’s (physical and mental) sake! I personally won’t consider screen-time (i.e. time spent in front of a screen such as mobile, laptop or TV) as me-time as neither it helps one in connecting with oneself nor it helps in our overall health improvement goals.

I am sure you can figure this out…you probably already know it all. As for me and if that helps, I don’t take afternoon naps and don’t watch any TV at all, to accommodate everything in a day. My sleep duration is 6 hours on an average and on weekends, a little more.

In the end, all I would say is we need, man or woman, to connect with ourselves…to become stronger and more confident in ourselves…being responsible for ourselves and taking care of our health and fitness, physical and mental.

Let us accept that we have only one life in this life and that we have got to live it to the fullest, being kind to ourselves yes, but being responsible for ourselves too.

Do let me know your thoughts on this one. Also, join me on Instagram as I am trying to grow my Insta-family and would really appreciate your support 🙂

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

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

If Nothing Else, Just Stretch!

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Fridays are the best, aren’t they? With a promise of two days of late sleep-ins, they are a much needed respite from the rest of the week and early-morning online schooling. Can’t wait to send kids to schools again, post vaccination of course!

These days, yoga has become a way of life and Instagram a source of all sorts of guidance as well as inspiration. Seeing other people doing what they love doing, despite all odds, is a great motivation, be it online or the people I see/know.

While doing yoga, half the time goes into warm-ups and the rest into the flow which if you ask me is mostly stretching and holding those stretches. Everyday, I try to stretch a little more, bend a little more, hold a little more…and breathe through it all – that’s what it is for me. Of course, yoga includes a lot more than just stretching…more than physical postures…but stretch you will, in any case!

Yoga or not, it is important to stretch a little everyday. Even if for 15-20 minutes, even if you don’t have time and especially then! When you have no time or energy for any sort of physical activity, stretch is the least one could do.

I used to do stretching post workouts in gym also. However, as I started building muscles (and getting stronger!), I knew I didn’t want to lose my flexibility in the process and I found yoga the best remedy to maintain it. I won’t lie, I started for balance and flexibility however discovered much more along the way! Thus started the next phase of my fitness journey which is an equal combination of gym and yoga both. Then came meditation but that is unfortunately still very irregular.

Why Stretch?

  • To improve flexibility and for better joint/muscle movement
  • Posture correction
  • Prevention of injuries or reducing risk of injuries
  • Reduced muscle soreness or stiffness
  • Relieving post exercise aches/DOMS
  • To improve physical performance
  • To increase blood circulation
  • Decrease the risk of low-back pain
  • For stress relief
  • For calming benefits

A Myth

Believe it or not, stretching is not necessarily a warm-up activity. A warm –up is much advised before you stretch as stretching with cold muscles can lead to injury. Best to start stretching after a bit of warm-up.

The Ideal Way To Stretch

Whether plain stretching or stretching before a workout, best would be to take a short jog to warm up the muscles and then stretch. One can follow up with a workout or any physical activity post that.

In gym, that is why we do cross trainer or treadmill the first thing – to warm up. In Yoga, we do sukshma vyayama (simple joint movements) before we start the stretches and other asanas.

Keep In Mind

  • One can focus on sore or tight muscles first while stretching so they become loose and less rigid with the increased blood flow, if needed
  • Swift movements or bouncing should be avoided to prevent injuries
  • Whether you hold your stretches or do them in sets is up to you and your fitness level. It is always better to start with a short hold and less sets and then gradually increase both
  • Do not overwork an injured muscle if you are already injured

In The End

Stretching is a great way to take a mini-break from a hectic day or a desk-job, to recharge and strengthen you body and mind. All you need to do is to take 20-30 minutes everyday for just stretching if nothing else. Try doing it for 3 days a week at least. In case you wish to increase the flexibility or range of motion, you need to be more regular with stretching.

However, make sue you are stretching right. Stretching incorrectly or making incorrect movements can be harmful. Remember to do everything slowly and gradually.

I hope you found today’s post useful. Do share around if you did. Join me on Instagram on the link below for lots of tips, info and motivation.

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

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Weight Issues in Pandemic Times?

Hi friends, happy Friday! How is it going?

A few days ago, I did a poll on my Instagram story about how many from my Instagram family are unhappy about their weight gain specifically during this pandemic. There were many reverts about weight gain concerns and a lot of people were not sure about how to manage this weight gain.

Most of the people who were still physically active in some way are doing better and were stable – though some were struggling despite it all.

The situation for the people who for one reason or the other, were not as physically active, was quite unsatisfactory. Many were unhappy about it and it is understandable.

As per a report I was reading last week, around 22% adults in India have gained a significant amount of weight during this pandemic.

There could be many reasons that spoiled someone’s weight management plan and undid all their diet control/hard work of past.

Why Is It Happening?

  • Lack Of An Active Lifestyle – First and the most obvious one is a clear lack of a regular fitness regime. Most of us had to become ‘atmanirbhar’ in so many ways. Without our support system of domestic-helps, the responsibilities at home-front increased multifold.

Managing online schooling for kids and work-from-home took its toll too. This resulted in a lack of time/energy/willpower to pursue a regular fitness routine. I even know a few who had so much workload (or lack of energy) that they had to forego even their normal walks!

  • Stress – This one played a major role too. Stress from increased workload or a challenging work-front or pinched finances or loss of personal time/space or the loss of social life etc resulted in heightened pressure on us all. It got even worse for those who had to battle mental health issues on top of everything else!
  • Too Much Food – The entire family is at home and when that happens, good food flows! Or maybe, too much workload so we ordered out regularly. Or since we had some time at hands, we rekindled our old passion for cooking/baking and well, all that divine food went straight to our tummies!
  • Relying On Processed/Frozen Food – Whether its due to lack of fresh options or lack of time, many of us are eating too much of processed or ready-to-eat food or are ordering in! All such foods are high on sugars and sodium both. Midnight snacking while watching TV doesn’t help either.
  • Mental Health – A few of us ate for comfort, to fight loneliness and to battle anxiety.
  • Closed Gyms/Fitness Centers – With all the fitness centers closed, it has become increasingly difficult to find motivation or guidance. And no, online is just not the same! Not for me at least.

What Can Help?

  • The best way, ideally, would be to find some time even if half an hour…and the willpower to re-start a regular fitness regime. How about 500 rope-skips or a 45-minutes brisk walk whenever you find time (read post here on getting maximum out of your walking)?
  • The second best way, ideally, would be to practice moderation in the diet
  • A very important factor would be hydration. Drink at least 3 litres of plain or flavoured water through out the day, every day
  • Try intermittent fasting
  • Stock your pantry with healthier food and fresh produce as much as possible. You eat what you find when you are hungry, right?
  • Walk while you talk and measure your steps with a simple pedometer. Try setting yourself a target of 10,000 steps a day and achieving it
  • Get adequate sleep, at least 6 hours a day/night

In The End

The one simple rule of weight management is ‘calories in’ vs ‘calories burnt’. Though too simplistic and flawed sometimes, still works majorly. Simply put, if you are burning less, you eat less…preferably eat smarter! Don’t confuse it with starvation, just moderate and prefer healthy over junk.

This coupled with the few pointers above, should get you back in the shape soon. Do let me know what has worked for you so far and what you plan to do more. Just the fact that you want to try and are ready to work for it, is a commendable thing! All the very best!

Do join me on Instagram for more nutrition/fitness related tips and daily dose of motivation.

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

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Probiotics Part 2: Prebiotics

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How is it going? Apart from the pandemic going on, I feel this is a very good time to take a pause and re-think as well as re-evaluate our life choices. Be it a career, family or health, we can afford to stop and take stock these days. Are we where we want to be? Are we doing what we wanted to do since ever? We have been running, chasing one dream and deadline after another…and in all that, we sometimes forget to appreciate what we already have. We forget to find time for little things in life which actually were why we starting running and chasing in the first place, isn’t it?

After the last post on probiotics, here comes the promised one on prebiotics.

In case the concept of probiotics is of interest to you and ideally it should be, do read my previous post here. To add on to it, today is about prebiotics and how it can help in optimizing our overall health. However, do read the post on probiotics first before you read any further (in case you missed it).

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are food for the healthy microorganisms in our body, mainly digestive system. These are foods that induce the growth and activity of our gut-friendly bacteria and fungi. How does it help our bodies if we already are taking probiotics? Well, taking prebiotics can lead to even healthier digestive system, for one.

Prebiotics do not contain these healthy bacteria themselves (like probiotics do) but rather work as a fuel for the probiotic bacteria. On their own, prebiotics are of no use and only when combined with probiotics, are of any actual use. However, they can be powerful as they can change the composition of the microorganisms of the gut-flora.

There are few foods which combine both probiotics and prebiotics such as cheese, yogurt, kefir etc. Such foods are called synbiotics.

How Does It Work?

It’s all boils down to butyrate (and acetate and propionate…)! Butyrates, a short-chain fatty acid is produced by gut-bacteria. It not only supports the digestive system but helps in boosting immunity. It also takes care of the gut’s lining cells (by being their fuel) and stopping any inflammation happening there – as well as combating against cancer, leaky gut, obesity, diabetes, cholesterol levels and supporting mental health.

Trivia

Prebiotics are smart! They know just to feed the good bacteria so rest assured, they would do their job well. Unlike probiotics, they are quite resistant to heat, stomach acids etc.

Where To Find Prebiotics

Prebiotics are mostly fibre in nature. Our body can’t digest these but the friendly bacteria in our gut, feed on it.  These bacteria in turn, support healthy digestion and immune functions.

Certain foods that are rich in prebiotics are chicory roots, whole grains, bananas, onion, garlic, soyabean, legumes, bananas, asparagus, artichokes, flaxseeds, cocoa etc.

Packaged supplements are available too. Just keep in mind, probiotics and prebiotics go hand in hand.

Benefits Of Prebiotics

Apart from promoting the growth of friendly bacteria in our body and thus improving our overall health and immunity, prebiotics help with many digestive problems and promote a healthier metabolism.

Do read the previous post on probiotics to understand the benefits of probiotics which are all applicable once you take probiotics and prebiotics combined. Taking both together not just keeps you in sound physical health but also improves mental health.

Taking probiotics and prebiotics can also help in weight management if you combine it with a healthy diet with low fat/sugar intake, on a regular basis. Of course, maintaining a regular fitness regime is highly advised for magnified holistic benefits.

However, do know that lot of times, cooking and overcooking many foods can change the fibre content so it’s best to eat them raw and whole.

In The End

Do remember that you don’t need to take a prebiotic for your probiotics to work but taking them together might increase the effectiveness of your probiotics. In case of a specific medical condition especially related to immunity, do consult with your doctor/nutritionist before you start any probiotics/prebiotics.

Do join me on Instagram for more tips, info and daily dose of health/nutrition/motivation. Am going to start a series of weight management tips – general facts as well as from my own experience, on Instagram soon and I am sure you would find them helpful 🙂

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

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

All About Probiotics

Hi friends, happy Friday!

For a long while, all days were so similar but now I have again started loving the weekends. Why? Because of start of online-schooling. The precious extra hours of  morning sleep is what makes the weekends special, again!

In my last post on sabja/basil seeds, I wrote that pectin found in them is a prebiotic and some of you messaged me telling I made a spelling mistake there. I sometimes do make a spelling mistake or other, especially on the more hectic days…but this time, it was not a mistake. What I meant was prebiotic indeed! But I do realize that I owe a big thank you to all those of you who read my blogs so closely 🙂

Most of us are probably already aware of the term “probiotic”, thanks to advertisements by  many yogurt brands and fermented milk-based health drinks. The term isn’t very old but has become very popular recently.

Before we come to understanding the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, let’s understand probiotics first.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms i.e. the bacteria that are found naturally in our body (mainly intestine) and help our body in breaking down the food. Also called gut-bacteria, friendly/healthy bacteria or gut-flora, these bacteria are mostly divided into two families: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Our body generally takes care of our gut-health on its own. However gut-flora can be disbalanced due to bad diet, infections, medications, hygiene habits etc. It becomes even more important to re-build a healthy balance in such cases.

Did You Know?

Our intestines contain 100 billion bacteria (of 1000 various kinds) and some of these are unique to each one of us, quite like our fingerprints!

Benefits

  • Probiotics helps in maintaining the healthy balance of friendly bacteria in our digestive system
  • Not just physical health, some researches have shown that probiotic foods can improve some mental health disorders too such as depression, stress and anxiety etc. How? By producting serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. Wow!
  • Boosts immune system and this reduce the severity or frequency of cold and certain allergies
  • Prevents and even treats diarrhea
  • Toxic removal from our bodies
  • Better metabolism

Natural Sources Of Probiotics

There are many reasons why newborns are advised to be breastfed and probiotics are one of the main reasons! Breast milk is naturally rich in probiotics and sometimes, formula milk is fortified by the probiotics to get it closer to breastmilk.

Apart from occurring naturally in our bodies, certain foods such as yogurts (with live strains), tempeh (fermented soyabean), miso (Japanese seasoning with soyabeans as main ingredient), kefir (fermented milk drink), kimchi (fermented spicy Korean dish with cabbage or other veggies), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), pickles (or gherkins, are cucumbers pickled in salt and water), kombucha (fermented black/green tea drink) and certain cheeses etc are rich sources of probiotics.

On desi front – curd, regular yogurt, buttermilk, idli, dosa, kanji, achhar, dhokla etc though are not true probiotics as not standardized, provide many similar benefits.

And no, wine and beer, though fermented cannot be considered probiotics!

Probiotic Supplements

According to the official definition of probiotics by WHO, any strain or product can be classified as a probiotic only if it contains a stipulated amount of live microorganisms which are resistant to gastric juices etc to reach the target area successfully in our body and be of any actual benefit.

Probiotics are also sold as powder/liquid supplements such as Yakult as well as capsules or tablets. Some good quality multivitamins also include probiotics in their composition. Remember, not every yoghurt can be sold as a probiotic unless it clearly mentions the live culture it contains!

I have even been prescribed a urinary tract probiotic as a part of my UTI treatment once. And I am sure most of us have used, Enterogermina, Novogermina and the kinds, at one point or other…especially for our kids. Have you?

In The End

Before you start a probiotic supplement of any sort, make sure you are not allergic to the particular strain found in it. If someone is lactose-intolerant, a dairy-free probiotic is an obvious choice.

In general, probiotic supplements are considered safe. People on antibiotic medication can benefit from probiotics a lot as the antibiotics are prone to destroy the balance of gut-flora by killing healthy bacteria along with the bad ones.

If you have any pre-existing medical issues or any immunity-related condition, do check with your doctor/nutritionist, before you choose your probiotic.

Do join me on Instagram for more such info, tips and daily motivation on

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

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Chia Seeds vs Sabja/Basil Seeds

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How has it been going? Settling down in the ‘new normal’ with social distancing, masks, work from home, online schooling and all? It is just not the same but one couldn’t help it! Did you have any major plans that got halted or delayed due to this pandemic?

Last week, we decoded one of the ‘superfoods’ – chia seeds, didn’t we? If you missed it, do read it here, to understand what the fuss is all about! After the post, a few of you asked the difference between the chia seeds and the sabja seeds. It is confusing, no doubt but I promise, not after you finish reading today’s post 🙂

In fact, long back when we first shifted to Mumbai, as a part of the ritual that I am sure every newbie to Mumbai follows, we went to Juhu Chowpatty and since it was a part of the ritual, we went to the brightest shop there to taste the famous falooda (a kind of cold dessert with noodles and ice cream). That was the first time, I met sabja seeds. I asked the guy at the stall about the little black seeds and he told me that they were tulsi seeds. I didn’t believe him because I never saw tulsi seeds like those but I found it pointless to probe him further. They looked more like caviar to me but of course, that couldn’t be either.

Long story short, I enjoyed my falooda and happily came back home…and read more about what exactly I ate that day. I was so curious! Turned out, the guy was not too far from the truth. Those were basil seeds! Lot of people still think that the Tulsi is called Basil in English.

However, the fact is that sabja seeds (also called tukmaria seeds or falooda seeds) come from sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) and hence are also called sweet basil seeds. Tulsi plant is from basil family too but it is indeed different. Tulsi is commonly called holy basil with a different scientific name of Ocimum tenuiflorum.

Chia vs Sabja/Basil Seeds

  • Colour – Chia seeds are a mix of shades of brown/grey/black/white whereas sabja/basil seeds are uniformly black
  • Absorption – Chia seeds take time to absorb water while sabja/basil seeds begin to swell as soon as put in liquid. Sabja/basil seeds also grow larger in volume after absorption with a translucent coating around
  • Origin – Chai seeds are native to Mexico and Guatemala whereas sabja/basil seeds is native to India and Mediterranean region
  • Taste – Chia seeds are bland or neutral in taste and take the flavour of whatever they are mixed with. However sabja/basil seeds impart their own basil-y flavour to whatever they are mixed with
  • Texture – When soaked, chia seeds are soft to eat while sabja/basil seeds are more gluey
  • Consumption – Chia seeds can be eaten raw or soaked whereas sabja/basil seeds can only be had after soaking

Both the seeds have their own set of advantages. I covered chia seeds in my last post. Do you want me to write about sabja/basil seeds in my next one?

I hope that you found the post today useful and now, you would never mix your seeds now. Gotta mix up the seeds while eating them though!

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace