#HealthFix: Tips to Improve your Wellness Quotient
How to get more from your food, increase your bone strength, and more
Get a Whole Lot from Food
A healthy and varied diet helps maintain good health. A great way to get started is by introducing whole foods into your diet. Whole foods are those that are unprocessed and unrefined, but ready for consumption. They typically do not contain added ingredients, such as salt, carbohydrates or fat found in processed foods. Also processing causes a loss of up to 66 per cent of B vitamins and 70 per cent of all minerals on an average. With most nutrients lost, refined food then essentially contain simple carbohydrates leading to empty calories.
Advantages of eating whole foods:
- Eating wholegrains slows down the digestive process, thereby allowing better absorption of nutrients.
- Fibre, particularly soluble fibre, slows the absorption of sugar, hence helping regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics.
- Soluble fibre found in beans, oats helps in lowering bad cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.
- Whole foods have strong anti-oxidant properties to help protect the body against free radicals and help break down carcinogenic substances.
- A high-fibre diet helps in normal bowel movements and lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (a digestive disease occurring in the large intestine).
- If you eat whole foods, you are less likely to be overweight. This is because you feel fuller eating less and a high-fibre diet improves your metabolism and digestion.
Follow the ‘farm-to-plate’ theory, which means having more fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables, preferably straight from the fields. Grow your own, it’s economical and fun too. Vegetarian options of whole foods include fresh vegetables and fruits; wholegrains like unpolished brown rice, wholewheat, oats, ragi, rye, etc.; legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, whole pulses; nuts and seeds.
Preserve Bone Density
According to a study, eating two or three prunes a day and slowly taking it up to about 6 to 10, may present a good chance at preventing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. For the study, all the subjects were given 500 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D per day but they were randomly assigned to eat either 100 gm of prunes or 100 gm of dried apples daily. By the end of the 12-month study, women who ate prunes had significantly greater bone mineral density in the spine and ulna (a bone in the forearm) than others. Thus, prunes appear to suppress the rate of bone re-absorption, and can be associated with increased bone mineral density.
After you quit smoking, it can lead to weight gain, a fallout of increased cravings. Hunger hormones that smoking suppresses are unleashed and stop the release of certain fat-burning enzymes that smoking facilitates. Moreover, depression, that usually sets in as a withdrawal symptom after kicking the butt, leads people to resort to comfort foods like sweets and deep-fried snacks. Keep hunger pangs at bay. A great way to tame it is to have a glass of cold water or sip a cup of buttermilk or low-fat milk. A fistful of nuts will also satiate you without adding negative calories. Try to distract yourself by calling a friend or listening to music the moment you begin craving for some comfort food. Remember, it doesn’t last longer than a few minutes. Also, eat a balanced meal.
Ouch Ahh in Seconds
Burnt or injured your hand? Cross your arms to take the edge off the pain. Italian researchers found that people felt the laser-generated ‘pinpricks’ used in the study to a lesser degree when they crossed one arm over the other across their body. Placing limbs in unfamiliar special positions appears to confuse the brain and disrupt its ability to process sensory stimuli efficiently, weakening pain perception. Your first line of treatment should, of course, be the obvious—cool the area under tap water for about 10 minutes and apply aloe-vera gel or any other topical burn ointment to soothe the sting.
Workout for Gout
People with gout or arthritis should exercise despite the discomfort. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it increases flexibility, which in turn mobilises your joints. Secondly, it improves your muscle strength and cardio-respiratory fitness. Lastly and most importantly, it will keep your weight in check. However, you should consult your doctor before going in for any exercise programme. The workouts too have to be chosen carefully, keeping in mind the extent to which the condition has affected you, the periodic discomfort that you experience and any previous surgeries that you may have undergone. Besides these basic workouts, you can also try water aerobics: water walking, flexibility exercises in water, water running with flotation devices and strength training in the pool. The temperature of the water should be fairly warm—30 plus degrees, for greater benefit. Do them for 10-minute segments.