Thursday, May 21, 2009


How far would you go to lose a few kilos? Kiran Mehta speaks to Samreedhi Goel on some unhealthy and often dangerous weight loss measures that are unfortunately popular

As is common, most people on strict diets find themselves cheating. Damage-control comes in the form of downing a laxative. Overusing laxatives is another form of purging, similar to bulimia.
Why it tips the scales: Abuse of laxatives leads to immense water loss, which shows up as weight loss, temporarily. Your body will gain those pounds instantly when allowed to recuperate.
Beware: Prolonged or repeated use of laxatives can result in worsening of constipation and loss of bowel mobility. Loss of water is accompanied by loss of potassium and sodium, which can adversely affect the heart. Laxative abuse can also soften bones as it interferes with Vitamin C, D and calcium ab
sorption. Drastic weight loss measures can result in gastric bleeding, ulceration of the bowels, and intestinal injuries.
Mono dieters stick to just one type of food through out the day, such as raw vegetable juices.
Why it tips the scales: The diet kills your appetite. There's just so much juice you can down! Juices alone — no matter how 'healthy' — won't give your body nutrients.
Beware: Vegetables and fruits are laden with pesticides. Raw vegetables, consumed without cooking, can increase toxins in your system. Result is severe dysentery, diarrhoea and indigestion.
    Mono diets can cause severe imbalance and deficiencies as your
body is deprived of a variety of food groups. The result is depletion of Vitamin B12, C, D. In the long run, this can result in anaemia, lowered immunity levels and slowing down your body's ability to heal from diseases.
So you're not 'starving' yourself — in fact you're eating health! Break that myth. Skipping major food groups — fibre, protein, fats and sugars — will lead to malnutrition.
Why it tips the scales: Soups and salads do not provide any bodybuilding material, so the weight you lose is muscle mass. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue so the amount lost in a short time seems like a lot. This diet is not easy to sustain and when you get back to a normal diet, you will bal
loon up as loss of muscle mass slows down metabolic rate!
Beware: You cannot expect your body to be free of side-effects while you ignore its daily nutritional requirements 'just till you lose weight'. The major food groups don't contribute calories alone, they are the source of vital nutrients such as Vitamin A, B, D, E, K, iron, calcium, folic acid and fat soluble vitamins. Goel warns that this extreme diet has landed more than a few in hospital, hooked to saline!

"At first, I used to get palpitations and break into cold sweats when I downed laxatives. Now I am used to it. I am a complete foodie and can't live without non-vegetarian food.At home, I can control my diet but when I eat out, I tend to binge. I am chronically constipated and don't go more than a week without a laxative. Over the years, I've tried out several and now take a rather strong one.
    "Sometimes, even though I've already had the laxative that week, I'll take it again if I have a party to attend the next day. I have seen that my weight drops when my stomach is cleared.
    "Just like any other medicine, there are side effects, but my body doesn't react adversely anymore. Earlier, I would feel guilty when I downed these medicines frequently. But when I delivered my child, my doctor prescribed laxatives so that my stitches wouldn't be compromised.And that's what really helped me drop my guilt.
    "It started when I was a college student. To catch some extra sleep and make it to the lectures on time, it made sense to down a laxative, rather than sit longer in the loo!"
— A 32-year-old, who wants to lose 9 kg to reach her ideal weight

(Samreedhi Goel is a nutritionist and personal trainer who runs her exercise studio - Size Wise at Santa Cruz, West)

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Best and Worst Brain Foodsw

If you want to make the right decisions in confusing times—Time to refinance? Explore a different career? Root for the singing spinster or the 12-year-old?—you need to pay special attention to what you eat. That's right: Your grocery list can help with your to-do list. That's because the right foods are a kind of clean-burning fuel for your body's biggest energy hog: Your brain. A study in the Journal of Physiology makes the point that, though your brain represents only 2 percent of your body weight, it makes 20 percent of the energy demands on your resting metabolism.
On our new Eat This, Not That! Web site, we rounded up the best foods to munch on when you need a mental boost—and found studies that show, in fact, that you can be up to 200 percent more productive if you make the right eating choices. Stock up on these items to halt mental decline, jog your memory, sharpen your senses, improve your performance, activate your feel-good hormones, and protect your quick-witted sharpness, whether you're 15, 40—or not admitting to any age whatsoever! 
Drink This!: COFFEE

Fresh-brewed joe is the ultimate brain fuel. Caffeine has been shown to retard the aging process and enhance short-term memory performance. In one study, British researchers found that just one cup of coffee helps improve attention and problem-solving skills. 


Ever heard of the concept "too much of a good thing"? If you OD on caffeine—too many cups, a jolt of caf from the late afternoon onward, a Red Bull cocktail—it can mess with your shuteye schedule. Sleep is reboot time for your mental computer, and you don't want to mess with it.


Antioxidants in blueberries help protect the brain from free-radical damage and cut your risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. They can also improve cognitive processing (translation: thinking). Wild blueberries, if you can find them, have even more brain-boosting antioxidants than the cultivated variety, so book that vacation in Maine now. The berries will ripen in July.

Here's a cool tip: if your favorite berries are out of season, buy them frozen. The freezer locks in peak flavor and nutrients, so the berries' antioxidant capacity is maxed out. Those pale, tough, and expensive off-season berries usually ripen on a truck, rather than on the bush, so they're nutritional imposters compared to the real thing.

For more smart shopping tips, point your grocery cart to THIS story and learn how to pick the most delicious and nutritious while controlling your waistline!  

If the Internal Revenue Service picks you for some up-close-and-personal auditing, you'll want to be on your toes when they vet your deductions list. So put salmon or mackerel on the grocery list. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fishes are a primary building block of brain tissue, so they'll amp up your thinking power. Salmon is also rich in niacin, which can help ward off Alzheimer's disease and slow the rate of cognitive decline.

Not all fats are created equal: Beware foods high in saturated fats, which can clog blood vessels and prevent the flow of nutrients and blood to the brain. Ice cream is not a brain-health food.

The oil in the dressing will help slow down digestion of protein and carbs in the salad, stabilizing blood-sugar levels and keeping energy levels high. Build your salad on a bed of romaine and spinach for an added boost in riboflavin, and add chicken and a hard-boiled egg for more energizing protein.

For other tips on how to build the perfect salad, check out the Eat This, Not That! ultimate salad selector.


MIT researchers analyzed blood samples from a group of people who had eaten either a high-protein or a high-carbohydrate breakfast. Two hours after eating, the carb eaters had tryptophan levels four times higher than those of the people who had eaten protein. The tryptophan in turkey is one of the reasons you crawl off for an afternoon nap after Thanksgiving dinner. So watch what you gobble.


Scientists in Slovakia gave people 3 grams each of two amino acids—lysine and arginine—or a placebo, and asked them to deliver a speech. Blood measurements of stress hormones revealed that the amino acid-fortified guys were half as anxious during and after the speech as those who took the placebo. Yogurt is one of the best food sources of lysine; nuts pack loads of arginine.
Not That!: SODA

A study from the American Journal of Public Health found that people who drink 2½ cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious, compared with those who drink fewer. So Mountain Dew is a Mental Don't.

The scent of peppermint helps you focus and boosts performance, according to researchers. Need to reach Chicago before nightfall, and you're stuck in traffic around Cleveland? One study found that peppermint makes drivers more alert and less anxious.
Not That!: CANDY

Sugary foods incite sudden surges of glucose that, in the long term, cause sugar highs and lows, leading to a fuzzy state of mind. So you'll need to avoid all the attention-busting sugar bombs on this list of the 20 most sugar-packed foods in America

Leafy greens—arugula, chard, spinach—are rich sources of B vitamins, which are key components on the assembly line that manufactures feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, a lack of B6 can cause nervousness, irritability, and even depression.

White chocolate isn't chocolate at all, since it contains no cocoa solids. So it won't stimulate the euphoria-inducing mood boosters like serotonin, as real chocolate does. Grab the real thing, the darker the better. More cacao means more happy chemicals and less sugar, which will eventually pull you down. 

Flax is the best source of alphalinoleic, or ALA—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle it on salads or mix it into a smoothie or shake.
Not That!: ALCOHOL

This one's obvious, but worth mentioning anyway. A drink or two can increase arousal signals, but more than that will actually depress your nervous system. This makes you sloppy, not sharp.

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Hope wins, from hospital bed

Mumbai: One was hospitalised for viral fever bang in the middle of the ICSE exams. Another was hospitalised for gastroenteritis. A third was battling the rarest of rare intestinal diseases. All three scored over 90 per cent in the exams.
    From the age of three, Arjun Banerjee has been battling intestinal lymphangiectasia — a disease whereby proteins are lost through the intestines. As a child, doctors had given him only a few years to live. But on Wednesday, Banerjee was celebrating, after scoring a whopping 92.6 per cent in his CBSE Class XII exams.
    A commerce student at Apeejay School, Nerul, he could only study for two to three hours a day due to his illness, and was often confined
to his bed in the days prior to the Board exams, due to his failing health.
    Though he fell ill before his Economics exam, he stood third in the Commerce stream
from his school.
    Another student, Aiyush Bahl, was down with a bout of viral fever in the middle of his ICSE exams, and was hospitalised for a couple of days. But once again, he didn't let his ill health stop him from revising, and even studied while in hospital. This student of Lilavati Podar School, Santa Cruz, managed to score 92.8 per cent at the Boards.
    Like Aiyush, Madhuri Sarma, a student of JB Petit High School, was hospitalised during the ICSE exams, thanks to a bout of gastroenteritis. "I spent half a day in hospital before my Hindi exam,'' said Madhuri, who also carried her books with her. "I was so tense in hospital that I couldn't sleep, despite sleeping pills,'' said Madhuri. She scored an impressive 91.14 per cent.

Madhuri Sarma (top) & Arjun Banerjee had good scores despite being unwell

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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