Saturday, August 15, 2009

10 home remedies to avoid swine flu

Are the rising swine flu casualties giving you jitters? Not sure how you can avoid falling prey to the growing epidemic ? First and foremost,there is absolutely no need to panic

Watching television to keep tabs on the progress of H1N1, particularly in the badly affected areas like Pune, is all right. But don't let the hysterical anchors get under your skin and start wearing a mask each time you step out of the house, unless you are visiting a very crowded area. Then too, the mask will protect you only for a specified period. 

Without giving in to the swine flu panic and creating a stockpile of Tamiflu and N-95 masks at home and enriching pharma companies, there are a number of other measures you can take to ensure that the virus is not able to get you, irrespective of which part of the world you are in. 

It is essential to remember that all kinds of viruses and bacteria can attack you when your immune system is weak, or they can weaken it easily. Hence, building your own defences would be a better, more practical, long-lasting and much more economical idea. 

Here are some easy steps you can take to tackle a flu virus of any kind, including swine flu. It is not necessary to follow all the steps at once. You can pick and choose a combination of remedies that suit you best. However, if you are already suffering from flu, these measures can help only up to an extent. And, if you have been infected by H1N1, visiting a hospital and staying in solitary confinement is a must. 

1. Have five duly washed leaves of Tulsi (known as Basil in English; medicinal name Ocimum sanctum) everyday in the morning. Tulsi has a large number of therapeutic properties. It keeps throat and lungs clear and helps in infections by way of strengthening your immunity. 

2. Giloi (medicinal name Tinospora cordifolia) is a commonly available plant in many areas. Take a one-foot long branch of giloi, add five to six leaves of Tulsi and boil in water for 15-20 minutes or long enough to allow the water to extract its properties. Add black pepper andsendha (salt used during religious fasts), rock or black salt, or Misri(crystalised sugar like lumps to make it sweet) according to taste. Let it cool a bit and drink this kadha (concoction) while still warm. It will work wonders for your immunity. If giloi plant is not available, get processed giloi powder from Hamdard or others, and concoct a similar drink once a day. 

3. A small piece of camphor (kapoor) approximately the size of a tablet should be taken once or twice a month. It can be swallowed with water by adults while children can take it along with mashed potatoes or banana because they will find it difficult to have it without any aides. Please remember camphor is not to be taken everyday, but only once each season, or once a month. 

4. Those who can take garlic, must have two pods of raw garlic first thing in the morning. To be swallowed daily with lukewarm water. Garlic too strengthens immunity like the earlier measures mentioned. 

5. Those not allergic to milk, must take a glass of hot or lukewarm milk every night with a small measure of haldi (turmeric). 

6. Aloe vera (gwarpatha) too is a commonly available plant. Its thick and long, cactus-like leaves have an odourless gel. A teaspoon gel taken with water daily can work wonders for not only your skin and joint pains, but also boost immunity. 

7. Take homeopathic medicines — Pyrogenium 200 and Inflenzium 200 in particular — five tablets three times a day, or two-three drops three times a day. While these are not specifically targeted at H1N1 either, these work well as preventive against common flu virus. 

8. Do Pranayam daily (preferably under guidance if you are already not initiated into it) and go for morning jog/walk regularly to keep your throat and lungs in good condition and body in fine fettle. Even in small measures, it will work wonders for your body's resistance against all such diseases which attack the nose, throat and lungs, besides keeping you fit. 

9. Have citrus fruits, particularly Vitamin C rich Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice. Since fresh Amla is not yet available in the market (not for another three to four months), it is not a bad idea to buy packaged Amla juice which is commonly available nowadays. 

10. Last but not the least, wash your hands frequently every day with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds; especially before meals, or each time after touching a surface that you suspect could be contaminated with flu virus such as a door handle or a knob/handle, especially if you have returned from a public place or used public transport. Alcohol-based hand cleaners should be kept handy at all times and used until you can get soap and warm water..

Fashion Designer
Kasimi Nafees

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

10 foods that make you feel full, without making you fat


More than how much you eat, what you eat determines the satisfaction level of a meal. Nutritionist Sneha Jain lists 

Fatty fish such as 
salmon, tuna, 
mackerel, her
ring and sardines contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which, besides lowering cholesterol, also hasten the metabolism rate. Omega-3 fatty acids alter the level of leptin — a hormone that directly influences metabolism and determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Fish also provides ample protein and the best way to eat it is grilled, with steamed vegetables on the side. 
Fruits such as grapefruit, 
lemon, sweet lime, papaya, 
guava and tomatoes are rich 
in Vitamin C and fibre. Vitamin C helps the body process fat faster and also stimulates the amino acid known as carnitine — carnitine speeds up the body's fat-burning capacity. Citrus fruits also have high water content and provide around 50 to 75 kcal, leaving us satiated for a longer period of time. 
Spinach, asparagus and 
broccoli have a high thermic effect on the body and 
a low calorie density. This means that it's almost impossible for them to be stored as fat because most of their calories are burned off in the digestion process. Apart from that, the fibre in these foods provides roughage and contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help you feel full. 

Popcorn is rich in fibre and 
low on calories. Also, since 
eating it keeps our mouth 
busy for a longer time, the satiety levels are high. However stay away from the overly buttered, caramel and cheese cousins. 

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate which takes 
longer to digest — hence it releases energy slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. It also keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable, which helps prevent fat storage. Oatmeal is the most satisfying breakfast cereal, providing more protein per serving than any other grain. Mix it with yoghurt or skimmed milk and it'll keep you full all morning. 

Raw, unsalted nuts, especially almonds and wal
nuts, provide essential roughage, protein, fat, minerals and micronutrients. Munching on handfuls of these nuts keeps you full and energetic for longer without adding to your waistline. 

Skimmed milk, low fat 
cheese and yoghurt are a 
good source of calcium, which helps break down fat cells. Some studies indicate that not getting enough calcium may trigger the release of calcitrol, a hormone that causes fat storage. 

Beans are 
high in fibre 
and a good 
source of protein. They also take longer to digest, making you feel full for a longer time. Also, protein has the highest satiety index (which determines how long will you feel full) than any other element. 

Jowar, bajra and ragi contain 
complex carbohydrates, 
which release glucose slowly 
when broken down during digestion. The glucose helps in maintaining your blood sugars levels and combats sugar craving. They are also a rich source of fibre and Vitamin B complex that play an important role in metabolic control. 

High water content and 
ample fibre is the reason 
why you feel full after 
eating an apple. An apple's skin contains pectin soluble fibre that is a natural appetite suppressant. Seems like an apple a day keeps the weight away. 

Sunday, August 9, 2009


There is a deeper meaning to festive fasting than traditions. There's a theory behind the traditions and a possible clue to why we're seeing a big increase in cases of obesity and diabetes

Ishi Khosla 

    Globally, annual 'hungry' seasons or seasonal famines have been a part of agricultural societies. All ancient populations have been subjected to selective pressure by famine. According to research, it is proposed that these seasons are associated with decline in fertility. 
It is proposed that there is an adaptation of the body in response to the lowering energy consumption (thriftiness). This causes a deposition of body fat (as a source of energy) in times of plenty so that individuals could survive the periods of starvation. This is called the 'thrifty gene hypothesis'. 
    Proponents of this theory, use it to explain why certain populations, particularly the developing agricultural economies, have a genetic predisposition towards obesity and type II diabetes mellitus. Such societies are especially 

vulnerable to the influences of typically western urbanised obesogenic lifestyle. 
Perhaps Navratris (nine nights) could be rooted in such agricultural cycle and is symbolic of famine followed by plenty. Navratris, in India is observed with 8-9 days of fasting, prayers and rituals for the Gods. It is observed twice a year (usually April and October) and is calculated on the basis of the lunar calendar. 
    While, there must be an astrological significance, its occurrence with harvest time may not be a coincidence. The period before harvest in agricultural societies was marked with frugality and associated with shortage of food. According to the agricultural calendar, these times are followed by times of plenty or good times. 

During Navratris, perhaps a pre-harvest time, alternate grains are eaten and the traditional staples like wheat, rice, pulses and vegetables are prohibited. A sort of fast is observed with alternative feeding practices. This includes a variety of foods (alternatives to routinely consumed ones) such as sago (sabudana), buckwheat (kuttu ka atta), water chest nut (singhara ka atta), khus khus, nuts, seeds, coconut, lotus seeds (makhana), potatoes, colocasia (arbi), special rice for fasting (samak), rock salt, fruits, milk and yoghurt. 
Even those who do not observe fasts avoid fish, poultry and meat and some even stop eating garlic, onion, and alcohol during this period. 
It must be stressed that the thrifty gene concept lacks experimental validation. However, it is interesting if evolution is to be blamed for our susceptibility to obesity and diabetes mellitus. Such knowledge surely, could help public health messages and government initiatives to combat obesity, particularly in countries like ours where double burden of obesity and starvation co-exist. 
Contrary to popular belief that fasting is a way of cleansing and detoxification, there is little evidence to support this, especially when followed by feasting. In fact, some may end up gaining extra kilograms after completion of this sort of fasting and feasting cycle. 

    However, sound fasting programme, which includes plenty of fluids, fresh fruits and vegetables, may in fact be valuable if practised on regular basis. This technique conforms to the scientific principles of balance in nutrition. Balancing practiced on a regular long-term basis, whether 
religious or selfwilled, can indeed prove to be a healthy practice.