Program Archive

Is rice bad for you?

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Today’s topic is one that’s dear to the heart of most Indians – Rice! Rice has recently developed a reputation of being bad for you and being the cause of obesity in many Indians. Today’s Slice of Health show was aimed at busting myths, and answering the burning question – Is rice bad for you?
The expert guests are Jayvani shivkumar, Chief Nutritionist at Lifeline Hospital, Adarsh, a Fitness and Nutrition and Shail a noted Dietician.
Adarsh is of the opinion that the real question is not whether you should eat rice, but how much rice should you be eating. And that in controlled quantities, rice is not a bad thing at all!
Jayvani says that these days there are a lot of different varieties in rice that can be substituted for white rice like brown rice, organic millets, and whole grain rice. These options are a lot healthier and retain vitamins and fiber, while polished mill white rice can increase sugar levels in diabetics.  Shail points out that in the traditional Indian diet, there’s the concept of combination food like pongal, idly, kichidi, etc, which is essentially rice, combined with vegetables and other ingredients. She says that when you add protein to rice, it creates a balanced meal and you can add fiber in the form of vegetables. Don’t have to feel bad about having white rice, as long as you’re managing your diet properly.
There are 40,000 known varieties of rice. It’s a common belief that the healthiest option is brown rice as it has more nutrients and high fiber content.
Jayavani tells us that millets are a form of rice, just a smaller variety. They’re often called as miracle grains. It’s a good option for people who want to lose weight, for diabetics and heart patients. It is high fiber content and essential fatty acids. A small quantity fills you up more than white rice. Unpolished rice is healthier than polished rice. She advises us to experiment with types of millets and choose what you like best.
A caller, Anuradha, wants to know, while making the transition from white rice to brown rice, whether it is alright to eat it at any time, even for dinner
Adarsh says that white rice is not a bad thing as long as it’s balanced with protein or veggies. If rice is part of a well-rounded diet plan, it is fine. If a person has no activity, and is prone to overeating, replacing their regular quantity of white rice with brown rice will not help. He says that the quantity of rice per meal should be between 240-270ml and not more.
Anuradha asks a follow up question – is it ok to substitute white rice with brown rice for the kids so that they get used to the taste?
RJ Jane agrees that your dietary habits are formed when you’re a child.
Jayavani on the other hand, says that when it comes to kids, it’s a bit of a challenge. Firstly, they won’t like it much, so it’ll be a herculean task. Also it’s not really necessary! Instead give them urad dal rice, which has 80% nutritional value. She also points out that sometimes rice is a comfort food. Rice boosts your serotonin level, which contributes to your mood. So she wouldn’t advice cutting out rice from anyone’s diet, considering there’s a psychology to it.
Shail insists that instead of switching to brown rice, combination foods like kichidy, idly and sweet pongal are better for the kids, and they’ll also eat it willingly!
Rice is naturally gluten free, high in nutrients and low on fat.
Adarsh gives us 3 points as a mantra for rice eaters:
1. Prioritize the proteins and veggies. Don’t overload on carbohydrates
2. If you are inactive, get active. Figure out what activity you enjoy most, and do it. Your body was made to move.
3. Get smaller tiffin boxes. To control your intake, pick up a 240ml box. The ratio should be 2 cups of veggies for 1 cup of rice.
Shail says that the first thing is to analyze your situation. What is your body condition? Your diet should depend on that. For digestion, white rice is good. For summer heat, curd rice is best. When combining rice with dhal or sambhar, even with unpolished white rice, you’re compensating for the missing nutrients. Her advice is to eat sensibly, watch your portions, exercise, and think positive. It really helps! Don’t feel guilty so much about what you’re eating, but instead eat consciously.
Adarsh highlights the importance of adding proteins like eggs, diary, lentils, fish and chicken to your rice.
Jayavani concludes by advising us to make sure carbs is only a quarter of your plate, while half your plate should be veggies and another quarter of protein. Carbs play a very important role in immunity, but for weight control, reduce the carbs and increase the protein.
Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out about it, and stay positive!

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Say NO to Tobacco!

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Today on the Slice of Health show, in honor of World no tobacco day, the discussion is about how to quit smoking for good. World No Tobacco Day is observed every year. It encourages a 24-hour abstinence from tobacco with the view towards reducing the international consumption of tobacco products.
The guest on the show is Dr. Waseem Mohideen, a wellness expert, who over the years has helped many nicotine addicts kick the habit.
He says that smoking is different from any other form of addiction. The most important factor to quitting is to understand if the person really wants to quit. If they don’t want to, you can’t make them. There are 3 types of smoking addictions – Habitual, physiological, and psychological. Habitual addicts – Their addiction is more of a hand-mouth movement and coordination. No amount of nicotine patches will help them, because it’s not the nicotine that they are addicted to. Physiological addicts – Their body is now addicted to nicotine, and needs certain dosage of it to feel normal. They would require nicotine patches and other supplements to help them quit. Psychological addicts, on the other hand, would require counseling.
Most of the time, smokers have an overlap between the 3 types of addictions. Identifying what kinds of addictions they have is the first step to treatment.
Quitting cold turkey could work for a habitual smoker, whereas physiological addicts would experience severe withdrawals. The same way one diet or exercise won’t suit all body types, no one way of quitting works for all addicts.
Jane asks the Doctor if he has seen people with severe addictions successfully give up the habit.
Dr. Waseem shares the story of how a client smoked 120 cigarettes a day, and how he successfully quit the habit.
Nicotine is the addictive drug that gets smokers hooked. Jane points out that the younger generation has given up smoking and taken up the habit of smoking marijuana instead! Even though the substance is not legal, it is available fairly easily. Dr. Waseem insists that any kind of smoking is bad for you, no matter what smoke you’re inhaling.
He says that there are 2 usual reasons people come to him for help in quitting – when they see their child take a pencil and imitate the smoking act, or when they see a smoker young person die young. These are the two highest motivators for quitting tobacco.
A Caller, Sumathi, wants to help her husband quit. He smokes about 5-6 cigarettes a day. He has been a smoker for about 30 years, but now that he’s pushing 50 and they have an adolescent son, she feels that it is high time he kicks the habit. She says that even though he’s reduced the number of cigarettes a day considerable, he has still not been able to quit even though he wants to.
Dr. Waseem points out that if he really does want to quit, that’s already the first big step to actually quitting. Next would be to identify what type of addiction he has, for which he would need to meet with a wellness expert at a clinic, in order to understand the reasons for his addiction. Based on this, a treatment system can be worked out.
Most often, men come in saying that their wives want them to quit and they want to give it a shot. But if they’re not determined, it will not work. The smokers themselves would have to put in 60-70% of the effort. Wellness experts can only help about 30-40%.
Recently, women have started to come for treatment before they get pregnant or married. Dr. Waseem says that even though women take a lot longer to become addicted, there is no difference between men and women when it comes to de-addiction.
It takes typically about 3 months to get de-addicted, and it’s not usually cold turkey. Many smokers do have slips and take about 3-6 cigs in during the 3 months, which is perfectly normal. After that if they start again, it’s considered a relapse, whereas if they start again after a year, it’s a fresh addiction.
In conclusion Dr. Waseem has only one thing to reiterate: If you want to quit smoking, you can be helped to quit. If you don’t want to, there’s nothing anybody can do to make it happen!

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Dark Chocolate! Can it be good for you?

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Today on the Slice of Health show, the discussion is about the ultimate indulgence – Dark Chocolate! Can it be good for you? Or not as good as people say?
The expert guests on the show are Nitin Chordia of Cocoa Treats, and Shiny Esther, a reputed nutritionist.
Nitin has just returned from Germany where he was on the jury of the international chocolate awards. He talks about how chocolate is to be consumed, and says wine and chocolate are a natural pair, but people are now experimenting by pairing it with beer and coffee too. At the awards, the jury had to taste about 75-80 brands of fine chocolate to be tasted and judged, all within 2 days. To cleanse the palate between tastings, they drink water and eat plain cooked polenta (rava).
Nitin’s logic on chocolate is that the cocoa bean is a fruit. Closest example for comparison is the custard apple. When you eat a custard apple, you eat the pulp and throw away the seeds, whereas with the cocoa fruit, it’s the opposite. There is absolutely nothing unhealthy in actual pure chocolate, but it’s what’s added to it that brings in the health concerns. Dark chocolate has 60% and above cocoa content while milk chocolate has only about 30-40%, so the amount of fat and sugar in the latter is a lot more.
A lot of manufacturers tend to add excess sugar and additives in chocolate when they want to hide the lower quality of the bean.
Good imported dark chocolate bars have not yet come to India, but the good base chocolate required for making them is imported, and local chocolatiers have begun using that to make good quality chocolates.
When asked where we can get our hands on these chocolates in Chennai, Nitin directs us to a store called Gourmei Market, which has a collection of all of these chocolate brands.
When you have a good quality chocolate, your body temperature will be sufficient to melt it easily. This means there are fewer chemicals that go into it’s making.
Nitin tells us that the best way to experience good chocolate is to bite it a little, make it pasty in your mouth, and let it settle on your palate. This way it stays longer in your palate, in your senses and you eat less of it!
You never have to feel guilty if you’re eating good dark 70% chocolate.
Shiny Esther, the nutrition specialist gives us many more reasons to indulge in dark chocolate. It has anti oxidants that protect you at a cellular level. It helps reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. It helps clearing the bad cholesterol and increases the good essential cholesterol. It also produces endorphins in your body that makes you feel good and can even affect your mood. Even for diabetics, regular chocolate is a no-no but dark chocolate is very good for them depending on its sugar content, but only in moderation. Even Nitin didn’t know these interesting benefits!
Both the guests say it’s better to stay away from regular milk chocolate if you can and stick to good quality dark chocolate.
A Caller Antonio asks why some brands of chocolate, especially big famous international brands, have a waxy feel to tem.
Nitin clarifies that this is usually because of chemicals used in processing. Chocolate is very susceptible to these chemicals and its quality is easily affected. Jane also points out that the bigger the brand the more difficult it gets to do quality control on every bar of chocolate.
Nitin says that raw chocolate can be very good for health even for diabetics as it has very low sugar content. It’s processed in a very specific way at under 48 degrees.
Shiny tells us that like all things, there are disadvantages to dark chocolate too, especially if taken in excess. It has high caffeine content, so we must be careful not to over do it.
It has oxalates that can give you kidney stones if you have too much of it. She also advises not to have dark chocolate with milk as it kills the antioxidant property. And anyone prone to migraines should stay away from it, as it has been known to trigger migraines.
In conclusion, it seems the key to enjoying the benefits of dark chocolate lies in moderation!

Picture Courtesy : afternoonrecipes.com

Amazing Tricks for Healthy, Glowing Skin!

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The topic for the day was one of the oldest tricks for glowing skin – Face Packs or Face Masks! It is a technique that’s evolved since the times of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The expert guests are Ms. Menaka and Ms. Runima, both top executives at leading salon chains. Runima says facemasks are used when one requires an instant glow. It can be done at home or at a salon, but one should be sure not to do it more than once a week as it can dry your skin when overused. It has all the benefits of a facial but is quicker.

Follow it up with a toner to close the pores. Menaka has been in the beauty business for 18 years. She says that people with oily skin can use facemasks more often than those with dry skin. It’s best to assess your skin type before deciding what facemask to use and the frequency of use. Runima points out that most good salons insists on doing a face map before deciding what works for each individual. Faces are mapped into 14 different zones, which have to be identified to see a person’s skin type is. Each zone has its own concerns. The treatment that the salons suggest will be customized for each individual and suggested home regimen is not that complicated. She emphasizes the importance of SPF because UV rays are everywhere at all times of the day and night, and not just outside in the sun like most people assume. Menaka says that her secret to glowing skin is enjoying her work!

She insists that when you love what you do, your skin glows! When you’re stressed and depressed, it does take a toll on your skin too. The guests share an interesting factoid, that Multani mitti could cause cancer later in life! This is an important piece of information, considering many Indian women use this regularly as part of their beauty regime! Menaka highlights the point that different ages require different types of facemasks.

Additonally, she gives us some wisdom in the form of homemade natural masks! Papaya, honey and egg whites make a great facemask and don’t neglect your neck when you’re doing it at home. For youngsters who have an acne problem, between ages 14 to 18, she suggests a homemade mask of sweet-lime and fine sugar. When Jane brings up the topic of men and the belief that they don’t really spend time on this kind of grooming, Runima reveals that 60% of their clientele is male and it’s a myth that men don’t care about grooming! People, even men, do appreciate the time they spend in the salon, as they feel pampered and taken care of.

When it comes to special advice for pre wedding preparations, Runima advices that both the bride and the groom should get a facial or a facemask done a week before the wedding, as it could cause a reaction, and this way it would give time to heal. Haircuts, especially for the groom, should happen at least a week ahead. Jane talks about how many different types of facemasks are in the market.

Some are clay, some are cream, some are peel off! She asks her guests what is the right way to take care of your skin? Runima says to visit the salon n do a skin analysis. They do a visual analysis and ask questions about your lifestyle based on which they can advise you. Take a face treatment once in 21 days or once a month.

They suggest products only after they analyze the skin. A home skin regime should start in the morning, and continue after work in the evening when one comes back, removes make up, puts on a night cream, and if necessary use an under eye serum. The mantra should be “Cleanse, Moisturize and SPF”. Menaka adds that we should stick to a particular brand of face wash, and make sure that whatever product we use has SPF in it. Additionally it helps to wash combs and the sponges in compacts, as that’s where infections are picked up. A Caller, Swathi, turns out to be 10000th caller this year! She asks the guests which face pack is good for tan removal. Menaka says that the most effective treatment for tan removal is an exfoliator and a face pack every week and a daily face cleanse. If you analyze your skin at a salon, they will be able to recommend what kind of face pack you can use at home. Another caller, Suchitra, is in her late 20s and has an acne and pimple problem, and has very sensitive skin. She asks the guests whether this is normal at her age. According to her Dermatologist, she’s not supposed to use face creams or make up, as her skin reacts immediately.

Menaka says that for oily skin, salons have really good treatments. Additionally, the diet also makes a huge difference. She suggests that Suchitra try using Astringent twice a day as it also helps clearing acne. But she still insists that Suchitra should get a skin analysis done first. In conclusion, Menaka tells us it’s up to us to enjoy your life with glowing skin, and Runima says all you need is a smile and a positive attitude for a natural glow!

Photo Courtesy:imgkid.com

Benefits of aromatherapy

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The topic for today is the benefits of aromatherapy. Does it really work?
Aromatherapy is the skilled and controlled use of essential oils for physical and emotional wellness.
The expert guest on the show is Mr. Sushanth, a Partner at a popular Spa in Chennai.

Sushanth says that aromatherapy is already a part of our daily lives. Even when you wake up and brush your teeth, the mint in your toothpaste gives you freshness, that’s aromatherapy, using deodorants and perfumes because we like certain scents, that’s aromatherapy too!

RJ Jane then asks him about aromatherapy as a service offered in spas. How is it different?
Sushanth tells us that right from when you enter a spa, it’s about feeling good. Based on your requirements, they use certain aromas. For example, if you were looking for refreshment after a tiring day at work they would use peppermint oil.
There’s also something called a detox massage where they use lemon and lemongrass extract. It releases toxins in your body, which detoxes all the bad effects of binge eating, junk food and other indulgences.
There’s even a “slimming massage” or a cellulite massage were they use something called cellulite oil. It breaks down the fat that is right under the surface of the skin in certain concentrated areas such as thighs or tummy.
Aromatherapy oils can help you relax, reduce hair loss and de-stress you. More than health, it brings a sense of wellness.
Jane then welcomes a second guest who works at Sushanth’s spa, Lakshmi, a masseuse from Bali.
She says that aside from being famous for it’s beaches and temples, Bali is also famous for massages!
The Balinese massage uses aroma oil and medium pressure on the body. It’s a de-stressing and pain relieving massage.
Sushanth says he has noticed people walk in to the spa tired, and leave on wings! They leave completely rejuvenated and feel light on their feet.
He says that another way of incorporating Aromatherapy in your life is to incorporate it in your home. All you need is an aroma diffuser which you can fill with water, and add the soluble oil. Rose is one of the most relaxing aromas that many people prefer, especially at home.
He advices that when you’re buying your aromatherapy oils, make sure you get it from a trusted source so that it’s not contaminated.
Sushanth says that aromatherapy oils can be used in 3 ways:
1. Essential oils can be used as a perfume. You just need to find what suits you. These are natural unlike synthetic perfume. But he suggests that this should be done after consulting an Aromatherapist.
2.Two drops of orange oil mixed with hot water can be consumed to clean your body from within and makes you feel lighter
3. Aromatherapy can refresh, rejuvenate and relax you

He also tells us some little known uses of some aromatherapy oils. Eucalyptus oil is used for pain relief or nasal congestion while lemongrass can keep mosquitoes away!

Lakshmi concludes with a simple and inviting message. That when you’re stressed, come to the spa and get yourself a Balinese massage!

Photo Courtesy : http://lumeriamaui.com/

Which is healthier, Coffee or tea?

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The discussion for today’s show was the age-old debate. Which is healthier, Coffee or tea? The expert guest on the show today is Ms. Muthulakshmi, a noted Nutritionist and Kinanthropometrist. Kinanthropometry is not just a hard to pronounce word; it is the study and analysis of body composition and measurements. Muthu says she herself is a coffee person. She has the habit of starting her day with coffee & a good breakfast. Coffee kick starts your adrenaline, and is the right boost that most people need to start their day.
Legend says that Tea was originally discovered by the emperor of China 2737BC. He was boiling water when tealeaves fell into it. He liked how it tasted, and found it soothing! Soon it spread through the country and Asia as a popular beverage. Coffee, according to legends, was discovered by a goatherd who found his goats to be very hyperactive after consuming some berries. Monks later consumed coffee, as a beverage, as it kept them alert enough to meditate for long periods of time. Both the beverages originated in the east.
The first caller for the day is Venu. He is primarily a tea drinker. He drinks both Green tea and masala chai. He says besides enjoying the taste of it, he also has heard people say that tea is good for health. He had a coffee fixation earlier in life, but stopped because he didn’t want to develop a caffeine addiction.
Muthu chips in, saying that both coffee and tea both have their own benefits. Coffee gives an adrenaline rush and energy, whereas tea is loaded with antioxidants. She says that the healthiness factor depends how you take it. Taking black coffee or a green or black tea is always healthier than adding milk to it. She says that if you are a coffee or tea lover, you may as well try to make it healthy.
Filter coffee has more benefits that instant coffee, and is even healthier without milk. Coffee has two to three times higher caffeine content than tea and is therefore easier to get addicted to! Another good tip is to add cinnamon to green tea as it boosts the fat burning qualities of green tea.
The next caller is Elton. He’s always woken up to a hot cup of coffee or tea in the mornings, and loves both equally. Nowadays he wakes up with hot water with lemon and alternates between coffee, green tea and chamomile tea alternately through the day. He says chamomile tea is especially good to have before bed as it has no caffeine content.
Another caller, Raghuram, chimes in with his two cents. He says he also loves both coffee and tea. He says he starts the day with coffee and follows it up with tea later in the day. He says that the newspaper while sipping on filter coffee is the perfect way to start your morning! He points out that adding sugar is not very good for your health. He also advises listeners to avoid coffee after 3pm as the caffeine takes 7 hours to leave the system.
Muthu gives a tip to tea lovers – She says that if you like green tea, make it with green tea leaves rather than the teabags to get the most benefits from it. She also clarifies that flavoured tea doesn’t affect the nutrient content.
The last caller for the day is Madhu. He used to be a coffee addict and used to take 10 shots of espresso a day! Now he switched to green tea completely at the advice of his Doctor. His addiction ended up affecting his health and his work. Now he’s down to 2 cups of green tea a day and is much healthier. He admits that he gets quite tempted by coffee cravings, but has so far remained strong! His espresso machine has become a mere showpiece at home.
The show concludes with a final thought fro Muthu. She advises listeners to go ahead and enjoy their coffee or tea, but no matter what their preference is, just don’t get addicted to it!

Picture Courtesy : itimes.com

Best methods of Contraception

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Today’s show revolves around a topic that isn’t discussed enough – What are the best methods of contraception available?
There are many things to consider while choosing the right kind of contraception. To identify which one works best for you, consult your General Physician.
Statistics show that in India, 77% of the women who have undergone sterilization in the last year had never used any other kind of contraception before and thought this was their best option.
The expert guest on the show today is Dr. Priyanka Mehta, a noted consulting Gynecologist. She says it is a topic that needs to be addressed – How not to get pregnant. She says that there is no such thing as “The best method” or a one size fits all solution. Every woman is different and the ideal method for a woman depends on her health, lifestyle and age. For a woman in her 20s, the contraceptive pill might be the best idea. In her 30s a Copper – T might be the best option. Some methods, like a certain kind of Copper-T, include hormone doses to regulate the cycle.
Jane asks the Doctor about the patients she has come across and how many women know what works best for them. How do you know which works best?
Dr. Priyanka tells her that they follow the “Cafeteria approach” – They display all the methods and options to the patient. Some temporary methods are contraceptive pills that are to be taken on a daily basis and vaginal rings that often come with hormone doses.
Jane asks whether the ring is safe. Dr. Priya assures her that it’s a very small device that causes no discomfort.
In 1951, India implemented Population Plan but we have only seen a continuously growing population that is currently 1/6th of the world. They both agree it’s probably because we don’t talk about things like contraception and birth control and consider all things related to them as taboo. The idea is to break that taboo on the show today.
Jane asks what are the effects of these taboos on the society.
Dr. Priyanka responds that the problem is that youngsters don’t have access to correct and reliable information. There’s always the debate of when to you start educating girls and boys on these subjects – School? College? When they’re getting married?
She thinks that ideally there should be sessions even in college that address anonymous questions of students.
Schools tend not to discuss the topic as it could be perceived as encouraging a certain kind of lifestyle, but Dr. Priyanka says that just because we do not talk about it, it doesn’t mean that youngsters don’t need to hear it. It’s not about promoting a lifestyle, but keeping them informed that if there is an emergency situation, there are safe options available to them.
Dr. Priyanka talks about the case of a schoolgirl who had unplanned sex, and conceived. She did not know what to do. Luckily she tracked down the Doctor online and approached her in time to get help. Young adults should be aware that there are safe options.
Even with increase of awareness in India, most married women still resort to procedures and sterilization. Contraception should be the responsibility of both the man and woman, and should always be an informed decision taken by both. India has a history of mass sterilization that goes as far back as the 1970s.
Young adults today use over-the-counter pills without consulting a Physician or taking into account their medical history or side effects.
Sometimes this can even result in prolonged bleeding or, in the case of an undetected ectopic pregnancy, could even be fatal. Dr. Priyanka advises that one should either take an emergency contraceptive pill within 72 hours of intercourse or visit a gynecologist.
Jane asks the Doctor when she thinks a conversation about unplanned pregnancy should start in a family.
The Doctor acknowledges that this is a difficult conversation for any family and a difficult question to answer. She herself has 2 daughters and she finds the best way is to be like a friend to the children and explain the process in terms they will understand. Children are curious by nature and if you do not give them the information they seek, they can get all of it, and even more misinformation from the Internet, so it’s always better they hear it from you.
Jane asks the Doctor whether she does get young adults looking for help after knowing they’ve conceived. Dr. Priyanka says that there are a few, but it depends on what they choose to do about it. She advises that in such a situation, they should either take parents into confidence or go to a gynecologist immediately. There is always safe help available to them.
Jane then takes Dr. Priyanka’s help in busting some common myths about contraception:
Myth- the morning after pill or emergency contraceptive pill is the only option.
Dr. Priyanka – The Copper-T is also a good solution for short or long term contraception, aside from condoms. She says it’s always better to plan for long-term contraception rather than take a morning after pill every time.
Myth- it’s hard to get emergency contraception when needed.
Dr. Priyanka – Some kinds are available only with gynecologists, for which you might need a prescription, but most are available over-the-counter
Myth- taking the emergency pill is the same as an abortion
Dr. Priyanka- it isn’t, as the pill it doesn’t allow fertilization.
Myth- the emergency pill has to be taken within 24 hours of intercourse
Dr. Priyanka – The emergency pill is effective for 72 hours after intercourse
Myth – taking a course of the contraceptive/ birth control pills make you gain weight.
Dr. Priyanka – they do not. Many women use these pills even to control PCOS or heavy bleeding and they can be used until any age
Myth- taking a course of the contraceptive/ birth control pill can make you infertile
Dr. Priyanka – this is not true. Once you stop any long-term contraceptive you could conceive even within the next month.
In conclusion, Dr. Priyanka says that we must talk about everything, be free and open and share. She refers the recent case of an AIIMS Doctor who committed suicide, as she could not deal with her husband’s sexuality and abuse alone. She feels that talking about it with people she trusted might have helped her.
Parents should nurture the kind of relationship where the kids feel that they can talk to them freely about anything, even topics like this. If you don’t talk to your kids, no one else will.
She advises listeners to live each day to the fullest, as each day is different n special. She also says to try to do one random act of kindness everyday.

Photo Courtesy: www.healthowealth.com

Importance of Health Insurance

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Today’s topic was about the importance Health Insurance and how to go about investing in health. The special guests in the studio were Dr. Selvam, from SRM University and. Mr. Gopalakrishnan, a Health and General Insurance industry expert.
When Jane asks about why Health Insurance is necessary when in India, we went for many years without it, Mr. Gopalakrishnan says that it was not until 1986 that Health Insurance, came in, in a big way in India. He says two of the main reasons why Health Insurance has increased in importance, are:
1. Longevity: Human life expectancy has increased over the last 50 years from 40-45 years to about 65-70 now. To maintain quality of life even through the time of aging, Health Insurance is important, especially considering the many risks that one can face during these later years.
2. Medical costs – A simple operation that cost about Rs. 18,000 in the 1970s would now cost between Rs. 6-7 lakhs. These are the reasons why he says that Health Insurance has gained such importance in recent years.
Dr. Selvam says it’s most important to invest in health and that these days it should be the very first investment you make, because you’ll never know when you’ll need it. Healthcare isn’t very affordable these days.
The Indian healthcare industry was a $40billion industry in 2010 and is estimated to reach $275billion by 2020.
Mr. Gopalakrishnan points out that 70% of the revenue that hospitals make from hospitalization charges are not paid by insurance companies, but right out of the patients’ pockets. That means only about only about 20 crore people out of 120Cr are covered. For perspective, he tells us that in US, only 10% of people are not insured, whereas in India, about 80% are not insured. Considering that the average hospitalization cost is about Rs.50,000 this is a very harmful statistic.
Jane asks Dr. Selvam for some Health Insurance investment advice.
He says that to take coverage for a young family, premium would be around 10k-15k, but depending on the age of the insured, it could go up to 15-20k. So, he advises, it is better to get insured while you’re younger. He also highlights the tax benefits of Health Insurance, as you’d saving a substantial amount.
In the unorganized sector and rural areas, State Governments have tried to implement insurance schemes. For example, Karnataka has attempted a health scheme for farmers with individual and government contribution. There’s also a lottery ticket that’s proceeds go to pay the insurance premium for rural individuals.
When Jane asks what kind of policies are the most efficient, Mr. Gopalakrishnan says that family policies have lesser premium than individual policies.
The first caller- Suresh has just moved to Chennai from Mumbai. About 5 to 6 years ago he got company insurance coverage. When he went for an individual policy, the benefits in the previous policy didn’t carry over to the new one. He advises that we be very careful on what you’re signing up for, and always read the fine print.
Mr. Gopalakrishnan says that individual insurance coverage varies mostly because hospital room rates vary. He says not to just depend on the agent, but to refer the company website for such details. Individual policies are usually capped, but group and company policies are capless.
Dr. Selvam also shared that there’s something called cashless services, which many policies offer through 3rd party administrator. These are the features and services that customers must look out for while choosing a policy. Make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. Be honest with your medical history too because Insurance companies have ways of tracking down such history.
Another caller – Hamir, also agrees that cashless service is the best facility offered by most insurance companies. But he says to always check which all hospitals are covered by your policy and whether all features are covered in all hospitals.
In conclusion, both guests give the same message: Take health seriously and give it priority. And the rest will fall into place. Protect health, and create wealth.

Picture Courtesy : rodneyellis.com

Afternoon Snacking

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Today’s show was all about afternoon snacking. The special guests were Achsah – a Sports Nutritionist, and Dr. Nirmala Jesudasan, a Nutrition expert.
Jane poses a question to her guests, asking what’s the afternoon meal trend in Chennai.
Achsah says that it’s mostly carb rich and doesn’t contain much fiber. Most people load up on rice & veggies or chicken.
Dr. Nirmala agrees, saying that she mostly sees people who bring a big box of rice and sambhar to work. Even those who go out for lunch often end up eating a rice-heavy meal.
Jane points out that some people have grown a bit health conscious and choose to substitute white rice with brown rice, millets or Ragi and other healthier options, which seems to be the trend even at her office. But this doesn’t always include the IT crowd and many other industries these days which have long working hours and people have the tendency to resort to fast food. She asks if there’s a way to substitute that with something healthy.
Dr. Nirmala says that the surest way is to ensure that whatever you’re eating, limit the quantity. For a midday snack, she advises against consuming biscuits, juices & soft drinks. Instead, she says, snack on about 30gm of nuts, or fruits. Eating whole fruits is better than fruit juice as it retains all the healthy fibers. She advises us to avoid artificial sweeteners and diet soda. The healthiest juices would be tomato or amla.
The first caller of the day – Krishka, is a health freak who was in the UK for 2 years. She notes that people there were always very health conscious, but lately she’s noticed that it’s catching on here too. She says that she takes steamed sweet potatoes for a midday snack and a khati roll made without any oil for lunch. Additionally she also takes some mixed boiled beans with pepper and oregano and lime for an evening snack.
Achsah says that often, when one person takes this step towards healthier eating, people around them get inspired.
Krishka adds that she tries to exercise but she’s not able to maintain a routine. Instead she tries to walk every morning for 15-20 minutes or at least as much as she can during the day, even if it’s around her office campus.
Jane asks Dr. Nirmala about the sudden fad of detoxing. Many people go on detoxes with things like green tea, spas, etc. She asks, is it medically proven?
Dr. Nirmala responds that the liver does the detoxing for us, so she’s cautious of detox regimes that are fads. But green tea, she agrees, is full of antitoxins and is very healthy.
Achsah says that 3-4 cups a day of green tea is ideal but overdoing it will dehydrate you.
Jane asks how do you bring some colour into your lunch box?
Dr. Nirmala says salad would be the best way to go. You can also have boiled vegetables like broccoli and carrots. Seedless grapes are also very healthy. Salads can have low calorie dressing, lime juice or vinaigrette with mustard, red wine vinegar, etc.
Jane now throws an open challenge to listeners, asking for men to call in and talk about their roles in the kitchen!
The next caller – Siaram handles Sales and Marketing for a company. He helps his wife cook everyday, even if it is just cutting vegetables and prepping for the actual cooking. He makes it a point to take a salad everyday with his lunch. He says it’s a pleasure to spend time in the kitchen with his wife and that children also enjoy it.
Jane congratulates Sairam and his wife Radha for the great dynamic they’ve got together!

The next caller says he doesn’t cook his own meals nor does he like to. He says he just wasn’t raised that way. His wife cooks for him, and only when he’s alone and without a choice, does he make something for himself. He says that he is overweight at the age of 63 and wants to change his lifestyle to lose weight and get healthy.
Jane suggests, that the first thing for him to do is to get into the kitchen and help his wife!
Dr. Nirmala says that there are only two ways to lose weight – control food intake & exercise. She advises him to visit a dietitian. Rice intake should be limited to no more than 1 or 2 handfuls and more vegetables should be included in the diet. Chapathis are also a good alternative. She says soft drinks, fried food and sweets are a big no-no!
The last caller – Shalini proudly says that her husband Shyam helps her everyday in the kitchen and that she really appreciates him for it! She says it’s a very happy time to be in the kitchen with the hubby every morning. They usually take vegetables and seasonal fruits for snack time, whereas for lunch, it’s rice followed by a banana & homemade fruit juice after they come home in the evenings. As a family, they also take soaked almonds in the evening with tea or milk. They make it a point to keep switching between different nuts and dried fruits to keep it interesting.

Dr. Nirmala has a French sun in law, so Jane asks her how different snacking habits are in Paris. The Doctor says lunch is a very light meal in Paris. Parisians also walk everywhere, which helps them keep fit. They’re more particular about adding seasonal foods in their diet. They support local fresh and organic produce.
Achsah concludes saying that the healthiest meals should have less carbs and more protein. All three emphasize that men should start cooking or helping out in the kitchen at least to know what goes into the food, and help keep it healthier.
Jane closes with an inspirational quote by the Dalai Lama – “The various features and aspects of human life, such as longevity, good health, success, happiness, and so forth, which we consider desirable, are all dependent on kindness and a good heart.”

Signs of Alzheimer’s

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Today the discussion revolved around Alzheimer’s disease and how to recognise it.

The expert guests on the show were Dr. Balasubramaniam, Dr. Ravi Samuel.

Jane poses a question to both Doctors, asking if it is true that Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in the west, as many people believe it to be.

Dr. Ravi says that this was the belief back in the 90s but research shows that 4/100 elders are afflicted by it even in India.

Jane then asks how can one differentiate between regular memory loss, and memory loss related to Alzheimer’s.

The Doctors respond saying normal memory loss is forgetfulness due to not paying attention. Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, affects daily life. For example, things like what you had for dinner or breakfast or even forgetting that you’ve had it already. It can be a problem for caregivers as well. Within minutes or hours, short term memory gets erased while long term memory remains unaffected.

Jane then asks the experts whether it is true that Alzheimer’s is a disease that only affects the elderly.

The Doctors both agree that it is specific to old age and begins at about about 65 years, but there are things, like young onset dementia, that can have onset even at 40.

Dr. Ravi tells the story of a patient of his, a teacher who was an intellectual & social lady who had just retired. She spent her time teaching her grand children at home. They soon noticed her teaching was no longer clear, and her behaviour started to change. She was running the show at home, so it slowly starting affecting the lives of everyone.

Dr. Ravi says that there are ways to detect Alzheimer’s. Mini-mental status exam and overall cognitive function tests to get an idea of their cognitive status. Once these are completed, they can move on to MRI scans, pet scans, etc.

A team of psychologists, neurologists and psychiatrists are brought together to give an individual the treatment.

Dr. Balasubramaniam tells us about a patient, a 70yr old lady from rural Bangalore. She was running the household, and the family didn’t notice her deterioration early on. By the time they brought her in, she had difficulty in calculation, in finding routes and would lose her way.

He says that in some cases, even hyperthyroidism can cause memory disturbance and needs to be ruled out before a diagnosis is made.

Sadly, Alzheimer’s is not curable. One can only try to improve quality of life in the early stages.

Dr. Ravi says that socialization and interaction with other people are important in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s. Leading cognitively stimulative lifestyles, reading the paper, watching the news, going out and socialising can help. The idea is to keep feeding your brain with information and keep it active. Even having the practice of spirituality, visiting their places of worship can help as it allows one to live in hope and gets them out of the house. They say that the most effective preventive measure is to keep an active lifestyle, read a lot, play stimulating games like sudoku and crosswords and make friends you can interact with.

For the rest of us, they stress that we should spend more time with the elderly and show that we care.

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