Your doctor’s advice often tailors your New Year resolution, so we went and asked Mumbai’s top health practitioners for their best tips. While we were at it, we also asked them how they’d want to change their own lives. Here’s what they had to say!
Dr. Kiran Coelho, Gynaecologist
I am a workaholic. For the past 35 years, I have been working for approximately 16 hours every day. Even in between consultations and the time I spend in surgery, I am on my feet. That, though, is not what I can or should call physical exercise. Given my schedule, I also end up skipping meals. I eat in the morning and because I am seeing patients till 11 pm, I eat late at night. These are some of the things I want to change this year.
I want to have five small meals at regular intervals and not consume any carbohydrates. I want to consciously cut out all ‘whites’ from my diet, and in that I include rice, flour and sugar. I also wish I was more physically active in the little spaces my time permits. I used to go for walks between 12 and 1 at night with my husband and my two dogs. I wish I could take more of those. I want to take the stairs instead of taking the elevator. There are 10 floors in Lilavati Hospital, seven at Hinduja Hospital and five in the building I live in. If I could just take all of them even once a day, that would make a big difference. I am quite happy with my health, and apart from the fact that I am overweight, I have no other issues. I just need to address that and try to strike a better work-life balance as well.
Dr. Coelho’s prescription for women:
1. Stress less.
All our hormones are controlled by various glands in the body. Because of stress, these work in overdrive and cause imbalances in our bodies. To be healthier, you must learn to relax more often.
2. Drink more water.
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This will keep UTIs and other renal problems at bay.
3. Stay clean.
Maintain basic genital hygiene. Wash your genital areas with a pH-balanced shower gel or soap. This will help prevent any fungal infections.
4. Breathe easy.
Make sure your vaginal area is well aerated. Wear cotton underwear and avoid synthetic fabrics. Do not wear any underwear when you are sleeping.
5. Practice safe sex.
Insist on the use of a condom to prevent STDs (HPV, Hep C, herpes and HIV, among others) and unwanted pregnancies. Take emergency contraceptive pills only in an emergency, not as a go-to contraceptive measure. You need to be aware of its dangers.
Dr. Vijay Panikar, Diabetologist
I am not going to reboot my health because I have already hit the reset button. I go for a 40-minute morning walk every day — even when I am out of town — and do 10 minutes of resistance exercise, and I would like to continue with the same regime. I try and eat as much home food as possible. But when I am travelling, eating out is inevitable. Though I choose the healthiest option on the menu, home food is far healthier as it optimises quality and taste. I work non-stop from morning to night and I take a break for only 30 minutes in between. Most nights, I end up preparing for some lecture or the other and I barely get six hours of sleep. In 2016, there are two things I’d like to put in place — get more sleep and have more personal time.
Dr. Panikar’s to-do list:
1. Eat at home.
Most restaurant meals are rich in saturated fats. You must reduce the fat and oil content in your food as it can be poisonous for your health. Eat at home as often as you can.
Go for a 40-minute walk five times a week and do three days of resistance training. To reduce insulin resistance, you must do some resistance exercise like stretching or weights. Walking is an aerobic exercise that uses oxygen and builds stamina.
3. Get adequate sleep.
You should get at least six hours of sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your whole system will be disturbed and that has a great impact on your hormones.
4. Enjoy life.
If you are happy, everything falls into place, including your general physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Build a vibrant social life, spend time with family and friends, and aim for happiness.
5. Go for annual health check-ups.
This is especially crucial if you are over 40.
Dr. Sudhanshu Bhattacharya, Cardiologist
The first step that I need to take towards a healthier life this year is to start waking up early in the morning, and that will only be possible if I go to bed on time. This simple practice reflects the ancient wisdom and way of life. All the gurus lay great stress on waking up early in the morning. I plan to cut down on parties and late night patient consultations. I don’t want to feel overworked. I just want to concentrate on tending to the few cases I take up perfectly. If I were to compare my job to selling cars, I’d say I want to sell one Mercedes instead of 20 Marutis.
For the past few months, I have been practising some Tibetan yogic exercises in the morning. I plan to religiously continue them this year too, for they calm me down and energise me for the day ahead. Breathing that early morning fresh air is another thing I want to prioritise because I am stuck in air conditioned rooms all day, breathing stale air. Having said all this, I’ll add that I am relatively healthy for my age. I am able to complete a full day’s work without much trouble.
Dr. Bhattacharya’s map to a healthy heart:
1. Healthy body, healthy heart.
If you eat well, exercise, have no major addictions and are generally healthy then you will be on the road to having a healthy heart.
2. Stop eating white foods.
No white sugar, white flour or polished white rice. Try jowar, ragi, bajra and oats instead.
3. Customise your diet.
If your work is physically intensive, then you need those carbs. But if you are sitting on a chair for most of the day, skip that dessert and avoid a second helping of pasta.
4. Early to bed, early to rise.
Going to bed on time and waking up early can significantly improve your general overall health.
Rujuta Diwekar, Nutritionist
We either get progressively fatter or fitter because of the choices we make every day. Finally, how we look at the end of 2016 will depend on whether we managed to eat each one of those meals right, get each one of those workouts done and sleep on time on each and every night. Fitness is not some big thing that you have to commit to; it’s the compounded effect of these small acts done on a daily basis. We sometimes completely overlook the importance of these small acts of wisdom that could make a huge difference. If it wasn’t for us overlooking the daily tiny efforts, then we would be much fitter and not fatter than what we were last year.
I am dedicating this year to the small acts that lead to the big picture, like eating what is in season, stopping just before I get full and working out now and rather than later.
Rujuta’s tips for a better year:
1. Make fruit a morning ritual.
Wake up to a fresh fruit. Do not reach out for your customary tea or coffee.
2. Clock 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Plan your workouts at the beginning of the week. Focus on clocking 150 minutes of exercise per week.
3. Drink buttermilk (chaas) after your meals.
Finish your lunch with a glass of buttermilk and you will never need that cup of afternoon tea or coffee again.
4. Turn off all technology before bed.
Stay away from your gadgets — cellphones, laptops, and computers — for at least one hour before you go to bed.
Dr. Ramakant Panda, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon
Our habits define us. A new year is a great time to look at our rituals of the last year and decide what new habits we must introduce to our lives to effect change. I, for instance, will definitely try and walk for 40 minutes every day. I advise everyone to walk 1,320 steps a day. I do admit that it is high time I started doing the same. I want to achieve this personal goal at least five times a week.
Dr. Panda’s hearty list of suggestions:
1. Stop smoking.
I’m not a smoker, and this is why I feel confident in giving readers this advice. Smoking is quite simply the worst habit. Just kick the butt, and stop chewing tobacco as well. Passive smokers also suffer, so do try and spare your family and friends an early death. The same spirit of aversion should apply to those who binge on alcohol from time to time.
2. Adopt a healthy diet.
Focus on consuming vegetables, fibre, whole grain, fruits and fish. Give up foods with a high carbohydrate, oil and fat content. You may need to consult a dietician to help calculate your ideal daily calorie intake.
3. Know your family history.
The World Heart Federation states that if a ‘first-degree’ male relative (father or brother) has suffered a heart attack before the age of 55, or if a ‘first-degree’ female relative has suffered one before the age of 65, you are at a greater risk of developing heart disease. If your parents have suffered heart diseases before the age of 55, your risk of developing the same rises to 50 per cent, which is much higher than the average person’s. So, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and keep your doctor informed about heart ailments in the family.
4. Don’t ignore snoring.
Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. Snoring can be a symptom of a life-threatening sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea, especially if it is leading to severe day time sleepiness. One in five adults has at least mild sleep apnoea, a condition that causes a pause in your breathing during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnoea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Men and women who snore loudly, especially if there are pauses in their snoring, should consult a physician.
5. Get regular health screenings.
It is important to undergo a thorough health check-up on a regular basis. Besides blood pressure tests, it’s critical to get your lipid profile, diabetes mellitus and hypertension checked. Testing should be carried out more often if you are overweight, diabetic or at risk of diabetes.
6. Find a hobby.
I love photography, it energises me. I also listen to music in the operation theatre, during the most challenging cases. Find something you love and then just keep doing it.
Dr. Kersi Chavda, Psychiatrist
I have always been a gym rat but I have become very lazy of late. I plan to hit the gym more regularly and exercise at least four to five times a week. Exercising regularly makes a big difference to my mental health and helps me channel my excessive anxieties positively. I have also recently discovered that I have a sweet tooth. Chocolates have become a weakness, and I plan to cut that down.
Personally, I also hope to be more accepting of my limitations as well as those of others. I have learnt to say ‘no’, and hope to continue doing that. I also want to surround myself with friends with whom I can laugh and joke around with and who can perk me up and generate more positivity in my life. I plan to go back to delivering lectures on mental health awareness at seminars and conferences. I used to be quite proactive many years ago, but had stopped because work at the clinic was too much to handle. I believe knowledge increases with sharing. All of this, I think, will help me reboot my health and lifestyle in 2016. It will certainly give me more energy, which is the need of the hour. There really is no limit to burning out.
Dr. Chavda’s advice to help you find that mind-body balance:
1. Get interested.
Choose a hobby. It’s imperative for us to do things we enjoy.
2. Save some time for yourself.
Life will go on even if you are not available. So, spend some time with yourself.
3. Laugh more.
Find humour in everything. Spread positivity and less negativity. One way of doing this is by expressing gratitude for the smallest things in life.
Attempt to be physically active — run, swim, cycle or practise yoga. Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but mental health too.
5. Keep the faith.
However scientific you are, it is always reaffirming to know there is a higher power up there smiling at you and looking after you during your toughest days.
via – indiatimes