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Depending on various factors like time, quantity, age, sex, purpose, physical condition and health issues of the drinker, alcohol consumption can be harmless or can turn poisonous. While moderate and wise consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, be good for circulatory system and may also prevent type 2 diabetes and gallstones, heavy drinking and alcohol abuse may increase the risk of high blood pressure, liver disease (cirrhosis), pancreatitis, heart muscle damage (leading to heart failure) and even certain cancers.
To be a responsible drinker, the most vital point to be aware of is the right and the healthy time to have a drink, besides knowing how to control and prevent heavy drinking.
Times when cons outweigh the pros
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy, after being diagnosed with liver or pancreatic diseases, while taking medications or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol, despite having a history of a haemorrhagic stroke are some of the times and situations when it should be avoided at any cost.
The right times:
Full stomach: If you wish to grab a drink, it is sensible and proper to have it after a full and hearty meal. The richer the pre-meal is with proteins, healthy fat, starch and other macronutrients, the more it will help slow down the rate at which alcohol gets absorbed into the bloodstream, thereby reducing the severity of nausea, dizziness, headaches and other alcohol-induced sicknesses. Eggs, fibre-rich cereals, nuts and salmons – source of vitamin B components, protein-rich chicken are some of the pre-game food items and delicacies that can greatly trim alcohol effects and hangover heaviness at the same time. Refined carbohydrates like chips and cookies don't slow down or prevent the effects of alcohol due to the fact that they can be digested comparatively quickly. Medical help regarding pre-alcohol meal should be sought in case of any health issues.
Hydrated body: Alcohol decreases the number of anti-diuretic hormones produced by our body, which helps us to stay hydrated. As a result, our body loses precious fluids fast and gets dehydrated at a faster pace. On top of that, increased urination and vomiting (if occurs) brought about by drinking further causes dehydration. Some of the signs of dehydration can be a dry and sticky mouth, decreased urination and headache. So it is really important to swallow a glass or two of water before so that you can start drinking with your body already hydrated with necessary fluid. In this context, it is also necessary to keep your body hydrated throughout. Maintaining a healthy alcoholic to non-alcoholic beverages ratio during the consumption process is always the best idea.
Sufficient sleep: Alcoholic drinks can interfere with our sleep. It disrupts the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and accelerates our metabolism. Hence our body becomes more alert than general and sleeping becomes difficult. It is advisable to avoid alcohol, if you had slept poorly the previous night and looking forward to a good night’s sleep. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a dietitian-nutritionist.
Most brides go to great lengths to look their best on their wedding day, but a few get it wrong. They fall in the trap of quick fixes such as extreme diets and exercise regimes that end up harming their health, sometimes permanently, before their D-day. The fact is that short term changes made in the hope of losing weight quickly are always harmful and useless.
Here are a few healthy and effective tips for brides wanting to get in shape for their wedding day.
- Eat five to six small meals per day: This is a great way to feel full the whole day. This helps you to stay away from mindless snacking, increase your metabolism and decrease consumption of empty calories. You can go for a portion of lean meat, whole grain carbohydrate and a fruit or vegetable every three to four hours a day. You must also consume dairy products regularly for calcium. It’s also good to design and fix your diet plan in advance as you’ll get busier as your wedding day approaches. If you are a working woman, you can cook your meals and freeze them beforehand. This will prevent you from ordering food in. Skipping a meal is a complete no-no as this will make you hungrier later on and promotes bingeing.
- Hydrate well: Keep drinking small quantities of water throughout the day. This will keep you hydrated and make you feel full. Experts say that hunger pangs could actually be a sign that you are thirsty. You should drink eight to 10 glasses of water daily. If you exercise regularly, you need more water. Also if you are overweight, you need to drink more water. Drinking soda or even diet soda does not count as water. These drinks actually dehydrate you.
- Engage in smart snacking to keep yourself energized: Snack right on food items containing proteins, iron, vitamins and whole grains to keep your energy up on days before your wedding. Nutritionists recommend 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fibre with each meal. Healthy snack options can be oats, sprouts, fruits and cheese. Keep these healthy snacks around you so that you reach for them and not chocolates and pasta when you’re hungry.
- Avoid bloat-causing food items: Bloating makes your stomach look fat. You certainly can’t afford to get a bloated stomach during your wedding. So stay off sugary food items like desserts, candy, juices, cokes and refined sugar found in white breads, rice and pasta. This way you will fit into your wedding dress and feel energized and fit to enjoy your wedding festivities. Opt for natural sweeteners like honey instead and drink more water, soup and fruit to decrease bloating.
There are many myths about diabetes, especially related to what you can eat and what you can’t. Lots of people think that diabetics shouldn’t eat sweets at all. This is not true. Similarly, all carbs and fats are not bad. A high protein diet is also not required and there are no special diabetic meals. So, what should you as a diabetic, eat to combat diabetes? Read on to find out:
- Low glycemic index foods: Complex carbs are best for you as they limit the amount of sugar released into your blood stream and are digested more slowly and prevent your body from releasing too much insulin. These are also called low GI foods as well as slow-release carbs and are also high in fibre. Processed carbs like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as sodas, packaged meals, and snacks must be junked. These are all called high glycemic index (GI) foods and spike your blood sugar.
- Manage sugar wisely: Diabetes doesn’t mean that you can’t eat sugar or desserts. It means you have to be smart with sugar, like
- Take smaller servings of your favourite desserts as they are best eaten in moderation.
- Reduce the sugar in your diet slowly rather than at once. This will give your taste buds some time to adjust, reducing sugar cravings.
- If you want to eat dessert, hold back on carbs in a meal. Balance out meals so that you don’t eat too many carb-heavy foods.
- Add some healthy fat to your diet, as it slows down the digestive process, which means that your blood sugar levels don’t spike as quickly.
- Eat sweets along with a meal and not alone: Sweets eaten alone can spike your blood sugar levels a lot.
- Don’t drink alcohol: Alcohol is full of calories and carbs and cocktails are loaded with sugar. Alcohol can interfere with diabetes medication and insulin, as well.
- Avoid junk, soft drinks, soda and juices: They are all packed with sugar.
- Avoid processed or packaged foods: These are loaded with hidden sugars. Eat food cooked at home.
- Remember high protein diets are not always good: Studies have shown that if you eat too much protein, especially animal protein, you may become insulin resistant. A healthy diet for diabetics includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats for the body to function properly.
- Eat more of these
- Healthy fats found in raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, and flax seeds.
- Also eat more fruits and vegetables. Avoid juices.
- Eat more high fibre cereals.
- And avoid foods like
- Trans fats which means all deep-fried foods
- Fast foods, especially cakes, pastries, and chips
- Red meat
Remember, your overall eating patterns are very important. It’s also important to eat at regular intervals and avoid missing meals. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dietitian-nutritionist.
With age, especially during late twenties or early thirties and beyond, it is almost an accepted fact that you will grow fat in the middle. Belly fat affects both men and women with bulging waistlines. This however, is just more than unsightly, as belly fat increases the chance of heart disease, diabetes and other serious ailments. A few simple and proven ways to reduce belly fat are mentioned here.
- Reducing carbohydrates in your diet: Carbohydrates are the source of energy for your body, as they are usually transformed into glucose by the body, which can then be absorbed by the cells. However, your diet may include too many carbs and cause you to gain belly fat. Reducing carbs is known to have the following benefits:
- Reduces appetite in general
- Burns fat reserves as the body tries to use alternative sources of energy
- Diet low in carbohydrates are also know to reduce water weight and show quick results during weight loss
- Low carb diet will have a beneficial effect, if you have type 2 diabetes and helps in keeping the blood glucose levels under control
- Avoid CRAP foods: Avoiding CRAP wherein, C: Carbonated beverages & caffeine, R: Refined sugars, A: Alcohol & Artificial sweeteners, P: processed food from the diet is of great help in burning belly fat.
- Unprocessed and lean meat: Unprocessed and lean meats are a good source of protein and have fewer calories than non-lean meats. Lean meats are popular amongst people following low calorie and low fat diets. Poultry is a good source of selenium, vitamins B3 and B6, and choline.
- Avoid processed sugar and sweetened beverages: Fructose found in most products within the market, such as cookies, sweets, sodas and other similar beverages cannot be absorbed or processed by the liver and is converted into fat. This will not only increase your girth, but also contribute to insulin resistance and lead to serious problems such as heart diseases.
- Include and increase fiber in your diet when you want to lose belly fat: Fiber, especially viscous fiber is known to improve bowel movements and improves the health of gut bacteria. It also reduces abdominal fat and thus reduces belly fat.
- Increase protein intake: Reducing carbs and increasing protein in your diet will help you lose belly fat as well as over all body fat quickly. Protein decreases the chance of developing insulin resistance and also helps the body in using up the blood glucose for energy more efficiently. Include unprocessed animal protein as well as vegetarian protein sources in your diet to lose belly fat, but ensure that they are cooked or prepared in a healthy way.
- Try yoga or free hand exercises: You don’t have to go to the gym with an expensive fee to lose belly fat. Just try free hand exercises and cardio to ensure that the metabolism in your body remains high along with a balanced diet as mentioned above. Yoga in general or certain yoga poses are also very effective in reducing belly fat. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dietitian-nutritionist.
Obesity is a global epidemic, affecting almost all areas of human health, from heart disease to cancer, and impacting upon most of the major causes of preventable death. However, in recent years, obesity has increased dramatically in many parts of the world with India ranking third in the world’s most obese countries. Although diet and lifestyle choices play a big role, obesity might be in your genes, according to a recent study.
With over 50% of obesity being attributed to genetics, obesity can be an inherited condition. We inherit a lot more from our parents and grand-parents than our skin, hair colour and intelligence, but also predisposition to conditions such as obesity. Understanding one’s genetic profile can help individuals understand their body type and tailor their diets to foods best suited to them.
The obesity gene – FTO
The FTO gene, commonly called the obese gene is a major contributor to obesity in individuals. One version of this gene makes impulse control difficult, affecting your food choice and makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Several other genes such as MC4R, INSIG, TCF7L2, LEP, IRS, have also been found to contribute to obesity. While genes do play some role in causing a predisposition to obesity, they are not entirely to blame. According to a study published by Harvard School of Public Health, ‘Active adults who carried the obesity-promoting gene had a 30 percent lower risk of obesity than inactive adults who carried the gene’. In addition to genetics, there are several factors that play a role – unhealthy lifestyles, diet inadequate in nutrients but rich in calories, higher stress levels, physical inactivity, rise in conditions such as diabetes, hormonal imbalances, in fertility etc.
Genetic tests are available nowadays to tell you what type of genes that you carry and your susceptibility to obesity. Personalised weight management programs are more effective than one size fits all approach that provides generic advice.
Simple dietary modifications can help you to overcome risks of gaining weight that might be caused due to your obesity genes:
- Drink 1 glass of water before every meal that you consume. This helps you to make you feel full and eat less.
- Slow paced eating (20-25 minutes) helps you to feel full and also aids in digestion.
- Protein rich breakfast such as two egg whites or 1 cup of pulses will help you to maintain your satiety.
- High fibre diet (at least 3-4 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits) will help you to lose weight.
- Adding a variety to your diet will also help you to lose weight.
Drink a glass of milk with your meals, rather than a glass of water. If you eat cereal for breakfast, try adding a sliced up banana along with it.
Food plays a vital role in lowering the cholesterol apart from timely medication. Here is a list of 10 foods that contribute to a great extent in lowering the cholesterol level:
- Oats: Changing the morning meal is the first action you should take. Oatmeal can bring down the LDL level to a staggering 5.3 percent in a matter of 6 weeks. It contains beta-glucan, which is capable of absorbing the LDL present in the blood.
- Red wine: You can cheer to reduced cholesterol with a glass of red wine in hand. A study conducted by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain found that red wine can reduce the cholesterol level up to 9 percent owing to a vital component known as Rioja present in it.
- Salmon Fish: Fatty and salmon fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids. They are known to be extremely effective for diseases such as dementia, cardiovascular diseases and much more. A study conducted by the Loma Linda University found that Omega-3 can increase the HDL by up to 4 percent.
- Nuts: Nuts can reduce the cholesterol by up to 9.3 percent, a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed. 1.5 oz of regular consumption of nuts greatly helps in bringing down cholesterol. Since nuts are very rich in protein, portion control is necessary to refrain putting on weight.
- Beans: A research conducted by the Arizona State Polytechnic University revealed that adding beans to soup can bring down the LDL up to 8 percent. Owing to their rich fibre content, they effectively absorb cholesterol. Some of the beans that can be tried include kidney, black and pinto beans.
- Cocoa: A study conducted by the AJCN reported that the daily intake of cocoa increases the HDL by over 20 percent in 3 months. Due to its high antioxidant content, it streamlines the blood flow and doesn’t let platelets stick together.
- Garlic: 2-3 cloves of garlic per day can dramatically reduce cholesterol-limiting LDL into the artery. It can prevent other conditions such as blood pressure, infections and blood clotting. Garlic can be consumed with any regular dish.
- Olive oil: Olive oil has multiple health benefits. It contains a compound known as MUFAs that lowers cholesterol and helps to get rid of abdomen fats. You can use it with salads, roast vegetables and marinate chicken.
- Avocado: Avocado contains monounsaturated fat that helps to raise the level of HDL and lower the LDL in the body. It contains Beta-sitosterol that absorbs cholesterol and brings down the count of it in the body. Owing to its high-calorie content, portion size should be looked into.
- Margarine: Two margarine can lower the LDL level up to 14 %. They are capable of absorbing cholesterol from the bile. It can be consumed with toast in the morning or as a snack in the evening. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dietitian-nutritionist and ask a free question.