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Dr K K Aggarwal

Pumpkin Extract Beneficial for Diabetic Patients

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Pumpkin extract has insulin–like effects. It can help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar under control.

Quoting Chinese researchers that animals with drug–induced diabetes treated with pumpkin extract had lower blood glucose levels, greater insulin secretion, and more insulin–producing beta cells than diabetic rats that weren’t given the extract. This action may be due to the presence of both antioxidants and D–chiro–inositol, a molecule that mediates insulin activity.

Pumpkin extract is potentially a very good product for pre–diabetic persons, as well as those who have already developed diabetes.

Pumpkin is frequently used to treat diabetes and high blood glucose in Asia.

The results of an animal study have shown that rats with diabetes had 41 percent less insulin in their blood than normal rates; giving them pumpkin extract for 30 days boosted levels of the blood sugar–regulating hormone by 36 percent. And after 30 days of being fed pumpkin extract, diabetic rats had blood glucose levels similar to those of non-diabetic rats.

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Is time and place of death pre-defined?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Some gurus teach that the time and place of death is predefined and some do not. I personally feel that life and respiration are predefined and not day and time of death.


It is something like – water in a sponge will become empty when every drop of water comes out but it does not matter how much time it takes to come out. It is therefore possible to postpone or prolong the fulfillment of Prarabhdha Karma and postpone death.

As per the Karma theory, unless our Prarabdha Karmas (decided at the time of death and birth) are enjoyed and fulfilled, one cannot die. But once the Prarabhdha Karmas are fulfilled, death is inevitable.
Another unanswered question is ‘can Prarabdha karma be modified’? Fate or destiny may not change, which means one may not be able to prolong the quantity of life but can definitely change the quality of life. The quality of life can be changed by modifying Agami (present Karmas).

Sanchit Karmas can be burnt with the file of knowledge about self. Prarabdha Karmas have to be experienced and Agami Karma can be neutralized by positive and negative Karmas to Zero in the present life.

The last few Prarabdha Karma experienced can thus be slowed down by the net positive result of their Agami karmas.

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Artificial Sweeteners in Sweets May Be Harmful

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In a joint statement, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association gave a cautious recommendation to the use of nonnutritive sweeteners to help people maintain a healthy body weight and for diabetics to aid glucose control.

These products should be considered like a nicotine patch. They are appreciably better than the real product (sugar), but not part of an optimal diet. The statement, published in both Circulation and Diabetes Care on July 9, 2012, warns that sweeteners are helpful only as long as people don’t eat additional calories later as compensation.

The term nonnutritive sweeteners cover six sweeteners including aspartame, acesulfame K, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, and plant–derived stevia. These nonnutritive substances have zero calories.

Two things may happen in terms of compensation

1.Physiological, where the body might be expecting more calories and so the individual may be hungrier and therefore may eat more

2.Psychological, where the individual thinks they are allowed to eat more sugar-rich food because they had a diet soda instead of a full–sugar soda.

When people use sweeteners there is compensation. The key is how much? Partial compensation is ok but people often completely compensate or even overcompensate, so these sweeteners have to be used smartly to be successful. Compensation seems less of a problem when these sweeteners are consumed in beverages as opposed to food.

People don’t really notice the lack of calories in a diet soda and so don’t tend to eat more, whereas if they consume a low–calorie foodstuff, they do tend to eat more as compensation.

Its better when sweeteners are used in beverages and not sweets or other foods.
One is not completely sure about the safety of these products, because their long–term use in humans has not been studied fully.

However, the artificial sweeteners on the market are almost certainly safer than consuming large amounts of sugar, which has definite harm when consumed in large amounts.

This harm, particularly when consumed in beverage form such as soda, includes increases in risks of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and gout.

A concern, though, is that just replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners leaves a person, especially children, conditioned to high levels of sweetness, which is likely to influence their food choices adversely.

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Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha of Medical Profession

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The eras of Ram and Krishna represent two different perceptions of life. While Rama taught us the message of truthfulness, Krishna taught us when not to speak the truth and when speaking a lie is justified.

The medical profession today cannot survive on the principles of Rama. According to principles of Krishna, a truth which if spoken may cause harm to someone and if not spoken does not cause any harm, may not be spoken. Similarly, a lie, which without harming the community may help a particular person or situation, may be spoken.

Doctors come across situations every day in their medical practice, where speaking the truth may be harmful to the patient. Quite often false hopes are given and patients of terminal cancer are not told about their exact nature of illness and the prognosis. There is no way a doctor is going to tell the patient that you are going to die in the next 24 hours even if it is medically true.

Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are the four basic purposes of life for which we are born. The basic purpose of life is to fulfill our desires in such a way that we end up in inner happiness. Fulfillment of desires should be done by following the principles of righteous or ethical earning.

Most charges in the hospital settings are different depending upon the categories chosen by the patient. A single room patient invariably has to pay more than a patient admitted in the concessional three-bed room or general ward. Even the charges of the treatment, operation theatre, investigations and consultations may be different depending upon the categories. Taking more money from the rich and helping the poor. This principle is more according to Krishna’s principle than Rama’s.

Placebo therapy is a well–established therapy in medical science, which means treating the patient without giving the actual drug to a patient. The information that the drug does not contain any ingredient is withheld from the patient in this type of therapy. As per the literature, 35% of illnesses and symptoms may resolve using a placebo and is based on the principle that the very feeling that a medicine is being given stimulates the inner body pharmacy and produces healing substances and chemicals.

Nocebo effect, on the other hand, means that if the patient is told that your illness is not going to be cured even if medicines are given they may not act as the patient’s body produces negative chemicals, which neutralize the effect of medicines that otherwise are effective.

Indian doctors were known for their social medicine, which involves proper assessing of patients’ and their families’ financial status before deciding the treatment. There is no point giving options to a family to spend 10–15 lakhs of rupees for getting an ICD device implanted in the heart, which may increase life span only by one or two years or improve quality of life for a few years to a family who cannot afford this amount of money and may have to sell their house or spend all the money saved for the marriage of their daughters.

But today, with the Consumer Protection Act applicable to the medical profession also, not informing the family may even amount to negligence.

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Hydrogenated oils containing trans fats are tastier than foods cooked in plant oils. Most hydrogenated oils involve hydrogenation of palm oils. Hydrogenation increases their shelf life, makes them easier to cook and spoil less easily. French fries, microwave popcorns and food cooked by traditional halwais are cooked in hydrogenated trans fats.

Most commercially catered food prepared from trans fats are tasty and often people overeat by at least 500 calories because of the taste provided by the hydrogenated oils.

Per serving, 5 grams of trans fatty acids is present in French fries, 6 gm in breaded fish burger, 5 gm in breaded chicken nuggets, 2 gm in biscuits, 2.7 gm in margarine, 2 gm in cakes, 1.6 gm in corn chips, 1.2 gm in microwave popcorn and 1.1 gm in pizza.

Four gm of trans fats are present in one parantha, 3.4 gm in one poori, 5.2 gm in one bhatura, 1.7 gm in one dosa, 6.1 gm in one tikki, 3 gm in one samosa, 2 gm in one serving of pakoda, 2.9 gm in one serving of vegetable pulao and 3.6 gm in one serving of halwa.

Just about 2.6 gm a day of trans fats, half as much contained in a packet of French fries can raise the risk of heart disease significantly.

Some trans fats occur naturally in foods, especially those of animal origin. The chemical configuration of trans fatty acids confers harmful effects, including adverse influences on blood LDL- and HDL-cholesterol concentrations. They raise LDL and lower HDL cholesterols. By comparison, consumption of saturated fats also raises the LDL cholesterol concentration, but does not lower HDL. Thus, while saturated fats adversely affect the lipid profile, they may not be as harmful as trans fatty acids.

Trans fatty acids may also interfere with the desaturation and elongation of n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. These are important for the prevention of heart disease and complications of pregnancy. In an analysis from the Nurses’ Health Study, for each increase of 2 percent of energy from trans fat, the relative risk for incident coronary heart disease was 1.93. There are no known physiologic benefits related to the consumption of trans fatty acids; thus, reduction in their intake makes sense.

The words “partially hydrogenated” on the list of package ingredients are clues to their presence. Since 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it a requirement that Nutrition Facts labels portray trans fat content. FDA estimates that the average daily intake of trans fat in the U.S. population is about 5.8 grams or 2.6% of calories per day for individuals 20 years of age and older. On average, Americans consume approximately 4 to 5 times as much saturated fat as trans fat in their diet. FDA’s label requirement is that if a dietary supplement contains a reportable amount of trans fat, which is 0.5 gram or more, dietary supplement manufacturers must list the amounts on the Supplement Facts panel. The FDA final rule on trans fatty acids requires that the amount of trans fats in a serving be listed on a separate line under saturated fats on the Nutrition Facts panel.

However, trans fats do not have to be listed if the total fat in a food is less than 0.5 gram (or 1/2 gram) per serving.

All restaurants in New York have banned all food items, which contain more than 0.5 gm of trans fats in one serving.

Guidelines

  • Check the Nutrition Facts panel: Choose foods lower in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.
  • Choose alternative fats. Replace saturated and trans fats in your diet with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats do not raise LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels and have health benefits when eaten in moderation. Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include soybean, corn, sunflower oils, and foods like nuts.
  • Choose vegetable oils (except coconut and palm kernel oils) and soft margarines (liquid, tub, or spray) more often because the combined amount of saturated and trans fats is lower than the amount in solid shortenings, hard margarines, and animal fats, including butter.
  • Consider fish. Most fish are lower in saturated fat than meat. Some fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that are being studied to determine if they offer protection against heart disease.
  • Limit foods high in cholesterol such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks and full-fat dairy products, like whole milk.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat such as fat free or 1% dairy products, lean meats, fish, skinless poultry, whole grain foods and fruit and vegetables.
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Training in any field requires gaining knowledge, skills and positive mental attitude towards the object of learning.

Knowledge is everything about what and why. In Yoga, it correlates with the Gyan (Gnana) Marg. Skill is all about how to do it and correlates with Karma Marg.

The positive mental attitude is linked to willingness to do any work or in other words one’s Astha in that action. In Yoga, it is synonymous with Bhakti Marg.

In Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna talks about all the principles of management including how to train and develop an individual.

The development teaches and increases one’s intelligence quotient (IQ), physical quotient (PQ), emotional quotient (EQ) and moral quotient (MQ).

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Diet and Aging: Gaining a Nutritional Edge

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Choose fruits and vegetables wisely

  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
  • When filling your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose from a full color palette.
  • For even more health benefits, aim for nine servings a day. To get there, choose vegetable soups and vegetable or fruit salads. Sprinkle fruit on breakfast cereal, and select it for snacks or as a sweet end note after meals.

Choose fats wisely

  • Whenever possible, use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Avoid trans fats entirely. Limit saturated fats to less than 7% of daily calories and total fat to 20% to 30% of daily calories.
  • If you don’t have coronary artery disease, the American Heart Association recommends eating foods rich in omega–3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, or mackerel, twice weekly. If you have documented coronary artery disease, consume roughly 1 gram a day of EPA or DHA from oily fish and supplements if your doctor advises this.

Choose carbohydrates wisely

  • Choose whole–grain foods over those made with refined grains, such as white bread. Look beyond popular choices like whole oats and brown rice to lesser–known whole grains like barley, bulgur, kasha and quinoa. Limit your intake of white potatoes.

Choosing protein wisely

  • Emphasize plant sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and grains, to help you bypass unhealthy fats predominant in animal sources. Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables and eating beans and grains helps you get a full complement of amino acids over the course of a week. Shy away from protein sources high in saturated fat. Favor fish and well–trimmed poultry. If you do eat beef, pick lean cuts.
  • Don’t char or overcook meat, poultry, or fish, it causes a buildup of carcinogens. Cutting off fat, which causes flames to flare on the grill, can help avoid charring; try gently sautéing, steaming, or braising these foods in liquid instead. Grilling vegetables is safe, however.
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Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define yoga as restraint of the mental states (Chapter 1.2). In the state of total restraint, the mind is devoid of any external object and is in its true self or the consciousness. Many Vedic scholars have given their own formulae to control the mind. Being in touch with one’s own consciousness requires restraining of the mind, intellect and ego on one hand and the triad of rajas, tamas and satwa on the other hand. Every action leads to a memory, which in turn leads to a desire and with this a vicious cycle starts.

The mental turmoil of thoughts can be equated to the internal noise and the external desires and objects to an external noise.

The process of withdrawing from the external noise with an aim to start a journey inwards the silent field of awareness bypassing the internal noise is called pratihara by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It involves living in a satwik atmosphere based on the dos and don’ts learnt over a period of time or as told by the scriptures. To control inner noise-based thoughts, we either need to neutralize negative thoughts by cultivating opposite thoughts or kill the origin of negative thoughts.

Not allowing thoughts to occur has been one of the strategies mentioned by the scholars. One of them has been neti–neti by Yagnayakya.

The other method is to pass through these inner thoughts and not get disturbed by it and that is what the process of meditation is. This can be equated to a situation where two people are talking in an atmosphere of loud external noise. For proper communication one will have to concentrate on each other’s voice for long till the external noise ceases to disturb. In meditation, one concentrates on the object of concentration to such an extent that the noisy thoughts cease to bother or exist.

One of the ways mentioned by Adi Shankaracharya in Bhaja Govindam and by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Chapter 2.35) is that whenever one is surrounded by evil or negative thoughts, one should meditate open the contrary thoughts. For example, if one is feeling greedy, one can think of donating something to somebody. Deepak Chopra in his book Seven Laws of Spiritual Success talks in detail about the importance of giving and sharing. He says you should never visit friends or relations empty handed. You should always carry some gift of nature, which if nothing is available can be a simple smile, compliment or a flower. By repeatedly indulging into positive behavior and thoughts, you can reduce the internal noise, which helps in making the process of meditation or conscious living a simpler one.

Washing out negative thoughts is another way mentioned by many Vedic scholars. Writing for 3 min is one such exercise which anybody can do. Just before sleeping, take 3 min and write down all your emotions and then discard the paper. Another exercise is to reward or punish oneself at bed time for the activities done during the day by either patting or slapping yourself.

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