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Dr K K Aggarwal

Vitamin D intake associated with reduced risk for Crohn’s disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Increased intake of vitamin D may significantly reduce the risk for Crohn’s disease (CD) in women, according to an article published online December 12 and in the March issue of the journal Gastroenterology.

  • This study involved 72,719 women who returned the 1986 questionnaire. They had data on both vitamin D intake and physical activity and did not have a history of CD or UC.
  • Diagnosis of CD was based on a typical history of 4 weeks or longer and was confirmed by radiologic, endoscopic, or surgical evaluation.
  • The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (UC) was based on typical clinical presentation of 4 weeks or more and endoscopic, radiologic, or surgical evaluation.
  • Mean age of the participants at baseline was 53 years, mean body mass index (BMI) was 25.4 kg/m2, mean physical activity was 13.2 metabolic hours per week, 94.5% were white and 36.6% never smoked.
  • A documented 122 cases of CD and 123 cases of UC were recorded during 1,492,811 person–years of follow–up. The median predicted 25(OH)D level was 27.6 ng/mL.
  • Women in the lowest quartile of predicted 25(OH)D level compared with those in the highest quartile had a higher body mass index, were less active, tended to reside in the Northern or Midwestern regions of the United States, and had lower intake levels of dietary or supplemental vitamin D. The median age of diagnosis of CD was 64.0 years; for UC, it was 63.5 years.
  • The median interval between assessment of plasma 25(OH) D levels and disease diagnosis was 12 years for UC and 10 years for CD.
  • For every 1 ng/mL increase in predicted 25(OH)D level, the risk for CD was reduced by 6%.
  • For UC, there was also a reduction in risk, but it was non–significant at 4%.
  • Women in the highest two quartiles of 25(OH)D levels had multivariate HRs of 0.50 and 0.55, respectively, for CD
  • Each 100 IU/day increase in total intake resulted in a 10% reduction in UC risk and a 7% reduction in CD risk.
  • For vitamin D intake from diet and supplements based on quartile distribution, there was a significant linear inverse trend for vitamin D intake and UC risk, but this trend was weaker for CD.
  • Intakes of 800 IU/day or higher resulted in greater reductions in the risks for UC and CD
  • Vitamin D intake was inversely associated with the risks for CD and UC, vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency was an important mediator in the pathogenesis of UC and CD, and assessment of vitamin D status should be a part of the assessment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Spiritual prescription: Meditation vs Concentration

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Meditation is not concentration. Concentration is holding the mind to something within or outside the body. On the other hand, meditation is an unbroken flow of thoughts towards the object of concentration. It can be called prolonged concentration. Meditation is like pouring of oil from one vessel to another in a steady unbroken stream.

Samadhi or absorption is when the object of concentration and the mind of the perceiver becomes one. When Concentration, Meditation and Samadhi are brought to bear upon one subject it is called Samyam.

According to yoga sutras of Patanjali, (3.1–3.6), meditation needs to be learnt and applied step by step. The practice starts by sitting straight with erect spine, preferably in Padmasana (one can also sit on the chair) and concentrate on the breathing or on a primordial sound given by the teacher.

When the mind can be made to flow uninterruptedly towards the same object for 12 seconds, one is said to have learnt the process of concentration.

When the mind can continue in that concentration for 12 times (12 seconds × 12 i.e. 2 minutes 24 seconds), one is said to be practicing meditation.

When the mind can continue in that concentration for 12 times (12 minutes 24 seconds × 12 i.e. 28 minutes 48 seconds), one is said to be in Samadhi.

And if this lower Samadhi can be maintained for 12 times, i.e., for 5 hours 45 minutes and 36 seconds, one is said to be in Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

The mind becomes one-pointed when similar thought waves arise in succession without any gap between them.

One should remember that during meditation, the object of concentration may change in form, time and rhythm.

The whole process of meditation, therefore, varies from person to person and day to day. During meditation some may only concentrate, some may actually meditate and some may go into Samadhi. Most of us wander from concentration to meditation.

Once in meditation or Samadhi, by fixing the mind on various structures, internal or external, one can achieve siddhi powers. For e.g., by concentrating on the tip of nose one can acquire better smelling powers; by concentrating on the tip of the tongue, one can acquire supranormal tasting powers; by concentrating on the middle part of the tongue, one can acquire supranormal powers of sensation; by concentrating on the root of the tongue, one can acquire supra normal hearing; and by concentrating on palate one can acquire supra natural colour perceptions. With experience, one can concentrate upon any object of any size, from the atom to the infinity.

Just as pure crystal takes colour from the object nearest to it, the mind when cleared of thoughts achieves identity with the object of concentration.

Primordial sound (beej mantra) meditation is based on the principle that the initial one–point concentration on a particular sound (seed) over a period of time becomes seedless or thoughtless (yoga sutras of Patanjali 1.51).

Swami Vivekananda co-related it with Raj Yoga and said that our average span of attention on a particular object is only around three seconds. He said that if one is able to increase this attention span and concentration at an object of our choice for 12 seconds then we are practicing Patanjali’s sixth stage of yoga or ‘dharana’, which translates as contemplation. And if we can further increase our concentration ability to 12 × 12 seconds or for 144 seconds, then we have reached the mental plateau of meditation or ‘dhayana’. Swami Vivekananda further went on to attribute values to the exalted state of samadhi or transcendental conscious mental state which in value is termed as arising from a meditative or concentration span of 12 × 12 × 12 seconds, which is 30 minutes or half an hour.

Vedanta describes it in terms of units. It says that if you can concentrate 12 seconds on a subject uninterruptedly, it becomes one unit of concentration; 12 such units of concentration make one unit of meditation; 12 units of meditation lead to the first stage of samadhi and 12 units of this samadhi lead to the highest samadhi, the supreme realization of Atman. Dharana is concentration; Dhyana is meditation and Samadhi is trance.

Patanjali called them as ‘Matra: If you are able to sit, withdraw the mind and fix it upon a focal point within (it may be gross, subtle or anything), and are able to keep the mind fixed like that for a period of twelve Matras – a Matra is approximately a moment or a second – it is counted as ‘one concentration’. It says “If you can keep the mind steady without moving, without any contrary thoughts coming in, and without moving away from the object of concentration for a period of twelve Matras, it is regarded as ‘one Dharana or one concentration’”. He further says that one should go on practicing this Dharana for days and weeks and months so that it becomes longer and longer. By continuous practice, if one is able to keep the mind focused upon one single point without moving here or there, for 144 seconds (a period of twelve Dharanas), then the person is called Dhyani or a Dhyana Yogi.

Yoga sutra of Patanjali (3.6) clearly says that meditation must be learnt in stages. It calls for repeated practice of meditation. The three basic components of meditation are: The subject of meditation, the center of consciousness at which the mind is held, and the method employed to guide the mind to concentration. The subject of meditation may be the non–dual all–pervading Self, any specific aspect of the divine, or any divine incarnation. The center of consciousness may be at the heart, or between the eyebrows, or at the crown of the head. The method employed to invoke concentration may be any of the following: Japa, or repetition of a sacred word; discrimination between the real and the unreal; dispassion, which is knowing the evil effect of sense–enjoyment; pranayama, or control of breath and ceremonial observances.

But regularity is most important. One can start with looking at any object – flame, idol, or picture for 12 seconds with total concentration and without blinking eyelids (concentration). And then one practices 12 concentrations to make one meditation. The proper meditation thus need not last more than 2 minutes 24 seconds.

Harvard 4 simple ways to boost your energy

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Pace yourself: Keep going, but don’t risk overtaxing yourself. Instead of burning through all your battery life in two hours, spread it out between morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities — with rest and meals between.
  2. Take a walk or a nap: However, if you have trouble sleeping at night, napping can make the insomnia worse. If that’s the case for you, get moving instead. Get up and walk around the block, or just get up and move around. If you are not an insomniac, enjoy that 20– to 30–minute power nap.
  3. Skip most supplements. There is no evidence that they works.
    • DHEA: There is no evidence that DHEA offers any real benefits.
    • Iron. Iron only improves energy if you are clearly deficient.
    • B vitamins. It is true that B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12) help the body convert food into the form of energy that cells can burn, but taking more B vitamins doesn’t supercharge your cells.
  4. Fuel up wisely. A sugary bakery roll delivers plenty of calories, but your body tends to metabolize them faster, and then you can end up with sinking blood sugar and fatigue. You’ll maintain a steadier energy level by eating lean protein and unrefined carbohydrates. Try low–fat yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts, raisins, and honey.

Managing grief by free expressive writing

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The loss of a loved is often painful. The resultant grief makes it hard to eat, sleep and leads to loss of interest in routine life affecting behavior and judgment.

Some can feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world and others may find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety.

It is well known that disclosing deep emotions through writing can boost immune function as well as mood and well–being. Conversely, the stress of holding in strong feelings can ratchet up blood pressure and heart rate and increase muscle tension.

One can write on a piece of paper, in your personal book, on the open website with nick name or keep it in the mind. One doesn’t have to preserve the emotions and can through away the writings.

In absence of deeply troubling situations, such as suicide or a violent death which are best explored with the help of an experienced therapist, one can choose writing as a way to express out the grief.

  1. Start writing for 15 to 30 minutes a day for three to four days
  2. Continue upto a week if it is helping
  3. Continue writing for 15 to 30 minutes once a week for a month.
  4. Writing has stronger effects when it extends over more days.
  5. Remember writing about grief and loss can trigger strong emotions (one may cry or feel deeply upset)
  6. Many people find journal writing valuable and meaningful and report feeling better afterward.
  7. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure.
  8. Truly let go. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. You’re writing for yourself, not others. (Source Harvard News Letter)

Eat 20 almonds or 15 cashews or 30 peanuts every day

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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People who ate a 1–ounce serving of nuts each day showed a 20 percent reduced risk of dying from any cause over three decades, compared to those who didn’t eat the tasty snacks, as shown a study published in the Nov. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Prior studies suggest health benefits like a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and lower cholesterol, among other health outcomes. Nuts are nutrient–dense foods. They contain unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

One–ounce serving was equal to about 16 to 24 almonds, 16 to 18 cashews or 30 to 35 peanuts.

Spiritual Prescription: You are born with a quota use it judicially

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Everyone is born with a passport with a defined battery life to live up to 100 years after which one has to go back to renewal or recharging of the batteries.

If the battery is overused or misused and is depleted early, one may have to go back prematurely for recharging, but this time when one comes back, he or she may come back with a different body which may not be the human one. There are 64 lakh Yonis as described in the Vedic literature.

According to the Vedic description, if one dies prematurely there are chances that the rebirth will not be in the same species.

To live up to the time period defined at the time of birth by Dharmaraja, one has to follow the principles as described in Yogashastra.

The main principle is the principle of moderation and variety. It says that everything has to be used, if not used will get rusted and if overused well undergo wear and tear. The classical example is that GOD had made uterus in the women for producing a child; if the same organ is not used at al it will produce a fibroid and if overused it may end up in a cancer.

When using the principles of moderation and variety when should remember that each one of us is born with a fix quota of everything, a quota of diet, respirations, heart rate and thoughts.

According to swara yoga one is born with predefined number of respirations to be taken during life. If one consumes them early he will depart for refueling early from the life. To reduce the respiratory rate is therefore the basis of postponing aging and prolonging life. Stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system by learning and practicing pranayama, which is slower and deep breathing, does the same.

One breathes 15 times a minute or 21600 breaths in a day, or 7884000 (78.84 lakhs) a year or 788400000 (78.84 crores) during life (assuming it to be 100 years). Some yoga books say that a person is born with 33 crore breaths, the same if taken at the rate or 15 per minute would last for 42 years.

In fact Pranayama originated on the concept that the breaths of each one of us are numbered, that our life–span is dependent on how many times we shall breathe in a given life, and that, as a consequence of this fact, we must reduce the number of breaths so as to live longer.

In Gorakshapaddhati (I.93), it is written that “Due to fear of death even Brahma, the Lord of creation, keeps on practicing pranayama and so do many yogis and minis. It is recommended that a student of yoga must always control his breath.”

Hathayoga–pradipika (II.39) also writes: ‘All the gods including Lord Brahma became devoted to the practice of pranayama because they were afraid of death. We the mortals should follow the same path and control the breath.”

Similarly one is born with a quota of heartbeats, which is an average of 70 per minute. Many studies have shown that people whose resting heart rate is higher have more chances of sudden death. The aim therefore is to keep the heart rate at a lower pace. The same can be achieved either by regular exercise, meditation, AUM Pranayama, or by meditation. In people who run marathons or participate in athletic activities, the temporary increase in the heart rate during exercise is compensated by the body by adapting the cardiovascular system in such a way that the basal heart rate reduces. The marathon runners may have a heart rate of only 50 per minute.

The less one eats the more he lives is an Yogic saying, It is said that people who eats once a day are Yogi, twice a day are Bhogi and thrice a day are Rogi. There are enough studies now, which say that 25% reduction in the calories content can increase the life span. Many studies in rodents have also shown similar effect.

The moderation in exercise is to walk 10000 steps a day. No exercise will end up with obesity and over use with osteoarthritis.

Stress is the excess of thoughts in the mind. Controlling the mind forms the basis of meditation. Samadhi is the state of no thoughts. Practicing meditation 20 minutes twice daily helps in the restrain of the mind with resultant state of Turya where the mind has controlled limited positive thoughts.

Drinking coffee prevents Parkinson’s disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Nicotine present in the tobacco has been used for its medicinal value for quite some time for diseases like Parkinson’s disease and ulcerative colitis. A study from University of Miami School of Medicine, USA, now has shown that people from families prone to Parkinson’s disease are less likely to develop the disease if they drink coffee on a regular basis.

Both coffee and nicotine have a link with dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that decreases in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

It is possible that people who are going to have Parkinson’s disease have lower levels of dopamine. Those with low levels of dopamine may be more likely to enjoy caffeine.

Parkinson’s disease is caused when brain cells that produce dopamine die. The disease is progressive, affecting about one percent of people older than 65.

Symptoms start out with shaking and can progress to paralysis. There is no cure, although a number of drugs can make symptoms better for a time.

The spiritual prescription “I am sorry”

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Two hardest words for a doctor to say: “I’m sorry.”

Most defense lawyers counsels doctors not to apologize to patients. Their view is that if you say you’re sorry for something, you are implicitly taking some degree of responsibility for whatever has happened or in other words you are pleading guilty. The complainant’s lawyers may use a doctor’s apology to the maximum extent possible to show the doctor knew what they did was wrong. The usual approach is deny and defend.

But

  1. Apologizing after a medical error is the humane thing to do.
  2. Patients often sue simply because it’s the only way to find out what went wrong.
  3. Erecting a wall of silence is “enough to make someone very angry. And it’s awfully easy for an angry person to find a lawyer who will listen to them. At that point, it’s too late for sorry.
  4. Over 35 states in the USA have passed laws prohibiting doctors’ apologies from being used against them in court. {apology laws)
  5. By promptly disclosing medical errors and offering earnest apologies and fair compensation one can hope to restore integrity to dealings with patients, make it easier to learn from mistakes and dilute anger that often fuels lawsuits.

Apology the spiritual answer

  1. The word ‘sorry’ is synonymous with apology.
  2. To err is human, to admit one’s error is superhuman.
  3. Sorry should be heart felt and not ego felt. You should not only say sorry but it should look like that you are sorry.
  4. Tremendous courage is entailed to face the victim of our wrong doing and apologise.
  5. It is generally seen that those who are in harmony with their life and consequently with themselves, find it easier to say ‘I’m sorry’. They are the positive, conscientious ones who are at peace only after making amends for their misdeeds.
  6. The word ‘sorry’ in itself is imbued with so much potential and power. Within a fraction of a second, grave mistakes are diluted, tepid and estranged relations are brought alive, animosity and rancour are dissolved, misunderstandings resolved and tense situations ease out resulting in harmony and rapprochement.
  7. To forgive and forget is a common spiritual saying
  8. Remember we all do mistakes and seek forgiveness form GOD every day.

All about tea

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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When we speak of tea, it is commonly assumed to be black tea with milk and sugar. However, the word ‘Tea’ means any herb. This means even hot Tulsi water is Tulsi tea or hot mint water is Mint tea. Herbs which can be converted into tea are jasmine tea, lemon tea, lemon grass tea, masala tea, sounf tea etc.

When the decoction of the leaves and the water is reduced to 50% on boiling, it is called Kadha. Black tea without milk and sugar is much healthier than black tea with milk and sugar. Classical tea without sugar and milk has an astringent taste. But according to Ayurved, this is good for health as it reduces Kapha imbalance. When sugar and milk is added, both of which have sweet taste, they neutralize the weight reducing and kapha-relieving properties of the black tea. Therefore, milk or sugar should not be added to tea. For the purpose of taste, one can add Gur or jaggery or artificial plant sweetener Stevia.

Black tea is also a mild diuretic and increases urination as it contains caffeine, which is also a stimulant and that is the reason why tea is used to remain awake. In this regard, coffee is stronger than tea. When taken in moderation, black tea is good for the heart and the health. If one has to choose tea then jasmine, lemon and lemongrass teas are better than others.

In Ayurveda, there are different teas for different personalities. Therefore, you can get Vata–pacifying tea, pitta–pacifying tea and kapha–pacifying tea.

Why do we adore Tulsi?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Yanmule sarvatirhaani
Yannagre sarvadevataa
Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha
Tulsi taam namaamyaham

I bow down to the tulsi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.

There is a Sanskrit saying about tulsi: “tulanaa naasti athaiva tulsi” that which is incomparable in its qualities is the tulsi.

It is one of the most sacred plants. It is the only pooja samigri which can be washed and reused.

Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance till a single tulsi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. Thus tulsi played the vital role of demonstrating that even a small object offered with devotion is more important than all the wealth in the world.

Tulsi symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulsi. Tulsi is married to the Lord with all pomp and show as in any wedding. This is because according to another legend, the Lord blessed her to be His consort.

Tulsi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold. It has detoxifying properties and is used in all spiritual fasts including the satynarayana katha where 1000 tulsi leaves are added to the water for pooja and later consumption.

Tulsi is added in every charnamrat (holy Prasad) as it has anti septic properties and the Prasad does not get infected.
Tulsi vivah (marriage) starts the marriage season in Kartik month. Tulsi seeds are known to induce and promote fertility.

Amiodarone linked to Cancer Risk in Men

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The risk of cancer is increased in men taking amiodarone particularly in those with extensive exposure to the drug as per a retrospective study. Among men taking amiodarone, the risk for any cancer rose by almost 20% compared with the general population, according to Chia–Jen Liu, MD, of National Yang–Ming University Hospital in Yilan, Taiwan, and colleagues. And for men whose cumulative defined daily doses in a year exceeded 180, the risk was 46% higher the researchers reported online in Cancer.

Why do we apply holy ash?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Bhasma is the holy ash produced from the Homa, the sacrificial fire, wherein special wood along with ghee and other herbs are offered as a part of pooja. By the time a Bhasma is formed, no trace of original matter remains in the ash. Ash obtained from any burnt object is not bhasma.

The ritual involves worshipping the deity by pouring ash as abhishek and then distributing it as Bhasma, which is then applied on the forehead (usually), upper arms, chest, or rubbed all over the body. Some consume a pinch of Bhasma when they receive it.

The word Bhasma is derived from bha or “bhartsanam” (“to destroy”) and “sma” or “smaranam” (“to remember”). It denotes “that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is remembered”. Bhasma is also called vibhuti, which means glory. Bhasma is associated with Lord Shiva who applies it all over His body.

Spiritually, the Homa is the offering of oblations into the fire with sacred chants and signifies offering or surrender of the ego and egocentric desires into the fire of knowledge. The resultant ash signifies the purity of the mind. The fire of knowledge burns the oblation and wood signifying ignorance and inertia respectively.

The application of ash implies that one should burn false identification with the body.

Bhasma has medicinal values in Ayurveda. It is supposed to be the strongest of all Ayurveda preparations. Ayurveda defines a Bhasma, when the matter is converted into non matter by the process of homa. The non matter is the spirit or the energy of the matter being processed with strong healing powers. It has the same significance as any ‘potentised’ medicine in homeopathy.

It absorbs excess moisture from the body and prevents colds and headaches.

When applied with a red spot at the centre, the mark symbolizes Shiva–Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen and unseen universe).

The Upanishads say that the famous Mrityunjaya Mantra should be chanted whilst applying ash on the forehead.

OTC drug does not mean it can be taken without a doctor’s advice

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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An over–the–counter antacid is often used to relieve mild cases of heartburn or acid reflux. Though they are available without a doctor’s prescription they should be taken only under a doctor’s advice.

As per American Academy of Family Physicians

There are different types of antacids that work in different ways.
One should talk to the doctor before taking an antacid.
To manage an ulcer, an antacid may need to be taken in conjunction with an antibiotic.
If one needs more calcium to help strengthen bones, one should prefer an antacid that contains calcium carbonate.
In some, antacids may have minor side effects such as nausea, headache, diarrhea or constipation.
One should read the label carefully to make sure that one is not allergic to any of the ingredients.
People with kidney disease may not be able to take all types of antacids.
An antacid may interact with other medications.

What is charity?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Some time back after retuning from a free health check-up camp, I met a Professor of Cardiology from Lucknow and started boasting that I saw 100 patients free today. He said do not get excited. Charity is a positive, but still not the absolute positive, unless it is done without any motive or done secretly. He said that you were honored on the stage; you got blessings from the patients and people talked about you in positive sense. It was an investment in the long run and not an absolute charity. When you serve never get honour on the stage by the people to whom you are serving. If you get that then it is like give and take. The purpose of life should be to help others without any expectations.

Understanding helping others

When you help others, it should not end up in harming somebody else. If you help even if it is unconditional, if you end up in promoting no.2 by superseding another senior person who deserves is not a help as the person to whom you are helping will give you one blessing but the person to whom you have harmed will give you 10 curses. Ultimately you end up with minus 8 points. Helping other means that you should give happiness to you, to the persons you have helped and also to others to whom you have not helped.

Helping always pays

The difference between American and Indian models is that Indians always think of now and do not invest in future. Americans always plans for the future. When we help somebody, we want that the same person should expect you by helping you when you are in need in a shorter run. But charity does not believe in that. Your job is to help others and negate your negative past karmas. You never know, may be decades later you get a help from a person to whom you helped decades earlier. Help should never be linked to returns.

A mix of exercise protocol is better

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A combination of weight training and aerobic exercise is the best prescription for overweight patients at risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Only aerobic exercise is also good as it reduces weight and inches off the waistlines. Jut weight lifting alone has very little benefit.

According to a study published in the journal American Journal of Cardiology, people in the weight–training group gained about 1.5 pounds and those in the aerobic group lost an average of 3 pounds and half an inch from their waists.

Those who did both weight and aerobic training dropped about 4 pounds and 1 waistline inch. This group also saw a decrease in diastolic lower blood pressure and in a metabolic syndrome score.

Both the aerobic–only group and the combined–exercise group also lowered their levels of bad triglycerides.