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Dr K K Aggarwal

Sangat and smoking

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Sewa, Simran and Sangat are the three principles of life as per the most Vedic literature. Even Adi Shankaracharya described Sangat as the main force for living a spiritual life.

Sangat is the company of people you live with. Living in the company of good people makes one good and the reverse is also true.

The same is now being proved in the allopathic context. A new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that when one person quits smoking, than others are likely to follow. One person quitting can cause a ripple effect, making others more likely to kick the habit.

1. If your spouse stops smoking, you’re 67% less likely to continue smoking.

2. If your friend kicks the habit, it’s about 36% less likely that you’ll be smoking.

3. When a sibling gives up cigarettes, your risk of smoking decreases by 25%.

4. Your risk of smoking drops by 34 percent if a co-worker in a small office quits smoking. It’s sort of like watching dominoes. If one falls, it very quickly causes others to fall.

People should be treated in groups, rather than as individuals. Friends and family need to be involved. If you want to quit, try to get close friends and family to quit as well.

Quitting smoking may have the side benefit of improving social well-being, just as it improves physical health.

Positive Attitudes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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All those out there who feel you are at your wits end wondering how things don’t ever work out for you, can now relax and dwell on all those failures that life has taken you through and turn failure into success.

1. Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure. But it does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.

2. Failure doesn’t mean you have accomplished nothing. It does mean you have learned something.

3. Failure doesn’t mean you have been foolish. It does mean you had a lot of faith.

4. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been discouraged. It does mean you were willing to try.

5. Failure doesn’t mean you don’t to do. It does mean you have to do it in a different way.

6. Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior. It does mean you are not perfect.

7. Failure doesn’t mean you have wasted your life. It does mean you have a reason to start afresh.

8. Failure doesn’t mean you should give up. It does mean you must try harder.

9. Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it. It does mean it will take a little longer.

10. Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. It does mean God has a better idea.

Nail Hygiene

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Nails can harbor dirt and germs and contribute to the spread of many infections. Infections of the finger nails or toe nails are often characterized by swelling of the skin or thickening of the nail. In some cases these infections may be serious and need to be treated by a doctor.

• Keep nails short.

• Trim nails often.

• Scrub the underside of nails with soap and water each time you wash your hands.

• Clean any nail grooming tools before use.

• Nail grooming tools should be sterilized before use in saloon.

• Avoid biting or chewing nails.

• Avoid cutting cuticles as they act as barriers to prevent infection.

• Never rip or bite a hang nail, instead clip it with a clear sterilized nail trimmer. A hang nail is small torn piece of skin next to finger or toe nail.

Ganesha, the Stress Management Guru

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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If Lord Krishna was the first counselor who taught the principles of counseling, Lord Ganesha taught us the principles of stress management.

We should worship Lord Ganesha and become like him whenever we face any difficulty or are stressed out.

The elephant head of Lord Ganesha symbolizes that when in difficulty, use your wisdom, intelligence and think differently. It can be equated to the Third Eye of Lord Shiva. Elephant is supposed to be the most intelligent animal in the kingdom. Here, wisdom means to think before speaking. Lord Buddha also said that don’t speak unless it is necessary and is truthful and kind.

The big elephant ears of Lord Ganesha signify listening to everybody when in difficulty. Elephant ears are known to hear long distances. Elephant eye see a long distance and in terms of mythology, it denotes acquiring the quality of foreseeing when in difficulty. The mouth of Lord Ganesha represents speaking less and hearing and listening more.

The big tummy of Lord Ganesha represents digesting any information gathered by listening to people in difficulty. The trunk denotes using the power of discrimination to decide from the retained information. It also indicates doing both smaller and bigger things by yourself. The elephant trunk can pick up a needle as well as a tree.

The teeth, broken and unbroken, signify to be in a state of balance in loss and gain. This implies that one should not get upset if the task is not accomplished and also not get excited if the task is accomplished. In times of difficulty, Ganesha also teaches us not to lose strength and control one’s attachments, desires and greed.

The four arms of Lord Ganesha represent strength. Ropes in two hands indicate attachment; Laddoo or Sweet in one hand represents desires and mouse represents greed. Riding over the mouse indicates controlling one’s greed.

Lord Ganesha is worshipped either when a new work is initiated or when one finds it difficult to complete a job or work. In these two situations, these principles of Lord Ganesha need to be inculcated in one’s habits

Eating Out Tips

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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• Curb portions: Always order for one if you are two people and if you are alone set aside some of what is on your plate to bring home.

• Resist refined carbohydrates.

• Load your plate with colorful choices at the salad bar with vegetables, fruits and small amounts of lean protein. Skip the creamy dressings.

• Choose dishes that are grilled, roasted, steamed, or sautéed.

• Don’t be afraid to request a salad, vegetables, or fruit instead of starchy side dishes.

• If you are a non–vegetarian, order only fish or seafood.

• If you decide to have dessert, share it with your dining companion(s).

Mindfulness meditation

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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• Sit on a straight–backed chair or cross–legged on the floor. • Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.

• Once you have narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations and ideas.

• Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

Check your BMI to know your risk of future heart attack

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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If you are less than 40 years of age, male, with a strong family history of diabetes, blood pressure or heart disease, have a normal weight as judged by body mass index (BMI) but have a pot belly, or have gained more than 10 kg since the age 18, do not ignore this and go to your cardiologist to reduce your chances of a future heart attack.

A BMI of 20 to 23 kg/m2 is associated with little or no increased risk unless visceral fat is high, or the subject has gained more than 10 kg since 18 years.

1. Subjects with a BMI of 23 to 30 kg/m2 may be described as having low risk, while those with a BMI of 30 to 35 kg/m2 are at moderate risk. 2. Subjects with a BMI of 35 to 40 kg/m2 are at high risk, and those with a BMI above 40 kg/m2 are at very high risk from their obesity. 3. At any given level of BMI, the risk to health is increased by more abdominal fat (increased weight to hip ratio, WHR), hyperlipidemia, hypertension, age less than 40 years, male sex, and a strong family history of diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.

The body mass index (BMI) is the most practical way to evaluate the degree of obesity. It is calculated from the height and weight as follows:

BMI = body weight (in kg) ÷ square of stature (height, in meters)

Overweight is defined as a BMI between 23 and 30 kg/m2 and obesity as a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2.

Music as a Drug

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Our body is the largest pharmaceutical group in the world and has the capacity to heal each and every disease. The very fact that there is a receptor for every drug in the body means that the body has the capacity to produce that drug. Music is one such modality, which can heal by initiating various chains of chemical reactions in the body.

• Chanting vowels produces interleukin-2 in the body, which works like a painkiller.

• Chanting nasal consonants produces tranquilizers in the body.

• Sounds like LUM are associated with fear, VUM with attachments, RUM with doubt, YUM with love, HUM with truthfulness and AUM with non–judgmental.

• Various chemicals can be produced in the body by chanting of various vowels and consonants.

• Nasal consonants are vibrant sounds and produce vibrations of the autonomic plexus causing balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic states. More the nasal consonants in music, the more will be its relaxing healing power.

• Listening to overtone chanting in music can also heal people in the vicinity of the music.

• Recitation of music can also increase or decrease the respiratory rate of the singer. Lyrics, which reduce respiratory rate will lead to parasympathetic healing activity. The respiratory rate of a listener too can increase and decrease if he is absorbed in the song.

• Listening to a song word by word and by understanding its meaning can also change the biochemistry of the listener. A song can create an excitement or a feeling of depression.

• A song can also work like intent by speaking in the form of prayers. Group prayers can have powerful affects and convert intent into reality through the concept of spontaneous fulfillment of desire.

• Music is often linked with dance, both classical and western, which provides additional healing.

• Gestures, mudras, bhavs and emotions associated with songs produce parasympathetic state in both the singer and the listener.

3 simple ways for a restful sleep

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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1. Cut down on caffeine: Caffeine drinkers may find it harder to fall asleep. Even a single cup of coffee in the morning may lead to a sleepless night. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep by increasing the need to urinate during the night. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, irritability, and extreme fatigue, it may be easier to cut back gradually rather than to go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine–sensitive.

2. Stop smoking or chewing tobacco: Nicotine is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause insomnia. If you continue to use tobacco, avoid smoking or chewing it for at least one to two hours before bedtime.

3. Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol depresses the nervous system, so a nightcap may seem to help some people fall asleep. Alcohol suppresses REM sleep, and the soporific effects disappear after a few hours. Alcohol also worsens snoring and other sleep breathing problems.

Allopathic Medical Vrat

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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There was a time when everybody in India, especially women, observed fast on a regular basis. In my childhood, I saw my mother not only observe fast herself but also insisting upon my sisters to observe fast once in a week, an extra fast once in a month and observe the two Navratras in a year of 9 days each. Together, this comes out to be around 80 fasts in a year.

When I go back to my childhood, I remember the fast used to be one day of avoiding cereals altogether. We were allowed to eat Roti made of Kuttu flour, singharha flour, samak rice and dal made of chaulai (all fruits).

In our childhood, we could never understand the meaning of fast. Today India is becoming a hub of diabetes, heart diseases and insulin resistance and all of them are linked with not observing fasts or eating high carb diets every day.

I recently did a survey and found that women who do weekly vrats had a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome.

Today’s girls and women do not want to listen to the word ‘vrata’ or ‘spiritual vrata’.

Therefore, they must be made to understand the same in the language of a ‘medical vrata’. The simpler version of ‘vrata’ can be – not eating carbohydrates at all once in a week and replacing them with fruits and vegetables.

I normally suggest that once in a week, one should eat only fruits and vegetables and at the most can have milk, curd. If still someone has desires, they can have besan ka chila.

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. Just 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.

 

The science behind birth of Krishna: Krishna Janmashtami

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Krishna represents Brahman or God consciousness. Krishna avatar is synonymous with self-realization. Normally desires and negative thoughts core our consciousness with ignorance. The journey to self-realization involves removal or shedding of this ignorance, which can only be done by the eight spiritual principles as described by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. These include: Yama (self-control); Niyama (self-discipline), Asanas (bodily postures); Pranayama (control of breath), Pratyahara (one pointed), Dhyana (contemplation) and Samadhi (self-realization).

Ignorance can be symbolized by a Prison, which represents darkness, narrow-minded approach (small entry gate) and limitedness to everything (small room). The chains in the prison denote the bondages of lust, greed, desires and ego.

The birth of Krishna in the prison means self-realization out of ignorance. This can only be acquired by adhering to the eight principles of Ashtanga Yoga with Tapas (Abhyasa) or hard work. Krishna, born, as the eighth child of Devaki, represents tapas of the eight limbs of yoga. The self-realization can only occur after the seven steps have been successfully negotiated and the mind is purified during the process.

n the state of Samadhi, there is spontaneous birth of the self. In this state (sama = equal; dhi = intelligence), one controls equality and balances himself between the good and the bad.

The symbolization is that, as Krishna was born, the chains that bound his father fell off, the doors that had been bolted flew open and the prison guards immediately went into sleep. And the father, Vasudeva, took Krishna and went to Gokul, after placing Krishna in a basket and walking across the Yamuna river, where at the same time Yashoda, consort of Nanda, had given birth to a female child.

The chains here stand for the bondage to the external world and the five senses. A self realized person is free of these bondages. The opening of gates symbolizes control over lust, desire, greed and attachments. Sleeping of the guard symbolizes that in a self-realized state, one is totally cut off from the world. Everything else perishes and one gets detached.

The thunderstorm, the rain, and the fire, all represent the internal turmoil of uncontrolled desires and hatred. The moment Krishna’s feet touch the turbulent water, everything settles. The spiritual lesson is that by turning inwards and towards inner pure consciousness, any turbulent state of mind can be controlled.

While acquiring all that, one must control the ego and keep the desires inwards and not have ego egocentric desires. Controlling the ego is depicted as a snake sitting over the basket and guarding Lord Krishna.

The baby girl born at Gokul represents the Mayashakti, which was killed by Kansa (the ego of the body).

It is easy to control ones desires and attachments, but controlling the Ego is the most difficult. This is illustrated by the fact that at the time of birth of Krishna, Kansa was still alive. It took many years for Krishna (self realized state) to kill the ego (Kansa).

Acquiring a state of self-realization should not be the ultimate goal in life. After self-realization, if the ego is not controlled, one can misuse one’s spiritual powers. The ultimate aim in life should then be to kill the ego, which is what Krishna ultimately did.

Water Hygiene

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Safe water is an essential commodity to prevent most water and food-borne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, jaundice, parasitic infections etc. These diseases are 100% preventable. All of them can be lethal if not prevented, diagnosed or treated in time. Here are a few tips:

• Travelers should avoid consuming tap water.

• Avoid ice made from tap water.

• Avoid any food rinsed in tap water.

• Chlorination kills most bacterial and viral pathogens.

• Chlorination does not kill giardia cysts.

• Chlorination does not kill amoeba cysts.

• Chlorination does not kill cryptosporidium.

• Boiled water is safe.

• Treated water is safe.

• Bottled water is safe.

• Carbonated drinks, wine and drinks made with boiled water are safe.

• Freezing does not kill the organisms that cause diarrhea. Ice in drinks is not safe unless it has been made from adequately boiled or filtered water.

• Alcohol does not sterilize water or the ice. Mixed drinks may still be contaminated.

• Hot tea and coffee are the best alternatives to boiled water.

• Bottled drinks should be requested without ice and should be drunk from the bottle with a straw rather than with a glass.

• Boiling water for 3 minutes followed by cooling to room temperature will kill bacterial parasites.

• Adding two drops of 5% sodium hydrochloride (bleach) to quarter of water (1 liter) will kill most bacteria in 30 minutes.

• Adding 5 drops of tincture of iodine to a quarter of water (1 liter) will kill bacteria within 30 minutes.

Lord Krishna – The Great Teacher and Healer

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Lord Krishna was a great teacher and a healer. He gave perfect counseling to Arjuna when he was in the state of acute anxiety, confusion, indecisiveness and depression. His supreme knowledge, skills and understanding of human relationship were responsible for convincing Arjuna that he had to perform his duty, regardless of who his opponents were.

There are basic principles to be learnt from the teachings of Bhagavad Gita, if one wants to get to the right state of mental and physical strength.

• The 1st principle is to listen, listen and listen. In the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna only listened when Arjuna spoke. One must learn to listen to others. Out of 18 counseling sessions (the 18 chapters of Gita), one full session was devoted only to listening to Arjuna. Almost 50% of the emotions of a person are out once he has spoken to the Healer about his or her problems.

• The 2nd principle is to remain non-judgmental while listening. This is beautifully described in Chapter 2 shloka 10. While listening, Krishna did not show any signs of anger to Arjuna even at those extremely difficult moments. On the contrary, He kept on smiling and listened patiently. This is another avenue where most of the healthcare workers fail in their relationship with the patients. We (doctors) sometimes become annoyed with the patients because they narrate unrelated details of their health problems. We need to understand and appreciate their predicaments.

• The 3rd principle is that every answer should be validated by reasoning. Throughout the 18 counseling sessions between Arjuna and Krishna that included 700 question and answers, Krishna gave proper reasoning, either experiential or based on sound logic. He never forced Arjuna to believe in what He was saying without getting convinced about it.

• The 4th principle is that of reassurance. Krishna re-assures Arjuna on two occasions. Firstly, when he said that “I’ll appear whenever there is adharma” meaning thereby that whenever there is injustice someone will come and set it right. As a Healer, the doctor should convincingly say that “wherever there is a disease I will be there”. In Chapter 18 shloka 65, Krishna says that anyone who takes conscious decision and interprets things with full devotion, there is no reason why he or she should not become happy or healthy. He again assures Arjuna that he is going to be successful.

• The 5th principle is depicted in the last shloka of Gita (18.78), which summarizes the importance of a good doctor-patient (teacher-student) relationship where Sanjay says to Dhritrashtra that when there is a Healer like Krishna and a patient like Arjuna, there is no reason why there will not be a victory.

Children should be screened for the heart before playing any sports

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Sudden cardiac death amongst athletes is a rare but a devastating event. Most victims are usually young and, apparently, healthy but many have underlying undiagnosed heart disease.

As per American Heart Association Guidelines, children and adolescents undergoing athletic training need medical clearance. Majority of sudden deaths amongst athletes are due to malignant irregularities in the heart rhythm such as ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. The precipitating factors can be prolonged physical training or unaccustomed athletic activities.

In athletes under the age of 35, the most common cause of death is underlying congenital heart disease and for those above the age of 35, it is the presence of blockages of the coronary arteries.

The Heart Care Foundation of India recommends that, in every school/college, the attached doctor should evaluate all students with a 12 step history and examination to rule out high risk cases that need further evaluation.

The Foundation, along the lines of European Society of Cardiology, also recommends an additional standard 12–lead ECG before a medical clearance is given for both competitive as well as recreational athletic activities.

Master athletes who are above the age of 35 will need an additional exercise testing before they can be given a clearance for athletic activity.

Diagnostic echocardiography is indicated when clinical, historical and physical findings suggest possibility of structural heart diseases. Athletes on pacemakers should not engage in sports as bodily collision may damage the pacemaker system.

The 12–element AHA recommendations for pre participation cardiovascular screening of competitive athletes are as follows:

1. Exertional chest pain/discomfort

2. Unexplained syncope/near–syncope

3. Excessive exertional and unexplained dyspnea/fatigue, associated with exercise 4. Prior recognition of a heart murmur

5. Elevated systemic blood pressure

6. Premature death (sudden and unexpected, or otherwise) before age 50 years due to heart disease, in one relative

7. Disability from heart disease in a close relative <50 years of age

8. Specific knowledge of certain cardiac conditions in family members: hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy, long–QT syndrome or other ion channelopathies, Marfan syndrome, or clinically important arrhythmias

9. Heart murmur

10. Femoral pulses examination to exclude aortic coarctation

11. Physical features of Marfan syndrome

12. Brachial artery blood pressure (sitting position, both arms)