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Dr K K Aggarwal

Keeping blood pressure in the safe zone

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Keeping your BP below 120/80 is the ideal goal to avoid a host of afflictions, including heart disease, kidney failure and erectile dysfunction. When lifestyle changes fail to fix the problem, doctors tend to reach for the prescription pad and add medication.

  • Reduce sodium intake. DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 mg per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it to 1,500—not easy, but doable—works even better. The DASH diet can lower your systolic pressure (upper number) by 10 points or more.
  • Monitor your pressure at home. This can give you instant feedback on the benefits of diet and exercise and give you and your doctor a more accurate picture of your blood pressure. This is valuable, because some people experience “white coat hypertension,” in which blood pressure spikes higher than normal when measured at the doctor’s office.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. For men, the suggested limit is 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80–proof spirits, a 5–ounce serving of wine, or a 12–ounce serving of beer. (For women it’s no more than one drink a day.)
  • Take more meds if you need to—but take the right ones.

(Healthbeat)

“Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (the whole world is one family) and “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudavanti” (truth is one but the wise call it by various names) are two basic statements, which come from the ancient Rig Veda and form the fundamentals of Vedic philosophy.

One should do one’s duty with devotion and discipline. This principle can be remembered as the principle of three Ds.

In daily routine ‘one should remember the purpose for which one is born, which to fulfill Dharma (duty), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire) and Moksha (liberation). To achieve them, one needs to follow the four Fs: (i) Follow the teacher (ii) Face the negative devils of the mind (iii) Fight till the end and (iv) Finish at the goal.

The essence of Bhagwad Gita can be summarized in one shloka (Chapter 2.48) where Krishna says to Arjuna “yogastha kuru karmani”, which means ‘concentrate on actions’ (do all actions while remaining in yoga). He further says that one should take success and failure in the same stride. (yogastha = steadfast in yoga, kuru = perform, karmani = duties or action).

To acquire spiritual health, one should follow three Ss which are: (i) Satsang (company of good people) (ii) Sadhana (hard work), and (iii) Sanskar (good deeds). Adi Shankaracharya in Bhaj Govindam describes them as Satnam or Simran (bhakti, or reciting the name of their God), Satsang (company of good people) and Seva (good karmas).

Before doing any work, one should follow the principles of three Hs: (i) listen with the Head (ii) follow the Heart to choose one of the choices and (iii) order the Hands to take an action.

The ABCs of a good professional are Availability, Behavior and Competence. Competence comes last; the first is the availability of the professional.

An action should be based on Truth; it should be coming from consciousness and should end in internal bliss. Various Vedic literatures have termed this triad by different names like satha, chitha, ananda, and satyam, shivam sundaram.

Do not heat leafy vegetables twice

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Nitrates in foods such as spinach, beet root and lettuce stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels. Ingested nitrate is reduced by oral, commensal, bacteria to nitrite, which can further be reduced to nitric oxide.

Vegetables are a major source of dietary nitrate. Green leafy and root vegetables, such as spinach and carrots, provide more than 85% of dietary nitrate. Foods in which nitrite are present are bacon, fermented sausage, hot dogs, bologna, salami, corned beef, ham and other products such as smoked or cured meat, fish and poultry. The conversion of dietary nitrate to nitrite has antimicrobial benefits in the mouth and stomach. Some epidemiological studies show a reduced rate of gastric and intestinal cancer in groups with a high vegetable-based nitrate intake.

Nitrate is totally harmless; however, it can be converted to nitrite and some portion of nitrite to nitrosamines, some of which are known to be carcinogenic. Heating increases the conversion rate. The longer the heat treatment, the more nitrosamines will be formed. Hence, the recommendation not to heat leafy vegetables twice.

Adding lemon juice to vegetables will reduce the formation of nitrosamines. It contains vitamin C, which also reacts with nitrite, thereby preventing the nitrosamine formation.

As doctors, we are witnesses to human suffering. When we were young in medical college, we were quite disturbed seeing the sufferings of the people. But, in our practice, we have learnt many spiritual prescriptions from our patients. These have not only helped us to heal our patients but also changed our perception to health and sickness.

I recall, Swami Bodhanand, a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, was once hospitalized under our care. When I asked him to give me a spiritual message, he said only two words “Detached Attachment”. He said, “As a doctor you should behave like a lotus leaf. It is wet as long as there is a drop of water on it, but once the drop is out, the leaf is as dry as if the water was never there.” The message was that “we should be attached to our patients as long as they are with us. The day they die, we should be completely detached from them or else we will not be able to treat other patients”.

I saw another spiritual guru through our Chief Anesthetist. The fee he paid me was a spiritual message “Suno Samjho Jano Karo – Hear Understand Wisdom and Do”. He said that hearing is different from listening, listening is different from wisdom and wisdom is different from doing. Unless you hear, understand what you have heard and implement, the learning has no value.

One of my Buddhist patients gave me a spiritual learning, which has helped me a lot in my routine clinical practice. He taught me the basic Buddhist message that there is suffering all over, there is a reason for every suffering and it is possible to maintain sufferings. This message fits into the main message of Hinduism and also the main teaching from Garud Purana.

In Hinduism, we know that the very fact that we are born in this life means that in our last life, we could not get liberation, as Hinduism believes that after liberation you are not reborn. Not getting liberated in the last birth means that some sufferings were left in our life. The basic purpose of this birth, therefore, is to face sufferings. When the basic purpose of our birth is to face sufferings, then why suffer from these sufferings. Every time we suffer, we should thank God that he has reduced one more. The period in between two sufferings is called a happy period (Sukh). In fact that period is nothing but a period of rest given by God to us to prepare the body for next suffering. This, as a concept of counselling, helps my patients in managing most of their mental disturbances.

Not telling a patient that he is suffering from terminal cancer sometimes works. One of my patient’s father aged 83 years was found to have extensive cancer of the prostate. Medically, we all gave him three months to live. My patient did not have the courage to tell his father or the family members that he (the father) had extensive cancer. He took me into confidence and played a game with the family. We gathered all the family members and told them that with the surgery this cancer had been cured. A party was organized in the evening to celebrate the cure. The magic happened; he lived almost a symptom-free life for the next 9 years. I have tried this on many of my patients thereafter and it works. The probable explanation was loss of fear of death, a confidence in his doctor and faith in himself.

The way to live up to the age of hundred is to go on working in life. My great grand–father–in–law was 75 years old, when I got married. That year, he gathered all family members from across the world and said that his purpose of life was over and he would like a collective family photograph and like to quit the world. Nothing happened for a year and he did this again next year. The entire family from across the world gathered but he remained alive for another year. This went on for three years. Suddenly, we played a spiritual trick on him and told everyone to convince him that he is going to live for 100 years as he has many more works of the family to be done. Every year, we gave him law students from within the family to be taught (he was a lawyer himself), or gave him the responsibility of finding a boy for some eligible girl in the family. We made him teach and search for suitable bride/bridegrooms for years together and he actually died at the age of 100 years. This is the beauty of positive attitude in life.

  1. Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol.
  2. Control weight.
  3. Dont overuse over-the-counter painkillers.
  4. Monitor blood glucose.
  5. Get an annual physical exam.
  6. Know if chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes or heart disease runs in your family. If so, you may be at risk.
  7. Dont smoke.
  8. Exercise regularly.
  9. Follow a healthy diet.
  10. Get tested for chronic kidney disease if youre at risk.

Any activity should always engage the 3H model – of the heart, the head, and the hand. The same has been advocated by the western scholars. The concept means that while doing any work, one should ask the head for choices, then refer these choices to the heart to choose one and finally order the hands to do the action.

Deepak Chopra also talks about this in great detail in his book ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.’ He writes that conscience-based decisions are the best decisions. Before taking any decision, he recommends asking the body for the signals of comfort or discomfort and if the signals of discomfort are perceived, then one should not indulge in that action.

All these concepts come from ancient Vedic knowledge. The two main mantras are the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra and the Gayatri Mantra.

The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra comes from the Rig Veda. This is the greatest reliever from all evils: ‘Aum Trayambakam Yajamahe, Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam, Urva Rukamiva Bandhanan, Mrityor Mokshiye Mamritat’. It means ‘we worship Shiva – The Three-Eyed Lord; who is fragrant and nourishes all beings; May he protect us (bandhan) from all big (urva) diseases (aarookam). May he liberate us (mokshiye) from death (mrityor), for the sake of immortality (mamritat, amrit); as the cucumber is automatically liberated, from its bondage from the creeper when it fully ripens.’

The manta speaks of the importance of the third eye and its benefits. The two eyes are at the level of the physical body. The third eye means the eye of the mind and the soul. It also indicates that in difficulty, one should look inward with the eyes of the mind and ask for choices. Like the cucumber, one should choose the good ones and drop the bad choices. (‘Jo acha lage use apna lo; Jo bura lage use jaane do’).

The mantra for conscience-based decisions comes from Gayatri Mantra. ‘Om Bhur Bhuva Svah Tat Savutur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayaat’. It means: ‘we meditate on the glory of the Creator; who has created the Universe; who is worthy of Worship; who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light; who is the remover of all Sin and Ignorance; may He enlighten our Intellect.’

It talks about the importance of conscience-based decisions and its directions to the intellect to choose the right and not the convenient actions.

The Gayatri Mantra is the Vedic prayer to illuminate the intellect. Gayatri is considered Vedasara or “the essence of the Vedas”. Veda means knowledge, and this prayer fosters and sharpens the knowledge-yielding faculty. As a matter of fact, the four mahavakyas or ‘core-declarations’ enshrined in the four Vedas are implied in the Gayatri Mantra.

Making the right decision from the consciousness was later defined by Buddha. He taught that before any action, ask yourself the following four questions and if the answer to any of the questions is ‘no’, then that action should be avoided. These four questions are:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Will the action bring happiness to you?
  • Will the action bring happiness to others?

Childhood obesity increasing at an alarming rate around the world

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The prevalence of obesity among children is increasing at an alarming rate. Overweight four-year-old children have a doubled risk of high blood pressure by age six, raising the hazard of future heart attack and stroke. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.

Obesity is a multifactorial disorder; unhealthy diet – eating foods high in fats, sugar and salt (junk food, processed food) and a sedentary lifestyle (TV, internet, computer and mobile games have taken precedence over outdoor sports) contribute significantly to this escalating epidemic. Women should shed extra pounds before becoming pregnant, avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy, and quit smoking, as these are all established risk factors for childhood obesity.

Most obese children grow up to be obese adults. Overweight and obese children are at risk of other lifestyle disorders such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome later in life. They are more prone to joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

Healthy habits in childhood lay a foundation for a healthier adulthood. Here are some tips that parents can follow at home to tackle obesity and unhealthy habits in children.

  • Encourage healthy eating habits right at the onset.
  • Try making favorite dishes healthier. Few changes can make even snacks healthier.
  • Avoid tempting children with calorie-rich food. It is okay to treat them but in moderation and by limiting high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks.
  • Make kids understand the importance of being physically active.
  • Lead by example. Indulge in at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day.
  • Reduce sedentary time. While reading is a good option, too much of screen time is not.
  • Replace screen time with the outdoors and fun activities to keep children engaged.

Spirituality – The Key To Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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To stay healthy, one needs to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a big impact on health and longevity. There have been a lot of studies that show how patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery, and more.Research indicates there are real health benefits from spirituality:

  1. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who dont. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12% a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decrease the bodys stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improve immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

Women who wish to conceive should stop alcohol and tobacco consumption

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Kids who were exposed to alcohol while in the womb exhibited altered brain connections that were consistent with impaired cognitive performance, reports a new study. Research indicates that smoking cessation during pregnancy may also reduce the risk of pre-term birth. There is a need to raise awareness on the harmful effects of these habits on unborn babies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year, about 15 million babies are born prematurely around the world amounting to more than one in 10 babies born globally.

The rate of preterm birth across 184 countries ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born. In India, the figure stands at 3.5 million babies out of the 27 million babies born every year.

A normal pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks. Premature birth occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A baby born prematurely has less time to develop in the womb and often has complicated medical problems. Many preterm babies who survive suffer from various disabilities like cerebral palsy, sensory deficits, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. The morbidity often extends to later life, causing physical, psychological, and economic stress to the individual and the family.”

Preterm babies are small in size, sharper looking and have a disproportionately large head, less rounded features than a full-term baby, fine hair covering much of the body and low body temperature. Labored breathing or respiratory distress and lack of reflexes for sucking and swallowing are further signs of a preterm birth.

Preterm births cannot be attributed to one particular reason; the predisposing risk factors include age at pregnancy, previous preterm birth, multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, stress, genetic factors and nutritional disorders. Lifestyle is increasingly becoming an important factor for preterm births.

Identification of risk factors and educating the pregnant woman about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor during antenatal care can prevent preterm births.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Do not miss antenatal care This is the best way to avert any preterm labor and identify signs. The doctor should be able to advice on how to eat right, what is the ideal weight, and what can be harmful for the baby.
  • Understand your risks Some women are at more at risk of delivering early. This is truer for those who have had a prior preterm delivery; who smoke or drink; have pre-existing health problems, etc. Understanding these can help you cope better.
  • Watch your weight Find out how much weight gain is apt for your body type and the baby. Too much weight gain can also cause complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Talk to your doctor about the recommended weight and eat accordingly. Ask your doctor about a healthy exercise plan.
  • Eat right Consume a nutritious diet as it is vital to the development of the fetus. Whole-wheat carbs, healthy sources of protein and dairy, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables is key. Avoid tobacco, alcohol & other non-prescribed drugs.

The Skill of Controlling Anger

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Cynicism is a recognized major risk factor for coronary artery disease (blockages in the channels supplying blood to the heart). And, anger, jealousy and irritability form the triad responsible for this.

Anger is the enemy of peace, knowledge and devotion. According to Ayurveda, anger is a manifestation of Pitta (metabolism) imbalance and is a predisposing risk factor for causation of heart attack, paralysis, gall bladder stone, kidney stone, acidity, ulcer and cancer.

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna describes the pathway of anger leading to destruction in Chapter 2 Sloka 62 and 63. According to Lord Krishna, when a man’s desires are not fulfilled or expectations are not met, then he/she becomes angry. When one is under the influence of anger, he does all types of sinful activities. One loses the distinction between good and bad, loses one’s memory, understanding becomes clouded and the intellect gets perverted. Loss of intellect leads to animal-like behavior, and ultimately to destruction of oneself.

Many kinds of repercussions can occur with anger, such as injustice, rashness, persecution, jealousy, taking possession of other’s property, killing, speaking harsh words and cruelty. The degree of anger may vary from irritation, frowning, resentment, indignation, rage, fury and wrath.

Anger is not always bad. It is only when the anger is an outcome of greed or selfish motives, is it bad.

Righteous or spiritual anger is a type of anger caused with good intentions. This anger passes off the next moment as a wave subsides in the sea. The classical example of righteous anger is when you become angry in a situation where you see a person doing something wrong to check that person.

The root cause of anger is ignorance, egoism, and passion (strong desires), with passion being the root cause. To control anger, therefore, passion should be controlled first.

In Vedic language, both anger and passion are Rajo-Vriti disorders and get exaggerated with any Rajas-increasing lifestyle. Living a life with less of Rajas characteristics will reduce the chances of getting into passion and anger.

Rajas-increasing foods are eggs, fish, onion, garlic, fermented foods, etc. Modern fashion, night clubs, reading novels with stories of violence, living in the company of bad people, indulging in sexual talks, use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs are all Rajas-increasing lifestyles. A typical Rajasik person is one who indulges in eating, drinking and procreating.

Controlling anger and passion is a procedure involving effort. As a fish swims upstream against the current in a river to breathe, a person has to work against the disturbing thoughts. To balance and stabilize the mind, consuming ‘satvik’ foods like fresh food, vegetables, milk, and barley bread will help. Many exercises can also help to control anger. For example, observing silence for 20 to 30 minutes in a day, walking regularly, practicing speaking kind words, doing regular meditation, practicing non-violent communication daily and learning to think differently.

During an episode of anger, one can try left nostril pranayama, a short deep breathing exercise, taking a walk, drinking cold or simple water or chanting AUM or I AM. With inspiration, one chants “I” and with expiration “AM” reminding one who I AM. That I am the expression of pure spirit and my purpose of life is not to become angry. Remember the person who gets angry will have high blood pressure. The person who you are angry with may not have any change in the blood pressure.

One should realize that during anger, the power of discrimination is lost along with intellectual impairment. Therefore, anger has to be controlled much before it becomes full blown. The initial stage of anger is irritability, and therefore, with the onset of irritability, one should try to control it at the earliest.

One should never judge an individual with his own level of perception. One should realize that if a servant starts working with your level of expectations, he or she will not be working with you as a servant.

One should also make sure that one is not hungry at the time of feeling angry or irritable. Regular meals prevent development of anger.

Anger can be expressive or suppressive. Expressive anger presents with aggressive behavior and the outbursts of anger can cause social unhealthiness. It can cause sudden rise in upper blood pressure or cause rupture of a plaque in the artery supplying blood to the heart, precipitating a heart attack.

Suppressive anger can lead to acidity, asthma, formation of plaques in the heart arteries, etc. In the long run, suppressed anger, if not expressed, may end up with depression, despondency, guilt, etc.

Therefore, anger should neither be passed on to others (expressive) nor taken within (suppressed or repressed). Anger, therefore, should be altered, neutralized, or modified. This can be done by temporarily holding it for some time and then taking timely action. Temporary holding can be achieved by using the above exercises. Remember both passion and anger are energies which should be conserved and not wasted.

The mythological explanation of Shiva, the Neelkanth, is also the same. One should neither throw the poison (anger), nor drink it, but keep it in the throat for some time and take the right action after the anger manifestations are over.

From Vedic text point of view, every thought arises from the silent potential web of energized information or consciousness. This thought from the mind is then analyzed by the intellect and modified by the ego. At this stage, it leads to an action. An action leads to memory and memory leads to desire for the action again.

If this desire is fulfilled, it leads to action again and then desire again. Repeated fulfilment of desires leads to habit formation, addictions and development of a particular personality.

If the desire is not fulfilled, it leads to irritability and irritability leads to anger which then can be expressive or suppressive.

The answer, therefore, lies in changing the perception at the level of the thought or controlling the desires and/or the expectation.

Women who eat lot of meat are prone to weight gain

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Women who eat a lot of meat are apt to weigh more than those who do not. Previous studies have consistently shown that vegetarians are lighter and have a lower body mass index than their omnivorous counterparts.

A study from Brigham Young evaluated 284 premenopausal women, an average of 40 years old, who did not smoke. The researchers separated the women into groups classified by low, moderate, and high meat intake per 1,000 calories consumed per day.

Over the 7-day study, the investigators found that the low-intake group ate less than 1.9 three-ounce servings of meat per day, as opposed to more than 3.18 servings for the high-intake group.

More than half (52.8%) of the women classified as having a high meat intake were obese, defined in this study as having greater than 35% body fat. Conversely, 37.3% of women in the moderate meat intake group were obese and only 15.6% of those in the low meat intake group were obese.

This was a cross-sectional study, so the findings do not show that meat causes obesity, while that could be the case; it could also be that obesity caused women to eat more meat – like more obese women following the Atkins diet, which is rich in meat.

There are a number of physiological mechanisms by which meat could fuel weight gain. Meat proteins may elevate insulin levels, and thereby growth factors, that could influence weight and percent body fat. It has also been shown that consumption of saturated fat – most of which comes from animal products – is associated with obesity.

It may be worth recognizing that eating less meat may be beneficial in a weight management program. It is possible to eat a healthy diet that is limited in meat. Alternative protein sources, such as lentils, nuts and legumes, can provide sufficient protein and actually be beneficial in dieting.

Understanding who we are

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The classical description of ‘who we are’ comes from Adi Shankaracharya’s Bhaja Govindam, where he says that even the wife refuses to touch the same physical body after death, and if she touches it, a ritual bath has to be taken. This means physical body is not what we are.

If we weigh physical body before and after death there will be no difference. The life force, also called consciousness or atman, has no weight, shape or dimensions.

In Bhagavad Gita, in Chapter 2, Krishna describes its characteristics as “fire cannot burn it, air cannot dry it, weapons cannot cut it, and water cannot wet it. It is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient”.

Though modern medicine may not talk about soul but it does differentiate life and death based on certain parameters.

Vedic description describes five different movement forces in the body: apana vayu expulses urine, stool, baby and menses; samana vayu controls the intestinal movements; vyana vayu controls the circulatory system; udana vayu controls the neurological impulses and the connection between soul and spirit; and prana vayu controls the brain stem reflexes.

Soul or consciousness is linked to udana vayu and prana vayu. The best description of these five forces apart from Ayurveda text comes from Prasannopanishad.

A patient with brain stem death can be kept on ventilator for months together, as the body has normal vyana vayu, sana vayu and apana vayu. The patient will therefore, maintain blood pressure, GI functions, urinary functions and reproductive functions. These three vayus are controlled by the atmospheric oxygen and not by the life force.

Can anyone remember the weight, height, abdominal circumference or size of collar, waist or shoes of Lord Krishna? He is only known from his actions and the soul profile.

All of us have physical, mental, intellectual, ego and soul characteristics. Soul characteristics are same in all and are positive. The examples are love, compassion, care, humility, etc. These soul characteristics are influenced by the subtle mind, intellect and ego characteristics.

While introducing ourselves, most of the times we talk about our intellectual or ego profile and not the soul profile. When we describe our status, house, car or money, we are describing our ego profile and not the soul profile. Our aim in life should be to understand our soul profile, as without the soul, nobody will come near us. The very same people will dispose off our body at the earliest opportunity they get.

Most of us correlate life span with the life span of the physical body, which has to perish sooner or later. When we ask people how long they want to live, their usual answers are 60 years, 70 years, 80 years or 90 years. Nobody thinks beyond physical death. People like Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Mother Teresa are not dead. Though their physical body does not exist, their good karmas, work, memories and the soul profiles are still alive.

The purpose of life should be to create an atmosphere or an aura in such a way that the society remembers us after the death of our physical body. This is only possible when we shift our thinking from the ego profile to the soul profile.

Soul is nothing but an energized field of information and can be equated to the live information fed in any computer or mobile phone. Both computer and mobile phones with and without information weigh the same. Similarly, weight of radio does not change whether the radio is on or off. The live data information in the TV, radio or mobile phone can be termed as their soul. A computer without this soul is useless, so are the mobile and radio sets.

The information is always static and still without any movements. This information in a computer requires a software to run. The static soul in our body also requires a software called life force.

Soul, thus, can be described as a combination of the life force and the static information. In Hindu mythology, this is called shiva and shakti. Some people describe them as prana and chitta. In vedic philosophy, by controlling prana, one can control chitta and vice versa.

For a computer to operate, two softwares are required: operational software and application software. Operational software makes the computer do basic work and application software helps one to manipulate the data the way one wants.

All of us are born with the operational software or the life force. We develop and create our own application software over a period of time by using the triad of action, memory and desires.

To understand oneself, therefore, one needs to control our own application software and do not let it go beyond its desired scope of work.

All will not benefit by reducing salt

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Results of the PURE SODIUM trial presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2013 Congress showed that only certain subgroups would actually experience blood pressure benefits from restricting their sodium consumption.

Ayurveda has been talking about it for some time. People with Kapha personality and Pitta personality will benefit but not those with Vata personality.

Think positive and think different

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The Mantra to acquire spiritual health is to think positive and differently. Positive thinking produces positive hormones and takes you from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode. When you think different, it gives you several opportunities and then from the multiple options available, you can ask your heart to choose one of them.

Thinking positive was a message given by Lord Buddha and thinking different by Adi Shankaracharya.

The candle light march, which was held to fight for justice in the Jessica Lal murder case, has been picked up by most protest campaigns because it was positive and different.

I have seen three examples in my life where I used this mantra and prolonged the life of those persons.

My grandfather–in–law at the age of 85 thought it was time to go but when we made him work positively and differently, he died at the age of 100 years. He was asked to teach youngsters law, write to the Prime Minister everyday on certain issues and find matrimonial matches for the youngest persons in the family.

In other two cases, one was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and the other had terminal brain cancer. The first one lived for 10 years and the other is still alive. Both were told that they had a very early cancer and that was cured by a surgery.

When you think different, it creates creativity and when it is with positive attitude, it is accepted by all

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the text are entirely my personal views)

Plant-based diets can pave the way for better health and well-being

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Statistics show that dominant diets and food production are not nutritionally optimal. At least 820 million people are hungry worldwide, and close to 2 billion people are overweight or obese because they eat the wrong food. Indian food that is largely plant-based can show the world how a nutritious and sustainable diet can be provided to the world’s projected population of 10 billion people by 2050 without environmental degradation.

South Asia, including India, is an exception to meat consumption, with the majority eating half of the recommended amount, while countries in the North America, by comparison, eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat.

Vegetarian and plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer as well as increased longevity. Vegetarian diets are typically lower in fat, particularly saturated fat, and higher in dietary fiber. They are also likely to include more whole grains, legumes, nuts, and soy protein, and together with the absence of red meat, this type of eating plan may provide many benefits for the prevention and treatment of obesity and chronic health problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Our ancient rituals and traditions have given us a way out of the conundrum of diet problems. They advocate the principles of ‘variety’ and ‘moderation’ i.e. eat a variety of food and eat in moderation. They also recommend including all seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white) and six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) for a balanced diet.

The brain gets a signal that a person has eaten only after 20 minutes. Thus, it is important to chew every bite at least 15 times. It not only provides enough hormones for enzymes but also sends signals to the brain. Therefore, the time spent per meal should be 20 minutes.

Some tips for healthy eating

  • Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly. Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain. At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
  • Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar. Choose healthy fats. Use fat–free or low-fat milk and/or dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
  • Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.