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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

The best gift to your grandparents is to get them vaccinated if they have not been vaccinated earlier.

  • Annual influenza or flu vaccine is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older.
  • Pneumonia vaccine should be given to all adults aged 65 years and older.
  • Tetanus Toxoid should be given to all irrespective of age after every 10 years.
  • A single dose of herpes zoster vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years and older regardless whether they have had a previous episode of herpes zoster. The vaccination begins at 60 years of age.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine should be given to all if they have not been vaccinated earlier.
  • All diabetics aged 60 years or older should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. This recommendation is based on increased need for associated blood glucose monitoring in long term care facilities.
  • All patients with chronic liver diseases should also be given the Hepatitis B vaccine

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 renew or recharge 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 will undergo wear and tear.

When using the principles of moderation and variety, it is important to remember that each one of us is born with a fixed quota of everything, a quota of diet, respiration, 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 respiratory rate is therefore the basis of postponing aging and prolonging life. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system by learning and practicing pranayama, which is slow and deep breathing, does the same.

One breathes 15 times a minute or 21600 breaths in a day, or 7884000 (78.84 lakh) 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 munis. 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 with an average of 70 per minute. Many studies have shown that people who have a higher resting heart rate have more chances of sudden death. The aim therefore is to keep their heart rate slow. This can be achieved either by regular exercise, meditation, AUM Pranayama, or by meditation. In people who run marathons or participate in other 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 eat once a day are Yogis, twice a day are Bhogis and thrice a day are Rogis. 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 the same 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 to restrain the mind with resultant state of Turiya where the mind has controlled limited positive thoughts.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Restricting salt in the diet can lower the risk of developing heart disease by 25% and the risk of dying from heart disease by 20%.

Dietary intake of sodium among Indians is excessively high. A Harvard Medical School study published in the British Medical Journal says that among hypertensive individuals, lowering sodium is quite well established to lower blood pressure, but now it has been shown that reducing salt also has an effect on cardiovascular disease.

When people with pre hypertension (blood pressure more than 120/80 and lower than 140/90), reduced their salt intake by about 25 to 35%, they were 25% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease 10 to 15 years after the trial ended. There was also a 20 percent lower death rate from cardiovascular disease among those who cut their salt consumption.

Salt restriction is best achieved by avoiding salted, salt cured and salt smoked foods such as lunch meat, hot dogs, ham, olives, pickles and regular salted canned foods, and other prepared foods, which often use more salt than homemade equivalents. Foods we would never think of as salty, such as breakfast cereals, cookies, and even some soft drinks, often contain copious additions of sodium.

The month of Magh is observed as Kalpvas where, for one month, people from all over gather, worship the sun (Vitamin D) , eat sesame (high in calcium) and do tulsi pooja (high fertility and high in calcium). The significance behind this is to gather one year’s vitamin D quota. For getting vitamin D we need to expose 40% of the body for atleast 40 minutes at a stretch for forty days in a year (formula of forty).

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

A ‘Food Plate’ symbol has replaced the traditionally recommended ‘Food Pyramid’ of the USDA. These guidelines break down a healthy diet into 4 main quadrants on a plate: red for fruits, green for vegetables, orange for grains and purple for protein. A small blue circle attached to the plate signifies dairy products.

Fruits and vegetables occupy half of the plate space, with the vegetable portion being a little bigger than the fruit section. Eating more fruits and vegetables means consumption of fewer calories on the whole, which helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Fruits and vegetables are also a rich source of fiber along with vitamins and minerals.

The other half is divided between grains and proteins. Grains, with emphasis on whole grains make up one quarter of the plate. Protein is a smaller quarter of the plate. The recommendation is to aim to eat different kinds of protein in every meal.

In a major shift from the food pyramid, the Plate does not mention the number of servings for any food group or portion size. Nor does it mention fats and oils.

Remember the following tips for a healthy meal:

  • 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.
  • Reduce intake of foods high in solid fats and/or added sugar.
  • 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.
  • This involves principles of time management and some Vedic principles.
  • The first thing to do is to make a checklist of all the pending work by writing it down and re–categorizing them depending upon the urgency and importance.
  • Pending work can be classified under following four sections:

o Urgent and important: Should be done immediately.

o Important but not urgent: Should be scheduled as per the time available

o Not important and not urgent: Learn to say no and dump it

o Urgent but not important: This work should be delegated to others.

  • Urgency of the work is decided by the deadlines available.
  • The importance of the work is decided by directing the result of the work to the mind, body or the soul. One should see whether the result of the work gives pleasure to the body, mind or the soul. The one which is giving pleasure to the soul will be free of fear or guilt.
  • When choosing between simple or difficult, choose the difficult jobs first so that you do not carry them back home in the mind. In terms of importance, difficult files are more important than simple files.
  • When choosing right versus convenient action, give priority to the right action and not the convenient action.
  • Delegation of work and team work is very important.
  • When deadlines are available, it is always better not to keep the work just near the deadlines.
  • Anticipate delay and keep time for unforeseen movements.
  • Work is work and not something personal.
  • Always remember the spiritual principle that you get what you deserve and not what you desire. So never get attached to the results of your actions.
  • Yoga, pranayama, afternoon naps and meditation help to prioritize your work.
  • Follow the principles of creativity and learn to give breaks in between jobs so that the mind is relaxed and can take soul boosting decisions.
  • Remember, Yudhishthir never kept anything pending for tomorrow. In this way you can have a fearless, undisturbed sleep.
  • Organizing your pending list always helps.
  • Do not waste time on learning material on which you are already an expert.
  • Take advantage of down time. If you find free time in your routine, then convert it into a creative time so that you can plan strategies or do something new.
  • Always get up at the same time and never disturb your sleep time.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

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 waistline. Jut weight lifting alone has very little benefit.

According to a study published in the 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 had lower diastolic blood pressure as well as a decline in metabolic syndrome score. Both the aerobic-only group and the combined-exercise group also lowered their levels of bad triglycerides.

The easiest way to remember types of memory is by understanding the concept of Suno, Samjho, Jano and Karo (hearing, understanding, knowledge and wisdom). Hearing is the shortest lasting memory. We hear and we forget is the rule.

Once we listen and understand, the memory is longer lasting but the same memory becomes ever lasting if we not only hear, understand and know but also incorporate the knowledge in our practice.

These principles have been used by marketing people in brand recall. I know many pharmaceuticals play a game and ask 100 doctors to enter into a competition in which they have to write the company’s brand a number of times in one minute and the one who writes that particular brand the maximum number of times is given a prize. By practicing the brand name repeatedly you create a permanent impact of their brand in the soul and it is unlikely that you will forget the brand and its recall value will increase every time you think about the molecule.

The same principle has been used by devotees of Rama and Shiva where they make people write the name of Rama repeatedly every day and the devotees of Shiva make people write Om Namaha Shivae on a piece of paper for years together. By doing so, you inculcate the teachings of Lord Rama and Shiva. Unfortunately, devotees of Lord Krishna have not been able to make a brand out of Lord Krishna.

Many spiritual Gurus give a Mantra which is also based on the same principle. A Mantra is nothing but a positive affirmation which you have to follow every minute of your life throughout your life. Once you start doing it, a time will come when it will become a part of your soul consciousness and you will start living and behaving in a way as of your positive affirmation. For example, Brahma Kumaris always say to you, in a manner of positive aspiration, that “I am a peaceful soul”. After some time you will start behaving like a peaceful soul and you will lose agitation, anger and negative affirmations of life.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

  • Interact with them: Instead of giving them a phone to keep them busy, spend some time interacting with them and talking to them. This will eliminate the need for a device.
  • Put computers or TVs in shared spaces: This way it will be easier to keep track of their usage and limit screen time.
  • Opt for a tech-free time: Ensure devoting few hours in a day to zero screen time for the entire household.
  • Watch your habits: If, as parents, you devote a lot of time to mobiles and computers, children are naturally inclined to follow suit. Be a positive role model for them.
  • Eat together: Meal times should be free from screens and a time for the family to sit together and eat. Make this a practice.
  • Indulge in physical activity: Ensure that the children spend sufficient time in outdoor activities. This will make them less prone to using Smartphone.

It is an old saying that one is proud of his or her own intelligence and somebody else’s partner and wealth. Most disputes occur when there is ego clash and that occurs when you want your point to be noticed by everybody. But remember that for every situation, invariably, there will be multiple opinions.

In one of my meetings, I asked my lifestyle students-cum-colleagues to imagine Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister of the country. Following were the views of various people:

  • He is too young.
  • He is immature.
  • He is childish.
  • It will be failure of democracy.
  • He has no political will.
  • He has no strength for taking decisions.
  • He has no experience.
  • He is open minded.
  • He will bring youth to politics.
  • He has experienced team behind him.
  • He will bring a new approach to politics, etc, etc.

The message is very clear: Everybody has their own perceptions and we should learn to respect them.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Vaccination for elderly

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The best gift to your grandparents is to get them vaccinated if they have not been vaccinated earlier.

  • Annual influenza or flu vaccine is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older.
  • Pneumonia vaccine should be given to all adults aged 65 years and older.
  • Tetanus Toxoid should be given to all irrespective of age after every 10 years.
  • A single dose of herpes zoster vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years and older regardless whether they have had a previous episode of herpes zoster. The vaccination begins at 60 years of age.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine should be given to all if they have not been vaccinated earlier.
  • All diabetics aged 60 years or older should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. This recommendation is based on increased need for associated blood glucose monitoring in long-term care facilities.
  • All patients with chronic liver diseases should also be given the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Can a mantra or sound be used as a medicine?

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The answer is yes. The difference between a Mantra and a sound is that the Mantra sound is an energized sound with medicinal values. There are many aspects of Mantra as a sound:

  1. The type of sound matters. It is well-known that chanting of vowel sounds produces interleukin-2 in the body, which has the same action as that of aspirin and works like a natural painkiller. Chanting of nasal consonants produces delta activity in the EEG and has similar action like tranquilizers. Chanting of other consonants has different actions in the body, for example chanting of LUM reduces fear, VUM reduces attachments, RUM reduces doubt, YUM increases love, HUM increases truthfulness and AUM non-judgmental activities.
  2. Mantra sounds can be vibratory or non-vibratory. Vibratory sounds use nasal consonants and vibrate bones starting from mandible, spine, and the autonomic plexus lying along the spine. Chanting of nasal consonants leads to parasympathetic state.
  3. Any Mantra chanting associated with reduced respiratory rate leads to parasympathetic state of the body. Ideal is to reduce the respiratory rate to 4 per minute and then continue it for next 20 minutes that means 80 breaths in 20 minutes. This can be done by chanting, for example, the complete Gayatri mantra in one respiratory cycle.
  4. How does one chant also matters. The yogic way of chanting is when the mind is in Mantra or the chanting. This leads to deeper relaxation.
  5. Whether you chant with understanding the meaning of the Mantra or not also matters. If you do, the chanting benefits will be more. Foreigners do not understand the meaning of Indian Mantras but yet they get benefits. But if they chant with understanding the meaning of the Mantra, the health benefits will be more.
  6. Chanting a Mantra with its meaning in the mind invokes the power of intention. It’s like getting connected to any search engine on the internet and typing your query. Your consciousness in your body is the internet and the intention the search button.
  7. Chanting a Mantra with its meaning in the mind also results in emotions and expressions which have an added advantage.
  8. Overtone chanting has additional benefits. The new sound heals not only those who are chanting but also those who are listening and bystanders.
  9. Group chanting is more powerful. If 1% population chants together, rest 99% also gets the benefits.
  10. One can also do distance healing by chanting at a far distance. The only way one can explain this is by understanding consciousness as an internet cum social site model. In this understanding, each one of us has our page in the internet (soul) as well as a page in the cloud internet (spirit). All our pages are connected with every person on this earth through the cloud internet. People can chant at a distance and their audio file with intent automatically gets posted on their soul internet and the cloud internet. The person for whom we are chanting the prayer gets the benefit whenever he is connected to the cloud internet.
  11. During chanting, the mind diverts. Continuously chanting of Mantra for 12 seconds means concentration, 12×12 seconds is contemplation and 144×144 seconds is meditation. So by concentrating on the object of concentration, the Mantra, one can avoid diversion of the mind.
  12. The intensity or the loudness of the chanting sound also matters. Higher the loudness, less will be the effects. Japa meditation involves two hours of Mantra chanting to get the benefit. In a non Japa meditation, these benefits can be acquired in 20 minutes. Thoughtless chanting is more powerful than verbal Mantra chanting. Vipasana is chanting without Mantra where you are just aware of the breath and one has to do this type of meditation for hours together to get the benefit.
  13. In Chautha or Teravi (mourning period), we have one hour of chanting of Mantra or prayers. This helps relax the mind, shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode. In the initial 15 minutes, there is sympathetic overactivity and the person is restless. As the time passes, parasympathetic state takes over and by the time one hour is over, parasympathetic state is at its full blown activity and at that time, getting connected to cloud internet is easier.

Attending the entire one hour of Chautha ceremony is only for those who are connected to the dead person. These people have empathy for the deceased person. Those who have sympathy mostly show up before or after the Chautha ceremony to complete their formality.

In Chautha, we say that ‘Bhagwan Uski Aatma Ko Shanti De’. God will forgive him only if the soul is under distress, which can only happen if there are some non-fulfilled desires and these desires will always be linked to a particular person. Therefore, only those who have guilt will feel that the deceased person’s soul is not at rest.

In a Chautha ceremony, one can only remove this guilt in the parasympathetic phase towards the end of the Chautha ritual and seek forgiveness.

14. In different religions, this has different implications. In Hinduism, we only attend Chautha of whom we know but in Islam, people attend the mourning ceremony of people whom they do not even know. They believe in mass prayers and pray for the soul of the deceased person. In Islam, this mass prayer message gets written on the cloud internet and has mass effect in the community.

In Islam, a person usually says ‘Mein khuda se tumhare liye dua mangunga’. It is possible for them as they offer Namaz prayer five times in a day and when they ask for Dua for someone they put the intent in the cloud internet which can be retrieved by others.

In Christians, it is different. The dying patients or the relatives ask the doctors and others to pray with them and not only for them.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Very low-calorie diet mimics benefits of bariatric surgery

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Marked improvement in blood sugar control occurs in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus shortly after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (RYGB) and before there is major weight loss.

A study determined whether the magnitude of this change is primarily due to caloric restriction or is unique to the surgical procedure. Eleven hospitalized subjects who underwent RYGB and 14 subjects mean-matched for BMI, HbA1c, and diabetes duration were given a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) of 500 kcal/day with a macronutrient content similar to that consumed by patients after RYGB.

Frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance tests were performed before and after interventions.

Both groups lost an equivalent amount of weight over a mean study period of 21 days. Insulin sensitivity, acute insulin secretion after intravenous glucose administration, and β-cell function, as determined by disposition index, improved to a similar extent in both groups.

Likewise, changes in fasting glucose and fructosamine levels were similar. Based on these data, VLCD improves insulin sensitivity and β-cell function just as well as RYGB in the short-term.

Consciousness

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  • Energy is the raw material of the universe.
  • Information is the organization of energy into reproducible patterns.
  • Consciousness is living information and energy (living energized information).
  • Consciousness is, therefore, intelligence.
  • Intelligence is information and energy that has self-referral or the ability to learn through experiences and the ability to re-interpret and influence one’s own information and energy states.
  • Consciousness is live, advanced, software-driven energized information. A close example: Advanced computer software which can type, correct, interpret, edit and store spoken or read information.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Low-heat cooking may reduce insulin resistance

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Traditional Ayurveda cooking recommends low heat cooking and now a western study endorses it.

Low-temperature cooking reduces insulin resistance among overweight women as per a 4-week study published in the journal Diabetes Care by Alicja B. Mark, PhD, from the department of nutrition, exercise and sports, faculty of science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

Cooking at high temperature, such as with baking, roasting and frying, induces formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are associated with inflammation and believed to impair glucose metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes. Common high-AGE foods include bakery products, cooked meat and roasted coffee.

In the study, patients randomized to a high-AGE diet were instructed to fry, bake, roast, or grill their food, eat bread with the crust and choose other high-AGE foods from a list. The low-AGE group was told to boil or steam their food, eat bread without the crust, and choose lower-AGE foods from a list. They were also randomized to supplements of either fructose or glucose.

At 4 weeks, no effect was seen from fructose or glucose on insulin resistance, as assessed by the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA–IR) and the calculated insulin sensitivity index (ISI) or on any secondary measures. But the AGE content of the diet did make a difference. Weight, BMI, and waist circumference all decreased in both the high- and low-AGE groups, but to a greater degree among those in the low-AGE group compared with the high-AGE group. Overall, the low-AGE group consumed about 15% more protein, 10% more carbohydrates, and 22% less fat than did the high-AGE group.