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Dr K K Aggarwal

Vedic Fasting

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Fasting and starvation are two different terms commonly confused with each other. Starvation means not eating or drinking altogether, while fasting means control and restrain of five sensory and five motor senses. During fasting one may continue eating or drinking but under discipline. Vedic fasting or spiritual fasting is mentioned in Karam Kanda in Yajurveda. Every fast in our mythology has a scientific basis and rituals are added so that the common man can follow it.

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

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.

15 Ways To Reduce Or Stop Drinking

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If you are dependent on alcohol, or have other medical or mental health problems you should stop drinking completely. Reduction of heavy drinking may be a more acceptable goal for some patients who lack readiness to quit drinking.

The frequency of heavy drinking (more than 5 drinks per day for men and 4 for women) has the highest correlation with negative life consequences such as impaired driving, interpersonal problems and injuries.

You need to cut down if in the past one year you have taken one or more times, more than 5 drinks in a day (4 drinks for women). This positive response to a single question “How many times in the past year have you had X or more drinks in a day?”, where X is 5 for men and 4 for women, is recommended for use by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The sensitivity and specificity of this question is 81.8 and 79.3 percent, respectively.

One can also know the dependence of alcohol by using the CAGE questionnaire.

1. Have you ever felt the need to Cut down on drinking?
2. Have you ever felt Annoyed by criticism of your drinking?
3. Have you ever had Guilty feelings about your drinking?
4. Do you ever take a morning Eye opener (a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover)?

One positive response to any question suggests need for closer assessment; two positive responses are seen in the majority of patients with alcoholism. Two positive responses have a sensitivity of 77 percent and specificity of 80 percent in patients with alcohol dependence. Over 80 percent of nonalcoholic patients have a negative response to all four questions and virtually none has a positive response to more than two questions.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests the following for stopping or reducing alcohol:

1. Put it in writing why you want to reduce or stop: Write what you want to achieve, for example, will feel healthier; will sleep better, will improve my relationships.

2. Write confessions: learn and practice various confession exercises. This will help you take care of inner guilt which may be the precipitating factors.

3. Set a drinking limit: Those who are cutting back should set a limit as per your health. Most healthy people should limit to less than 40 ml in one hour, 80 ml in one day and less than 240 ml in a week. Women should take less than half of this amount.

4. Keep a diary of your drinking. For initial 3-4 weeks, keep track of every drink. Note the situations you are most likely to drink. Give each situation a rating out of ten. Try avoiding those situations for the next few weeks.

5. Don’t keep alcohol within your reach. Remove alcohol from your living place. This can help limit drinking.

6. Eat your drink. Drinking slowly can help. Sip and do not gulp. Sip soda, water, or juice after each drink. This is called Mindful drinking. If you are aware of your drinking, you will cut back on it. Otherwise, you will drink more.

7. Never drink on an empty stomach.

8. Keep weekly one or two spiritual fast/s. This will allow alcohol-free days. Decide not to drink a day or two each week.

9. Observe spiritual retreats: Observing spiritual retreats (Navratri by Hindus, Ramzan by Muslims, and Easter by Christians) with no drinking can help. Or try abstaining for a week or a month to see your commitment to not drinking.

10. Become a tortoise: Learn to withdraw yourself from all stimuli which can force you to drink.

11. Watch for peer pressure. Learn to say no. Do not drink just because others are, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept every drink you’re offered. Stay away from people who encourage you to drink.

12. Keep busy. Take a walk, play sports, go out to eat, or catch a movie. When you’re at home, pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Painting, board games, playing a musical instrument, woodworking — these and other activities are great alternatives to drinking.

13. Ask for support. Let friends and family members know that you need their support.

14. Guard against triggers. Stay away from people and places that make you want to drink. In Yoga it is called Pratahyara and means staying away from the external stimuli. Lust cannot be removed by staying in a lustful atmosphere.

15. Be persistent. Most people who successfully cut down or stop drinking altogether do so only after several attempts.