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Dr K K Aggarwal

FODMAPS free diet

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may be partly related to impaired absorption of carbohydrates. Fermentable oligo–, di– and monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) in patients with IBS or IBD may reach the distal small bowel and colon where they are fermented, giving way to symptoms and increased intestinal permeability (and possibly inflammation).

Examples of FODMAPs include:

  • Fructans or inulins (wheat, onions, garlic, and artichokes)
  • Galactans (beans, lentils, legumes, cabbage, and Brussels’ sprouts)
  • Lactose (dairy)
  • Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup)
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Mannitol
  • Polyols (sweeteners containing sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums)

Avoidance of carbohydrates has been a popularized non-pharmacologic approach to reduce symptoms in IBS (and possibly modifying disease in IBD).

There is a ritual of offering food to God before eating

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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This is a Vedic reminder to oneself that one should eat only those foods that are offered to God. Each time you offer food to God, it is a reminder to you to change your decision and choices. For example, alcohol, tobacco, onion, garlic, radish, etc., are not offered to God. If they are part of your food, there are chances that you will not consume these food items, if you observe this ritual.

Cheating is permitted one day out of the 21 meals in a week. Over a period of time, people have stopped following this ritual and now eat some foods which cannot be offered to God in all their 21 meals. This is the reason why the incidence of lifestyle diseases is increasing in the community.

The skill of controlling anger

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Cynicism is a recognized risk factor for coronary artery disease. 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 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. 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 life styles. A typical Rajasik person is one who indulges in eating, drinking and procreating.

Controlling anger and passion involves 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, a 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 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 the modified by the ego. At this stage it leads to an action. An action lead so 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 habits 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.

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

Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow: Include all 7 colors and 6 tastes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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US Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The American Cancer Society recommends 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables in a day.

All vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients have potential anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects in addition to other health benefits.

Phytonutrients in different colors

  • Red: Rich in lycopene, a potent scavenger of gene-damaging free radicals that seems to provide protection against prostate cancer as well as heart and lung disease [Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, tomatoes, cherries, apples, beets, watermelon, red grapes, red peppers, red onions]
  • Orange and yellow: Provide beta cryptothanxin; it lends support in intracellular communication and may have a role in preventing heart disease [carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, oranges, bananas, pineapple, tangerines, mango, pumpkin, apricots, winter squash (butternut, acorn), peaches, cantaloupe, corn]
  • Green: Rich in cancer-blocking chemicals such as sulforaphane, isocyanate, and indoles, which inhibit the action of carcinogens [spinach, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, collard greens, green tea, green herbs (mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and basil)]
  • Blue and purple: Possess antioxidants called anthocyanins that seem to delay cellular aging and help the heart by inhibiting the formation of blood clots [blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, Concord grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, figs, prunes, lavender, purple cabbage]
  • White and brown: The onion family contains allicin, which is known to possess anti-tumor properties. Other foods in this group contain antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol [onions, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, parsnips, daikon radish, mushrooms]

Our ancient texts and traditions have always advocated the principles of “variety” and “moderation” i.e. eat a variety of food, and eat in moderation. A balanced diet includes all seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white) and six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) for a balanced diet.

They also recommend mindful eating or eating with awareness. Mindful eating means being aware of the hunger and satiety signals of the body. It also means using all the five senses while eating: colors (eye), smells (nose), flavors (taste), textures (touch) and sound while chewing (ear) of the food. Mindful eating also relieves stress and will help to check the rising numbers of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, etc.

The Bhagwad Gita explains how to eat: “While eating, one should concentrate only on eating as the food is served to one’s consciousness” (9.27).

In Chapter 6 Shloka 17 of the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna “Yukaharaviharasya yuktachestasya karmasu. Yuktasvapnavabodhasya yoga bhavati duhkhaha.” This means “the one, whose diet and movements are balanced, whose actions are proper, whose hours of sleeping and waking up are regular, and who follows the path of meditation, is the destroyer of pain or unhappiness.”

(Source: Harvard Health Blog, Katherine D McManus)

5 tips to reduce salt in your diet

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Make reading food labels a habit. Sodium content is always listed on food labels. Sodium content can vary from brand to brand, so compare and choose the lowest sodium product. Certain foods don’t taste particularly salty but are actually high in sodium, such as cottage cheese, so it’s critical to check labels.
  2. Stick to fresh meats, fruits and vegetables rather than their packaged counterparts, which tend to be higher in sodium.
  3. Avoid spices and seasonings that contain added sodium, for example garlic salt. Choose garlic powder instead.
  4. Many restaurants list the sodium content of their products on their websites, so do your homework before dining out. Also, you can request that your food be prepared without any added salt.
  5. Try to spread your sodium intake out throughout the day; it’s easier on your kidneys than eating lots of salt all at once.

Why do we never eat a breakfast of onion?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Anything which cannot be taken as a full meal is not good for health and either should not be taken or taken in a small amount. For example, we never eat a breakfast of onion or garlic or radish. These are foods, which either should not be taken or eaten only in small quantity only as an accompaniment to the main meal. Onion is good for health and has anti–cholesterol and also blood thinning properties, yet it is consumed only in small quantity. In Vedic language, onion has both rajasik and tamasik promoting properties, which make a person more aggressive and dull.

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

The medicinal use of chocolate has a long history in North America dating back to the 16th century. From Mesoamerican Codices and European Treatises scholars have determined that for hundreds of years the beverage called chocolate was administered to the sick and prescribed homeopathically to prevent illness.

Cocoa and particularly dark chocolate are rich in flavonoids and it lowers the blood pressure. Blood pressure lowering effect was shown in a Novel Study by Al-Safi SA and group from Texas Woman’s University, College of Nursing in Jordan in 2011.

The data that plant sterols combined with dark chocolate reduces bad LDL cholesterol was published in 2008 in the journal

A Harvard study published in 2011 in Clinical Nutrition by Diousse L and group from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has shown that dark chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalence of coronary heart disease.

Dark chocolate improves endothelial functions and the platelet function was shown by Hermann F and group in 2006 in the Journal Heart.

Franco OH and group from Erasmus MC University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2004 wrote in British Medical Journal that the polymeal concept is a more natural, safer, and probably tastier than the Polypill strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 75%. The evidence based recipe included wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic, and almonds.

Another study published in 2007 in Heart Advis has shown that small dietary changes yield big blood pressure benefits. One should limit sodium, eat more veggies, and add modest amounts of soy nuts and dark chocolate to improve the heart health.

In 2009 Sirtori CR and group from University of Milano, Italy wrote in Nutr Res Rev journal that dark chocolate is gaining much attention as a functional food for its multifunctional activities, useful both for the prevention of dyslipidemia as well as hypertension.

Loffredo L and group from I Clinica Medica, Viale del Policlinico Italy has shown in the journal Heart in 2011 that the acute effects of dark chocolate in smokers are due to NOX2-mediated arterial dysfunction. Cocoa enhances artery dilatation by lowering of NOX2 activation as assessed by blood levels of soluble NOX2 derived peptide.