Many factors affect how our bodies utilise the nutrients and energy from the foods that we eat. Our nutritional choices, exercise habits, sleep pattern and underlying mental, emotional or physical health play an important role in our weight loss goals.Continue reading
It’s all about the balance!
It is natural for people who are trying to lose weight to want to lose it very quickly. However, a healthy weight loss needs to be slow and steady. A successful weight loss is one where the lost kilos don’t come back. Temporary measures opted by people only result in temporary gains and the fall back then is greater than ever.
Weight loss is a journey rather than a final destination. Losing weight is not easy, and it takes commitment. Our environment and lifestyles have changed in recent decades. With all the ready-to-eat and takeaway meal options available today, it is not easy to make healthy food choices. This usually means eating foods that have more fat, sugar, and salt as compared to home-cooked meals. Often, portion sizes are larger too.
In an attempt to shed the excess weight gained fast, people may embark on excessive dieting, following strict diets. A keto diet, a paleo diet, or fad diets that promise rapid weight loss are some examples. However, In reality, a well-balanced diet that includes all food groups and even some treats occasionally works best in the long run for most people.
A diet rich in nutrients from fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and some whole grains will serve you best in terms of sustainable weight loss and health. This combined with a consistent exercise routine helps in sustained weight loss and weight maintenance once you reach your goal weight. Exercise has its long list of other health benefits. But it is difficult to lose weight from exercise alone.
Excessive workouts and exercise regimes alone in an attempt to lose weight is also not recommended. It is far easier to eat hundreds of calories in a single sitting than it is to burn them off in one gym session. Try not to rely on exercise as your only weight loss strategy. Doing more of it without changing your diet is unlikely to lead to weight loss.
No matter what the wellness industry might have you believe, there are no quick fixes, miracle cures, or magic pills when it comes to weight loss. Nothing beats eating right and moving more on a daily basis as a path to losing weight. Healthy weight loss is not just about a “diet” or “program”. It is about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.
Below are some common myths surrounding nutrition along with facts that debunk them:
The science of nutrition and human health is constantly evolving. This constant change creates confusion as we hear contradicting information. There is so much information out there, that it can make it hard for us to be sure what is fact and what is fiction. Many nutrition claims are based initially on facts, but then they are manipulated to appeal to consumers. Look to see if the products or diet plan claims are backed up by a body of scientific research, rather than just one study or none at all. Educating yourself by separating fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition can help you feel more empowered to develop a nutritious and sustainable dietary pattern that works for your individual needs. Consult a registered dietitian. He or she can work with you to develop a personalised plan providing a balanced approach for long-term success of your fitness goals.
- Myth: Organic foods are healthier than regular foods.
Fact: While organic foods have fewer synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and are free of hormones and antibiotics, they may not always have a nutritional advantage over their conventional counterparts. It is also unclear if the pesticides used in organic farming are safer than non synthetic pesticides used in conventional farming. Rinsing, peeling when possible, and cooking can reduce the amount of pesticide left on your produce, whether this produce is organic or not. There is no conclusive scientific evidence that organic foods are superior with regard to food safety and nutrition.
- Myth: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Fact: Eating breakfast is not necessary for everyone. It does not matter which of the daily meals – the first or the last – is skipped. However it is important to keep your meals healthy and eat in the right proportion. Keep sufficient intervals between meals. If you are not hungry first thing in the morning, listen to your body. When you are ready to eat, help yourself to healthy options. You should base your breakfast consumption on your preferences and personal goals.
- Myth: A high protein diet is essential.
Fact: Protein is essential for the body’s growth and repair (hence why it is recommended after exercise) and general overall health. However an excess seems to have a negative impact and can lead to adverse effects. It can also be toxic for people with liver disease. Depending on your health and activity levels, you should be getting up to 35 percent of your calories from protein, and ideally from natural sources such as beans, pulses, meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
- Myth: Foods labelled ‘Sugar Free’ are healthier.
Fact: Find out what is replacing sugar. These products usually contain artificial sweeteners that are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. Eating too much of these types of chemically treated sugars has been linked to adverse side effects on health and appetite. Several high protein foods such as nutrition bars and breakfast cereals are filled with artificial sweeteners that can damage your fat loss progress without you even realising it. In savoury packaged foods, sugar is often replaced with more salt and/or fat to provide a better mouthfeel, texture and palatability. It is better to consume natural produce as much as possible.
- Myth: Avoid eggs because of their cholesterol content.
Fact: Dietary cholesterol contained in the whole egg is not well absorbed and does not increase plasma total cholesterol concentration. Most healthy people can eat an egg a day without problems since the body simply compensates the cholesterol intake by manufacturing less cholesterol itself. The chief heart-disease culprits are saturated and trans fats, which have a much greater impact on raising blood cholesterol, especially in people prone to such conditions. One whole egg or two egg whites a day can be part of a healthy diet. Keep cholesterol in check by monitoring saturated fat in your diet.
- Myth: Bananas make you fat.
Fact: Bananas are healthy, cheap and available all year-around. Banana is a commonly consumed fruit in India. Being rich in nutrients, they are a powerhouse of energy and thus keep you fuller for longer. Bananas are rich in fibre and pectin. A high fibre intake has been linked to reduced body weight and a number of health benefits. They help in decreasing bloating as they allow a good build-up and utility of healthy bacteria. As a replacement for many less nutrient-dense snacks, they can be a healthful option. A balance of what you eat throughout the day, along with how active you are, will have the greatest impact on your weight loss, especially in the long term.
- Myth: Gluten free is good for health.
Fact: Gluten is a protein found in wheat. A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease as they have an intolerance to this wheat protein. Beyond this, there is little evidence that a gluten-free diet offers any particular health benefits. Foods that contain gluten are important sources of nutrients, including protein and iron. When not done carefully, gluten-free diets can lead to deficiencies. Commercially prepared gluten-free snacks and bakery products are usually high in refined carbohydrate, fat, sugar and salt.
As we get older our bodies and minds may fail us and faculties begin to slow down. These changes result in varying degrees of losses of efficiency and function. Several factors such as genetics, illnesses, socioeconomics and lifestyle, determine the ageing progress in an individual. The late adulthood stage of post 60 years is also known as the golden years of your life. Growing older means confronting many psychological, emotional, and social issues that come with entering the senior years. Although your body is in a degenerative mode, staying active and involved in life can help to counteract many of the common challenges in this phase of life.
Common issues post 60:
- Chronic aches, pains, and body stiffness due to spine and joint degeneration
- Decrease in physical activity accelerates Sarcopenia which is age related. It constitutes loss of muscle mass, strength and function.
- Worsening of posture and shrinkage of height
- Some people shrink at greater rates than others due to osteoporosis and spinal degeneration, which is the loss of spinal disc height and joint cushioning
- Diminishing eyesight and hearing for many
- Shortness of breath in people suffering from high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- Urinary incontinence due to the gradual wear and tear of muscles and connective tissue affecting the tissue of the pelvic floor
- Poor oral hygiene can lead to serious health problems including heart issues, respiratory infections, dementia, cancer and more
- Formation and retrieval of memories often deteriorates with age
- Depression can also be a common problem for older adults struggling with illness or those who need caregiving and are socially isolated
- Loneliness can have detrimental effects on health, psychological well-being and immunity levels
Nutritional & Lifestyle Guidelines post 60:
- Nutrition is one of the most important elements for maintaining health and well-being at any age.
- Make whole foods the foundation of your nutrition plan and eat the right portion size for you. This will help avoid a lot of common problems that come with age.
- Exercise is a great way to maintain bone & muscle health and proper posture.
- Eat enough protein to reduce the impact of muscle wasting.
- To maintain proper balance in old age try and include some balance exercises. For example, Yoga or simply standing on one leg at a time for 30 seconds with eyes open.
- Keep yourself properly hydrated through the day.
- Practise good oral hygiene as part of all the other personal hygiene requirements.
- Keep your blood pressure under control.
- Get routine checkups and tests done to ensure there are no developing medical issues or deficiencies. Timely consultations can prevent as well as rectify medical issues, if any.
- Maintain brain health by learning something new or pursuing positive social and purposeful activities.
- Mentally challenging activities can help with neuroplasticity, thereby improving cognitive abilities.
- Continue activities that are comfortable and bring pleasure.
- Staying active and involved in life counteracts loneliness and helps increase feelings of self-esteem and self-worth.
- Keep and maintain good social connections.
- Improve your sleep habits by practising simple breathing techniques and shutting off all electronic devices before bedtime.
Your body changes as you age. Good lifestyle, habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your body as well as your brain. So ensure you are eating right and staying physically active (with moderate exercise) and mentally active (pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, volunteering or mentoring) to keep your mind sharp.
Old age is just the start of a new age, enjoy living it!
Age is just a number that holds true for many women of 40 in today’s day and age. However, there are subtle changes that are going on within the body that impacts the coming decade. The ability of the body to convert food to energy and thereby the nutritional requirements of food and water all change at this age. Metabolism gets slower. Women lose about half a pound of muscle per year starting around the age of 40. This makes losing weight even more difficult. These changes may be either due to decreased hormones, reduced activity level, and/or medical conditions.
Women in their 40’s
After 40, the levels of the estrogen hormones drop. This can cause insulin to rise since estrogen hormones play a role in bringing the insulin levels down. Thyroid levels can also go down. This combination makes you hungrier. This can lead to consumption of more calories while burning fewer calories. Much of the weight gain occurs around the belly. Belly fat has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
At age 40, women also lose muscle mass twice as fast as men. Lack of muscle activation and crash diets (eating very low amounts of calories to lose weight fast in a short amount of time) can also cause muscle loss. Most of the loss occurs in the core muscles, which supports the abdomen. This is another reason for belly fat.
By the age of 40, bones start to break down at a slightly faster pace than your body can rebuild them. Calcium is essential for building new bone, so getting enough is important for boosting bone regrowth as you age. You also need to get enough vitamin D to make sure you’re absorbing calcium. Without enough calcium and vitamin D, your bone regrowth can’t keep up with what’s being broken down, putting you at risk for osteoporosis, bone fractures, and broken bones as you age.
Women in their 50’s
By this age many women are into menopause or almost there. Two of the most common complaints about menopause are hot flashes and night sweats.
A hot flash is a feeling of intense warmth that isn’t caused by an external source. Hot flashes can appear suddenly, or you may feel them coming on over a period of a few minutes. Some hot flashes pass after a few seconds while some may last a few minutes. Frequency for some women may be a few days in the week while for some it may be several in an hour. There is no treatment guaranteed to prevent them. However a few strategies like sipping on ice water, lowering room temperature, using cotton clothing, etc. may help.
Night sweats is another term for excessive perspiration or sweating at night. Night sweats can be uncomfortable and disrupt your sleep. In most cases, they’re not a cause for serious concern. But sometimes, they may be caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause of your night sweats. They can also recommend strategies to prevent or treat the same.
After menopause, when estrogen levels decline, heart disease rates in women become two to three times higher. More than 75 percent of women aged 40 to 60 have one or more risk factors for coronary heart disease. But women who eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and don’t smoke are 80 percent less likely to develop heart disease than women who don’t.
Almost everyone experiences some hair loss with time, especially after age 50. Female pattern baldness, a hormone-related condition that may be inherited, usually starts with a widening of the center hair part that spreads to the top and the crown of the scalp. Unlike in male pattern baldness, it rarely claims most or all of a woman’s hair. Whatever your age and the condition of your hair, you can improve its health by avoiding harsh chemicals and treating it gently.
40 to 60
Between the ages of 40 to 60, women typically experience multiple social, psychological and biological challenges, among them the menopausal transition. Being careful and conscious of your nutritional intake becomes even more important once you enter your 40s.
Here are some nutritional tips to feel great and stay healthy:
- Choose foods with more fiber to keep you feeling full for a longer time and prevent binging. Fiber can be found in whole grains like varieties of millet, brown rice, oats, barley, wheat bran, and more.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates such as sugars, white bread, rice noodles and so on.
- Increase intake of a variety of non-starchy vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, capcicums/peppers, varieties of beans and gourds in your daily meals.
- Fruits are great sources of fiber and many phyto-nutrients that really aid in the body’s overall absorption of other nutrients and its functioning.
- Women need proteins like lentils, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, eggs, lean meat, or fish. Getting enough protein can keep bones strong and minimize the bone density loss that comes with aging. It also keeps hair and nails looking healthy and strong.
- To ensure good bone health choose plenty of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, fortified milk alternatives like almond milk, leafy greens, and tofu made with calcium sulfate.
- Include healthy fat sources in your diet. For example nuts, seeds, and natural oils like peanut/groundnut, olive, and other cold pressed oils.
- Avoid foods labeled as ‘diet foods’ as they can play havoc with your appetite. Some can trigger inflammation, alter the healthy bacteria in your gut and overtax your immune system.
- Choose from whole foods or foods that are minimally processed and avoid foods with trans fats, excess sugars, salts and fats.
- Once you’re in your 40s, regular health checkups become more important. This makes sure there is no time wasted in getting any preventative medical attention if needed.
- Sufficient water intake and regular exercise are very important.
- A healthy lifestyle including weight-bearing exercise, such as walking and strength training, helps keep your bones and muscles strong both before and after menopause. Being physically active can be one of the best methods of keeping symptoms of menopause to a minimum.
The 40s- 60s are truly exciting times in a woman’s life as there are many challenges to face at work, home and life in general. Keeping our bodies at their function best at this time, not only delays the onset of genetically predisposed lifestyle diseases, but ensures we look way younger while we face our fabulous lives.
Women in their 20’s
As we age our body changes naturally. Many factors like genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and environment affect how people of either gender age, but the rate and way that men and women age is completely different.
Between the ages of 10 and 12 girls usually reach puberty. By the age of 21 she is a young woman who has sailed through adolescence and entered adulthood. It is also commonly considered as the social age for child bearing years.
Establishing healthy habits in your 20s is an essential building block for a healthy life. Big transitions happen during this decade. The body is producing the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and androgen at peak levels, adding both fat and muscle.
Women in this age group may be busy forging their way in the workplace, establishing relationships, raising a young family, studying, travelling or several of these things at once. All of this takes a great deal of energy and attention. A busy lifestyle can sometimes affect health-conscious decisions, and can contribute to the trend of young women becoming heavier and unhealthy. Therefore it is important to make sure you look after your body and your mind.
Being overweight can increase the risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers. Obesity also reduces female fertility and it can affect emotional health and confidence. Being underweight, following diets that eliminate food groups, reducing calorie intake more than what is essential for the body, etc can all lead to negative health repercussions.
Eating the right foods in the right proportion and exercising regularly have never been as important as they are now. It not only helps in feeling better but also helps function better and stay healthier in this crucial stage as well as in the years to come.
Women in their 30’s
During this decade there is gradual bone and muscle loss in women. It can lead to slowing down of metabolism especially in women who do not exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight becomes more challenging post 30. The ability to add bone density slows and eventually stops post mid 30’s. Weak bones can lead to Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis which can increase risk of fractures and breaks in the senior years.
Focussing on exercises that help in building bone density and maintaining good bone health is very important for women. It is a busy decade with work, kids, family and home which can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Letting regular workouts slide can be easy, but women must make nutrition and exercise as much a priority as work, friends, and family. Maintaining an exercise program that includes aerobic activities, like walking, jogging, or biking, also helps to stimulate the slowing metabolisms.
Excessive ultraviolet exposure to the sun causes unstable melanocyte activity, which in turn causes hyperpigmentation in the 30s and onward. Regular use of sunscreen is therefore important from an early age. Fertility in women usually decreases after the age of 35. It may take longer to get pregnant particularly after the age of 35. So for women who are waiting well into their 30s to have children, it becomes more important than ever to be in good health, eat healthy and have early prenatal care to ensure a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.
20 to 40
Hormonal fluctuations and medical conditions arising due to the same are common during these two decades (ages 20 to 40). It can lead to issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid issues arising due to the same. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause due to the drastic changes in hormones within a woman’s body.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This is common among young women of reproductive age. It is also one of the most common causes of female infertility. It can occur as early as teenage soon after reaching menarche or later in the twenties or thirties.
Common symptoms of PCOS:
- Irregular periods or no periods
- Excessive facial and body hair
- Thinning of hair
- Weight gain
- Skin tags
- Mood swings
Nutritional Guidelines for PCOS:
- Consume wholegrains that are rich in fiber
- Eat a variety of coloured vegetables as they are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Reduce intake of caffeine as high caffeine can worsen the PCOS condition and symptoms.
- Avoid refined and processed foods as they contain unhealthy fats.
- Include regular physical activity in daily routine, with a balance of cardio and resistance training.
- Get sufficient sleep (min 7-8hrs) each day.
- Refrain from smoking and alcohol intake.
Taking good care of oneself through good nutrition and lifestyle habits, will give women the opportunity in these years to extend their life as a ‘young’ woman, age gracefully and improve the likelihood of being an active and vital mid-age and older woman in the years to come.
In today’s Covid-19 world, one major realisation for all has been the importance of a strong immune system. The immune system is our body’s natural gatekeeper.
We All Breathe
Breath is what gives life to every living thing. We cannot exist without breathing. Breathing is something that happens automatically, an involuntary process controlled by the autonomic nervous system. However, we are capable of controlling our breath. There are different ways and techniques of breathing intentionally. So, it can also be done as a voluntary action by controlling our central nervous system. Conscious breathing techniques can make it possible for us to change the way we feel internally. Proper breathing techniques and awareness of breath can have dramatic implications on our health.
Eating three or more meals a day is not a necessity for the body. It was never out of a biological need and was invented out of culture. In fact, until the advent of agriculture eating 3 meals a day and in some cases even eating everyday was a near impossibility. Continue reading
The terms “portion” and “serving” are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing.