Category Archives: Healthy living

8 names you don’t want to see on your nutrition labels

Modified from

One of the very important things to look put for when you buy any packed food products is the nutritional information. All of us are constantly looking for what we can gain from a particular product from a particular brand. But unfortunately that’s not all you should be looking for. With all kinds of additives being used while manufacturing a food product, it is important for you to know which of these you need to be able to parse out as bad stuff. This can help determine whether you will have an overweight and unhealthy future, or whether you will turn out to be fit and energized.

Here, we have shortlisted eight ingredients you never want to see on your nutrition label.

BHA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a preservative that is used to prevent rancidity in food products that contain oils. BHA has been shown to cause cancer in rats, mice and hamsters and the only reason its use has not yet been banned is technical – BHA has caused cancers the forestomach’s of rodents, an organ that humans do not have. Research still suggests that BHA is reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen, which is a good enough reason to eliminate it from your diet.

Parabens: Another form of synthetic preservatives used to inhibit the formation of molds or yeast in food products. The problem with parabens is that they can decrease they can disrupt your body’s hormonal balance. Parabens have also been found in breast cancer tissues.

Partially hydrogenated oil: A lot of products can deceive us by claiming that they have ‘0 grams trans-fat’ and have almost all their customers convinced that the product is completely free of trans-fat. This is not necessarily true. The FDA allows any product with less than half a gram of trans-fat per serving to claim ‘0 grams of trans-fat’ on the labels. This means that the product can have 0.49 grams per serving and can still claim to have ‘0 grams trans-fat’. These fractions can quickly add up, especially considering that you should not be consuming more than 2 grams per day. If you find ‘Partially Hydrogenated oil’ mentioned anywhere on the label, make sure you put the product back on the shelf.

Sodium nitrite: Nitrites and nitrates are used to inhibit botulism-causing bacteria and maintain processed meats, a reason why the FDA allows its use. Unfortunately, once ingested, nitrites can fuse with the amino acids (present in meat) to form nitrosamines which are powerful carcinogenic compounds. Ascorbic acid and erythrobic acid, especially vitamin C can reduce the risk and many manufacturers today add one or both of these to their products. However, limiting the intake is still the best way to avoid the risk involved with the use of nitrites.

Caramel colouring: This is one additive that would not be harmful if produced in the traditional manner, with water and sugar on a stove. But new processes of manufacturing involve treating the sugar with ammonia, which can result in some harmful carcinogens. This is the additive present in aerated beverages that make them so harmful.

Castoreum: One of the nebulous ‘natural ingredients’ that is not really harmful but it can be quite unsettling. Castoreum is a substance made from beavers’ castor sacs o anal scent glands that produce potent secretions that help animals mark their territory in the wild. However, 1000 pounds of the unsavory ingredient are used annually to imbue foods – usually vanilla or raspberry flavoured – with a distinctive musky flavor. This can be found in almost any food that contains ‘natural ingredients’.

Food dyes: Plenty of flavoured candies and sugary cereals rely on artificial dyes and flavours to suggest a relationship with nature. These dyes allow the manufacturer to mask the drab colours of processed foods, but certain hues have been linked to more serious ailments.  Some of these artificial colouring agents were found to be carcinogens causing tumours. Avoiding products with these artificial agents is as much as possible is your best bet to avoid the associated complications.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable proteins: These are plant proteins, usually used as a flavour enhancers and are chemically broken down in to amino acids. One of these amino acids, glutamic acid can release free glutamate which joins combines with the free sodium in your body to form Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), an additive known to cause adverse reactions including headaches, nausea and weakness in sensitive individuals.

Eight ingredients that you should watch out for, once again highlights the importance reading the labels when it comes to food products.

For more diet tips or consultation with one of our expert dieticians, call +91 99201 55000 or you can also

12 Simple steps towards a healthier heart

Modified from

Heart diseases as we all know are the number 1 killer in the world, claiming moiré than 17 million lives every year. The cause of the increase in this number can be attributed to various reasons including lifestyle and lack of any physical activities in addition to the increased stress that we are subjected to.

The good news is that most heart diseases can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, being more active and stopping smoking.

Here’s a list of heart healthy foods that you should include in your regular diet plan.

Oatmeal: Commonly had in the form of porridge, a bowl of oatmeal in the morning can fuel you with much needed omega-3-fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, calcium and soluble fibre.

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Nuts: Nuts like walnuts and almonds provide essential nutrients like plant omega-3-fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fibre, phytosterols and mono and polyunsaturated fats. To gain the most from nuts, you can mix it with a bowl of fruit salad or yogurt.

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Flaxseeds: Another rich source of omega-3-fatty acids, fibre and phytoestrogens. Just sprinkle a little ground flaxseed  on your salad or your bowl of cereal every morning.

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Vegetables: Veggies like broccoli and carrots supply us with alpha-carotene (a carotenoid), fibre, potassium, calcium and vitamins C and E. Perk up your daily soup or salad with some shredded carrots and broccoli.

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Red wine: This should not be viewed as a reason for anyone to take up drinking. But a glass of red wine, which contains catechins and reservatol helps reduce your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase your good cholesterol levels (HDL), thus keeping your heart upbeat.

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T-factor: A lot of individuals seem to write off canned goods believing that they are never good for you. Not necessarily. Some canned products like tuna or tofu are useful in providing nutrients like omega-3-fatty acids, folate and niacin. You can grill them or mix them with your salad, but make sure you don’t skip these necessary nutrients.

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Oranges: A fruit that is present on diet chart of almost every health conscious individual, and for good reason. The citrus fruit is a rich source of vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B6.

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Sweet potato: Many may find it hard to believe, but sweet potatoes are recommended by many health experts for their richness in beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and E and fibre.

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Spinach:The secret to Popeye the sailor’s super-strength. Used in salads, soups and sandwiches, it is a rich source of lutein (a carotenoid), B-complex vitamins, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre.

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Papaya: Another fruit well-known among the health conscious population. Papayas are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

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Tomatoes: Commonly seen in all kitchens, tomatoes can provide you with beta and alpha-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, folate and fibre.

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Chocolate: Dark chocolate to be more precise. Advised by many as something to be avoided for good health, dark chocolate is actually a rich source of reservatol and flavonoids, both of which are extremely good for your heart.

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All these food products are loaded with nutrients that are good for your heart health, which is why they should have a place in your regular diet chart.

For more diet tips and to consult with one of our expert dieticians, you can call +91 99201 5500 or you can also visit

Relax! You’ll Be More Productive

Curated from for a moment about your typical workday. Do you wake up tired? Check your e-mail before you get out of bed? Skip breakfast or grab something on the run that’s not particularly nutritious? Rarely get away from your desk for lunch? Run from meeting to meeting with no time in between? Find it nearly impossible to keep up with the volume of e-mail you receive? Leave work later than you’d like, and still feel compelled to check e-mail in the evenings?
Golden Cosmos
Golden Cosmos

More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

“More, bigger, faster.” This, the ethos of the market economies since the Industrial Revolution, is grounded in a mythical and misguided assumption — that our resources are infinite.

Time is the resource on which we’ve relied to get more accomplished. When there’s more to do, we invest more hours. But time is finite, and many of us feel we’re running out, that we’re investing as many hours as we can while trying to retain some semblance of a life outside work.

Although many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, we can measurably increase our energy. Science supplies a useful way to understand the forces at play here. Physicists understand energy as the capacity to do work. Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable. Taking more time off is counterintuitive for most of us. The idea is also at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted. More than one-third of employees, for example, eat lunch at their desks on a regular basis. More than 50 percent assume they’ll work during their vacations.

In most workplaces, rewards still accrue to those who push the hardest and most continuously over time. But that doesn’t mean they’re the most productive.

Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

The Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah found that when she got male basketball players to sleep 10 hours a night, their performances in practice dramatically improved: free-throw and three-point shooting each increased by an average of 9 percent.

Daytime naps have a similar effect on performance. When night shift air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap — and slept an average of 19 minutes — they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.

Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.

MORE vacations are similarly beneficial. In 2006, the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation employees took, their year-end performance ratings from supervisors (on a scale of one to five) improved by 8 percent. Frequent vacationers were also significantly less likely to leave the firm.

As athletes understand especially well, the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for renewal. When we’re under pressure, however, most of us experience the opposite impulse: to push harder rather than rest. This may explain why a recent survey by Harris Interactive found that Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012 — up from 6.2 days in 2011.

The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.

In the 1950s, the researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.

The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

“To maximize gains from long-term practice,” Dr. Ericsson concluded, “individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

I’ve systematically built these principles into the way I write. For my first three books, I sat at my desk for up 10 hours a day. Each of the books took me at least a year to write. For my two most recent books, I wrote in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions — beginning first thing in the morning, when my energy was highest — and took a break after each one.

Along the way, I learned that it’s not how long, but how well, you renew that matters most in terms of performance. Even renewal requires practice. The more rapidly and deeply I learned to quiet my mind and relax my body, the more restored I felt afterward. For one of the breaks, I ran. This generated mental and emotional renewal, but also turned out to be a time in which some of my best ideas came to me, unbidden. Writing just four and half hours a day, I completed both books in less than six months and spent my afternoons on less demanding work.

The power of renewal was so compelling to me that I’ve created a business around it that helps a range of companies including Google, Coca-Cola, Green Mountain Coffee, the Los Angeles Police Department, Cleveland Clinic and Genentech.

Our own offices are a laboratory for the principles we teach. Renewal is central to how we work. We dedicated space to a “renewal” room in which employees can nap, meditate or relax. We have a spacious lounge where employees hang out together and snack on healthy foods we provide. We encourage workers to take renewal breaks throughout the day, and to leave the office for lunch, which we often do together. We allow people to work from home several days a week, in part so they can avoid debilitating rush-hour commutes. Our workdays end at 6 p.m. and we don’t expect anyone to answer e-mail in the evenings or on the weekends. Employees receive four weeks of vacation from their first year.

Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. In a decade, no one has ever chosen to leave the company. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.

Quitting smoking by age 40 erases most of the risk of an early death

Smokers who quit by around age 40 can stave off an early death, according to a landmark study that fills key gaps in knowledge of smoking-related health ills.

While smokers who never stop lose about a decade of life expectancy, those who quit between ages 35 and 44 gained back nine of those years, the study found.

Moreover, the benefits of dropping the habit extend deep into middle age. Smokers who quit between 45 and 54 gained back six otherwise lost years, and those who quit between 55 and 64 gained four years.

Quitting young, before age 35, erased the entire decade of lost life expectancy.

The message: It’s never too late to quit, even for heavy smokers with decades of puffing behind them.

But younger smokers should not be lulled into thinking they can smoke until 40 and then stop without consequences, said Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist at the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto. Jha led the new study, published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That’s because the risks of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases linger for years after stubbing the last butt.

Most of the gains in life expectancy come because the twin risks of heart disease and stroke quickly drop after smoking ends. Both diseases occur as the byproducts of tobacco smoke trigger clotting in the arteries, a process that can rapidly reverse.

Damage to the lungs, meanwhile, takes longer to heal. “The risk for lung cancer doesn’t disappear and the risk of respiratory disease doesn’t disappear” in former smokers, said Jha. “But the acute risk for heart attack or stroke pretty much disappears.”

While the study delivered some good news for quitters, it also hammered home the message that continuing to smoke carries grave risks.


Food for younger skin


How often do you find yourself wishing that your skin was wrinkle-free and made you look years younger? How many cosmetic products have you used to get that young and glowing skin you’ve always desired? How many visits do you make to the beauty salon every month just so that your skin does not add years to your age?

Now, what if we told you that you can get the young and beautiful skin that you always wanted, without worrying about any cosmetic products or frequently visiting the salon? Continue reading to find out how.

Three age-busting foods that will help you turn back the clock for your skin.

Blueberries: Rich in Vitamins A, C, E and K and calcium, blueberries has more health benefits than you would imagine. Its rich Vitamin C content helps improve blood circulation and provides minerals and salts that help your body to fight ageing. Its high potassium content helps regulate the fluid balance in the cells thus fighting fluid retention and puffiness.

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Kidney beans: Kidney beans, like all other pulses are packed with fibre, potassium and zinc. They are also a rich source of proteins, all of which are considered to be good for your skin. In addition, they have other health benefits as well. They help reduce cholesterol and help fight cardiac diseases.

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Avocado: With a high Vitamin E content, avocados are also a rich source of anti-oxidants that protect the skin and are essential for glowing skin and shiny hair. Avocados also contain folates which are extremely helpful in skin-cell regeneration, thus giving your skin a more youthful complexion.

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In addition to the three age-busting foods mentioned, it is always wise to drink plenty of water, since water hydrates your body and is always god for your skin in addition to the other health benefits it provides.

For more skin-care tips or to talk to one of our cosmetologists at Asian Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Institute, you can call +91 99201 55000 or write to

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Just when you thought it was safe to go into the 30’s. From this morning’s Times Of India.

For more information on diet, health and nutrition, please email Harpinder Gill at You are welcome to email us with any question on any health topic. Please allow 24 hours for an answer, and if your query seems requiring an urgent response, expect to hear from us before that time.

Living alone is risky for heart patients

For people with heart disease, the risk of dying is higher if they live alone, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that people who have arterial vascular disease (which includes peripheral vascular disease and coronary disease) and live alone have a higher risk of dying over a four-year period than people who live with others.

The study is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers said past evidence suggests living alone may affect stress, health behaviors and health-care access.

“Living alone may be a marker of a stressful situation, such as social isolation due to work or personal reasons, which can influence biological effects on the cardiovascular system,” Dr. Jacob Udell, MD, of the Brigham and Women’s Department of Medicine, said in a statement. “Also, patients who live alone may delay seeking medical attention for concerning symptoms, which can increase their risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.”

The study was based on 44,573 people who were part of the REduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) Registry. REACH is sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies sanofi-aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Specifically, researchers found that people who lived alone had a 14.1 percent risk of dying over four years, while people who didn’t live alone had a 11.1 percent risk of dying. And 8.6 percent of people who live alone had a risk of dying from heart-related reasons, compared with 6.8 percent of people who live with others.

Going by age, researchers found that the risk of death for 45- to 65-year-olds who live alone with heart disease is 7.7 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for those who don’t live alone. For 66- to 80-year-olds, the risk is 13.2 percent for those who live alone compared with 12.3 percent for those who don’t.

Interestingly, the risk of dying was actually lower for people ages 80 and older with heart disease who lived alone — 24.7 percent, versus 28.4 percent for those who didn’t live alone.

For more information on diet, health and nutrition, please email Harpinder Gill at You are welcome to email us with any question on any health topic. Please allow 24 hours for an answer, and if your query seems requiring an urgent response, expect to hear from us before that time.

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