Sleep Your Way To A Better Health!

Let us start with a story, and see if you can relate…

“It all started back in college. I was studying-working-and staying up late watching Netflix! My jam-packed schedule during the day did not leave any room for entertainment, so I started (unknowingly of course) sacrificing a few hours of sleep to watch TV. Few hours turned into few more hours and in no time I was staying up ALL night doing the “TV series marathon!” I remember finishing an entire season of Prison Break in just two nights and I was loving it!!… but now that I look back, this was the period when I started putting on weight. Not a lot, it started with my favorite jeans feeling tighter, then the gradual increase in the bra size, then top sizes increased too. My skin was breaking out like never before, and… this is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I started noticing dark hair on my chin… I think that was when my weight and hormonal struggles started. It all started when I chose to forsake my sleep …

Sounds familiar?

 

Or maybe not! Maybe it is your newborn that is keeping you up. Maybe it is the workload and the stress. Maybe it is partying till late. Or perhaps it is just your life now. But you can not seem to get more than 5 hours of sleep each night and you are facing one or more of these symptoms-

  • Increased weight, especially in the abdominal area
  • lack of energy/lethargy
  • hormonal issues
  • insulin resistance
  • weakened immune system
  • thyroid issues
  • trouble concentrating on any given task

If the above scenario concerns you, we have handpicked some of the top-notch health reads that you might benefit from.


Want To Eat Healthier? Start in the bedroom, study finds.

This one described a recent study where participants were able to decrease their refined carb and calorie intake just by sleeping in for 90 more minutes…



10 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important

This one goes in depth on how sleep affects your weight, exercise potential, and productivity etc…



7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

More light shed on how exactly does sleep deprivation triggers the weight gain. Great insights on how to sleep your weight off…



Less sleep and its effects on Blood sugar levels.

Talks about how lack of sleep can affect your blood sugar control…



So that was our curated resource list on Sleep and Health. See you next time 🙂

ps: There are gadgets available that can help you track duration as well as the quality of the sleep. Check out FiTT@DawaiBoxhere you not only get to track your activities (steps, distance, sleep and calories burnt) but also get complimentary health assessment and diet consultation with our expert dietitians.

Limitations of A Vegetarian Diet!

“You don’t know what you are missing out upon!!”

If you are a Vegetarian I’m sure you have heard this at least once and if you are an omnivore, I bet you have said it to your vegetarian friends!

Now taste and personal preferences are very subjective, there really is no point in arguing about that. But the nutritional content of different foods are objective and that leaves a room for argument that Vegan and Vegetarian diets perhaps can be somewhat limiting! Let us check out some of the common nutrients of concern-

 

1. Vitamin B-12

Cobalamin or commonly known as Vitamin B-12 is a micronutrient that is involved in energy metabolism, DNA synthesis, proper functioning of the nervous system, and bone marrow maturation etc. It is an important and essential vitamin (means our bodies can not produce them) that we need to obtain from food sources.

Vitamin B12 can be synthesized only by certain microorganisms that can be found on soil and in the gut of grass grazing animals. Plants by design cannot produce cobalamine.

Good food sources of Vitamin B-12 include organ meats, steaks, fish, milk, and eggs. As you can see, all of these are animal food sources. Lacto and Ovo vegetarians can still get some B12 but Vegans may really struggle to obtain any significant amount from diet only. Which is why Vegans are advised to take a B12 supplement every day.

Tip: contrary to the popular belief, seaweed, spirulina, and nutritional yeast do not contain any significant amount of B-12.


Takeaway: Yes, purely vegetarian/vegan diets can be deficient in vitamin B-12. A nutritional supplement is recommended.


 

2. Omega-3

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that is necessary for normal metabolism, keeping inflammation at the bay and for the normal blood lipid profile. Humans are unable to synthesize these so we need to obtain them from food sources.  Now there are 3 forms of omega-3.

Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA): This one is found mostly in plant sources

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Mostly found in fish, especially cold water fish.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Readily found in marine animals, fish, and marine algae. Humans can synthesize it from ALA. This is the form of omega-3 that is found abundantly in our brains. This is the type of omega 3 our body can readily use.

Now here is the fun thing.  ALA can be converted into EPA and EPA can be converted into DHA, so technically ALA can be converted into DHA. So, Vegetarians don’t need to worry, right?

Wrong!

Not all of ALA gets converted into EPA or DHA. Most of it is used for energy metabolism (it’s a fat after all!) and some amount is converted into EPA, and then into DHA. But the rate of conversion can be as low as <0.1 – 0.5% [1] [2] . To put things in perspective, say we need 250-500 mg of DHA+EPA (which is what most world health authorities recommend, 3), how much ALA would you need to consume to get even closer to meeting this requirement? A LOT in fact!

If you are someone who enjoys careful meal planning and are including rich sources of ALA like Basil seeds (sabja), Chia seeds, Flax seeds (alsi), Hemp seeds, walnuts in your diet throughout the day and on a regular basis then you are in a good place but if you are not, then probably you should!

OR you can also go for Vegan DHA supplements derived from algae!


Takeaway: Include rich plant sources of omega 3 like Sabja seeds, Flax seeds, Chia seeds, Walnuts, hemp seeds in your daily diet. Do grind the seeds for better absorption. A mindful meal planning will help you meet your omega 3 needs. Or else you can opt out for Omega 3(DHA) supplements, the Vegan ones derived from algae!


Related Read,

Walnut Oil V/s Fish Oil: Who wins the Omega 3 Test?

 

So those were our top two nutrients that a purely vegetarian diet lacks. Apart from these, vegetarian people tend to have low levels of vitamin D, mineral calcium and hemoglobin (Iron+protein) levels if compared with their omnivores counterparts. But all of these can be taken care by some careful meal planning and by getting plenty of sunlight.

You know you can get all the vitamin D you need by spending around 15 minutes in the sunlight!

Want to know how to Increase your Iron intake? Read,

Busting Iron Myths For an Improved You!

For finding rich Calcium Sources, read

Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods (Many Are Non-Dairy)

Have any doubts about whether you are meeting your protein needs? Read this one (written for pregnant women, but the information can be applicable to everyone!)

“Protein needs during pregnancy…and adequacy of a vegetarian diet?”

With this, we are concluding our Vegetarian diet series. Hope you had a great week. If have any questions or want personalized diet recommendations, consult our expert dietitians @DawaiBox.

 

Vegetarian Diet Series: Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Vegetarian Diet.

Once upon a time, they did a 20 year long extensive and intensive study on people in China and found out that (amongst numerous other things) that people who avoided eating meats and animal products and ate predominantly grains, fruits, and vegetables tend to enjoy longer and healthier life!

Boom! The world went gaga and almost half of Australia turned Vegan overnight!

Well, the China Study, based on the China-Cornell-Oxford project has been upheld by some and denounced by others. It was a huge project that aimed to observe the interplay between diet, lifestyle, and diseases. But it was not without some drawbacks and overreaching conclusions.

 

Nonetheless, what this study did was, it brought Vegetarian Diet and It’s probable health benefits back in limelight. So here are Top 5 proven benefits of Vegetarian Diet.

 

1. Improved Cholesterol levels

Now it is no new news that plant-based diet is devoided of cholesterol (because only animals produce cholesterol, plants can not!). Perhaps its lack of cholesterol or perhaps because it’s rich dietary fiber content, plant-based diets are associated with lowering LDL and VLDL cholesterols. Cholesterol-lowering role of a diet that lacks animal products and especially meat is well documented. [1, 2]

Suggested Read,

5 things that will NOT increase your cholesterol levels!

 

2. Heart Health

Apart from being cholesterol-lowering, plant-based diets are also known to be beneficial in managing hypertension and triglycerides lowering. Non-meat eaters, especially vegans can reap the benefits of lowered hypertension[3]. Vegetarians eat significantly more dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium, potassion and significantly less total fat [4]. Their Omega 3 Fatty Acid intake, antioxidant intake, and MUFA (Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids) intake are also significantly higher which is associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke [5]. Higher fruit, vegetables, and bean intake is associated with fewer incidents of Cardio Vascular Diseases [6]

 

 

3.Longevity

Yes, you read correctly. Consuming a predominantly vegetarian food can increase not just your lifespan but also the quality of life altogether.  Why I say predominantly vegetarian is because the studies involved look at the association of very low meat intake and mixed diets with the lifespan. This one study finds that vegetarian status results in 1.5-1.5 years gain in life expectancy compared with non-vegetarian diet [7]. And this other review of 6 studies shows that a lifestyle pattern that includes a very low meat intake is associated with greater longevity [8].

Again this increase in lifespan is associated with substitution of meats with veggies, fruits and nuts, and not highly processed or fried foods/fast foods! So be mindful what you substitute your meats with.

Substituting a chicken kebab with kachchi dabeli will do you no good!!

 

4. Obesity

There is a plenty of research data showing that vegetarians tend to have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than their non-vegetarian counterparts. Data shows that vegetarians are leaner than omnivores [9]. Within omnivores, fish eaters tend to be leaner than meat eaters, and withing vegetarians vegans tend to be leaner than the rest of the group [10, 11].

I feel little uncertain while translating this research to Indian audiences. See most of these studies were done overseas (mainly in US and UK). Their definition of meat eaters or vegetarians are a world different than ours. A meat eater over there usually eats around 2-3 ounce of meat with at least 2 meals a day (remember I am saying at least!), and a meat eater in India would typically eat few pieces of non-veg once/twice or a maximum of three times a week. There is a huge difference here!

Same way Vegetarians over there tend to be vegetarians by choice, thus these people tend to be more conscious about their food and lifestyle choices. Whereas here in India I have seen loads of vegetarian people literally sitting on pavements during late nights and devouring fast food like their life depends on it! That is just not right!

Whenever weight is concerned, remember, your food choices (minimally processed, whole foods) and portion sizes matter a lot more than any vegetarian or non-vegetarian tag!

 

5. Cancer Prevention

If you have watched the second documentary “what the food!” by the creator of “cowspiracy” you would fall in 3 categories 1) someone who believed everything that is shown there 2)skeptics and 3)non-believers!. I fall in the second category, and so a majority of the people do. So I decided to find out for myself whether there really is any merit to the claim that the Vegetarian diet is better for cancer prevention and that meat consumption is associated with Cancers. Here is what I found

a. Consumption of Red Meats and Saturated animal fats are positively associated with higher incidences of prostate cancer [12].

b. consumption of processed meats is associated with breast cancer [13].

c. increased consumption of processed and unprocessed red meat is associated with an increased risk of type II Diabetes [14].

d. higher consumption of red meat and processed meats are associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality [15].

e. increased fruits and vegetable intake is associated with reduced risk of esophagus, lung, stomach, and colorectal cancer [16].

The evidence highly asserts increased incidences of all-cause cancer mortality with consumption of meats especially processed meats and a protective effect of fruits and vegetable intake. Although all this evidence is against meat consumption, very little evidence is present that actually shows the direct correlation between a vegetarian diet and reduced cancer risk.

 

All and all, a well balanced vegetarian diet that includes whole and minimally processed foods is undoubtedly good for the health. Those were our top five proven benefits of a Vegetarian Diet. For more specific or personal dietary recommendations, consult a dietitian @DawaiBox.

 

 

 

Immune Checkpoint Blockade: a Breakthrough in Cancer Treatment!

2018 Noble Prize in Physiology and Medicine is given for the discovery of “Immune Checkpoint Blockade” therapy. Dr. James P. Allison and Dr. Tasuku Honjo are the two scientists who are awarded for their extensive work that brought about the onset of this treatment. I for one don’t really keep up with Noble prizes because all the technical details go bouncer over my head, but this news is worth knowing as it is pioneering a new wave of treatments in the cancer treatment.

So, what is this “Immune Checkpoint Blockade” therapy?

To know that we first need to understand (in an extremely simplistic way) how the immune system works.

The immune system is your body’s defense system that helps it fight off diseases, infections, allergies etc. It is perhaps the most complex of all of the body’s systems as it involves multiple organs (lymphatic system, Blood Cells, tonsils, digestive system, spleen) and it is active at every front of the body and inside every tissue, ready to defend it.

Like an antivirus scans your system, looking for all kinds of malwares, checks it against the database and then takes appropriate action to remove them. As they fight more and more malwares, the database gets richer, helps it defend the system against future attacks. The immune system works a lot like an antivirus!

Now think about cancerous cells and tumors, scientists always hypothesized that technically immune system should be able to attack and destroy them. Wouldn’t that be perfect? But it’s not so simple

Immune response against any bacteria, foreign body or even a tumor, is divided into two phases

  1. Initiation Phase: Immune system recognizes a threat
  2. Activation Phase: Innate immune system starts producing cytokines which signal to recruit immune cells for fighting the said infection

The immune system does not stay “ON” or active forever, once the infection is taken care of the immune response also turns off. Every activation phase is followed by a termination phase.  This process of immune response turning ON and OFF is a very fundamental process. During the termination phase, certain immune suppressor molecules are secreted that halt the immune response. Are you with me still? Yes? Good 🙂

Immune Checkpoint Blockade therapy focuses on suppressing the suppressor molecules, which means immune system can stay ON longer. This restores the capacity of CTL/Cytotoxic T-Lymphocytes (a White Blood Cell that kills cancer) to kill the cancer cells.

 

Dr. Allison’s Research

Dr. Allison who is currently working at M D Anderson Center For Cancer Research is known for his work on CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4), an immune suppressor/immune checkpoint protein. He discovered that blocking the signaling of CTLA-4 improved immune response against cancerous tumors. His research led to the development of Ipilimumab, a drug that has given great results in treating advanced melanoma (skin cancer)

 

Dr. Honjo’s Research

Dr. Honjo who is a professor in the Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine at Japan’s Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine discovered PD-1 (Programmed Cell Death Protein-1) back in 1992. PD-1 is also an immune suppressor/immune checkpoint protein. And by blocking PD-1, the immune response against cancerous tumors can be improved. In fact, his research led to the development of two very important drugs, pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo). These two are also approved for use in advanced melanoma, however, more research is underway that shows their efficacy in treating lymphoma, lung cancer, and renal cancer.

 

What these drugs ARE?

These are drugs based on immune checkpoint blockade mechanism. They block the actions of immune-suppressing proteins and by doing so they restore the capacity of cancer killer lymphocytes.

 

What these Drugs ARE NOT?

They are not a cure for cancer. They are not shown to reverse or cure cancer completely! But in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiation, genetically targeted drugs, these immune checkpoint blockers can help prolong a patient’s life and also enhance the quality of life.

 

Are these drugs Available in India?

Yes, but they are very expensive. You can buy them online for certain or ask your local pharmacist about them.

 

Any side effects?

Yes, as with any medicine, these two also come with some unwanted effects. Autoimmunity is one of such effects (thanks to continuously “ON” immune system, it can start attacking your own cells!)

 

What does the future stores?

This is an ongoing field of research and scientists are discovering more and more immune checkpoint blocking proteins. With time the drugs will get more sophisticated reducing the side effects, and with mass production or generic brands coming out hopefully, the prices will drop too.

 

Thank you for staying with me till the very end. Now go brag about this newfound cool information to your friends or SO 😛

 

Vegetarian Diet Series (Part I): What Kind Of Vegetarian Are You?

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, but since vegetarianism is such a vast topic it deserves a better treatment. Which is why, here at DawaiBox Health Reads we will be celebrating it as World Vegetarian Week, making it a series of 6 articles. Stay Tuned!

Kicking the series off with the very first article,

“What Kind Of Vegetarian Are You?”

History time: The earliest recorded practice of vegetarianism can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization. And of course, vegetarianism flourished in India under Mahavir’s doctrine of non-violence (Ahimsa). But did you know that in the west, vegetarians were called “Pythagoreans”?

Apparently, Pythagoras was believed to be a strict vegetarian. Who knew!

It is weird reading about “Vegetarianism” or “My Vegan Journey” on the internet! Raise your hand if you have ever come across an online testimonial about “How I became a Vegetarian and it changed my life!” or “I was Vegetarian for a decade and now I regret it!”…  In any other parts of the world “Vegetarian” is a diet, but if you live in the Indian subcontinent, it’s simply a way of life. And mind you I am aware that many a people in the subcontinent are not pure Vegetarians, which is exactly what the point of this article is.

Contrary to the rigid definitions set by pseudoscientific societies, vegetarianism is a diverse and all-encompassing lifestyle. I even know of some people who enjoy eating meat occasionally but 99% of the times, they are mindfully vegetarians. But for the sake of understanding, here are types of vegetarian diets that people are known to follow across the world-

1. Vegan

The most strict form of vegetarianism that for some stems from religious beliefs and for others it stems from love and non-violence towards animals! This kind of vegetarianism forbids using or consuming anything that comes from an animal. So no milk, no eggs, no honey, no leather boots and of course no chicken, meat and fish!

You might then think what else is left to eat then? Well, a LOT actually! Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Beans, and Pulses. A Vegan diet can be diverse and sustainable. Know more about the Vegan Diet,

Being Vegan: Everything you need to know about Veganism!

2. Lacto- Vegetarians

Same as vegans except they do also include milk and milk products in their diet. Most strict vegetarian Hindu sects are Lacto-Vegetarians.

3. Ovo-Vegetarians

Strict vegetarians that are otherwise vegans but tend to consume eggs and egg products.

4. Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarians

Vegetarians that tend to include both milk and eggs in their diet.

5. Pesco-Vegetarian

Well here comes an eyebrow raiser! Vegetarians that include or traditionally have been including fish and fish products in their diet. A lot of people argue over this and Vegetarian Society does not even acknowledge this form of vegetarianism. But people of Indian coastal regions and Japan have been pescetarians for generations. They don’t necessarily see fish as a meat as it is available in abundance to them, unlike most meats!

 

Now those were 5 commonly recognized types of Vegetarians, but there also exists a vast majority of Ovo-Lacto-Occasionally-meat-n-fish-O-Vegetarians (like myself) that consider ourselves as mostly vegetarians 😛

So, what type of Vegetarian are you??

Next up will be “Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Vegetarian Diets”. Watch this space!

 

Less sleep and its effects on Blood sugar levels during Pregnancy.

Here I’m again trying to gather some more information on gestational diabetes, but this time it is not connected with exercise and diet. This is more to do with how your sleep patterns have an effect on bodies’ hormones.


Although this article focuses on Gestational Diabetes, Sleep Deprivation is shown to adversely affect glucose metabolism in general (regardless of gender and pregnant/non-pregnant)[1]. Point is, if you are not pregnant, most of this info will still be relevant for you…


Gestational diabetes is a common problem among a lot of pregnant women, though it typically subsides after a woman gives birth, the only sad part is that, it leaves her and her baby at a high risk of developing diabetes and obesity.

I’m sure a lot of you may be having disturbed sleep in pregnancy that’s a common issue right? It’s difficult to find how much sleep is actually required by an individual but researches suggest at least 7-8 hours of sound sleep for all pregnant women. They may even need an extra nap or some extra hour of sleep.

Studies have shown a clear correlation between sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality and increased risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.

Obesity and lack of sleep as a clear connection. Let’s have a look!

Glucose tolerance and its circadian rhythm

Glucose tolerance refers to the ability of our body to maintain the blood sugars via 2 process – insulin-mediated and non-insulin mediated. In normal diabetes, tolerance depends on the ability of beta cells to produce insulin. When insulin sensitivity decreases, insulin secretion is more to maintain normal blood sugars.

Glucose tolerance varies during different sleep stages.

Let me explain this in brief –

Sleep does have a direct effect on metabolic and hormonal processes. Our sleep is divided into 5 stages. Stage 3, 4 are also known as slow-wave sleep and are thought to be the most restorative. Slow wave sleep is associated with transient metabolic, hormonal, and neurophysiological changes, all this can affect blood glucose homeostasis. Glucose metabolism is slower in the first part of the night when slow sleep wave dominates; these effects are reversed in the second part of the night. Looking at the above picture we can conclude that poor sleep for a longer time could affect overall glucose homeostasis.

Studies also suggest that utilization of glucose by the brain is less with mothers who are sleep deprived for a longer period of time.

Hormonal dysregulation because of lack of sleep –

Following hormone, dysregulation happens with lack of sleep

  • Cortisol
  • Growth hormone

 

According to studies mothers who slept only for 4 hours or less for a week had higher levels of growth hormone. This high level of growth hormone will contribute to higher glucose levels too.

Sleep deprivation also increases cortisol levels (stress hormone), this high level of cortisol in the night will increase morning insulin resistance.

 

Inflammation

Inflammation increase when sleep duration decreases, this can, in turn, increase insulin resistance.

 

Sympathetic nervous system activity (SNS)

Sleep-deprived mothers have higher sympathetic nervous system activity (inhibits insulin release) and lower parasympathetic activity (stimulates the release of insulin), both of which increase glucose levels in the blood. Overactivity of SNS can even cause insulin resistance.

 

Weight increase

Less sleep has an effect on hunger hormones

  • Leptin – Appetite suppressor
  • Ghrelin- Appetite increaser

When you sleep less the level of hormone leptin decreases and that of ghrelin increases, creating an imbalance and further resulting in increased food intake. This can lead to fat gain (weight gain).

An increase in fat deposit in the body is associated with increased insulin resistance and decreased sensitivity.

 

All the above pointers clearly indicate that mothers who don’t sleep well in the first trimester can be at a high risk of developing GDM in the later trimesters of their pregnancy.

Note – Sleep of 5 hours or less for a long time can increase the chances of GDM. Also, a lot of other factors also play an important role and not only sleep. Sleep is one of the aspects from them.

 

So get your favorite pillow a nice bedtime story for you and your baby and get the soundest sleep this pregnancy 😉

Track Your Sleep Duration and Quality With FiTT@DawaiBox.

 

 

 

 

 

Health Effects of Coffee: Everything you need to know about it!

Is it good or is it bad?

Is it the elixir that its lovers praise it to be or is it a slow poison that gives you instant kick but wrecks havoc on your metabolism in the long run?

The world is conflicted over Coffee and so are the healthcare professionals.

Coffee is an excellent neuro-stimulant that can be quite helpful when you are trying to stay alert. However excessive consumption is associated with restlessness, jitteriness, insomnia, digestive issues, and addiction etc. Which is why it is advised to keep the consumption of caffeine under 400 mg per day ( less than 4 cups of brewed coffee)

What about Green Coffee? Is it better than green tea? Does it cause weight loss??

Here let us deconstruct All the information that is available on “Health Effects of Coffee”

Let us start with the million dollar question, “Is Coffee Bad For Health?”

It’s complicated (to put simply).

Is sugar bad? Is Alcohol bad? Is Tea bad? How about Chocolate??

Good or bad effects of most nutrients are dose oriented. Meaning till a certain amount even sugar is permissible and is healthful. Same goes for Alcohol and chocolate! Same way Caffeine too exhibits health effects (in most people, but not all) if taken in moderate quantities.

For detailed information, Read

13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science

But if taken excessively, coffee drinking can bring some unpleasant surprises your way (diarrhea included!)

9 Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine

Ok, you will ask what about Green Coffee Beans then?

Well, Find out here-

For the Love Of Coffee, Go Green!

Most of the information out there about coffee or even tea is anecdotal (based on personal experiences) and to make matter even more confusing, most of the scientific evidence is observational (not direct cause-effect one!), so take all these inputs with a pinch of salt.

Be careful though, coffee is contraindicated in certain conditions. Avoid/ Moderate Coffee intake the in following conditions-

  • pregnancy
  • hypertension
  • Irritable Bowel
  • anxiety disorder
  • bleeding disorder
  • osteoporosis

Coffee interacts with nutrients and drugs. Avoid coffee or speak with your doctor if you are taking any of the following-

  • Alcohol
  • Blood Thinners
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Certain Antibiotics
  • Synthetic Estrogen
  • Levothyroxine
  • Stimulant Drugs
  • Certain Diabetes Medications

So, Is Coffee Good Or Bad? You tell Us!

RUSHICHI BHAJI- A NUTRITIOUS WAY TO CELEBRATE GANESHOTSAV

“RUSHICHI BHAJI” athavla ka kahi? (Did you remember?). If not, here I am to make you nostalgic about our tradition and it’s health benefits.

Ganeshotsava is my favorite festival for years. But apart from modak, the recipe which ruled my heart during this festival was “RUSHICHI BHAJI”. Yes, you heard it right. Well, I am not a vegetable eater. But when my mom and granny used to prepare this vegetable on the occasion of Rushi Panchami I loved it. Little did I know that this vegetable is so nutritious?

On the Second day of Ganeshotsava Rushi Panchami is celebrated. This year it will be celebrated on 14th Sep 2018. Every Maharashtrian household will cook a special dish “Rushichi Bhaji” on this auspicious day. You might be wondering what is so special about this” Rushichi Bhaji” and Why it is prepared?

Rushi Panchami is devoted to “Saptarshi” which means seven rishis. The meals prepared on this day are a glimpse of rishis food and their lifestyle.

SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS IN “RUSHI PANCHAMI BHAJI”

Rushi Panchami Bhaji is an ancient recipe which comprises of mixed veggies of different types. The uniqueness of this vegetable is, only those vegetables which are grown without animal’s labor is used.

No spices, Masala, Curry leaves or any other flavors except green chilies are added to this vegetable it is bland yet delicious

The cooking of this vegetable is done in the same way as it was done by the rushis simple and healthy.

The Ingredients used in the recipe are extremely nutritious, low in kcal and tasty too because of the use of seasonal and fresh veggies. Also, it’s low in fat.

Now let’s have a look at the main ingredients of this recipe and how to cook this delicious recipe.

MAIN INGREDIENTS

Amaranth or Lal math leaves
Colocasia leaves (alu leaves)
Okra (Lady Finger)
Corn Cob (Boiled)
Yam (Suran)
Cucumber (Pavsali Kakdi)
Tamarind Juice
Green Chillies
Ghee
Jaggery

Pre-preparation:- The pre-preparation of this recipe requires a lot of time rather than actual cooking. But it’s fine if we are devoting some time to it, as this festival is celebrated once a year. Preparation usually involves washing and chopping all veggies.

Cooking Time:– You can cook all the veggies separately as different veggies have different cooking time. But to ease the procedures you can also cook them together.
And finally coming to the point how this vegetable is cooked? Well, it’s actually very easy.

METHOD
1) Heat a pan, add ghee and green chilies.
2) Add all the vegetables including corn kernels and sauté for 2 mins.
3) Add sufficient water to cover the vegetables and bring it to a boil.
4) Add salt as per taste and mix very well.
5) Cover and simmer from low to medium flame. Keep stirring the veggies in between.
5) Simmer till all the veggies are cooked properly.
6) Add tamarind juice and cook the bhaji without lid till the raw aroma of tamarind goes away.
7) Add jaggery. Mix well and simmer this bhaji for a minute.
8) Your delicious “RUSHI PANCHAMI BHAJI” is now ready!
You can serve this Rushi Panchami bhaji with Rice Bhakri or you can even have it plain. Believe me, it’s very delicious and even plain bhaji would be super tasty.

 

HOW HEALTHY IS RUSHICHI BHAJI?

Amaranth is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and also help in controlling cholesterol. Corn cob has antioxidant property whereas Okra is low in calories and high in dietary fiber which helps to manage your diabetes. It also contains Vit B, Vit C, folic acid and calcium. Yam is a good source of Vit C, potassium and other vitamins. Colocasia leaves are also rich in dietary fiber and protein. They are also low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and contain Vit B6 and Phosphorus. Jaggery is loaded with minerals and antioxidants like zinc and selenium, which help prevent free-radicals. It also prevents constipation by aiding digestion. Ghee also helps in digestion and increases the absorption of nutrients. So, the conclusion is all the ingredients of this bhaji have their own nutritional benefits which makes it extremely healthy.

TIPS:-
I had given a few veggies but you can even add veggies like dudhi, bhopla, etc as per your personal choice and availability. Nowadays you can easily find “Rushi Panchami veg” on the market so you can just directly buy them together rather than opting for single choices.

DIETITIAN’S VERDICT ON RUSHI PANCHAMI BHAJI

Rushi Panchami bhaji is a perfect blend of health as well as taste. As different ingredients in this recipe have different health benefits. From Vitamins, Minerals, Proteins, Fiber, antioxidants this bhaji is extremely nutritious and delicious. Also, the cooking method used to prepare this bhaji is healthy.

Even if you are not a “MAHARASHTRIAN” do try Rushichi Bhaji on this Rushipanchami or on any other occasion. I am sure you will love it. Our tradition is way too healthy than we actually know.

Just a suggestion try this Rushichi bhaji on the occasion of Rushi Panchami itself coz my mom used to say no matter how you cook it. It will always taste good on this day.

I hope you found this article helpful? Let me know your views in the comment section below.

                                                                      EAT HEALTHY THIS GANESHOTAVA

                                                                               GANPATI BAPPA MORYA!

 

~ Ayesha Ghadigaonkar(Food and Nutrition Blogger)

Is your diet influencing your baby’s taste preferences?

I am sure nobody wants their child to end up being a fussy eater. Right?

So, let’s understand how the baby’s palate and food memories are shaped actually before birth!

 

THE TASTE FACTOPEDIA

  • Do you know that the baby starts developing taste for different foods when in the uterus, based on what the mother eats during pregnancy?! Yes! They can actually get the taste of what the mother eats. And that will act as a foundation of what the child likes and dislikes when he grows up. It is, therefore, important that the mother select her food wisely.
  • The taste buds develop where the baby’s tongue will be, by as early as week 8 of pregnancy. However, the baby won’t be able to taste anything before week 16 when the taste pores develop on the surface of the tongue. This is the time they’ll start swallowing amniotic fluid too.
  • According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, babies can taste different flavors of mother’s foods through 2 mediums – amniotic fluid (when still inside) and mother’s milk (once outside).
  • The taste, however, won’t be as distinct as the mother gets it since the taste of food is actually amplified by its smell which can be sensed by the mother and the baby doesn’t have it as yet.
  • But, since the fetus swallows the amniotic fluid from time to time, they get direct access to ‘transmittable’ flavors, influencing the acceptance of those foods in the future.
  • Another study conducted on pregnant women who drank carrot juice for 3 weeks continuously in their last trimester, found that their babies made fewer negative expressions when they were introduced to carrot-flavored cereal later.                                                                                                                                                     

 Thus, basically, foods women had while pregnant was easy to introduce to their infants’ as solid foods. So, if you have enjoyed eating fresh fruits and veggies during pregnancy rather than having packaged foods, your baby might also enjoy those flavors when they grow up!

  • It has also been found that some flavors imbibed by the lactating mother appear in breast milk, like garlic, vanilla, star anise, mint, carrot, and alcohol. This indicates, what you eat could subtly change the flavor of the breast milk and the baby starts to understand different flavors gradually.

 

I believe that just like me, pregnant women around the world eat foods common to where they live and as per their very own culture. Whether we love spicy ethnic foods or prefer simply prepared meals, we are gearing our baby up to accept the culinary traditions of our family! After all, chances are high that what we are eating now will be what we’ll feed our child in the future.

 

THE FRAGRANCE OF AMNIOTIC FLUID

A research was conducted on a group of women to authenticate if flavors are passed from the mother to the baby via the amniotic fluid. Here, women were asked to have garlic capsules before taking a routine sample of their amniotic fluid and another set of women were used as placebo — and then it was smelled.

Tada! They could pick out the samples easily from the women who ate garlic because the sense of taste is actually 90-percent smell, so they knew just from the odor that the babies could taste it.

SETTING THE BABY UP FOR NUTRITIONAL SUCCESS

  • As per the dietary guidelines for Indian pregnant women by National Institute Of Nutrition [NIN], a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses, legumes, chicken, fish, nuts and seeds while limiting excess salt, fat and added sugars is recommended.
  • So, eating from a wide variety of food groups and cuisines exposes your baby to different tastes when they grow up.
  • Basically, it is important to make every bite count! Therefore, make sure to load up with healthiest foods to fuel your pregnancy as well as keep a check on what you eat while lactating.
  • Eggs, berries, yogurt, whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, fish [particularly salmon], avocados, nuts, and seeds are some pregnancy superfoods.
  • Flavor exposure also continues for babies through breast milk (as mentioned above). So, if you plan to breastfeed, your baby will also share the spicy, sweet, sour or bitter flavors you’ve eaten between feedings.

 

Remember, the baby’s diet is introduced first through the womb, then through breastmilk and later through his environment. So, if you want your child to eat everything, you should too!

 

So, the next time someone tells you to “eat for two”, what they might be actually meaning is that your baby tastes all the flavors of your food with you! So make sure you eat healthily and mindfully – for both of you! 🙂

 

10 Guilt Free Snacks To Munch On This Rainy Season!

Every year I wait for the arrival of Monsoon. When monsoons arrive one thing which rules over my mind is “FOODS TO HAVE IN RAINS”. Even before the arrival of this season, our food cravings begin. So what are some monsoon foods? Since ages, the monsoon foods which top our list are masala chai, bhajis, pakodas, samosas, bhuttas etc. But are these foods really healthy? Or we need to change our habits to have a healthy monsoon…

Below are some healthy snacks and recipes you can try this monsoon

Try Roasted almonds: – One of the best snacks to satisfy your food cravings during the monsoon. Grab some almonds and roast it. The easiest and handy snack to carry which are also super high in proteins and healthy fats.

Grab your Monsoon fruits: – Fruits are a must in every season. But do include the seasonal fruits in your monsoon diets which include guava, lychees, Cherries, Plums, peach, pomegranate which are rich in natural antioxidants and vitamins and hence will keep your infections at bay.

Have some delicious soups: – When it’s humid weather and generally we have the tendency to have hot foods. I guess soups really turn out to be better options. Soups are light, easy to make and full of nutrition. Not only do they keep you away from the flu but also provide the hydration you need in this weather. The humidity speeds up the process of dehydration and it is important to drink enough fluids to prevent it.

Snack on bhutta: – Having a roasted corn with rubbed lemon with spices is what we call “Corn on the Cob” aka “Bhutta” which tastes 100 times better if you are eating it out on a rainy day. This food not only tastes delicious, but it boosts your overall health, by providing your body with numerous nutrients. Our favorite monsoon snack “Corn” is rich in fiber, Vit C, Magnesium and also contains a good dose of antioxidants.

Get ready to give a healthy treat to your friends and celebrate this monsoon with a chai and hot and flavoury bhutta alongside

Spice up your food: – Indian food is all about flavors. So when it comes to monsoon keep in mind the spices for flavors as well as health. Include spices like turmeric, mustard, asafetida (hing), coriander, turmeric, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and curry leaves which has anti-bacterial property and also help in digestion.

Give a boost to your immunity levels by flavoring your foods with spices.

Combine some healthy seeds: – To reap some more nutritional benefits you can have the mixture of seeds like pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds. These seeds really have immense nutritional benefits.

Everyone loves monsoon and to stay healthy throughout the monsoon one must indulge in this eating habits. And so we will be focusing on some healthy monsoon snacks and recipes. The traditional foods which are generally included in our monsoon diets are Masala Chai, Bhajis, Pakodas, Samosa, Butta aka Corn, Aloo ka paratha, Chole bhature, Chaat. But are these food combinations really healthy? If not then what are the healthy food combinations yet lip-smacking? Let’s find out.

 

Masala Chai”

“Masala Chai” the name itself is enough to take us on a long food drive. But masala chai is usually taken with a combination of Bhajias, Pakodas, Wada Pav, Samosa, Aloo paratha, Butta aka Corn. Let’ find out amongst these combinations which combinations are healthy?

SWAP YOUR BHAJIS/PAKODAS WITH BAKED MUTHIYAS

Bhajis and Pakodas can be swapped with “Healthy Muthiyas”. Don’t you think so it’s better? Now, there are different types of Muthiyas you can prepare daliya muthiya, methi muthiya, whole wheat muthiya, oats methi muthiya, spinach muthiya, cabbage muthiya, coriander leaves and the cherry on the cake is they won’t be fried instead will be baked or steamed. Isn’t that really a healthy combination? Cereals+ Veggies and you can include curd as an accompaniment which further provides you with protein and makes it nutritionally balanced.

SWAP YOUR PLAIN FRIED SAMOSAS WITH BAKED VEG SAMOSA

Samosa the very popular food in monsoons. But deep-fried samosas which are made up of refined flour and the filling of high starchy foods like potatoes make it unhealthy. I am not saying don’t have your samosas but let’s try the healthier version of samosas.
In my Healthier version of Samosa, the outer filling consists of whole wheat flr and the inner filling consists of like green peas, french beans, carrot n potato combination further instead of deep frying baked samosas are healthier.

SWAP TO HEALTHY CHAATS

Chaat is one of the most loved monsoon foods. But are those roadside chaats like panipuri, Sev puri ragdapuri healthy and hygienic for you? It’s roadside and so might be an issue. But if you are looking for some healthier version of chaats you are at the right place.

This monsoon you can try homemade Corn Chaat, Kala Chana Chaat, Chole Chaat by adding a good amount of veggies.
Monsoons are one of the best seasons to enjoy foods. And this season instead of denying your food cravings let’s satisfy it with a healthier version of foods.

Some more healthy recipes you can try this monsoon are Masala Idli, Paneer Cutlets.

Well if you think it’s done. Let me tell you it’s still not done don’t you” ll want a healthy recipe to try for

KHAKRA SPROUTS CHAAT

My healthy version of chaat is simple and easy to prepare. A perfect carb-protein combination which also satisfies your taste bud as well.

INGREDIENTS

1 Khakra
½ Cup Boiled Sprouts
1 Cup of mixed veggies (onion, tomatoes, capsicum)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt as per taste

METHOD

In a bowl Crush, the khakras then add the boiled sprouts and mixed veggies. Later add chili powder and salt. Sprinkle some lemon juice and you are down.

And yes now I am done. Monsoons are one of the best seasons to enjoy foods. And this season instead of denying your food cravings let’s satisfy it with a healthier version of foods. Let us know how you find this article in the comment section below!
So all I wanna say is “Be a foodie no problem in that but “THINK NUTRITIONALLY THIS MONSOON”

~ Ayesha Ghadigaonkar (FOOD AND NUTRITION BLOGGER)