Best of Wellness (2014)

  • Jaspal Bajwa
  • India
  • Dec 26, 2014


Fat-Busting Foods


An unintended consequence of modern urban life is the widespread ‘disease’ of early obesity. In developed countries like the US the situation is alarming, with two out of three people being either obese or overweight. Premature ageing, increased morbidity due to the early onset of Type 2 Diabetes, Heart disease, Cancer and Osteoarthritis, is taking a heavy toll in terms of societal health and costs. Rather than ‘work at it’, today’s ‘take-it-easy’ lifestyle is always on the look-out for a silver bullet that could make the belly-fats melt away. However, millions of dollars spent on the ‘slimming industry’ have only resulted in bulging bottom-lines for the purveyors of mainly dubious products and services. Is there a ‘wonder food’ that could be a universal ‘Fat-Buster’? Alas, there is little evidence that such a magical wand exists. Dieting programs may offer transient results, with over 80% people regressing to ‘square’ one as soon as the ‘fad’ wears off. 



Sustaining an optimal weight is possible only by ensuring that we work to a customized plan that maximizes the efficiency of our metabolism. This pertains to how well we select the quality of calories that we ingest…and how efficiently our body burns the calories. The key is to avoid the trap whereby the body responds to an artificial fear of ‘scarcity’ (of food), which then triggers the storing of excess fat in the adipose tissue cells just beneath the skin (this pertains to ‘white fat’; it is very different from ‘brown fat,’ which is critical for the health of our vital organs and is found deeper inside the body). Each one of us inherits a tendency, which further gets accentuated during our growing-up years and impacts our BMR - Basic Metabolic Rate (the energy expended - calories consumed – for the functioning of the vital organs when our body is at rest). It is the ‘set-point’ of the thermostat-like tendency of the body, to trigger the build-up of fat reserves in response to an imagined threat (of starvation). Most important, however, is our attitude and habits, which combine to yield our Quality-of-Life index. The good news is that we can re-program this anytime, provided we are motivated enough to follow a certain rigour towards building high self-esteem, accompanied by proper eating, exercise and sleeping habits. The battle of the bulge is clearly all about adopting a positive attitude, followed by the ‘practice, practice and practice’ of new winning habits. Since our resolve can always weaken, it is advisable to take the help of a Coach and a support-group of like-minded friends, who can help track our progress as well as ensure our adherence to the practice.

A robust optimal Weight Management Program works with all the 5 areas that need to be addressed. Apart from the golden rule of eating 80% of our stomach’s capacity, we must take steps to eliminate empty calories (from junk food or overly-refined processed foods), which not only fan cravings but also trigger blood-sugar spikes - opening the flood-gates and permitting fat-storage mechanisms to kick in. Simultaneously, steps are required to improve digestive effectiveness and the efficiency of metabolism (burning of calories), to stimulate our energy levels. 

The 5-point Comprehensive Program is:

1. Replace empty-calorie junk foods with 'metabolism-boosting' foods, to help burn off calories. Some excellent examples are Green Teas, hot peppers, green chillies and tomatoes.The catechins in Green Tea not only increase our metabolism, but also increase the fat-burn rate in the liver.

2. Prefer 'Filling Foods', which help remove any cravings. High fibre, low calorie foods likebeans, green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach), deep orange pumpkin, sweet potato, celery, oatmeal and whole grains, are good. Other high protein foods (whey, lean white meats, seafoods) should also be considered.  

3. Replace large meals with smaller 4-5 snack-like meals. Use Nuts (especially almonds) and berries (raspberries, blueberries) to help cut appetite. High flavonoid fruits like apples, Tart Cherries, lemons and grapefruit help depress our insulin levels, lower sugar spikes and help the shift towards an alkaline balance in our bodies. 

4. Consumption of high quality Omega 3 Fatty Acids (from fatty fish, Extra Virgin Olive Oilor Flaxseed Oil) on salads can cut cravings and help burn fat. In addition, the high quality fats fromavocadoes and Flax and Chia Seeds are excellent too, as these offer the triple benefit of firing up our metabolism, curbing appetite (good fibre content) and switching off the body's fat storage hormones. 

5. Finally, there must be a variety in our diet, to ensure that any deficiencies are avoided - more specifically related to Vitamins A, C, E, B3, B6, B12, as also calcium, magnesium, selenium, chromium, zinc and iodine. Selective supplementation of certain Amino Acids - like L Cysteine and L Carnitine - can be considered.

Tip of the Week

To arrive at an optimal Weight Management Plan, a 360-degree self-audit of our Lifestyle should help us arrive at a targeted ‘calories per day’. It is equally important to seek medical counsel, to help identify any underlying medical conditions (like a poor Thyroid gland function), which may have led to a chronic weight gain.

Nature’s Wonder Food of the Week: Garcinia Cambogia or Malabar Tamarind or Kudumpuli

Garcinia Cambogia is a traditional food and flavouring of Southeast Asia and has recently attracted much attention in the media as a fat-busting nutritional supplement. Traditionally, Garcinia has been used by Ayurveda practitioners for treating stomach ulcers, arthritis and some uterine problems; as also to promote digestion and as a carminative. The rind of the fruit contains Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA) and is reported to help reduce fat synthesis, increase burn-off and normalize blood lipid profile. However, the efficacy of the Garcinia nutritional supplements can vary substantially.


Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition). For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions




The Rainbow Treatment


The increasing global burden of Chronic Diseases (also called Non-Communicable Diseases) merits urgent attention. According to the WHO Global Status 2010 Report, these diseases are the biggest cause of death worldwide - responsible for nearly 40 million deaths annually. As many as one in four of these deaths are of people below 60 years – which also means that they are largely preventable. The vulnerable sections of society are hit even harder; on an average the mortality rate is 3 to 4 times higher in low-income countries. The main culprits are Cardio-vascular Diseases (48%), Cancers (21%), Chronic Respiratory Diseases (12%) and Diabetes (3%). This increased mortality, as well as the crippling cost for lifelong medication, can be mitigated by wiser food-choices as well as by increasing the awareness on the impact of ‘lifestyles’. It is estimated that diet accounts for up to 35% of the cancers that are caused by lifestyle and environment. It is time we hark the advice of ancient healers like Hippocrates – ‘Let food be thy medicine’, or listen to Ayurveda - ‘When diet is correct, medicine is of no need’.

The first step is to identify and focus on controlling the common underlying Risk factors for mortality: raised Blood Pressure - BP (responsible for 13% of deaths globally); tobacco use (9%); raised blood glucose (6%); physical inactivity (6%); overweight and obesity (5%). The good news is that the list of natural tools that can help bring blood pressure down continues to grow. According to JAMA Internal Medicine, ‘Plant foods are low in blood pressure-raising sodium and high in blood pressure-lowering potassium’. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) study has confirmed these recommendations: ‘eat a healthy primarily plant-based diet, control salt intake and be physically active - to lower blood pressure. Many chronic diseases have been at least partially attributed to chronic inflammation and damage caused by free oxygen radicals. Similarly, the direct link between food-choice and activity lifestyle is resulting in ‘silent’ killers like hypertension (elevated blood pressure), impaired blood sugar control (Diabetes) and obesity. New research is focusing on the link between certain foods and the root-causes that directly impact the health of DNA cells and blood vessels. Like a pivot, these can either trigger the beneficial effect of food - making wholesome nutrients available at the right time and right place in the body, or its exact opposite - when the body gets caught in a domino-like effect in response to negative substances (e.g. stress-related Homocysteine or Glucocorticoids, which impact immunity levels). According to the Angiogenesis Foundation in Cambridge, Mass., abnormalities in blood vessel growth - called Angiogenesis - could explain upto 70% of all chronic diseases. The body has an intricate system of enzymes, hormones, proteins and genes that regulate blood-vessel growth; but when the system malfunctions, several chronic diseases can occur - in particular all forms of cancer, which rely on the aberrant production of new blood vessels. Scientists have also identified several genes that are associated with an increased risk of developing Cardio-vascular Diseases. Genetic variants of the same gene (chromosome 9p21) are also associated with Breast, Bladder, and Pancreatic Cancers. Choosing our foods well (e.g. imbibing catechins in green tea or iso-thiocyanates in green vegetables) can help access bioactive compounds, which may deter the development of cancer by affecting DNA methylation. 

Tip of the Week

Antioxidants from natural foods, eaten raw or minimally cooked, can effectively take on free radicals, which otherwise fan the flames of inflammation and damage cellular form and function while altering DNA integrity as well. Avoid foods that are high salt, high sugar, high saturated or trans-fat, canned, overly processed, fast-foods, lunch meats, salt-based seasonings, caffeine, gluten etc. Be wary of long-lists in the 'ingredients’ of overly processed foods. Select foods that have less than 5% of the ‘Daily Value’ (DV) of sodium. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon) of salt each day - or even lower, as guided by the doctor. Use non-salt seasonings such as herbs, spices, lemon juice and garlic during food preparation. Drinking beet juice can also help reduce BP - the crimson root veggie is rich in nitrates, which relax blood vessels.



Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition). For education purposes only; always


Why Organic?

Over the last two years the necessity of Organic Foods has been hotly debated. The issue took centre-stage when a September 2012 ‘meta-analysis’ of existing research studies carried out by Stanton raised doubts about the ‘accepted’ significant difference in the nutritional profile of Organic vs. ‘conventional non-organic foods’. Ever since, arguments have flown fast and thick on both sides of the aisle. Perspectives have predictably been coloured by the interests of various parties involved. Against the backdrop of a rapidly accelerating Organic, Natural & Whole Foods industry (high double-digit annual growth rates), questions have been raised on whether this movement is ‘over-hyped’. Others questions whether we were losing sight of the ground reality of feeding rapidly increasing populations. A secular view states that the nutritional value of both Organic as well as non-organic food is equally impacted by where and how the food was grown, stored and shipped; as also how it was cooked, served and consumed. Just a label stating ‘Organic’ does not cut much ice. Protagonists of the Organic or Natural Foods movement are quick to point out that a single ‘meta-analysis’ (like the Stanton report) has scope for error, depending on which research studies were included in the sample. More importantly, ‘nutritional superiority’ alone is not what is at stake. This kind of a study had clearly not included in its scope the important differences in contaminants or the possible environmental consequences of Organic versus conventional production practices.

The pendulum may have swung too wide in favour of industrialised production methods, which have severe limitations - such as a worldwide contamination of the food chain and ground water resources, compounded by reduced nutrient and flavour profile of foods. This is thanks to an over-reliance on low-cost, profit-enhancing intensive food production and processing methods. The emerging shift in favour of Natural / Organic / Whole Foods has the potential for multiple benefits to society as a whole. We must not overlook benefits of sustainable production and delivery systems for consumers, farmers, communities and the environment. Some important benefits are:

ν Lower risk of exposure to pesticides and other powerful chemical additives, which can disrupt production of essential hormones in the body, leading to impaired fetal and child development 

ν Significantly higher levels of certain nutrients in Organic Foods - such as Omega fats, Vitamin C, dry matter, some minerals (like phosphorus, iron, magnesium) and higher antioxidant levels (such as phenols and salicylic acid

Potential to eliminate agriculture’s significant contribution to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, due to the over-use of pesticides and antibiotics in the quest for rampant increase in yields and margins. These ‘super-bugs’ have renewed the spectre of infectious diseases, as there are no known antibiotics that can control them Organic farming methods clearly lead to reduced nutrient pollution, improved soil organic matter, lower energy use, reduced pesticide residues in food and water and enhanced biodiversity.

Over time, unbiased analysis together with modern science will probably demonstrate that Organic fresh, whole foods can and should be an integral part of healthy diets. They will be an important investment in helping improve the ‘quality-of-life’ of society at large. Organic Food production systems may end up playing an important role in meeting the multiple challenges faced by our Planet. These would in all probability require a holistic PPP (Public Private Partnership) approach, which can simultaneously address issues concerning Food security, nutritional quality, safety as well as sustainable agricultural and animal health-promoting practices.

Tip of the Week

Labelling laws have been slow to evolve (e.g. in the US, it is only in recent years that it has been clarified how the ‘100% Certified Organic’ seal is not the same as describing a product as ‘Organic’. Hence, before paying a premium for tall marketing claims on the front panel (like ‘Sugar Free’, ‘Slimming’, ‘Natural’ or ‘Organic’), it is wise to be guided by the information on a food label. The ‘Ingredients’ list, where what can be said (or not said), is now attracting a lot of attention by multiple watchdog agencies. The general rule is, ‘the shorter the list (not more than 4-5 ingredients ) and the more it is free from un-pronounceable chemical names … the better the food is likely to be’! It also helps to check the antecedents of the manufacturer, grower or importer (i.e. how respected is the source). The values they uphold and their commitment to Quality and / or sustainable agricultural practices can be a good guidepost.


Nature’s Wonder Food(s) of the Week :  Teff or Eragrostis tef

Consumed for thousands of years in Ethiopia, this super ‘ancient grain’ has been slowly gaining popularity in other parts of the world. It is probably the smallest grain in the world and is often lost in handling;  in fact its name (Teff) is based on the Amharic word for ‘lost’ (‘Teffa’). In Ethiopian diet it is the preferred staple to make engera (injera), which is a flat fermented pancake. Teff grain can be grounded and had as porridge, used to brew alcoholic beverages or used as a thickener. Teff is nearly gluten-free, and contains as much as 11% protein, 80% complex carbohydrate and only 3% fat. It is an excellent source of essential amino acids, especially lysine – which is normally deficient in grain foods. Teff is rich in calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, copper and other essential minerals. Teff is gaining popularity as an alternative grain for persons with gluten sensitivity. It is finding use in planned diets for persons with Celiac disease, as also in blood sugar control management for diabetics - due to its high fibre and complex carbohydrate content.

Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition). For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions


  • print
  • comnt
  • share

News from Communities

  • Friday Gurgaon Seminar$thumbimg129_Aug_2014_160822730.jpgOrange Fish
  • Gurgaon Speaks Up-Rest in Peace ''Damini''-Saturday Dec 29 @ Leisure Valley$thumbimg104_Jan_2013_143656130.jpgOrange Fish
  • Genesis Foundation Fund Raiser$thumbimg114_Aug_2012_091411630.jpgOrange Fish
  • Coca Cola Cricket trophy played in Gurgaon$thumbimg117_Mar_2012_180857977.jpgOrange Fish
  • Union Budget 2012$thumbimg116_Mar_2012_123404760.jpgOrange Fish
  • Union Budget 2012$thumbimg116_Mar_2012_122004320.jpgOrange Fish
  • Renge Art Walk$thumbimg102_Mar_2012_095312690.jpgOrange Fish
  • Friday Gurgaon Cricket team$thumbimg119_Feb_2012_195202840.jpgOrange Fish
  • Genesis Fundraiser Gurgaon$thumbimg129_Jan_2012_072409630.jpgOrange Fish
  • Gurgaon$thumbimg102_Jan_2012_165747220.jpgOrange Fish

Latest Issue


Do you think government should reconsider its policy of promoting liquor vends in Gurgaon?

votebox View Results