Cholesterol is one of the most common household names today! For long, the eggs, saturated fats, animal fat have been attributed as the number one cause of heart disease! What if these had no connection to heart disease, strokes, and cardiovascular disease? 

So, what’s the truth behind this great cholesterol myth? 

As a matter of fact, 75% of cholesterol is produced by your liver and your body requires cholesterol for so many different functions. Right from repairing cell, to grow new cell membrane, production of vitamin D, production of other hormones - cholesterol is required for good health, it’s required for your memory. it’s required for neurological health, and there are connections to low cholesterol to alzheimer’s; cancer, parkinson’s disease, diabetes, neuromuscular pains, joint pains, bloating, inability to lose weight, and a host of other factors.

Does cholesterol lead to heart attack?

Absolutely not! Heart attacks occur due to inflammation in your arteries. Heart attacks occur from high blood pressure which is poorly managed. Heart attacks occur when your triglycerides are extremely high and your good cholesterol is extremely low. So, you need to look beyond your cholesterol levels and understand your HDL & LDL profile.

Let's take a closer look

You get cholesterol from two sources, i.e., from the food you eat and from your body. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need and circulates it through the blood.

HDL, your good cholesterol has a function of cleaning bad cholesterol out of your arteries, removing plaques; so you want high levels of HDL. So, what about high levels of LDL?  It's not the LDL, but the LDL particle size that matters. The large LDL particles do not cause problems to heart. But if you have small LDL particles, they could cause potential damage to your heart. Then you have triglycerides and they are the villains. When you have high levels of triglycerides, it can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries, which can cause clots in your brain and eventually a stroke and paralysis of your body. 

Therefore, if you have high levels of triglycerides, that puts you in a potential high risk category and you require an immediate lifestyle correction. Eating wrong grains, sugar, inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, overweight, obesity, and constant stress - all these can contribute to high triglycerides level. 

Your cholesterol levels go up when your insulin levels go up!

Your cholesterol levels are directly proportionate to your insulin levels? Which means, when you have insulin sensitivity your body needs to produce more insulin and your liver produces more cholesterol. That makes a diabetic to automatically have high levels of cholesterol. 

What needs to be done? Well, work on controlling your blood sugar; work on bringing down your insulin level and you automatically bring down your cholesterol level. That is the connection between insulin and cholesterol, and it comes down to what you eat. If you eat constantly processed sugar & bad carbohydrates, your insulin level will remain high and your cholesterol level also is going to be high. 

You run to a doctor who puts you on a pill for diabetes, another pill for cholesterol and yet another pill to manage the side effects of both those pills that you are taking for diabetes and cholesterol without realising the natural response of our body.

When you constantly eat wrong foods, have poor circulation due to inactivity, eat less of plant-based food, nuts, seeds, you start damaging the endothelial cells in your arteries and inflammation sets in, which causes constriction in your arteries, leading to poor blood flow. 

What also happens is your blood thickens and all of a sudden you have high blood pressure. Over time, this high blood pressure can cause clot in your brain, in your artery, or at any part of your body which eventually leads to stroke, paralysis, cardiac arrest, and death.

End of the day, it’s your job to reduce inflammation and thereby the amount of cholesterol in your body. You were asked to stay away from foods like egg yolks, saturated fats, coconut oil, etc. In fact, your body needs them. Healthy lifestyle choices and regular exercise routine protect your body from chronic inflammation, and your liver need to work harder to produce more cholesterol.

Your success is dependent upon scrutinising your own life and so is your healing as a patient.  You heal not when you have the best doctors, but when you have good doctors and most importantly when you take up personal responsibility & accountability of your own health and own bodies. 

Unfortunately, in today’s world people just don’t want to take responsibility. They expect their personal trainer or nutritional expert or whoever it is to fix their health issues. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. 

But when you take up the extra responsibility of your health with right amount of coaching and right amount of advice and help, it does make a difference. 

One such lifestyle tip that has been proven to work 100s of 1000s of people around the world is simple but effective exercise of maintaining a food log. Most of us would feel, "I don’t eat much sugar, chocolate or any other junk stuff, so why do I really have to…."

But when you do, you will be surprised to see the kind of food stuff that goes into your stomach without you even noticing it.

If you have been struggling to lose weight or struggling to build a great body or struggling to fight a disease with stronger immunity, this simple routine is definitely something that could work in your favour. And it won’t take more than 3-4 minutes at the end of the day to put this together.

Some of the famous names out there found success doing this simple activity called food logging or food journaling. Some people would like to do it at the end of each meal or some would prefer to make note of it at the end of the day or before they go to sleep.

Interestingly, when you go through this process, you start becoming more accountable and much more disciplined.  Also, it makes you think everything that you put in your mouth. 

Exercise is not a tool to punish yourself. Weight loss and good health is all about what you put in your mouth. So, when you enter the details of what you have eaten at the end of the day you get a clear picture of what you have eaten on a particular day, the second day, or a week since you had started logging. You have your own personal database of what has gone into your system.

And if you have lost weight or gained weight at the end of a week, you could just go back and see what specific food, quantity, the context in which you had them, etc. would have caused the change in you. You see the reason for the change and become more aware of what consume. 

This removes the blame on food, blame on people around, doctors, trainers, …rather it encourages and inculcates a personal responsibility and accountability in you.

Secondly, a lot of us eat out of emotion - so write the time of the day and in what situation you ended up eating something that you could have avoided, and it also helps you think about what made you to eat and what exactly was going on in your mind at that point in time. Is it because of a person, were you sad, bored or happy.....? it’s important to note the trigger as all of us eat out of emotion. With this routine, you become more aware of the root causes and address them more effectively. 

Same is the case with alcohol. We might think you don’t drink quite regularly; but when you do, it goes way off the mark - sometimes it could go up to 10-15 drinks. So, write that down as well. It will be a self realisation. Remember, one session of drinking could negate everything what you have put into your body in the form of nutrition over a period of time.

So take responsibility and it's a beautiful stress relieving exercise!

Food allows you to understand more about yourself, help you lose weight, help you make the best use of the exercises you put in every day.

Be honest when you write this down. Yes, you could end up writing down a few bad stuff, but soon you would want to motivate yourself to write down something good in that log and maintain it.

Protein plays a number of different roles in your body than just building strong muscles. Don’t be surprised - protein does get involved in almost all your body functions. Protein supports your immune system by fighting against infection; it coordinates chemical reactions in cells & processes between cells; protein helps in fat burning, in muscle recovery and heal cuts & wounds in your body. 

It also helps transport key molecules throughout your body and fights diabetes. Protein supports metabolism and is essential for brain function as well. In short, protein is essential to your heart health and a healthy body. 

Your body breaks down the protein into amino acids, and it's the amino acids that contribute to proper lean mass that gives muscle fuel and power to your cell. There are 23 amino acids of which 15 of them our body can make every single day, and the rest are called essential proteins must come from other sources, i.e., from foods that we eat. 

Good sources of protein include nuts, seeds beans, green peas, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, carrot, spinach, sprouts, etc.  Eggs and meat also contain protein along with healthy fats.

However, excess protein comes with its problems and it’s not the quantity of protein intake but the quality that matters. So, it’s important for you to make sure that you are consuming the right amount in right quality. 

You might be wondering how much protein do you need per day? Actually, it depends on your health goals like - general health, burning fat or building muscle.  

To remain:
  • In Generally Health:  The recommended quantity is about 50% of your body weight in grams. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you need to have about, i.e., 160*50% = 80 g/day 
  • To Burn Fat:  It’s about 75% of your body weight in grams, i.e., 160*75% = 120 g/day
  • To Build Muscle: 100% of your body weight in grams, i.e., 160*100% = 160 g/day
When you have excess protein in your body, it gets converted into glucose and eventually fat, which means you would end up having abdominal fat if you consume an excess amount of protein. Remember, the excess amount of protein puts more pressure on your kidneys to flush out the surplus protein.

Proteins take about 3-4 hours to digest in your system, so if you are eating every 2 hours it’s making your digestive system work harder. Your digestive system uses the most amount of energy, and if you constantly make your digestive system to work hard to break down the food you eat, your metabolic rate suffers and becomes slower. Therefore, it’s also important that you monitor and spread the consumption of protein throughout the day. 

Building mass or losing weight is all about the amino acid profile, and for muscle you need protein, but you need more of human growth hormone, viz., testosterone, and this is what gives you muscle and lean mass.

If you have low testosterone hormone, no matter how hard you work out, it’s not going to benefit you.

You sleep less, move less, consume alcohol, indulge in smoking - all these could result in the hormonal imbalance. So, balancing hormones by maintaining the balanced diet and getting involved in daily exercises is the name of the game. 

The best way to stimulate hormones and improve your immunity is through exercises such as skipping, jumping exercises, jumping jacks, etc. 

The more lean mass you have, the faster you burn your body fat, and you can have that lean mass by looking after the hormonal health.

Constantly, we are bombarded with information on healthy lifestyle habits telling us what, when, and how to eat and exercise.  And so often you get confused and ask yourself "Oh My.... how on earth...., especially when you are someone who wants to shed a few extra pounds. 

You barely started your day, your stomach begins to rumble and you feel groggy, you reach for food in the refrigerator or turn to a vending machine and end up grabbing something to kill your hunger, and a couple of hours later you feel hungry again and you go mad. 

Day in day out, you go through this rollercoaster cycle and find it extremely hard to manage these situations. 

Indeed, it’s a lot frustrating when you are living in the age of fast foods and quick fix meals. 

Ever wondered what exactly happens when you keep consuming carb-rich foods? The digestive system converts the carbs into blood sugar which provides the body with energy for your cells, tissues, and organs. The leftover sugar is stored in the liver,  muscles, and fat cells. 

Whenever you try to fill your body with carbohydrates than actually it requires, your liver’s sugar storage capacity is exceeded. When this happens, the excess sugar is converted by the liver into fatty acids and returned to the bloodstream, which is taken throughout your body and stored as fat! These storage spaces (adipose fat cells) include the stomach, hips, butt, and breasts.

Yes, your weight loss starts and ends in the kitchen and carbs & sugar are the perennial villain in this.

This is where the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet comes in handy. 

The basic principle here is to eat less amount of carbs to try to get the blood sugar levels on a stable and low level. With low levels of blood sugar, less insulin is produced in your body and as a result less fat is stored in the body. 

The body uses the fat as fuel instead of carbs, and if you are overweight, you start losing body fat.

Apart from weight loss, you get to experience a lot of other health benefits. Your diabetes get controlled to the extent where you don’t need any medication, your digestion gets better, you feel happier, more energetic, etc. 

Listening to your body and choosing real food is the key. Ditch carbs and ensure a balanced intake of  healthy fats, proteins & fibre.  

Remember with every small adjustment you make in your lifestyle, you get a step closer to being healthier & happier.

Rising income, busy work schedule, and changing lifestyle habits have brought in too many complications to our food plate. It turns out, majority of us end up consuming foods that are rich in carbohydrates which in turn causes our body to produce more and more insulin for it to get absorbed in the blood. 

While the optimum level of sugar our body can tolerate per day is around 5 grams or 1 teaspoon, we consume at least 25-30 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis thanks to the carbs-rich food. This food preference is turing out to be a major trigger for insulin resistance in our body contributing to the ever growing population of diabetic patients.

During digestion, the body breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars in the intestines, which further get absorbed into the blood, leading to high blood glucose levels. When this happens, our brain tells the pancreas to produce more insulin, our fat storing hormone.

Large amounts of insulin prevents fat burning and the surplus nutrients get stored in fat cells. This leads to a perceived shortage of nutrients in the blood, creating feelings of hunger and cravings for more sweet. This process gets repeated leading to weight gain.

The fast food culture is an emerging trend among today's young generation. These strategically marketed food products are making today's children to eat more and gain more weight.  They may not be diabetic but their insulin level could well be very high and probably on their way to become diabetics. 

If we fail to act and do nothing about itI, we are threatening the prosperity of younger generation. The need for a serious course correction is urgent. It is our duty to protect our children!

Despite the misgivings among us, depression continues to be the leading cause of disability in the world. Per WHO stats, nearly 350 million instances are recorded about depression each year across the globe. Affected ones present with a variety of symptoms such as low mood, loss of interest in things you do, changes in appetite, feeling worthless or excessively guilty, sleeping too much or too little, poor concentration, restlessness, loss of energy, recurrent thoughts of suicide. Left unchecked, it can spiral out of control and potentially lead to depression.

Physical, psychological, and social events can influence development of this condition. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease do play its part as well. It’s often easy to miss signs, but once diagnosed it can be easily treated.

Those who suffer from depression often feel guilty or ashamed to reach out for help as they are bound by their emotions and they end up showing resilience in the face of their illness, while also coping with the ignorance of others. Studies suggest it could take as many as 10 years for a person with depression ask for help. 

Open conversations about depression help remove the stigma about it. In fact, asking someone about suicidal thoughts could potentially reduce his/her suicide risks.

Nowadays, you get a smartphone in your hand everything else gets conveniently eased out of your way. RIP physical activity!!

Patients are becoming younger and younger!!

We continue to see our children growing up, more inclined towards a sedentary lifestyle.

There is considerable decrease in the age among patients when they are diagnosed and this is major cause for concern.

Diseases that used to show up around the age of 50 are setting in when you are in your 20s and 30s.

According to World Health Statistics report, 11.1% of adult male population and 10.8% of female population have high fasting blood glucose levels in India.

Yes, Google is really powerful. You type in the question “Is there a God?” and it tells you, “THERE IS NOW.” And you can fix these disturbing statistics as well.

The 3As

3As - Attitude, Awareness, & Action - could well do the job! 

But, our first obligation is to help a member of our own family before we think of helping others. 

They say a woman becomes a mom when she gets pregnant and a man until he sees his baby for the first time. Today’s parents have much larger role to play in spreading the awareness - yeah, it is your social responsibility. Get your kids out in the open and allow them to play. Enjoy the power your babies and proclaim that you are their proud parents.  

Kids also have every right to come and tell you “I didn’t mean to gain weight, it just happened to me.” if you continue to feed them with all junk/oily food. They are spending more time holding the refrigerator door open looking for answers. Let it not be a diet plan for them that contains 7 cheat days a week. 

Help your child learn healthy eating habits. Childhood is the best time to learn. Allow them to design the right recipes for a better future. 

Health needs to be an individual subject owned by each one of us and it’s for our own benefit!