Wheat Grass and its Benefits ( A Fad or substance)

Recently I visited a neighbourhood store and when paying for the groceries, our friendly grocery store owner who is aware that I am a dietitian said Madam Have a look at this product . How come everyone is asking for it and you are not ? You are a dietitian so you should be the first one to ask for . At that stage I realized what a rage / fad wheat grass has become nowadays. everyone is just raving about its benefits as if it is the best product for health of an individual.

For the people who dont know what Wheatgrass is. It is the young grass of the wheat plant. Many people (Indians during Navratras) grow their own wheatgrass by putting wheat seeds in water and then harvest the leaves. It is a natural source of vitamins and antioxidants, including Vitamins A, E, and B-12, Calcium, Selenium, Magnesium, Iron. On its own, it is tough to digest and mostly people crush and squeeze to make its juice. Wheatgrass leaves are also dried and made into tablets or capsules.

To list the benefits that are claimed in various health magazines or TV shows – wheat grass is claimed to strengthen the immune system, detoxify the body, and ward off diseases.Wheatgrass is also claimed to help treat constipation and pain of rheumatism. People also believe that it can help combat a number of everyday health conditions, including colds, coughs, fevers, digestive ailments, and skin conditions. Some people even claim that a wheatgrass diet can shrink cancerous tumors and improve survival.

People reason it on chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color. Claims also go to an extent that chlorophyll acts like hemoglobin and increases oxygen levels in the body. Despite all the above listed claims, there is very little evidence or any scientific evidence on the benefits of wheatgrass. Some studies in ISRAEL showed that Wheatgrass is helpful in ulcerative colitis and some studies have shown that it helps reduce side effects of Chemotherapy on women of breast cancer. But like I said earlier all these studies havent been done at large scale and we cant conclude anything from these whereas the risk of contracting diseases from Wheatgrass also exist which every one has been ignoring . It is known to have side effects like nausea , headaches and allergic reactions like swelling of throats etc hence people suffering from any sort of ailment or compromised immune system should completely avoid it. Like I have been advocating everything in LIMITS is ok – so for people who want to try it can do so but that doesnt mean that they can go gung ho over it and have it all the time and expect miracles from Wheatgrass.

A healthy and balanced nutritious diet is what one needs to take instead of believing in these fads which come and go :-).

PCOS / PCOD and Obesity, Infertility and Heart Diseases amongst Women

Research shows that women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), are at higher risk of heart diseases, obesity, diabetes and infertility. This research can be substantiated the moment you talk to any dietitian / dietician regarding the profile of female clients they have. At RxOcean we get a number of females who are obese and are suffering from PCOS. Most of these cases are recommended by our panel of doctors andĀ  gynecologists. Reason of involvement of a dietitian in cases of PCOS is that an optimum diet helps in effective management of PCOS and its complications. Proper Diet Planning also gets emphasis because it can help fight insulin resistance, which happens amongst females suffering from PCOS .

Insulin’s primary function is convertingĀ  foods (especially carbohydrates) in to energy. It helps transport glucose to muscles, fat and liver cells through blood. But in case of a patient suffering from PCOS, this function tends to get impaired, due to which the process of getting glucose out of the blood into the cells gets affected. To counter that body over compensates and secretes more and more insulin to get excess glucose out of the blood. This vicious cycle creates havoc with hormonal levels, ability to lose weight, LDL and triglycerides levels. Hence, the best way to treat PCOS and its symptoms is to correct underlying insulin resistance problem with diet, exercise and if needed and weight loss. Research shows that losing ~10% of body weight can lead to substantial improvement in skin health, menstrual cycle irregularity, response to insulin and even fertility issues. Effectiveness of the diet plan may be determined by factors such as improvement in menstrual cycle regularity, weight loss or decreased insulin levels.

Diet for PCOS
Diet that works for normal weight loss clients doesnt work for PCOS clients i.e. low fat and high carbohydrate. Carbohydrates in our diet get quickly converted in to glucose and cause elevated blood glucose levels, which in turn will increase the insulin production and its related problems. Hence Diet for PCOS should be a low glycemic index diet. This diet would help maintain steady blood glucose levels and help reduce weight.

What to Eat when Suffering from PCOS – diet Composition ?
Even though suffering from PCOS, Diet for Obese women and non – obese women is completely different. In case of non Obese Women suffering from PCOS problem who get regular periods a balanced diet with approx. 50% of calories from complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and 20-30% from lean proteins( egg whites, whole pulses and low fat dairy products) is recommended. Whereas in case of an obese patient with insulin resistance carbohydrate intake is restricted to 40% and carbohydrates are replaced with healthy mono unsaturated fats like omega 3 fatty acids (flax seeds, olive oil and fish). The diet plan is tailored as per individual requirement and degree of insulin resistance.

Healthy Tiffin / Lunch Options for Kids

Yesterday I visited my Kid’s Parent teacher meeting. (For readers to be able to correlate – my kid is 4.5 yrs old, studies in a chain of reputed schools in Gurgaon / Delhi / Bangalore etc and has recently entered “Prep” Class ). It was an open session wherein parents of at least 20 kids were sitting together in the same class listening to what all teacher had to say about the kids and how to teach them. But after 5 minutes Teacher stopped educating on how to teach kids instead started telling parents as to what a dietitian / dietician should be telling them i.e. my job. I was surprised to hear the horror stories (of what kids eat in school) that the teacher narrated in the class.

Teacher educated parents on what to send in tiffin to school and what should not be sent. What are healthy food items and what is considered to be junk food. Teacher had strict NO for some of the food items that kids carry to school in their tiffin. It was a strange thing to note that people send maggie, Pizzas, chips, cold drinks etc in tiffins of school kids. Apart from being a difficult thing to eat, during short lunch break, these food items are unhealthy for young kids who are still in nursery and prep. Although most of the kids crave for these things when they see advertisements in TV or see their elder siblings eating the same but parents shouldn’t give into demands of their kids. As a dietician / dietitian I always suggest to parents that a complete Ban on these things wouldnt work but parents should try not to make it a daily routine and ensure that their kids get these things once in a while and not on a regular basis. Although my kid now teaches me what he has been taught in school i.e. too much of noodles can cause stone :-).

Although teacher had a very valid point that these food items draw too much attention in the class and most kids start fighting for the food and end up eating nothing. On top of that they get spilled easily in the class and create a mess for kids as well as teacher to manage. But looking at these things from a nutritionist’s / dietician’s perspective I end up asking parents in counseling sessions – Do these things provide enough nutrition to the kids – who we want to grow up as healthy adults and not as obese and unhealthy adults ?

I think at times it is to do with our kids demands or their tantrums to not eat anything and sometimes it is we ourselves who get convinced by marketing campaigns to end up believing that junk food is healthy or an alternative for our wholesome meal as it contains a lot of fortified minerals and vitamins. At the end onus lies on parents to ensure that their kids eat healthy. For few things we have to explain that they are not good for health and also ensure that we give them wholesome meals which they like. For this we need to experiment with things to not only make food attractive / innovative but delicious for kids.

Kids love variety in their food so the effort has to be put in from parents to ensure that their food is palatable. One of the examples that the teacher gave in the class was that of Pizza Parantha. Although there are a number of healthy food options and best and wholesome one is Chapati / parantha with subzi but many a times kids atleast the young ones cant handle it on their own. May be the same can be given to kids in the form of Parantha Roll.

After the eye opening session at the school I as a dietician / dietitian feel obliged to let people know about some of the healthy food options that I give to my kid for his lunch which are easy to make at the same time ensure that kids get enough nutrition in their lunch. Following are some of the things that I include in my son’s tiffin:
1) Paneer Pakoda
2) Paneer Sandwich
3) Cheese Sandwich
4) Chenna murgi
5) Milkmaid Coconut Laddu
6) Home Made Cake
7) Bread Rolls / Pakoda
8) lemon water can easily replace packed juices and cold drinks
9) Soya Aaloo tikki
10) Paneer Tikki
11) Peanut Tikki
12) Bread & Peanut Butter
13) Vegetable Sandwich
14) Besan Pancake
15) Poha
16) Suji Upma
17) Sweet / Salty French Toast
18) Idlis
19) Home made dhoklas
20) Fruit Serving / Fruit Chat / Fruit Cream

Recipes for some of the above food items are provided on Rxocean. i.e. http://www.rxocean.com/Healthy-Recipes.php and we would try to ensure that we add recipes that are missing from the list above on our website.

Obesity, Diabetes and Weight Loss

In case one is obese and is suffering from type 2 diabetes , losing weight can definitely help. Some patients after losing weight can easily get off insulin and other medications. Weight loss also helps in lowering the blood sugar and improves overall health.

As a number of health issues like High BP, Low BP, Liver, Kidney problems etc can crop up for people suffering from diabetes hence when on a diabetes weight loss plan, it’s important to work closely with doctor or diabetologist and a dietitian / dietician. While dieting, blood sugar, insulin, and medications need special attention and should be constantly monitored by the diabetologist.

Cutting back on just one meal can affect the delicate balance of blood sugar, insulin, and medication in body hence it’s important to work with an expert when on diet so as to ensure that blood sugar and glucose levels are in control. Doctors suggest cutting 500 calories a day, which is considered to be safe for people suffering with diabetes.

Calories should be cut across the board i.e. from protein, carbohydrates, and fat. People with diabetes should maintain a healthy ratio of carbs, fat, and protein in their diet. The ideal ratios (for energy derived from food) are as under:

* 50% to 55% from carbs
* 30% from fat
* 10% to 15% from protein

One needs to be very careful with carbohydrates in diet because carbohydrates have the biggest effect on blood sugar, since they are broken down into sugar early in digestion. Eating complex carbs (whole-grain bread and vegetables, for example) is good because they are absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream thus cutting the risk of blood sugar spikes. (White bread should be avoided, Whole wheat bread is better than white bread. Adding little peanut butter can be beneficial )

Simply cutting lots of carbohydrates which is a common dieting strategy can be dangerous in case of diabetics. When body doesn’t have carbs to burn for fuel, metabolism changes into what’s known as ketosis i.e. body starts buring fat instead of carbs. In case of Ketosis, people feel less hungry and eat less than usual but long-term ketosis can cause health problems. Ketosis decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues, which puts stress on eyes, kidneys, heart, liver. That’s why the low-carb, high-protein Atkins diet is not really safe for people with diabetes. Diabetics need to try to stick with a more balanced diet so your body can handle nutrients without going into ketosis.

Although given the benefits of losing weight in case of diabetics are immense but it is not that easy to achieve weight loss goals for diabetics. Looking at all the above listed complications it is a must that people suffering from Diabetes are under the constant supervision of a diabetologist and a nutritionist.

Foods to have in Summers to keep fit and full of Energy

During last couple of weeks Temperature in North India have risen steadily. Moreover by end of this week, i.e. 24th April, it is expected that mercury will rise to 40 degrees (day time – Gurgaon). Sun Burns and Heat Strokes are very common on days with high temperature and number of calls that our General Physician gets increases during these days. Many of our patients also complain of being energy less during summers. Culprit being bright and burning Sun outside. Although we try our level best to keep ourselves indoor and sit in front of ACs and avoid scorching heat but it is not always possible and we have to brave the sun for some reason or the other. Apart from keeping oneself cool from outside by avoiding direct contact with Sun there are a number of ways through Dietary modifications by which we can beat the summer heat and keep fit and smile our way to good and energetic days.

Following a healthy diet is crucial to ensure that we stay well. The best summer foods are light and refreshing meals. Some of the fruits that are recommended during summers are cucumber and mint among vegetables. In fruits one should try to have Pineapple, water melon, sweet lime, oranges ( if possible ). These fruits and vegetables are high in anti-oxidants and micro-nutrients thus making them excellent coolants. Some other cooling items would be raw mango, yoghurt , dried coconut and tender coconut.

Following is the list of some fruits and vegetables with there benefits.

Lemon – Lemon water is a natural immune booster & helps in curing cough,cold &fever.It helps to cure problems related to indigestion & constipation. Being a rich source of Vitamin C, Lemon aids in fast absorption of Iron from the food. Common misconception is that Lemon aids acidity, on the contrary it has PH balancing properties. Neembu Paani has been an age old recipe to keep oneself cool in summers.

Water Melon – It reduces body temperature hence a very good fruit in tropical regions. Potassium and magnesium, present in water melons, are helpful in bringing down blood pressure.Lypocene, a carotenoid found in abundance in water melon, improves cardiac functions. Not only this, Water Melon is a very good source of Vitamin A & C and a natural anti-oxidant.

Cucumber – Its high water content gives your body & skin a very unique, moist & cooling effect. Cucumbers are a very good source of Vitamin C & a fairly good source of Vitamin A, potassium, manganese, folate & magnesium. Low calorie & high fiber content makes it an ideal food for dieters.

Coriander – Coriander leaves are used as stimulant, diuretic & diaphoretic. They are used in conditions like skin allergies. hay fever, sore throat, colds, bile and urinary tract infections. Coriander has lots of anti oxidants, vitamin-A, vitamin-C and minerals like phosphorus which prevent aging of eyes & soothes eyes against stress. It is also known to help in digestion, cure hyperacidity and nausea and helpful in summers.

For more information on other fruits and vegetables, please visit http://www.rxocean.com/Food-Nutrition.php OR www.facebook.com/ehealthcare.