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To mark the 14th anniversary of Harmony-Celebrate Age, we serve up 14 TIPS FOR A HEALTHIER YOU

Not everyone is naturally blessed with good health; most of us have to constantly work towards an optimally functioning body. Indeed, wellness is like a relationship; we have to give it our best to make it work. A conscious effort from within greatly improves quality of life and ensures health in the silver years. Start caring for your body proactively and pursue holistic health solutions that help you achieve well-being and avoid disease.

01 Drink plenty of water: Every living organism—flora, fauna or human—needs to consume water. The human body is 80 per cent water and every single part of it requires water. Filled with nutrients, water is the most powerful drink: it transports blood, instantly refreshes you, and keeps you healthy. Aim to drink at least 2 litre of water or eight glasses every day to keep your body well hydrated.

02 Eat real and organic food: The smallest change you can make for the biggest effect on your health is to eat ‘real’ food. Real food is organic food grown in your local area depending on the season and eaten fresh. Following this simple step can turn your life around, as real fruits, vegetables and grains are rich in essential minerals and antioxidants. Don’t forget to add fats like cow’s ghee, spices, herbs and condiments to your meals; these work along with organic food to become natural disease fighters. Aim to eat at regular intervals to avoid your energy levels from falling.

03 Add fibre to your diet: A common notion we have is that all the food we eat will be eliminated completely. Foods provide us necessary nutrients for good health but they need to be smoothly moved out of the body. Foods that tend to hang around in the digestive system, especially in the colon, accumulate toxins. This might lead to digestive disorders; most disorders begin from the gut. To ensure effective elimination, add more fibre to your food. Don’t rely only on grains to get the intestinal walls moving; eat fibre-rich foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

04 Limit your protein intake: Made out of small molecules called amino acids, proteins are the building blocks of the body. They are used to make enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters that serve important functions. However, excess protein damages the kidneys, causes joint pain and increases uric acid levels in the body. Thus, it is important to limit protein intake. Also choose vegetarian protein over animal protein as it decreases your risk of cancer and elevated cholesterol.

05 Consume fats and oils: Remember your own childhood when your grandmother insisted you eat cow’s ghee but you avoided it completely? For years, we all believed that fats make us fat and we skipped them altogether to stay fit. However, this thinking is completely incorrect. The truth: it is in the presence of fat that vitamins A, D, E and K get absorbed by the body, resulting in sharp memory, lustrous hair, glowing skin and improved eyesight. Fat is essential to make your bones healthy and strong and improve bodily parameters. But ensure you choose fat wisely; go local and seasonal and buy cold-pressed and organic fat, whether it is cow’s ghee or oil.

06 Spice up your life: I consider spices magic ingredients bursting with natural flavours that make the art of cooking enjoyable and protect us with their medicinal properties. Organic spices are best to eat as they do not contain any added preservatives, chemicals or artificial colour. Cumin seeds are a brilliant digestive aid; ginger is good for flatulence and joints; mustard seeds help lower cholesterol levels; cinnamon lowers blood sugar; and golden turmeric is an antihistamine, works against
Alzheimer’s, slows cancer cell production, and is an excellent blood purifier and all-round healer. Always cook spices in fats such as cow’s ghee to absorb their bioavailability. India has a variety of spices to offer; try to avail benefits from all!

07 Have fermented foods: Fermented foods such as yoghurt, buttermilk, dosa, idli, etc, contain friendly bacteria, which are beneficial to the body. These foods are probiotics that counteract inflammation and control the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the body. A majority of Indians eat yoghurt daily in the first half of the day as it is important for gut health, immunity and prevention of chronic diseases like cancer. Make sure to include a good amount of fermented foods daily in your meals.

08 Say no to sugar: White sugar is the root cause of life-threatening and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and all types of cancer. It also sets the foundation for diabetes and obesity. Scientific research says that white sugar contains empty calories and is equivalent to a drug as it releases the same hormones as morphine or heroin in the brain. As a quick fix to satiate our sweet cravings, we reach out for white sugar but what the body really needs is natural sugar that is found in fruits and dry fruits. Cut down on added sugars and net carbs (total carbs minus fibre) to allow your body to start burning fat, which is a primary fuel. The sugar cravings will soon disappear and you will not have to struggle to abstain from junk foods any longer. Switch to organic jaggery, organic honey, raw sugar or dry fruits and fruits to satisfy your cravings.

09 Test your vitamin levels: Deficiencies in vitamin levels are generally not seen or felt till they reach an extremely low level and threaten your health. Today, most of us lack in Vitamin D as busy workdays keep us away from sunshine, the most natural form of this vitamin. Also, as we grow older, the body finds it difficult to absorb Vitamin B12. Therefore, regular checking of vitamin levels ensures your body is functioning at optimum levels.

10 Give up nicotine: Smoking and chewing tobacco is one of the most common causes of cancer. It can also lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, elevated cholesterol and some lifethreatening diseases. Quit smoking to stay away from heart and respiratory problems. Quitting may be challenging but it will improve your health and add years to your life.

11 Avoid hard and soft drinks: The smartest step towards healthy living is abstaining from soda, sweet drinks and alcohol altogether. Scientific research has found a direct link between drinking soda or alcohol and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, liver damage, heart disease and osteoporosis. Substituting soda with diet soda can cause stroke, dementia, depression and neurological disorders. Just stick to basic water or herbal infusions instead.

12 Stay organised: Your eating schedule plays a huge role in your health. Bad eating habits are a result of lack of foresight. Pre-planning and scheduling your meals in advance helps you plan your shopping trips as well. Thus, it is necessary to know what your next meal is going to be. Planning well keeps your energy at optimum levels and prevents binge eating. Stock your fridge with healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts, and discard the stale food.

13 Sleep well: A good night’s sleep refreshes your body and automatically peaks your performance the next day. It also ensures you do not resort to sugar-filled caffeinated drinks to survive the day. Follow the circadian rhythm of life to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sleeping and waking up at the right time also require you to eat at the right time. Choose foods that are easy to digest with low glycemic index levels and prevent a sugar dip first thing in the morning.

14 Get moving: Living a sedentary lifestyle causes serious back and shoulder problems, reduces blood circulation and increases your body weight. Therefore, it’s important to be on the move constantly—at work and home. Whether it is getting up to take a small walk, finishing up your chores or taking time out to work out, maintaining a good balance between the right food and adequate exercise will leave you healthy and happy.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant who offers diet counselling at Health for You, a wellness clinic in Mumbai, as well as online. Visit for more details or write to if you have any queries for her

Photos: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
June 2018