The healthy way

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Holistic health and lifestyle coach, Luke Coutinho, was the guest on The Navhind Times, Talk from the Heart episode that aired live on Sunday, September 20 on the Goa365 channel

MARIA FERNANDES

Holistic health and lifestyle coach, Luke Coutinho spent his childhood in various places abroad before his father finally decided to settle down in Goa. In the recent The Navhind Times, Talk from the Heart episode, he spoke about his Goan background. From a carefree teenager who enjoyed chilling with friends and parties to hotel management and then a lifestyle coach, he recounted his journey and said: “I studied in Goa and predominantly spent most of my life here. During the late 90s and early 2000, Goa was very different from what it is today and I had my fair share of parties and clubs as a youngster. However it was a phase and we all need to keep moving on because if we remain in just one phase we are unable to evolve. Hence I have pretty much gone with the flow and pursued my interest in food science and nutrition which I studied when I was at IHM.”

Citing the huge gap in healthcare as the main reason for being attracted to the field of health and nutrition, he elaborated: “Despite so many doctors, nutritionists, medicines, gyms, organic and super foods, the statistics say diseases are not decreasing instead there is an alarming increase. At the moment, India leads the world in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other lifestyle diseases. The question that needs to be asked is why aren’t we getting better?” He then pointed out the flaw in the current system that has a medicine for every symptom but does not address the root cause of the condition. “We too prescribe medicine to our patients when it’s needed, but we use it as a crutch to make lifestyle changes parallelly and then safely wean them off the medicine,” he added.

Illustrating the need for integrative medicine and lifestyle changes, he said: “It is really shameful the amount of people that get diabetes because of poor lifestyle. It is important to realise that Type-2 diabetes as well as most thyroid conditions are 100 per cent reversible and this can be done by changing one’s lifestyle.” He explained that integrative medicine involves taking the best of every form of medicine be it allopathy, alternative medicine, nutrition, spiritual healing, etcetera and using it to one’s advantage along with the necessary lifestyle changes.“By using integrative medicine we have seen the statistics of diseases come down,” he stated.

When asked what is the one change he would like to bring in the healthcare system, he promptly said it was the ‘mindset’. “A lot of people have been trained to believe that you take your pill and you are okay but this is far from the truth. Their reports may look good because of their symptoms that have been suppressed but the fact is they are still taking the pill and are sick as the condition continues to persist. I call it the statistical deception. People need to wake up and realise that allopathy is just a crutch; it can definitely help you and save your life but you have to change your mindset and lifestyle as well.” Taking control of one’s health and life without being influenced by what social media or the news says, he said was of extreme importance.

He then spoke about the four pillars for healing and prevention of diseases, namely, nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress. With regards to nutrition, he spoke against the evils of fad diets and said: “Nutrition is very individual and unique. We have to eat the foods that suit us and since everyone’s genetic makeup is different, we cannot copy someone else’s diet.” Eating more natural foods and less of junk and processed foods, he stressed was the way to better health. “Keep your nutrition simple and check your vitamin D3 and B12 levels,” he added.

With regards to exercise, he was very emphatic that the human body needs exercise as it was not designed to be sedentary and stated: “Movement is medicine for the body and you don’t have to make it fancy. You don’t have to have a gym membership unless you are an athlete or want to build your body. Even if you walk, do yoga along with deep breathing it is great.” Consistency and discipline he said were needed for an exercise regime to succeed and cautioned against over-training.

Highlighting the significance of sleep he explained the benefits of good and ample sleep. “Remember you are at your best when you sleep and everyone’s requirement of sleep is different. What is important is how rested you feel after you wake up.” Two to three nights of sleep deprivation he said could suppress immunity to 60-70 per cent.

Siestas or power naps he believes are super powerful on the condition they are for a maximum of 30 minutes. Answering a query from a viewer, who asked how people working night shifts should manage their sleep, he replied: “My honest advice is, try and get out of a night shift as over the long run, it does harm you and there is enough scientific evidence proving this today. However, if this is not possible then, make the day as your night and sleep as required.”

On the topic of emotional wellness, he stated: “Today any doctor will tell you that stress kills. Half of the cardiac problems including cancer are due to chronic stress. If your illness is caused by chronic stress then no amount of medication is going to help unless you learn to manage your stress the right way.”

Luke answered various questions and threw light on a variety of subjects while giving valuable tips. “From my interactions with terminally- ill patients, I have learned that time and life are finite, so don’t waste both. Instead build and make memories. Be ambitious in your career but don’t become a slave to your career or to money. Things to focus on are family, relationships, love, emotions and experiences. Look after your health and enjoy your life.” He also stressed on the need to give back to society to feel fulfilled in life and added: “When you give back you are able to add value to people’s life and that is the most beautiful feeling. Find a way to give back and make a difference.”

Signing off he also addressed the Goan youth and said: “Everyone projects Goans as laid back party people but every Goan has potential in them! I have seen successful Goans around the world and I feel so proud. We however need to change this perception that people have of us and use that potential we have. Keep up with the slow pace of life, enjoy yourself but be efficient. When you are working give your 500 per cent, work hard and when you are chilling, chill 500 per cent. Always have a higher life purpose and be efficient but don’t let that Goan spirit in you, the right spirit, ever go away.”