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The Art of healthy living

By Jayachandran Thampi

Some health facts about Goa and India

• Average age of people admitted in Hospital (Goa) with heart attack is reducing to 40s; 25 per cent of heart disease death in India is in people under 40!

• By 2015 India would witness a 100 per cent increase in heart disease death as against a 50 per cent reduction in USA and 25 per cent reduction in Canada and Australia.

• Nearly 50 per cent of cardiac patients are women (Goa)

• Many visiting hospitals in their 40s for treating blocked arteries do not have a history of Diabetes or Hypertension (Goa)

• Youngest person to have undergone angioplasty is only in his 20s (Goa)

• Four people die of heart attack every minute in India

This is where lifestyle intervention is relevant. 

Lifestyle intervention means to intervene in your daily lifestyle activities and ensure a healthy pattern of living. Following a health-oriented trend in our living, does not translate to living a monk’s life, one can definitely indulge once in a while. The idea is to help one enjoy life in a logical, better and enhanced manner. In short it makes life easier.

Below are a few simple changes in lifestyle that can help in long run in developing a better quality of life. Please note this is not a treatment regimen or advice for any diseases or conditions nor is this a replacement for medical advice. This is a general guideline.

Wake up before sunrise as it will activate the autonomic nervous system which would in turn ensure a good cleansing of the body.

Drink about 3 to 4 glasses of pure water. It is much like taking an internal bath. Just like an external bath cleanses our skin this would help flush out accumulated dirt from the system. 

Make it a habit to train your system to empty bowels first thing in the morning as an empty large intestine enhances functions of enteric nerve system (nerve complex in intestinal area), which has influence on the mind and autonomic nervous system and is an excellent stress manager. Remember gut feeling/butterflies in your stomach feeling while tensed?

A glass of lime juice is an excellent breakfast. (Breakfast is not necessarily the morning meal).

It is highly recommended to expose body to sunlight (especially with current research pointing to Vitamin D deficiency and its complication in modern world). A walk or some minimum exercising (till mild sweating) is a great idea! For those who do not have time for this, refer to exercise guideline below.

First meal of the day (morning meal usually commonly understood as breakfast) is a warm up for the system and must be light, easily digestible like whole grain cereals, fruits, milk (not for everyone), etc. If one needs animal protein limit it to egg white. ‘Breakfast like a king’ is a misunderstood phrase; a king is here to be understood as a wise man who ensures quality and not quantity only. 

A fruit/juice of fruits or vegetables at mid-day ensures balanced acid base levels in the system. Drinking water every hour helps in maintaining acid base levels as well as proper hydration.

Second meal of the day is the ideal major meal (if this is possible). Because this is the peak time of the body’s digestive power. Additionally, as we work through the day it ensures a better digestion. Ensure adequate quantity and quality. You may indulge a bit (oily food/animal protein/some sweets, etc).

Fruit juices/vegetables/soups/buttermilk or even a glass of light tea/coffee may be drunk mid-noon.

Remember snacking is not a necessity and if you prefer eat whole cereal items which are not deep fried. 

Third meal (supper/dinner) must be as early as possible (preferably before 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.). This must be similar to breakfast – light, easily digestible. Avoid heavy food as much as possible as it will activate your digestive system more than needed effectively tiring the autonomic nerve system and developing physiological stressful environment within which will affect sleep and many such higher functions of the brain – all resulting in insidious stress. Minimise rice and wheat and prefer millets as many days as possible in a week.

The ideal bedtime is 10 p.m. (a gap of minimum 2 hours after supper). 

Food specifics

Fast once a week (No cereal diet or fruits and vegetarian only diet, etc). Fasting need not necessarily mean complete avoidance of all food. The idea is to rest and bring in a change.

Use millets instead of rice and wheat as many times a week (any meals) as possible, preferably for dinner.

A simple understanding of meals is a South Indian type breakfast, North Indian type lunch and European type dinner.

It is fine to indulge. Compensate judiciously and logically or seek guidance.


For those who do not have time to exercise, convert work hours and style to functional movements. 

Practise joint movements (simply moving the joints in all possible directions many times) as and when possible in the office or at work. 

Walk 8 to 10 thousands steps a day (office / work). Walk every hour. Take as many steps as possible.

Spinal twists in sitting or standing posture as many times a day as possible at work.

Few deep breaths every hour or as many times as possible at work.

A quick and effective stress buster

Move head, neck and shoulders few rounds. Twist the spine few times. Perform fast breathing for a few rounds followed by slow deep breaths. Even a couple of rounds of all also would help.

NB: None of the above are medical advice for any condition and neither must be followed as a recommendation for any disease/condition. Anyone with a medical condition must check with competent authority before for starting or making any changes in lifestyle.

(Writer is director operation, Traya Wellness)

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