The King of Fruits- MANGO

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Since the Indian food markets are flooded with mango these days, I wanted to write an article on the nutritional benefits of this delicious fruit 🙂 Mangoes are bright,yellow-orange coloured tropical fruits. They have an amazing sweet taste. But there is more to their qualities than their colour and taste. Let me share with you the nutritional and health benefits of consuming this wonder fruit.

1.Mangoes lower your triglyceride levels: Levels of triglycerides in your bloodstream is directly related to your heart health. Triglycerides are a type of fat present in the bloodstream that the body uses for energy. Higher levels of triglycerides are a direct indication of heart diseases. Research has shown that consuming freshly cut mangoes lead to significant decrease in triglyceride levels. Hence adding a mango to your daily healthy diet can help you manage healthy triglyceride levels.

2.Mangoes are high in dietary fibre: We all know that benefits of consuming fibres. They not only promote digestive function but also help us in controlling our appetite and elevate levels of good cholesterol. Hence, when hungry, instead of binging on unhealthy carbs like chips, pretzels and muffins; choose to have a bowl of sweet ripened mango 🙂

3.Mangoes boost up your immune system: Since they are very high in content of Vitamin C and beta-carotene (an antioxidant), mangoes are extremely helpful for your immune system. The scorching heat of the summer has considerable potential to challenge your immunity. Consuming mangoes will help you fight against various forms of infections and heal itself.  They also promote eye,skin, intestinal and urinary tract health.

4.Mangoes help you maintain a healthy weight: Taa daaa…..this one is the best,isn’t it! 🙂 Mangoes are source of natural healthy sweetener or fructose. Unlike artificial sweeteners and unhealthy sugars present in packaged juices, desserts, processed foods etc.,the sugar in mangoes do not threaten our blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels have an intricate relationship with maintaining a healthy weight. Hence, replace your unhealthy snacks and desserts with a sweet, ripe mango to stay healthy and in shape.

So, enjoy this summer fruit happily. Whether you make a healthy mango shake with some skimmed milk or serve yourself a bowl of chilled mangoes or add pieces of mangoes to your favorite salad, consume this summer health fruit and stay healthy.

Learning Portion Control

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It is extremely important to understand the concept of Food Portion Control for maintaining a healthy weight and leading a healthy lifestyle. But what does it mean and how does one get into this practice?

Portion Control is nothing but limiting what you eat by being aware of the amount,nutrition and calorific value of the food being consumed. It is applicable to all kinds of food you consume irrespective of whether you are eating healthy or junk (please avoid the later as much as possible). Breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner you need to stay aware of your limits and have controlled portions of food in every meal. Especially for all those struggling with weight loss issues, it is extremely crucial on your part to realise and get into the habit of controlling your food portion.

Let me directly take to you the steps that you can incorporate into your eating habits to get into the practice of food portion control:

  1. Eat slowly: It is scientifically proven that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you have consumed enough food. Remember that age-old wisdom of chewing your food 32 times, well, this is the logic behind. The slower you eat, the more easily you will sense your hunger satiated. Whereas the fast you hog, the more you are going to end up eating.
  2. Serve yourself smaller portions: When serving the food on your plate from the cookware, serve smaller portions. You always have the option of taking some more if you are still hungry. What happens in most families (especially in India) is that people serve so much food on the plate that one tends to feel guilty of wasting any food. So you end up eating up the entire plate without realising your portion limits.
  3. If possible, use portion control dishware: Serve yourself in a smaller plate, bowl or cup. If you are someone who eats excessively, it will actually help you control your portions.
  4. Stop eating the moment you are full: Yes, I mean it and I want you do that. Do not go on eating, simply out of greed or courtesy. Health comes first, always. Your stomach has it’s specific capacity. Over-eating is definitely going to make you feel bloated.
  5. Eat consciously: It is very important to practice conscious eating. Talking over the phone, watching television, thinking about your office work and other distractive habits while eating are going to cost a toll on your eating habits. While eating, look at your food, chew properly, savour the taste of every bite and eat with a feeling of gratitude.
  6. Do not get attracted to “ Buy one get another meal for free” ads of your favorite food joints or get really excited when the restaurant serves you a big platter at a lower cost. Or just because a friend or your office is treating you at a super swanky restaurant, do not over-eat. Remember, ultimately all the calories are entering your system and if not burnt accordingly, will definitely cause havoc to your system.
  7. Measure oil carefully: When cooking your food, do not simply pour oil into your pan. Be conscious of the amount of the oil you are using. I am not suggesting you to pour really less and make your food taste less. Neither am I suggesting you to deep fry everything. Just stay conscious of the amount and you will know how much is required to be poured.
  8. Control portions when eating out: When eating outside order for one dish at a time and share it your friends. Ordering too much food at a time not only leads to over-eating but wastage of food and money. If possible order for a salad in the starters. As vegetables contain a large amount of water, it will satiate your hunger more easily.

Remember, every one of us have our individual food portion requirements. The amount that makes me full might be too less / too much for you or vice-versa. The most efficient way to realise our individual portion is by practising conscious eating.Also remember, food is not just fuel. It needs to enjoyed and savoured. It should not be denied or abused. Consume it with a feeling of gratitude.

    

SLEEP – THE WONDER DRUG

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Let me start by asking you all a question (answer it to yourself or leave your answer in the comment box); “When was the last time that you slept really well?” and by “really well”, I mean :

  1. You went to bed at a reasonable hour in the night,
  2. You did not have to toss and turn around the bed feeling restless,
  3. You woke up feeling really fresh,
  4. You woke up feeling really charged up  and positive looking forward to tackle your day ahead.

If you are not a religious “sleeper”, I bet the answer to this question would be “I do not remember exactly when 😦

Who would not love a good night’s sleep! But then what has went wrong in our lives that relaxed sleeping has become such a difficult task? 

Sleep has a very a intricate relationship with our personal wellbeing. It is the “PAUSE” time of our daily lives, a time to stop thinking, working and just relaxing our bodies and mind. But today’s world and workaholic lifestyles have started to completely overlook the benefits of sleep and at some levels have, in fact, developed abusive sleep behaviours. A major population today considers sleeping less as a way of increasing their productivity, a way to get more work done in the 24 hours of a day.

The science of sleep is very deep and meaningful. Although during sleep your body is in a state of total physical rest, your brain performs several complex processes in this state. A healthy adult should get an average of 8-9 hours of sleep daily.

Let me guide you through the things one must know about sleep and the do’s and don’t that will lead you to a really refreshing sleep.

  1. Sleep is one of the most important health habits. It gives your body adequate time to rest. Help your skeletal and muscular system to relax.
  2. It is extremely essential for the nervous system. Sleep soothes your nerves and boosts their performance.
  3. Sleep has a very deep impact on your cognitive abilities. The brain performs several complex processes during sleep. Research has shown that it is during sleep that your brain processes the day’s events and restores energy in it’s cells for the day ahead.
  4. A 2013 research has shown that during sleep the brain clears out harmful waste proteins that build up between it’s cells. This may reduce one’s risk of having Alzheimer’s.
  5. Sleep has a direct relationship with one’s stress levels. People with poor sleep habits are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  6. Healthy sleep boosts your decision making abilities. It helps combat feelings of helplessness, depression and loneliness.
  7. Naps are a very essential part of a healthy lifestyle. They are scientifically proven to boost one’s mental alertness, memory and creativity.
  8. Naps helps our system in preventing burnout. It aids us in returning back to our daily work feeling refreshed.
  9. As mentioned in my previous article on “Understanding Ab Flabs”, getting 8-9 hours of sleep helps us in fighting the stress hormone CORTISOL that has direct relation to our body’s fat accumulation and metabolism.
  10. Most importantly, good sleep improves our mood and helps us to remain positive and fresh. It boosts the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood, appetite and feelings of contentment. So you won’t get cranky, anxious, overwhelmed or easily distracted if you sleep well 🙂

Coming to the DO’s that will help you in getting good sleep:

  1.   Keep your bed clean with a neat and tidy light coloured bed-sheet.
  2.   Get a new pillow cover.
  3.   Fix on a pair of comfortable pyjamas or other night wear that makes you sleepy 🙂
  4.   Take a nice warm shower before going to bed.
  5.   Keep your bedroom clean, cool and dark.
  6.   Use aromatic candles and room fresheners with natural fragrances you are fond of.
  7.   Keep a check on your caffeine intake. Limit the consumption of caffeinated drinks to the first half of the day.
  8.   Lead an active lifestyle; walk and exercise daily.
  9.   Practice deep breathing before going to bed (Stop worrying about things and just relax).
  10. Listen to soft meditation music if you need to nap in between work or while travelling in-flight.

Another important point, keep all your electronic gadgets away from your bed. Your mind and body getting adequate rest is much more important than checking your email or FB / Twitter updates or chit-chatting with your friends over a group messenger. All of this can be done the next day. Time is the most precious of all resources and do not waste your bed time in other activities.

I hope, by now, I have helped you all understand the importance of sleep in our daily lives. However busy you might be or whatever are the troubles of your life, REMEMBER, sleep is the wonder drug that will help you live your life to it’s best 🙂

The magic called HIIT

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With my newly found and super endearing devotion for the “Science of Exercise”, I have been spicing up my workout routines with a variety of training methods. And amongst several, the one I have truly fell in love with is High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. It is 100% amazing and I have become a die-hard fan of this training technique. My personal reasons for loving this method is that firstly, it is simple, super time-saving and extremely effective. And secondly,it leaves me with this breathless “I am about to die” sorta feeling after each intense session, which being an exercise maniac I simply love 🙂

So, what does HIIT exactly mean, how does it differ from other workout techniques and why is it so wildly effective in burning fat.

High Intensity Interval Training is a form of cardio-vascular exercise. I guess it is more easily understood when termed as Sprint Interval Training. This means that it is the combination of short intense periods of anaerobic exercise with lesser intense resting periods. For example, you can do Burpees for 20 seconds and then jog for 10 seconds OR you sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 60 seconds.Unlike other workout techniques, HIIT doesn’t make you go on and on with the same exercise moves for a long period of time. It is one of the most loved training techniques amongst fitness buffs worldwide.

Let me take you directly to the facts that will make you a HIIT fan as well:

  1. You burn for a long time even after you are done with the routine. Since you are constantly working out during a HIIT routine (even though there are resting periods in between), your body is unable to bring in enough oxygen into your body , especially to compensate for those high intensity reps. As a result, there is Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC, which revs up your metabolism and fat-burning for hours after you leave the gym. Research has shown that HIIT is 50% more efficient in burning adipose tissue than prolonged duration of low intensity exercises.
  2. It is time saving and effective. A normal HIIT routine can be as short as 4 minutes and extend up to a maximum of 30 minutes. When done in proper form, it is much more effective then an hour of slogging at the gym.
  3. You can do it both anaerobically (using body weight or free weights) and aerobically with cardio. This means it has the ability to increase your anaerobic as well as aerobic endurance.
  4. HIIT hits the flabby zones much more effectively. Unlike other workout regimes, HIIT not only burns your excess blood glucose but also burns glycogen (i.e. the stored fat).
  5. It is a metabolic conditioning technique.The higher intensities in a HIIT regime boosts up muscle building growth hormones. And we all know that the more lean muscle mass we build, the more fat we shed.
  6. It improves your insulin sensitivity. We all know how important it is for our body cells to remain insulin sensitive ( I have written an entire article on this).HIIT makes your body more insulin sensitive i.e. your body cells utilise more of the blood glucose so that very less or no glucose is left to be converted into stored fat.
  7. No science but this is my personal reason to love this technique, you can never get bored doing HIIT routines 🙂

Thus, HIIT is all about intensifying your inner fat burn. However, here a few points that I would suggest you to keep in mind to see the absolute best results:

  1. Incorporate exercises that involve several muscle groups and target your entire body in designing your HIIT routine.
  2. Make sure the higher intensity exercises are challenging enough. As you stay diligent with your HIIT regime, keep raising the bar of challenges.
  3. Just like any other form of training, proper form is a must.
  4. Your diet will always play a key role. Consume your calories efficiently and effectively.

So, no more excuses. Whether you are an exercise pro or just a beginner or even someone who needs motivation; you should definitely try HIIT and feel amazed by it’s wonderful results 🙂

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