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January 2, 2014

Wish you All, a Peaceful, Prosperous & Healthy 2014!!  Thank you for following my blog for a year.  Do share the blog with your friends and family members.

We’re starting this year by talking about sleep deprivation and body weight.  Never thought that the two would be connected, right?  More and more studies on sleep are telling us that the lack of it can cause a host of health problems including weight gain.

Lack of adequate sleep can disrupt the hunger hormones (ghrelin & leptin), increase food cravings, reduce energy expenditure and favour fat storage in the body.  This is a great formula for weight gain and associated problems. 

Lack of adequate sleep can also affect us mentally – increase irritability, reduce the ability to concentrate, affect mood, etc.

Ensure that you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep at night.  If you cannot manage it at a stretch, take a short nap during the day to give your mind and body sufficient rest.

 

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December 26, 2013

A research study recently published in the West says that organic milk is more beneficial than non-organic version.  Although all varieties of milk contain protein, calcium, riboflavin and other nutrients, organic milk was found to have a better balance of essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6.  More of omega 3 fats and less of omega 6 fats is known to be heart healthy.  Omega 6 fats (which come thru some of the high PUFA oils, fried snacks, etc) in excess can be one of the causes for many illnesses.  Organic milk with its greater proportion of omega 3 fats can become an addition in the list of omega 3 foods like fish and flaxseed.  Additionally, organic foods are always good for the earth!

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December 11, 2013

Chandra Gopalan, a dear friend of mine and the All India Head for Contours International, recently completed a 100 km run in Bangalore organised by Runners For Life.  She was placed in the first runner-up position in her category.  At the age of 55, this is no easy feat!  While congratulating Chandra on her brilliant achievement, I asked her a few questions and here’s what she said –

Sheela Krishnaswamy – How long have you been a runner?

Chandra Gopalan – 10 years.

SK – What are the runs / marathons you have participated in and which ones do you continue to participate in regularly?

CG – I have done the Mumbai Marathon, Kaveri Trail Marathon, Bangalore Ultra, every year since 2006. Other occasional ones are Auroville, Bangkok, Melbourne. A total of 30 marathons & ultra marathons.

SK – When did you start training for the 100 km run?  What was your training regimen?

CG – I started training in April 2013. I trained for 6 months. The training regime was quite tough. I had to do a mix of long runs, short speed runs, heat runs, mountain runs, etc. To train the body to keep awake on Ultra day, I have done 3 night runs, starting at midnight & ending at dawn.

SK – What were the highlights / ups & downs of your training?

CG – The training made me very strong, both mentally and physically. I always trained with a group of 7- 8 guys. We did a 10 hour run in interior Tamil Nadu in Dharmapuri. This was an extreme heat training. This run helped all of us manage the heat on Run day.

SK – Did your food intake change while training?

CG – Yes.  I included a lot of ragi (naachini) and dry fruits in my diet. I was strict with having food every 3 hours. I ate 3 fruits a day, included eggs in my breakfast everyday and drank a lot of fluids.

SK – How was the last week prior to the run – in terms of training, rest, food, mental make-up, etc.

CG – The last week was a rest week. I increased my carb intake a bit and rested well . Mentally the whole group was very strong. We had each other on the run day. Our coach was also present to support each one of us.

SK – How was the entire run experience?

CG – Due to the good training, I was surprised to see myself running quite comfortably till the 80 Km mark. After that, the fatigue set in, pace dropped.  The 80-90 km stretch was the slowest. Once I hit the 90 km mark and knew that I had just 10 km to go, I found renewed strength in my legs and could run quite well, specially in the last few km. It was exhilarating to finish the 100 km run.

SK – What were the highlights / up & downs of the 100 km run?

CG – The day was very hot. We were under the sun from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. At one point I tripped on the trail, fell down and bruised my knee. But it did not come in the way of my run. At the 84th km I vomited, probably due to the extreme heat of the day. After this, my head was spinning as there was no nutrition in the body. I walked a bit, went to the medical tent, had a pill, ate some food and was back on the path.

SK – Would you run another 100 km in future?

CG – Maybe

SK – Any anecdotes you would like to share with the readers?  Anything else that you would like to talk about?

CG – Training is very important.  If you condition your body to distances, heat, hills etc, the run becomes easier. Besides, one needs to scale up mileage slowly. I have done 50 km distances thrice and a 75 km once before I attempted a 100 km. You need to strengthen your muscles actively too.  Eat sensibly and hydrate well. Most often, you are your own limitation. Once you think you can do it, you will.

SK – A word of advice for prospective runners.

CG – Train well and enjoy what you do.

SK – A word of advice for those who don’t run or don’t have the time for physical activity.

CG – You have no idea what you are missing. When you run, you are always on a high. That’s why it is called Runner’s high. Physical activity makes you feel good about yourself and face the world confidently.

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December 7, 2013

Here’s a piece that I wrote on Foxtail Millet which was published in Sunday Chronicle, across India on December 01, 2013.  If you haven’t yet eaten foxtail millet, you might want to try it.

Foxtail millet (aka kangni, kand, navane) might not be on our regular shopping list but has been a part of traditional Indian cuisine.  With organic and locally grown foods becoming more popular in some countries, it’s time we look at our backyards for healthy foods. Foxtail millet as the name suggests, belongs to the millet family and is a whole grain.  Millets are supposed to be one of the oldest cultivated foods known to humans.  Millets have been popular in Africa, China and India for many centuries. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness they are not widely consumed.

Nutritionally speaking, the calorie value of foxtail millet is similar to other millets and cereals.  The advantage with this millet is that it contains almost 3 times more fiber than rice and wheat.  This would be a great food on the meal plan of weight watchers and diabetics.  It also contains more minerals than rice and wheat. Foxtail millet does not contain gluten and therefore can be used by persons with celiac disease.

Foxtail millet is tolerant to drought and adapts to various soils and temperatures. Organically grown foxtail millet is available in India.  An organic millet mix that is available in Bangalore has 8 varieties of millets in it.  You might find foxtail millet in online stores too.

Foxtail millet can be cooked along with rice or all by itself.  Food bloggers have written about using this millet to make khichdi, idli, dosa, upma, as a salad ingredient, and so on.  Make this healthy whole grain a part of your diet.

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November 26, 2013

Yesterday, I was listening to a talk on spices at a seminar and thought to myself – how lucky we Indians are, to have such a wide variety of spices in our cuisine.  It’s hard to imagine an Indian kitchen without turmeric, ginger, garlic, mustard, cumin, coriander and many other spices.

Spices not only aid digestion but also have a protective effect on health.  The innumerable antioxidants present in spices guard us against a host of diseases.  However, this protective effect is possible only in tandem with a healthy lifestyle.  Several studies have been conducted in India on spices and health.  Turmeric, ginger, garlic and capsaicin (which is the active component in chilli peppers, capsicum and other foods of the same family) have found to be beneficial for many health problems.

Contrary to popular belief, spices do not cause ulcers by themselves.  Although spices offer benefits in healthy people, there’s little they can do in those who already have a disease condition.

Do continue to use spices in your cooking.  Don’t forget to season your dishes!

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