Saturday, December 22, 2012



Compiled by
Ms. Uma Shakthi, Dietitian
Dr.Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Center
      In today’s fast-paced world with the increased usage of convenience foods, fast foods and decreased physical activity, weight management has a very important place.Weight-gain occurs, when the daily intake of calories is greater than what is required and when a person does not do enough exercise to burn the calories consumed in food. In most of the developed and developing countries, 50 percent of the population suffers from malnutrition.Malnutrition includes not only under-nutrition but also over-nutrition. Persons who are plump and stout seem healthy but they are actually not. Due to abundant availability of food and increased economic status, parents buy their children whatever they ask for to eat. Children are generally influenced by the colourful ads from the media. Daily intake of unbalanced diet, indulging in sedentary activities like video games and TV and long hours of tuitions become a contributing factor for developing obesity and other non communicable diseases in the future.

Obesity refers to the amount of fat that gets deposited over the body parts particularly around the waist and hip region. Because of this, people weigh more than they should.

                                  How can we know whether a person is obese?

There is a simple way. By subtracting 100 from your height (cm), you can obtain your ideal body weight. There is one more way which requires a little mathematical calculation. That is your BMI {Body Mass Index = Weight in kg/ height * height (m2)}.  In order to check these values, consult your nutritionist for guidance.

What are the reasons for obesity?

Family history, dietary errors, sedentary lifestyle, hormonal imbalance and mental disturbances are the main contributing factors. When the parents or grandparents are obese, children acquire their obesity gene and become obese.

Some people continue to eat even after satiety has set in. Just for relishing the taste, they ignore the signal sent by the brain to stop eating. Some nibble their snacks once in half an hour and move towards food when they are depressed. Because of these, they eat more than they require leading to weight gain.

Sedentary lifestyle is the second important factor contributing to weight gain. Now a days, children no longer walk to school. Mechanization has made us lazy. Our physical activities are replaced by machines. To burn the calories, you need to do some form of exercise.

What are the health effects of obesity?

      Obese persons are prone to non communicable diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, stress, obstructive sleep apnoea, etc.

How to control or prevent obesity?
We need to rely on 4 pillars
1         1. Diet
2         2. Exercise
3         3. Lifestyle modification
           4. Medication

Choose low calorie foods and fibre rich foods. Most of the low calorie foods are rich in fibre.

1. Instead of having plain idly/ dosa, make vegetable idly, vegetable dosa or oothappam.
2. Use whole wheat bread instead of white bread
3. Make chapathi out of soya, oats, bajra and ragi.
4. Tofu can be used in place of paneer
5. Prefer buttermilk and  lemon juice over high calorie beverages or cool drinks
6.Replace snacks with salads
7. Have small frequent meals.
8.    Eat in a calm environment

Physical activity:
Regular walking is recommended. Inculcate a hobby that involves more physical activity. Instead of watching a cricket match in TV, go and play outside yourself.  It relaxes your mind too. Excuses are not excusable!

To follow these, you need to get motivated to change your lifestyle. You must have control over yourself. Making a lifestyle change will give long term benefits not only to you, but also to the future generations. 



Compiled by, 
Ms.Jayshree. S.S
Assistant Manager, Nutrition & Dietetics
Dr.Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Center

            Among the sea foods, fish is the most nutritious. There are different types of fish. Though they differ according to the sources, all fish have many health benefits and medicinal properties.

         In previous times, fish has been widely used to improve the blood circulation and remove the toxins from the body. Essential fatty acids are the main reasons to make fish a special nutrient rich food.

         Essential fatty acids are necessary to prevent skin infections like psoriasis. They are essential to improve the immune function. Fish is generally potassium rich, which help in reducing blood pressure and other cardiac disorders.  Fish contains ample amounts of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, which are the basic micro-nutrients required for formation and strengthening of bones.

             Fish is a well known galactogogue which improves the breast milk secretion. Certain varieties of fish contain iron that prevents anemia. All types of fish contain high biological value proteins which are easily assimilable to build muscles. Small fish are very low in calories. It is helpful for those who want to reduce weight. Magnesium content in fish prevents muscle cramps. Selenium content gives fish the antioxidant properties.  

              Selection of a healthy fish is very important. Consuming contaminated fish causes many health problems. While buying fish, look for the eyes. Eyes must be bright and bulgy. Body should be firm. Gills must be bright red in colour. Intestines must be removed before refrigerating. Otherwise intestinal germs can affect health. Use of cod liver oil prevents vitamin E deficiency. Fish fry, cutlet, biriyani and a few other recipes can be enjoyed throughout the week.




Compiled by, 
Ms.Jayshree. S.S
Assistant Manager, Nutrition & Dietetics
Dr.Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Center

          Walnuts are the richest sources of nutrients among the nuts and oils seeds. The kernel of a walnut contains essential fatty acids. Young walnuts contain some vitamin C also. Apart from this, walnuts have many health benefits. Traditionally, walnuts have been used to treat intestinal worms.

        Many studies have proved that by adding walnuts to a cholesterol lowering diet, LDL (Bad) cholesterol level can be reduced by 10%. This is because of the linoleic acid in the walnuts which helps to keep the blood thin and prevents clots and blockages in the blood vessels. They help in weight reduction and reduce the risk of other non communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

         Walnuts give good amounts of B vitamins, essential for keeping the nervous system healthy. Walnuts are good sources of copper, necessary for keeping the immune system functioning correctly. Vitamin E and linoleic acid in walnuts help to maintain the skin structure. These nutrients help to improve general smoothness and softness of the skin.Walnuts can be eaten raw after breaking the shell. They can also be eaten along with salad.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Right food at Right time

Compiled by
Ms. Uma Shakthi, Dietitian
Dr.Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Center

          Jobs that require working in shifts are quite common today. Globalization has had such a phenomenal impact that round-the- clock service has become a necessity in almost every sector, forcing people to work in shifts. For such workers, a balanced diet, adequate water, a proper schedule for eating food and sleeping, a regular interval for recuperation from exhaustion, time with family and friends exist only in dreams, assuming they get to at least close their eyes for a peaceful moment.

          The condition of the night shift workers is the most pathetic, given that they have to adapt to a total reversal from the basic human nature, ultimately forcing them lead a nocturnal life. This not only affects their eating and sleeping habits but also gradually deteriorates the overall physical, psychological, behavioral and emotional health.

“Right food at Right time” – the mantra is no more in existence.

The problem:

The workers’ sedentary lifestyle in performing a monotonous job, the over-tasking deadlines imposed and high demand for performance and productivity ultimately affects their overall health.

  • Obesity and constipation results from physical inactivity while back pain, neck pain and other spinal cord related disorders may be attributed to the constant sitting posture which may be referred to as Repetitive motion injuries (RMI). RMI are the illnesses or injuries that result from weeks, months and years of overuse of human joints.
  • Insomnia and irregular sleep are the common disorders among such workers. While day shift workers get little sleep at night due to strenuous work, night shift workers rarely sleep during the day owing to noise and other disturbances from the surroundings.
  • As these kind of jobs needs to be done in a centralized air-conditioned area, workers sweat less and drink less or no water during the whole day leading to the accumulation of toxic wastes on their body that are usually eliminated through sweat.
  • Almost 10-12 hours of continuous strain may result in job stress. Job stress is felt when job requirements do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the workers leading to fatigue, tension headaches, anxiety, irritability, depression and suppression of immune system.
  • When one is constantly exposed to the radiation emitted by the LCD monitors, their eyes tend to become dry causing poor vision, which is generally called computer vision syndrome (CVS).

The solution:

Is there any solution?

How can one manage without quitting the job?

           When one searches the solutions for these problems, one may consider the dietary modifications as the easiest one. Workers especially those in nightshifts can alter their biological clock properly by scheduling the meal and snacks time along with regular break time.

           Amongst the many varieties of food available, choosing the right food is in your hands. Plan in such a way that there is 4-5 hours of gap between two larger meals. Take food only when you are physically hungry.

  • Always prefer fruit and vegetable juices or salads instead of coffee, tea or carbonated drinks. Fruits and vegetables are beneficial in providing antioxidants, phyto-chemicals and fibre which are very much essential to provide relief from constipation, dehydration, fatigue, stress, etc. fruits like papaya, pineapple, dates, oranges, guava, mango and vegetables like carrot, beetroot, cucumber, bitter gourd and greens are useful in balancing abnormal hormone levels. Always prefer brightly colored fruits and vegetables that are rich in carotenoids, which are required to prevent vision problems.
  • Do not take rice preparations often as they give more calories leading to weight gain. Take protein foods to normalize the overall metabolism.
  • Do not take French fries, potato chips, and savories as snacks because they tend to accumulate fat and cause weight gain. Instead prefer a vegetable sandwich, soup or whole fruit, which is light as well as healthy.
  • One can always bring food prepared at home like ragi porridge, oats porridge or barley water.
  • Take regular breaks from watching computer screen. Close your eyes for a few minutes to revive retinal production inside the eyes. Focus on some object at a distance, which is green or yellow for a while as it soothes your eyes.
  • Ideal sitting posture must be adopted. Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor or footstool to counterbalance the forces on lower back.
  • Try to spend time with your family and friends to rejuvenate your mental health.

           A decent white collared job at the cost of personal health is no gain. A proper concern and awareness of one’s own health must not be lost in the pursuit of material benefits. It is the need of the hour.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



Compiled by
Shobana S,  Sudha V, Anjana RM,  Mohan V

Rice is one of the most important staples in India. It was first mentioned in Yajur Veda and more than 200,000 varieties of rice are available in India today. Different rice varieties may have different morphological features, cooking, eating, and product-making characteristics. Rice varieties may be broadly classified based on their size, shape, waxy or non-waxy (based on the nature of starch), aromatic (eg. Basmati, Jeerakasambha) or non-aromatic (Ponni; Sonamasuri), red or black rice (based on color) etc., There are different forms of rice, namely brown rice (unpolished rice), hand pounded rice (minimally polished rice), raw (non-parboiled) white rice (fully polished rice), parboiled white rice, quick cooking rice (instant rice) etc., depending on the processing it has undergone. Brown rice is a whole grain which retains 100% of its bran, germ. Brown rice is prepared from paddy (either raw or parboiled paddy of any rice variety) and only the outer husk is removed. Hence it contains all its botanical components and the nutrients provided by them too. The outer layers (bran) and the germ or embryo of brown rice are rich in protein, fat, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, whereas the inner portion of the rice grain (endosperm) is rich in starch. 
During the process of milling, the paddy is dehusked and the outer layers of the brown rice (bran) and germ are stripped off approximately to an extent of 7-10% leaving behind mainly the starchy inner portion. Generally fully polished rice (white rice) is preferred for its superior appearance, taste, flavor, aroma and textural characteristics. The rice what is being currently served on our plates is the dietary fibre depleted white rice either parboiled or non-parboiled (hence called refined grain) which is highly starchy in nature.

During ancient period, hand pounded rice (not a 100% brown rice) was consumed and today due to the advancements in milling technology (to reduce the loss due to breakage of grains in the traditional handpounding process), the hand pounding practice has vanished and is replaced by modern rice milling machinery which delivers higher yield of polished rice (either raw or parboiled). In the traditional manual practice of hand pounding, the paddy was pounded using a pounder in a stone mortar, which was then winnowed to remove the husk and minimal amounts of bran to yield hand pounded rice and thus minimal degree of polishing. This rice is also nutritionally superior compared to fully polished rice that is being currently consumed. However, brown rice contains the highest nutrients compared to both hand pounded and white rice.

A study from our centre has shown a strong association between refined grain (polished rice or white rice) consumption and the metabolic syndrome (clustering of metabolic abnormalities including glucose intolerance, central obesity, dyslipidemia and hypertension), and diabetes risk in urban adult south Indian population. The study also reported that almost half of the (50%) of the daily calories in our population were derived from refined grains predominantly polished white rice (on an average the intake was around 250 g of polished rice (uncooked) per day). 

Many studies from the western countries have shown risk reduction of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes with consumption of whole grains such as brown rice. However, such a study had not been possible in India due to difficulty in obtaining genuine brown rice in the market. Of late brown rice is gaining importance due to increased awareness on the health benefits of wholegrain consumption and lots of products with labels of  ‘brown rice’, ‘hand pounded rice’ are being marketed widely. The nutrition and ingredient labels are often overlooked by the consumers. There are lots of rice samples with brown color being marketed under the label claims of ‘brown rice’. All the rice that appears brown in color need not be a genuine ‘brown rice’. Nutritionally, brown rice is a healthier option to white rice, as it contains higher levels of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and other health beneficial phytonutrients. Polishing decreases these health beneficial nutrients, and increases the rate (speed) of digestion and hence quickly raises the blood glucose (so a high glycemic index food). A study from our centre has indicated that with progressive polishing of brown rice, the dietary fibre content decreased and the available carbohydrate (the carbohydrates which are available for metabolism) content increased. With polishing, the decrease in the levels of proteins, fat, minerals, γ-oryzanol, polyphenols and vitamin E was also observed. Thus the process of polishing not only decreases the dietary fibre content but also the other health beneficial nutrients of rice. Such a polished rice choice being a high GI food and when consumed as a staple (consumed in all meals and in greater quantity) could further increase the glycemic load (GL) of the  diets which are known to increase the insulin demand and elicit higher glycemic and insulinemic responses triggering the risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
             Recently, a market survey was conducted in the different parts of Chennai in shops, kiosks and super markets regarding the availability of brown rice. Rice samples with label claims of ‘brown rice’, ‘hand pounded rice’ were collected and examined. To our surprise some retailers were selling parboiled polished red rice (kerala rice) [picture 1] as brown rice. It is important for the consumers to know the characteristics of brown rice to make a judicious choice in the market. 
              Brown rice appears brown, glossy and smooth with intact bran and the germ (picture 2). In contrast the polished white rice is whiter and is devoid of the bran and germ (picture 3). 

            The Department of Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics Research at Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai prepared brown rice (0% polish), minimally polished rice (2.3% polish) and white rice (9.7% polish)  from parboiled BPT (Baptla variety) paddy (pictures 4, 5) and their GI was tested. 

              Brown rice showed the least GI compared to the other two rice samples. Moreover brown rice based traditional south Indian preparations (idli, dosa, upma, sambhar rice etc.,) exhibited a lower GI compared to the corresponding white rice based preparations. In addition, our studies with 24 hr glucose monitoring system have also shown significant improvement in the 24 h glucose response of brown rice compared to minimally polished and white rice based diet in overweight adults.

            Further, evaluation of the commonly consumed Indian rice varieties namely; Sonamassuri, Surtikolam and Ponni for GI revealed all of these to be high GI category rice. Hence it is prudent to replace white rice with brown rice and also to lay down stringent food regulations for the label claims for marketing of brown rice in the country. Awareness of the morphological features of brown rice and the health benefits of brown rice will be helpful in popularization of brown rice among the rice eating population of India.