Lifestyle diseases will continue to see a rise in 2010,” says Dr Ravi Kasliwal, senior consultant, cardiology, Global Healthcare, Gurgaon. But on the bright side, he also says that there will be more attempts to decrease stress, increase positivity with healthy eating and exercise. So, here are five ways in which Indians will aim for well-being this year.
If 2009 was the year of strength training, then 2010 will see shifting emphasis towards functional training. These are workouts designed to train your body to cope with your daily activities, says Neesha Bukht, branch manager, Bandra centre, Talwalkars, Mumbai.
Fitness instructor Madhuri Ruia (who writes a regular column for Mint) feels that functional training is more relevant than conventional strength training. “You mimic everyday life in the fitness studio. For instance, walking very fast, picking up a heavy piece of luggage, getting up suddenly from the chair. Therefore, your reflexes improve and life becomes smooth,” she says. She points out that mainstream strength training focuses on bodybuilding, but “you or me do not really want bulky muscles”, whereas functional training focuses on a lean look.
Balancing act: Stability balls improve reflexes. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
Personalized wellness coaching
Mumbai is already big on personal training, says Gaurav Sharma, sports medicine specialist and director of the holistic wellness centre Optima Wellness, and predicts Delhi will get going this year. With time at a premium, more people will opt for personalized coaching at home. Gold Gym’s Greater Kailash, New Delhi, branch manager Ashoo, who goes by just one name, agrees: “I have been in the fitness business for 11 years now, and it’s in the last few months (that) I’ve seen a 30% rise in demand for home tuitions.” However, while Dr Sharma thinks one-on-one training is far more effective than a typical gym workout,?he?warns that you should?check that the instructor has proper training and certification.
Lifestyle intervention from childhood
There is no respite in the alarming climb of childhood obesity statistics in Indian cities (according to a paper published in 2008 in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition). This year will see more targeted intervention. MARG (Medical education for children/Adolescents for Realistic prevention of obesity and diabetes and for healthy aGeing), funded by the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), Denmark, and run by Diabetes Foundation India, already runs South Asia’s largest preventive programme against childhood obesity with awareness campaigns in schools in 15 cities (including Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore), but plans to expand. “We hope to have 28 cities covered by end of 2010,” says Dr Anoop Misra, chief scientific adviser to Diabetes Foundation India. He adds that addressing childhood obesity is “the only solution to check the rising trend of lifestyle diseases that threatens to engulf India”.
With swine flu, dengue and other infectious diseases on the rise, people are looking for immunity boosts. Naini Setalvad, Mumbai-based nutritionist and obesity consultant, prescribes nuts, fruit (five servings a day) and honey to boost immunity. Setalvad says, “Nuts are high in essential fat, protein-packed, with antioxidants, and help prevent onset of diseases such as cadiovascular problems.” Delhi-based nutritionist Ishi Khosla too has been writing out diet prescriptions for tulsi (basil) tea, aloe vera, amla (Indian gooseberry), lime, garlic, turmeric and probiotics.
Probiotic food companies are taking advantage of the trend. Last year saw the launch of around 300 probiotic foods worldwide; this year will see higher numbers, suggested Indian gastroenterologosts at the third India Symposium on Probiotics in New Delhi in November. In anticipation, the Indian Council of Medical Research is drafting new guidelines?on?the?evaluation of probiotic foods?(where none earlier existed, leaving labelling and content entirely to manufacturers), which will be published later this year. These include identification of specific bacteria strains, studies for safety and in support of health claims being made, and labelling requirements.
More packaged ‘health food’
Last week, Britannia launched a Health Starter Kit which consists of three boxes of Nutrichoice biscuits (five-grain, digestives and crackers) plus a seven-day gym pass for a pan-India gym chain. In Parle Monaco Smart Chips advertisements, actor Aamir Khan advocates them as better than conventional potato chips. Amul has a calcium-fortified milk (a food that is high in calcium to begin with). It certainly looks like packaged and processed food companies are going all out to market what they claim are healthier alternatives. “However, consumers need to be discerning and educated about health claims and reading nutrition labelling so that they are not swept away by marketing messages,” says Khosla. Merely checking calories is not enough, she says; check serving size. Check for fat (both kind and quantity), sugar, sodium, cholesterol and fibre. Avoid trans fats and too much saturated fat. A “low-cholesterol” product is high in cholesterol-worsening saturated fats if it has hydrogenated vegetable oil. A low-fat product should have less than 10g fat per 100g. Check for sodium (not just salt, but also baking soda, baking powder, monosodium glutamate and sodium metabisulphite) and sugars (besides glucose, dextrose, maltose, syrups, sorbitol, mannitol, etc., also “modified starch”).
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