Taking care of the heart is not rocket science, says Aashish Contractor, head of rehabilitation and sports medicine at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai. Rather, it’s all about simple steps done consistently—from the right diet and exercise to regular health check-ups.
Dr Contractor’s debut book, The Heart Truth—Everything You Wanted To Know About Prevention, Treatment And Reversal Of Heart Disease, as the title suggests, deals with a topic the world is well familiar with. In clear, simple, sometimes humorous, narrative, it makes the reader understand the workings of the organ.
Dr Contractor, who was the medical director at Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon from 2004-14, has summed up 18 years of medical experience to provide tips on how to take care of the heart. Here are some reasons for reading the book:
■ The author doesn’t bog you down with complicated medical terms and jargon.
While explaining the function of the heart, he writes, “It simply acts as a muscular pump whose job it is to receive blood and then pump it out. Really, that’s all it does! Impure blood from all over the body enters the right side of the heart, from where it is transported to the lungs. In the lungs, the blood gets purified and is returned to the left side of the heart, from where it is pumped to the entire body."
It’s like going back to the classroom and actually understanding what the teacher is saying.
■He busts popular notions like eating non-vegetarian food is harmful for heart patients. Everything should be eaten in moderation, and should be done in consultation with the doctor, he suggests.
“The diet that needs to be followed by heart patients is actually not very different from so-called normal people. I say ‘so-called normal’ since many have underlying health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, and even heart disease, which they are unaware of," he writes.
■ He describes doable “life rules" for a healthy heart illustratively with case studies.
“Amitabh Khona never eats chocolates in India though he loves them. He only eats them when he is travelling abroad. While this may sound a bit strange, it’s actually an interesting and effective rule he has made for himself to control his intake of sugar.
“Rajendra Jhaveri never eats rice at wedding functions since he suspects that they add extra oil to provide the soft, fluffy texture. Another patient of mine never went to the washroom on the same floor in his office complex. He always used the one on the floor above. Not because the one above was better or cleaner, it’s just that it forced him to walk those extra steps daily. You need to make rules which fit into your lifestyle, because only then will you increase the chance of success. Bear in mind that you will often stray from the path, but the important thing is to steer yourself back as soon as possible," he writes.
■There are over 30 heart-healthy recipes along with their nutritional values in the book—from Chilled Watermelon and Curd Smoothie, palak methi thepla, dalia aur dal parantha, Chicken Parcels in Orange Sauce and Whole Wheat Hummus Wrap to Oriental Soya and Babycorn Stir-fry, Creamy Alfa-Alfa Sprouts and Apple on Toast and Baked Apple Cottage Cheese Pie—choose what you like to keep your heart in shape.