Connect to Health

Connect to Health


• Call now to make two dentist appointments, a full health and vaccination check-up.

• Make, do or learn something fresh each week: complete the crossword, play a new game, try out a recipe...

• Drink up. Place a BIG bottle in the car, on your desk, on your bedside table. Carry a small flask everywhere.

• Make meals colourful to easily get your five-a-day quota of fruits and veggies. Pretend each meal is a fine-dining plate.

• Wear a pedometer and aim for at least 10,000 steps a day.


Start a family health journal with a section for each member. Record:

• Blood group.

• Illnesses, injuries, surgeries and any medical procedures.

• Vaccination updates.

•Any visits to the doctor, any hospital stays.

• Any known allergies to foods, drugs or other substances.

• All medication, vitamins or supplements (even herbal) they take, including dosage information.

• Habits (smoking, alcohol) and frequency.

Add an appendix: a medical history of diseases and conditions in your family tree.

Take it along for every doctor’s visit.

Got a pet? Add it in! Or make a separate notebook for the vet.

—Taru Bahl

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Chances are talk of “hygiene" and “germs" has you thinking of toilet cleaners, garbage bins and the bathroom floor. However, according to The Hygiene Council (funded by the Reckitt Benckiser group), several surfaces in the home with a high concentration of germs don’t get on most people’s cleaning lists.

Make sure you put in some effort in these areas:

• Hands! Washing up is important not just at home or before eating, but also in the workplace, which has so many shared surfaces.

•Taps! Funny how we turn them on with dirty hands, wash up, then turn off the dirty tap with clean hands...

• Telephones.

• Remotes for the TV, AC, music system and other electronic devices.

• Door handles and light switches everywhere.

• Car steering wheels.

• Computer keyboards at work and home.

• Kitchen sinks and wash basins. These seem to escape a daily clean even though infected daily.

• Dish cloths and sponges. Damp cloths used on a variety of surfaces, from washed plates to a messy gas stove, breed and strew germs everywhere. Microwave them on High for 10 seconds before use; launder in hot water daily.

• Refrigerators: not just the gasket, but also the door handle, bins and shelves. Keep it cold (4° Celcius) and disinfect regularly.

• Chopping boards. They need a steaming hot scouring, not just a rinse.

• Pets! After playing together, wash up.

• Children’s toys.

• Use tissues (not handkerchiefs) when ill; dispose of them immediately.


Floss your teeth daily. It doesn’t just prevent cavities and gum disease by cleaning out plaque and food particles from places a toothbrush can’t reach, it also protects your heart since dental plaque has been associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

What holds most of us back, though, is that we don’t know how. Gaurav Gulati, dental consultant, Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi, explains:

• Cut a piece of floss about 10 inches long.

• Wind most of it around the middle finger of your left hand (if you’re right-handed), and the rest around your right-hand middle finger, leaving an inch of string in between.

• Position that inch behind the last tooth in your left upper jaw. Slide gently into the space between the tooth and gum until you feel resistance, then curve it into a C shape around the tooth.

• Using a gentle sawing motion, clean the gap between tooth and gum.

• Pull out gently, wind up the soiled bit on your right hand and unroll clean floss from the left.

• Repeat till you’ve covered every tooth.

—Kavita Devgan


Diet and nutrition books to be published in 2009:

• The Lunch Box Diet by Simon Lovell (HarperCollins, £12.99, January). This eating plan started as a popular 10-page e-book. Its eat-all-day approach with no tedious calorie counting is understandably popular with dieters—and glossy magazines. The new paperback offers a 28-day plan plus recipes.

• The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn (Wellness Central, $24.99, February). Developed by a Texas firefighter to combat his own cholesterol problem, it should prove a down-to-earth, celeb-free plan for wellness and not just weight loss. Another USP: strictly vegetarian. Includes a 28-day plan and recipes.

• Your Big Fat Boyfriend by Jenna Bergen (Quirk Books, £8.99, January). This book explains the obvious: Different male and female metabolisms plus identical dinner plates can equal a larger-than-before girlfriend. Suggests common sense remedial measures alongside fun quizzes and a small dose of relationship advice.

• Super Eating by Ian Marber (‘The Food Doctor’ series, Quadrille, £12.99, December 2008). A new take on food combining, to help nutrients and vitamins work optimally rather than induce weight loss.

• Eat This, Not That by David Zinczenko (Rodale, £9.99, January). Written by the US Men’s Health editor and author of The Abs Diet, this gives you the calorie, fat and other nutrient values of most popular foods, including branded products (which isn’t all that useful to Indian readers—but the pictorial presentations make it easier than an “easy read").

• The Diabetes Guide by Dr Adam Daykin (Virgin, February, £7.99). It’s the new edition of the best-selling guide written by UK National Health Service (NHS) professionals and endorsed by Diabetes UK.

• Women’s Health for Life by Dr Sarah Jarvis (Dorling Kindersley, January, £20). The book is edited by Good Housekeeping’s medical columnist, who brings together a team of all-female doctors to help you understand your body at every life stage.


Blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured in mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (or mg%). It is assessed by a blood test or using a breathalyser (contrary to urban legend, breath mints, mouthwash, onions and such do not fool the machine).

Penalty: If you’re booked for driving with a BAC over 30mg/100ml, you face imprisonment of up to six months, a fine up to Rs2,000 or both for a first offence. For a subsequent offence within three years, it could be imprisonment for up to two years, a fine of up to Rs3,000, or both.

Find a helpful BAC calculator at:

—Kavita Devgan


These celebrity weighing scales compare you to Hollywood stars and characters (though King Kong is as scary as kilos). There is a New Year’s resolutions version too (“Bulk up", “Drink more", “Buy yourself a nice dress"). The cake scale labels you a jaffa cake or a jammy doughnut (more palatable than “overweight"). Need someone to draw you a picture? Find a zooful to measure up to on the animal scales. Buy at; Price: €35 (shipping and handling extra)


Exhaustion, dizziness, nausea, headaches, anguish… Try these five hangover cures to start feeling better right away:

• A tall drink of water and a shower: Alcohol dehydrates your brain and swells blood vessels, hence the pounding in your head.

• An early morning walk in the fresh air: You may need to push yourself, but it really does help once you get going.

• Coconut water (also rehydrates and provides fluid-balancing potassium), followed by a Pudin Hara, or mint or chamomile tea: They should combat the queasiness.

• A glug of vitamin C: It helps your liver sweep out the alcohol. Fresh orange juice with lime and a pinch of cumin will help, as will a Virgin Mary (also packed with potassium).

• Fuel up as soon as you can face food, preferably complex carbohydrates (but avoid refined white flour or sugar), for slow-release sugar.

—Kavita Devgan


Can you eat your headache away? Yes, because hunger can spark one. Fasting or missing meals puts you on a quick path to an aching head, irritability, and perhaps also dizziness, nausea, cold sweats and a craving for sweets. The source is two-pronged: often, not eating is associated with stress, causing muscular tension (triggers a classic tension headache); at the same time, blood vessels expand to compensate for low blood sugar. (Our brain runs on oxygen and sugar, so when blood sugar is low, your arteries try to send more blood over to feed it.) If you don’t eat, be ready to face the throbbing music! To avoid it:

• Eat a small snack every 3-4 hours.

• Never skip breakfast.

• If you often wake up with a headache, eat a piece of fruit just before you go to bed.

—Kavita Devgan


Read food labels carefully. Not all sugars are equal in their impact on blood sugar (and hence on diet success or diabetes control), though they all provide 4 cal/g:

• Brown sugar: White sugar crystals coated with molasses or unrefined sugar crystals, this is nutritionally the same as white sugar.

• Fructose: Found in fruits. Much sweeter than sucrose, glucose or honey, so a little goes a long way. Absorbed slowly, but too much may alter triglyceride levels.

• Glucose: Found in fruits, some vegetables and honey. The easiest to digest, causing a quick rise in blood sugar.

• Honey: Contains sucrose, glucose and fructose (approximately 40%). Sweeter than sucrose, so you can use less of it.

• Lactose (“milk sugar"): No significant impact on blood sugar, but can’t be digested by the lactose intolerant.

• Maltose (“malt sugar"): Half as sweet as glucose, which can lead you to consume more! Used in processed foods and confectionery.

• Maltitol: A sugar alcohol (see also sorbitol) similar in sweetness to sugar but with fewer calories (sugar alcohols typically have 0.2-0.3 cal/g). Can have a laxative effect. Used in commercially manufactured food products.

• Molasses or jaggery: Unrefined but metabolically similar to table sugar.

• Sorbitol: Another sugar alcohol. Absorbed slower than glucose. Can cause diarrhoea and bloating.

• Sucrose: Table sugar. Absorbed slower than glucose; as fast as brown bread and rice; slower than most fruits and vegetables (impacting blood sugar in the same order).

Courtesy: Jyothi Prasad, chief dietician, Manipal Hospital, Bangalore

—Kavita Devgan