Along with strong winds and incessant rain, the monsoons in India also usher in a time for savoury delicacies. It is important to remember that extreme change in weather conditions has an impact on our digestive system and makes it vulnerable to infections. Consuming certain foods items that are rich in nutrients and help strengthen the body's immune system can help protect ourselves. Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Vitabiotics, Fitness & Nutrition Expert shares a list of these super foods:
A roasted corn cob coated with spices and butter is the classic Indian monsoon snack. Corn is the ultimate power-packed and healthy monsoon food because it is low in calories and high in fiber. It is also very rich in lutein and two phytochemicals that promote better vision. Besides helping with weight loss, the insoluble fibre in corn feeds the good bacteria in our gut which in turn aids better digestion. Corn can be boiled, steamed or roasted and it is an extremely versatile food that can be incorporated in salads and mains.
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Gastrointestinal infections are more likely to occur during the monsoon season and the humble banana is the best defence against this. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that help with proper digestion. They also have ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and retinol that can help keep up our body's immune high. Additionally, bananas have a low caloric value and help the stomach to feel fuller for longer periods.
Eggs are an all-weather super food that is rich in protein and help to build muscle mass. Eggs also boost the body's immune system and help to fight off infections.
Monsoon fruit such as lychee, papaya, pomegranates, and pears not only help the body to digest food better but also aid in fighting infections that are caused due to this rise in humidity levels. Monsoon fruits are also rich in antioxidants that help to reduce blood pressure and prevent various infections. Jamun is another seasonal fruit that should be consumed as it is high in iron, folate, potassium, and vitamins.
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to be healthy and prevent bacterial infections. Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes that can help the body to flush out toxins. It is also high in immunity boosting properties and can work wonders for one's skin and heart health. It is also the best choice for those who are trying to lose weight. Coconut water should be had at room temperature with either a little bit of lemon juice or pineapple to boost Vitamin C levels in the body.
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While it may sound weird to tell people with depression to go outside and garden, there is a considerable amount of clinical evidence which suggests that spending time with plants improves our mental health, particularly depression. Even spending time with indoor plants works wonders to alleviate both mental and physical stress in people of all ages.
Vinayak Garg, Founder, Lazy Gardener says: "Many researchers have found that gardening or ï¿½green care' stimulates our bodies' natural development of happy chemicals, which may help keep depression and anxiety at bay, with unexpectedly amazing results. Even during this pandemic, each nation is battling a war where the enemy is not visible nor are the weapons. In these times, along with other safety measures, why not turn to the potential benefits of gardening as a way to help in the mental and physical war against coronavirus."
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Here are some interesting and the creative way to fight depression and anxiety, suggested by Garg.
Getting Your Hands Dirty!
Getting your hands dirty in the garden boosts your serotonin levels, according to studies. Serotonin is a happy chemical that also serves as a natural antidepressant and immune system booster, lack of which is responsible for depression. When you come in contact with soil, a particular soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, causes serotonin to be released in our brain, making us feel better and happier from within. At the very least, now we understand why people prefer to garden without gloves and always enjoy the sensation of getting their hands into the dirt and compost heap.
De-Stress Therapy at Your Doorstep
Gardening is an awesome diversion from our increasingly technologically driven lives. Spending time gardening and enjoying nature can help us mentally de-stress by keeping us involved. When you directly contribute to the nurturing of the buds and witness the plants grow gradually, believe me, your happiness and contentment will know no boundaries and you'll keep coming back to it. This is a small yet a very powerful exercise to even boost your self-esteem, leaving no space for stress at all.
Building Your Creativity
How about simply finding out how to keep those garden pests away and improving soil quality to keep the garden healthy? How about deciding what kind and colour of a pot will suit your favourite plant the best? Get yourself into it once and this green care will take care of your positivity, creativity, mood upliftment, skill building, and ultimately help you fight depression naturally and gradually.
Building Your Strength
Working in the garden improves dexterity and strength. Digging, raking, and mowing are especially calorie-dense activities and the aerobic exercise involved will easily burn the same amount of calories as a gym workout. During gardening, physical exercise is combined with social contact. You get exposed to nature and sunlight. Sunlight works two way on your body: reduces blood pressure while also increasing vitamin D levels, and the fruits and vegetables grown have a positive effect on the diet. Sounds healthier right?
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One of the most common changes post-pandemic is the global adoption of the 'work-from-home' (WFH) culture. As professionals set up their indoor workstations, their overall physical activity has reduced.
The shutdown of public spaces like gyms, beaches and parks, coupled with restrictions on other outdoor activities such as walking, jogging or cycling, has further added to the problem, says Dhara Tanna, Senior Vice President of Fitternity. Advocating for inclusion of varying forms of exercise in one's daily routine, Tanna believes individuals can achieve their fitness goals right from the safety of their homes.
Here are some workouts that she suggests you can easily include in your WFH regime to seamlessly achieve the balance between work and well-being.
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Before Starting Your Work Day
It is essential to start your day with a calm and relaxed approach. Engaging in some breathing exercises like pranayama or anulom vilom will help you stay focused and stress-free. Further, practicing these will ensure lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and risks of depression. These exercises are also known to better the symptoms of diabetes and effectively lower chronic pain. They help in keeping the body adequately oxygenated, which is very necessary during the present times.
Walk And Talk
With most office meetings turning into conference calls, you end up staying seated for longer time periods. You can start taking your calls while walking around your workspace to stay active. Apart from improving your blood circulation, it will also help you benefit from the much-needed break from screen time. Additionally, walking induces the release of healthy endorphins or happy hormones in the body as well as helps in loosening muscles. You can even increase your steps by going to the kitchen for water; instead of sitting with a bottle. You can also keep yourselves motivated by having a healthy competition with a friend or family member on who achieves the most steps.
Replace screen time while you take your in-between breaks with some quick stretches. They are beneficial for both the mind and the body. It will provide muscles and joints with the required movement while simultaneously breaking the monotony of sitting in one position for far too long. It even reduces soreness and stiffness. Some of these exercises like neck rolls, side stretch, back and upper back stretch, seated hip stretch, spinal twist are a few stretches that can be performed right at your desk. Just like our body, our eyes also need some rest.
Eyes Need Rest Too
Eyes have muscles which also require proper exercising in order to stay strong and healthy. One such easy exercise to reduce eye strain while working from home is the 20-20-20 rule exercise. One should practice to look away from the screen after every 20 minutes and focus on any object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will surely work as a strain relief to your eyes.
To stay fit, people need to include at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week; or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly. You can pick from a wide range of workout regimes that can be easily done at home. Some of these workouts include Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Functional Training, and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) among others. To stay on track and enjoy the best results, you can even join online classes. Most such digital platforms even offer the option of one-on-one training with instructors.
With fitness being the top priority of many, these are just a few things that one can include in their daily lives. Professionals can make adjustments in this plan depending on their specific work routines, says the Fitternity expert.
However, to regularly engage in some form of physical activity is something you can't afford to compromise. Consistency is the primary ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life. Exercise not only improves a person's physical health but also works wonders for their mental well-being.
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With people being contained to their homes this year as well, one may consider stepping up your workout routine. Aerobic exercises are not only beneficial to build strong bones, improve muscle strength, endurance and flexibility, but also to reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
The benefits go beyond physical with research suggesting that it may improve your thinking and memory in just six months.
"Walking, running, bicycling, swimming and cross country are a few popular aerobic activities. To get the most out of your aerobic exercise, flexibility and strength training exercise should be worked into your fitness routine," says orthopaedic sports surgeon Vonda Wright, MD, FAAOS.
To strengthen your cardiovascular system, it is important to increase your heart rate for 20 to 60 minutes at your target heart rate each time you exercise. Exercising at your target heart rate ensures your body is exerting enough energy to reap the benefits. To accurately track how hard your body is working, calculate your target heart rate and track beats per a minute. A general calculation to determine your target heart rate is 220 minus your age.
"The FITT principle of exercise is an effective guideline to follow for aerobic activity," says Dr Wright.
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"Standing for frequency, intensity, time and type, the FITT principle can provides the building blocks for an optimal workout. No matter what you're trying to achieve or how your goals change over time-toning up, improving strength, speed, or endurance, or losing weight-you can seamlessly apply the FITT Principle to stay on track. The key is to keep your heart rate steady and to exercise to your fitness level in order avoid injury."
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests these safety tips to eliminate injury while taking part in aerobic activity.
Consult your doctor. If you have a pre-existing condition, are overweight, a smoker or haven't been active in a while, consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.
Wear appropriate shoes. When selecting a pair of running shoes, look for good shock absorption and construction that will provide stability and cushioning to the foot. Make sure that there is a thumbnail's width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Buy shoes at the end of the day when your foot is the largest.
Warm up and stretch. Warm up with some easy calisthenics, such as jumping jacks. Continue with walking or light running for five minutes. Gentle stretching of the back, hamstrings can be helpful.
Cool down and stretch. Never skip stretching at the end. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles long and flexible. Slowly and gently stretch after activity, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
Hydrate. Even mild levels of dehydration can hurt athletic performance. If you have not had enough fluids, your body will not be able to effectively cool itself through sweat and evaporation.
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As social distancing and quarantine become part of our new reality, a lot of real-life action has now gone virtual. From unending Zoom calls to online workout sessions to even virtual dates all the while being stuck at home the list only goes on.
In such trying times, it's important to not only care for those around you but also indulge in the right care for yourself. In fact, the need for self-care to ensure mental and physical well-being is being increasingly recognised as a potent tool to dealing with our demanding lifestyle today. Moving away from the conventional association of self-care with women, it's now well acknowledged that self-care knows no gender because it is the art and act of consciously putting yourself first.
So, how does one get started with self-care? Rachit Mehra, Senior Marketing Manager, Phy, PurePlay Skin Sciences Ltd, guides you how.
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Time For Home Workouts
Gyms across cities might be temporarily shut, but what's stopping you from setting up a makeshift gym in a corner of your room or balcony! If working out without a trainer feels unfamiliar, start off with one of those online training sessions on fitness apps. Working out releases endorphins that bring a natural glow to your skin while lowering your stress levels. And who doesn't enjoy a refreshing shower after a fun workout. A sulphate-free bodywash infused with natural ingredients might just be what you're looking for to take on the day recharged.
Take Time Out For Skincare
Let's face it in between our busy schedules we barely get time to wash our faces twice a day, let alone use a moisturizer. Why not use this isolation period as some downtime for your skin! Maintaing a basic skincare routine like washing your face in the morning and before going to bed, applying a moisturizer, using a good, fragrant bodywash to calm your senses, a body mist to quickly hit refresh doesn't take a lot of effort and is definitely not time consuming.
Isolation can be challenging and as individuals are separated from regular (read social) lives they are bound to go through a myriad of emotions anxiety, loneliness, stress, or feeling overwhelmed. But with some basics one can make the best use of these times. Skipping meals is a no-no just how drinking water to stay hydrated is a big yes-yes. Listen to music, pursue a hobby and try to look at the brighter side of things, like not getting stuck in hours of work commute, being able to spend more time with friends, working out of your home in your pajamas; you get the drift!
Self-care need not be an elaborate process or a ritual that needs to be saved for the weekend or a special day. And if anxiety or stress seem to be getting the better of you, reach out to a friend, family or a mental health expert and talk. In the end as they say, this too shall pass.
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Yoga is a powerful practice that works on both the body and mind that is why it helps in transforming the whole personality and not just the physical body. However, there's a common misconception that yoga is all about complicated postures. That by doing a complicated backbend, or after achieving the full splits, we somehow become 'better than we were before'. It limits the concept of yoga to something that you only do on the mat. It assumes that if you can't do extreme postures, you can't ever be good at or practice yoga.
Namita Piparaiya, Yoga and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist, Founder, Yoganama shares few ways you can extend your yoga practice into your daily life.
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As we learned from Goldilocks, moderation is the approach of 'neither too much nor too little'. Moderation can be followed in all aspects of life, such as diet, speech, exercise, possessions, and everything else. The opposite of moderation would be either overindulgence which is harmful. Or completely denying ourselves to the extent of suppressing our needs which almost always backfires in the long run. Moderation keeps you away from extremes and therefore is a very sustainable strategy as it takes up very little energy.
You experience this in a yoga class when you hold postures for a more extended period. If you push yourself too much, you'll come out of the pose before the time is up due to pain or extreme discomfort. Equally, if you are lazy while practicing, you won't benefit from the time you're spending on the mat. Apply the right amount of effort, and you have a rewarding yoga practice that leaves you feeling recharged and refreshed. And the 'right effort' can be different for everyone; that's why everyone's yoga practice will look different.
Mindfulness refers to present moment awareness. It is a very powerful and well-researched practice that can change the very structure of our brain. Mindfulness meditation makes us more rational, less impulsive, and even increases our grey matter. The good thing is mindfulness can be practiced anytime during the day and not just while you're meditating. You can be mindful when you're eating, when you're brushing your teeth, when driving, and so on. All you have to do is become completely aware of the activity you're doing by observing it in full detail.
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If you've done a yoga class, you've undoubtedly experienced mindfulness. Yoga is a great mindfulness practice because all postures are done with breath awareness. Even in Sun Salutations, you follow a specific breathing pattern. Each movement or transition is accompanied by an instruction to either inhale, exhale or hold the breath. When you hold a difficult single-leg balance like Natrajasana, you automatically become more mindful that you would lose your balance without awareness. In this way, yoga trains you to become aware of what you're doing with the help of the breath or the difficult nature of posture. It is a great skill to start applying in your everyday life both in emotional moments or while doing banal tasks like washing dishes.
Try doing a single leg balance when very angry or emotional, and you'll likely have some trouble. In extreme circumstances, our inner emotional balance gets disturbed, reflecting in our physical state. In yoga, you learn to bring your balance back by taking some deep breaths or doing some gentle kriyas to re-center the body and mind.
And you can employ the breath anytime during the day when you feel overwhelmed. It could be if you're angry at your boss or had an argument with a colleague, have received a defective product, or are stuck in traffic! With Yoga, you've trained yourself in resetting your nervous system by using your breath. And that's a skill that you can employ multiple times during the day to be stronger and more patient to deal with the stresses of modern life.
In fact, without this skill, you cannot sit in meditation because the mind would be highly distracted. That is why in yoga, you practice pranayama before meditation as the breath helps your thoughts settle down. After that, your meditation can be productive as you will have better focus and concentration.
With consistent and regular yoga practice, you learn the value of the right amount of effort that teaches you the concept of moderation. A new or challenging posture leads you to stay in the present moment and be more mindful. And by employing the breath, you learn to consciously relax and unwind even in stressful situations such as a challenging posture. In this way, you develop the mental stamina and fitness to navigate your everyday life.
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