Future-proof your health


When I heard that the legendary singer Bhupinder Singh had passed away after suffering ‘health complications including urinary problems,’ little alarm bells went off in my head. Two of my friends were having similar problems too. One had to undergo surgery of the urinary tract and is thankfully fine now, while the other has days when she’s all there and some days when she is delusional.

Dear friends, every one of us must future-proof our body and mind so that we don’t allow any illness to creep in through the doors of stress or injury or neglect in our later years. Care today, carefree tomorrow should be our axiom. As baseball player Mickey Mantle joked, ‘If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.’ He passed away at 63.

Please take better care of yourself. It means watching your intake, being a little more active and a little more vigilant. Years ago, we both suffered from acute acidity. It was so uncomfortable; we couldn’t think straight. Our family doctor asked, ‘What do you have first thing in the morning?’ ‘Coffee’ we said. ‘Start with a cup of tea,’ she said. We did. It worked like magic. It’s small changes like these now and then that make that healthy difference.


The water way

More recently, a naturopath advised in an interview, ‘If you are prone to headaches, have a cup of warm water first thing in the morning. You can have your tea or coffee later.’ Poof! Not a throb since then. Water is a great medicine. Drink it warm first thing in the morning. And two sips frequently throughout the day. Urinary infections and disorders are largely due to dehydration. Future-proof your urinary tract by drinking as much as your body allows you to. Too much water can cause acidity. So, the key here is: just enough. Some of us need one litre a day, some two or more. Find out how much your body needs. Tip: Don’t wait till you’re thirsty. Keep sipping even when on vacation or a business trip. I’ve noticed, many people are diagnosed with UTI (urinary tract infection) after an out-of-town trip where they’ve binged on almost everything except water!


Keep your gut happy

Medical experts say a healthy gut makes for a healthy mind. A part of our nervous system called the enteric nervous system runs through our entire digestive tract — from the esophagus, through the intestines right down to the anus. There’s a conference going on all the time between the gut, brain, nervous system, hormones and immune system. Researchers have discovered that microorganisms in the gut actually regulate the body’s immune response. And an unhappy gut can lead to illness starting with anything from constipation to ulcers to depression and even to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Watch your intake of food. Don’t eat anything and everything mindlessly. If you are allergic to any food, even the much-loved chocolate, nuts, cheese or corn, keep miles away from it. Tip 1: Don’t lament over it and stress yourself. You can’t keep bombarding your system with foods it can’t stomach. It progressively weakens the body and leads to all kinds of disorders and illnesses. Tip 2: Focus on keeping the gut healthy and happy. Go for these foods:

*             Beans, oats, beetroots, sweet potatoes, ladyfingers. Rich in fibre, they ensure efficient cleansing of the gut.

*             Yoghurt, garlic, onion, avocados, cloves, ginger boost friendly bacteria in the gut. Carrots, bottle gourds, beetroots bring in polyphenols which support good bacteria.


Feel-good eating

The attitude we bring to the table is also important. We all know overeating can lead to obesity with its accompanying disorders such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Be calm and relaxed while eating. When excited or stimulated, we tend to overeat or eat too fast, when unhappy, we may eat too little or not at all. And when the mind is calm, it’s amazing how wonderful the aroma is and how little you need to eat to feel good. You don’t leave the table feeling hungry or full, you leave the table feeling good.

The secret is to keep experimenting. See what suits you and what doesn’t. For example, recently, I discovered corn doesn’t suit my system. So out it went. We have to be careful even about fibre intake. A friend who was medically advised to choose brown rice over white rice, found it caused bloating and pain in her stomach which lasted two days. On the doctor’s advice, she returned to ‘a moderate helping’ of white rice and is perfectly healthy now. It’s all very individualistic.


The high of happy hormones

Exercise keeps our gut happy by increasing the production of happy hormones — the endorphins. Walking briskly, exercising vigorously, climbing stairs, running or dancing raises these powerful hormones — they are natural pain-killers or pain-reducers, they decrease discomfort and increase our high.

I’ve found my high by weight-­training, doing abdominals and floor exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and resistance band workouts coupled with a variety of leg and arm swings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. Through the entire week, I do stationary cycling for 40 minutes per session and on Sundays, I work out on pulleys. They have definitely improved my physical and mental well-being.


Be stable to be able

The Covid situation has created a lot of havoc in almost everybody’s life. Change can cause ripples of discomfort and negative changes do overwhelm.

Remember the wonderful phrase ‘This too shall pass’ attributed to King Solomon. It helps to know that whatever situation we are currently experiencing will not last. It cannot because that’s the way life works. The way is to enjoy the good times when they last and be patient when the bad times arrive.

Start noticing the small good things happening all around you: Home-delivery of something you ordered. Interest or dividend amounts from your investments landing up in your bank account on time. As Oprah ­Winfrey says, ‘Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.’ Tip: Whenever you feel sadness coming over you, decide to be thoughtful, not moody. This way you raise the bar of the mind. You touch your intelligence and keep the steering wheel of your mind steady. Stability raises ability.

Don’t change your plans ­frequently — it’s counterproductive. Stick to your schedule of diet, meal timings, regularity of workouts, warm baths, meditation, sleep, spending time with family and friends, doing whatever keeps you on an even keel. Forget what the social media influencers or television anchors say — they are masters of flavour of the day, what is trending today and so on. Instead, choose mastery over your own daily life with your personal routine. Present-proof and future-proof your health, your life…


The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.

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