Posted in Women & Family

Health Watch For Girls & Guys Under 35

Recently someone conceived through IVF (which is as normal these days as normal conception whereas normal conception is now like a miracle for urban Indian couples by the way) and the first thing her gynaec asked her to do was to stay away from restaurant and processed food, insisting on home food and fruits and nuts. In fact, the girl was asked to stop eating out right away when she approached a fertility clinic after being married for a couple of years. Until then the girl had been practically eating out almost every weekend. Working for a multinational IT company made matters worse with coffee machines and carbonated drinks and potato chips and fast food available aplenty to the staff working at all odd hours round the clock – sleeping through day time and keeping awake entire night going against the biological clock. How do you expect these stressed young couples always panicking about deadlines they have to meet in work – to engage in any act of procreation. They drop dead in their bed the moment they arrive home. The lucky ones have parents or in-laws to take care of their homes. For the rest, it is restaurant take-aways or home delivery for dinner.

No wonder not just this girl but many in Chennai today, women under 35, happen to come up with polycystic ovaries or fibroid in their uterus. This is the direct implication of foods loaded with chemical preservatives served in restaurants: with artificial colours and synthetic flavours. Reheated oil is not new. How many meat eaters are aware, even the top-of-the-line restaurants may procure poultry/meat mostly frozen that are shortly about to expire their shelf life. The day the restaurants serve you the menu, the meat you may consume already could be beyond the date of expiry, but the restaurants still tend to get away because they are violating no law of the land. Frozen food fast approaching expiry date are sold by supermarkets at throwaway prices which are bulk-purchased by restaurants. Now take into account the steroids injected into the poultry along with vaccines… If at all you have to have meat, look for country chicken or mutton.

Rather than wanting to be young, we ladies who are 40 or 45+ today are relieved we had a narrow escape living this kind of precarious life in our 20s and 30s.

Admittedly even vegetables and fruits and greens today contain residual pesticides/sprays but hopefully a good rinse in running water or Indian way of cooking at very high temperatures in direct fire helps in warding off most of the harmful chemicals.

Today if our children are fine, it is because we parents ate healthy food when we were young. We preserved our bodies and kept out toxic substances that could have had a damaging effect on the physical and mental health of our children.

What a harm the Pizzas and Colas and KFC chicken are inflicting on young Indians. Already in last few years there is a big spurt in children born with learning disabilities and other impairments. A good percentage of kids born after the millennium especially after 2005 are at least mildly autistic. With the air and ground water polluted to the maximum, what is happening to India’s future generations?

Whereas today, for younger generation, it is fashionable to eat out at the latest trendy restaurant – never thinking of future implications. It is not a one-off dining experience. It is year round, for every weekend, for decades. What happens with the cumulative effect.

Already we have pumped too many vaccines into our kids – that they have as such only a 50-50 chance for natural conception, the understated side-effect of life-saving vaccinations. Not to speak of the perils from radiation emitted from gadgets like mobile phones and laptops and appliances including microwave ovens… 

The wrong kind of health and food supplements promoted in this country is further worrisome. Energy drinks are nothing but steroid and sugar 200 times over. Soya, the much touted super food, is GM (Genetically Modified) basically that can have a detrimental effect on the hormones of young men and women. Under 40 while you are in your productive years, it is not advisable to consume soya on a regular basis. It could make one go sterile.

Its true India has made remarkable strides in last 20 years, but often makes me wonder at what cost? Our men are dying of cardiac arrest at the age of 25 and 27 years and our women are reaching their menopause by even 29 these days.

The side-effects are felt like after-shocks after a mere 20 year since the opening up of the Indian economy.

What is making us forego our balanced, rich and diversified traditional food and opt for junk from the west? Is that affordability?

Recently I got my hair treated for severe hair loss. For the first time in my life I stepped into a unisex salon where the hair stylists gave me multiple options including going for straightening but out of the lot, I selected Keratin because it was stated to be organic, from Brazil. I am uncertain how far this is true but the word ‘organic’ worked for me. Not that keratin is helping in anyway. But after research I found that it is believably a better option than other chemical treatments. (On double-checking it is scary to note that any kind of hair treatment involves administering carcinogen in your scalp even if the names of chemical compounds may differ.)

Next to me I saw young girls tweaking, colouring their hair with chemical dyes (even if its Loreal it is still chemical). One was undergoing straightening. She said it was her second time and she could not have been over 20. I understand, the process involves a lot of chemical use, with the strong serums rubbed into your scalp to be absorbed by your skin cells. What a toxic thing to expose your body to, at such a tender age. I shuddered – even at 48, I was nervous about hair treatment. I am still wondering about the side-effects although I was assured mine was totally organic. Is it worth it. What if like Angelina Jolie, we are carriers of BRCA gene predisposed to cancer?

What about the long term effects on young girls subjecting themselves to such an unhealthy (formaldehyde) treatment?

What about the girls who undergo facial? Got my first at the age of 36. Upto 35 years never been into a beauty salon. Yes, we girls are old world plain Janes and we have poorest dressing sense and we are terrible in grooming and accessorizing, but it is also a fact that we the ladies on wrong side of 40s are much more fitter and looking a lot younger to heavily made-up and cosmetic-dripping 20-35 girls of today. Our faces have not matured beyond our age. One main reason is staying away from chemical cosmetics and relying heavily on coconut oil, henna, egg, haldi, sandalwood, neem etc that are our cheap and best and natural beauty aids. The other reason is our healthy dietary habits. And even if some of us do not get to work out on regular basis, we still undergo physical exertion by way of domestic chores, always on our feet to serve our families. No word to add for working women.

Girls, throw the ‘Dove’ soap out of your windows. Along with the shampoo and conditioner. Lipsticks have lead content while dyes contain arsenic or its equivalent substitute. Go desi, switch over to Margo, Chandrika, Himalaya and/or even Pathanjali brand neem soaps, sandal soaps, haldi soaps etc that are not only desi but come laden with least toxic chemicals. The more international you may go like Loreal and Pantene, the most toxic substance is what you end up buying. Desi cosmetics like Lakme are known safe players. Go for Lakme Kajal and skin care, if at all you have to. Do not use anti-ageing concoctions even if its Olay: these are very complex formula, remember they are very addictive and your skin could get even more elastic if you stop using them.

And if you can, wear loose fitting clothes that can breathe – like cotton if you are in a tropical country like India. Tight fitting clothes such as denim restrict blood flow to vital organs of our body and raise our body temperature.

It angers me to see mothers get their daughters as young as 6-10 years for haircut and grooming for weddings, birthday parties etc. Well, none of my friends did that to their daughters! Do not use anything other than a mild moisturizer in your face until 35 years. Even that light application, do not start before 20 years. Coconut oil before you shower will do.

Our health is in our own hands. Distracting little girls diverting their attention towards grooming will prove to be counter-productive. In an age when the girls have to achieve academically, they will instead start focusing on trivial, banal issues. They will grow up more conscious of superficial appeal.

Eating out and grooming: attractive to everyone not mere young ladies. Just ask housewives, how much we long to go out and eat and shop because we are bored of eating our own food day in and day out? It is not entirely possible to stop eating out – but make a conscious effort to cut down the number of times you may eat out.

Make a serious attempt to eat at home during weekends and shift the eating-out day to mid week for starters. Gradually it must be possible for you to minimise if not quit eating out even in midweek.

Eat a rich diet of vegetables, fruits, greens, nuts, sprouts, whole grains, pulses, millet and fish and lean meat that are a good source of minerals, proteins and anti-oxidants. Avoid the processed and baked and the deep-fried. Would you believe that we in the third world nation called India,still eat a lot better and balanced and healthier meal than those in the west? Our milk is fresh and pasteurized for not longer than 2 days. Most of our fish and meat are fresh and not frozen. Our vegetables and fruits plucked are barely a few days older before they reach our dining table. In reality, we are having a feast at home, fit for kings. Sadly, not many Indians reckon this truth. None in the world gets to taste the 5 rasas in their tongue like we Indians do: salt, sweet, sour, bitter and savoury. And which other cuisine combines and infuses the benefits of a plethora spices and seeds and exotic veggies and roots like ours does.

As for cosmetics, just quit it. Enough is enough. I am more worried about the powerful chemicals that may enter our body through hair dyes, face creams, shampoos etc. Shampoos: go for the mildest and desi.

Even those of us with cleanest habits still get cancer. I am not saying this is a 100% foolproof method of staying healthy for the rest of your life. But at least let us make a sincere try.

Recently got to check out Pathanjali toothpaste : full lavang (clove) like I have never tasted in any foreign brand toothpaste like Colgate, Closeup, etc. Many of my friends have moved over to Pathanjali.

There is no harm in parents telling their sons and daughters the harmful effects of junk food and chemical cosmetics. It is time we have a frank word with our children: it is time girls learn how anything and everything they do in young age will have an effect on their reproductive system in future. I don’t hesitate telling my son what I have to on the subject.

After 40, when your domestic duties are at least 50% accomplished, you may feel free to freak out, but even then keep a limit. By this time, your kids will be in high school or college, still you will be doing them a great favour by staying healthy.

And finally, WORK OUT! Exercise! Do anything that you are comfortable with: walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics, dance fitness, Yoga, Pilates, etc. This truly is the only beauty aid that cleanses your system from within. Keep your body and mind healthy reading books and with other interesting hobbies like music and art. Fitness is wholesome when you give it a holistic approach.

Last word: A happy mind is a healthy mind. A healthy body and mind is a reflection of your inner beauty.