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Dealing with belching

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Fitness expert Bharat Savur answers readers' queries.

Quick bite? A hastily eaten meal can aggravate digestion problems.
Quick bite? A hastily eaten meal can aggravate digestion problems.

Bharat Savur

I have a loud belching problem, which embarrasses me.. Though my family, friends and colleagues pretend to ignore it, I feel very uncomfortable. Is there a way to control or stop it?

Eela P.

First of all, do not trouble your mind by overly dwelling on this situation, which means that the body has extra air and gas, and is expelling it.

You could be swallowing air if you are nervous by nature. A nervous person tends to swallow compulsively and since the saliva contains several air bubbles, they get into the body. Check your reflexes to certain situations. Become aware that you could be tensing up during a brainstorming session, while speaking to your boss, giving a speech, etc. Before a meeting, think how you can best serve to improve others' lives. This is a beautiful way of exiting the anxiety mode and entering a realm of peaceful equilibrium. When you stop wondering how you look, sound, etc., and dedicate yourself to serving others, a calmness descends on you. Try it. It never fails. Your body will learn to relax and you won't swallow unnecessarily.

Simultaneously, follow certain personal rules that keep air-swallowing at zilch:

Say no to fizzy drinks.

Eat with your mouth closed.

Pour your drink into a glass and sip it.

Avoid straws. Also, never drink directly from cans or bottles.

Avoid any food that is whipped - omelettes, souffles, ice-creams.

Don't be a nervous, quick eater who talks non-stop while eating. Eat in a relaxed manner. Most importantly, don't feel like a victim and decide firmly that you won't swallow excess air and belch. The mind can rule the body.

At the gym, my trainer insists on working one body part per day. For example, on Monday - only biceps; on Tuesday - chest; on Wednesday - abs; and so on. But if I miss a day, I don't work my biceps that week. What should I do?

Ripen Kanga

It doesn't make sense to do exercises that benefit only biceps, chest, abs or legs alone at a time unless you are a bodybuilder who has to win contests. An exercise session should enhance your metabolism, increase your stamina and leave you pleasantly stretched and relaxed with a feeling of glowing wellbeing and health. You should opt for a fullbodyworkout to get an all-round benefit. That way, your muscles strengthen, your spine straightens, your chest deepens, your lungs process more air, your brain sharpens, your stomach flattens, your blood circulation surges, your lymph circulation improves, etc.

The advantage of an all-body workout is that you don't get fatigued, as your exercise efforts will be distributed optimally and you will do fewer reps for one body part. The chances of injury to a muscle are also reduced. I suggest you explain to your trainer that your work schedule does not permit specialised body-part workouts. That you need an all-body workout regime. On your part, make sure you exercise at least thrice a week. Excuses like "I don't have the time" make you into a quitter. Whereas being sincere and steady shape you into a winner.

I read somewhere that it is best to exercise on an empty stomach. Is this true? If so, why?

Anil Dalal

It is true. When you exercise on an empty stomach, your body burns double the amount of stored fat as compared to when you exercise after eating. That is why exercising first thing in the morning is recommended. The other reason is that when you eat and exercise, the body has to supply blood and energy simultaneously on two fronts - digestion and exercise - forcing it to work inefficiently. This leads to indigestion, and you don't enjoy the full benefit of working out. However, not everybody is a morning person. You can exercise anytime of the day provided you keep a two-hour gap between your meal and workout session.

When my blood pressure shot up to 180/100, my doctor prescribed a tablet to be taken every morning. I've been having it for three months now and my blood pressure is 120/80. Can I stop taking the medicine?

Lata Kadur

No, you can't stop the medicine. Please understand, having high blood pressure can adversely affect the heart, the eyes; cause strokes, kidney failure and, ultimately, lead to dementia. It is not worth gambling with your health. The tablet brings down blood pressure but does not treat the underlying conditions that caused it to rise. To treat those conditions, you need to exercise regularly, eat a low-fat, low-salt diet and lead astress-free life.

To bring the blood pressure to a healthy consistent level could take a few years depending on how fit you are. Then, under the doctor's guidance, you can lower the dosage.

For now, please continue the medication and get into a healing lifestyle.

(The writer is co-author of the book, 'Fitness for Life'. Send in your queries to life@thehindu.co.in)

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 29, 2007)
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