Take health to heart, at your pace

Updated on: May 03, 2012




I really want to do my best to prevent a heart attack. What steps can I take? I'm 30. Please advise.

- N.J. Ravi

You want to swim in the River of Healing all your life — your foresight is commendable. Essentially, concentrate on four vital aspects:

Power blood circulation: The health of the body hinges on effective blood circulation. The bloodstream is a delivery-cum-trash van. It unloads life-giving oxygen into the cells and reloads waste carbon dioxide for expulsion. The heart heroically pumps the blood through the body from head to toe. However, often, the reverse toe-to-heart blood circulation is a bit weak. Here's where you take over. When you walk or bike, your leg muscles contract and squeeze the veins to push the blood upward back to the heart.

Action: So, walk 30 minutes or cycle/jog/swim 20 minutes daily and power, power, power your heart!

Maintain blood liquidity: As you would know, thick, viscous blood won't flow at a healthy pace. To maintain its liquid state, the blood absorbs all the fluids that you drink. It needs plenty as much is lost in sweat, urine and exhalation.

So, please drink two litres of water daily. Have seasonal fruits with high water content, say, melons, during summer.

Make digestion easy: When you eat fatty food, the intestine strains to make it absorbable – it converts fats into fatty acids and glycerol; crude protein into amino acids; carbohydrates into glucose and so on. It prods the pancreas to secrete alkaline digestive juice to neutralise the acids. When digestion is thus difficult, the body uses loads of energy for it. This is tough on the heart which has to work as effectively on a low current. So, please watch what you put on your plate.

Eat wisely: Become aware each time you feel heavy, bloated, acidic or just uncomfortable. Becoming aware helps avoid fat-laden meals and snacks. This way, you would be preventing the ‘gassy' feeling from occurring, and you would also be preventing cholesterol from being deposited in the arteries.

Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole cereals, sprouted pulses, low-fat milk products. Use minimum or no cooking oil. Omega-3-rich foods such as fish and flaxseed help prevent heart attacks. Omega-3s push down the LDL (bad cholesterol) that carries cholesterol and triglycerides into the tissues and boosts HDL (good cholesterol) that ferries away the cholesterol.

Live your life: The best way to be relaxed, rested, refreshed is to live your life, not keep up with others. Worry less, chant more. Worry is repetitive negative thought, repetitive chanting overrides it. Meditate to achieve emotional stability. Look gratefully on life as a dewdrop of blessing from the cosmos, the earth as a fun-time playground. Flow with the changes, roll with the punches and fly on your creative skills. Your heart will remain strong and healthy.

I'm 45. A week before menstruation, I feel a sinking sensation as if something terrible is going to happen to me and am full of negativity. This is not how I normally am. Please tell me how to prevent this from happening every month.

- Minu K.

When hormones are a bit off-balance, issues buried in the subconscious can surface. Psychologists say the most common cause of ‘pre-menstrual sadness' is that while women unstintingly provide care to family members, there's nobody to take care of them similarly. Let's take it from here:

Have a few friends who you can call up for a long talk. A supportive network does wonders for the spirit.

Daily, take a vigorous half-hour walk or join an exercise class to bring colour to your cheeks and live sparks to your mind. This is a must to prevent sadness from turning into depression. Eat healthy foods. Consult your doctor for vitamin therapy.

Become a passionate seeker of something higher. Hold poetry-reading sessions. Teach underprivileged kids. Sing. Meditate. Garden. There are lots of beautiful hobbies to embrace when you open your heart. This will ensure a restful sleep.

Build your own nest-egg that you can delve into at key times. Feeling economically autonomous anchors the anxious spirit.

Respect your time and space and don't let others encroach on them for their gratification.

With these steps, you'll be more altogether. Now, call up those friends right away!

As I work late hours, sometimes double shifts, I get only a few hours of sleep during the week. So, I make up for it on Saturdays and Sundays. Is it healthy?

- Sachin M.

I honestly can't call it healthy though it's better than not making up for lost sleep. As you've caught up on your sleep on weekends, you'll probably be fresh and energised on Mondays. Are you as effective and energetic on, say, Thursdays? Please avoid double-shifts or working late on Wednesdays and get a good night's sleep mid-week. It's still not ideal but it's an improvement.

Every day, meditate to feel rested and calm. A calm mind makes for a healthy body.

The writer is co-author of the book Fitness for Life.

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Published on May 03, 2012

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