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"Looking at ultra-processed food for children as something that is as big a threat as smoking, which is injurious to health. All junk foods should come with this warning, including tetra-pack juices or fibre-filled biscuits." as per “Rujuta Diwekar” a famous nutritionist opinion.

Popular nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar needs no introduction. Be it her food myth-busters on social media or her books answering queries on health and well-being, Diwekar has become the go-to expert for a lot of people. The author recently penned another book, this time, on children, titled Notes for Healthy Kids, which focuses on going beyond just the assimilation of nutrients in the body to really enjoy food and its heritage. Express Parenting got to know more about the book from Diwekar through a brief tete-a-tete. Here are some excerpts:

What inspired you to write the book?

This is actually something that I had been thinking about for the longest time. Wherever I would go for a talk, people would constantly ask me when I was writing for kids. So, to me, writing this book almost feels like the completion of an unfinished project. And now, with diet fads and us staring at climate change and wars over food and water, god knows what the future has in store for us! I felt that it’s just the right time to write a book for children. One more reason for this is also because India currently has the second highest number of obese children and also the highest number of malnourished children. These were a few motivating factors for writing this book.

In your book, you’ve emphasised on passing the “grandmother test” before choosing what to eat. Can you explain what that means?

This basically means that you need to be eating food which is local to the region that you live in, which is in season and prepared in your kitchen using traditional recipes. It is something our stomach and palette already knows and identifies with. So, we would be able to digest this food quite well. Almost everything that our grandmoms don’t recognise as food is that which has travelled a very long distance to land on our plate or it may just be something that is ultra-processed and being positioned as good for our health. The grandmom-test essentially allows you to tell the real stuff from marketed food.

Can you bust some myths about what is healthy and what isn’t?

Ghee: Ghee is extremely nutritious. Ghee has a very unique kind of fatty acid structure, which allows your body to assimilate all the nutrients from anything that you are eating. I would say, ghee is a health tonic.

Milk: Try and buy milk from a local dairy; Indian cow milk is better than from the Jersey cow. If your child, by any chance, doesn’t like milk, you don’t need to force feed it by mixing a powder or switching to almond or soya milk. A lot of parents think that milk is the only source of calcium and protein but that’s not the case. You can very well derive these nutrients from a wholesome diet. So, even if you give your child a ragi dosa or moringa, it will serve the purpose.

Traditional sweets: All our traditional sweets are a complete package of macro and micro nutrients. They are rich in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Most of them are prepared using millets or pulses, like a nachni laddoo, besan laddoo or nariyal barfi. They invariably have nuts, which add to their nutrient profile, along with ghee, sugar or jaggery. So, they really are balls of energy. We should ensure that we are routinely making them at home.

Also Read: When can babies start having walnuts, almonds and other nuts?

There seems to be a lot of paranoia among parents about children’s diet and health. What could be the possible reasons?

I think a part of it is because we are constantly talking about diet and one can’t escape it. Now, there is a lot of focus on just nutrients. And once you start having a very reductionist view of food, then it is natural for fear and apprehension to grow. Most advertisements are also geared towards this form of fear. And that becomes a narrative. The apprehension comes more out of the narrative than the fact. The body is used to a very wholesome and holistic approach. It’s about the big picture. It’s about eating your food properly, enjoying what you are eating, going to bed on time, having healthy relationships, and so on. Good health is much more than just acing a nutrient.

Is junk food a strict no-no?

Identifying junk food and then having it once in a while is totally okay. For instance, if you are on a highway and there’s nothing else but a burger place, you can have it. But going to junk food places to celebrate birthdays or opting for them as a return gift for a birthday party or buying chips or chocolates out of habit is something we need to stop. I look at ultra-processed food for children as something that is as big a threat as smoking, which is injurious to health. All junk foods should come with this warning, including tetra-pack juices or fibre-filled biscuits.

Can you suggest some tips on how parents can teach their child to appreciate food?

One of the first things that I would like to tell parents is to not take their child to a mall every weekend. At least once a month, take them to a farm. That is what will help them appreciate food better because that’s how they will understand where it comes from. And once you understand the source of something, then you are more likely to take interest in food. Children love being out on the farm, planting and harvesting. You can help them plant a tree in the neighbourhood so they understand what it takes to grow something.

Speak to them in your local native tongue. We are under the threat of losing so many of our indigenous languages. Without knowing your local language, you cannot possibly understand or appreciate your cuisine. And when you don’t do that, you stay disconnected from health, harmony and happiness that your cuisine brings you.

Involve your child in the cooking process. Have him or her come to the kitchen, get them to set the table, have them pick the food, and so on.

How would you define a “healthy child”?

My definition of a healthy child is one who is energetic, enthusiastic, has an open green space to run in, doesn’t need a gadget to eat, who can just hit the pillow and sleep and wake up fresh. A healthy child is an integral part of the sustainable development for the future.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day may provide protection against age-related cognitive decline and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, a new report claims.

The report by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), a not-for-profit organisation devoted to the study and disclosure of science related to coffee and health, highlights the potential role of coffee consumption in reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

The report concludes that a moderate intake of coffee (three to five cups per day) may provide protection against age-related cognitive decline and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing cognitive decline which would impact health outcomes and health-care spending across Europe," said Rodrigo A Cunha, Professor at the University of Coimbra in Portugal.

Understanding and communicating diet and lifestyle factors that may limit age-related cognitive decline will help to improve the quality of life, the report said.

According to the report, research published this year suggests that moderate coffee consumption can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by up to 27 per cent.

Research has suggested that it is regular, long-term coffee drinking that is key to helping to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease, the report said.

The association between coffee consumption and cognitive decline is illustrated by a 'U-shaped' pattern in recent meta-analyses, with the greatest protection seen at an intake of about three to five cups of coffee per day.

Although the precise mechanisms of action behind the suggested association between coffee and age-related cognitive decline are unknown, caffeine is likely to be involved.

There are many other compounds in coffee, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which may also play a role.

Caffeic acid, for example, is a polyphenol (antioxidant) found in coffee, and research suggests that these may be associated with improved cognitive function.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald                       


Taking low-dose aspirin every day may reduce the risk of a heart attack, prevent some cancers and extend lives over the course of 20 years in adults at high risk of heart disease, a new study has claimed.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, researchers said.

Aspirin can help patients at risk of heart disease because it thins the blood and prevents clotting. "Although the health benefits of aspirin are well established, few people take it," said lead author David B Agus from University of Southern California in the US.

"Our study shows multiple health benefits and a reduction in health care spending from this simple, low-cost measure that should be considered a standard part of care for the appropriate patient," said Agus.

Researchers used representative data from several surveys. To assess the long-term benefits of aspirin, they ran two scenarios which project the health of older Americans and their trajectory in ageing.

The model accounted for individual health characteristics such as chronic disease, the ability to conduct daily activities, body mass index and mortality, researchers said.

The first scenario in study, the "Guideline Adherence", focused on determining the potential health and savings, benefits and drawbacks of following the task force's guidelines from 2009.

The second scenario, "Universal Eligibility", was not realistic and aimed to measure the full potential benefits and drawbacks if all Americans 51 and older, regardless of the guidelines, took aspirin every day.

They found that following the guidelines would prevent 11 cases of heart disease and four cases of cancer for every 1,000 Americans aged 51 to 79.

Life expectancy would improve by 0.3 years (largely disability-free), so out of 1,000 people, eight more would reach age 80 and three more would reach the age of 100.

Also, by 2036, an estimated 900,000 more Americans would be alive as a result of the aspirin regimen, researchers said.

However, the researchers found no significant reduction for stroke incidence. Also, the rate of gastrointestinal bleeding would increase 25 per cent from the current rate.
This means that two out of 63 Americans could expect to suffer a bleeding incident between the ages of 51 to 79.

The optimistic "Universal Eligibility" scenario, which assumes that the clinically-proven benefits of aspirin extend to all older Americans, showed slightly larger health benefits than the "Guideline Adherence" scenario.

Although longer life spans mean an increase in lifetime medical costs, "observing the guidelines would yield positive and significant net value," researchers said. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Courtesy – Deccan Herald                       


The Budget Session of Parliament will begin with the Presidential Address on February 23. This being a leap year, the Union Budget will be presented on February 29.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA), which met Thursday with Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the chair, decided that the Railway Budget will be presented on February 25 and the Economic Survey will be tabled the next day. “The first part of the session will end on March 16 and the second part will be convened from April 25 to May 13,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after the meeting. He said the Budget Session will have 31 sittings spread over 81 days.

The CCPA meeting was preceded by an “informal consultation” between the government and select leaders from opposition parties. The government wanted to gauge their mood with regard to the schedule in the context of upcoming assembly polls in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.


Courtesy - Indian Express

India ranks 76th in global corruption index, Denmark is least corrupt country: Report

North Korea is among the most corrupt countries in the world, the report says


Public-sector corruption is still a major problem around the world but more countries are improving than worsening and the United States and United Kingdom have reached their best rankings ever, an anti-corruption watchdog said on Wednesday.

Denmark remained at the top of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a closely watched global barometer, for the second consecutive year as the country perceived as least corrupt. It scored 91 points out of a possible 100 while North Korea and Somalia remained at the bottom with unchanged scores of 8.

The index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption, looking at a range of factors like whether governmental leaders are held to account or go unpunished for corruption, the perceived prevalence of bribery, and whether public institutions respond to citizens’ needs.

The US rose one spot this year to 16th place with a score of 76, tying with Austria. The UK rose three spots to place 10th, with a score of 81 that tied it with Germany and Luxembourg. The other top spots, from second to ninth, were occupied by Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and Canada.

Despite so many countries in the top 10, Transparency said there was still a lot of room for improvement in Europe and Central Asia, which it grouped as one region, saying “in low-scorers Hungary, Poland and Turkey, politicians and their cronies are increasingly hijacking state institutions to shore up power.”

“It’s even grimmer further down the index,” the organization continued. “In Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and others, governments are restricting, if not totally stifling, civil society and free media.”

Russia sat in 119th place, tied with Azerbaijan, Guyana and Sierra Leone, although its score improved from 27 in 2014 to 29 in 2015, bringing its ranking on the list up from 136th place.

Brazil, in the midst of a massive corruption scandal at the state-owned oil company Petrobras, posted the biggest decline, falling 5 points to a score of 38 and dropping 7 positions to 76th place.

Transparency noted that in places like Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana, citizen activists have “worked hard to drive out the corrupt.”

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world,” said Transparency head Jose Ugaz. “But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption — people across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption.”

Overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries studied scored below 50 and the global average was 43.

Still, Transparency said it was a good sign that 64 countries improved their score while only 53 declined. The rest were unchanged.


Courtesy - Indian Express

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