“Care On Call”: medical service at door step


These days, it is very common to find people/elderly couple staying alone. One thing that is high on the minds of these people is about medical emergencies.

Recently, Deccan Herald featured an article on a doctor couple  who have  launched a service “Care on Call” at nominal charges. They are just a call away and available 24/7. Available directly or an WhatsApp at : 9916925161 Or log into their Fb page:



Food Safety : Comparing Organic and Conventionally Grown Food


When making the personal decision about whether to buy organic or conventional foods, you may consider the differences in cost, pesticide residue, nutrition and/or environmental impacts.

  • Cost: Organic foods typically cost more than conventional foods. In part, the higher price is related to natural fertilizer and labor-intense pest control tactics. Regulations limit the number of pesticide products available to organic producers.
  • Pesticide Residue: Research has demonstrated that organic fruits and vegetables have smaller amounts of pesticide residue than produce that was grown conventionally. However, pesticide residue is reduced substantially by routine food handling practices such as washing, peeling and cooking.
  • Nutrition: Some research has found higher levels of phenolic compounds and certain vitamins in organic produce. Other research has found no significant difference in the nutritional quality of organic and conventionally grown foods.


Food Safety: Minimizing Pesticide Residues in Food


These tips will help you reduce pesticide residues (as well as dirt and bacteria) on the food you eat:

  • First, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to minimize the potential of increased exposure to a single pesticide.
  • Thoroughly wash all produce, even that which is labeled organic and that which you plan to peel.
  • Wash your produce under running water rather than soaking or dunking it.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel when possible.
  • Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, like melons and root vegetables.
  • Discard the outer layer of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce or cabbage.
  • Peel fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Trim fat and skin from meat, poultry, and fish to minimize pesticide residue that may accumulate in the fat.
  • In most cases processing leads to large reductions (sometimes up to 90%) in residue levels in the prepared food, particularly through washing, peeling and cooking operations. Washing with water and various chemical solutions for domestic and commercial use are necessary to decrease the intake of pesticide residues. Freezing as well as juicing and peeling are necessary to remove the pesticide residues in the skins. Cooking of food products helps to eliminate most of the pesticide residues

Source: http://npic.orst.edu/health/residue.html (National Pesticide Information Center, USA)

A review on “Food processing a tool to pesticide residue dissipation” under Indian conditions can be found at : http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0963996908001907/1-s2.0-S0963996908001907-main.pdf?_tid=59b4b9de-464f-11e5-be16-00000aab0f6c&acdnat=1439974412_65d2be301fd47c16e6e7f5dfd52eb96f

Bottled Water; all is not well


The rate of consumption of bottled water has exponentially increased since 1990s.

In India, the total market was valued at 60 billion (US$940 million) in 2013, of which the top five players (Bisleri, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Dhariwal and Parle) accounted for 67% of the market share. This market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22%, to reach 160 billion (US$2.5 billion) in 2018 (Wikipedia).


Some facts:



Tapped, a documentary film,  looks into the bottled water  industry and its long-term effects socially, economically and ecologically. Their results came back showing “several potentially harmful chemicals, some known carcinogens” to be present in bottled water.  The documentary also focused on the amount of bottles that are recycled, noting that “40% of bottled water is really just filtered tap water, and every day we throw away 30 million single-served bottles of water as plastic waste; not all of it is recycled (only 23% in the USA is recycled).


Q & A session with Dr. Devi Shetty, Narayana Hrudayalaya (Heart Specialist) Bangalore.  


Qn: What are the thumb rules for a layman to take care of his heart?
1. Diet – Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil
2. Exercise – Half an hour’s walk, at least five days a week;
avoid lifts and
avoid sitting for a longtime
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control BP – Blood pressure and Sugar

Qn: Can we convert fat into muscles?
Ans: It is a dangerous myth. Fat and muscles are made of two different tissues, fat is fat … Ugly and harmful… Muscle is muscle. Fat can never be converted into a muscle.

Qn: It’s still a grave shock to hear that some apparently healthy person
gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in perspective?
Ans: This is called silent attack; that is why we recommend everyone past the age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups.

Qn: Are heart diseases hereditary?
Ans: Yes

Qn: What are the ways in which the heart is stressed? What practices do you suggest to de-stress?
Ans: Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in life.

Qn: Is walking better than jogging or is more intensive exercise required to keep a healthy heart?
Ans: Walking is better than jogging, since jogging leads to early fatigue and injury to joints

Qn: You have done so much for the poor and needy. What has inspired you to do so?
Ans: Mother Theresa, who was my patient.

Qn: Can people with low blood pressure suffer heart diseases?
Ans: Extremely rare.

Qn: Does cholesterol accumulates right from an early age (I’m currently only 22) or do you have to worry about it only after you are above 30 years of age?
Ans: Cholesterol accumulates from childhood.

Qn: How do irregular eating habits affect the heart ?
Ans: You tend to eat junk food when the habits are irregular and your body’s enzyme release for digestion gets confused.

Qn: How can I control cholesterol content without using medicines?
Ans: Control diet, walk and eat walnut.

Qn: Which is the best and worst food for the heart?
Ans: Fruits and vegetables are the best and oils the worst.

Qn: Which oil is better – groundnut, sunflower, olive?
Ans: All oils are bad.

Qn: What is the routine checkup one should go through? Is there any specific test?
Ans: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is ok. Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo.

Qn: What are the first aid steps to be taken on a heart attack?
Ans: Help the person into a sleeping position, place an aspirin tablet under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush him to a coronary care unit, since the maximum casualty takes place within the first hour.

Qn: How do you differentiate between pain caused by a heart attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?
Ans: Extremely difficult without ECG.

Qn: What is the main cause of a steep increase in heart problems amongst youngsters? I see people of about 30-40 yrs of age having heart attacks and serious heart problems.
Ans: Increased awareness has increased incidents. Also, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart attacks than Europeans and Americans.

Qn: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside the normal range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly healthy?
Ans: Yes.

Qn: Marriages within close relatives can lead to heart problems for the child. Is it true?
Ans : Yes, co-sanguinity leads to congenital abnormalities and you may NOT have a software engineer as a child

Qn: Many of us have an irregular daily routine and many a times we have to stay late nights in office. Does this affect our heart? What precautions would you recommend?
Ans : When you are young, nature protects you against all these irregularities. However, as yougrow older, respect the biological clock.

Qn: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some other complications (short/long term)?
Ans : Yes, most drugs have some side effects. However, modern anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.

Qn: Will consuming more coffee/tea lead to heart attacks?
Ans : No.

Qn: Are asthma patients more prone to heart disease?
Ans : No.

Qn: How would you define junk food?
Ans : Fried food like Kentucky , McDonalds , Samosas, and even Masala Dosas.

Qn: You mentioned that Indians are three times more vulnerable. What is the reason for this, as Europeans and Americans also eat a lot of junk food?
Ans: Every race is vulnerable to some disease and unfortunately, Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive disease.

Qn: Does consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?
Ans: No.

Qn: Can a person help himself during a heart attack (Because we see a lot of forwarded e-mails on this)?
Ans: Yes. Lie down comfortably and put an aspirin tablet of any description under the tongue and ask someone to take you to the nearest coronary care unit without any delay and do not wait for the ambulance since most of the time, the ambulance does not turn up.

Qn: Do, in any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin count lead to heart problems?
Ans: No. But it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to increase your exercise capacity.

Qn: Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to exercise. So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing the stairs in the house, work as a substitute for exercise?
Ans : Certainly. Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an hour and even the act of getting out of the chair and going to another chair and sitting helps a lot.

Qn: Is there a relation between heart problems and blood sugar?
Ans: Yes. A strong relationship since diabetics are more vulnerable to heart attacks than non-diabetics.

Qn: What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart operation?
Ans : Diet, exercise, drugs on time , Control cholesterol, BP, weight.

Qn: Are people working on night shifts more vulnerable to heart disease when compared to day shift workers?
Ans : No.

Qn: What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?
Ans: There are hundreds of drugs and your doctor will chose the right combination for your problem, but my suggestion is to avoid the drugs and go for natural ways of controlling blood pressure by walk, diet to reduce weight and changing attitudes towards lifestyles.

Qn: Does dispirin or similar headache pills increase the risk of heart attacks?
Ans : No.

Qn: Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in women?
Ans: Nature protects women till the age of 45. (Present Global census show that the Percentage of heart disease in women has increased than in men )

Qn: How can one keep the heart in a good condition?
Ans: Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise everyday, do not smoke and, go for health checkups if you are past the age of 30 ( once in six months recommended) ….

Food Safety : Cooking with oils – let us get them right.


Oils/fats are one of the most talked about and controversial among foods. When it comes to dieting one thing most people want to avoid is oils & fats.

Let us understand the types of oil and their properties.

The three types of fats – do you know how to tell the difference?

Saturated oils such as coconut oil, ghee and tallow, are extremely stable because they pack together tightly courtesy of very straight carbon bonds that are all occupied by hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats are solid or semisolid at room temperature and make ideal cooking medium because of the inherent stability provided by their chemical structure which means that they do not easily go rancid when heated during cooking or form the free radicals that contribute to heart disease and cancer.

Hence it is safer to use saturated fats when cooking at high temperatures such as seasoning, deep frying, etc (no wonder our grandmothers used to season/deep fry most dishes using ghee!!)

Polyunsaturated fats (containing PUFA or polyunsaturated fatty acids) do not pack together as tightly as saturated fats and hence are liquid at room temperature and remain so even if refrigerated.  The chemical structure of polyunsaturated oils is such that there are unpaired electrons for every carbon-carbon double bond which are highly reactive if heated or processed in any way.  Even simple exposure to the air or light can cause rancidity in fairly short periods of time.

Although PUFA is low in calories, it may not be ideal for cooking for the above reasons. Good for salad dressing, etc

Monounsaturated fats (containing MUFA or monounsaturated fatty acids) like olive, sesame, and avocado oil are liquid at room temperature yet become solid if refrigerated.  The single carbon-carbon double bonds which make up the chemical structure of monounsaturated fats do not pack together as tightly as saturated fats but are more tightly bound than those of polyunsaturated oils. Monounsaturated fats do not go rancid as easily as polyunsaturated oils but are more delicate than saturated fats due to a slight molecular bend which is not as straight in shape as the carbon bonds in a fully saturated molecule.

Hence MUFA are good for salad dressing and light cooking, but not good for high temperature cooking.

Source: www, http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/cooking-with-olive-oil-yea-or-nay/

Getting the Most: Flavor and Nutrients


Did you know that how you store, prepare and cook foods can affect not only safety, but also flavor and nutrition? In fact, nutrients in some foods are lost by overcooking or simply allowing the foods to soak in water for too long.

Preparing Foods with Nutrition, Flavor and Safety in Mind 
Properly handling and preparing food is key to food safety and can also affect the quality of foods.

  • Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water. Do not wash cut vegetables/greens, most of the vitamins and minerals will be lost from the cut surfaces.
  • Leave edible skins on vegetables and fruits—for example, on carrots, potatoes or pears. Most vitamins and minerals are found in the outer leaves, skin and areas just below the skin, not in the center.
  • Cut vegetables that need to be cooked longer into larger pieces.

Cooking for Nutrition, Flavor and Safety

  • How food is cooked can enhance or destroy flavor. Get the most out of your food: Overcooking meat can affect flavor. Avoid overcooking by using a food thermometer to determine when meat has reached a safe minimum internal temperature without overcooking.
  • Don’t overcook vegetables, either. Short cooking times help vegetables keep their bright color and flavor. Strong-flavored vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts and turnips, can become even stronger when overcooked.
  • Cook vegetables or fruits in a small amount of water—or better yet, steam them in a vegetable steamer, covered pot or a microwave oven. Steaming retains nutrients because vegetables usually don’t come in contact with cooking liquids.
  • Quickly cook (until just tender-crisp) vegetables such as asparagus, green beans, broccoli and peas. Some nutrients, such as B vitamins and vitamin C, are destroyed easily by heat. The shorter the cooking time, the more nutrients are retained.
  • Microwaving is also a great option because it is so fast that heat-sensitive nutrients aren’t subjected to heat for long. Also, microwaving doesn’t require added fat. There’s a flavor advantage, too: Unless overcooked, vegetables retain the color and tender-crisp qualities that make them appealing.
  • For beets and red cabbage, add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking water. This helps retain their bright-red color. Don’t add baking soda. Although the alkali in baking soda keeps vegetables looking greener, it also destroys vitamin C and can make them mushy due to cellulose breakdown.Tip: Adding acid (lemon juice) to green vegetables while cooking turns them olive green; add juice or sauce after cooking.
  • Canning is cooking, so canned vegetables don’t need to be cooked again. They would lose flavor and nutrients. Just reheat canned vegetables on the stovetop or in the microwave oven.

Poor storage destroys flavor and quality, while storing food correctly—including the correct container, location, temperature and time—helps keep their safety, quality, nutrients and flavor longer.

Information Source: http://www.homefoodsafety.org