Health Myths Busted for Dubai Residents

By Lalmohan Banerjee, Physician


Lalmohan Banerjee

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January 31, 2019

Preface: I was given a rather daunting task by one of my acquaintances to put down some tips on good health for general information to my fellow crowd and beyond to humanity at large. Naturally, it was difficult to decide where to start from, since the target readers may be from all strata and communities of our society and of all age groups.

In trying to get some Health Myths Busted
let me begin….
I would like to put some very general lifestyle habits which should be followed by all people for general good health to one and all. Many of what I am about to unfold are known to the public, but some new concepts will also he hereby known-to undo any faulty /wrong habits which the reader may have inculcated, inadvertently.

Let it be a listing of never/dos & don’ts and a few health myths busted:

Never to skip your Breakfast in the morning.
This is the most important meal of the day. You may skip your lunch/take a light lunch. Never take a heavy dinner moreover with lots of spicy and oily food. Night is the time of metabolic house-cleaning. The less the task assigned to the body in the form of digestion and metabolism at night, the better the body gets self-cleansed and detoxified by the next day.

Drink water
Drink at least l0 glasses of water in a day. Maybe more in the Gulf region.
Soft drinks are real nuisance consumables with lots of empty calories. They are never to be considered for replenishing the fluid content of the body. I have found hardly anybody drinking water along with any food-it is invariably a soft drink to go along!!!
If milk is tolerated, one can go for it, it helps one to go off to sleep. But it should be avoided by people who are trying to get into shape and lose some weight! Dairy products, in general, are fattening with the exception of some skimmed milk, etc. All the same, milk is regarded as one of the compact forms of nutrition.
Eggs are nutritionally recommended for calcium/protein etc. and they do not contribute to high Cholesterol unless one is predisposed to high lipids in the blood. (as per recent research). The number of eggs should be restricted to 1-4 in a week! Not to forget that eggs go into the making of a lot of confectionery products as well, at home. This should also be considered.

Avoid red meat
Red Meat/Meat of bigger animals should be avoided at all cost. Mutton maybe very delicious to the taste buds and gratification to cook at home and places of formal eating, but it is a strict no-no as far as good health is concerned. Its fibers are very much loaded with fats.
Unfortunately –ideal eggs and ideal chicken is difficult to come by in the Gulf. My personal opinion is that they are best available in our countries back home. Country chicken is always better-they run around a lot and their flesh is tastier as well than poultry bred chicken!!! Chicken should always be taken with the skin removed preferably before cooking. Ideally, eggs of such country chicken are good to taste and good for health also. Duck’s Eggs are tastier hut rich in Cholesterol! They are not readily available here.

Eat Green veggies & fruits
Green vegetables and at least one serving of fruits should be present in the platters of all meals. Bananas are good in conditions of constipation/diarrhea but they are fattening as well as they contain a lot of calories. They can be taken in moderation from time to time. People suffering from ‘Acid Peptic Disorders’ should refrain from Oranges and all sour fruits.
Dry fruits – recommended best ones are Almonds and Walnuts. Cashew nuts although are common and tasty, they are rich in lipids. Peanuts are very good as well.
Chocolates, in general, should be taken occasionally-but the darker ones with cocoa are said to be now good for the heart, as per recent research, although in moderation. Teeth must be brushed at all times after ingesting chocolates to avoid dental caries and related conditions by people of all ages, more so children.

Microwave Cooking is to be discouraged-as it robs the food element of their nutritious values! Microwave ovens can best be used as Food Warmers.
The pattern of eating should ideally be when you leave the dining table you feel as if you could have eaten some more………..!!!

Brown Bread is better than Whitebread
This generally is available in the Gulf. But bread again should be taken in moderation, to keep a check on carbs.
Visits to Fast Food Joints should be avoided in principle, particularly if children are there in the family. Deep fried junk food is just not advisable for good health for persons in any age group-particularly kids and adolescents.

Not to hit the bed immediately after lunch/dinner
It is better to sit upright for about half an hour (watching TV can be done) before one retires tor the day. This prevents conditions of Reflux Oesophagitis/ Heartburn/Waterbrash etc. which are very common. One should not stoop down to do anything just after main meals!
It is better to avoid eating in between principal meals-as this distorts the real appetite and calories cannot be controlled.

Coffee or Tea?
Given the option between Tea and Coffee – it is better to go for tea. Due to its tannin content, it acts as a good anti-oxidant. (An anti-oxidant is a substance which mops up the potential carcinogenic radicals in the human body.
Salad dressing/salted preservative added food/fruit Cocktails/ Creamy pastries/ Pudding/ concentrated Kheer products/ Cheese/Butter/ Non-skimmed milk is better avoided.

Few topics relevant to people with certain known disease conditions:
Persons known to have Renal/Ureteric Stores should refrain from eating tomato/related products. A lot of water should be consumed daily. AC-s and climate contribute to perpetual dehydration of the Body which is often not felt by one.
Persons known to have Diabetes/with father or mother a known diabetic, should maintain a vigilant Diet Chart at home and also, as much as possible outside home. Everything can be taken but in moderation, depending on one’s body weight. What matters is the daily calorie consumption in the guidance of a Dietician or a Doctor.

People with Diabetes should keep their feet as clean as their face. It is a very well believed saying, respected by Doctors and well-educated patients alike. Diabetics are very prone to develop foot ulcers which do not show a tendency to heal can cause big problems to the patient and Doctors and many people have ended up losing their limbs (by amputation) simply arising out of sheer neglect of themselves and their Physician’s advice !!!

A word of caution here – today children are also diagnosed to suffer from Diabetes simply out of leading an erratic lifestyle!!!

Elderly people with Diabetes for many years are typically prone to have some of the following. So their caretakers should be aware of them:
Silent Heart Attacks – which has high mortality;
Sudden Strokes ending up with paralysis of different grades;
Sudden infective episodes inside their system requiring urgent Surgery;
Sudden/Early Blindness arising out of a process called Retinopathy…even Cataracts;
Damage of Kidneys-causing renal failure and heading for dialysis etc. which are very expensive, even by Indian standards and the outcome is always grim;
People with Hypertension (High blood pressure) should try to lead a stress-free life, with regular checkup of BP) and medication from Doctors. Long-standing improperly treated Hypertension can also lead to damage of Eyes/Kidneys/Heart etc. excess salt on the dining table to be avoided, salt may be used, albeit sparingly in the kitchen. (Less than 5-6 gms a day)

Persons suffering from both ‘Diabetes and ‘Hypertension’ need to be doubly cautious with respect to their day to day life, follow-up with Doctors, dietary habits and medications. All the potential complications of these silent killers get multiplied in such people, but with regular supervision from medical personnel, they can lead very compatible normal lives.
Persons are known to suffer from a condition called “Gout” need to have a real look into their diet and consult Doctors when they have episodes of acute pain in joints etc.

This is usually due to a genetically inherited metabolic deficiency of an Enzyme, which takes part in Purine metabolism in the body. Simple analgesics after seeing a Doctor may be tried and usually, the attacks subside within a few days, in some cases, other medications are required and even to go on for life in resistant chronic cases. Beer is to be strictly avoided in such patients and Red Meat and certain leafy vegetables too should be avoided from their Diet.
I think this has been a synopsis of handy health tips and health myths busted – which all residents of this country need to order to lead a healthy life here as well as when they go back home. I have chosen this simplistic approach, as it is easy to be followed by laypersons, avoiding complicated terminology which might intimidate the readers and will defeat the purpose.

The List is exhaustive and it goes on and on! It is only a humble effort to pick up a glass full of knowledge from an Ocean of the same I Parents should be rather strict on their children on many such issues. Working men and women must take care of themselves in an adequate manner as hinted above “if they plan a long stint in this region.” Elderly people must be closely taken care of by their sons/daughters and taken to visit Doctors if something sinister really comes up with them.

Good Luck and Good Health to all my brethren & friends – young and old. Hope that the above health myths busted go a long way to secure the good health of the population at large.

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