Vitamin D Deficiency Can Predict Surprising Facts About Your Dental Health

Vitamin D Deficiency Can Predict Surprising Facts About Your Dental HealthResearchers have found that vitamin D deficiency caused majorly by lack of exposure to sun may reside in the teeth of every human being and remain viable for hundreds of years or more.

The findings showed that the teeth can act as an essential fossil and help anthropologists to sneak into the lives and challenges of people who lived hundreds of years ago and whose only record is their skeletal remains. When the body is deprived of vitamin D, permanent microscopic abnormalities form in the layers of dentin — the tooth structure under the enamel can create an ongoing record that can later be read like the rings of a tree.

“The layers store what happens as teeth grow. We all know the importance of vitamin D, but until now we did not have such a clear way of measuring exactly what happened to people, and when,” said Lori D’Ortenzio, doctoral candidate at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

“They’re essentially fossils in your mouth,” added Bonnie Kahlon, Lab Technician.

Until now, scientists trying to understand historical patterns in vitamin D deficiency have had to use bones, which are problematic sources of such information. However, dentin is not remodelled, and dental enamel — much harder than bone — protects the dentin long after death, making teeth a rich and accurate source of archaeological information.

“If we can properly understand past changes in deficiency levels, we can evaluate where we currently are and move forward,” added Megan Brickley, Professor at McMaster University.

Vitamin D deficiency can also cause rickets — a softening and weakening of bones in children, usually due to inadequate vitamin D. It is a serious public health issue affecting some one billion people worldwide, the researchers said.

Most cases of rickets are caused by a lack of sun exposure, with effects that can include pain, bone deformities and failure to achieve or maintain adequate bone levels. For the study, published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science, the team compared the teeth of modern-day control subjects to teeth extracted from bodies buried in rural Quebec, Canada and France in the 1700s and 1800s.

Their analysis showed that one Quebec man had suffered four bouts of rickets in his 24 years of life — all before he turned 13.

Examining thin sections of the teeth under a microscope and using technology at the McMaster-based Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy, the researchers were able to show that anomalies formed in the dentin layers during years when victims failed to get enough Vitamin D to fully mineralize the structures that form dentin and bone.


Eating Cranberries May Promote Heart Health and Stronger Immunity: Experts

Eating Cranberries May Promote Heart Health and Stronger Immunity: ExpertsCranberry could protect the gut microbiota — a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals — and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions that benefit the cardiovascular system, metabolism and immune function, revealed a new study.

Not just promoting urinary tract health, but the researchers found that cranberry juice, dried cranberries and various cranberry extracts possess whole body health benefits.

“It has been established that cranberries rank high among the berry fruits that are rich in health-promoting polyphenols (antioxidant),” said Jeffrey Blumberg, researcher at the University in Boston, in the study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

The research has revealed that cranberry bioactives show promise in helping to strengthen the gut defence system and protect against infection.

The effect of cranberry products on cardiovascular health and glucose management was also explained in the study and established promising links between cranberry products and blood pressure, blood flow and blood lipids.

Potential benefit for glucose management with low-calorie cranberry juice and unsweetened dried cranberries for people living with type 2 diabetes was also stated in the study. Benefits for heart health and diabetes management have been attributed to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the polyphenols in cranberries, revealed the research.

“The bioactives in cranberry juice, dried cranberries and a variety of other cranberry sources have been shown to promote an array of beneficial health effects,” added Blumberg.


Grandfather’s Obesity May Affect Grandchild’s Health

Grandfather's Obesity May Affect Grandchild's HealthPhoto credit: iStock

A father’s metabolic health can be passed from generation to generation, affecting not only his children but more importantly his grandchildren, suggests a study.

According to the study published in the journal Molecular Metabolism, parental obesity can have harmful effects on future generations. “A baby’s health has long been considered the mother’s responsibility as soon as she falls pregnant. Now, we’ve found powerful evidence, in a mouse model, that father’s nutrition and metabolic health can influence his sons and even his grandsons,” said Catherine Suter, Associate Professor, Victor Chang Institute.

The researchers looked at the effect of dad’s obesity across three generations.

At first his offspring appeared to be in good metabolic health. But when they consumed a high-fat, high sugar, junk food diet, all the sons reacted dramatically and within just a few weeks they developed fatty liver disease and pre-diabetic symptoms, such as elevated glucose and insulin in the bloodstream. The researchers discovered that male mice who are obese when they conceive are putting their children and grandchildren at significant risk of developing metabolic disease. They were amazed to find that the grandsons of the obese mice were also predisposed to metabolic disorders just as their fathers were. They also observed that in the great-grandsons, the metabolic health was improving significantly.

By the third generation, the exaggerated response to a junk food diet was all but absent. What this shows is that it’s possible to break that cycle of metabolic disease, suggested the study. The researchers say it is still not entirely clear how this multi-generational programming is happening, but there appear to be clues within the sperm of the mice.


Brisk Walk Better Than Jogging in Combatting Pre-Diabetes

Brisk Walk Better Than Jogging in Combatting Pre-DiabetesPhoto credit: iStock

Regular brisk walking may be more effective than vigorous jogging for improving glucose control in individuals with pre-diabetes, a study says.

“When faced with the decision of trying to do weight loss, diet, and exercise versus exercise alone, the study indicates you can achieve nearly 80 per cent of the effect of doing all three with just a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise,” said lead author William Kraus, Professor at Duke University School of Medicine in the US. “We believe that one benefit of moderate-intensity exercise is that it burns off fat in the muscles, which relieves the block of glucose uptake by the muscles. That’s important because muscle is the major place to store glucose after a meal,” Kraus explained.

The study appeared online in the journal Diabetologia.

The findings are based on a randomised, six-month study of 150 participants, each of whom was designated as having pre-diabetes based on elevated fasting glucose levels.

Study participants were randomised into four groups. The first group followed an intervention modeled after the Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP), considered a gold standard, that aims to achieve a seven per cent body weight reduction over six months. The programme requires cutting calories, eating a low-fat diet, and exercising. Study participants in this group adopted the diet changes, and performed moderate-intensity exercise equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking in a week. Other study participants were randomly assigned to receive exercise only, using different amounts and intensities: low-amount at moderate intensity (equivalent to walking briskly for 7.5 miles per week); high-amount at moderate intensity (equivalent to walking briskly for 11.5 miles per week); and high-amount at vigorous intensity (equivalent to jogging for 11.5 miles per week).

“We wanted to know how much of the effect of the DPP (Diabetes Prevention Programme) could be accomplished with exercise alone,” Kraus said. “And which intensity of exercise is better for controlling metabolism in individuals at risk for diabetes,” Kraus noted.

On average, participants in the DPP group had the greatest benefit, with a nine percent improvement in oral glucose tolerance — a key measure of how readily the body processes sugar and an indicator used to predict progression to diabetes. One of the exercise-only groups came in a close second. Participants in the moderate-intensity, 11.5-mile group saw a seven per cent improvement in glucose tolerance on average.The moderate-intensity, 7.5-mile group had a five per cent improvement on average. The lowest improvement was seen among those in the vigorous-intensity, 11.5-mile group, with only a two per cent average improvement.


5 Smart Tips on How to Get Rid of Workplace Stress

5 Smart Tips on How to Get Rid of Workplace StressYou recently joined a new organisation. What must have attracted you to accept the offer is the paycheck and attractive incentives apart from the role itself. Enticing amenities at your workplace must have caught your eye, but once you joined the organization, you realized there is no way you can cope with the stress. It has come as an undesired package deal with your offer letter. With stringent competition and work pressure, you’re unable to enjoy any of the benefits offered to you and you’re always stressed out. In order to notch up record profits and improve sales, you have to work extra hours and often give up on your weekends. The stress levels are sometimes so high that you may have unknowingly experienced symptoms of a mental disorder too.Most cases of mental disorders from the workforce are people who shifted jobs at middle to senior levels. Some of the causes of mental problems at the workplace are – competition, office culture politics, existing cliques in office i.e. power structures and powerful people within organization that do not allow a new officer to penetrate the inner circles, high expectations when one joins, the job description often doesn’t match what one is expected to do and this disconnect causes one to really suffer social penetration. It takes time to bond with colleagues and as we are social beings, initially it gets tough to feel “out of the group”. The pressure, deadlines and the clock ticking are enough to keep executives awake at nights and this can cause or lead to depression or anxiety.

Here are some easy but effective ways to deal with workplace stress:

1. Take Small Breaks

You are new at the job and you have to serve the probation period. This is the most crucial phase to prove your mettle at work while you are dealing with the inherent stress of adjusting to the new surroundings. Notwithstanding the need to prove your value to the organization, it is not necessary to transform into a blind workhorse. Beat the stress with regular breaks and interact with your co-workers. Try to engage in informal conversations or find out about the nearest hang-out spots to let your colleagues know that you also live by the adage ‘work hard, party harder.’

2. Accept Politics and Learn to Live With it

Every organization has an underlying complex matrix of individual relationships, known commonly as ‘office politics.’ As a newcomer, it is ideal to stay away from any kind of workplace politics. Engaging in healthy competition that helps you work better without hampering inter-personal relations is the desired path. Build strong relationships with co-workers and learn to function as a team player. In this way, you will emerge as a friendly figure without offending anyone.

office politics

3. Think Positive to Overcome Fear

Being fearful of making mistakes in a new organization is natural, but too much of apprehension will only kill any motivation to achieve goals. Excessive fear or perfectionism will inadvertently lead to failed deadlines and slow work progress. Stay calm, learn to accept mistakes and have faith in yourself. Think positively, which will help you to overcome any kind of fear.

think positive

4. Take the Lead and Initiate Conversations

The initial days at work may be tough for you as you may feel left out or isolated at work. However, the best way to avoid feeling like that is to initiate small conversations and break the silence. You can start by greeting good morning and then have ice-breaking conversations. Gradually, talks can veer towards clarifying doubts or just random discussions. This will work wonders to keep the atmosphere around you fresh, light and friendly.

5. Talk it Out with the Management

Every organization has rules and regulations that each employee has to follow stringently. Even if you do not agree to certain conditions, you cannot ask to be treated differently or ignore the stipulated norms. In case however, there are certain conditions or an element in the work environment that is bothering you immensely, it is better to discuss it with the management, who will help you in trying to find out viable alternatives.


Did You Know That Avocado Can Be Used as a First Food for Babies?

Did You Know That Avocado Can Be Used as a First Food for Babies?Feeding babies avocados, which has a neutral flavour, soft consistency and nutrient density, can help in boosting their growth and development, says a study, suggesting that the fruit can be used as a first food for infants.

Babies’ ideal first foods should have a low to moderate sweet and salty flavour profile to avoid early preferences for sweet foods.

The findings showed that avocados are unique among complementary and transitional foods and they provide an ideal source of calories to meet the increasing energy and growth demands of weaning infants and toddlers. “It’s important that infants experience a wide variety of tastes, textures, colours and combinations, in their first foods,” said Robert Murray, Professor at the Ohio State University, in the US. Avocados were found to contain less than 1 gram of sugar per serving (0.09g) — the least amount of any other fresh fruit. Avocados’ soft and smooth textures can also help infants to develop the ability to chew and swallow. Infants should consume moderately energy-dense foods that are low in sugar and rich in multiple nutrients, said the paper published in the journal Nutrients.

They were found to be higher in key developmental nutrients per one once serving, such as folate, Vitamin E, and lutein, compared to a serving of the most popular complementary and transitional fruits served in many households.

Avocados also help significantly enhance the absorption of lipid-soluble vitamins from foods eaten with them, the researchers concluded.


Ditch the Yogurt Spoon, and Drink

Ditch the Yogurt Spoon, and DrinkI still remember my first sip of ayran, the salty yogurt drink popular throughout Turkey. It was a beautiful spring day in 2007, and a friend and I were having lunch on the patio of a Turkish restaurant in Menlo Park, Calif. I have a wide-ranging palate, so I ordered the ayran casually, sure that I’d like it. But as the yogurt hit my tongue, I winced, my eyes bulged wide, and I pushed the glass to the far edge of the table. “I can’t drink that,” I said simply. While I loved the whole sea bass, the lahmacun (charred flatbread topped with ground lamb) and the extra-smoky baba ghanouj, I couldn’t brook the drink’s unfamiliar salinity.

Oh, but how things change. Today, I love ayran’s tang and its unapologetically salty bite. As do so many others: Our collective exposure to the way the rest of world eats yogurt also includes the way the world drinks yogurt. We’re moving beyond ultra-thick, milkshake-y, berry-based smoothies to more globally inspired flavors and textures. Some are still sweet, but others paint with a broader palette, folding complex spices, invigorating fizz and, yes, even salt into the mix.

Companies such as Dahlicious Lassi in Leominster, Mass., and Dash of Masala in Austin, maker of Sassy Lassi, bring classic Indian flavors to the booming American yogurt drink market. Dahlicious focuses on Ayurvedic spices popular in Indian cuisine, offering fruit flavors such as mango along with spice-forward choices such as golden turmeric and banana masala, the latter spiked with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black peppercorn. Does the world really need another peach or vanilla?

Dash of Masala’s line of Indian-inspired sippers includes such flavors as celery and rose. A few months ago, the company (whose founder, Jaya Shrivastava, hails from the South Indian city of Chennai) introduced a plain flavor with no added sugar, which echoes a trend in the “cup” yogurt category as well.

You might not think of booze as a lassi add-in, but yogurt and alcohol are partnering up more often these days. Mixologists, who are often the first to go rogue with creative drink ingredients, have been tapping yogurt’s tangy, creamy properties for a while, and the trend seems to be holding. In their recently published book “The New Cocktail Hour,” food writers (and siblings) André and Tenaya Darlington include a recipe for Flutterby Lassi, an absinthe-and-yogurt cocktail with cucumber, dill and lime. It’s an adaptation of the original, created at London restaurant Gymkhana.

Cucumber and dill also feature prominently in Persian cuisine, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that San Francisco chef Hoss Zaré uses those ingredients in his take on doogh. Doogh, which Zaré calls “basically a mixture of yogurt and water, especially if the yogurt is left out for a few days and gets a little more sour,” is a beverage staple in his native Iran. It always has salt and sometimes has pepper, and although carbonated versions are common throughout Iran (Zaré says kebab houses give diners an option of still or sparkling), fizzy doogh was never popular among Zaré’s American customers at his Fly Trap restaurant, which he recently sold to his business partner.

But great chefs are leaders, not followers, prone to coloring both outside and within the lines. One of Zaré’s favorite cold Persian yogurt soups uses cucumbers, walnuts, mint, raisins and rose petals. It became the blueprint for his favorite doogh twist. Instead of serving it in a bowl, he says, on special occasions, “I pour it in a big beer glass!” Doogh version 2.0, in other words.

While traditional yogurt drinks such as lassi and doogh are finding wider audiences, perhaps no other cultured dairy drink has won more recent converts or made greater inroads into the U.S. market than kefir. The probiotic yogurt cousin, made with live bacterial cultures and kefir grains (a form of yeast), is earning fresh fans and muscling its way more aggressively onto grocery store shelves.

Hailing from the Caucasus and enjoyed for centuries throughout the world, kefir is prized for its many health benefits. Though it’s hardly a new beverage, even here on U.S. shores – Nancy’s, the Oregon-based dairy brand made by Springfield Creamery, has been selling it since 1975 – kefir has recently surged in popularity, thanks in part to our better understanding of gut health and the foods and drinks that seem to improve it. While kefir is commonly made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk, a Southern California company called Desert Farms makes it from camel’s milk.

Back to the ayran. Since my first ill-fated sip back in 2007, I’ve learned to appreciate not just the flavor – that alchemy of salt, water and yogurt – but also the cultural significance of the drink. Turkish food writer and culinary historian Nazli Piskin explains that ayran’s three main ingredients, which are “available in each and every kitchen,” are especially prized for their ability to cool and refresh during “hot summer days in Anatolia.”

“No matter if you are working at a farm at noon or come home late and are in a hurry to prepare a simple but nutritious dinner for the whole family, including the kids, ayran will be a real time saver,” she says. In Turkey, Piskin says, it’s the perfect accompaniment to borek (savory stuffed-phyllo pastries), pasta, rice, bulgur or even just good bread, in the tradition of the country’s shepherds.

Think of it in terms of flexible ratios, changing them to suit your taste and the thickness of your yogurt. Piskin favors a 2-1 ratio of yogurt to water and whisks them to bring forth plenty of foamy bubbles.

Whether you’re in Turkey, California, Washington or somewhere entirely different, ayran – like doogh, lassi, kefir or the many iterations of drinkable yogurt popular throughout the world – shows that even when you ditch your spoon, hot weather and cool yogurt still go hand in hand.


Anushka Sharma’s Diet and Fitness Secrets: Her Love for Waffles and Weight Training

Anushka Sharma's Diet and Fitness Secrets: Her Love for Waffles and Weight Training
When you choose to play a sportsperson onscreen, you’ve got to live the role to its every nuance. That’s exactly what Anushka Sharma believed in while training for her latest blockbuster, ‘Sultan’. Role-playing a sportsperson onscreen is not that easy. While the real life heroes go through a lifetime of training to be the best in the business, their silver screen counterparts have just a few months to do justice to their real-life brilliance. The ‘NH-10’ actress also went through rigorous training with pro-wrestlers to look the part in ‘Sultan’. Rest is accredited to her naturally lean frame and fit body.

The Bombay Velvet actress loves to strike a balance between all her worlds. She loves to dig in and dearly loves her food but never skips her training routine even on vacations or when flying in and out of locations.

A mix of yoga and strength training finds place in Anushka’s daily fitness regime. In an interview with Vogue India she admitted, “I am very particular about my workout regime and try not missing it even when I’m shooting. I am more into weight and strength training.” The actress is a firm believer of fitness being an internal concept – it radiates through your skin and hair, gleaming on your face – what we call, ‘in the pink of health’! “I drink tons and tons of water. Also I believe in eating right. You are what you eat,” she told Vogue India.

When it comes to food, Ms. Sharma admits being a lover of all things delicious, especially dishes cooked by her mum. Waffles are her all-time favourite, something she loves to dig in even at odd hours!

Last year, the actress turned vegetarian and was also voted as one of the hottest vegetarians by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). In an industry where fitness is paramount and looking toned is a pre-requisite, cutting down on animal source of nutrition wasn’t an easy bet. Despite this, the ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ actress is persistent with her vegetarian diet, sharing and propagating its many health benefits and personal difference she has felt over a year.

“I’ve recently turned vegetarian so anyways I’m eating a lot more vegetables than what I used to earlier. And it’s going great. I’m seeing the difference. It’s very important to make sure you’re eating enough vegetables and drinking enough water which I’ve always done,” she was quoted by IANS last year.

While friends and crew members gorge on chicken sandwiches, sausages and other meaty delicacies, the actress often shares her #vegetarianproblems.

On a regular day Anushka gets her share of protein and other nutrients from plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and yogurt. She believes in eating smaller, healthy meals to keep herself fuelled for the long day.

She also claims to be a die-heart bread lover and relishes it in all forms.

The ‘PK’ star believes in the goodness of all things natural and never shies away from trying out new health potions.
Now we know the secret to your svelte body and ever glowing skin, Ms. Sharma!


Kerala Fat Tax: Could Making Junk Food Expensive Curb Obesity?

Kerala Fat Tax: Could Making Junk Food Expensive Curb Obesity?Spending money to lose weight does work at times. You could force yourself to wake up earlier every morning and head to the gym – if you have paid up a hefty fee, or bought fancy shoes and workout gear. But does the same motivation work when it comes to avoidant behaviour? Will you stop eating a Rs. 300 burger or pizza because it is now pricier, at roughly Rs. 345?Much has already been said on Kerala’s 14.5 per cent fat tax on “junk foods” like burgers and pizzas sold at branded retail chains. It is discriminatory. Why does it exclude from its ambit equally fattening and unhealthy local street foods? Why does it only include within its purview branded restaurant retail (both McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, two of the largest players in this segment)? Is the basis of the law, a rather faulty inference that it is only “rich” kids who need to shed their weights, gained from eating “privileged”, “expensive” fast food?

The last does seem to be a subtext to the law, which is quite limited in its scope and obviously targeting only branded restaurant retail, vis-a-vis the “common man’s” snacks available at the street sides.


Cheap Fast Food Versus Expensive Healthy Food

While there is no denying that we are sitting on an obesity epidemic and that “lifestyle” diseases such as cardio-vascular ones, diabetes, arthritis and cancers are on the rise due to poor nutrition and changing lifestyle choices, the perception that these are rich people’s ailments and that obesity really is a privileged epidemic is wrong. Policies and measures need to extend to all sections of the population and be restricted not just to discriminatory taxation but to a wide spread and serious awareness drive.

After all, it is only because health has also become a fad that the creamy layer even in the Indian metros is now eschewing cream for salads and quinoa instead. The problem with eating healthy in India often is that everything that can be nutritious and safe is just so pricey. Fruits and vegetables, the basis of all our traditional diets whether we be rich or poor, are now so expensive and inflation hit that to put them on the table regularly even for a family of four, say, with a monthly income of Rs 1 lakh per month, is quite a task. And this is when the household income pegs you at the “lower end of upper income class” bracket. If bhindi is Rs. 80 per kg and a packet of 1X4 instant noodles Rs. 45, isn’t it just more effective to substitute the former with the latter?

In India increasingly, like in many countries of the developed world, it is only the affluent who have access to quality nutrition. The rest make do. Part of the reason why eating habits across income groups are changing is this. The lady who cooks in my home, often goes back to her own house after a long day of work and summons up just enough energy to cook a packet of instant noodles for her children.

Fast food is fast and cheap and obviously gaining ground. But the point cannot be to make that more expensive. The point should be to make “good” food less expensive, especially in inflation-hit India.


Samosas Versus Burgers

Then there is this ridiculous assumption that only “foreign” fast food is fattening. Not the so-called Indian street treats. This is a chauvinistic argument to make. Samosas, vadas, banana chips, bhature… all fried on the streets in poor quality oil that is repeatedly used, promoting free radicals that clog up your arteries, is so damaging as to put you off these pleasures if you just sat up and thought about it.

Nutritionist Kavita Devgan, author of the book Don’t Diet: 50 Habits of Thin People says, “it is all these foods with trans fats that are really the culprit for the epidemic of lifestyle diseases we are seeing in our midst.” Devgan is a supporter of any fat tax on foods in the country, including the kind initiated by the Kerala government, saying that the obesity issue needs to be addressed at a large scale and all measures need to be tried to support public health.

“Children are quite badly affected by the prevalence of these fast foods,” she points out. A study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) shows that roughly 20 per cent of school-going children in India are obese. A recent study found that children who eat fast food at least three times a week are exposed to an increased risk of asthma and rhinitis.”

What Devgan suggests is widening the scope of such laws to include “any foods with trans fats”. Internationally, there are stringent laws in many countries against food products containing trans fats. But in India, where labeling of packaged foods in particular and food safety regulations are full of loopholes, manufacturers get away using them.


Desi Ghee Versus Vanaspati

Trans fats can be found in most packaged foods – biscuits, chips and cakes included – because these give products a longer shelf life. But even when it comes to street foods, the medium of frying in India is often hydrogenated fats (trans fats are formed when oil goes through a process of hydrogenation to make the oil more solid).

Dalda as it was earlier generically called (and sold as “vanaspati” under several local brand names) was deemed a cheaper substitute to ghee, the milk product that has formed the basis of Indian cooking traditionally. Sometime in the 1970s-80s, ghee underwent a vilification campaign of sorts with nutritionists coming out against saturated fats (which ghee and butter are), saying that the increased prevalence of heart disease could be directly attributed to these.

What gained marketing currency was the vanaspati – ironically deemed healthier than the ghee; but in reality full of life-threatening trans fats. The research responsible for this has thankfully fallen by the wayside. And ghee in moderate quantities is now deemed good for health.


Not All Fats Are Bad, Are They?

Nutritionists now say that moderate amounts of fat is in fact good for health. Good quality ghee for instance has healthy fats like conjugated linoleic acid, which ostensibly reduce diabetes risk and help in maintaining a healthy body weight. Ghee also contains fat-soluble vitamins (much like egg yolk) like A, D, E and K and cooking vegetables rich in nutrients allows us to extract more benefits from them.

Obviously, not all fat is “bad”. And any “fat tax” needs to take that into cognisance too, else it is destined to fail, quite like the Denmark experiment that taxed fatty foods like butter too, even though the research condemning saturated fats was already outdated by then. A healthy diet needs to incorporate 25 per cent fat in it. Higher quantities obviously come with risks.

Indian street food, almost all of which is fried, obviously poses a risk on grounds of quantity of fat contained. And also on grounds of the quality of fat that goes into it. Since this is a price sensitive category, cheaper alternatives to good quality fat are invariably found and it is common to see vendors using vanaspati widely. Poorer quality refined oil is also used as an alternative, but when this oil is repeatedly heated to high temperatures beyond its smoking point (and that is how most Indian street vendors fry), it starts breaking down. What are formed as a result are those dangerous free radicals that can clog the arteries and cause cancer.

healthy fats
And finally, there are all the other classes of over salted, over sugared, full of maida food both packaged and “fast”; both “Indian” and “local” and “foreign”. What needs to be monitored is their preparation and marketing too. But a larger public awareness policy and incentivising healthier foods may work better than taxing junk selectively.


A Milk Dispensing ATM? Is it for Real?

A Milk Dispensing ATM? Is it for Real?Ever heard of an ATM dispensing milk? The idea materialised into reality when students at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry, decided to set up machines dispensing human breast milk. The ATM kicked-off its service last week with an aim to nourish premature babies born at the institute. The milk bank is all set to guide and advice new mothers on breastfeeding as well.

“We chose to call it Amudham Thaippal Maiyam (ATM); ‘Amudham’ means nectar in Tamil; ‘Thaippal’ stands for breastfeeding and ‘Maiyam’ means centre or an institute,” shared Mr. Subhash Chandra Parija, Director, JIPMER.

According to Mr. SC Parija, close to 1,500 babies are born in JIPMER every month, with about 30% of them born either before term or with a low birth weight. This is an attempt to take care of such babies who need additional care and nourishment.

“Mother’s milk is extremely important for the newborn. There are many instances where the newborn is not able to get milk from the mother. When the mother suffers from lactating issues, postpartum illness or ailments like HIV, Hepatitis C or B, or fungal nipple infection, the baby suffers for the lack of human milk. The machines are set up with the aim to serve such infants,” noted Mr. Parija.

According to Mr. Parija, the milk is supplied from healthy lactating mothers who voluntarily choose to donate extra milk. “We have strict screenings for female donors. We screen them for all possible diseases including HIV and Hepatitis, and then the procured milk is pasteurised at 63.5 degree C for 35 minutes followed by other processes as per the Pasteurized Human Donor Milk (PHDM) guidelines,” shared Mr. Parija.

The milk supply could vary anywhere between 200 to 400 ml per donor.

“We hope this attempt proves helpful to many needy babies hereafter,” he concluded.