Diets & Exercise Tips to Regain Your Pre-Pregnancy Body Shape

WORDS DR VICKY KOH

DR VICKY KOH
Medical Director
Clinic RX
WELL, READ THIS FIRST

Every woman’s body is unique. Therefore, the question of the ‘right option’ or ‘best option’ is something that each and every woman has to figure out on her own.

For example, mothers that breastfeed often experience rapid weight loss and may benefit from an increased intake of certain nutrients or supplements. Women that gave birth via caesarean section may need a longer time to recover. Existing health issues and lifestyle variables also need to be considered.

If you are interested to find out more about the topics discussed below, you should discuss the matter further with your doctor.

BREASTFEEDING CONSIDERATIONS

Postpartum weight loss averages about 4.5 to 5.5 kg in the first 6 weeks. Women often return to their pre-pregnancy weight within a year, though this time frame varies depending on how much weight was gained during their pregnancy.

Breastfeeding aids in weight loss since it consumes extra calories, resulting in a natural weight loss for many women.

Breastfeeding women should pay special attention to their diets at this time.

While experiencing weight loss after giving birth may seem like a good idea, doing so too quickly will actually hinder healing!

POST-PREGNANCY DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Dietary recommendations should include a variety of fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Breastfeeding mothers, in particular, should drink a lot of water (6-10 glasses daily). Try to stay away from sodas and other sugary drinks.

Meanwhile, for moms that had a C-section, they should focus on eating foods that are high in protein. Avoid junk foods and take vitamin supplements, especially if they are nursing.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are crucial for moms during and after pregnancy.

This is because nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin D, folic acid, zinc, and more are normally redirected from the mother’s bloodstream to the developing infant.

Furthermore, the delivery process as well as breastfeeding depletes the body of essential vitamins.

Hence, postnatal supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), magnesium, selenium, iodine, and choline may be helpful in replenishing nutrients that were used up during pregnancy and after childbirth.

EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS

Regular exercise after childbirth will help strengthen and tone your muscles while increasing your energy levels and making you feel less weary.

It also aids in the loss of excess weight.

During the first 6 weeks, the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size, and some women may feel uterine cramping and discharge.

However, mothers are recommended to gradually resume their exercise habits, starting with less strenuous activities during the first few weeks after giving birth.

A few days after delivery, you can start doing gentle abdominal and pelvic floor exercises if they don’t cause you any pain.

Try to proceed at your own pace—you can gradually increase the duration and tempo of your workout of over time.

Swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates, mild weight training, and low-impact aerobics are all good alternatives after the first few weeks.

Here’s What You Should Know About Osteoporosis & Ageing

 

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR (C) DR G RUSLAN NAZARUDDIN SIMANJUNTAK
Consultant Orthopaedic,
Arthritis & Sports Surgeon
ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones, making them more prone to fractures.

Often, there are no symptoms. Many people only learn that they have osteoporosis after they experience a fracture and see a doctor.

Because fractures are potentially life-threatening when they occur to older persons, it is good to take steps to prevent this disease from quietly ‘sneaking up’ on you.

YOU CAN GET SCREENED TO FIND OUT HOW HEALTHY YOUR BONES ARE
If you are 65 or older, you should consult your doctor on getting screened for osteoporosis.

Tests such as bone mineral density (BMD) test will provide useful information about your bone health.

Blood profile tests help to detect presence of health conditions that can weaken the bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DOCTOR AFTER A FALL?
  • When you experience severe pain that don’t improve after taking over-the-counter painkillers
  • When you are unable to move after your fall

After you are admitted, you will be given an imaging test—typically X-ray and, if necessary, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—to determine the location and extent of the fracture.

HIP FRACTURES CAN BE COMMON AMONG OLDER PERSONS
Hip fractures usually occur on the long bone of the thigh, called the femur (see image).

A surgery, called hip replacement, helps to address this problem.

A total hip replacement replaces the socket (acetabulum, see image) and the head of the femur.

A partial hip replacement replaces only the femoral head (see image). This is usually an option for older persons with more limited mobility.

The surgery takes place within 2 hours, and you’ll stay in the hospital for around 3 more days. During this period, a physiotherapist will guide you on the exercises that you can do to restore the range of motion of as well as to strengthen your hip.

WORK WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE TEAM TO REMAIN INDEPENDENT & MOBILE
For example, you may use a walker or wheelchair to remain mobile, and you may need to master new techniques (such as for using the toilet, bathing, dressing, etc) that take into account your condition.

 

If you have problems traveling to see your physiotherapist, consult your healthcare team on the possibility of having the physiotherapist visit your home instead.


This article is brought to you by ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital.

 

4 Things Everyone Should Know About ACL Injuries

 

DATO’ DR BADRUL SHAH BADARUDDIN
Consultant Orthopaedic,
Arthritis & Sports Surgeon
ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) helps hold the bones called femur and tibia together at the knee joint.

ACL INJURIES ARE ONE OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF KNEE INJURIES
They are common among people that perform activities involving regular heavy use of the knees, such as avid football, futsal, and badminton players.

When the ACL is said to be ‘injured’, what really happens is that there is a tear in the ACL. This tear cannot be repaired in the conventional sense—the doctor cannot ‘sew’ or ‘glue’ back the torn ACL.

Instead, a surgery called ACL reconstruction will be necessary.

SOME COMMON SIGNS THAT YOU MAY HAVE AN ACL INJURY
Your ACL may be torn when there is a ‘pop’ sound as your knee is injured. Pain and swelling will occur at the affected knee but may resolve within one or two weeks.

If your ACL is not functional due to a tear, you will feel an instability in your knee.

Be alert for this instability, which will be especially noticeable when pressure is exerted on the knee during activities such as moving and standing.

This instability may be present even when there is no pain, and it could be a sign of an ACL injury.

When this happens, see a doctor to have the knee examined.

ACL INJURIES NEED TO BE ADDRESSED BY AN ORTHOPAEDIC SPECIALIST
If left untreated, continuous use of a knee with a torn ACL may damage surrounding tissues such as the meniscus and cartilage.

This would not only make movement more difficult and even painful, but the treatments involved would be more complex and hence more expensive.

Furthermore, ACL injuries can lead to significant loss of cartilage tissue in the knee and increases the risk of osteoarthritis.

The current recommendation for people with ACL injuries, of any age, is to undergo ACL reconstruction as early as possible (provided they do not also have concurrent osteoarthritis of the knee), especially in active persons.

This is to restore their knee function and to avoid developing further complications in the future.

ACL RECONSTRUCTION INVOLVES THE CREATION OF A NEW ACL TO REPLACE THE TORN ONE
The new ACL can be made from tendons taken elsewhere from your own body or from another person, or from synthetic materials.

Latest advances allow the use of a thin, flexible tube with a camera at one end (called an arthroscope) to guide the surgeon in performing the reconstruction more efficiently.

For the next few months after the surgery, you will be working closely with a physiotherapist to regain full use of your knee.

How soon can you walk and exercise after an ACL reconstruction?

You may walk the next day after surgery (using with crutches), cycling within 6 weeks, and run on a treadmill within 3 months. Sports can resume after 6 months, but contact sports such as football is advisable only after 9 months or 1 year.


This article is brought to you by ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital.

Yourself a Functional Workout

Yourself a Functional Workout

May 7, 2022   Return

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With functional circuit training, you can dash in and out of the gym within 45 minutes flat, no kidding! And you don’t have to wait in line for any gym equipment!

Also, if increasing your heart rate and burning fat are your goals, functional circuit training is what you need. Now, have we gotten you excited? Read on for more exciting information on this made-for-measure fitness regimen.

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The works

Functional circuit training is called such because the circuit of exercises follows your daily activities quite closely. This kind of training gets you moving in different directions while combining moves that involve your whole body.

The best part of functional circuit training is it can be done for as long as you want while being adjusted to your fitness level. You need to do exercises that use different muscles and joints at the same time during each session.

In addition to making your workout a challenging, effective and fun experience, you also can tone your body to handle daily activities with ease. With regular sessions, you can soon see improvement in your muscular endurance, overall strength, co-ordination, balance, posture and agility.“Functional circuit training involves doing different exercises in up to 9 exercise stations with readily available equipment within 45 minutes,” says Chris.

“Some movements are done with very basic equipment while others do not need any equipment at all. It is an interesting form of exercise for our participants,” he adds.

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How to train

Chris points out that the proper way of doing functional circuit training is to be guided by an instructor to ensure one does the right movement to avoid injury to the muscles.

Functional circuit training is for both men and women aged 16 to 65. The training regimen depends on the personal capacity of the person.

“It’s not about a competition; it’s whatever they can do. They should not force themselves,” says Chris.

In functional circuit training, you can exercise at your own pace with the help of a timer. You need to exercise for 40 seconds and rest for 20 seconds between each of the 9 stations. After completing the nine stations, you need to rest for 1 minute and repeat the circuit four times and then cool down for 5 minutes. And you’re done for the day!

“Most of the movements are the same for both men and women. However, some of the movements are made easier for women,” explains Chris.

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Benefits

He says diet and lifestyle are both important if you want to gain the most health benefits from functional circuit training.

“Participants have seen improvement in their fitness levels within 30 days of starting functional circuit training,” says Chris.

The targets of functional circuit training are various depending on one’s personal wishes and may include weight loss as well.

“If they want to lose weight, we can guide them to do so. If they don’t want to lose weight, we can guide them to just lose the body fat and tone their muscles. It depends on the targets that they have,” says Chris.

He points out that functional circuit training will ensure people won’t be bored doing the same exercises. There are different exercises they can do.

“The number of times per week that one does functional circuit training depends on their personal capacity and stamina,” says Chris.

You can exercise every day, 3 days a week or 2 days a week. But, Chris advises, “If you really want to see the change, I suggest you exercise every day. Just 45 minutes each session.”

 

References:

1. Men’s Fitness. Available at www.mensfitness.com

2. Men’s Journal. Available at www.mensjournal.com

3. Sheknows. Available at www.sheknows.com

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Get Fit with the Band

Get Fit with the Band

May 7, 2022   Return

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You may be thinking that it’s impossible to keep fit, the gym way, on a daily basis. Now, with resistance bands, it is certainly possible!

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3 reasons to get down with the band

  1. Resistance bands are very light as they are made of rubber latex or plastic. You can take them with you anywhere – just slip them into your pocket!
  2. When using the bands, you will feel the resistance in every part of the exercise. This results in a better range of motion strength and more complete stimulation for your muscles.
  3. Resistance bands are reasonably priced and come in a few varieties, including tube with handles, loop and stretch bands.  They are also colourful, and the colour of each band indicates a different strength. It’s best to start with an extra light band and work yourself up slowly until you reach the strength you’re most comfortable with.

Just doing the following 6-step routine for 15 minutes three times a week can improve your strength and balance. But before starting, do check with your doctor if it’s safe for you to do these exercises.

Step 1

Put the centre of the band under your left foot and put your right foot about 1 meter behind you. Hold the band’s handles and do a biceps curl while you bend both your knees into a lunge position. Repeat this move 20 times. Switch the band to your right foot and repeat another 20 times.

Step 2

Stand with your feet wide apart and toes out. Hold the band around your back with your arms stretched to your sides. Bring your fingertips together and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Switch to the earlier position. Repeat this move 20 times.

Step 3

Stand with your feet apart and parallel. Put the middle of the band under your feet. Hold the handles at shoulder height, with your palms facing forward and bend your elbows. Squat while you stretch your arms directly above your head. As you return to the standing position, support your weight on your heels and resist the band. Repeat this move 20 times.

Step 4

Put the band around an object that is stable, like a table leg. Lie down on your back and hold the band’s handles. Stretch your arms above your head, raise your legs and bend your knees. Make sure your shins are parallel to the floor. Lift your upper body forward while stretching your arms toward your knees. Move back to the earlier position. Repeat this move 20 times.

Step 5

Stand with your feet wide apart and put one end of the band under your left foot. Firmly hold the other handle with your left hand. Bend your right knee while moving your left arm towards your right foot. Use your right foot and step off to return to the standing position while you lift your left arm to your side until your shoulder height. Lift your right leg as you lift your left arm. Repeat this move 20 times. Switch the band to your right foot and repeat this move 20 times.

Step 6

Stand with your feet parallel and wide apart and your knees slightly bent while you hold the handles. Bend your upper body to your right while you pull your left elbow upward. Then, bend your upper body to your left while you pull your right elbow upward. This is one move and you must do it quickly. Repeat this move 20 times.

The good thing about resistance bands is that you are able to improve your muscle strength and flexibility while doing the full range of motion. And you can work out while on holiday or during business trips when it is not always possible to hit the gym.

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Remember to check with your doctor if you have any aches or pains when following this exercise routine. Also, check your bands regularly and replace them if they are peeling or have holes in them. Happy exercising!

References: 1. Bodybuilding.com. Available at www.bodybuilding.com 2. Fitness Select. Available at www.fitnessselect.net 3. Real Simple. Available at www.realsimple.com

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It’s Face Yoga Time!

It’s Face Yoga Time!

May 3, 2022   Return

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Face yoga, or sukshma yoga, is a light form of yoga that can make you look younger and healthier, while rejuvenating your energy levels. It does this by relaxing your muscles and nerves. Here is a set of techniques that you can do every day to reap the most benefits from face yoga.

For your eyes

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First, if you wear glasses, remove them. Make fists with your hands while keeping your thumbs upright. Close your eyes. Using gentle pressure, move each thumb in circles around your eyes – left thumb around your left eye and right thumb around your right eye. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Doing this can gradually relax your muscles and remove the dark circles around your eyes.

Next, open your eyes as widely as possible. Then, close your eyes by squeezing your eyelids tightly. Repeat these moves quickly until your eyes feel like they are going to water. After that, close your eyes and relax. Do this for 3-4 minutes, and you will be giving the muscles around your eyes and forehead a good exercise.

For your cheeks

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Inhale through your mouth and hold your breath while puffing your cheeks for 2 seconds. Then, exhale through your mouth. Repeat this 8-10 times to give your cheek muscles a strengthening workout.

For your smile

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Smile as wide as you can – stretch your lips to the max. Then, pucker your lips tightly as if you’re going to kiss someone. (Try imagining Chris Pratt or Henry Cavill in front of you!) Repeat this 20-25 times to relax the muscles around your lips and cheeks. It will bring a lovely pink hue to your cheeks while making your face brighter.

For your chin

Make fists with your hands while keeping your thumbs upright. Stroke your chin outwards with gentle pressure using your thumbs. You can do this move for 2-3 minutes to improve your digestion and provide some relief to an upset stomach.

For your ears

Pull your earlobes down for 30 seconds. Then, pull them outwards for 30 seconds. Hold your earlobes while rotating them clockwise and anti-clockwise for 30 seconds each direction. This move relaxes your facial muscles.

For your eyebrows

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Gently pull your eyebrows with your fingers from the centre to the end. Repeat this move for 3-4 minutes. This move removes accumulated stress near your eyebrows, helping them – and you – relax.

The best thing about face yoga is that you can do it anytime and anywhere that is convenient for you! Do these moves regularly every day, and you will soon see and feel the difference – your face will project calmness and confidence. Also, if you meditate regularly, doing face yoga before your start meditating can help you progress deeper into meditation.

Reference: The Art of Living. Available at www.artofliving.org

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From Fad to Fit

From Fad to Fit

May 3, 2022   Return

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Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘trend’ as ‘a current style of preference.’ Being time-bound, a trend will eventually run out of steam and get re-labelled a ‘fad.’ That’s true for fashion, but can something more abstract – such as getting fit – burn itself out like an over-trained athlete? When it comes to working up a sweat, we are spoilt for choice. Narrow your options by taking a look back at some examples of fads that faded, and trends that have transcended into healthy habits.

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Moving pictures

Back in the 1980s, the Jane Fonda Workout series of aerobics videos helped usher in a newer, more accessible form of exercise. No need for gyms – you could work out any time from the comfort of home. The pitch was so successful, it spawned 23 different videos. Other jumped on the bandwagon. Mark Wahlberg, a fitness freak in his own right, had his Marky Mark Workout video; Carmen Electra had her series.

Taking it a few steps, kicks and punches further was Billy Blanks and his Tae-Bo series, which incorporated martial arts and boxing training into a 60-minute cardio circuit. It garnered a loyal following, focusing on movements rather than muscles. More recently, Power 90 Extreme, or P90X, has wrested the exercises video throne. It’s a package that consists of an intense workout program and a proper nutrition plan to get you fit, utilising a 12-DVD set, designed around a 90-day workout period.

Using the TV to get fit has also become more interactive, with video game consoles joining the fray. Nintendo’s Wii Fit, Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, and Sony’s Playstation Move all promise to get you fit, with the added element of fun.

Verdict: If it get more homebodies moving, it must be a good thing.

Going the distance

Miguel ‘Ige’ Lopez has witnessed the running boom, and credits it to the ‘inexpensiveness and simplicity’ of the sport, and the results you’ll see in running consistently. “A running and internationally certified triathlon coach, Lopez has finished his share of races, and so have those who’ve trained under him. More than just lacing up a fancy pair of running shoes, runners must set specific goals: as simple as losing weight for a wedding, or as involved as finishing that first Ironman competition.

Whatever the goal, Lopez observes that most of his clients are ‘super-competitive and achievers.’ Some of his running students have even used his training as a springboard or complement to other sporting activities, such as X-Terra, Crossfit, tennis and basketball. With the presence of regular races, and run-specific clinics, magazines and stores, running has becomes an industry of its own.

Verdict: As a fitness trend, running has the legs to go the distance and proves that an individual’s goals should be matched with the activity.

Group dynamics

By harnessing the human competitive streak and new or revamped training aids, performance-driven group workouts can take fitness to a new level. Boot camp workouts employ that social set-up, and use minimal equipment – sometimes even just plain body weight – to provide the resistance for the training. If the group setting isn’t motivation enough, the coaches can spur you on. Proper boot camps will also have a progressive set of exercises in place, to keep participants from plateauing.

If variety is the spice of life, then CrossFIt may very well be that for fitness. The key? CrossFit’s Workouts of the Day (WOD) – daily prescribed exercises that can vary from bodyweight exercises and sprinting, to resistance training with dumbbells, kettle bells and medicine balls. These are performed at a high intensity in a short amount of time, under the supervision of a trainer. The different combinations keep your body guessing, and the required all-out effort makes you stronger. Finally, each WOD is scored, not just to track your progress, but to compare your performance with other CrossFitters, on a leader board of sorts.

Verdict: Any fitness activity is better than inactivity, but one that keeps you engaged and challenged may be the best workout for your body and mind.

Studio staples

Humans are social creatures by nature, and great things have achieved when we work together. The same can apply to workouts too.

Yoga started out as a means of meditation, a path to spiritual transcendence. Modern forms have evolved into health and wellness practices – particularly those done in a class setting. From the hot rooms of Bikram, the rigorous structure of Ashtanga, to the flowing nature of Vinyasa – and everything in between, practitioners of these forms of Hatha yoga can gain flexibility, as well as a degree of muscular strength and tone.

Pilates is another studio fitness regimen with its own history. Developed during World War 1 by German self-defense instructor Joseph Pilates, it became a proven way of building core stability and strength. Now more people, from previously sedentary homemakers to elite athletes, recognise the importance and benefits of a strong core.

Yoga and Pilates are effective and time-tested, but there remains the quest for something more progressive, to keep up with changing times. dance is certainly progressive, and the music component amps the fun factors. Ea ‘Ace’ Torrado, one of the resident trainers at Plana Forma, is a dancer, choreographer and Zumba instructor who knows more than a few things about dance workouts and classes. Barre 3, Zumba and Plana Forma – thanks to the dance component – tend to be less intimidating than traditional fitness classes. Instructors are warm and accommodating, always eager to ‘teach beginners the proper technique, listen to feedback, and make the environment more personal,” Torrado says. She also notes that these dance workouts “give a sense of elegance and beauty to the movements. Class participants feel good and look good while executing the moves.” The beats serve as cues for holding a pose, or going into the next movement. Music is a welcome distraction from the actual intensity of the workout, and the up-to-date playlists keep people coming back for more.

Verdict: Studio staples fit the fun-loving psyche.

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The Fad Four

An effective workout is composed of the fundamentals of fitness: human anatomy, biomechanics and physiology. Coach Jim Saret, M.S.A.T., P.E.S.,S.A.Q., C.A.P.T., shares 4 pointers on how to spot a fad.

  • “No exercise needed.” At the end of the day, we all need to move and exercise otherwise out muscles and body will get weak.
  • The promise of “instant results.” Nothing can give instant results. To get fit, you have to out in some hard work. That’s why it’s called “working out.” No shortcuts.
  • The “latest” and the “best.” It takes time to claim to be the best. Something “new” hasn’t been time-tested yet. In the scientific world, it usually takes 5-10 years to make any claims of some form of success.
  • “It works! (for me)” The most effective selling point is one based on science, and not someone’s testimonials. Testimonials are based on the feelings of a person, and will vary.

Just like you, the fitness industry is on a constant quest for self-improvement. At the end of the day, it’s you who determines if a fitness program is a “fad” or not. Finding a regimen that works for you, matches your fitness goals, gives you enjoyment, and keeps you challenged is a personal choice, and indeed a preference.

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Holistic Healing

Holistic Healing

May 1, 2022   Return

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‘Ayurveda’ is a combination of the Sanskrit words ayur and veda which mean life and science or knowledge, respectively. Ayurveda and its therapies lead people to live a long and healthy life on the basis of prevention rather than cure.

Many Ayurvedic therapies have been shared by word of mouth until 2,000 years ago when the main texts in Sanskrit – Caraka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and, Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya – were written.

Ayurvedic concepts about health and disease are holistic and promote the use of herbal compounds, special diets, massages and other unique health practices. The key concepts are universal interconnectedness among people, their health and the universe; the body’s constitution (prakriti) and life forces (dosha).

Our unique physical and psychological characteristics combine and form prakriti. Our prakriti remains the same throughout our life but our digestion and elimination processes can influence it.

Ayurveda states that everyone is made of a combination of five basic elements:, ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements combine to form three dosha ie, vata (ether and air), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth). Each dosha is responsible for different body functions.

We inherit a unique combination of the three dosha but one is usually more dominant. When the balance of our dosha is disturbed, we are at risk of becoming sick.

Vata

Vata is the most powerful dosha as it controls the basic body functions like:

  • -Blood flow
  • -Breathing
  • -Heart function
  • -Mind
  • -Waste elimination.

Vata can be disturbed if we do the following:

  • -Eat too soon after a previous meal
  • -Fear
  • -Grief
  • -Staying up too late.

People with vata as their main dosha may experience:

  • -Anxiety
  • -Asthma
  • -Heart disease
  • -Nervous system disorders
  • -Rheumatoid arthritis
  • -Skin problems.

Pitta

Pitta controls body functions such as:

  • -Digestion
  • -Metabolism
  • -Some hormones related to appetite.

Pitta can be disturbed if we do the following:

  • -Eat sour or spicy foods
  • -Fatigue
  • -Staying out in the sun for too long.

People with pitta as their main dosha may experience:

  • -Anger and negative emotions
  • -Crohn’s disease
  • -Heart disease
  • -Heartburn
  • -High blood pressure
  • -Infections.

Kapha

Kapha controls body functions such as:

  • -Body strength and stability
  • -Immune system
  • -Muscle growth
  • -Weight.

Kapha can be disturbed if we do the following:

  • -Daytime sleeping
  • -Eat after stomach is full
  • -Eat foods containing too much salt or water
  • -Eat too much of sweet foods.

People with kapha as their main dosha may experience:

  • -Asthma
  • -Cancer
  • -Diabetes
  • -Nausea after eating
  • -Obesity.

Who is a healthy person?

According to Sushruta, an Ayurvedic practitioner in 1,000 BC, “A person is deemed healthy when his physiognomy (outer appearance) is balanced, his digestion and metabolism are in good working order, his tissue and excretory functions are normal and his soul, mind and senses are in a state of constant inner happiness.”

Ayurveda encourages everyone to aspire to live his or her life in the best possible state – physically and mentally. A healthy life is a balanced life based on the three pillars of body, mind and soul.

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When you visit the Ayurvedic practitioner

The Ayurvedic practitioner first examines you by doing the following:

  1. Observation (Darshan): looks at and observes your eyes, nose, lips, skin, hair and nails.
  2. Touch (Sparsha): touches, presses down and taps on parts of your body while listening for sounds coming from your organs. Takes your pulse and looks at your nails. Listens to your speech. Laboratory tests are also done.
  3. Questions (Prashna): asks you about complaints and symptoms.

Information obtained through the examination helps the practitioner determine your dosha type, assess your ailments and come up with a personalized treatment for you. The treatment is focused on making your body stronger so its own energy can help you heal.

Ayurvedic treatments come in a wide variety, and the practitioner will choose one that meets a patient’s needs the best. From a daily routine (dincharya) to a seasonal routine (ritucharya), treatments include shirodhara, diet, massage, panchakarma and herbs and herbal formulas.

  • Shirodhara: Medicated oil is dripped on the forehead. The practitioner picks different types of oil and the length of treatment best suited for you. A trained massage therapist does this treatment.
  • Diet: Diet is an important part of the treatment, recovery and disease management. Each person is prescribed a diet based on his or her prakriti and dosha. However, the 6 primary tastes ie, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent must be included. Each taste functions differently and works together to improve your health.
  • Massage: The practitioner picks the oil, which is then prepared and used by trained massage therapists.
  • Panchakarma: This is a detox regimen, which helps remove undigested waste matter in your intestines (ama). This regimen includes massage, steam treatment, induced vomiting (vamana); use of herbal- and oil-based laxatives (virechana) and medicated enema (basti), blood letting and a nasal treatment (nasya). After this detox regimen, 
  • Herbs and herbal formula: Each herb has its action and effectiveness, which are based on its taste (ras), active potency (virya) and post-digestive effect (vipak). Therefore, the Ayurvedic practitioner must have deep knowledge of herbs and their effect on our physiology, biochemistry and psychology.

When looking for a trained and qualified Ayurvedic practitioner, you need to do some research. In Malaysia, you can contact the Malaysian Association of Traditional Indian Medicine (PEPTIM) at: http://tcm.moh.gov.my or call: 604-262 5875.

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Caution:

-Do visit a trained and qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.

-Ayurvedic therapies cannot replace conventional care so see a doctor first if you have a medical condition.

-Pregnant and nursing women, as well as children, should consult a doctor first before seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner.

-If you are on an Ayurvedic therapy, inform your doctor so your care is coordinated and safe.

References:

1. Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. Available at www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu

2. U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Available at https://nccih.nih.gov

3. WebMD. Available at www.webmd.com

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Stand Up & Move, People! Stand Up & Move, People!

Stand Up & Move, People! Stand Up & Move, People!

May 1, 2022   Return

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Dr Raja Ahmad Shaharul   Consultant Family Medicine Specialist & Certified Nutrigenomics Practitioner

Many Malaysians, especially those living in urban areas, are becoming increasingly sedentary. Just take a look at a typical urbanite’s day – how many hours are spent sitting down or being physically inactive?

Studies found that the average person in this world sits down for 7.7 to 15 hours a day.[1] That’s about half the day!

Sitting down by itself is not a problem, explains Dr Raja Ahmad Shaharul (or Dr Shah to his patients and friends). The problem is that we are sitting down too much. Researchers are increasingly sounding the alarm that being sedentary for this much can be dangerous, even deadly. These researchers have even coined a term for ill-effects for sedentary (mostly seated) lifestyle: sitting disease.

The Dangers of Being Sedentary

Dr Shah explains the following:

  • When we are sedentary, we are not burning away excessive calories that we have obtained from our meals. As a result, we put ourselves at higher risk of becoming overweight and obese.
  • Being overweight and obese increases our risk of various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases, kidney problems and more. It is believed that the risk of certain cancers may also be increased.

A study conducted from 1993 to 2006 found that up to 94% of inactive women and 48% of inactive men who sit for more than 6 hours daily are more likely to die, compared to their more active counterparts who sit for less than 3 hours daily.

There are also possible short-term effects on our health. For instance, maintaining incorrect body posture while working at the work desk for long periods of time can lead to joint stiffness and pain as well as nerve problems.

“But I go to the gym regularly!”

While being physically active is a good thing, extending our gym time or adding a few more laps to our evening jogs may not be enough to reverse the effects of sitting down for so long each day. On top of regular physical activity, Dr Shah recommends the following:

Tips for the Office Staff

  • Take a short walk, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, for every 30 minutes to 1 hour of working at the desk.
  • Instead of calling or messaging colleagues, walk to their desk.
  • Park our vehicles a little farther from the office entrance or elevator lobby, so that we can walk a bit more. Also, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
  • If we are stuck in a traffic jam, we can do simple exercises such as moving our toes, crunching our abs, and even exhaling and inhaling deeply to exercise our respiratory muscles.

Tips for Employers

While it may require significant investment of time and money, research shows that providing the office staff with sit-stand desks can improve both the health and productivity of the overall workplace staff.

  • A study by Stanford University found that employees using sit-stand desks were 78% less likely to experience pain.
  • A 2011 study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that employees using sit-stand tables experience improved mood as well.

A sit-stand workstation

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Don’t Just Sit There!

In addition to taking a short walk after a long period of working at the desk, we can also do some furtive exercises without attracting weird looks from our colleagues.

  1. Reduce stress and tension by rolling our shoulders (forward in a circular motion 10 times, backwards for another 10 times, repeat) and stretching our arms.
  2. Feeling bored while standing by the photocopy machine? Lift one lower leg to the back, hold it for a few seconds and lower it before lifting the other lower leg. Repeat this a few times.
  3. If we need some respite from reading the documents at our desk, sit up straight and then hold our abdominal muscles tight. Then, lift and extend one leg until it is level with our hip and hold it in that position for a few seconds. Lower the leg and do the same with our other leg. Repeat a few times. This little exercise helps strengthen our stomach muscles and relieve our cramped or tired muscles at the same time.

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I Just Can’t Lose Weight!

I Just Can’t Lose Weight!

May 1, 2022   Return

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Despite our best efforts, sometimes it can seem like an impossible task to lose those extra kilos. Unfortunately, it is widely known that the more overweight we are, the harder it can be to slim down to a healthier weight.

There are many supplements available on the market that are said to be able to aid us in our weight loss or weight management efforts by helping to ‘burn’ fat. Below are some common natural herbs and substances used for weight loss and weight management, and it is common to find supplements containing extracts from several or all of these ingredients:

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  • Garcinia cambogia, or the Malabar tamarind, contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA) in its rind. HCA is said to stop the activity of an enzyme involved in making fat in our body, and it may also help control our blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Additionally, some studies suggest that HCA can increase the levels of a substance called serotonin in our body, which would lead to suppression of appetite. Serotonin also improves our mood, indirectly benefiting those of us who binge on snacks when we are stressed.

 

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  • Banaba leaf (that’s banaba, not to be confused with banana!) contains corosolic acid, which is said to be able to help lower blood glucose levels by making the cells in our body take in more glucose from the blood. While this is helpful for people with diabetes, care has to be taken to ensure that the blood glucose levels do not drop too low – consult a pharmacist for more information.

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  • Green tea is a common active ingredient in many weight loss supplements. It contains an antioxidant substance called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may help boost the metabolism (‘burning’) of our fat and calories. Research also suggests that EGCG may be beneficial to our heart as well.

 

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  • Green coffee bean contains chlorogenic acid, which may help suppress appetite, and caffeine, which can help give our metabolism a boost.

But, some caveats

  1. We don’t have many studies done on humans to verify the benefits of weight loss supplements. They may work for some people, but not others.
  2. The ingredients mentioned here are considered generally safe for use. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people with medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease should, however, consult their doctor before taking these supplements.
  3. Many studies on the use of supplements point out that they work best when used alongside a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Therefore, we should not use supplements as a replacement for the ‘hard work’. There is no short cut in weight loss, but, getting there is worth every effort made!

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