Thursday, October 31, 2013

Controlling Diabetes In A Healthy Way

Before discussing how to control Diabetes with simple, healthy lifestyle tips, let us first have a look at  what is Diabetes  and the various types and classifications of diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes refers to a kind of disease where abnormal levels of blood glucose or sugar is present or produced in our body. It is a kind of disorder in the carbohydrate chemical reactions of our body. Normally most of the food we consume is digested by being converted into small pieces of glucose. Glucose is a kind of sugar present in our blood.  It is the vital energy that keeps all actions of our body fit. Now this glucose requires the presence of a hormone called insulin for its passage through the bloodstream. A patient with diabetes lacks the presence of this hormone of insulin in his body. It can be due to some hereditary and/or environmental factor resulting in insufficient production of insulin or either it may be due to a lesser or no sensitivity at all to the insulin that is required for converting the blood sugar into energy.

So when the insulin is insufficient or absent in our body, the glucose can not pass into our blood cells for transforming into energy. The resulting effect is accumulation of high levels of glucose in our blood. This state of body with high levels of blood sugar is known as diabetes. Thus diabetes refers to a disease in our body where high levels of blood sugar or glucose get accumulated due to absence or shortage of insulin.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes in normal sense refers to a case where excessive blood sugar is present in the body. But some cases of diabetes do not refer to presence of excessive blood sugar. On the other hand, they refer to other symptoms like excessive urination and thirst, etc. So to differentiate these cases, Diabetes is classified into Diabetes Mellitus (DM) and Diabetes Insipidus (DI).
  • Diabetes Mellitus refers to cases of normal Diabetes with excessive levels of blood glucose which is a most common type of Diabetes.
  • Diabetes Insipidus is another type of metabolism disorder where the patients suffer from excessive and frequent urination symptoms and excessive thirst problem due to kidney dysfunction, etc. They do not possess excessive blood sugar problem. In this type of diabetes,  patients require to take water and fluids with salt very frequently to compensate the loss under medical guidance. Urine output may decrease with low protein and low sodium diets.
Diabetes Mellitus is further classified into 3 types according to its nature or origin.
  • Type 1 Diabetes refers to cases of diabetes acquired at early stages of adulthood or during childhood period and is characterized by insulin deficiency caused by absence or loss of insulin producing beta cells in the body. Patients with this defect need to take insulin injections permanently throughout their life.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is a case of diabetes mellitus with high levels of blood sugar developed in course of time due to old age, obesity and inactivity, etc. Irregular and bad eating habits without any time schedule also lead to this stage. But type 2 diabetes is easy to control through healthy diet intake, regular exercise and proper medicines.
  • Gestational Diabetes is a case normally affecting females during pregnancy periods. This can be easily controlled through proper diet and exercise.  

Tips to control Diabetes in a healthy way
Now let us have a look at some very simple facts and tips to control Diabetes.

  1. Reduce intake of Sugar and glucose products. Patients with diabetes should avoid sugar wholly. Not only sugar but all sweet dishes and fruits yielding sugar like mangoes, apples and sweet or glucose producing products should be completely restricted. 
  2. You may use sugar free tablets and powder in place of sugar, if you can not totally leave sugar. As these products do not contain sugar, you can be safe. But even these things should be used very cautiously in control as they affect your health with other complications.
  3. Avoid excessive eating at one sitting and adapt yourself to developing a habit of eating in small quantities but more frequently. If you resort to heavy intake of food at a single sitting, it will increase your blood sugar levels abruptly and haphazardly thereby affecting your health. To keep the sugar levels in control, take small quantities of food in one sitting. Thereby, sugar production will be normal and your food also gets digested very easily. Your glucose levels will start coming down only after two hours of eating, by which time you can have another dose of food. Thus you can have small intakes of food at each two hour break to keep your blood glucose levels normal.
  4. Reduce intake of protein rich and starch foods and oil and ghee etc. as they are very harmful. Starch and protein produce excessive glucose. Oil and Ghee contain fats and cholesterol which are also very harmful. These things grow fat and make you obese and more prone to diabetic problems.
  5. Intake of fiber rich food and green vegetables is a very good remedy for diabetic management and control. Fiber makes fat and starch very easily cleared out of your body. Further fiber food keeps heavy in your stomach and you do not feel hungry frequently as it takes more time to digest. So consume food made from whole grains or nuts and green vegetables, vegetable leaves and fiber rich fruits which are good for maintaining healthy digestion and well controlled production of glucose or blood sugar levels in your body. 
  6. Milk and dairy products also should be avoided as they contain fat and excessive proteins. You can take some substitutes containing low cream and fat to meet your requirements if you can't avoid.
  7. Consuming water is also good for controlling the blood sugar levels. Taking more water relinquishes your body from excessive sugars in the form of urine. Further water temporarily calms down your hunger for some time.
  8. Get used to consuming raw vegetables and fruits without removing skins as it will control production of excessive sugars in your body. You can have them either by cooking, boiling or in raw salad form. It helps in maintaining good blood circulation and lowering glucose levels as these dishes have much fiber and low starch and thereby lesser sugar.
  9. Eating of karela or bitter gourd in raw form reduces your body's sugar levels. Preparing juice with its leaves or the leaves of Neem tree and consuming the juice in very small quantities for some days can also reduce diabetes to some extent as per ancestral ayurvedic beliefs. Use of some ayurvedic herbs and spices also helps in reducing the cholesterol and acidity and act as antioxidants thereby improving digestion and blood circulation leading to lesser glucose contamination.
  10. Citrous fruits are better than other fruits to deal with diabetes. Citrous fruits contain less sugar content and also act as antioxidants like lemon, grapes, etc. 
  11. Keep exercising. Regular exercise with a planned time schedule can keep your body fit and remove fat from your body and keep the blood circulation in very good condition. But care should be taken to avoid overdoing anything. Excessive exertion can bring down the glucose levels to a very low stage harming your life. So keep a schedule that fits your age and health. Further, you can keep some juice or snacks ready with you while doing exercise in case of emergencies.
  12. Last, but not the least, is proper medication. Along with all other good lifestyle habits, medicine intake should also be there to control the diabetes. Regular checkups should be maintained with periodical visits to your Doctor. Prescribed medicines and other instructions should be strictly followed by you and any complications should be immediately reported to the Doctor so that he regulates his medications accordingly. 
Whether it is type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes of diabetes mellitus, or may be any kind of diabetes, you can monitor and control the blood sugar levels to a great extent by following all or some of the above mentioned tips in a regular manner.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Deepavali : A festival of lights and Happiness

Wish you all "A Happy and Prosperous Deepavali"

Deepavali or Diwali is one of the most famous and widely celebrated festivals of Indians. It is celebrated on a grand scale by people of all classes and castes all over the country and even in foreign countries also by decorating lights and lighting crackers enjoying parties and outings.

Deepavali literally means lines or rows of lights. People used to decorate their homes with oil lights arranged in rows at entrances. The lights are lit generally in earthen clay bowls with cotton wick submerged in ghee or oil. These lights are placed at the entrances of the house both front side and in the back yard and also at all doors and even windows. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi enters the houses through the doors that are filled with lights at entrances on this special day of Deepavali and bestows people with wealth and prosperity.

Nowadays, oil lights are used very nominally only for continuing the traditional religious practice and mostly electric lights have replaced them with dazzling colors decorated artistically in different beautiful designs and patterns. Moreover, they are arranged in such enchanting and marvelous methods hanging around your building that they twinkle to your eyes with periodic and systematic blinkings and appear to be running or circling all over the building attracting the passersby. Even competitions take place between people to decorate their best and win compliments and praise of the neighbors and public.

Deepavali is generally celebrated by most people continuously for five days starting from two days before Diwali and ending after two days. The first day is celebrated as "Dhanteras" on which day it is believed that purchase of gold or silver turns out to be very auspicious for people. So all shopping including a purchase of new clothes, utensils, decorative items, pooja samagri and crackers, etc. is made on this day. Further, homes are washed neatly and the entrance of the house and puja rooms, backyard and even in rooms also rangoli or kolam is made in different attractive designs and patterns to beautify the atmosphere.

The next day is celebrated as "Naraka Chaturdashi" which is deemed to be the day on which Lord Krishna killed the demon king Naraka with the help of Satyabhama and brought happiness to people. So on this day, we get up early in the morning and take a full, refreshing oil bath with shampoo and soap after applying oil on head and body. Our ancestors used to apply the flour of black gram and green grams all over body after oil and take bath with shikakai in place of soaps and shampoo. Even now, we find shikakai especially used for bathing children as it is a health beneficiary. Then people wear new clothes, pray to God and light some crackers to celebrate the death of Narakasura and spend happily.

The day of Deepavali or Diwali is the major occasion. On this day also people wear new clothes, perform puja and go to temples with family and also enjoy the whole day with special lunch and dinners containing sweets and other special dishes. In the evening time, after lighting the lights Lakshmi Puja is performed and newly purchased gold, silver, and other items are also placed before God and worshipped. The clay diyas are lighted and placed before Goddess during this period and after showing to Goddess, they are placed all over the home at the entrances and backyard and on the rangolis. These clay diyas or lights are very auspicious on this Diwali day. They invite Goddess Lakshmi into your house to bless you and your family with happiness, health, and prosperity. Then the firecrackers are lighted by young and old and especially children in a very joyous mood to celebrate the occasion. Lighting of crackers and decoration of lights are the two main competitive things mostly concentrated by some people who take it as a prestige issue on this day. Some of them purchase crackers worth thousands of rupees and place the crackers in long rows on the whole lane of their homes and light them up enjoying the non-stop lengthy bursting sounds and lights which may be very frightening for some weak hearted people.

The fourth day, the day after Diwali is celebrated as Govardhan Puja. It is believed that Lord Krishna lifted the enormous mountain Govardhana on this day to give protection to people and cattle from the anger of Rain God who was prompted by Indra to devastate them as they were not offering prayers to Indra and instead chose to worship Lord Krishna. So people on this day pray to Lord Krishna and the mountain Govardhan in the shape of rice as saviors of their life. They also worship cattle as the means of pleasing Lord since Lord Krishna gets very pleased with this cattle worship and bestows them with all pleasures and protection.

On the fifth day, it is celebrated as Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Dooj. It means "Brothers day". As it falls on the second day after Deepavali it is called as Dooj or Duj which means the second one. On this Bhai Duj day, the brothers go to their sisters' house and dine with them and leave gifts. This is a way of sharing happiness and at the same time taking the news of her wellness and problems, if any to set them right.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dussehra : A festival celebrating victory of Goddess Durga(Shakti) over demons

One of the most important festivals celebrated in India by people of all states is this festival of ten days which falls in the Hindu month of Ashwin or Aswayuja masa occurring generally during the period of second half of September to the first half of October each year. It is world famous as celebrations of Vijayadashami or Sharad Navaratra festival. This is because of the fact that this festival is celebrated for 9 days/ nights and on the tenth day (during the 1st day of Ashwin, which is the beginning of Sharad season, to the 10th day of Ashwin or Dashami).

'Dussehra' word is derived from original 'Dashahara' which has some meaning in itself. It is the combination of two Sanskrit words 'Dasha' and 'Hara' meaning destruction of ten. It is the destruction of ten bad qualities that are possessed by demons. Some people mean 'dussehra' denoting as a festival of ten days also. Vijayadashami refers to the victory of Goddess Shakti or Durga over Mahishasura (a buffalo shaped demon) on the tenth day of fighting with him. Goddess Durga killed many other demons also and brought safety and happiness to the people including devas. So to celebrate this happiness this festival of ten days came into being.

How to celebrate it

Maa Durga, Kali or Shakti Puja
In homes, Dussehra or Vijayadasami is generally celebrated for 3 days only in starting from the 8th day or ashtami to the 10th day or dashami. On ashtami day Goddess Durga is worshipped and especially ladies keep vrat or austerity taking food only one time on that day and on 9th day also as they consider that Goddess gets pleased when sincerely worshipped by keeping fast and bestows them with shakti or power to overcome all bad things and grants good health and prosperity of their family members. On the ninth day, other forms of Durga like Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Kali are also worshipped to be bestowed with the powers of education, wealth, power and overall well being of family. On 10th day it is celebrated as a festival wearing new clothes, visiting temples, preparation of various dishes and sweets and enjoying with family and friends.

For awareness about Navratri celebrations, you may visit this article:

Public celebrations 
This festival is celebrated publicly also by erecting pandals or tents at public open spaces or street junctions or playgrounds and clubs, etc. all over India in different styles according to their traditions. Idols of Goddess Durga (Kali or Shakti), Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Kartikeya,etc. are placed on elevated platforms and worshipped. These public pandals are erected with the help of donations collected from colony people at each place. All the people visit these celebrations wearing new clothes, especially children and girls. Generally the pooja gets started on 6th day evening and is carried on upto 10th day. Normal worship goes both times (in the morning and evening) and then arati is done in the evenings mostly popular among Bengalis, who perform pooja with dance-like performances holding the earthen bowls containing burning coal or dung cakes with incense powder sprinkled over it emitting a good divinely smelling odour with smoke all over the pandal. They make the dancing steps in such a rhythm matching with the beatings of the holy music. It is a very marvellous and thrilling experience both for the performers and the viewers. During this performance all the devotees gathered there experience a thrilling feeling of union with divinely power.

Ramlila performances
Vijayadashami is considered to be the day when Lord Rama fought with demon Ravana and won the battle by killing him and released Goddess Sita from his captivity. So to celebrate this occasion, the tradition of enacting plays from Ramayana illustrating these incidents started from that period onwards. This practice of Ram lila performances is mostly popular in Northern India. Ram lila stages are erected at all colonies just like Durga puja pandals. Ramlila is usually held throughout nights on all these ten days starting late in evenings to accommodate people attending Durga puja so that they can attend Ram lila after returning from puja and after having dinner. These Ram lila performances are enacted in a typical traditional style to resemble the real characters and environment of that age. On the tenth day, the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath are burnt with firecrackers and people feel the joy of destruction of evil.

Ram Nagar Ram Lila near Varanasi
Ram Nagar is a town near Varanasi in U.P. which is famous for Ram Lila celebrations. Originally the Royal family of Ramnagar kingdom started this festival to be celebrated publicly along with their public many centuries ago. Since then, it grew to be widely popular year after year. It is celebrated for one full month with processions of Ramlila characters and scenes in stages by erecting pandals and stages at many places of Ramnagar and Varanasi by crossing river Ganga at a place connecting Ramnagar Fort with Lanka or BHU of Varanasi. They consider Ramnagar as the kingdom of Rama and Lanka as the abode of demon king Ravana and the bridge on river ganga to be the bridge built by Rama's army consisting vanaras of whom Hanuman was leader. Full Ramayana scenes are very beautifully and artistically presented by these performers during one full month all over Ramnagar and Varanasi.

Dollhouse or Bommala Koluvu (Kolu) decorations
In Southern India, it is customary to decorate their houses with small idols or miniatures of the characters of Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Gods and Goddesses along with other dolls on this festival. Some people treat this practice with competition spirit exhibiting their full skills and tastes in their decorations. People visit one others' places to witness these decorations. It is known as Bommala Koluvu in Andhra Pradesh and as Kolu in Tamil Nadu.

Performance by school children 
Schools take participation in the Dasara celebrations by making students dressed as characters of Ramayana or some other ideal characters and take them in procession on streets and to the children's houses to showcase their talents and improve extra curricular talents. Besides, Saraswati pujas are organised in schools on the navami or ninth day and books are kept in front of Saraswati to bestow them with good knowledge and merit.

Overall, Dasara or Durga Navaratri is a festival of victory of good over evil celebrated all over India and in many parts of the world with different cultures and styles. You come to know many lifestyles of the people by observing these celebrations both of contemporary period as well as epic period.