How I fixed my guts to glory

No Guts no Glory! :  The word “guts” has two meanings The more common way in which the word  is used, guts  means courage . Gut actually is short form for  gastrointestinal tract, the long digestive tube, about 25-30 feet long, that is about five times our height It starts at the mouth and ends at anus.  Usually there is wisdom hidden in idioms; “No guts, no Glory” seems to indicate that our courage emanates from our guts, just as thinking and memory originates from our brain. Does a strong willed person’s self belief ,courage, ability to cope with stress ,come from gut part of the body or brain? Can one  part of body, gut with its bacterial colony , impose its will on our brain ? Who hasn’t experienced butterflies in gut, or urge to pass urine or experience bowel movement ,when faced with a challenging situation ? In the present article, the word gut is used to mean specifically the small intestine, the major portion of the gastrointestinal tract.

If we think of our “self” as a tree, then our roots run deep in the gut with brain as a pinnacle. The umbilical chord that feeds us while in mother’s womb was also rooted in the navel , center of the gut As infants, we had a close connection between our gut and brain, which got fainter as we grew older. Just as a tree that has strong roots can face stormy winds, strong guts prepare us to face challenges in life. The guts environment is defined by gut bacteria that reside in its  mucous membrane.
Fig I  figure_1

Since childhood, I  inherited  a rather  delicate  gut  My mother used to tell me about bouts of dysentery, I had suffered during infancy. May be my indigestion during those times had something to do with the factory produced baby food, ( ie powder milk) that was heavily marketed by MNCs during those times as an alternative to breast milk.

Travelling in interiors of India : After graduation, my first job,  as  sales engineer, meant  I extensively toured  the  interiors of Western India. I was drinking  water, from different regions of western  India like  MP, Gujarat, rural Maharashtra Those times were before bottled water was successfully marketed in  India by Bisleri. Until then, water was supposed to be a free commodity that has become now a resource in India . No one imagined some day Indian consumer could be persuaded to  buy filtered water almost at 50% of  price of milk

Travails of travelling  A Marathi proverb says that “ One who drinks  water from twelve different  places becomes a worldly wise man”! It means that travelling makes one worldly wise. I am not sure my travel made me wise but soon travails of  my gut caught up with me, due to combination of many factors. I enjoyed my tours to hinder lands of India , tasting diverse cuisines from different parts of India, that too at company expense!  Any big sales win used to be  celebrated with my colleagues, over beer or such alcoholic drinks  With such abuse, my delicate gut progressively became worse .I would at times, throw up after our drinking parties. I also  frequently suffered bouts of dysentery, colic pains . The stool test, barium meal , etc  revealed presence of cysts of Giardia lamblia  for causing amoebic dysentery. I was prescribed a course of antibiotics  to get rid of amoeba from intestine. The antibiotics did not give much relief. In any case, as a policy, I have always avoided allopathic medicines, as far as possible , unless in a life and death situation. This is due to an intrinsic  belief that allopathic medicines treat only the symptoms of an ailment In addition one suffers side effects of medicines Modern medicine does not go to the root cause with a holistic view unlike ancient therapies Ayurveda. This was the reason , I did not opt for MBBS (medical college ) admission even though I was eligible , after passing XII science  I  chose to be an engineer without knowing much about engineering ! (That’s another story !!)

Holy grail of alternate medicine therapies  To avoid outside foodI considered changing  my job from sales to a desk job,  that did not require any  travelling. I began practicing Yoga Asanas. I  also explored Ayurvedic OTC (over the counter ) medications like Kutajarishtha with no results One of the Ayurvedic doctors from Nasik, I consulted, advised me to enhance the fire element (ie acid)  in my gastric juices, to address problems of amoebic dysentery. The Ayurvedic therapy, Yoga Asanas went in vain, without  any permanent relief from colic pains.

Lifelong pursuit in holistic wellness: They say, “You have to lose something, as important as personal  health,  to value its  importance.Even though I did not choose to be a medical doctor by education, my frail personal health was behind my quest for alternate wellness therapies I decided to explore a longer,  holistic route to repair  my health problems. Homeopathy, Magnetic water therapy, Acupressure therapies were tried,  one by one and  discarded as mere placebos, with  no tangible physical relief. Then I was introduced to  Pranayama, a Yogic breathing practice, as a panacea for all health problems Swami Poornanandaji, who taught Mudra Pranayama,, once philosophized that  spiritual people usually have delicate tummies. Even though Pranayama gave  mental peace, stress relief, colic pains had not left me  As a result of practice of Pranayama, I voluntarily became teetotaler As a result of  Pranayama practices, I did derive  unexpected rewards on spiritual front  However  my stomach had  yet not settled  down to Nirvana, the  enduring and everlasting  peace.

Searching for panacea : Then by sheer coincidence, I met Shri Balakrishna Nalawade, proponent of biofeedback , a  nature cure therapy (Fig 2)  As a result of biofeedback ,I went through process of catharsis, whereby the toxins accumulated in digestive system got eliminated Slowly and surely my gut ecosystem settled down to a peaceful coexistence with gut parasites that antibiotics wanted to banish! Later Dr B V Khare, Urologist and nature cure practitioner  gave  scientific basis to the biofeedback nature cure therapy. Dr B V Khare, termed all bakery products (cakes, biscuits, pastries, pizza) as bekar (means useless) products to be avoided at all times. He recommended eating whole grains with sprouts, seasonal fruits, to get better results from biofeedback nature cure. He advised that Moong dal (Fig 3) is easily digestible protein and sprouts add to its vitamin content. I benefited from nature cure therapy which complimented practice of Yoga, Pranayama.

Fig 2  figure_2

Positive feedback goes to restore system stability

 

Suffering deleterious side effects of antibiotics treatment : This fairy tale however did not end without a twist in the script ! When all seemed well, one fine day I contracted  Typhoid,  called as enteric fever by medicos. The doctor prescribed particularly  strong dose of antibiotics treatment . He also forgot to prescribe vitamin supplements with antibiotics I dutifully took the full course of antibiotics ,  almost on empty stomach as I had lost appetite due to illness, without any vitamin supplements. This seemed to create havoc in my entire system, particularly as my system  was not used to any allopathic medicines.  I thought that every 500 mg antibiotic pill that I gulped, went down like a nuclear bomb through my virgin gut, destroying the intestinal flora  I completed the treatment. Soon after it ended , I simply went into delirium, euphemism for going crazy ! I had lost my mental balance. I was diagnosed as suffering from mental disorder, that affects dopamine neurotransmitters in brain . As per Hindi movie, Munnabhai sequel, Lage Raho Munnabbhai, there was a chemical locha ( imbalance ) in my brain ! After consulting a psychiatrist, and two month long treatment, I thankfully recovered without much long term damage to my health and psyche. Even though no doctor who treated  told me about what could have caused this, I intuitively believed that  the antibiotics would have caused havoc with my mental balance. There may not be  previous records that interlinked mental  disorder to antibiotics treatment .

Picking up the pieces: No other illness shakes one’s confidence and self belief like  mental illness. As per Osho, we perceive our mind closer  to  self identity than our body. Hence losing mind, seems unacceptable to one’s ego. I come out of episode of mental illness with a stronger self belief that I am the sole maker of my health (or disease) destiny. I   resolved to get back my total  health I continued  practicing  Pranayama . biofeedback nature cure , Hapkido, a Korean martial arts to restore health .

Food as medicine : I started  reading on nutrition , concluding that food .itself is a medicine, if we remove mental blocks about it. In childhood we were asked to chant one shloka,before eating food It says that food is not to be viewed as filling up tummy but to propitiate the fire in the belly, as a sacred duty. (उदरभरण नोहे जाणिजे यज्ञकर्म )(Udar Bharan Nohe, Janije Yajna Karma) I always believed that food is meant to be  enjoyed unlike popping pills, vitamin or hormonal supplements, injections All supplements tend to supply more than necessary quantity of desired nutrient, causing an imbalance and other problems We must choose natural food that we can learn to  relish, in order to digest and assimilate nutrients .

सति गदार्तस्य किमौषधिनिषेवणैः  , पथ्येsसति गदार्तस्य  किमौषधिनिषेवणैः)(Sati Gadartaya Kimaushadhi Nishewanai, Pathye sati Gadartasya Kimoushadhi Nishewanai)One  Sanskrit  proverb says that when patients’ diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; When patient’s  diet is right, medicine is not needed!

 You are what you eat; Discarding long held choices on food I came across books by Dr Malati Karwarkar , (Doctor , What I should eat) which helped me to understand about basic nutrition. I disassociated my  spiritual beliefs from my choices about food I continued to update and discard long held beliefs when presented with new facts For example, when I discovered blood thinners like garlick, onions for their sulfur compounds are great for health, I included them as  part of my daily diet Onions, and garlic have been condemned by many Yoga practitioners  as Tamasi (making one lazy and indolent )food.There after I bid good buy to many self imposed restrictions on non vegetarian food like eggs, fish, meat . I cultivated a taste for sea  fish, eggs, bits of  chicken, not only for  Omega 3 and Omega 6 fat oils ,but also for Vitamin  B-12. Lack of B-12 vitamin can cause mental illness and depression. I also included seasonal fruits, oil seeds, dry fruits like Almonds, walnuts, sprouts of Moong and dollops of ghee in my diet.

Fig 3  figure_3
Three Principles on food as per Ayurveda ..हित भुक (Heet Bhuk) (Always choose to eat what is good for you) , ऋत् भुक (Rut Bhuk)(Eat as per season) ,  मित भुक (Meet Bhuk)(Calorie Restricted diet ).

Combination therapy :Nutrition, Biofeedback, Yoga : In addition to biofeedback, following better nutrition , Yoga/Pranayama   gave me much needed relief from colic pains. I concluded any good therapy must use the trinity, Food/nutrition, Yoga/Exercise and biofeedback/nature cure for comprehensive and holistic cure to restore natural health, that is everyone’s right .

Journey towards a positive state of health :  I no longer have any rumbling issues with my digestive system In fact I  have never been sick since a long time   I do not need to take any medications including vitamin supplements I have coped successfully with stress of working in IT industry . I particularly practice the Yoga-Asanas that work on digestive system like Mayurasana Dhanurasana, Bhujangasana, Padma-Mayurasana(See Fig 4 note 1)  Now it seems that modern medicine is ready to accept the holistic truths about our miraculous body. Dr Deepak Chopra, the wellness Guru, is leading us to  unknown realms of life. Deepak Chopra has postulated that gut bacteria listen to and are affected by  our thoughts. Dr Enders , author of book  titled Gut, goes one step more to say that  gut bacteria and brain communicate in a bidirectional way.Gut bacteria  seem to be causing of our moods , emotions, pain and general feeling of well being . There is deep correlation connection between enteric nervous system and the central nervous system. The gut bacteria influence state of brain in many ways.  The old puzzle of rumble in stomach and mental imbalance was solved !

Mayura-asana  figure_4a
Bhujangasana  figure_4c

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Dhanurasanafigure_4b

 

Padma Mayurasana  figure_4d
Fig 4

 All illnesses including the mental illness, originate in gut   :  As per Ms Giulia Enders , author of book  titled Gut,  the inside story, gut  is in second in importance to the brain in our miraculous body . Gut bacteria along with brain create our sense of “self” The book is a must read for all psychiatrists  or anyone who has an abiding interest in personal health and wellness .After reading the book,  I realized that I was intuitively following many good practices  Reading the book only confirmed many of my intuitive choices . Following is summary of the exerts from the book, Guts, the inside story by Giulia Enders

Vegas nerve is a   direct bidirectional nerve  link  between our  brain and gut . The gut communicates with brain about state of nation by this nerve! (Fig 5) The brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help in shaping the gut’s microbial makeup, Gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters like serotonin  that influence the brain. The gut-brain  interactions occur in various ways: microbial compounds communicate via the vagus nerve, and with the immune system, which maintains its own communication with the brain.(Fig 7A, 7B, 8)  Our gut influences brain in myriad ways.. Much of our health, mental attitude is determined by the microbes in gut including Allergies, intolerances and acid reflux. Seretonin, the happiness hormone makes  us feel sated, feel good mood. More than 95% of serotonin  hormone is manufactured in cells of gut. Most psychiatric drugs affect both brain and gut  in same way.
Fig 5  05_Vagus-txt

  

  1. Stomach’s location is  much higher than where we assume  :When we say stomach, we usually point to  gut, ie the lower portion of abdomen. Our stomach  is actually located  much higher than what we imagine
Fig 6  figure_6
As you can observe from fig.6, stomach begins just below the left nipple and ends below bottom of the rib cage  on the right  Many a times we  say there is pain in stomach, the  problem most likely, be in the lower part ie gut or the intestines(fig 7)
Fig 7  figure_7
Fig 7A  figure_7a
  • Doorkeepers on both ends of stomach: There are doorkeepers(valves) on both ends of stomach. If  the upper valve has issues, we get heart burn due to acid reflux The lower valve gives free passage to water and liquid drinks to gut. Foods like carbohydrates(cakes, pasta, pizza, bread, rice)  are not held for long They quickly go to the gut and raise blood sugar giving sugar spike. Food that contains protein or fats are processed in stomach for longer time. We know from our experience that if we eat only refined carbohydrates (like rice flakes, rice products, bakery products ) we get hungry faster than if we eat same thing with an egg and /or adding  butter or ghee
  1. Biome , the genetic material of gut microbes Biome, genetic material of microbes and our genes is our true social network :  There is a word in Marathi, पिण्ड ( Pind), which means biome, the large super set of our genome along with microbes we inherit this from our ancestors The biome is the  result of eating habits, lifestyle formed over millions of years There is one Sanskrit saying पिण्डे पिण्डे मतिर्भिनः )Pinde pinde matirbhinnah ) means the  typical way of thinking that we inherit (ie mind) is different as per each type of  biome  There is an adage, पिंडी  ते ब्रह्मांडी  – (Pindi te Bramhanadi)  meaning the  biome contains everything that  is there in universe ) This microbiome is altered  by choices of dietary habits, lifestyle. Thus biome is  a much wider term than our genes, for it includes genome of bacteria that have been living us Each one of has a unique micro biome fingerprint. Similarly different communities have certain types of biome.
  2. Microbes outnumber our genome : As per Deepak Chopra, the genetic material of microbes in gut outnumber our genetic material by 120 times . Gut flora (gut microbiota) is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. While some of our gut bacteria are common among  all people,  each one has own unique gut microbiome like finger print Gut bacteria help us digest certain foods that cannot be  digested in the stomach   Bacteria produce vital vitamins, aid in bone density, building a strong immune system and a healthy nervous system It helps to strengthen our immune system and interacts with many nerve cells and hormone-producing cells in the intestinal system. It aids in the production of certain vitamins such as B , H and K. Having healthy bacteria in our gut is vitally important for proper functioning  of the body. Gut’s microbiome affects weight control, sensitivity to allergies, cholesterol, risk for  diabetes, hormonal issues and cardiovascular health. The bacteria also impact body fat, help maintain good cholesterol levels, mental health as well as ability to cope up stress and fight diseases.
  3. Happiness hormone originates in gut: Specific gut microbes are involved in the production of neurotransmitters–the chemicals your brain and nervous system use to communicate with the rest of your body, but also to regulate mood and behavior The gut nervous system (enteric nervous system) works independently of brain . Seretonin , the hormone known as a mood elevator, is responsible for making us feel sated and pleasant, in good mood. More than 95% of serotonin , the happiness hormone, is manufactured in cell of gut. Serotonin can affect our mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function. Unhappy gut can be the cause of an unhappy mind  ! If your gut has better stock of bacteria producing vitamin B12 , you will have better nerves, ability to withstand pressure, stressful situations
Our real social network : Taken together, our gut bacteria have 150 times more genes than a human being. This massive collection of genes is called a biome. Gut microbes may have their own evolutionary reasons for communicating with the brain.. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. The gut is one niche where more than 99% of  human microbiota inhabit.
Fig 8  8
  1. Microbiome is the root cause of mental state : Disruptions of the microbiome induced anxiety, depression and even autism in mice. In some cases, scientists could restore normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria. It seems dietary treatments could be used as either adjunct or sole therapy for mood disorders The scientists also found intestinal microbes could influence stress responses in the brain, with possibility of using probiotic treatments to affect brain function in beneficial ways
  2. Forced Swim test on mice reveals that our character influenced by gut bacteria In forced swim test, a mouse is placed in a deep container forcing it to swim. How long will it keep swimming till it finds ground ? This depends upon character of mouse .Mice with depressive tendencies simply freeze , give up too soon. When such timid mice were fed a strain of bacteria, swapped from brave mice. they kept swimming for longer, performed better in memory , fewer stress hormones. Scientists found that disruptions of the microbiome induced behavior like anxiety, depression and even autism. In some cases, scientists could restore normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria.
  3. Microbiome influences mental illnesses. People who suffer from intestinal problems like IBS(irritable bowel syndrome ) often have co-occurring psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression.
  4. Natural is priceless : Natural delivery, unlike C section, bestows microbes mother’s immune system to the baby Also breast feeding is the best gift infant can get for growing healthy gut bacteria.
  5. Obsessive cleanliness does more harm than good : As per Dr Enders, cleanliness is mostly in head! Fear driven hygiene, obsessive cleaning ( example use of anti bacterial soaps, alcohol based cleaning solutions, bathroom cleaners, etc )  are driven by advertisements on TV, which work on making you “fear” the microbes. Such obsessive cleaning causes allergies and autoimmune disorders Luckily more than 95% of bacteria are harmless to humans Even few bad ones are good when in small numbers Bad bacteria act like vaccination for priming and training our immune system Remember cleanliness is not annihilation ( ie absence)  of all bacteria As per Dr Enders cleanliness is a balance of good bacteria and few bad ones.
  6. Pure , distilled water is not healthy: Distilled water is pure and cleanest However by a counter intuitive logic, drinking such water does not help gut bacteria to make vitamins like B-12. So let’s get over our obsession with bottled water and start drinking water directly from tap!
  7. Saliva , urine are nothing but filtered blood. Saliva and urine are nothing but  filtered blood Hence both saliva and urine retain the  healing, pain killing  and disinfecting  properties of blood. These are great chemicals secreted by body, not toxic products.
The  appendix, (Fig 9) sitting at beginning of large intestine, is made from similar material like tonsils Appendix is not a useless. It  kills bad bacteria and is store house of good , helpful bacteria , which are used to populate large intestine after an attack of diarrhea Appendix, like tonsils, consists almost entirely of immune cell.
Fig 9  figure_9
  1. Visual stool test : My father often used to quote Saint Vinoba Bhave, प्रभाते  मल दर्शनं  Prabhate Mal Darshnam (meaning among first things in morning,   you get to see is your stools  !) As per Dr. Enders, there are seven types of stools, based on appearance, color, etc Stools are one of the daily indicators of state of your inner health . Whenever I was ill, my father used to ask me somewhat embarrassing questions about appearance of my stools. If stools were dried, small stone like in appearance, it pointed to constipation and dehydration, as per him He was right . We in India give high importance to having a good bowel movement every day, joking that entire days’ mood and  happiness depends on this single activity to be done in morning.
  2. What’s good food for developing good gut bacteria? : Gut bacteria love foods that have fiber(both soluble and not soluble ) High fibre food , whole grains, unpolished rice, etc provides roughage for bacteria. This  is also beneficial for us, as it helps body eliminate body toxins along with undigested fiber  Fast food like pizza, burgers and bakery products are not good for developing good gut bacteria Probiotic  food like curds, buttermilk, is good for gut flora.
  3. Blood group development happens due to gut bacteria : Theoretically new born infants have no blood group . Interactions between baby’s gut flora and immune system , as baby grows, results into development of different blood groups. Blood groups can be termed as the expressions of the gut bacteria in circulatory system.
  4. Leaky gut, IBS, and anxiety : The majority of gut bacteria reside in the mucous membrane that lines the gut. They create a permeable blood barrier , preventing  any bad bacteria from entering blood stream. In leaky gut, the mucous membrane becomes thin or has some cracks through which bacteria enter blood stream. This invokes response from body’s immune system At times an overdriven immune system can mistake body’s own cells as foreign bodies. In IBS(irritable bowel syndrome), unpleasant, bloated feeling persists in stomach , coupled with anxiety , depressive disorders. Bad gut flora is said to be causing such symptoms, resulting in lowering of threshold between gut and brain, giving rise to uneasy feelings
  5. An overactive immune system triggers inflammations. The reason for high activism by immune cells may be in unhappy gur bacteria. The increasing incidence of auto immune disorders have origin in mucous membrane that lines guts , with protective layers of gut bacteria. In such cases, due to leakages from the membrane, body’s immune cells cannot differentiate between what is belonging to body’s own cells and an external thing like bacteria in blood stream.
  6. Antidepressant drugs treat both the enteric and other brain: One of side effects of antidepressant medicines is feeling of nausea, diarrhea followed by constipation. This is due to fact that gut brain(enteric brain) has same receptors like brain.  These medicines have side effects on gut bacteria An unhappy gut may be cause of unhappy brain. New treatment possibilities for psychiatric illness could treat gut rather than the brain.
  7. Human brain’s main function is “Not” thinking !  The main function of human brain , as per Dr Enders , is not to think nor to acquire knowledge but to facilitate body movements! Dr Enders gives example of a species of a fish that literally switches off brain after reaching its destination goal! There are human examples like this in our world in academic world, as per Dr Enders!
  8. Alcohol messes up with gut bacteria . Alcoholic drinks harm good gut bacteria and results in breeding bad ones Therefore avoiding alcohol is recommended for developing good gut flora .
  9. Cholesterol is not all bad : Just as too much cholesterol is bad, too little can be worse for body, causing memory problems, depression and aggressive behavior. Fat sheaths nerve fibres, improved memory , makes one intelligent Fat also lubricates the mucous membrane of gut where microbes reside. No wonder, Indian processed milk fat(Ghee)   is termed as the super food by Ayurveda.
  10. Stress is unhygienic Mental stress produces butterflies in stomach, by altering gut atmosphere Stress helps  bad bacteria to survive in gut, giving rise to host of problems like diabetes, IBS, etc
  11. Drinking milk is not a healthy choice for adults : In 75% of worlds’ population, gene for digesting lactose is switched off  by adulthood. In spite of this, it is possible to digest milk in small quantities. Curds is predigested milk  It is an excellent probiotic As microbes have already acted on lactose turning it into lactic acid, it can be easily digested .
  12. What makes us fat? : Gut bacteria have a great role for weight gain. Obese people are found to have less diversity in gut flora. Certain group of bacteria that metabolize carbohydrates prevail. Gut bacteria are responsible for overall metabolism, likely cause not only obesity but hormone imbalances, Vitamin deficiencies  (B12, D) as well.
  13. What makes up our character ?  From experiments on mice , one can say that  the nature of gut bacteria influences character of mice. If human beings too nurture good gut bacteria by practicing better nutrition, lessening  use of  antibiotics, then one can become healthy, stress free.
  1. Squatting is much natural and healthier way for passing stools : Indians of my father’s generation are used to squat while passing stools, like majority of Asians. Now it seems more civilized to have western type of commode People of my father’s generation faced  difficulties, passing stools in a western toilet seat as you have to sit straight . Dr Enders, quoting many experiments concludes that squatting leads to easier and faster evacuation of feaces Squatting lessens chances of developing piles (hemorrhoids) . We dismissed my father for being old fashioned but my father was right ! It has been found that hemorrhoids, constipation  are  móre  common  in countries where people  sit on commode , chair like structure  to pass stools   This is due to  too much pressure being exerted on the end of gut.
Fig 10  figure_10
  • Avoid poultry fed with antibiotics In India, poultry industry uses antibiotics to help poultry gain weight in a short time. Such antibiotics find way into human body and give rise to drug resistance bacteria . It is better to pay more for organic (desi) variety of poultry than broiler one . Also unnecessary use of antibiotics must be avoided as it gives rise to drug resistant bacteria.
  1. Medicines, any illness takes huge toll on gut flora : A medicine is considered ineffective if it does not have side effects ! As per Dr Malati Karvarkar, renowned dietitian and nutritionist, our body loses lot of vitamins, minerals when we take any medicines for illnesses such as common fever, flue, malaria, hypertension, asthma, etc. Patients needs to have special diet to compensate for such loss of nutrients. The side effects of  medicines cause severe nutritional deficiency caused due to  loss of intestinal  flora  Rarely doctors fully brief patients on ways to compensate such loss of intestinal flora through nutrition, probiotic doses  or vitamin pills
  2. Futility of taking a hostile approach to bacteria : Medical science is realizing  futility of taking a hostile approach to germs through antibiotics Medical science seems to have come full circle. Treatments like  FMT(Fecal Microbial Treatment) would have been termed outlandish, just few years ago. (FMT involves transfer of healthy persons’ stools to sick person’s gut by enema or orally by capsule.)  FMT restores gut flora, harmed due to use of antibiotics. Few years ago, such practices would have been dismissed as pseudoscience. As per Dr. Deepak Chopra, the wellness Guru,  boundaries between what is science and pseudoscience are always changing. as we get deeper understanding about inseparability of body and mind. The gut microbiome, can prevent chronic inflammation and associated brain activity. Alternatively, brain problems can potentially be caused by not taking care of the health of your microbiome. As per Yoga, any physical disease first starts in mind (Manomaya kosha) and then manifests in body (Annamay kosha) This theory is now accepted by medical world as cause of most disease is termed as psychosomatic(ie originating in mind, later manifesting in physical body)

Live and Let Live : Symbiotic way of living  with one and all  is the hallmark of mother nature . The father of modern medicine Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the Gut” The cause of all diseases is due to accumulated excretory  matter which later becomes toxic says Ayurveada (सर्वेषामेव रोगणाम निदानम  कुपिता  मलाः )  (sarveshanam Roganam Nidanam kupita malah) meaning the root cause of all diseases is accumulated waste matter Modern medicine  believes in fighting diseases with antibiotics (literally meaning  anti-life) that adversely affect gut flora. Also overuse of antibiotics is giving  rise to multi drug resistant strains of bacteria Intuitively we understand that if we create good conditions in gut , good bacteria will  prevail and if we create bad conditions, bad bacteria will come up . Both good and bad bacteria (ie health and disease) exist simultaneously within us As Gautama Buddha said, we are creating our health or disease destiny through intuitive or informed choices, we are making each moment. Patanjali Yoga Sutra says, हेंयम दुखः  अनुगतं (Heyam Dukhanugatam ) means that One can avoid coming grief , diseases by taking proactive measures) .

To fix my delicate gut, I learned Mudra Pranayama, Yoga, gave up alcohol, improved nutrition, avoided  wrong food choices; I started practicing biofeedback nature cure since youth.  Existence showed me that it is possible to repair, restore gut. Thanks to all this today I am in better health than in my youth !  My quest  to fix my gut led me to holy grail of  wellness , beyond factory manufactured allopathy  medicines, vitamin pills and supplements. Now my gut is  gloriously fixed and  I am reaping benefits of good health, as described by this Sanskrit shloka that defines good health.

सम दोषा  सम  आग्निश्च  सम धातु  मला क्रिया ,प्रसन्न   आत्मेन  मनाः  इंद्रीय  स्वस्थ  इति भि  धियाते 

sama dosha sama agnishcha samadhatu mala kriyaaha,|Prasanna atma mana indriyaha swastha iti abhidheeyate ||Adequate digestive fire (acid) , the three dosha,(Vaat, Pitta and Kapha)  and  the seven elements in your body namely Ras(chyme), Rakta(blood), Mansa(Muscle), Meda(Fat), Asthi(Bones), Majja(Nerve fibres), Shukra(reproductive semen/egg) are  in orderly balance, You have also good ablutions /excretion, All sensory organs, including  mind , soul are in a happy state

I have made peace with all bacteria in my gut I know that if I create better conditions , the good bacteria will thrive and protect me without over reacting through overreaching  immune system  By giving me delicate tummy in my early youth,  existence did me great favor, as I ended up knowing Yoga, Pranayama and nature cure techniques ! Spiritual folks with delicate tummy,  are indeed blessed ones for they explore hidden truths and unknown areas of conscientiousness
सर्वे सुखिनः संतू , सर्वे संतू निरामयाः सर्वे भद्रानी पश्यन्तु ,माँ निश्चित दुःखं य्याप नु यात
(sarve sukhinah santu,sarve santu niramaya,sarve bhadrani pashyantu,ma nishchit dukham vyap nu yat)
Let everyone be happy and healthy Let everyone make good choices. Let no one undergo painful consequences of wrong choices

I want to end with  a prayer from Upanishad for everyone’s health which is  birth right, granted to us by mother nature , if we understand and follow laws  of natural world.

, Let all be happy,

Notes. 1.  Women are advised against practicing certain Asanas like MayurAsana, Padma Mayurasana which put undue pressure on uterus

  1. Excerpted with permission from Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ by Giulia Enders, Speaking Tiger.

Pankaj Narayan Pandit, Head-Airlines Practice, Sonata Software LtdPankaj Narayan Pandit ,is founder,trustee of SLK Foundation , a charitable trust  for nature friendly  wellness solutions www.slkfoundation.in email slkfoundation.in@gmail.com

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Top Ten Myths on Weight-loss

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 Ten Myths on Weight Loss

Epidemic of obesity : As per WHO, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since  1980. Today 39% of adults are overweight, defined as having  BMI more than 25*. Wealthy countries like USA  have more than 1/3rd adults in Obese category , defined as BMI more than 30. See chart below Please refer to chart at end of article to find out your BMIObesity rates in OECD countries

Higher BMI is the cause of many a life style diseases like cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), diabetes, and even some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). Equally  worse  are the “quick fix solutions” ,marketed by the weight loss industry which promise effortless weight loss, . Understanding the ten myths on weight loss will help in embarking on journey for a healthy weight loss , without causing long term damages.

Myth 1. That the weight loss goals must be achieved in a short time.

A. Usually weight gain would have happened gradually , steadily over 10-20-25 years period since adolescence

Gradual process of weight gain

    1. Logically weight reduction should be also gradual Losing 1 to 2 kg per month is a realistic healthy goal , by  right combination of “exercises”, “sensible eating ” and making other life style changes, that have contributed to the weight gain.
    2. Pick up physical activities that you enjoy, such as walking, cycling, running, swimming , dancing, or a sports  in your journey towards healthy living !
    3. Sudden weight loss, is like crash landing a heavy aircraft , with repercussions on your long term health!

Myth 2. That “Doing exercises” is futile option for achieving weight loss.

  1. It is true that doing exercises does not reduce weight as quickly as strict dieting.
  2. An ideal exercise plan will  have three dimensions; 3S-Strength/Stamina/Stretching
    1. Strengthening of muscles/bones  (For example  weight training, using body as weight for traditional exercises )
    2. Endurance Stamina for heart/lungs (For example activities like sports, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc)
    3.  Stretching for well toned body(For example Yoga, aerobics, dancing) etc
  3.   A well planned , regularly executed exercise plan  will strengthen body’s  frame, internal organs Regular exercises that combine the trinity will raise BMR(Basal Metabolic Rate), slowly bringing down weight without causing harm
  4. Harsh dieting can result in undesirable side effects like mood swings, feeling of depression On the other hand, aerobic exercises has desirable side effects,uplifting of mood,  “Feel Good”due to release of pheromones.
  5. exercise-in-futility
  6. Even though weight loss cannot be achieved due exercise alone,  the body would have started to slowly shed  fat and begun to  strengthen muscles, bones This results in raising BMR (Basal Metabolic rate ) , the rate at which body consumes calories .Stronger muscles in legs, hands, back, stomach, as result of exercise, will successfully raise BMR if you persist with exercise routine, spending more than 2.5 hours per week

'I'm on this 3 month diet...it only lasts a week, but it feels like 3 months.'

Myth 3. Strict dieting ( for example severe fasting, skipping one/two meals, or skipping breakfast) is necessary to reduce weight in short time

  1. Strict dieting does result in quick weight loss but then a bout of flue can also do that with similar after effects. ie weak body. Such weight lost,  most likely will gained,  as quickly as you give up the diet.
  2. Reducing weight in an unhealthy way is not desirable, if loss of weight comes at expense of muscle mass . Loss of skeletal muscles, will pose serious health issues in future.
  3. Dieting generally means denial of food even when you are hungry. Such repeated denials can have adverse effects on your mood, ability to perform normal work , mental alertness and ability to sleep normally.
  4. Eat sensible , eat right, to ensure you get all nutrition, preferably in their natural form, along with fiber, and adequate sun light.
  5. Avoid calorie intense” foods( like fried, oily snacks, sweets made from milk fat, alcohol).Avoid foods with high GI (glycemic index) values , like sugary drinks, those made from refined carbs, choosing lazy carbohydrates, that have roughage , fiber .
  6. Avoid severe fasting that can lead to a weak lever, mood swings, depression, weak bones and susceptibility to  more infections. Strict dieting cannot be practically continued over a long time.
  7. Eat with awareness ; Take time to eat, Choose food with high fiber , chewing for longer ; All this will limit  intake of calories in food.

'Well, if you're enjoying your diet plan you must be doing it wrong.'

Myth 4 You can shed fat selectively from certain body parts (like waist, stomach, biceps, thighs)  by wearing tight belts or by doing special exercises.

  1. Remember that the main organ by which body reduces  weight is through lungs/skin ; when heart  pumps blood at faster rate, lungs take in more oxygen and breath out more Carbon Di Oxide (CO2), along with loss of water from skin as perspiration. More than 80 per cent of body fat is breathed out of  the body through exhaling, making the lungs,the primary organ through which we lose weight, through oxidation.
  2. There are several types of fats in body like Abdominal fat, Visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, brown fat, and white fat . Body has its own logical order for burning  fats from various body parts.
  3. Like accounting method LIFO(Last in, first out) , the stored fat will be first taken from liver, blood, and then from other parts of body. It is likely that fat from face, may be shed first and the  fat from abdomen, waist and  hips  may be the last one  to be shed.
  4. Focus more on exercises for bigger muscles like  legs (for example  kick boxing, outdoor cycling, running, fast walking , climbing up stairs) for faster results

Myth 5 Diet fads (like Vegan, Vegetarian only, No oil, No eggs, No meat or No poultry, Salads only, Atkin’s diet, Having smoothies for breakfast, having only two meals in a day , etc) can achieve  weight loss

  1. Obsessive diet fads cannot last long as they are difficult to maintain in normal life. As soon as diet plan is given up, body will regain lost weight, making entire exercise futile.
  2. Human body needs over forty ingredients every day (ten amino acids derived from proteins, fifteen vitamins, fourteen minerals, Carbohydrates and EFA ie Essential Fatty Acids) There is interplay between these ingredients like in an musical orchestra, so that   food is assimilated into body. Having only one ingredient in excess, or denial of few essential ingredients does not satisfy body’s complex nutritional needs, resulting in malnutrition.
  3. Your body, gut microbes, are  accustomed to your dietary habits acquired from your ancestors  over generations . We need diverse ingredients  of food for getting proper nutrition. Sudden changes in diet is like a shock to body.
  4. Vegetarian diet lacks certain vitamins (like B12) and is usually deficient in complete proteins, iron as well. Increasing protein intake seems difficult in a vegetarian diet. Vegan diets severely impact Calcium(Ca) needs of body as dairy products are the best source for getting calcium.
  5. Say no to any extreme diet fads to achieve weight loss. Eat sensible instead.

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Myth 6 Weight loss clinics, massage,Sauna, steam bath help in reducing weight.

  1. The weight loss achieved by weight loss clinics that massage or use steam/sauna baths is purely due to loss of water, causing dehydration.
  2. Weight loss due to loss of water from body is deceptive. Body will quickly gain weight as loss of water is compensated
  3. It is important that weight loss should be accompanied with loss of % fat in body.
  4. If weight loss happens as a result of loss of muscle mass, then it is hazardous for your long term health.

Myth 7 Doing only Yoga, only Pranayamas, Kapal Bhati like heavy breathing can result in weight loss

  1. Doing Pranayama is not possible without strong lungs, heart. Pranayama is recommended  only after  strengthening body with physical Yoga Asanas.
  2. Traditional HathYoga addresses  mainly “Stretching” part, unless more intense Yogic practices are consciously adopted For example, quicker and more number of rounds of Surya Namaskars, using body weight for dips.
  3. The 3S exercise trinity, Strength, Stamina and Stretching should never be forgotten.
  4. On a positive side, practicing Hatha Yoga will  bring down weight very slowly. Yoga particularly Pranayama  will also restore balance of mind , improve quality of sleep,  reduce cravings, thus addressing the root cause, psychological cause of weight gain.

Myth 8 Taking pills/powders/juices that suppress hunger and  replacing normal food with supplements herb like /herbal powders/protein shakes /vitamin pills /smoothies in artificial form can provide all necessary nutrition, for achieving weight loss quickly.

  1. Body absorbs nutrients along with food fibre/roughage thru food’s journey in small intestine in a gradual way
  2. Sans fiber, the vitamin/protein pills, or herbal (like)powders will not be properly assimilated and most likely to be excreted by body.
  3. Food supplements, vitamin pills  can only  compliment a good diet plan ; these supplements can not be considered a substitute for normal foodfed32606468a73d44f93f5459b3cee94-quick-weight-loss-healthy-weight-loss

Myth 9 You must join a Gym if you want to reduce weight

 

'How effective is this new weight-loss regime?' 'We can guarantee you'll lose £50 at your signing on.'

  1. Body is an intelligent machine, which quickly discovers the  most efficient way to burn calories, conserving its  energy , while doing repetitive motions on Gym equipment  like on Cardio, or cross trainer or other machines
  2. In addition, gym users get bored while doing monotonous activities indoor in a gym
  3. It is also observed that over training with Gym machines often leads to injuries like muscle tear, muscle pull, stress fractures, and cramps , etc  due to over strain in one particular part of body.
  4. Find a exercise buddy or group with whom you can engage in outdoor activities regularly .If weather permits, then choose outdoor exercises( like running, cycling)such “Outdoors Gym” is fun activity for the mind as well . Playing competitive sport an enjoyable way to achieve weight loss.

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Myth 10 MBBS doctors are the best guides for seeking advice on diet and nutrition,

  1. If you want good advice on diet, nutrition, please consult a Ph. D (dietician/nutritionist )  instead of a MBBS /allopathic doctor.
  2. MBBS doctors have little or no formal education on healthy diet and nutritional needs of body.

Pankaj Narayan Pandit, Head-Airlines Practice, Sonata Software Ltd

Pankaj Narayan Pandit is founder,trustee of SLK Foundation , a charitable trust  for nature friendly  wellness solutions www.slkfoundation.in  email slkfoundation.in@gmail.com

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Khudkushah, my fully edible pet rooster

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Road side poultry shop; Factory for killing birds : There is a poultry shop cum abattoir, right across the road, opposite my rowhouse in Kharghar. The abattoir set up on temporary shed,  is an unauthorized structure .The road side shop on average kills over two hundreds chicken per week. The demand for meat waxes and wanes during weekdays. For example, so called “holy” days of week, as per commonly held Hindu beliefs, are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday , Friday, On these weekdays, few chickens get killed . On other days, especially Sunday, the demand for chicken meat soars. In India people eat meat(chicken or goat) , prefer to eat meat of  animals killed before them.  The tropical heat adversely affects quality of meat. Hence eating meat from a “freshly killed” animal is indeed more sensible.The butchers are mostly from the Muslim community. Our Muslim butcher, named as Mullah, is a philosopher He talks about great spiritual truths, as he nonchalantly slits the chickens’ throat with a sharp knife , to drop them into a death well !

Halal ritual for killing : The bird to be killed is picked up at random from a cage full of chirping birds. The selected bird is held high by its feathers, quickly weighed on a kitchen scale, the weight is noted. If the weight meets the requirement then the bird is immediately killed Notice that only the weight matters, not the health or state of the bird! As per the halal ritual, the bird is first fed few drops of water. Just as the thirsty bird happily gulps the water, its throat is slit with a sharp knife . The  bird then is dropped into a three feet deep plastic drum, a literal death well . Here the bird simply bleeds to death, while it flutters its wings violently, in a vain bid  to escape. The more briskly it flutters its wings, the higher it can jump but rarely beyond the rim of drum. The birds make a muted drum beat like sound while hitting the wall of the plastic drum. Initially the beats  have a  high volume.The sound slowly “dies down” as the animal breaths its last.The bird literally fights for life till the last drop of blood is sucked out of the body. Death comes as the bird simply runs out of blood. With heart still beating, the carcass of bird is deskinned on a log of wood,. Feathers are removed, legs are chopped off. The meat is cut into small pieces , packed in black plastic polyethylene bags for delivery to customers. In the night, the blood in drum is emptied along with offal in near by dust bin. Here it is gorged by a waiting pack of stray dogs and crows. Stray dogs and crows are always circling the poultry shop for their daily feed.
Survival against all odds : Few of my “pious” neighbors, among them staunch vegetarians, raise objection to such open slaughter Even the meat eaters abhor  presence of such a “dirty” shop across their house. They complain to civic authorities to remove the poultry shop. Time and again, civic authorities, remove the make shift shanty poultry shop, confiscating the iron cages, along with stock of poultry. The tenacious owner, Mulla takes such setbacks philosophically with no complaints. The makeshift shop duly springs up again very next day with the temporary bamboo shed covered with blue tarpaulin cover.

Colorful desi chicken :The desi or indigenous(also called as gavthi) breed of poultry sells at a premium. The “organic” “desi” poultry sells at Rs 800 per kg, while the broiler variety of chicken that is poultry farmed, sells at 50% discount over desi ones. Unlike the broiler chicken which are hardly two months old, the desi ones are older lot. The poultry farmed chicks are fed with antibiotics to help gain quicker weight. India has no regulation on the antibiotics given to the broiler chicken. As birds are sold purely on weight, higher weight helps the trade make quick profits and no one complains !
I adopt a desi rooster : The male roosters of Indian poultry Birds  birds ,particularly are very colorful with royal red crown, bright shining feathers. Every Sunday the butcher gets fresh supplies of desi chicken sourced from interior villages of India . These  colorful roosters with their deep red crown look so attractive in cages. Unfortunately most of them are destined to perish in a single Sunday. From my house across, every day  I used to hear their drum beats; a death dance. My heart lamented early premature death of such beautiful royal birds.One fine day, I decided to adopt a colorful male bird.The butcher selected a healthy looking male rooster that had just arrived for me. I paid Rs 1600 @Rs 800 per kg I adopted him as a pet. We made night shelter with iron grill for the rooster The next morning as I released from night shelter, the rooster heard calls from his brethren just across the road. It promptly responded to their call , crossing the road to bond with its fraternity! I was amused that the rooster I adopted to rescue it from the butcher was not happy ! It wanted to rejoin the very school, where most of the classmates would not live to see the next day! For exhibiting such suicidal tendencies,our rooster was named as “Khudkushah” (meaning suicidal) !New Picture (15)
Khudkushah could soon recognize people.I used to catch him, for petting at soft portion just below sharp beak.

 

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He was cuddly,soft like a teddy bear. Roosters  have a fleshy throat just below the beak, where they have velvety red muscle. Khudkushah could recognize  my call from a distance and would immediately respond by making typical croaking sounds. He would promptly return to safety of cage at dusk.

One of his noon time pass would be to engage into ferocious fight(?) with his own mirror image ! He would imagine there is a male adversary trespassing in his territory, feathers on tail would rise He would tear his claws into the glass, attacking repeatedly  the image on glass door ! We had to pick him up to separate from such  illusive adversary ! I believe elephants are the among the only few animals who  differentiate  the mirror  image as their own reflection.

What’s life without a mate? We decided to acquire a mate for Khudkushah , to give him a reason to live and to curb his suicidal tendencies!  Through an arranged marriage, a black desi hen, was purchased @ 800 per KG from Mulla’s slaughter house. She was named as Khushi (a packet of delight!)
Unique way of induction : Khudkushah did not quite welcome the new arrival. May be he  did not want to share his space with anyone He showed aggression and anger. He stopping just short of attacking her. He circled around  her, dancing , posturing. After such show of  intimidation, he quickly mounted on her , for a successful coitus . After stamping the hen with his sperm mark,  peace was established in the household.  The hen now became part of his harem ! Is this a  rooster way of inducting a new team member from opposite sex into clan?  We knew that we cannot think of adding another male member, as male roosters are territorial like many species.New Picture (16)
Khushi gets ambushed One fine day, Khushi the packet of the delight of our rooster was snatched away in an  ambush, by pack of stray dogs.In the morning I released both chicken from their nightly abode. Then I went on terrace where I heard lot of strange war calls from below.  Khudkushah was desperately raising alarm for danger. I rushed down the four storeyed  staircase to find that a pack of four stray dogs had ambushed into our compound . They were five stray dogs, in the compound who had surrounded pair of chicks.  Khudkushah was fighting the pack of stray dogs like a true warrior. He used his wings to fly on near by tree branch. From there, he attacked the dogs. However he was no match as he was outnumbered. The stray dogs had planned the game days in advance. Khudkushah could not save his beloved mate from this ambush. Her neck was badly twisted by the dogs. The dogs ran away with her. I chased them away pelting stones .The dogs were forced to drop their prized catch.I brought back the dead carcass back to our compound. Khudkushah grieved and wailed , making circles around Khushi’s  dead body. That roosters grieve over their dead, may be a new discovery ! He was under inconsolable grief. In a very human-like gesture Khudkushah circled around the hens carcass ,trying to revive her. With lot of efforts, I recovered the carcass from his possession. Khudkushah was not his normal self for one whole day!  As body was removed, he went about usual business,but in a melancholy way.New Picture (17)
I did not wish to waste the desi chicken (Even Gautama Buddha had no qualms eating animals already killed!)  I went back to Mullah, the butcher, across the road I requested him to clean up the carcass, by removing feathers, non edible parts like stomach,etc from dead hen. Strangely the man who must have killed thousands of chicken in his life, expressed inability to do this “ Sorry, I cannot do touch haram meat. Muslims can touch only the animals killed by Halal,! As the dogs had killed the chicken by twisting neck , this meat is not Halal but Haram! I cannot do anything to this now”. I requested another person, Reena, a Muslim lady from West Bengal to take the chicken for feast . She too refused the eat meat for religious reasons as the meat was not Halal !
As a immediate remedy, I started looking for a replacement for Khushi to fill vacuum in Khudkusha’s life We got a black hen, named as Kalee . Khudkushah’s second wife, Kalee  had an attitude! She did not quite lend herself to Khudkushah’s amorous desires as a mate. She kept him constantly “wanting”, and thus became his favorite queen! We soon added two more hens. Variety is after all is the spice of life! A red one, who was very timid and a black one, (named as Kalee, the second) who was a bit disoriented one.

Pecking hierarchy : Khudkushah  with his three hens, was living a kings’ life.  The night shelter had two compartments. Khudkushah stayed in one one of them with his favorite queen, Kalee, (with attitude!) while other two hens were in other compartment. Any newcomer was shown their place, by a peck on their neck, in case they started eating grains in a hurry. Khudkushah used to  be very anxious to get out of his cage in morning. He would rush out for doing ablutions outside. All of them, intuitively knew that dirtying the cage with feces is not good for their health. They used to  hold their major excretions till they were outside the cage.

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Soon we started getting on an average two to three desi eggs per day as dividend ! The hens deliver eggs in solitude , not wanting Khudkushah around at this time. As anxious husband doting on his hens, he did not want to leave them alone! So he had to be separated at this time from the hen. Their small sized egg, had yokes with  deep golden yellow color. After a few months, we decided to let the hens hatch a few eggs. Kalee(the second) turned out be a perfect mother, who hatched the eggs. Soon we had a pack of six chicks, who followed their mother, Kalee(the second) all through day The pack , with Khudkushah in lead, would stroll around the neighborhood looking for insects.  The entourage at times would troop around in our lobby and play on our sofas, to amusement of our guests . Khudkushah as a patriarch looked after his clan. He would raise alerts if he found any pack of dogs approaching. He would voluntarily give up eating his share of grains for his favorite hens.  When his harem of hens fought or displayed bitchiness, he would restore  peace !  So did Khudkushah live happily, ever after , with his harem and a growing family ? No. Not for long !

End of tale : On one fateful day, Khudkushah went across the  road to challenge one male rooster. He fought with him. And in return he came back infected with a viral disease. Soon it spread to most of his family. One by one, all of them perished, except a single hen,Kalee(the second) with three chicks , who were separated early from the rest. With a heavy heart, I saw how my pets faced death. It happened too fast for me to think of a solution The black hen, Kalee(second)rose to the responsibility of taking care of young chicks. Crows are always looking to young chicks for easy pickings. She would fight with approaching crows to guard the young chicks . The young chicks do not have an inborn  instinctive traffic sense for crossing road. Like adult dogs, adult chicken too learn to cross road safely. One day, while crossing road, our black hen stood bravely between a speeding car and her flock of  chicks. She was promptly knocked down, though the chicks were saved . Now the three chicks were left as orphans. Soon the chicks were picked up,  one by one,by the waiting crows. Thus ended Khudkusha’s clan and his legacy. My short experiment of adopting a fully edible pet,ended rather prematurely !

Now I know what a farmer goes through to raise a chicken egg The fragile organic egg goes through many hurdles, challenges  before reaching  to my doorstep without any breakage ! Its value is certainly more than Rs 10 that we pay . Can urbanites who are pure consumers turn into pro-sumers? Pro-sumer means a consumer who also produces something , rather than pure consumption. Turning prosumers  will make us “value” our food much more than a simple  monetary transaction.

All animals responds positively to our love. Animals do have human like qualities, frailties and individuality as well.  Look into their eyes and you can fathom their emotions, perceive  the soul.We don’t  have  to reserve our love for only so called “pet” animals, like dogs, cats.  Even the so called “edible”/”ordinary” animals can be lovingly reared as pet animals !

My next plans are to adopt a lamb, learning from this short experiment! After all one must be progressive and ambitious in life !!!

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figure_12Pankaj Narayan Pandit  can be contacted on panditpank@gmail.com 

 

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Auto Urine Therapy, the “elixir” of Life

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New Picture (1)The panacea , that outperforms most drugs with no side effects. A perfect nature cure that you have been waiting for.It’s manufactured individually by nature specially for you And possibly is the most effective vaccine that boosts your immunity and offers a health insurance for ever.And if all that does not convince you, wait till you hear this.It is FREE!

 Introduction : Auto Urine therapy(AUT) is one of  the most effective nature cures. It is also a preventive medicine, like a vaccine , for enhancing ones’ immunity and general well being. AUT has been practiced since ancient times in India. Reference to AUT is found in old Sanskrit texts of India such as DamarTantra . Damar Tantra is an ancient Sanskrit work about therapeutic system ‘Shivambu’ or Auto urine therapy During modern times, there are many from medical field, who  have discovered effectiveness of AUT. Dr J W Armstrong , a British naturopath published a book in 1944, on auto urine therapy with several of his patients’  case  studies.(reference 2) India’s Prime Minister, Late Morarji Desai professed AUT for benefit of Indians. He practically demonstrated efficacy of AUT by living long, healthy, youthful and disease free life, living upto 99 years (reference 3)

Urine’s not a toxic waste product: Kidneys work to balance composition of water in blood. Excess water is removed from blood as body has limited storage capacity for total amount of blood. As urine is derived from blood, it has all beneficial agents present in itself, such as enzymes to dissolve blood clots. Urokinase is a thrombolytic drug, recovered from urine It is called a “clot-busting” drug. It helps body produce a substance that dissolves unwanted blood clots. Urokinase is a medicine for heart patients, stroke victims, that is made from a substance isolated from human urine.  Urea, derived from human urine is used in many  beauty creams, toilet soaps that soften, moisturize skin.

Composition of Urine:  Composition of typical human urine consists of 95% water, inorganic salts, urea, organic compounds , organic ammonium salts , trace metals, enzymes, and hormones.(reference 4)  Urine, is synthesized by kidney from blood. Like blood, urine is a live pro-biotic solution. Urine has many unknown molecules, beneficial to our health. Urine has many valuable hormones, like melatonin, testosterone, DHEA, a hormone related to testosterone, antibodies, anti allergens that fights allergies, anti-neoplastin which fights with cancer cells .These secretions from glands have anti-cancer, anti-obesity and anti-aging properties. PAR-4, another protein found in blood protects us from cancers. As Urine is derived from blood, it has all beneficial elements that are found in blood.

How AUT works?.  Small quantity of Urea found in urine, far from being poisonous, purifies body’s internal organs as it is digested. Urea when ingested is converted into essential amino acids. The beneficial substances in urine, like active enzymes, antigens, antibodies, natural Urea, hormones, salts, are quickly absorbed by body. The metabolism speeds up, stimulating defense mechanism of body, boosting immunity, a natural vaccine. Urea also acts as a diuretic agent, making kidneys more efficient. Anti toxic properties of Urine eliminates toxins. Self urine is a mild laxative; it first cleanses, then rebuilds vital organs. It repairs inner lining of stomach, bowels, brain. Self urine nourishes entire body. Self urine is a natural immunological vaccine, works on biofeedback mechanism, leading restoration of balance among all organs, especially  endocrinal glands. AUT is a holistic therapy like Yoga, Ayurveda. Hence making life style changes such as eating healthy food with  seasonal fruits, green leafy vegetables, and abstaining from unhealthy food (like Alcohol/tobacco in any form, carbonated soda drinks, food made from refined carbs, excess sugar/ oily/ fried food/ milk fat),doing regular exercises, giving body adequate rest with sleep, are equally necessary to get good results from AUT.

  1. Which diseases can be treated with AUT?As per experience of practitioners AUT is effective in following disorders . Asthama, most of Gastro enteric  disorders (such as acidity, colitis , chronic constipation, pancreatic disorders, piles ), skin diseases like fungal infections, psoriasis, eczema, ischemic heart disease, thyroid disorders, prostate enlargement , gynecological and menstrual disorders, managing diabetes, hormonal imbalances, metabolic disorders, weight management, psychiatric disorders like mild depression , kidney disorders can be well managed with AUT. There is evidence of Hepatitis B , cancer patients, benefiting from AUT, along with formal medical treatment.
    Dr B V Khare is allopathic practitioner , attached to JJ hospital, Grant Medical college, with educational qualifications as MBBS, MS(Urology) Dr Khare has treated and cured thousands of patients using auto urine therapy since last 30 years. Dr B V Khare is Vice-president of Water of Life foundation, India. Dr Khare has written many papers on the subject of AUT in international conferences He has been felicitated by “Medicina alternatica” as Karmayogi  Dr Khare has written a  book on subject of AUT. (Ref 5) As per his book,  AUT has proved to be effective complimentary therapy for treating diabetes, ischemic heart disease, Hypertension, tooth decay, allergic eye diseases, gynecological diseases, cancer treatment, constipation, viral diseases, obesity, skin diseases, hormonal disorders (reference 5)Treatment Procedure: The treatment for all diseases starts with dose of mid stream own urine taken in small quantity, (2-3 teaspoons) Urine should be taken on empty stomach, for its effectiveness. Slowly one can increase frequency and amount of urine intake. Initially it is recommended to start with intake of urine in evening. Reason being morning urine is concentrated, hence may have unpleasant taste, odor, during initial time. After few weeks of practicing AUT, the quality of urine will improve noticeably, when one can start taking the morning urine. In case of chronic conditions,it is recommended to take “as much urine,as  frequently as possible”. For patients taking allopathy medicines, it is recommended to give ample spacing of 4-5 hours, between intake of Urine and taking medicines.
  2. External Use of Urine: External application of urine can make you confident of  its efficacy. Skin diseases: Use old urine, stored in a glass bottle kept in sun. Apply on affected portion. Urine will burn unhealthy skin,stops etching, slowly healing the skin.Massage/Dry skin treatment: Massage fresh urine on skin, before taking bath,to discover smooth, glowing, wonderfully toned skin. Urine is alkaline Hence softly moisturizes skin unlike most soaps which are acidic, drying skin.Hair treatment-dandruff: Massage scalp with urine, keep for 5-10 minutes. Then wash off with water. Urine is antiseptic. Its micro dermal properties wash off dandruff without harming roots of hair. It keeps scalp healthy, conditions hair.  Urine strengthens hair follicles and prevents hair loss. It also slows graying of hair.Mouthwash/Cleaning teeth: Fresh Urine can be used with tooth brush, It is ideal for cleaning teeth. It also strengthens gums, prevents bleeding from gums. One can gargle or rinse mouth with fresh urine to prevent tooth decay. Urea in urine goes into tooth cavities, preventing tooth decay.Ear/Eye drops: Fresh urine drops will clean ears and help melt wax. Such wax can then be cleaned up later with soft, wet cloth. Fresh Urine cleans eyes, improves vision, prevents cataracts in old age.Face wash: Urine gives the best face wash and you will find your skin glowing after wipe with cloth dipped in urine. It heals acne, pimples.External wounds or Hemorrhoids (Piles) Treatment: Apply fresh urine to wounds, cuts, bruises also heal hemorrhoids (piles) by applying fresh urineUrine douche: Urine douche can be used for soft internal tissues like vaginal cleaning, cleaning of penis foreskin, throat gargling, nasal passage cleaning  or piles treatment.Cracked heels :  Keep feet immersed in fresh urine in a shallow pan for 15 mins. Notice how skin softens,  healing cracks within few days of treatment.

    Monitor blood sugar level from taste of urine:  Taste of urine indicates sugar level in blood. Urine tastes bitter when blood sugar level has fallen, it tastes sweeter after eating meals, as blood sugar rises.

    Why no formal research has been published on effectiveness of AUT ?  Every medical research project, needs business case for getting funding approval. Research on drugs is patented. As AUT is so simple to practice, it cannot be made into a  patented product .“An ounce of your own experience weighs more than a ton of medical research”! Let your experience be your guru to use nature’s gift.

      Do’s for Auto Urine Therapy Don’ts for Auto Urine Therapy
    For chronic diseases, it is recommended to take as much self urine, as frequently as possible. Fasting on urine (Plus  water plus fruit diet) can give faster results. Avoid drinking glass full of urine, as it will be nauseating In beginning one may avoid first urine of morning as it may have unpleasant taste, smell. Start with evening urine instead. As quality of urine improves, one can switch to morning urine, after 3-4 weeks of treatment
    The quantity of urine taken internally may be only one or two or three tea spoons. Even in small doses, AUT   gives immense health benefits. Avoid taking AUT when on allopathic medication. If such medicines are unavoidable, give gap of 5-6 hours between intake of medicines and urine.
    Eat healthy foods like fresh seasonal fruits, green leafy vegetables, dry fruits. Simple food without hot spices, preferably vegetarian food recommended while on AUT. This will improve quality of urine and help faster healing. Totally abstain if possible or avoid unhealthy foods (alcohol, tobacco, refined carbohydrates, fast foods, junk foods, carbonated soft drinks, bakery products, red meat) while  practicing AUT.
    Old urine, for external applications,  can be kept in glass bottles in sun for external use on skin diseases, hair shampoo for dandruff, treating external wounds,  etc Old urine should not be taken internally. Old urine should not be used for eye wash.
    Gargle with fresh Urine for Asthma, or Sore throat. For Asthma, suck urine, closing one nostril. This will heal the inflamed mucous membrane of nose, throat passage. (This is called as Nasya-Kriya in Ayurveda/Yoga) Suck urine with nostril and then spit out urine from mouth after gargling AUT acts as mild laxative. So body may start to cleanse bowels. Please do not interfere with such cleaning process by taking counter medicines. You may reduce quantity and frequency of taking urine.
    To get confidence on efficacy of AUT,  try  urine for external applications, such as face cleaning lotion, use before  shaving to soften skin, and “after shave lotion” as a  disinfectant, treatment for cuts, small wounds, pimples, for cleaning hair dandruff , moisturizer for softening  dry skin, ear drops for cleaning ear, teeth cleaning solution (gargling or using urine with a toothbrush), massaging body , foot cracks, etc When taking urine for internal use, take only mid stream, leaving out the beginning and end portions. The beginning and end of urine stream have impurities Hence one should avoid them for internal use.
    Make lifestyle changes like taking up moderate exercises, breathing exercise like Pranayama, good nutrition, eating fruits, vegetables and avoiding unhealthy food like tobacco, alcohol, compliments AUT. Avoid cortico steroids, painkillers, antibiotics while on AUT for internal use.  If such medicines cannot be avoided, maintain as much gap, of at least 5-6 hours between taking urine and intake of medicines.
    Reduce amount or frequency of urine intake if side effects are unbearable.  These side effects will cease once body has eliminated all the toxins. Do not get put off by smell, taste of initial urine while starting on AUT. The taste, color, smell of urine improves rapidly as biofeedback starts working, and as internal organs are cleaned by urine
    Nausea from urine may be result of strict toilet training of childhood. Please resolve to get over it for your own benefit. AUT may cause aggravation of symptoms such as loose motions, inflammation, mild fever; skin eruptions etc. realize that this is part of curing process. AUT cleanses body internally, getting rid of toxic substances stored in bowels, blood, etc. Please does not stop AUT treatment.

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    Pankaj Narayan Pandit is Founder and trustee of SLK Foundation, a  21years old registered charitable trust with mission statement, Transforming illness into wellness (www.slkfoundation.in)  

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    References

    1. Damar Tantrais an ancient Sanskrit text about therapeutic system ‘Shivambu’ or Auto urine therapy
    2. The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy -Dr J W Armstrong -1944
    3. Morarji Desai (29 February 1896 – 10 April 1995) a politician from India who believed in Gandhian philosophy . He was Prime Minister of India between 1977 and 1979
    4. COMPOSITION AND CONCENTRATIVE PROPERTIES OF HUMAN URINE-David F Putnam Prepared by MCDONNELL DOUGLAS ASTRONAUTICS COMPANY – WESTERN DIVISION Huntington Beach, Calif. 92647 for LangZey Research Center NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON, D. C. JULY 1971 P. 5
    5. Dr B V Khare, MS(Urology)  book on Auto Urine therapy in Marathi published by Saket Prakashan pages 42-74 (ISBN 81-7786-196-4 )

     

     

Home Truths Indian Property-Appreciation in property valuation in India’s metro cities slows to CAGR 5.5% per annum (during 2012-2018)-Mumbai leads with only 6.3% growth, Delhi registers nil growth

Mr Yogesh Ashar, (name changed) , a 38 years old middle level executive in IT/BPO company has yearly gross  income over Rs 25 Lakhs He purchased a premium property at Ghodbandar raod in Thane Belapur belt  in 2012. One of the tony  builders,Ms Lodha Builders’ property has a swimming pools, club house , manicured gardens(but no municipal  water!) At price of Rs 1.5 crores,  laeving aside 20% own contribution, the loan amount is Rs 1.25 crores The EMI on home mortgage,  based on 25 years repayment, is Rs 1.08 lacs per month . In addition the maintenance , property taxes amount to Rs 10,000 per month.  Yogesh’s immediate neighbor in same property, Mangesh is a  tenant . Mangesh  is  paying a rent of only 30,000 per month . His maintenance charges are paid by owner  Thus Yogesh is paying ( EMI plus maintenance)  3 to 3.5 times the rentals than Mangesh . Usually one invests in realty for appreciation in values However since last 6 years, the property in Ghodbundar area has not appreciated much over, its purchase price of Rs 1.5 Crs.  Yogesh the owner is envying Mangesh. Strange? When Yogesh lost the job, he had a hard time  paying  EMI and maintenance charges. This brings us back to the  key question

 What is worth of your real estate investment ? Have you ever wondered if your property value has grown since you made investment? Is your net worth increasing after payment of home loan interest @ 10% ? In most cases, real estate is once in a lifetime investment decision for most young Indians. Typically the EMIs for home loans are spread over 20 plus years, covering most of one’s productive years Yet, one rarely finds the performance of individual investments in real estate sector tracked objectively or talked about in objective way like performance of share markets .
NIFTY or BSE SENSEX are the indices that track performance of select equity shares. There are several such sectoral indices in share market Prices of individual shares are also transparent, visible to both buyer and seller However prices of property both in first sale as well as in second sale markets are opaque In addition real estate are classified as illiquid assets It may take years to sell a house property in secondary market The real estate “buy and sale” transactions are not transparent, perhaps due to cash (black money) component, hiding the real price These are challenges of tracking performance of realty sector.
Residex, India’s only property index from NHB (National Housing Bank)’ NHB has developed Residex, which is based on actual property transaction at market price in a particular city Residex uses Central Registry of Securitisation Asset Reconstruction and Security Interest of India (CERSAI) data,, the central online mortgage registry of India, for computation of the indices. Residex started tracking property prices since year 2007 , which is taken as base year with prices at 100. RESIDEX is updated, each quarter, the latest update is available on Mar 2018. NHB revised methodology of Residex in 2012. Hence data after 2015 is as per new methodology

 

–Dream Run for property prices during 2007-2015 

New Picture

As one can observe from Chart I, the average property prices in India’s eight metro cities doubled in eight years, during 2007-2015 The Residex increased from base price of 100(2007) to 210 (year 2015) Among the metro cities, Chennai had the highest property appreciation (18%), followed by Pune(12%), Mumbai(11%), Ahmedabad(10%) , Kolkata(10%) which performed better than average  Delhi had an average run (8%) On other hand, Bengaluru(1.8%), Hyderabad(minus 0.4%)  were under performers during this booming  phase In fact, Hyderabad property valuations gave negative returns (minus CAGR 0.4% per annum ) during this time possibly due to after effect of splitting of Telangana state from AP. Surprisingly India’s IT capital, Bangalore(growth of only 1.8%) one of the fastest growing property markets, found itself among under performers, which could be due to excess supply. There would be wide variations of property valuation in city’s different areas Hence a drill down to a particular area is necessary to get a correct view for a city

Metro cities returned CAGR 9% during dream run (2007-2015) : The average CAGR of 9% , for eight metros which is commendable from global standards However for calculation of real returns, one must adjust this for inflation @ 6-7% . The cost of capital during this time was above 10% per year, as  benchmark floating home loan interest rates were well above 10% during period from 2012-2015 The returns in real terms from housing property , after adjusting for cost of capital, thus will not be very attractive .
Just as there are out performers and under performers in a Nifty/ BSE Sensex, there is wide variation within Residex value in different zones of a city, as the index is arrived by averaging zonal prices

During the same period (2007-2015), BSE sensex performance was CAGR 3.5% . , NIFTY(50) CAGR 9.45%

Thus investment in metro cities did outperform equity market,over a seven years period (2007-2015). Since 2015, the methodology of working NHB-Residex has been revised Hence the new Residex series(2012-2017)needs to be analysed separately

As NHB changed methodology for calculating Residex since  2012, the new data series(2012-2018) presents a pessimistic picture on housing sector
During six year period, 2012-2018, the metro cities have registered average CAGR of only 5.5 % , with out performers, Mumbai(6.3%) and Pune(5.9%) being marginally better than average Bengalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai were below average Ahmedabad and Delhi  the under performers, showing practically no appreciation ( growth rates of less than or equal to 1% per annum. )

New Picture (21)

During the latest Residex series,(2012-2018), no metro city in India could score double digit growth rate in property valuations The average %CAGR for eight metro cities come down drastically , from 8.8 % PA to 5.5% PA ,as compared with earlier period 2007-2015 Thus the latest Residex data proves that the property valuations  in metro cities have failed to keep up the momentum of past era 

New Picture (19)

Bright spots in Indian property in Maharashatra As seen from the chart below, Kalyan/Dombiwali, followed by Thane, which are outside boundary of Mumbai, have given better returns than property in Mumbai itself. Panvel, Navi Mumbai  are the fastest growing property markets, due to ground breaking of Navi Mumbai airport. However these have given not given steller  returns, possibly due to abundant supply of new housing property. Thus it is possible to identify bright spots where demand/supply imbalance exists and benefit from property

New Picture (18)
Conclusions Thus it is clear that the property market in India has lost its fizz , the near double digit growth momentum during 2007-2015 is a distant dream .The reasons need to be found in macroeconomic indicators

1. Slowing GDP growth below 7%, combined with a slack job market

2. Over supply of housing, overhang of unsold homes

3. Downward pressure on rents.

The rents are almost 30% to 50% of the EMIs of home loans Thus it’s cheaper to stay on rent than to consider owning the house property. 4. The home loan interest rates are not going below 9.0% 5. Since demonetization of high value denomination currency notes in Nov 2016, the liquidity provided by black money has got sucked out of circulation ,adversely affecting the property valuations.
Equity vs real estate investments Pros and Cons : Equity markets are volatile,with negative dips in 2008/9, 2012/13. “Buy at low and sell on high” seems better strategy for share markets due to easy liquidity of such investments,enabled by paperless, digital transactions The real estate valuations in metro cities which yielded near double digit growth in valuations during 2007-2015 seems like a distant history. The growth in property prices in Indian metro cities is now below 4.5% ,over 2012-2017, and latest quarter ended Sept 2017, giving negative growth on QoQ basis,indicating to serious crisis before real estate industry.

It’s said that fools build houses and the wise live in them. It is not a wise decision to invest in a house, when renting it is much cheaper.It is unattractive to own a house at present prices, and @9-10% home loan interest rates Apart from lack of appreciation, and low rental yields, India’s property market is hampered by lack of flexibility of investment due low liquidity. Transferring property in secondary market sales is hampered by cumbersome paper work. Lack of transparency in prices, both in primary and secondary market further erodes attractiveness of property market. Availability of easy home loans from banks, HFCs, NBFCs remains the main attractiveness of real estate investments over other options like share market Home loans may be easily available but not cheap as present interest rates are between 9-10% PA. In most cases, the EMI(equated monthly installment) of home loan outgo will be at least two to three times the market rent. With tepid growth in property valuations, real estate investment needs to done with caution.
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References: National Housing Bank (residex) from website of National Housing Bank https://residex.nhbonline.org.in/
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Pankaj Narayan Pandit, Head-Airlines Practice, Sonata Software Ltd

Pankaj Narayan Pandit,

Pankaj Narayan Pandit is business analyst based in Bengaluru His e mail panditpank@gmail.com

Common sense tips on diet & nutrition

Why Sensible advice on healthy diet is necessary in today’s times: 

  1. Old order changeth: Our old dietary practices were healthy, as most of food was consumed closer to its natural form However under onslaught of industrialization, more and more factory processed refined food is produced and marketed . Such branded products indeed are finer, they look better under attractive packaging However it is ironical that such refined products are advertised as “healthier” or “Enriched/Fortified”. The very process of refining food makes it devoid of vital minerals, vitamins and fiber that were present in the coarser, original form.
Original product Refined product What is lost due to refining *
Wheat Refined wheat, Maida, Rava Most of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, Vit. E,  fiber , minerals  like iron,
Rice Polished White rice Most of Vitamin B1, B2, B3, E Minerals like Iron, Potassium, Zinc , and fiber
Pulses Polished pulses Vitamins, fiber
Sugar cane/Jaggery White Sugar Minerals like iron, Phosphorous
Oil from seeds/Cold pressed oil Refined, double refined, filtered oil Vitamin E, minerals
Fruits Fruit juices Fiber, vitamins B, F
Tap Water Filtered/Boiled water B12, Calcium

In many cases, after refining, few nutrients, minerals are added, as an afterthought. The product advertised as  “Fortified/Enriched”  !

Wheat refining

What a loss due to refining of food to make it tastier ! (Graphs Ref Wiki)

Rice refining

उस काळा डोंगा, रस नाही डोंगा , कारे भुललासी, वरलिया रंगासंत तुकाराम Meaning: Sugar Cane does not look appealing due its black color. However its juice is very sweet. So do not judge anything on its outer appearance, says Saint Tukaram,16th century poet saint of Maharashtra 

  • Are we making healthier and natural choices ? We not only buy refined wheat, refined super white rice, we also prefer to quench our thirst from soft drinks, juices and bottled water, ignoring making natural choices in favor of tap water or eating fruits. We have less preference for locally available green leafy vegetables  in our daily diet  instead of opting for flowery vegetables. We eat more and more starchy, tastier, sugary bakery products  like white bread, cakes, biscuits, pizza, doughnuts, pastries. We also prefer to cook in non stick Teflon coated  or aluminum  utensils , eat with plastic spoons, plates. All this  for sake of convenience. The iron, copper or silver  utensils which were used in earlier times, used to provide us with vitally important trace minerals.  We also face more air, noise, and water pollution. We are enduring  stressful situations in daily life , all of which takes a toll on our nutritional assets.
  1. Reason for malnutrition during abundant times : In today’s times along with the poor even the rich are  malnourished. The poor are malnourished due to inability to buy expensive protein foods like meat, eggs, pulses and dairy products, vegetables, fruits, while the rich are likely to be opting for food that is giving empty calories, refined carbohydrates and sugar. During abundant times, we are likely to be poor in vital nutrients, minerals vitamins due to changed life style. The reason for malnutrition is more due to lack of awareness on nutrition and not necessarily due to poverty.
  1. Overload of undesirable minerals We are getting overload of undesirable minerals due to convenient practices adopted by us. We are using cooking utensils made from non stick Teflon, Aluminum, or  plates from any Plastic derivatives, that gives undesirable pollutants. Use Iron Tava and SS utensils, glass instead of Teflon or Plastic derivatives If we use copper vessels for storing water, iron frying pans,  we get  free daily dose of vital minerals like copper, iron . Modern cooking utensils like Teflon coated frying pans, Aluminum vessels, plastic and wax coated paper cups, load undesirable minerals that are poisonous for body
  2.  Drug resistance due to rampant overuse of antibiotics : Our poultry farmed animals are fed with antibiotics for quick weight gain. These antibiotics are giving rise to multi drug resistance among humans . Our increasing intake of prescription  drugs  like liberally prescribed antibiotics, OTC medicines  like antacids, pain killers, cough syrups, laxatives, birth control pills and other common medicines , further deplete stock of nutrients like vitamins, minerals stored in body. Many of such medicines also adversely affecting gut flora, microbes in our gut, leading to further malnutrition.
  3. False propaganda  for quick fix solutions There is no dearth of quick fix solutions for healthcare viz factory produced, fortified food products like corn flakes, cocoa based milk additives, tonics, vitamin supplements, protein powders, mineral extracts and multi vitamin pills. There are half truths being pedaled that promise to “cure” diabetes or reduce weight by some wonder herb or by turning vegan or shunning carbohydrates while gorging on fat. Unless we get a deep understanding about our body’s  nutritional needs and means to get it in a preferably natural (and also  economical way), we will be as confused as “Alice in wonderland”. Proper diet and nutrition is of paramount  importance today, as a preventable medicine for most of lifestyle ailments.
  4. You are what you eat : The human body needs to orchestrate below mentioned forty plus ingredients, as per nutritional experts. to remain healthy.  These are in order of importance as below

Complete proteins necessary to provide necessary amino acids: Human body needs ten different amino acids which come from protein sources.  A complete protein(or whole protein) is a  protein that contains an adequate proportion of all ten essential amino acids . Milk, Meat, fish, eggs, Soybean, yeast, and mushroom  have all the ten amino acids However grain based diet(wheat, rice, millets ) provide only nine amino acids. These grains  lack one vitally important amino acid , namely lysine. On other hand pulses, legumes have other nine amino acids but lack one amino acid namely methionine . Since the amino acid profile of protein in plant food is  deficient in one or more of the amino acids, plant proteins are said to be incomplete in meeting nutritional needs of human beings.

  1.  Inadequacy of plant based diet can be complimented with pulses : Combination diet (grain with pulses) is  necessary for Vegetarians . Grain diet  (like Wheat, Rice, Millets) needs to be combined with  pulses(tur, masoor, Moog ,  oil seeds like ground nut, chana, Til,  or  legumes) . Such a combination yields the required ten amino acids by plant sources. Sprouted whole grains (Moong, Methi, Harbara) give easily digestible proteins and carbohydrates due to sprouts .Traditional cooking used such combinations (example Khichdi) Another limitation is that protein from plant source are not fully absorbed by body.  Hence plant diet can be supplemented with eggs to meet nutritional needs.
    1. Protein cannot be stored in body Hence in every meal, one needs to eat  food that has all ten amino acids (ie complete proteins) If body is not provided such complete protein then it borrows such protein from skeletal muscles, making them weak. Any dieting, fasting, that does not supply body with adequate proteins, results in weight loss However it is likely to be result of loss of muscle mass. Such loss of muscles, while trying to reduce weight , is detrimental to long term health. The objective of a weight loss shoudl be fat loss without losing muscle mass
    2. A thumb rule on the need for protein  Assuming a person’s weight  is 100 Kg then  75% of weight value in Grams (ie 75 grams of complete protein) are required  every day. For athletes, people recovering from illness, lactating mothers, etc the need of proteins will be more.
    3. Most of Indians, due to vegetarian diet, are eating much less protein, both in quantity as well as quality.
    4. Lack of adequate protein, and excess of carbohydrates, and oils may be single cause of weight gain among urban folks.
  1.  Fifteen vitamins : The vitamins like A, D, E,K ,F that are fat soluble , while vitamins like C, B (with 8 its sub classes, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6,B7, B9, B12) are water soluble The water soluble vitamins cannot be stored in body, hence need to be taken on daily basis. Vitamin supplements are not necessary except in special situations like when taking antibiotics, or after recovering from illness or for special situations  . Body absorbs vitamins best in their natural form. Body also throws out most of excess vitamins given by supplements.
  2.  Fourteen minerals : Minerals literally come from the soil that feeds the crop. Six main micro minerals (Calcium, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium) are needed in daily dosage more than 200mg per day While  eight trace minerals (iron, copper, zinc, chromium, iodine, manganese, Selenium, Molybdenum) are required  in smaller doses. Calcium is  of high importance among micro minerals.
  3.  Carbohydrates : For conversion into glucose for quick energy
  4.  Fats: Essential Fatty Acid(EFA)comes from Lecithin(literally meaning egg yolk), linoleic (omega 6) and linolenic (omega 3). Lecithin is constituent of fat that is essential for the body to metabolize accumulated fat in the body. It can be found in egg yolks, soybean, milk, marine sources, rapeseed ,cottonseed, and sunflower seed.
  5.  Last but not the least Zero calorie stuff (ie Exercise,Fiber, Water and Sun) are essential part of nutrition  :  
    Exercise is like a important supplement for a good diet plan. Without exercise plan, raising BMR(basal metabolic rate) is not possible. Advantage of raising BMR ensures that weight loss is sustained even after stopping dieting

    Just as  zero is essential to do any math, body too needs loads  of zero calorie stuff like fiber (both soluble and insoluble). The gut bacteria need fiber to produce vitamins, nutrients from food.  Fiber is also essential to eliminate body’s waste. Natural food has lot of fiber However more than 80% of  such fiber is lost as industrial process of refining works on food like wheat, rice, pulses, fruits. For example, rice is polished , wheat floor is refined, oil seeds are filtered, fruit juices white sugar made from jaggery In all such extractions , fiber is thrown off along with many minerals.

    1.  Fiber: Consumption of high fiber food also tricks body by filling stomach , giving a sated feeling. This feeling of fullness comes even with intake of lesser calories. Thus preference of  unrefined natural foods called as lazy carbohydrates, whole grains, cold pressed oil  and complete protein food with high fiber . naturally results  in CR(Calorie restricted ) diet. On other hand, refined foods that are devoid of fiber raise sugar level in blood quickly, giving empty calories.
    2. Water: Unlike hunger signal, body gives muted thirst signal. We tend to ignore such signal. Drinking water first thing in morning, even before washing mouth, heals internal organs, gets rid of constipation.  Color of urine can help regulate intake of  water .By a counter intuitive logic, boiled, filtered water is not healthy as dissolved minerals like Calcium, microbes are lost The gut microbes work best in normal water.
    3. Sun: Unlike the Westerns who tend to overexpose skin to Sun for getting a tan, the Easterners   underrate importance of Sun, due to its abundance. Simple sunlight exposure apart from strengthening bones, cures  many diseases like psychiatric disorders, Cancer and TB. Lack of Vitamin D is found to be common cause for many psychiatric diseases and also heart disease

Like in an orchestra, these 40 plus ingredients of food, cannot play their part in isolation. Each one needs interplay with others to work effectively. 

i. For example, even complete protein needs presence of Vitamin A, E and Calcium for its assimilation.

ii. Both Calcium and Iron need Vitamin C for better absorption.

iii. Calcium itself needs presence of complete proteins, Vitamin A and exposure to ultraviolet rays of sun for making vit D.

iv. Finally for calcium to get into the bones, one needs to do physical exercises!

v. Eyes need vitamin A However for vitamin A to reach to eyes, complete proteins, are necessary.

vi. Iron tablets, supplements are regularly given for anemic patients However iron needs presence of complete proteins, vitamin A and vitamin E for its assimilation.

vii. Antacids are taken widely to alleviate chest burn due to acidity However the reason for chest burn could be deeper such as , insufficient bile juice due to lack of vitamin B6.

Excess of any  one vitamin or mineral can have serious consequences on health. So much for those who believe in taking protein shakes for development of muscles, carrot juice for improving eye sight, iron pills for anemic condition or vitamin pills, tonics for general health or as quick remedy. These supplements will literally go down the drain  at worst , may cause damage to vital organs like kidney, liver. Human body needs presence of each and every of forty ingredients in diet , along with  natural fiber, as necessary precondition.

Simple association between colors and vitamins : Eating fresh seasonal fruits of different colors of gives all vitamins for building up basic immunity against all common ailments.  One of simple ways of getting A,B,C,D,E  vitamins is to eat fruits, vegetables  of different  colors every day

RED colored fruits: For example , Vit. A comes from red, yellow colored fruits (Example Papaya , Carrots, Beat root, Sweet Potato, Oranges, Mango, Pomegranate, Pumpkin, etc) and Fish

GREEN:  Vit B comes  from green leafy vegetables (Example Meat, eggs, fish from non vegetarian sources)

GREEN : Vit C comes are Green colored, citrus fruits (Example, Amla, Guava , sweet lime, lemon, Apple )

YELLOW: Vit D comes from Sunshine, dairy products like cheese, ghee, etc, Oil seeds, dry fruits,  cold pressed oils, give Vitamin E and linolyic acid  

Food with negative nutrition value: Say “NO” to Tobacco in any form , Avoid carbonated drinks that fossilize bones, reduce junk food like Pizza, Burgers, all bakery products. Also reduce intake of  sweets made from milk fat(like Gulab Jamun)  In short, say “No” to most processed food stuff that has been made in plant (i.e. factories) while prefer food made by plants. Prescription drugs, painkillers , junk food can be addictive. Be free of all addictive evils of modern life. Avoid empty calories from Sugary cola drinks and deep fried food , that are called vitamin robbers like white bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries, Pizza, donoughts made from  flour (maida)  take vitamins away during their journey through digestive tract . It is better to avoid them   These products typically give empty calories, ie  rich in calories, but poor in nutritional value like vitamin or minerals.

Make time for breakfast: All fitness, as well as nutrition experts recommend a hearty  breakfast. Breakfast should be the heaviest, while dinner should be least heavy in terms of calories. If you do not feel hungry enough in morning, then it may require resetting of body clocks Lack of appetite in morning may be due to wrong habits developed over years.

Get enough sleep : Due to popularity of smart phones, internet and TV most urbanites are likely to be carrying a sleet debt. Lack of adequate sleep (7-9 hours per day , as per individual needs) can cause many diseases, like hypertension, heart disease and even diabetes. The gap between dinner and sleeping time should be at least two hours for better digestion.

Mushrooming health care industry : Health care industry has been promising wonder drugs for human wellness since a long time just like weight reduction shops and gyms that promise to reduce weight in a short time.  However weight gain, ailments like diabetes, hypertension, etc are  symptomatic of a deeper malaise, a metabolic disorder that has happened over a long time as a result of incorrect lifestyle ie combination of incorrect  diet, malnutrition, lack of optimum exercise. Hormonal imbalances, genetic predisposition, psychological reasons, stress and pollution of today may have exacerbated the problem.  Such “lifestyle  disorders” cannot be corrected in a short time. Addressing the symptoms like weight gain or high/low blood sugar, or high/low blood pressure, deficiency of iron, etc in isolation, cannot be addressed unless by a holistic solution. By Eating well, one can make a small beginning because “Total Health” can be reclaimed only by following right nutrition,  in a natural way, combined with a exercise plan. Total Health is our birthright, a natural state only if we discover nature’s laws!

 जीवेत शरदः शतम Jiveta Sharadaha Shatam 

means “May you live for 100 healthy  years”!


Pankaj Narayan Pandit, Head-Airlines Practice, Sonata Software Ltd

Pankaj Narayan Pandit is founder and managing trustee of SLK Foundation, public charitable trust set up for wellness solutions for individual health as well as our planet http://www.slkfoundation.in

References : Doctor, Mee Kay Khau?’ डॉक्टर , मी काय खाऊ ? by Dr. Malati Karwarkar , with permission from  ‘Menaka Prakashan’ ‘www.menakabooks.com

How I fixed my guts to glory

No Guts no Glory! :  The word “guts” has two meanings The more common way in which the word  is used, guts  means courage . Gut actually is short form for  gastrointestinal tract, the long digestive tube, about 25-30 feet long, that is about five times our height It starts at the mouth and ends at anus.  Usually there is wisdom hidden in idioms; “No guts, no Glory” seems to indicate that our courage emanates from our guts, just as thinking and memory originates from our brain. Does a strong willed person’s self belief ,courage, ability to cope with stress ,come from gut part of the body or brain? Can one  part of body, gut with its bacterial colony , impose its will on our brain ? Who hasn’t experienced butterflies in gut, or urge to pass urine or experience bowel movement ,when faced with a challenging situation ? In the present article, the word gut is used to mean specifically the small intestine, the major portion of the gastrointestinal tract.

If we think of our “self” as a tree, then our roots run deep in the gut with brain as a pinnacle. The umbilical chord that feeds us while in mother’s womb was also rooted in the navel , center of the gut As infants, we had a close connection between our gut and brain, which got fainter as we grew older. Just as a tree that has strong roots can face stormy winds, strong guts prepare us to face challenges in life. The guts environment is defined by gut bacteria that reside in its  mucous membrane.
Fig I  figure_1

Since childhood, I  inherited  a rather  delicate  gut  My mother used to tell me about bouts of dysentery, I had suffered during infancy. May be my indigestion during those times had something to do with the factory produced baby food, ( ie powder milk) that was heavily marketed by MNCs during those times as an alternative to breast milk.

Travelling in interiors of India : After graduation, my first job,  as  sales engineer, meant  I extensively toured  the  interiors of Western India. I was drinking  water, from different regions of western  India like  MP, Gujarat, rural Maharashtra Those times were before bottled water was successfully marketed in  India by Bisleri. Until then, water was supposed to be a free commodity that has become now a resource in India . No one imagined some day Indian consumer could be persuaded to  buy filtered water almost at 50% of  price of milk

Travails of travelling  A Marathi proverb says that “ One who drinks  water from twelve different  places becomes a worldly wise man”! It means that travelling makes one worldly wise. I am not sure my travel made me wise but soon travails of  my gut caught up with me, due to combination of many factors. I enjoyed my tours to hinder lands of India , tasting diverse cuisines from different parts of India, that too at company expense!  Any big sales win used to be  celebrated with my colleagues, over beer or such alcoholic drinks  With such abuse, my delicate gut progressively became worse .I would at times, throw up after our drinking parties. I also  frequently suffered bouts of dysentery, colic pains . The stool test, barium meal , etc  revealed presence of cysts of Giardia lamblia  for causing amoebic dysentery. I was prescribed a course of antibiotics  to get rid of amoeba from intestine. The antibiotics did not give much relief. In any case, as a policy, I have always avoided allopathic medicines, as far as possible , unless in a life and death situation. This is due to an intrinsic  belief that allopathic medicines treat only the symptoms of an ailment In addition one suffers side effects of medicines Modern medicine does not go to the root cause with a holistic view unlike ancient therapies Ayurveda. This was the reason , I did not opt for MBBS (medical college ) admission even though I was eligible , after passing XII science  I  chose to be an engineer without knowing much about engineering ! (That’s another story !!)

Holy grail of alternate medicine therapies  To avoid outside foodI considered changing  my job from sales to a desk job,  that did not require any  travelling. I began practicing Yoga Asanas. I  also explored Ayurvedic OTC (over the counter ) medications like Kutajarishtha with no results One of the Ayurvedic doctors from Nasik, I consulted, advised me to enhance the fire element (ie acid)  in my gastric juices, to address problems of amoebic dysentery. The Ayurvedic therapy, Yoga Asanas went in vain, without  any permanent relief from colic pains.

Lifelong pursuit in holistic wellness: They say, “You have to lose something, as important as personal  health,  to value its  importance.Even though I did not choose to be a medical doctor by education, my frail personal health was behind my quest for alternate wellness therapies I decided to explore a longer,  holistic route to repair  my health problems. Homeopathy, Magnetic water therapy, Acupressure therapies were tried,  one by one and  discarded as mere placebos, with  no tangible physical relief. Then I was introduced to  Pranayama, a Yogic breathing practice, as a panacea for all health problems Swami Poornanandaji, who taught Mudra Pranayama,, once philosophized that  spiritual people usually have delicate tummies. Even though Pranayama gave  mental peace, stress relief, colic pains had not left me  As a result of practice of Pranayama, I voluntarily became teetotaler As a result of  Pranayama practices, I did derive  unexpected rewards on spiritual front  However  my stomach had  yet not settled  down to Nirvana, the  enduring and everlasting  peace.

Searching for panacea : Then by sheer coincidence, I met Shri Balakrishna Nalawade, proponent of biofeedback , a  nature cure therapy (Fig 2)  As a result of biofeedback ,I went through process of catharsis, whereby the toxins accumulated in digestive system got eliminated Slowly and surely my gut ecosystem settled down to a peaceful coexistence with gut parasites that antibiotics wanted to banish! Later Dr B V Khare, Urologist and nature cure practitioner  gave  scientific basis to the biofeedback nature cure therapy. Dr B V Khare, termed all bakery products (cakes, biscuits, pastries, pizza) as bekar (means useless) products to be avoided at all times. He recommended eating whole grains with sprouts, seasonal fruits, to get better results from biofeedback nature cure. He advised that Moong dal (Fig 3) is easily digestible protein and sprouts add to its vitamin content. I benefited from nature cure therapy which complimented practice of Yoga, Pranayama.

Fig 2  figure_2

Positive feedback goes to restore system stability

 

Suffering deleterious side effects of antibiotics treatment : This fairy tale however did not end without a twist in the script ! When all seemed well, one fine day I contracted  Typhoid,  called as enteric fever by medicos. The doctor prescribed particularly  strong dose of antibiotics treatment . He also forgot to prescribe vitamin supplements with antibiotics I dutifully took the full course of antibiotics ,  almost on empty stomach as I had lost appetite due to illness, without any vitamin supplements. This seemed to create havoc in my entire system, particularly as my system  was not used to any allopathic medicines.  I thought that every 500 mg antibiotic pill that I gulped, went down like a nuclear bomb through my virgin gut, destroying the intestinal flora  I completed the treatment. Soon after it ended , I simply went into delirium, euphemism for going crazy ! I had lost my mental balance. I was diagnosed as suffering from mental disorder, that affects dopamine neurotransmitters in brain . As per Hindi movie, Munnabhai sequel, Lage Raho Munnabbhai, there was a chemical locha ( imbalance ) in my brain ! After consulting a psychiatrist, and two month long treatment, I thankfully recovered without much long term damage to my health and psyche. Even though no doctor who treated  told me about what could have caused this, I intuitively believed that  the antibiotics would have caused havoc with my mental balance. There may not be  previous records that interlinked mental  disorder to antibiotics treatment .

Picking up the pieces: No other illness shakes one’s confidence and self belief like  mental illness. As per Osho, we perceive our mind closer  to  self identity than our body. Hence losing mind, seems unacceptable to one’s ego. I come out of episode of mental illness with a stronger self belief that I am the sole maker of my health (or disease) destiny. I   resolved to get back my total  health I continued  practicing  Pranayama . biofeedback nature cure , Hapkido, a Korean martial arts to restore health .

Food as medicine : I started  reading on nutrition , concluding that food .itself is a medicine, if we remove mental blocks about it. In childhood we were asked to chant one shloka,before eating food It says that food is not to be viewed as filling up tummy but to propitiate the fire in the belly, as a sacred duty. (उदरभरण नोहे जाणिजे यज्ञकर्म )(Udar Bharan Nohe, Janije Yajna Karma) I always believed that food is meant to be  enjoyed unlike popping pills, vitamin or hormonal supplements, injections All supplements tend to supply more than necessary quantity of desired nutrient, causing an imbalance and other problems We must choose natural food that we can learn to  relish, in order to digest and assimilate nutrients .

सति गदार्तस्य किमौषधिनिषेवणैः  , पथ्येsसति गदार्तस्य  किमौषधिनिषेवणैः)(Sati Gadartaya Kimaushadhi Nishewanai, Pathye sati Gadartasya Kimoushadhi Nishewanai)One  Sanskrit  proverb says that when patients’ diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; When patient’s  diet is right, medicine is not needed!

 You are what you eat; Discarding long held choices on food I came across books by Dr Malati Karwarkar , (Doctor , What I should eat) which helped me to understand about basic nutrition. I disassociated my  spiritual beliefs from my choices about food I continued to update and discard long held beliefs when presented with new facts For example, when I discovered blood thinners like garlick, onions for their sulfur compounds are great for health, I included them as  part of my daily diet Onions, and garlic have been condemned by many Yoga practitioners  as Tamasi (making one lazy and indolent )food.There after I bid good buy to many self imposed restrictions on non vegetarian food like eggs, fish, meat . I cultivated a taste for sea  fish, eggs, bits of  chicken, not only for  Omega 3 and Omega 6 fat oils ,but also for Vitamin  B-12. Lack of B-12 vitamin can cause mental illness and depression. I also included seasonal fruits, oil seeds, dry fruits like Almonds, walnuts, sprouts of Moong and dollops of ghee in my diet.

Fig 3  figure_3
Three Principles on food as per Ayurveda ..हित भुक (Heet Bhuk) (Always choose to eat what is good for you) , ऋत् भुक (Rut Bhuk)(Eat as per season) ,  मित भुक (Meet Bhuk)(Calorie Restricted diet ).

Combination therapy :Nutrition, Biofeedback, Yoga : In addition to biofeedback, following better nutrition , Yoga/Pranayama   gave me much needed relief from colic pains. I concluded any good therapy must use the trinity, Food/nutrition, Yoga/Exercise and biofeedback/nature cure for comprehensive and holistic cure to restore natural health, that is everyone’s right .

Journey towards a positive state of health :  I no longer have any rumbling issues with my digestive system In fact I  have never been sick since a long time   I do not need to take any medications including vitamin supplements I have coped successfully with stress of working in IT industry . I particularly practice the Yoga-Asanas that work on digestive system like Mayurasana Dhanurasana, Bhujangasana, Padma-Mayurasana(See Fig 4 note 1)  Now it seems that modern medicine is ready to accept the holistic truths about our miraculous body. Dr Deepak Chopra, the wellness Guru, is leading us to  unknown realms of life. Deepak Chopra has postulated that gut bacteria listen to and are affected by  our thoughts. Dr Enders , author of book  titled Gut, goes one step more to say that  gut bacteria and brain communicate in a bidirectional way.Gut bacteria  seem to be causing of our moods , emotions, pain and general feeling of well being . There is deep correlation connection between enteric nervous system and the central nervous system. The gut bacteria influence state of brain in many ways.  The old puzzle of rumble in stomach and mental imbalance was solved !

Mayura-asana  figure_4a
Bhujangasana  figure_4c

.

Dhanurasanafigure_4b

 

Padma Mayurasana  figure_4d
Fig 4

 All illnesses including the mental illness, originate in gut   :  As per Ms Giulia Enders , author of book  titled Gut,  the inside story, gut  is in second in importance to the brain in our miraculous body . Gut bacteria along with brain create our sense of “self” The book is a must read for all psychiatrists  or anyone who has an abiding interest in personal health and wellness .After reading the book,  I realized that I was intuitively following many good practices  Reading the book only confirmed many of my intuitive choices . Following is summary of the exerts from the book, Guts, the inside story by Giulia Enders

Vegas nerve is a   direct bidirectional nerve  link  between our  brain and gut . The gut communicates with brain about state of nation by this nerve! (Fig 5) The brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help in shaping the gut’s microbial makeup, Gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters like serotonin  that influence the brain. The gut-brain  interactions occur in various ways: microbial compounds communicate via the vagus nerve, and with the immune system, which maintains its own communication with the brain.(Fig 7A, 7B, 8)  Our gut influences brain in myriad ways.. Much of our health, mental attitude is determined by the microbes in gut including Allergies, intolerances and acid reflux. Seretonin, the happiness hormone makes  us feel sated, feel good mood. More than 95% of serotonin  hormone is manufactured in cells of gut. Most psychiatric drugs affect both brain and gut  in same way.
Fig 5  05_Vagus-txt

  

  1. Stomach’s location is  much higher than where we assume  :When we say stomach, we usually point to  gut, ie the lower portion of abdomen. Our stomach  is actually located  much higher than what we imagine
Fig 6  figure_6
As you can observe from fig.6, stomach begins just below the left nipple and ends below bottom of the rib cage  on the right  Many a times we  say there is pain in stomach, the  problem most likely, be in the lower part ie gut or the intestines(fig 7)
Fig 7  figure_7
Fig 7A  figure_7a
  • Doorkeepers on both ends of stomach: There are doorkeepers(valves) on both ends of stomach. If  the upper valve has issues, we get heart burn due to acid reflux The lower valve gives free passage to water and liquid drinks to gut. Foods like carbohydrates(cakes, pasta, pizza, bread, rice)  are not held for long They quickly go to the gut and raise blood sugar giving sugar spike. Food that contains protein or fats are processed in stomach for longer time. We know from our experience that if we eat only refined carbohydrates (like rice flakes, rice products, bakery products ) we get hungry faster than if we eat same thing with an egg and /or adding  butter or ghee
  1. Biome , the genetic material of gut microbes Biome, genetic material of microbes and our genes is our true social network :  There is a word in Marathi, पिण्ड ( Pind), which means biome, the large super set of our genome along with microbes we inherit this from our ancestors The biome is the  result of eating habits, lifestyle formed over millions of years There is one Sanskrit saying पिण्डे पिण्डे मतिर्भिनः )Pinde pinde matirbhinnah ) means the  typical way of thinking that we inherit (ie mind) is different as per each type of  biome  There is an adage, पिंडी  ते ब्रह्मांडी  – (Pindi te Bramhanadi)  meaning the  biome contains everything that  is there in universe ) This microbiome is altered  by choices of dietary habits, lifestyle. Thus biome is  a much wider term than our genes, for it includes genome of bacteria that have been living us Each one of has a unique micro biome fingerprint. Similarly different communities have certain types of biome.
  2. Microbes outnumber our genome : As per Deepak Chopra, the genetic material of microbes in gut outnumber our genetic material by 120 times . Gut flora (gut microbiota) is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. While some of our gut bacteria are common among  all people,  each one has own unique gut microbiome like finger print Gut bacteria help us digest certain foods that cannot be  digested in the stomach   Bacteria produce vital vitamins, aid in bone density, building a strong immune system and a healthy nervous system It helps to strengthen our immune system and interacts with many nerve cells and hormone-producing cells in the intestinal system. It aids in the production of certain vitamins such as B , H and K. Having healthy bacteria in our gut is vitally important for proper functioning  of the body. Gut’s microbiome affects weight control, sensitivity to allergies, cholesterol, risk for  diabetes, hormonal issues and cardiovascular health. The bacteria also impact body fat, help maintain good cholesterol levels, mental health as well as ability to cope up stress and fight diseases.
  3. Happiness hormone originates in gut: Specific gut microbes are involved in the production of neurotransmitters–the chemicals your brain and nervous system use to communicate with the rest of your body, but also to regulate mood and behavior The gut nervous system (enteric nervous system) works independently of brain . Seretonin , the hormone known as a mood elevator, is responsible for making us feel sated and pleasant, in good mood. More than 95% of serotonin , the happiness hormone, is manufactured in cell of gut. Serotonin can affect our mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function. Unhappy gut can be the cause of an unhappy mind  ! If your gut has better stock of bacteria producing vitamin B12 , you will have better nerves, ability to withstand pressure, stressful situations
Our real social network : Taken together, our gut bacteria have 150 times more genes than a human being. This massive collection of genes is called a biome. Gut microbes may have their own evolutionary reasons for communicating with the brain.. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. The gut is one niche where more than 99% of  human microbiota inhabit.
Fig 8  8
  1. Microbiome is the root cause of mental state : Disruptions of the microbiome induced anxiety, depression and even autism in mice. In some cases, scientists could restore normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria. It seems dietary treatments could be used as either adjunct or sole therapy for mood disorders The scientists also found intestinal microbes could influence stress responses in the brain, with possibility of using probiotic treatments to affect brain function in beneficial ways
  2. Forced Swim test on mice reveals that our character influenced by gut bacteria In forced swim test, a mouse is placed in a deep container forcing it to swim. How long will it keep swimming till it finds ground ? This depends upon character of mouse .Mice with depressive tendencies simply freeze , give up too soon. When such timid mice were fed a strain of bacteria, swapped from brave mice. they kept swimming for longer, performed better in memory , fewer stress hormones. Scientists found that disruptions of the microbiome induced behavior like anxiety, depression and even autism. In some cases, scientists could restore normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria.
  3. Microbiome influences mental illnesses. People who suffer from intestinal problems like IBS(irritable bowel syndrome ) often have co-occurring psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression.
  4. Natural is priceless : Natural delivery, unlike C section, bestows microbes mother’s immune system to the baby Also breast feeding is the best gift infant can get for growing healthy gut bacteria.
  5. Obsessive cleanliness does more harm than good : As per Dr Enders, cleanliness is mostly in head! Fear driven hygiene, obsessive cleaning ( example use of anti bacterial soaps, alcohol based cleaning solutions, bathroom cleaners, etc )  are driven by advertisements on TV, which work on making you “fear” the microbes. Such obsessive cleaning causes allergies and autoimmune disorders Luckily more than 95% of bacteria are harmless to humans Even few bad ones are good when in small numbers Bad bacteria act like vaccination for priming and training our immune system Remember cleanliness is not annihilation ( ie absence)  of all bacteria As per Dr Enders cleanliness is a balance of good bacteria and few bad ones.
  6. Pure , distilled water is not healthy: Distilled water is pure and cleanest However by a counter intuitive logic, drinking such water does not help gut bacteria to make vitamins like B-12. So let’s get over our obsession with bottled water and start drinking water directly from tap!
  7. Saliva , urine are nothing but filtered blood. Saliva and urine are nothing but  filtered blood Hence both saliva and urine retain the  healing, pain killing  and disinfecting  properties of blood. These are great chemicals secreted by body, not toxic products.
The  appendix, (Fig 9) sitting at beginning of large intestine, is made from similar material like tonsils Appendix is not a useless. It  kills bad bacteria and is store house of good , helpful bacteria , which are used to populate large intestine after an attack of diarrhea Appendix, like tonsils, consists almost entirely of immune cell.
Fig 9  figure_9
  1. Visual stool test : My father often used to quote Saint Vinoba Bhave, प्रभाते  मल दर्शनं  Prabhate Mal Darshnam (meaning among first things in morning,   you get to see is your stools  !) As per Dr. Enders, there are seven types of stools, based on appearance, color, etc Stools are one of the daily indicators of state of your inner health . Whenever I was ill, my father used to ask me somewhat embarrassing questions about appearance of my stools. If stools were dried, small stone like in appearance, it pointed to constipation and dehydration, as per him He was right . We in India give high importance to having a good bowel movement every day, joking that entire days’ mood and  happiness depends on this single activity to be done in morning.
  2. What’s good food for developing good gut bacteria? : Gut bacteria love foods that have fiber(both soluble and not soluble ) High fibre food , whole grains, unpolished rice, etc provides roughage for bacteria. This  is also beneficial for us, as it helps body eliminate body toxins along with undigested fiber  Fast food like pizza, burgers and bakery products are not good for developing good gut bacteria Probiotic  food like curds, buttermilk, is good for gut flora.
  3. Blood group development happens due to gut bacteria : Theoretically new born infants have no blood group . Interactions between baby’s gut flora and immune system , as baby grows, results into development of different blood groups. Blood groups can be termed as the expressions of the gut bacteria in circulatory system.
  4. Leaky gut, IBS, and anxiety : The majority of gut bacteria reside in the mucous membrane that lines the gut. They create a permeable blood barrier , preventing  any bad bacteria from entering blood stream. In leaky gut, the mucous membrane becomes thin or has some cracks through which bacteria enter blood stream. This invokes response from body’s immune system At times an overdriven immune system can mistake body’s own cells as foreign bodies. In IBS(irritable bowel syndrome), unpleasant, bloated feeling persists in stomach , coupled with anxiety , depressive disorders. Bad gut flora is said to be causing such symptoms, resulting in lowering of threshold between gut and brain, giving rise to uneasy feelings
  5. An overactive immune system triggers inflammations. The reason for high activism by immune cells may be in unhappy gur bacteria. The increasing incidence of auto immune disorders have origin in mucous membrane that lines guts , with protective layers of gut bacteria. In such cases, due to leakages from the membrane, body’s immune cells cannot differentiate between what is belonging to body’s own cells and an external thing like bacteria in blood stream.
  6. Antidepressant drugs treat both the enteric and other brain: One of side effects of antidepressant medicines is feeling of nausea, diarrhea followed by constipation. This is due to fact that gut brain(enteric brain) has same receptors like brain.  These medicines have side effects on gut bacteria An unhappy gut may be cause of unhappy brain. New treatment possibilities for psychiatric illness could treat gut rather than the brain.
  7. Human brain’s main function is “Not” thinking !  The main function of human brain , as per Dr Enders , is not to think nor to acquire knowledge but to facilitate body movements! Dr Enders gives example of a species of a fish that literally switches off brain after reaching its destination goal! There are human examples like this in our world in academic world, as per Dr Enders!
  8. Alcohol messes up with gut bacteria . Alcoholic drinks harm good gut bacteria and results in breeding bad ones Therefore avoiding alcohol is recommended for developing good gut flora .
  9. Cholesterol is not all bad : Just as too much cholesterol is bad, too little can be worse for body, causing memory problems, depression and aggressive behavior. Fat sheaths nerve fibres, improved memory , makes one intelligent Fat also lubricates the mucous membrane of gut where microbes reside. No wonder, Indian processed milk fat(Ghee)   is termed as the super food by Ayurveda.
  10. Stress is unhygienic Mental stress produces butterflies in stomach, by altering gut atmosphere Stress helps  bad bacteria to survive in gut, giving rise to host of problems like diabetes, IBS, etc
  11. Drinking milk is not a healthy choice for adults : In 75% of worlds’ population, gene for digesting lactose is switched off  by adulthood. In spite of this, it is possible to digest milk in small quantities. Curds is predigested milk  It is an excellent probiotic As microbes have already acted on lactose turning it into lactic acid, it can be easily digested .
  12. What makes us fat? : Gut bacteria have a great role for weight gain. Obese people are found to have less diversity in gut flora. Certain group of bacteria that metabolize carbohydrates prevail. Gut bacteria are responsible for overall metabolism, likely cause not only obesity but hormone imbalances, Vitamin deficiencies  (B12, D) as well.
  13. What makes up our character ?  From experiments on mice , one can say that  the nature of gut bacteria influences character of mice. If human beings too nurture good gut bacteria by practicing better nutrition, lessening  use of  antibiotics, then one can become healthy, stress free.
  1. Squatting is much natural and healthier way for passing stools : Indians of my father’s generation are used to squat while passing stools, like majority of Asians. Now it seems more civilized to have western type of commode People of my father’s generation faced  difficulties, passing stools in a western toilet seat as you have to sit straight . Dr Enders, quoting many experiments concludes that squatting leads to easier and faster evacuation of feaces Squatting lessens chances of developing piles (hemorrhoids) . We dismissed my father for being old fashioned but my father was right ! It has been found that hemorrhoids, constipation  are  móre  common  in countries where people  sit on commode , chair like structure  to pass stools   This is due to  too much pressure being exerted on the end of gut.
Fig 10  figure_10
  • Avoid poultry fed with antibiotics In India, poultry industry uses antibiotics to help poultry gain weight in a short time. Such antibiotics find way into human body and give rise to drug resistance bacteria . It is better to pay more for organic (desi) variety of poultry than broiler one . Also unnecessary use of antibiotics must be avoided as it gives rise to drug resistant bacteria.
  1. Medicines, any illness takes huge toll on gut flora : A medicine is considered ineffective if it does not have side effects ! As per Dr Malati Karvarkar, renowned dietitian and nutritionist, our body loses lot of vitamins, minerals when we take any medicines for illnesses such as common fever, flue, malaria, hypertension, asthma, etc. Patients needs to have special diet to compensate for such loss of nutrients. The side effects of  medicines cause severe nutritional deficiency caused due to  loss of intestinal  flora  Rarely doctors fully brief patients on ways to compensate such loss of intestinal flora through nutrition, probiotic doses  or vitamin pills
  2. Futility of taking a hostile approach to bacteria : Medical science is realizing  futility of taking a hostile approach to germs through antibiotics Medical science seems to have come full circle. Treatments like  FMT(Fecal Microbial Treatment) would have been termed outlandish, just few years ago. (FMT involves transfer of healthy persons’ stools to sick person’s gut by enema or orally by capsule.)  FMT restores gut flora, harmed due to use of antibiotics. Few years ago, such practices would have been dismissed as pseudoscience. As per Dr. Deepak Chopra, the wellness Guru,  boundaries between what is science and pseudoscience are always changing. as we get deeper understanding about inseparability of body and mind. The gut microbiome, can prevent chronic inflammation and associated brain activity. Alternatively, brain problems can potentially be caused by not taking care of the health of your microbiome. As per Yoga, any physical disease first starts in mind (Manomaya kosha) and then manifests in body (Annamay kosha) This theory is now accepted by medical world as cause of most disease is termed as psychosomatic(ie originating in mind, later manifesting in physical body)

Live and Let Live : Symbiotic way of living  with one and all  is the hallmark of mother nature . The father of modern medicine Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the Gut” The cause of all diseases is due to accumulated excretory  matter which later becomes toxic says Ayurveada (सर्वेषामेव रोगणाम निदानम  कुपिता  मलाः )  (sarveshanam Roganam Nidanam kupita malah) meaning the root cause of all diseases is accumulated waste matter Modern medicine  believes in fighting diseases with antibiotics (literally meaning  anti-life) that adversely affect gut flora. Also overuse of antibiotics is giving  rise to multi drug resistant strains of bacteria Intuitively we understand that if we create good conditions in gut , good bacteria will  prevail and if we create bad conditions, bad bacteria will come up . Both good and bad bacteria (ie health and disease) exist simultaneously within us As Gautama Buddha said, we are creating our health or disease destiny through intuitive or informed choices, we are making each moment. Patanjali Yoga Sutra says, हेंयम दुखः  अनुगतं (Heyam Dukhanugatam ) means that One can avoid coming grief , diseases by taking proactive measures) .

To fix my delicate gut, I learned Mudra Pranayama, Yoga, gave up alcohol, improved nutrition, avoided  wrong food choices; I started practicing biofeedback nature cure since youth.  Existence showed me that it is possible to repair, restore gut. Thanks to all this today I am in better health than in my youth !  My quest  to fix my gut led me to holy grail of  wellness , beyond factory manufactured allopathy  medicines, vitamin pills and supplements. Now my gut is  gloriously fixed and  I am reaping benefits of good health, as described by this Sanskrit shloka that defines good health.

सम दोषा  सम  आग्निश्च  सम धातु  मला क्रिया ,प्रसन्न   आत्मेन  मनाः  इंद्रीय  स्वस्थ  इति भि  धियाते 

sama dosha sama agnishcha samadhatu mala kriyaaha,|Prasanna atma mana indriyaha swastha iti abhidheeyate ||Adequate digestive fire (acid) , the three dosha,(Vaat, Pitta and Kapha)  and  the seven elements in your body namely Ras(chyme), Rakta(blood), Mansa(Muscle), Meda(Fat), Asthi(Bones), Majja(Nerve fibres), Shukra(reproductive semen/egg) are  in orderly balance, You have also good ablutions /excretion, All sensory organs, including  mind , soul are in a happy state

I have made peace with all bacteria in my gut I know that if I create better conditions , the good bacteria will thrive and protect me without over reacting through overreaching  immune system  By giving me delicate tummy in my early youth,  existence did me great favor, as I ended up knowing Yoga, Pranayama and nature cure techniques ! Spiritual folks with delicate tummy,  are indeed blessed ones for they explore hidden truths and unknown areas of conscientiousness
सर्वे सुखिनः संतू , सर्वे संतू निरामयाः सर्वे भद्रानी पश्यन्तु ,माँ निश्चित दुःखं य्याप नु यात
(sarve sukhinah santu,sarve santu niramaya,sarve bhadrani pashyantu,ma nishchit dukham vyap nu yat)
Let everyone be happy and healthy Let everyone make good choices. Let no one undergo painful consequences of wrong choices

I want to end with  a prayer from Upanishad for everyone’s health which is  birth right, granted to us by mother nature , if we understand and follow laws  of natural world.

, Let all be happy,

Notes. 1.  Women are advised against practicing certain Asanas like MayurAsana, Padma Mayurasana which put undue pressure on uterus

  1. Excerpted with permission from Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ by Giulia Enders, Speaking Tiger.

Pankaj Narayan Pandit, Head-Airlines Practice, Sonata Software LtdPankaj Narayan Pandit ,is founder,trustee of SLK Foundation , a charitable trust  for nature friendly  wellness solutions www.slkfoundation.in email slkfoundation.in@gmail.com

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My brush with the Mumbai underworld

Moment of truth : Choice between your life or few grams of gold?

If someone puts a loaded gun to your temples, and asks you to choose between 40 Gms of gold jewelry and your life , what will you choose, without blinking of the eye ? This is the typical moment of truth , when  you have to  prove to the person that you are  indeed choosing  life unequivocally , by letting go the gold  ? and you cannot show regret for  letting go the gold, as the man may shoot you if he thinks you still want to keep the gold !.

Let me repeat , if someone actually puts out a loaded gun , while posing this question, what will you choose without blinking ? Life most certainly will be the academic answer but then this is not an academic question !

If you think why am I asking you such hypothetical question,  let me tell you this is not a  hypothetical question. This question was posed to me by a “philosopher, Mumbai gangster ” not so long ago !

Point blank firing critically injures a youth in Vikhroli on Fri 6th Dec   

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-26-yr-old-critically-hurt-in-ambernath-local-firing-1931400

The headline of Sunday’s newspaper ( Sunday, 8th December 2013)  read as below

“A 26 year old youth is critical after point blank firing incident on a local train  at Vikhroli station on Fri 6th Dec late evening ” The newspaper  report described an altercation in train between  a group of persons  over a minor issue , that had led to firing at point blank injuring the youth. I learnt  that the youth succumbed to injuries , two days later.

Could  it have been me , in place of the unfortunate youth?  I surmised , while reading  the newspaper ,  over a cup of hot  tea on a lazy Sunday morning . I was indeed  expecting  to  read news of  the underworld  shootout , as result of a  “first hand experience” . with the underworld gang on prowl around Vikhroli on Friday evening .  It was my good fortune, (Can  I say  divine blessings?) combined with chutzpa that I  escaped unscathed   . Here’s how it started…

Calm before the storm : It was an exceptionally quiet day in office on Fri 6th Dec There were not many conference calls or  meetings. It was  an uneventful day . I logged out of office  at 0645PM, bit early by standards of my BPM/IT  company where people routinely logged out late night, sending e mails at times well past midnight, to prove the long hours at work desk !   I used to change  from formal leather shoes into sneakers,  for taking  the walk to nearest railway station , a   distance of nearly 1.25 KMs . My office was situated  at Godrej compound  at Vikhroli  railway station on Central Railway , half of the walk would be on a brand new skywalk.  Godrej complex and entire Vikhroli few years ago, had several workshops, typical blue collar suburb of central Mumbai Now with IT boom, all the workshops including Godrej compound had been let out to MNCs from IT/BPOs like Accenture. Vikhroli small and large factories in 1980”s. no longer exist  Yet the white collar exterior  has an underbelly of slums, deserted factories  that shelter old time criminals who had their original base in Central Mumbai’s industrial belt. Major part of my walk to railway station would be on skywalk  or pedestrian fly over. This is unique Indian offering  to Mumbai’s urban landscape.A pedestrian has to climb up , at least 50 steps to get on the sky walk that leads into railway stationPhoto-0243

Skywalk picture

Skywalks not very popular Sky walks have sprung up all over Mumbai ‘s congested roads, constructed  specially for pedestrians. Mumbai’s  suburban streets are notorious for traffic snarls , with crowded footpaths and its hawkers occupying major portion with their wares like vegetables, fruits. Broken tiles, potholes, uneven footpath do pose a challenge to pedestrians .  but nobody seems to  mind this as one can shop as one walks  On other hand, sky walks have no hawkers They offer a  delightful experience  for any one who likes to walk fast in Mumbai.  One can walk briskly on sky walk, watching the chaotic  traffic, slowly  making way below .  The sky walks are not much crowded . I guess , people do not want to climb up and down  the stairs of the sky walk. Hence most Mumbaikars (people of Mumbai ) , still prefer to walk on the crowded roads where they can shop for daily necessities like vegetables and fruits.

Sudden encounter with unknown : On that fateful Friday, 6th December,  I was enjoying my  brisk walk towards the railway station atop sky walk, when  a heavily built man accosted me , “Do you know where one can buy   white tee shirts,  printed with name, Mohan, on backside?”. I was annoyed by  the sudden question by a complete stranger  . I was wearing a white T shirt with blue jeans, with something written on the back of T shirt We have Friday casual dress code in our company. I completely ignored the stranger , continuing  my brisk walk . Then all of a sudden, the  6 Ft tall, strongly  built heavy  man  appeared  right in front of me completely blocking  me . He said,    “I am asking you something and you are ignoring me?” He asked me in Hindi, in an angry tone. He asked me to step aside and introduced himself, “ I am Bhai of Mumbai, XXXX Jacob   and you dare to ignore me “?    The whole thing happened so suddenly , that I felt the incident  completely surreal , a bad dream , even as I went through it.  I sensed  that the middle aged man , with stubble, more than 6 foot tall reeking of alcohol in his breath may  not be bluffing. I was suddenly in close company of  one of the most  battle hardened Bhai or “ gangsters of Aamchi Mumbai”! It was like coming face to face with a  hungry tiger on a prowl, while going for a walk in a city !  The man who introduced himself as “Jacob” did not seem like a  small time criminals . He was a gang leader on lookout for someone, named Mohan. The “bhai” said that his gang is looking for a “Khabari”from rival gang,  Khabari is a Mumbai slang word for an informer to the police. The “Khabari” , was said to be wearing white T shirt. By Mumbai standards, I wear lot of gold on myself; A shining gold chain around neck, a Gold bracelet on wrist  and gold ring in finger.  I have never felt unsafe walking  in Mumbai with so much gold, as you are always in crowd which is somewhat reassuring Also I used to think I can defend myself , thanks to my training in martial arts.  This blog proves how misplaced was my confidence in my  ability to defend myself  ! . By the way, Mumbai underworld guys too, wear lot of gold in an ostentatious display of wealth. so explains  the confusion of Mr Jacob to take me as one of their own !

Cat and mouse game : Then began a 40 minutes ordeal with this manic guy who had a gun in his pocket, and was seething with anger for the “khabari.(police informer)  He threatened to shoot me, right below my ear to give me instant death. At the same time, he was checking out on me. He asked me to empty my pockets. As I keep wallet in my laptop bag, I had only small change  with me. The “khabri” as per him was carrying a wad of notes. Then he asked me to remove my ring, gold chain, and bracelet one by one. He was looking for  a “nishani” ( a recognizing sign for the particular person). When he did not find any, he asked me to keep all the ornaments in my pocket and not to wear them as his gang was waiting ahead of sky walk. His mood swung from an affectionate, paternal tone  to extreme anger as he spoke with me. During conversation, he ordered me not to look directly into his eyes but to keep my gaze pointed at ground near his feet. I guess, he did not want me to remember his face,  in case of identification by police  . He asked me to feel for his bulging pocket that had a loaded gun. He also asked me to keep my both hands on the railing of sky walk. I was ordered also not to answer incoming calls on my mobile. As per Jacob,  we were surrounded by four to five members of his gang. If they see me gesticulating with my hands, they may simply shoot me, suspecting that I am fighting with their boss. I had no option but to obey his commands. Then he ordered me to hand over all ornaments to him, which he held in his open fist. I realised that I am playing with someone with a  short fuse, slight provocation and he will reach for his gun in hip pocket to fire at me. Even if i run, there is risk that he will shoot from behind. Strangely during this entire episode, not a single passer by , took notice of both of us! All Mumbaikars mind their own business ! They may have thought it is two friends having a serious discussion on side of sky walk. Like cat  playing with mouse, Jacob started his questions.

Mr Jacob  inquired about my family ; when I told him about my wife, and daughter, he said that he will let me live for my family .As his mood changed, Jacob asked me a key question, what will I  choose between my life and the gold ornaments ? as he held the ornaments in his open fist. He asked me again and again to make a choice. I replied over and over  that I will choose life over the gold. He seems satisfied but would not let me go. Neither was he willing to  give the gold ornaments back to me . I decided to keep  him engaged in conversation as I made escape plan,  with or without  gold.  Then I told him that the gold ring is symbol of god that had a lotus and similarly chain was also symbol of god, with OM. This seemed to have changed him and in a fit of mood change, he handed the ornaments back. “Do not wear them ! ” He ordered me to put them in my pocket. I agreed and quickly made escape . As I walked out of his reach, I gave a sigh of relief. I did not see any members of his gang were  near the end of bridge. I boarded the train from Vikhroli to Kurla

As train caught speed out of Vikhroli station, my mood changed from relief  to cold anger. I was angry with myself that I could do nothing when a bully challenged me  in spite of my training in martial arts . I simply could not get the “thinking feeling and action” in the moment when it demanded such synchronized action. When challenged with such situations, evolution has taught us to react with either fight or flight. Instead I simply froze !

On reaching Kurla, I went to police station in market. They directed me to the railway police along the track. I met two constables in plain clothes, who heard my story patiently . It was now 9:30pm. The duo agreed to come with me to the Vikhroli sky bridge. I warned the police that the gang is carrying firearms so they should be prepared. The police told me that they are not afraid to deal with any criminal and can defend themselves with their Lathi(a stick ) , that they carry with them. When we reached Vikhroli sky walk, there was no trace of Jacob and his gang. I thought of informing police station in Vikhroli about this  incident. A group of policemen on night duty listened to my story with interest. They showed me pictures of criminals to identify the person However Jacob’s  pictures were not available with them As per Vikhroli police, the pictures of notorious gangsters are only accessible by their HQ , not available with local police stations. After that , they asked me to make mention of this incident in the police diary.

There was a constable lady there , at desk working on night duty . I again narrated the entire story to her ; which she started writing  in the diary. When I finished , she asked me to sign . When I read the diary , I was in for another surprise; She had completely changed my story. The entry read as follows

The person, Pankaj , was on his way to railway station when he  had an argument  with another  person, named Jacob, while boarding train etc, etc She had completely diluted , changed the context of the story, with no mention of the gangster, or presence of firearm, or taking my jewelry by force As per police as the  jewelry  was returned ,it makes no case  !

She explained that the police will anyway  continue to investigate the matter in their own way !!! However this is how a complaint is  written in the police diary ! Anyway I wanted to go home as it was past 1030PM.. I thought I have done my duty to inform the police of the danger from a gang out on prowl in their vicinity. a timely action from them may have saved the unfortunate youth from attack by the gang later.

I knew I had encountered  a real gangster of Mumbai underworld and managed to escape without getting hurt or even losing my gold ornaments! I thank God for that !

Do I still wear the gold chain and  bracelet, ? Yes I do!

Did I continue using the sky walk after this? Yes I did!

Do I have faith in God to help me face any challenge ? Yes I do as always !

I do not see why existence arranged such an unusual meeting with Jacob for me , except to drive home a lesson , that our  life is more important than gold !

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figure_12Pankaj Narayan Pandit  can be contacted on panditpank@gmail.com 

Top Ten Myths on Weight-loss

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 Ten Myths on Weight Loss

Epidemic of obesity : As per WHO, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since  1980. Today 39% of adults are overweight, defined as having  BMI more than 25*. Wealthy countries like USA  have more than 1/3rd adults in Obese category , defined as BMI more than 30. See chart below Please refer to chart at end of article to find out your BMIObesity rates in OECD countries

Higher BMI is the cause of many a life style diseases like cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), diabetes, and even some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). Equally  worse  are the “quick fix solutions” ,marketed by the weight loss industry which promise effortless weight loss, . Understanding the ten myths on weight loss will help in embarking on journey for a healthy weight loss , without causing long term damages.

Myth 1. That the weight loss goals must be achieved in a short time.

A. Usually weight gain would have happened gradually , steadily over 10-20-25 years period since adolescence

Gradual process of weight gain

    1. Logically weight reduction should be also gradual Losing 1 to 2 kg per month is a realistic healthy goal , by  right combination of “exercises”, “sensible eating ” and making other life style changes, that have contributed to the weight gain.
    2. Pick up physical activities that you enjoy, such as walking, cycling, running, swimming , dancing, or a sports  in your journey towards healthy living !
    3. Sudden weight loss, is like crash landing a heavy aircraft , with repercussions on your long term health!

Myth 2. That “Doing exercises” is futile option for achieving weight loss.

  1. It is true that doing exercises does not reduce weight as quickly as strict dieting.
  2. An ideal exercise plan will  have three dimensions; 3S-Strength/Stamina/Stretching
    1. Strengthening of muscles/bones  (For example  weight training, using body as weight for traditional exercises )
    2. Endurance Stamina for heart/lungs (For example activities like sports, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc)
    3.  Stretching for well toned body(For example Yoga, aerobics, dancing) etc
  3.   A well planned , regularly executed exercise plan  will strengthen body’s  frame, internal organs Regular exercises that combine the trinity will raise BMR(Basal Metabolic Rate), slowly bringing down weight without causing harm
  4. Harsh dieting can result in undesirable side effects like mood swings, feeling of depression On the other hand, aerobic exercises has desirable side effects,uplifting of mood,  “Feel Good”due to release of pheromones.
  5. exercise-in-futility
  6. Even though weight loss cannot be achieved due exercise alone,  the body would have started to slowly shed  fat and begun to  strengthen muscles, bones This results in raising BMR (Basal Metabolic rate ) , the rate at which body consumes calories .Stronger muscles in legs, hands, back, stomach, as result of exercise, will successfully raise BMR if you persist with exercise routine, spending more than 2.5 hours per week

'I'm on this 3 month diet...it only lasts a week, but it feels like 3 months.'

Myth 3. Strict dieting ( for example severe fasting, skipping one/two meals, or skipping breakfast) is necessary to reduce weight in short time

  1. Strict dieting does result in quick weight loss but then a bout of flue can also do that with similar after effects. ie weak body. Such weight lost,  most likely will gained,  as quickly as you give up the diet.
  2. Reducing weight in an unhealthy way is not desirable, if loss of weight comes at expense of muscle mass . Loss of skeletal muscles, will pose serious health issues in future.
  3. Dieting generally means denial of food even when you are hungry. Such repeated denials can have adverse effects on your mood, ability to perform normal work , mental alertness and ability to sleep normally.
  4. Eat sensible , eat right, to ensure you get all nutrition, preferably in their natural form, along with fiber, and adequate sun light.
  5. Avoid calorie intense” foods( like fried, oily snacks, sweets made from milk fat, alcohol).Avoid foods with high GI (glycemic index) values , like sugary drinks, those made from refined carbs, choosing lazy carbohydrates, that have roughage , fiber .
  6. Avoid severe fasting that can lead to a weak lever, mood swings, depression, weak bones and susceptibility to  more infections. Strict dieting cannot be practically continued over a long time.
  7. Eat with awareness ; Take time to eat, Choose food with high fiber , chewing for longer ; All this will limit  intake of calories in food.

'Well, if you're enjoying your diet plan you must be doing it wrong.'

Myth 4 You can shed fat selectively from certain body parts (like waist, stomach, biceps, thighs)  by wearing tight belts or by doing special exercises.

  1. Remember that the main organ by which body reduces  weight is through lungs/skin ; when heart  pumps blood at faster rate, lungs take in more oxygen and breath out more Carbon Di Oxide (CO2), along with loss of water from skin as perspiration. More than 80 per cent of body fat is breathed out of  the body through exhaling, making the lungs,the primary organ through which we lose weight, through oxidation.
  2. There are several types of fats in body like Abdominal fat, Visceral fat, subcutaneous fat, brown fat, and white fat . Body has its own logical order for burning  fats from various body parts.
  3. Like accounting method LIFO(Last in, first out) , the stored fat will be first taken from liver, blood, and then from other parts of body. It is likely that fat from face, may be shed first and the  fat from abdomen, waist and  hips  may be the last one  to be shed.
  4. Focus more on exercises for bigger muscles like  legs (for example  kick boxing, outdoor cycling, running, fast walking , climbing up stairs) for faster results

Myth 5 Diet fads (like Vegan, Vegetarian only, No oil, No eggs, No meat or No poultry, Salads only, Atkin’s diet, Having smoothies for breakfast, having only two meals in a day , etc) can achieve  weight loss

  1. Obsessive diet fads cannot last long as they are difficult to maintain in normal life. As soon as diet plan is given up, body will regain lost weight, making entire exercise futile.
  2. Human body needs over forty ingredients every day (ten amino acids derived from proteins, fifteen vitamins, fourteen minerals, Carbohydrates and EFA ie Essential Fatty Acids) There is interplay between these ingredients like in an musical orchestra, so that   food is assimilated into body. Having only one ingredient in excess, or denial of few essential ingredients does not satisfy body’s complex nutritional needs, resulting in malnutrition.
  3. Your body, gut microbes, are  accustomed to your dietary habits acquired from your ancestors  over generations . We need diverse ingredients  of food for getting proper nutrition. Sudden changes in diet is like a shock to body.
  4. Vegetarian diet lacks certain vitamins (like B12) and is usually deficient in complete proteins, iron as well. Increasing protein intake seems difficult in a vegetarian diet. Vegan diets severely impact Calcium(Ca) needs of body as dairy products are the best source for getting calcium.
  5. Say no to any extreme diet fads to achieve weight loss. Eat sensible instead.

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Myth 6 Weight loss clinics, massage,Sauna, steam bath help in reducing weight.

  1. The weight loss achieved by weight loss clinics that massage or use steam/sauna baths is purely due to loss of water, causing dehydration.
  2. Weight loss due to loss of water from body is deceptive. Body will quickly gain weight as loss of water is compensated
  3. It is important that weight loss should be accompanied with loss of % fat in body.
  4. If weight loss happens as a result of loss of muscle mass, then it is hazardous for your long term health.

Myth 7 Doing only Yoga, only Pranayamas, Kapal Bhati like heavy breathing can result in weight loss

  1. Doing Pranayama is not possible without strong lungs, heart. Pranayama is recommended  only after  strengthening body with physical Yoga Asanas.
  2. Traditional HathYoga addresses  mainly “Stretching” part, unless more intense Yogic practices are consciously adopted For example, quicker and more number of rounds of Surya Namaskars, using body weight for dips.
  3. The 3S exercise trinity, Strength, Stamina and Stretching should never be forgotten.
  4. On a positive side, practicing Hatha Yoga will  bring down weight very slowly. Yoga particularly Pranayama  will also restore balance of mind , improve quality of sleep,  reduce cravings, thus addressing the root cause, psychological cause of weight gain.

Myth 8 Taking pills/powders/juices that suppress hunger and  replacing normal food with supplements herb like /herbal powders/protein shakes /vitamin pills /smoothies in artificial form can provide all necessary nutrition, for achieving weight loss quickly.

  1. Body absorbs nutrients along with food fibre/roughage thru food’s journey in small intestine in a gradual way
  2. Sans fiber, the vitamin/protein pills, or herbal (like)powders will not be properly assimilated and most likely to be excreted by body.
  3. Food supplements, vitamin pills  can only  compliment a good diet plan ; these supplements can not be considered a substitute for normal foodfed32606468a73d44f93f5459b3cee94-quick-weight-loss-healthy-weight-loss

Myth 9 You must join a Gym if you want to reduce weight

 

'How effective is this new weight-loss regime?' 'We can guarantee you'll lose £50 at your signing on.'

  1. Body is an intelligent machine, which quickly discovers the  most efficient way to burn calories, conserving its  energy , while doing repetitive motions on Gym equipment  like on Cardio, or cross trainer or other machines
  2. In addition, gym users get bored while doing monotonous activities indoor in a gym
  3. It is also observed that over training with Gym machines often leads to injuries like muscle tear, muscle pull, stress fractures, and cramps , etc  due to over strain in one particular part of body.
  4. Find a exercise buddy or group with whom you can engage in outdoor activities regularly .If weather permits, then choose outdoor exercises( like running, cycling)such “Outdoors Gym” is fun activity for the mind as well . Playing competitive sport an enjoyable way to achieve weight loss.

09b1736deb35dc9d4b2fbe53ec0479af-spark-people-fitness-humor

Myth 10 MBBS doctors are the best guides for seeking advice on diet and nutrition,

  1. If you want good advice on diet, nutrition, please consult a Ph. D (dietician/nutritionist )  instead of a MBBS /allopathic doctor.
  2. MBBS doctors have little or no formal education on healthy diet and nutritional needs of body.

Pankaj Narayan Pandit, Head-Airlines Practice, Sonata Software Ltd

Pankaj Narayan Pandit is founder,trustee of SLK Foundation , a charitable trust  for nature friendly  wellness solutions www.slkfoundation.in  email slkfoundation.in@gmail.com

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My close encounters with crows

pexels-photo-57994.jpegMy Close encounters with Crows

I must admit that until two months ago, I did not know much on the subject of Crows. I did not care to know  much about crows either. However now my understanding about crows has been for ever transformed.

Crow’s the national bird of Mumbai:Crow is the most ubiquitous “national” bird of Aamchi Mumbai. They thrive on Mumbai’s unlimited household filth. Crows are unpaid scavengers of Mumbai’s filth, working all round year eating rotten, putrefying, foul smelling organic matter, especially dead rats, meat offal’s that Mumbai’s fresh meat shops dump along road side. You see number of crows at any garbage dump in small groups, along stray dogs. Crows and stray dogs of Mumbai are not exactly domestic animals yet they live very close periphery of human life. In this sense, these are neither fully wild nor domestic creatures. One sees crows so often in Mumbai that one stops noticing them anymore. Few can differentiate  one crow from another . They all look the same,they all make similar croaking sounds, right?

Making friends with Crows?:Since April, I have been staying alone at my row house Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. I have a penthouse flat on third floor with huge open  terrace. I stay at Kharghar intermittently as I frequently travel  between three cities, Bengaluru,  Navi Mumbai, and Pune. I love nature and all its creations. In hot summer months, I used to keep a plastic mug  filled with fresh water for all birds. I also keep a can of water at my gate for stray dogs. I would often leave bits of mangoes, other fruit remains for birds on the terrace. The crows would come regularly to nibble at the fruits, drink from the water kept in plastic mug. I thought I am making friends with the crows.

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Friend turned foe!I first noticed unusual behavior of one crow when I was planting new shrubs in the second floor balcony overhang of my row house. I had got down in the small portion of projection on second floor, for planting the shrubs, adding some manure, before onset of monsoon. Suddenly a crow approached from the iron grill shrieking, trying to attack me through the  grill.  I did not understand such strange behavior of the particular crow. I dismissed the crow with equally attacking gestures. But the crow simply refused to go away ,coming back after making short circle in air till I returned from the balcony. I planted the shrubs and made a hasty retreat.

Crow had built a nest with five eggs Later after few days, I had few visitors  in my house.  As we were talking standing in a group on the open third floor terrace,  One of the visitors pointed to a nest made by crow, in adjoining row house. It was behind iron grill on second floor, one level below of my third floor terrace flat. The nest had five shiny light green eggs with polka dots. Now I knew the reason why the crow was aggressively guarding the area nearby the nest.

Aerial attacks started In summer I water the terrace plants, move them around  and also spread organic matter for composting in the pots. All this time, one pair of crows would hover  close above my head, making shrieking noises. They were asking me to get back from the portion of terrace that overlooked the nest. I would make equally combative gestures,to scare them and return to my work. Later I got a long rubber pipe that I used to waive on air above to sweep the crows away. I thought that the crows would keep away from me because of such gestures. I would also throw small stones at them when they approached me. However the crows were too smart to get hit by stones.After a few days,when I was planting saplings across road, before monsoon sets in, all of a sudden a crow menacingly swept from behind brushing close to my body. It was trying to peck at my head. As I had bent down guided by my sixth sense, the crow could not make any contact with me. I was surprised but did not quite understand the seriousness of this episode.The crow then sat close by, watching my next move. I again made menacing, stone throwing poses to scare the crow away. Later  when  I would be come to terrace for hanging  the clothes in terrace for drying, I would see a pair of crow circling above, making loud noises. I would try to scare them away with stick. I thought this is some game being played by the crows, not knowing its seriousness.

Pair of Crows in a constant attack mode :After few days, I went to overhead water tank to see the water level. Suddenly the crow came from nowhere, attacked me. This knocked me off the ladder. I fell down about three feet, against the ladder luckily not much damage was done to me, except a muscle pull in one leg. I now could conclude that the pair crows were waging a war with me; They chased me where ever I went, not necessarily in area overlooking or around their nest. They attacked me ceaselessly any time I got down from my house on road. They waited for me to come back in evening and started their game. I simply could not stand even for a minute in daylight, on road before my own house, without their aerial attacks. I was surprised that the crows would remember me even when I returned after a gap of three weeks. All this made me mad. A small bird fighting with me in my own house?

Teaching crows lesson or learning one from them?One night,I decided to teach the militant crows a lesson. In night, I would see the female crow sitting on nest hatching the eggs. Even though nest was carefully built behind protection of iron grill, it was vulnerable to attack from third floor. The location of nest was  at an angle  down my third floor terrace. I could throw small stones through the grill  or spray water. One night, I decided to rattle the crows spraying water on their nest  from my terrace. So I took the long rubber pipe and through it I sprayed some water on their nest. As water started streaming  through  the pipe right on the nest,  I saw the startled crow female leave the nest. She was clearly rattled. Screaming loudly, she took shelter at the near  by tree, where her male partner was resting.As crows cannot see in dark, they could not launch counter attack. I left the terrace, thinking that I scored a point on the crows; “I have  taught them a lesson. Now they know what I can do to them in night, they will back off” or so I thought . I had no intention of hurting them in any way, except to scare them.

Provoked Crows are not afraid of humans :I was totally wrong. Instead of making them retreat into compromise,the pair of crows declared full scale war on me, without a trace of fear. They were driven by the basic instinct to protect their offspring from any danger. They would keep a close watch on my movement all through the day.The female crow would come in third floor terrace  right in morning making challenging sounds, as she saw me sleeping behind glass window. As I got dressed for going to work, getting down from third floor to ground floor, they were both ready for me.  Two of them sat apart on near by row houses and watched my every movement. They would alternately make steep sky dives almost at right angles from terrace on my head, aiming to claw at me or swipe claws brushing against my back.As  I used to  look up, the other one would suddenly come from behind and surprise me. I never realized a gawky, inelegant bird like crow can make such breezy fast sky dives up and down,  in a small area , without getting hurt by wires or trees.  The pair of  crows had decided not to allow me , of any freedom of movement , or  any activity,in circle of 100 Feet radius area on road both sides of my house. They would come in surprise ambush when  I would be crossing the road. Once when I was on scooter, one of them came in a sky dive and pecked on my head; I tried to avoid them and promptly skidded the scooter off the road. The scooter fell down; I too slipped on side of road.  I once again did damage control by not getting much hurt except leg muscle pull . Luckily no vehicle was coming from either side.

Unforgiving and unforgetful crows: I thought they will forget me if I go away for few weeks. However even when I used to come back to Kharghar,  after a gap of few weeks of staying in Pune/Bangalore, the crow would instantly recognize and start to attack me. Going with an umbrella masked my face and could disguise me. Other than that, nothing could disguise me from their steeply, penetrating eyes.Only the paranoid can survive! So says the pair of crows.

Not Losing head in crisis :Now I stared getting tense any time I was leaving the home or coming before sun set. The crows seemed to be always there for me, ready for action !One day, I dropped my prized Infosys watch while hurrying to leave home before crows could start to attack. The watch was lost in hurried rush to avoid attacking crows. By now, the hatchlings had come out of eggs in the nest .I could see the female crow feeding the babies with shreds of meat, etc. Now I realized the gravity of situation; provoking and getting on wrong side of crows. I tried to research on my “not so friendly avian neighbors”. I googled on the  subject of Crow, its life span, reading on other persons’ experiences with it. I quickly realized that dealing with militant crows is very serious business all over world. Crows are categorized as “hunter” birds. Crows are the second most intelligent among birds, after parrots. They are known to hold permanent grudge against a person. At times, they can unite their entire flying  creed against a common enemy, with their peculiar war cries.

Seeking Local help:I spoke to few local people. They told me folk tales on extraordinary ability of crows; that they can live for upto 1000 years; that they can declare war on any one person; that they are very intelligent with sharp vision.  I found stories on internet that you can never successfully hunt crows as well like any other birds. Crows know how to avoid even gun shots. Crows are the smarter breed,  always think ahead of the hunter. Crows are almost invincible!  If one of them is killed, the entire community gets together against that person and makes his life miserable, some times forcing him to permanently leave the place. I realized I  was in a  crisis. I discussed this peculiar  problem with few my nature lover friends. They asked me to bear with the crows; The hatchlings will fly off soon and enmity will end hopefully,  so I was assured.

I decided that I will compromise with the militant crows. I stopped going anywhere near on terrace, or any place closer to their nest. After all the birds will fly off soon. But the crows were in no mood for any such compromise. They kept attacking me when everI came out in open and they sensed opportunity. I stopped going out in open during day time, making sure I come back after dark.I wanted to follow “Live and Let live”!

Unrelenting Attacks from crows :But the crow would promptly come to my terrace challenging me in morning. The crows were saying , “No compromise ! Come I will see you outside”!  it seems to say).  I started using an umbrella even when it was not raining Umbrella would effectively hide me from the crows. I would walk with a small stick in my hand, making funny swipes in air over my head or behind my back!  In my own house, I felt like I am confined in a jail,I was not able to go out when I felt like, in day light I was not able to talk to my neighbors standing beside road or even do any gardening around during day time. The crows would be always watching me , circling over me in a disapproving way!

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Crows holding long term grudge :My neighbors were amused to see that  the pair of crows relentlessly attacking me! They had a good  laugh seeing me run for cover to avoid the crows. I was astonished to see the single minded pursuit of a pair of crows in isolating me for such sustained attack over two months. I was also embarrassed that a pair of crows can do this to my ego right in front of my own house! I have read stories of rogue elephants attacking their handlers (“mahuts”) in Kerala, or rabid dogs/man eater tigers/panthers who attack humans. However such attacks are sporadic. No animal ever holds long term grudge against a particular human being , as animals know that humans are above them in nature’s pecking  order. I could never imagine a small common  bird like a crow,  taking  such a vicious fight on a human in this manner. I prayed to god for solution to this issue. If I openly killed the crows, there was danger that entire crow fraternity would declare war on me. So I had to act in a stealthy manner.

Resolving the problem-Looking for options :I started to look for procuring an air gun. I could then ask someone to kill the crows when they perched  on my grill of my terrace. But the cost of air gun was found prohibitive, around Rs 25000! I would have had no use of the gun once I had dealt with one pair of crows. Nobody in Mumbai gives the air guns on hire for short term use. Pelting stones at crows was useless effort as the crows dodged stones very well; They would fly taking shelter near building, knowing that I cannot hit at the building  or they would go up and down in air in a crazy way , to avoid getting hit. I spoke to few locals for giving a contract for killing the crows. Locals do have skill in catching crows. However I found no one with such skills.I was told that crows are so smart that they avoid hunters or abstain from having poisoned food that has a strange smell. On weekdays, I would leave home early and return after sun set .So my interactions with crows if any,  would be limited only on weekdays, when starting from work.

My mother taken ill and passes away : Crows are bad omen,associated with death in Hindu religion. In a separate,seemingly unrelated incident in Pune, my mother(age 76) passed away She had an accidental fall, followed by unfortunate complications in surgery. A routine surgery led to unexpected consequences, namely pulmonary embolism, that resulted in a stroke She passed away after three days on ventilator support. In Hindu religion, there are elaborate after death rituals for 13 days following day of death Hindus offer rice bowl to crows on 10th day after death in the crematorium. In this ritual, a crow needs to touch the bowl of rice offered in the name of dead person. Crow is assumed to have ability to “see” dead persons’ astral body ; if the dead person has some unfulfilled wish then its astral body prevents the crows from touching the rice bowl. The gathered relatives then spell out unfulfilled wishes and see if promise of fulfilling these wishes can propitiate the astral body. In crematorium, we beckoned crows to come and eat the food kept for them The crow in Pune crematorium,took a very long time, more than two and half hours to touch the rice bowl kept in my mothers name I could not guess the reasons for this .As I returned to Kharghar, next month in July, I hoped that the crows would have forgiven or forgotten about me. However it was not to be.

Dead Lizard shows the way :On that particular weekend in early July, I mainly stayed indoors,as it was raining heavily. In addition, I had no intention of engaging in constant war with the crows . “I must not lose my head, even though they seems to have lost theirs” , so I thought.  Just then, I sensed a foul  smell coming behind sofa on ground floor. As I investigated, behind sofa set, I found a dead lizard. It must have died few days ago as it was smelling pretty bad. With broom, I carefully collected dead lizard on a piece of paper. Before I decided to toss it away in garden, I had an idea like a flash. In cupboard, I had some unused rat poison. I peppered the dead lizard with greenish black powder of rat poison cake. I embedded the granules deep inside the dead lizards’ body. Then on Saturday late afternoon, I quietly kept the dead lizard on a piece of paper and placed it on top of ground floor gate. I did not think the female crow saw me doing this from its nest.  It rained heavily on Saturday night. I thought the poison would have got washed away. What if some other crows pick up the lizard and suffer ? Anyway I had to take chance.

Rogue Crow takes the bait:On Sunday late afternoon, I quietly rejoiced when I saw the aggressive female crow come and pick up the lizard bait. She came prancing on my gate wall perhaps to challenge me. On seeing the lizard, she  picked it  up and went up for feeding it to the hatchlings. The putrefying smell of lizard would have masked the rat poison taste.  In the evening, I saw the particular female crow also happily nibbling at chicken legs from garbage dump. “The poison did not work “I thought. May be the poison in lizard had got washed off or perhaps the rat poison does not work as well on crows.

Dead silence in the nest :However after some time, late afternoon on Sunday , I heard a peculiar faint wailing sound that crows make when they are in deep anguish or pain. That pained cry seemed to indicate  that the poisoned arrow had struck and poison was working its spell on the crow. I refused to look up the nest on Sunday evening . However when I went out in evening,  there were no more aerial attacks from the crows. Later when I returned after dark, I saw that the female crow was sitting unusually still, head turned away from nest. She was very inactive. The next morning, there was dead silence in the nest. All the babies apparently had died with dose of poisoned lizard. However I did not see the dead bodies being flown away. May be the babies flew out just in time? The militant female was sitting all alone with her back turned away from the nest; She looked like an apparition of her previous militant avatar; much thinner, shaken and sick looking shadow of the original bird, with face turned away from road. She seemed in a daze, shell shocked to even notice anything around.I thought she would die soon.pexels-photo-51540.jpeg

Recovery after Six days of solitary  penance :That was situation on Monday morning. Since then, for last four  days and four nights, the female crow sat  frozen, getting much weaker and looking thinner each day. She seemed unable to fly She had perched herself one floor above the nest ,on third floor iron grill. All through day and night, she sat frozen and motionless, turning her back to nest. She did not stir a bit even when it was raining heavily. Her male partner was nowhere to be seen. She was all alone, sitting in penance, or atonement for feeding poison to babies. I thought she will die soon but I was wrong.On forth day( and third night since Sunday), the female crow was still unable to fly nor  could it move  around any more. It seemed to be fasting. I saw no emotion in her at all. The nest was empty and silent. The bonding between the pair of crows was broken .My freedom of movement around the house was restored to normal.  Every time I came home, I would have a furtive glance up. I would see the ghost like figure of single crow sitting frozen not moving at all. She was perched on third floor grill, on next door row house with back to nest. It was heart rendering to see this .In night as it was raining heavily, I slept in comfort of my bed. I could visualize the female crow out there in open behind iron grill, getting wet in rains. She had become like a frozen  statue but was not ready to die yet. How long will she remain like this? Should someone mercy kill the crow to liberate it from suffering ? I only kept watching it .Luckily her partner male crow, or their kinhad not declared war on me as they would not have known how this mishap could have happened.

Lessons learnt :Nothing in this world can happen without approval from God, so is my belief. Was it God’s intervention which made only the militant crow, nibble at the poisoned lizard, for feeding to its babies? Crows are one of the visually the ugliest birds. Are they as ugly from inside? Crows have a good idea about their strengths and human weaknesses .Crows have a single minded pursuit once they identify their foe . They also seem to  have also a uncanny sixth sense as well, sensing movement of their foe. For me the lessons are as follows

  1. Never get on wrong side of crows. There is a saying in Marathi which says if you are livingin water, do not fight with fish. This needs to be modified by substituting “Land” instead of “water” and “Crow” instead of “fish”
  2. Never provoke crows with a mock flight.
  3. Stay away from crow’s nest during hatching time.
  4. Never take fight with crow lightly.
  5. Crows are not one bit afraid to take on humans, taking the fight to your own backyard/home.
  6. Do not underestimate the intelligence, daring and single mindedness of an angry or provoked crow. As a group, crows can quickly organize a large clan with a war cry.
  7. Crows are not ordinary birds; they have exceptional mercenary skills with a sixth sense as you can observe from this blog.
  8. There is Marathi saying that a cow does not die from curse of a crow. However was this incident in any way linked to my mothers’ death? After all it was a bad omen to engage into fight with a bird like crow.
  9. Any other lessons that you see here? There are few human communities who behave like crows, attacking a perceived foe in paranoid manner.

Lest any bird lover sues me for cruelty to wild life /animals, I want to tell them that right next door is a poultry that kills on an average 150-300 chickens through the day.I will exhort the animal lovers who want to save crows to save chickens as well.I am a vegetarian; I am not causing death of poultry chicken . The nest with hatchlings was the cause of their angst. Once nest was not there, the crows lost  raison d’être for fight . God/existence did collaborate with me for eliminating this menace.

As on Friday, fifth day , the female crow is seen recovering from the psychological shock of losing all its off spring. I conclude that physically, it may not have eaten good portion of the poisoned lizard. I see it was making small movements of wings, legs.  It seemed to be getting ready for another flight if not fight! I do not want anything to do with crows anymore!

Will it attack me once it recovers its health? I do not know. After all, it cannot establish any relation between nibbling poisoned lizard and my role in it. But could it have guessed it from its uncanny sixth sense? Wait till next write up!

                       

 figure_12  Pankaj Narayan Pandit  can be contacted on panditpank@gmail.com