Sunday, September 05, 2010

How I reduced my Cholesterol without medication!

Its been more than 2 months since I created a draft for blogging this and never got around to finishing it. Today just might be that day...

It all started when an Insurance application of mine got rejected for medical reasons. I at 43, who can run 10k under 1hr and play basketball with college kids was taken aback. How could this be? With some inquiry, the reason was found that my Cholesterol was high. So high that they rejected insuring me! Did that mean they thought chances of me living beyond 10 yrs was too low and they feared making a payout? geez.

Anyway, it set off red flags in our family and I made that long pending appointment with our family doctor to get my blood tested. The results came back..and was high. Total Cholesterol at 230 (30 over high of normal range) with the bad stuff, LDL at 160 (10pts over max)!

The doctor was concerned enough to immediately recommend drugs, which I duly declined and requested her to suggest other methods. She looked dubiously at me, probably wondering if I was capable of following what she was going to suggest. Maybe I looked earnest enough and she suggested the following, giving me 3months to get it back into normal range.


- Morning breakfast: Oatmeal along with black dry grapes, pistachio, almonds, fig, etc. Avoid brown dry grapes(sugar) and Cashews(cholesterol). [I took this for 4 days at least in a week, using Diet Horlicks milk as base to mix Oatmeal and dry fruits in along with a chopped Yellaki (small) banana or apple]
If there is something nice for breakfast such as Dosas, eat the above stuff and then maybe one dosa so that you don't miss out on it and feel miserable. That is, you don't have to sacrifice the usual stuff to follow the regimen.

- Dinner, we usually have Chappathis. I switched to Plulkas which is prepared without oil.

- Lunch, I reduced the amount of rice I ate.

- I consciously avoided or reduced snacking in-between meals. At buffets or family functions, I ate normally but declined second helping of fried or fatty stuff like sweets.

- Avoided yellows of eggs. Reduced or did not use butter, ghee when preparing food.


I was already quite active with running and Basketball. She suggested adding badminton once a week to the routine. Since I had played this game competitively, it was a great workout. I did not over do all this.. just about 1hr a day for 6 days a week.. maybe 30mins more on game playing days.

After about 4 months..(ya, took an extra month just to be on the safe side), did my blood test and waited expectantly for the results.

Lo and behold.. I did pass the test as required by the doctor.
Weight down by 3kgs.
Total Cholesterol came down to 201. (drop of 29)
LDL came down to 130. (drop of 30).

I took it happily like a student to the teacher and nearly held out my hand for some stars from the doctor which I think I deserved! She did not give that... but...congratulated me and said follow the same routine and I should be fine.

So, hopefully she is right..and for the time being I avoided popping a pill every day.
In the bargain, I feel better and fitter.

Sharing all this here, so that someone out there will also be able to use my new found wisdom in Cholesterol control by natural means! :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simple ways to conserve

I have this lingering suspicion that most people equate conservation to just recycling plastic. Few of them expand it to switching off lights, saving water and maybe planting a tree or 2.

Surely, we can and should do more than that.

So, I write this long pending thoughts on how I perceive conservation as.

First Reduce, then try to Reuse and after that Recycle whats left.
(You can see many more R's at Saahas website ( where I volunteer whenever I can.)

Some ways each and every one of us can conserve and save the precious resources of our planet:

1. Reduce use of plastic covers. Just get into the habit of carrying a coir/plastic bag and let the shop keeper know. Most will oblige as each plastic cover costs anywhere from 40ps to 5 Rs. When you buy something like a loaf of bread or packet of chips, decline the use of another plastic cover to put it in! Carry tupperware or other utensils for take-outs from local Darshini's.

2. Don't waste food, especially at Buffets. Take little of unknown items and get more only if you like it. Instead of piling something that looks nice and then find out you don't like it! People argue with me on how that saves food since the hotel/hosts have already cooked it anyway. I feel, once we all eat the right amount of quantity without wasting, they will adjust the estimations accordingly and what they prepare for say 100 people will come down. Also, food left over in many cases is donated.

3. Walk locally. Try and walk to all close locations. Anything up to 1km (15mins) and even 2km (30mins) should be doable. You get a workout, save petrol and reduce traffic congestion! If you have to drive, combine the errands in that direction so that you avoid multiple trips. Check, if a phone call/letter is enough.

4. Use less paper. Print only when required. Be judicious in the use of tissue papers at restaurants. Reuse blank papers. Don't throw away sheets which have one side blank. Use it for rough work like sketching or tests for kids and then recycle.

5. Reduce your consumption. There is too much stress on convenience. Think many times if youe need that new dress/shoes/gadget/book/pen/car/.... This is a tough choice in our materialistic world. However, if we opt out of even 10% of our purchases, it will make a huge difference overall in resource consumption.

All these points should be gently passed on to our kids to help them develop good habits early in their life.

If you can think of more, please add in the comments below.

Lets try to be smart and not doom ourselves and the future generations..

Friday, June 18, 2010

Story on superstition

Deccan Herald published a story I had submitted today. Its on superstition and how kids find it easier to fight the conformance to them than elders who have a whole lot of history behind their convictions. Its up to us parents/adults to not let our own fears and insecurities which have no basis on facts to pass on to the next generation.

Check out the story at:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 Point Idiots!

We saw the movie 3 idiots several months back because of high recommendations from friends. It was entertaining as most hindi movies are with the extra touch that comes with Aamir Khan movies. Then of course, the controversy of "Is the movie same as the book" and "Why was Chetan Bhagat's name not in the initial credits" flared up. So, curious, I finally bought a legal copy of the book Five point someone. (so that Bhagat also gets his share from me, in the name of fairness).

Having experienced both movie and book in my "unbiased" way, here is my take on the controversy.

The movie is most certainly based on the characters and plot created in the book. But I dont agree it is an adaptation of the book. The characters and plot have been twisted and molded significantly to suit the audience for a Hindi Movie. Chetan Bhagat in his blog on the controversy states that movie people claimed it was only 3-5% from the book while some movie critics said it was more like 70%. I put it at about 20%.

I felt the movie script writers moved away from the plot fairly quickly and even the characters (Ryan => Rancho, Hari => Farhan) are very different while only Alok => Raju was fairly close. Most other characters in the movie were also different and it had new ones like the servant kid, Joy Lobo the brilliant practical student who commits suicide, profs 1st daughter Mona. The book had Prof Veera who was given a miss in the movie. New situations were made up in the movie like the chase to find the disappeared Rancho, Mona's delivery, Joy Lobo and his un-manned helicopter, Rancho becoming a brilliant topper, wedding surprise with Pia, etc. The book had some good spots that were dropped in the movie: the complete canteen/ice-cream parlor college ambience, research project with Prof Veera, C2D Co-operate to Dominate, Hari's slow developing romance with Neha, etc.

The book: It is a typical Chetan Bhagat style of writing. Simple, corny in spots yet engaging enough to finish it quickly. I liked several spots where I felt it elevated itself a bit like Hari's dream of Cherians Graduation speech, the situation where Hari gets caught with Cherians shirt. Overall, the book is more down to earth and depicted the college rat race and lifestyle better than the movie.

Movie: The script writers did what they had to do to make the story sell on the big screen. They mangled it and added more corny (read unrealistic) situations to make it a masala movie. Rancho character is too much to digest but makes a good hero, I suppose. Ending is typical movie style.

I feel both movie and book were superficial and were written to attract the average viewer or reader. Sad, because the story had a lot more potential to be a serious work along the lines of Hollywood movies "Dead Poets Society" or "Good will hunting".

As for the controversy, Chetan deserved better recognition for the original story and plot on which the movie is based. I think he got it anyway even though it was not in the form of movie credits. However, the movie is not an adaptation of the book by any stretch of the imagination. So, rest easy. You both deserve accolades.

Unanswered question: Was the very public spat a shrewd move by both parties to sell their products?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Paradox of religion and God

I have always been fascinated by this paradox about religion and God.

If God does not exist, then there is no need for a religion. If God does exist and he is all that any religion (Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, take-your-pick) say he is, then he would have to be a pretty mean person to have such extreme expectations from his devotees or a conceited and self-centered or insecure person to want people to give him money, time and praise in order to grant wishes!

I am what you may call a non practising Hindu. The thing that drives me crazy is watching people put lakhs of rupees in a temple hundi such as at Tirupathi to seek His blessings. I can guarantee (of course without proof!) that more than 50% of those donations are ill-gotten wealth. So, basically it all amounts to a bribe to the almighty to avoid being cursed. If they are that afraid then they should stop being greedy and getting wealth by dubious means. If they are not afraid then why bother offering this "bribe"? Another Paradox!

Or putting it another way. If they believe God is omnipresent and omniscient then they should be shit scared of cheating people and offering part of the profits to Him and if they didn't, ya, why offer anything?

So, I present you with this theory of mine about religion and God.

Long long time ago, God was created in the minds of some pretty smart people in power. They probably did it to make the people scared about this powerful person or thing so that they will follow the rules which they felt was good and beneficial for the larger community. The rules of course metamorphosed into respective religions. Initially, God was forces of nature such as Sun, Moon, Stars, Trees, Rain, Mountains, Rivers, Planets, Comets, etc. Later, maybe for easier representation in stories and myths, they became persons. This worked well to keep the community or tribes in harmony and does even today to some extent.

But where it has gone wrong is that most have figured out or comforted themselves that as long as they pay the perceived donations or perform rituals to Him, they can get away with anything including murder. This is because there is no real proof that He does exist and will punish! So, the powerful now use Religion and God to pursue their own interests and not for the good of the community. That is they can say anything they wish in His name

In a way religion has lost the reason it was "invented" for leaving us with the paradoxes that I started with...