Tag: calcium

Goodness of Cheese

Goodness of Cheese

Say CHEESE!!!!

My clients give me surprised looks when I tell them that cheese is allowed in their diets. Cheese has been in the news for causing weight gain, acne, heart disease etc. All this is not true.

If you have read the book by Dr. Spencer Johnson “who moved my cheese”, which is a book on change, so it is time for us to look at cheese from a different perspective. It is alright for many to eat fried food, drink alcohol but cheese has been a taboo and avoid it like the plague.

Yes, it is completely safe to eat cheese. Cheese has been our diets from centuries. But lets look at the goodness of cheese.

Benefits of Cheese

  • It is high in calcium, hence is a great choice to increase calcium intake.
  • Cheese prevents osteoporosis by improving bone health.
  • It  is a good source of  protein for vegetarians giving about 5-7 grams per cube.
  • Low in carbohydrates compared to other dairy products as the milk sugar(lactose) is broken down due to the aging process, hence a good snack for diabetics.
  • Cheese helps in “fat burning”. Yes, it does by decreasing the parathyroid hormone levels in our blood. The primary function of parathyroid hormone is to maintain normal levels of calcium in the body. When calcium levels drop too low, parathyroid hormone is secreted to instruct bone cells to release calcium into the bloodstream. Hence higher levels of calcium in the blood reduces the level of this hormone, thereby preventing loss of calcium from bones. Wow!!!
  • It Improves insulin resistance.
  • Helpful for those who are lactose intolerant due to the less or no lactose content. Cheeses such as Swiss, cheddar can be had to reap the benefits of calcium without lactose.
  • Helps to reduce migraine headaches. If you have repeated attacks, increase calcium intake.
  • Ideal to add to diets for children and adolescents who love variations in diets.
  • Helps to lower your blood pressure.
  • It prevents tooth decay by reducing plaque acids.
  • It is rich in fat soluble vitamins such as A and D, and also rich in vitamin B groups as well as zinc, phosphorous, iodine and selenium. Hence it does not cause acne.

How can you enjoy Cheese?

  • Grate it over salads and soups.
  • Add a slice in your whole wheat sandwich with veggies.
  • My favorite snack – Melted cheese over steamed broccoli.
  • Cheese with fruits are great appetizers.
  • Eat alone as a snack.

If you are worried about the fat content, opt for low fat cheese. If you exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet, then it is safe to add about one ounce or 30grams of cheese in your diet daily.

Health benefits of Sesame seeds

Health benefits of Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds have been commonly used in the Indian cuisine. They are small nutty seeds and are hardly visible in the various dishes they are added to. It is said to be one of the oldest condiment known to man. It is known as ’til’ in India. Lets have a look at its health benefits.

  • It is said to contain the mineral copper which helps to prevent and provide relief from arthritis and strengthens our bones, joints and blood vessels.
  • It contains magnesium which lowers blood pressure, alleviates asthma and prevents migraine.
  • Calcium content in sesame seeds helps to biuld bones and prevents migraine too.
  • Zinc content helps to improve bone health and is great for skin.
  • It contains monounsaturated fats and vitamin E which helps to maintain heart health.
  • It contains phytosterols which helps to lower cholesterol and prevent cancers.
  • Sesame butter can help to replace the cholesterol rich butter.
  • It is rich in fiber mainly due to the presence of the compounds sesamin and sesamolin which increases the vitamin E content when added to food, helps to lower cholesterol and protects the liver from oxidative damage.

You can add sesame seeds to your morning porridge, add it to a glass of warm milk, toss it in a salad or sprinkle over breads while baking. Now you can say open sesame to health.

Are you getting enough calcium in a day?

Are you getting enough calcium in a day?

milk_calciumA client of mine during a counseling session told me that she has stopped drinking milk as someone told her that it can make her fat. If she has been avoiding milk, she has been losing out on calcium…

Calcium is a mineral which makes up our bones and teeth. It helps in muscle contraction, nerve function,blood clotting etc

Calcium also triggers weight loss and has been proved by various studies. It has proven to reduce fat and cut down weight. It helps to reduce blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure.

It is recommended that one should take 1000-1200mg of calcium per day.

Let us have a look at the various sources of calcium which mainly is dairy.

  • Milk- opt for fat free or 1% fat milk. Drink at least 2 glasses per day. Helps to prevent strokes, heart attack, osteoporosis and may be even cancers.
  • Yogurt- I do not suggest fat free varieties as there is no much difference in the calories I have read on labels. But If you do come across authentic brands, go for them. Yogurt can be a post workout snack  or a late afternoon snack.
  • Soya milk which is fortified with calcium and tofu made out of soya milk is a good source of calcium.
  • Cheese- yummy to eat, opt for low fat varieties and you can eat a cube or a single or melt it on a salad, whole wheat slice or in pasta.
  • Cottage cheese- can be had as a snack with stir fry veggies.

By adding these dairy products in your diet, you can avail the much needed calcium from these diets.

Prevent Osteoporosis and Age Beautifully

Prevent Osteoporosis and Age Beautifully

By Maye Musk, MSc(Dietetics), MSc(Nutritional Sciences), RD(Registered Dietitian)

About the writer….
Maye Musk is a New York City based registered dietitian, Ford model and 61-year-old grandmother of 7. She has had practices in San Francisco, Toronto and Johannesburg.

She is my role model who has taken the field of dietetics and nutrition to newer dimensions.

Thanks Maye for this wonderful article…To know more about Maye Musk, visit her site www.mayemusk.com

Thank you,

To look good and feel young, we need to have a lot of energy and stay healthy. Focusing on good eating and activity habits to prevent ageing diseases like osteoporosis, will keep us walking upright and aging beautifully.


Osteoporosis is a silent bone disease that leads to loss of bone mass and is widely prevalent in India. Fractures are a common cause of morbidity and mortality in adult Indian men and women.

Hip fractures occur at a relatively earlier age in Indian males and females, compared to western counterparts; and a higher male-to-female ratio suggests that Indian males are at a higher risk for hip fractures. This may be because men seeking hospital attention is greater than that for women.

Up to 50 million Indians may be affected. Low vitamin D level and low calcium intake seem to be the major contributing factor to poor bone health and osteoporosis in India.


Clients come to see me with osteopenia, mild bone loss, out of fear of osteoporosis, a crippling disease resulting in a stooped back and bones that break easily. Besides the cost of this disease, losing independence and lowering quality of life is a concern.

–       Bones are built up to maximum strength until age 30

–       A bone feels like a rock but it isn’t, it’s living tissue. The body is continuously making new bone and replacing old bone. We need to give the body a constant supply of bone-building calcium to prevent bone loss.

–       There is high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the Indian population despite the availability of abundant sunshine. This includes urban and semi-urban Indians, postmenopausal women, pregnant women, school children and newborns. Studies have shown that the majority of urban office workers and hospital staff have moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency.

–       In a US study, the fracture rate in women with low bone density was nearly double that of women with normal bones, and four times higher in women with osteoporosis.

–       In the USA, the incidence of osteoporosis is higher with women (25 – 30%) than with men (12 – 15%). Higher consumption of fruits, vegetables and cereals was associated with greater femoral bone mineral density in men in a study of 907 adults aged 69-93 years old.


–       Family history: Genetics play a role as body types run in families.

–     Frame: small and thin. Indians have low bone mineral density as compared to western Caucasians, which could be attributed to differences in skeletal size.

–       Age: older people are at higher risk for fractures.

–       Race: Caucasian of northern European descent and Asians are at higher risk.

–       Menopause: After menopause, estrogen falls to the point where women can’t absorb enough calcium to replace the bone they naturally lose. A little plumpness after menopause increases estrogen levels and is good for her bones. Just a few extra pounds….

–       Poor diet: Low calcium intake: This is the main mineral that builds up bone density. Other nutrient deficiencies increase the risk for osteoporosis such as vitamin D, magnesium, manganese, Vitamin K and boron.

–       Anorexia: leads to low estrogen production and increased bone loss.

–       High protein intake: High-protein foods tend to be high in phosphorus, a mineral that depletes calcium out of the bone. The more phosphorus you consume, the more calcium you need to maintain your bone mineral density.

–       Soda: these beverages contain phosphorus. Also, soda replaces milk.

–       Vegans (people who eat no animal products at all): As calcium in milk and dairy products is better absorbed than calcium found in vegetables or supplements, strict vegetarian diets containing no milk may increase risk.

–       Certain vegetable compounds: The oxalates in spinach and sweet potatoes and phytates in legumes and grains decrease the absorption of calcium. These foods should be included in the diet as they contain some calcium which counteracts these compounds.

–       Salt: a high salt intake increases loss of calcium in the urine.

–       Coffee: More than two cups a day can decrease bone density in older women. Be sure to add milk or drink a café latte.

–       Alcohol: maximum one serving a day.

–       Excess Vitamin A supplementation.

–       Smoking depletes minerals from bone and decreases bone-preserving estrogen in blood.

–       Sedentary lifestyle.

–       Drugs can rob the bones of calcium. These include: cortisone, prednisone, thyroid hormones, anticonvulsants and aluminum-based antacids.


You cannot change your sex, race, build and age, but you can change your eating habits and activity.

Healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise and sunlight exposure) can have a major positive impact on the bone metabolism and bone health of Indians. These public health measures are recommended for the population at large as they are efficacious, safe and cost-effective.

Eat Well

Plan daily intake of calcium-rich foods. See a registered dietitian for a healthy meal plan.

– Milk (including skim milk and 1% milk) is the best. Milk contains lactose and is enriched with vitamin D; both nutrients help with the absorption of calcium. Many people who have trouble digesting lactose can drink one or two servings of milk with solid food and not have problems. A recent study showed that women over 65 reduced bone loss by 12 to 25% over 2 years if they received adequate calcium intake.

– Cheese, fortified cottage cheese and yogurt are also good sources of calcium. Low fat options contain the same amount of calcium as high fat types.

– Canned salmon and sardines with bones.

– Calcium fortified orange juice

– Collards, turnip greens, rhubarb, broccoli, kale, oranges, almonds contain calcium.

– Vitamin D: in fortified milk, eggs, salmon and sardines with bones, cheese, fortified margarine and fortified breakfast cereals.

– Sun: although it’s best to keep out of the sun, a little can supply the essential vitamin D. Expose sun to hands, face and arms three times a week for 5 – 15 minutes before sunscreen is applied. That should be adequate as 80 – 90% of vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight.

– Magnesium: seeds, soybeans, wheat germ, seafood.

– Manganese: nuts, avocados, oatmeal.

– Vitamin K: spinach, broccoli, green cabbage, tomatoes.

-Boron: applesauce, peaches, pears, cherries.

– Omega 3 fats: salmon, sardines, walnuts. Saturated fats can influence bone density negatively

– Soy protein and its isoflavones, genistein and daidzein: soy-type foods three times a week: edamame, soy burgers, miso soup, calcium-fortified tofu.

– Lower salt, soda, caffeine and alcohol intake.

Activity (important for bone strength)

–       Walk or exercise every day for a 30 – 60 minutes.

–       Swimming strengthens muscles and gives a good stretch.

–       Stretching exercises to move joints.

–       Weight-bearing exercises have been proven to prevent bone loss.


As a public health measure, it is important to encourage children to drink

milk and play in the sun. This will ensure adequate calcium intake, vitamin D synthesis, and exercise. These three are the crucial elements in determining peak bone mass. There is thus an urgent need for greater public awareness in this regard. The peak bone mass of the population can be increased significantly by appropriate and timely intervention in children.


See your dietitian before buying a supplement. A diet rich in bone-producing nutrients is your best choice.

Do I take supplements?

I’m Caucasian, 61 years old and grandmother of 7, and am not on estrogen replacement therapy.

I don’t take any calcium supplements because I love dairy foods: milk in my breakfast cereal and yogurt and cottage cheese during the day. I eat well most of the time, am active nearly every day, have never smoked, and have a moderate intake of caffeine and alcohol. My mother (95) started with osteoporosis three years ago so I plan to stay on track.


Your doctor will advise you on drugs after measuring bone mineral density, particularly in postmenopausal women who have had fractures or a family history of osteoporosis.

For the middle aged and elderly, early detection and treatment of osteoporosis with available agents can significantly reduce the risk of fractures and associated morbidity and mortality.

In India, and elsewhere, pharmacological interventions are expensive and should therefore be targeted to only those at high risk of fractures.


We need to eat well and be active. See a Registered Dietitian for your healthy,  personalized meal and activity plan.


[1] Natl Med J India. 1996 Nov-Dec;9(6):268-74.Links Osteoporosis in India–the nutritional hypothesis. A. Gupta

[2] Indian J Med Res 127, March 2008, pp 263-268. Osteoporosis in Indians. N. Malhotra & A. Mithal

[3] Bone mineral density and dietary patterns in older adults: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76(1):245-252

Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat

Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat

belly-fatWe are all familiar with “fat”. It is one term who all are fixated about. But the latest is “stress fat”. It is known that even if you eat healthy and exercise regularly, chronic stress can make you gain weight.

How does this happen?

Your body has various responses to stress. If you have had a stressful day, Your brain instructs your body to release adrenaline hormones which brings out stored energy so that you can fight or flee the stressful moments. But the at the same time, cortisol hormone is also released which will tell your body to replenish the spent energy, even though you have not used up many calories. These hormones can make you very hungry. So as long as you are stressed, cortisol keeps being released and hunger pangs are increased.

Cortisol hormone increases the visceral fat which is the fat surrounding your abdomen. This fat is dangerous as it surrounds the vital organs such as liver, pancreas etc and also releases fatty acids into your blood thereby raising the blood cholesterol, insulin levels and you are paving your way to heart diseases, diabetes and obesity.

As it is not completely possible to be immune to stress or get completely rid of it, you can learn to beat stress. By following few of these steps below, You can get your cortisol levels and your weight under control and improve your overall health at the same time.

Step 1: Exercise daily

Exercise is a wonderful stress buster. The blood circulates faster, thereby flushing out the cortisol hormone through the kidneys. Stretching exercises or any other form of exercise can help.  Utilize the time in your lunch break for a walk if you cannot exercise daily. Hitting the gym is a stress buster.

Step 2: Eat slowly
Wolfing down any kind of food can increase your belly fat, even the food is healthy. Eating while working or on the run, thinking about work or any unhappy thoughts or having an unpleasant conversation while eating can increase your stress levels. Pay attention to your food. “Art of Living” emphasizes that one should live in the present moment. Hence savor each bite and pay attention to feelings of fullness. This will help to prevent formation of belly fat.

Step 3: Stop being diet-centric
Stop focusing too much on your diet. Excess dieting can actually make you lose your self control as you are only thinking about eating. If you eat very less, your body experiences stress and the cortisol levels increase. When cortisol levels increase, your blood sugars go hay wire. To prevent this, Eat a balanced diet which will keep your sugar levels normal. It is always advisable to eat 6 small meals through the day. By eating this way, you wont be hungry nor will you be stressed about eating and you will effortlessly drop the extra kilos.

Step 4: Indulge occasionally
Do not deprive your self completely as this can make your cortisol levels go out of control as you are continuously stressing by reminding your self not to eat. Take a bite of what you love. I love chocolates but I stick to once a week bite but I do not devour the whole bar. You can make your indulgence healthier by opting for a healthier version but again healthy does not always mean low calorie, so stick to the “one bite policy”. Also keep them out of your reach. Do not stock them at home. They may become your late night boredom snacks, if you see them lying about.

Step 5: Decrease caffeine intake
Stress and caffeine are like dynamite. They together can raise your cortisol levels. This is something I make my clients understand who tell me that they keep sipping too much of coffee or tea. Cut down your trips to the coffee counter if you want to lose weight effectively. Quitting caffeine for sometime can help to speed up weight loss and decrease belly fat.

Step 6: Have a power packed breakfast

Deficiencies of various vitamins and minerals can lead to increased food cravings and eventually weight gain. So its important to eat a nutritious breakfast. My favorite breakfast is whole grain bread or wheat rotis with peanut butter with a different fruit daily especially citrus fruits for vitamin C. Whole grains provide vitamin B which help to break down food easily and peanut butter gives good fats which reduces stress hormones. So include nuts daily by sprinkling it over breakfast cereals. Include a Calcium source such as milk, yogurt etc.

Step 7: Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is the major stressor on the body. Those who sleep less than 6 hours are known to gain weight. Ideal amount of sleep is 6-8 hours. It is also known that those who sleep less, are said to have higher levels of hunger boosting hormone called as ghrelin. So those who do not sleep enough, catch up on enough sleep. Remember to eat atleast 2 hours before going to bed. This is really good for digestion as well as for good sleep. Try to go to bed early. Ideal time to sleep is 10-11 pm.

Step 8: Meditate or get spiritual

Both have a calming effect on the brain and maintain the blood pressure. Being spiritual, helps to reduce stress and help in the production of feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

Step 9: Listen to music
Listening to music while exercising is a great buster. So next time you go for a walk, do not forget your Ipod. Relax at home by listening to music.

Step 10: Get a massage
Massage therapy is great for relieving stress. You can get it done professionally or from your partner. It relaxes the muscles and helps in better blood circulation, thereby decreasing the cortisol levels.

Try out all these methods for a flatter belly and to lead a stress free life.