Sugar is the Enemy

DSC03052

Sharing an article on the “toxicity” of sugar, and why we should avoid having too much of it. Now that Diwali is behind us and we’re starting a Brand New Year (some of us, New Year comes several times in India  😉 ), let’s make some “healthy resolutions”.

According to latest research, diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (white rice, white flour etc.) are really toxic for you and pave the way for obesity and future diabetes. India is now the “Diabetes Capital” of the world, with as many as 50 million sufferers!! Our country has the highest number of diabetic patients in the world, and this “sugar disease” is posing enormous health challenges to us.

Faulty diets and lifestyles are mostly to blame. We consume too much of carbohydrates and sugar, and too little protein (dal, whole pulses, milk products, eggs, fish and chicken), fibre and fruits/vegetables. Most of us believe that fats and fried foods are more dangerous than sweets, but sweets (due to high sugar that leads to insulin resistance) are actually more dangerous 😦 😦

I’ve read in books, and personally experienced that the best way to lose excess weight is to cut down sugar and refined carbohydrates in our diets. And in their place we should add more lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and fibre rich foods (whole grains). Protein and fibre help you stay full longer, whereas refined carbs make you feel hungry very fast.

So in a nutshell:

1. Cut down sweets and sugar.
2. Replace white rice with brown rice or broken wheat, and maida with wholegrain flour.
3. Increase consumption of lean protein – soya products, low fat milk products, dals (preferably those with skin), eggs, fish, chicken (without skin).
4. Consume more fruits and vegetables (cooked with less oil, salt and spices).
5. Always choose wholegrains – brown rice, dals with skin like channa, rajma, kala masoor, whole moong dal etc. – they’re much healthier because they have more fibre and anti-oxidants.
6. Make these changes gradually, one by one, so that you adjust easily.

Diet and lifestyle changes can drastically cut down rates of Diabetes and help you manage it. So do try to follow a more healthy diet/lifestyle.

PS: The attached article clearly outlines the toxic effects of consuming too much sugar or refined carbohydrates, like white rice and white flour (pizza, cakes, burgers).

Reference: https://aeon.co/essays/sugar-is-a-toxic-agent-that-creates-conditions-for-disease

#MeToo – 2

Sharing a great article that illustrates the psychological and evolutionary reasons as to why men (all around the world) are such jerks, when it comes to judging women:

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/02/why-men-always-think-women-are-flirting.html?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=s3&utm_campaign=sharebutton-t

Here’s an excerpt from it, and you can click on the link to read all of it:

“Most women have probably experienced being friendly around a man, only to have it be misinterpreted as flirtatiousness. Simple signals of interest in a conversation — smiling, laughing, being interested in a conversation — are all somehow perceived as come-ons. Straight men, research has found, are a lot more likely than straight women to fool themselves into thinking someone is romantically interested in them when they aren’t.”

There has a lot of research been done in this area, and there’s another very good journal article that I came across when I was doing my PhD – looking for the citation and will share it soon. Apparently, 70% men feel instinctively attracted to women working under them due to evolutionary reasons (thank God for the 30%). Research shouldn’t be used as an excuse to condone bad behavior, but we can use it to understand ourselves, our fallibilities, and the world around us, so that we can make it a better place.

 

I Understand – Part 1

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. – Seneca

I’d like to share one of the most significant insights that I’ve gained in life so far via this post. It’s about how tremendously effective and life transforming the two simple words “I Understand” can be – even if they’re not spoken out aloud!

Have written earlier on my experience with depression (on my FB page), what I learnt from it is that social support is extremely important, and the people around you can make a real big difference.

However, this is not applicable only to depression or mental illness, but any tough situation one goes through life. Human beings have great resilience and the capacity to bounce back from the worst kind of crises, provided they’re in a positive social environment or have some good relationships. Apparently, when one is in trouble, just being in the presence of a supportive and understanding person who doesn’t judge, question or belittle you but just calmly “understands” is enough to give you a lot of strength!

This has been supported by research as well; for example, in the paper titled “Social Support and Resilience to Stress” in the journal “From Neurobiology to Clinical Practice” in May 2007. The abstract of the article reads: “Numerous studies indicate social support is essential for maintaining physical and psychological health. The harmful consequences of poor social support and the protective effects of good social support in mental illness have been well documented. Social support may moderate genetic and environmental vulnerabilities and confer resilience to stress, possibly via its effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system, the noradrenergic system, and central oxytocin pathways.”

One of the biggest hurdles in treating mental illness is the lack of understanding regarding the issue and therefore the lack of social support, especially in India. This is quite distressing despite the widespread prevalence of depression. We must start considering mental illnesses to be just like other physical diseases like diabetes, blood pressure or even cancer. They’re all physiological abnormalities of different kinds, that can be treated in appropriate ways.

In fact, a lot of famous personalities suffered from or dealt with mental illness, so instead of considering it a stigma, one could consider it as a co-morbidity that exists along with genius 🙂 🙂 Sharing the list again below……

I’ll talk in more detail later about how the people around me made a difference or made it much more difficult for me to cope with my condition. But the purpose behind this article is to urge you all to be more “understanding” – towards mentally ill individuals or towards anyone going through a tough time. Because that will make a huge difference. You don’t have to do much, spend anything – just be around without judging, berating or blaming them for whatever they’re going through.

I’d like to sum up by giving the advice to look for “understanding – ability” as one of the main qualities to look for when you search for a friend, partner, teacher, mentor etc.  🙂  😉

PS: Famous people who suffered from Depression:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_major_depressive_disorder

Happy “Telugu Language Day”!!

DSC08745-001

Happy “Telugu Language Day” to all Telugu friends 🙂 🙂
Today is తెలుగు భాషా దినోత్సవం!!

Telugu Language Day is being celebrated today to coincide with the birthday of poet Gidugu Ramamurthy (1863 – 1940). He was a prominent writer and one of the earliest linguists. He advocated the use of Telugu comprehensible to a layman and opposed the use of scholarly language.

Interestingly in ancient days, Telugu was a traditional language known as “Grandhikam”. This scholarly language drew ire and opposition and was gradually simplified over the years. Ramamurthy was one of the prominent scholars who championed the cause of using simple language in literary texts. After many deliberations by him and other scholars, “Grandhikam Telugu” was gradually replaced by “Vyavaharika Bhasha”.

Once again తెలుగు భాషా దినోత్సవం శుభాకాంక్షలు to all Telugu friends! 🙂

Know your “Personality”

“We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.” – G B Shaw

Above is a hilarious quote by Bernard Shaw. However, it’s not just funny, it’s kind of true and supported by psychology research! If you look back at your own life and find yourself repeating some of the same mistakes over and over again, you’re probably not in a minority.

That’s because “personality” researchers have found that most people exhibit a stable personality throughout life, and since most behaviors depend on your basic personality, you’re likely to repeat them over and over again in your life.

This revelation is kind of scary (I was disappointed the first time I heard this), but there’s hope. Even, if you can’t change your personality, you can focus on a few of your behaviors and try and actively change them. Before we delve into more of the behavior change part, I’d like to write some more interesting facts regarding personality.

It’s been found that almost all the attributes and adjectives that constitute personality can be grouped under five broad factors: Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness and Agreeableness – these five are referred to as the “Big Five” personality traits. There are very reliable tests that people can take to find out their individual scores on these traits, and their personality. You’ll either get low, moderate or high scores on each of these traits, and the sum of your individual scores constitutes your unique personality.

Here’s what the traits broadly signify:

Extraversion: is pronounced engagement with the external world. Extraverts enjoy interacting with people, and are often full of energy. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented, possess high group visibility, like to talk, and assert themselves.

Openness: appreciation for art, adventure, unconventional ideas and curiosity. People who are open to experience are intellectually curious, open to emotion, sensitive to beauty and willing to try new things.

Conscientiousness: is a tendency to display self-discipline, act dutifully, and strive for achievement. High scores on conscientiousness indicate a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behavior.

Agreeableness: reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others and are generally considerate, generous, trusting and trustworthy and helpful.

Neuroticism: is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression.

Taking this test and finding out how you score on these five dimensions can be very revealing. It can help you choose the right career, know what your strengths and weaknesses are and help you pick a few behaviors that you might want to actively change. It’s important to select only a few behaviors, 1 or 2 behaviors at a time, and not more. Because behavior change requires a lot of effort, and one has limited abilities in this regard. The actual Big Five test is around 45 minutes long and costs money, but there are a lot of free and shorter versions on the Internet that can give you a fair idea. You can search for them on google.

Here’s a good link: http://www.personal.psu.edu/~j5j/IPIP/ipipneo120.htm

Wish I’d known this earlier, got to know about it only a few years back. After I took the long survey and looked at the results – it was very insightful. I scored extremely high on “openness to experience” – and people who score high on this attribute are better off in artistic fields or writing, or any other field like anthropology that involves a lot of change of scene and creativity. Thanks to my personality, I wasn’t really cut out to stick to one subject and delve more and more into it, I’m happier skimming over a lot of subjects 😉

Also found out that I’ve a somewhat low score in “conscientiousness” – and people low in this attribute have a lot of difficulty being disciplined and sticking to goals and plans. However, you can try to correct that by working on making some good timetables and deadlines, and setting interesting goals.

To sum up, the last word would be one of caution: don’t ever befriend or marry someone thinking that you can “change” them. It’s next to impossible and if you try to – they’re going to be mighty unhappy about it.

Hopefully, this information was interesting 🙂

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits…
The Big Five Personality Dimensions And Job Performance: A Meta-Analysis; Personnel Psychology; Barrick & Mount; 1991.

Personality and Performance at the Beginning of the New Millennium: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go Next?; International Journal of Selection and Assessment; Barrick et al; 2001.

Be Grateful to be Happy

cropped-dsc022701.jpgApparently, one of the easiest ways to find happiness in your life is to practice daily “gratitude”.

There have been several studies on the association between gratitude and happiness, and research has demonstrated a strong correlation between them. People who deliberately spend time on thinking or writing about what they’re grateful for everyday, display higher levels of well being and are more happy.

Just a few weeks of keeping a “gratitude diary” can make you significantly happier, and even spending time merely thinking about what you are thankful for – people, nature, beauty and other things around you on a daily basis, has the same effect!

We’ve accepted the fact that daily physical exercise is essential for our health and well being, maybe we should be adding some “mental exercises” to the list as well 🙂

If you want to read up more on gratitude, here are some good references:

Emmons, R.A. (2008) Thanks! How the New Sci­ence of Grat­i­tude Can Make You Happier. Mariner Books; Reprint edition.

Emmons, R. A. & McCul­lough, M. E. (2003). Count­ing bless­ings ver­sus bur­dens: An exper­i­men­tal inves­ti­ga­tion of grat­i­tude and sub­jec­tive well-being in daily life. Jour­nal of Per­son­al­ity and Social Psy­chol­ogy, 84, 377–389.