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Eat right, beat cholestrol

Dr. Anjali Mukherjee shares her health wisdom.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 02, 2011 17:54 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

I often suffer from gas and acidity. Recently, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol levels. Please suggest a natural cure to improve digestion and reduce the cholesterol levels.

Healthy digestion is crucial for good health. Symptoms like gas and acidity indicate digestive problems. Digestion is one of the fundamental metabolic processes in the human body. The digestive organs like stomach, small intestine and large intestine can be stressed by poor nutrition, harmful toxins and stress among other factors. Dietary choices like fried foods, farsans, processed and refined foods further strain the digestive organs. This leads to over-acidification of the body and causes obesity, high cholesterol, acid reflux, osteoporosis, hypertension, arthritis, heart attacks and even cancer.

A good diet prevents acidity and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Most of the cholesterol that ends up narrowing your arteries and contributing to heart disease comes from your diet —mainly whole milk products and meat. Oat bran’s known to reduce cholesterol. But oats are not the only source of beta-glucan. Barley has more of this special cholesterol reducing fiber.

So opt for chapatis made of barley flour to lower your cholesterol count. Whole pulses like rajma, kabuli channa, green and black channa are other significant sources of beta-glucan. While there are many ways to improve digestion, you can also rely on natural resources like Garcinia Cambodia, commonly called kokum. It contains a biologically active compound - hydroxycitric acid, which helps improve digestion. Kokum combats digestive problems like flatulence, acidity and constipation. It is used in the treatment of piles and anal fissures and removes worms from the stomach. Kokum rind contains hydroxycitric acid, which lowers cholesterol and its anti-inflammatory properties help prevent heart diseases. It is famous as a cool refreshing drink in summer as it prevents sun strokes and dehydration. It is also a strong anti-obesity agent as it suppresses appetite.

While dried kokum is easily available at most Indian food stores, its fruit makes for a good snack by itself. Dried kokum fruit rinds are widely used in cooking for a sweetish-tangy flavour. You can use it in curry dishes, especially for fish. Kokum powder can also be added to juices and sodas, to give a tangy kick. The rinds can be soaked in hot water for a few hours to extract the juice which may be mixed with spices and consumed directly. Dried rinds added to coconut milk mixed with spices called solkadhi are prepared in Indian homes. Using kokum is a natural solution to improve your digestion, gases, acidity and also blood fats.

(Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.)