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Get heart smart

health wisdom

health and fitness Updated: Aug 13, 2013 14:27 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

My husband just had a bypass surgery. What kind of diet must he follow?
The two most important factors to be kept in mind for your husband would be to keep his blood thin and maintain normal blood cholesterol levels by ensuring that he follows a low-fat, high-fibre, primarily vegetarian diet. Based on his cardiologist’s advice, he should continue with his prescribed medicines and follow a moderately active lifestyle. Natural blood thinners include raw onion, ginger, garlic, black mushrooms and fish oils. Switch to olive oil or rice bran oil. He must take 1 tbsp of flaxseeds every day.

Are non-vegetarians at a higher risk of developing heart problems? If so, then what can I eat to have a healthy heart?
First, you should reduce your non-vegetarian intake to thrice a week. You should follow a reasonably active lifestyle and include ample amount of anti-oxidants and soluble fibre in your daily diet. It is important to understand that just by being vegetarian, you do not wear a shield against heart disease. Non-vegetarians may have egg whites (preferably not more than thrice a week, if they have a history of heart problems in the family), lean meat (chicken) and should avoid red meats. Include a glass of vegetable juice every day, and increase intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, flaxseeds and almonds to build up the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.

I have chronic hyperacidity, a weak digestive system, and suffer from heaviness and pain in the chest. Please suggest an appropriate diet.
Every day, our digestive system undergoes constant assault from chemicals, additives and preservatives. Add incorrect food habits, minimal exercise and irregular sleeping patterns and little wonder that you end up having a poor digestive system. The first step would be to counter your hyperacidity by switching over to alkaline-forming foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables like potatoes, dudhi, honey, raisins and curd. At the same time you must avoid acid-forming foods such as alcohol, coffee, cornstarch, white flour, non-vegetarian foods, fried stuff, dried coconut, soft drinks, sugar and pickles.

I am 32, but my weight is only 48 kg (height is 5’6”). I have a problem with my digestive system. I do not feel hungry. I am allergic to milk too as it aggravates my asthma. Please suggest a diet.
There are herbs like ginger and fennel seeds that help improve digestion. You also need a liver tonic. It’s quite clear that you need to improve your immunity levels and detoxify your body. Start drinking wheatgrass juice (rich in chlorophyll and potent antioxidants to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity and combat the free radicals) every morning on an empty stomach. Add on non-dairy calcium sources in your diet —pulses, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and green leafy vegetables. Eat plenty of starchy carbohydrates, including rice and cereals, pasta, potatoes, yams, beans and oatmeal. As your appetite improves, it will result in better immunity and gain weight.

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