We are living in a state of denial: Dr Ahluwalia

All Is Well With Dr Ahluwalia, which airs on Colors is hosted by Dr Sonu Ahluwalia, an orthopaedic surgeon based in Los Angeles.

brunch Updated: Jun 16, 2012 17:09 IST
Shreya Sethuraman
Shreya Sethuraman
Hindustan Times

All Is Well With Dr Ahluwalia, which airs on Colors is hosted by Dr Sonu Ahluwalia, an orthopaedic surgeon based in Los Angeles. He grew up in Indore and moved to the US to pursue higher studies.

The show, based on the popular American series, The Dr. Oz Show, talks about health and medicine and gives simple solutions and explanations to lifestyle diseases and common myths in a light-hearted manner. It also includes inspiring stories of people and celebrities who have fought diseases.

Actor Salman Khan visited the show on 'osteoporosis special'. Khan suffered from a jaw problem and was on the show because his mother suffers from osteoporosis.

Talking about his experience on the show, Ahluwalia says, "My passion is in education and everyday even while shooting the show, just educating the live audience was very satisfying." Excerpts from the interview:

What are the biggest health problems Indians are facing today? Are they aware of it, or living in a state of denial? What is the best way to tackle such problems and such people?
There are too many issues to enumerate here, that's why we have a show to tackle them! The biggest health problems are heart disease and obesity. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. I believe that lack of knowledge about these diseases is what prevents us from tackling them. We are living in a state of denial. We eat unhealthy foods, we don't exercise and we expect to stay healthy all our lives! The best way to tackle this is to educate the masses. Simple things make the biggest difference. For example, just the knowledge that there is a vaccine for cervical cancer which is very prevalent in India could save countless lives!

There are a lot of high intensity workouts that are becoming popular now. How good/helpful are these kinds of workouts? Do they have any side effects?
All exercise needs to be balanced. We tend to go overboard in suddenly waking up one day and diving into high intensity workouts, which can itself lead to injuries. My advice is to gradually get into it. Start with brisk walks, then graduate to more intense exercise if you are fit to do it.

What are the basic things one must have in their first-aid kit?
Bandages, pain killers, antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, thermometer. Anything more, you should seek medical attention.

Seeking clinical counselling is not taboo anymore. Is this is a good sign? Or does it show that we're unable to cope with our problems and seek external help?
It is always a good sign when we are able to talk and express our feelings. Anything that helps us lead happier and less stressful lives including counselling is a boon. I am very happy that it is not taboo anymore and that we can share some of our problems with professionals who may guide us through some difficult times.

How helpful are 'brain foods', which claim to improve your memory?
There are some foods that are antioxidants that help the body in general including the brain. There is some evidence that ingredients that we as Indians use in our foods such as turmeric and pepper are good for the health of the brain and in some instance may help ward off Alzheimer's dementia.

In wanting to lose weight, many people have junked desi ghee, which is in fact one of the best sources of fat. Even so-called dieticians promote the use of ghee. So, how good is it? Is it the best fat to cook your food in?
In general any fat that becomes solid at room temperature is a saturated fat and saturated fats are not good for our body because they increase the 'bad' fat and promote heart disease. So, use olive oil to cook. That said though, everything in moderation is healthy. So, if occasionally you eat food cooked in ghee, is OK.

Have people become more accepting about their partners suffering from a mental disorder? What has brought about this change? For those wanting to cope with their partners, what are the basic things they must do?
Mental disorders are more common than we think. We should always be tolerant of other people's feelings and emotions. Again, it's all about education. If we understand why people respond to things a certain way, it is a lot easier to accept it. I think an open exchange of thoughts and feelings is a must for a successful relationship.

Are spinal problems increasing amongst Indians? What is the reason and what must be done to prevent it?
Lower back pain is very common in the population. It has to do with how we lead our lives. Bad posture, poor lifting techniques, weak muscles, etc. It can get bad enough that people have to take days off work and our whole nation suffers from that loss of productivity. Keeping your back healthy and strong is essential. Core strengthening techniques, less stress and enough sleep are essential to avoid back problems.

There are dozens of gadgets flooding the market that claim to detect/control certain diseases. How much can one rely on these gadgets? Are they accurate? Are they meant for everyone, or only for those who are tech-savvy/health freaks?
As with everything else in our consumeristic lifestyles, there are umpteen number of fancy gadgets in the market, some have proven benefits but most are not of much value. Some basic gadgets are good to have. A blood pressure meter is a good thing to have. If you are diabetic, measuring your blood sugar frequently is a good idea.

What is your mantra for good health?
Healthy food, exercise, less stress, good sleep and good friends! Stay healthy and All is Well!

From HT Brunch, June 17

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First Published: Jun 15, 2012 15:41 IST