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Healthy Living

Diets and Diseases

Do you have any of the following complaints?

If you do, then you've simply got to watch your plate. A diet check is like an airport security check. Keep hazardous stuff out of the way and you can avoid unpleasant emergencies.

Here's how you eat your way back to health.

Diabetes Mellitus

Insulin secreted by the pancreas in a diabetic is inadequate to utilise the glucose in the blood. The glucose cannot be converted to energy and this leads to excessive blood sugar levels. This is dangerous as it can lead to serious complications.

The first prescription a diabetologist gives is a food prescription. If it is strictly adhered to, in the early stages, there's no need to pop a pill.

Diabetes patients must:

  • Eat measured quantities of cereal foods.
  • Eat at smaller intervals.
  • Eat less carbohydrate and fatty foods.
  • Avoid pure sugar forms like crystallised sugar, sweets and confectionery.
  • Eat plenty of high-fibre foods like vegetables and sprouted legumes.
  • Eat moderate amounts of citrus fruits and other low sweet fruits like papaya, guava, melon, pear and apple.


Hypertension merely means high blood pressure. The diet below is for the Primary Hypertension patients, whose high blood pressure is caused by unknown or hereditary causes. (Secondary hypertension patients must follow the diet as per their actual disease.) As a general rule, all hypertension patients must keep their blood pressure under control with proper medicines and follow the right diet.

A hypertensive individual must:

  • Reduce salt in the usual foods
  • Avoid high sodium foods like pickles, pappads, chips ,fried items and processed foods containing Mono Sodium Glutamate
  • Never reach out for the salt sprinkler
  • Never put on excessive weight
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise mildly but regularly


This is tummy trouble. The inner walls of the stomach (as in gastric ulcer) or the duodenum (as in duodenal ulcer) are broken resulting in inflammation. This painful condition requires careful monitoring of the food ingested. Intake of the wrong food can cause serious aggravation of the problem.

Ulcer patients must:

  • Eat high protein food as protein helps in faster healing of the ulcer.
  • Eat food in small quantities and at small intervals. A heavy stomach can be very uncomfortable.
  • Eat food that is soft in texture and taste. Plenty of milk, eggs, soft boiled cereals, porridges, mashed potatoes can be taken with little sugar or salt.
  • Avoid green chillies, red chillies and pepper. Keep all types of spices and condiments at bay until complete cure.
  • Drink health beverages, many branded varieties of which are available in the market.

Kidney Diseases

They can be classified into 3 types.

1. Acute Renal Failure

In this condition, the kidneys are unable to excrete the protein-breakdown by-products. Hence the diet has to be low in protein, of high biological value with adequate calories to prevent energy utilisation from tissue proteins. The fluid and electrolytes like sodium and potassium must be taken in measured amounts, according to the guidance of the dietician.

2. Chronic Renal Failure

This condition too requires diet to be tailored to individual needs. The intake has to be periodically adjusted depending on the biochemical test readings.

A patient must follow these rules regarding diet:

  • Take adequate quantities of energy foods.
  • Make good the excessive quantities of water, sodium and potassium that are excreted, through diet.
  • Monitor the ability of the kidneys to excrete the nitrogenous wastes, and salts. Take a low protein diet depending on that.
  • A dose of multivitamin is helpful.
3. Nephrotic Syndrome

The principal features of this condition are loss of albumin in urine, decrease in plasma albumin and marked oedema (swelling).

A patient must:

  • Compensate the urinary loss of albumin through a high protein diet.
  • Counteract the oedema through restricted sodium intake.

Heart Diseases

In the disorders of the heart and circulatory system, prepare the diet with the following rules in mind.

  • Reduce the energy value of the diet, if the patient is overweight.
  • Restrict the sodium intake if oedema is present.
  • When serum lipids are raised, reduce intake of saturated fats and cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is usually associated with increased incidence of coronary diseases. Cholesterol is found only in fats obtained from animal sources such as egg yolks, milk, cheese, cream, butter, shell fish, brain, kidneys etc.

To control dietary cholesterol:

  • Limit egg yolk intake. However, you can allow egg white.
  • Substitute skimmed milk for whole milk.
  • Substitute vegetable fats for animal fats.


Are you obese? Sneak a peek at the height-weight table. If you are 110 - 120 percent of the ideal body weight or more, then oops, you are obese! And you have problems piling at your doorstep. You are liable to develop diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, gall stones, varicose veins, abdominal hernia, flat feet, osteoarthritis of the spine, hips and knees (Phew! Isn't it enough?)

Thousands of books have been written on the subject of slimming. But let's talk basics:

  • Do not change your diet in a dramatic way. Conform to the basic food you are used to.
  • Reduce the energy value of the diet.
  • Eat sufficient quantities of protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat more of bulky, non starchy foods.
  • Stay clear of sugar, honey, jam, sweets, chocolates, cakes, soft drinks, ice creams, fried foods, canned and dried fruits, and alcohol.
  • Help yourself to low calorie foods - non thickened soups, skimmed milk, china grass jelly, roasted pappads etc.
  • Exercise regularly. It must go hand in hand with dieting. There is no substitute for it.


If you have anaemia, you are not alone. Millions in India suffer from your complaint. Anaemia is caused when the normal synthesis of red blood corpuscles are disturbed, the common reasons being the deficiency of either iron, Vitamin B12, folic acid or ascorbic acid.

Add on the following foods to overcome the deficiency:

  • Iron can be derived from green and leafy vegetables, lentils, dates, figs, raisins, whole wheat, jaggery, egg yolk and red meat.
  • Vitamin B12 is found in muscle meat, fish, cheese, eggs and milk.
  • Folic acid is found largely in green leafy vegetables.
  • Ascorbic also known as Vitamin C is principally found in fresh fruits, and vegetables. All citrus fruits are a rich source, but our locally found Amla (Nellikkai) is said to be the the best source of vitamin C.

Liver Disorders

Liver is the largest organ with complex functions like protein metabolism, carbohydrate storage, detoxification of some poisons, alcohol metabolism and production of bile.

Liver injury is caused by infective agents like acute infective hepatitis or toxic substances like carbon tetrachloride, chloroform and certain drugs. The condition is marked by increased concentration of bile pigment - bilirubin - in blood. This is observed as yellow pigmentation. You guessed it, it is jaundice. Vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite are significant features of this condition.


You can take carbohydrates in the form of fruit juices apart from intravenous glucose, if fluids are tolerated. Food can be later altered to suit your taste. Avoid heavy, spicy food.
Hepatic Cirrhosis

This is the chronic condition resulting from various forms of liver damage, especially in association with alcoholism.


Porto-Systemic Enchephalopathy

Some patients develop signs of impaired functions of the nervous system. It is found that nitrogen-containing material in the intestine plays an important part in precipitating the condition. Hence high energy and a reduced protein diet is recommended.

This is the inflammation of gall bladder, associated with gallstones and accompanied by obesity. It is more common among women than men.

Acute Cholecystitis

If you are suffering from Acute Cholecystitis, remember to:

  • Drink plenty of water, glucose and fruit drinks.
  • Take a low fat diet. (The presence of fat in the duodenum stimulates gall bladder contraction. A low fat diet is appropriate to keep contraction of gall bladder to the minimum, during the period of acute inflammation).
Chronic Cholecystitis

In this case, if surgery is not advised, a suitable long-term regimen is required. For Chronic Cholecystitis, you must have a normal fat intake. This helps to counteract stones of the gall bladder, promotes drainage of the biliary system and helps to prevent formation of gallstones. Fats of milk, butter, and eggs are usually well tolerated. Avoid vegetables and fruits causing flatulence.


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