White sugar is a slow poison: IMA

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Refined sugar has emerged to be the single most hazardous component of modern age diet.

New Delhi, October 24, 2017: Ancient Indian tradition has always regarded sugar and sweet consumption as intrinsic. Data from the India sugar trade industry (2013) show that India is the second largest (after Brazil) producer and largest consumer of sugar in the world.

Refined white sugar such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup contain an excess amount of calories and zero essential nutrients. Consuming unto 10-20% more sugar than recommended amount can contribute to adverse health effects. It can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to a variety of lifestyle diseases.

Padma Shri Awardee Dr. K.K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement said that, “The major problem with sugar is that it contributes to acute inflammation of the walls of blood carrying arteries. The resultant insulin spike from excess sugar consumption starts to damage the fragile arterial walls. Not only this, the tendency of blood to form clots and plaques also increases proportionately with white sugar consumption. This altogether creates an inflammatory environment in the circulatory system which can cause heart disorders and stroke to precipitate. Sugar is also linked to neural damage, recent studies have linked high sugar consumption to pre-mature cognitive decline.”

Sugar also contributes to weight gain which when coupled with sustained high insulin levels, can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes—which further increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Free sugar that is the sugar unbound to any fiber such as in fruits, can lead to global instabilities in the blood which over prolonged periods can lead to health problems. Refined white sugar is also damaging to the digestive system, particularly for those who have difficulty digesting carbohydrates. Moreover, white sugar also increases the effects of hormonal imbalance in women leading to androgynous manifestations like facial hair and in rare cases, ovarian dysfunction. It is better to opt for sources of natural sugar such as sugarcane, honey and jaggery. The sugar in these products is fiber bound and hence healthy.”, added Dr. Aggarwal.

Some tips to avoid excess refined sugar:

Stay clear of high fructose corn syrup. Watch out for this ingredient in labels.
Use natural sweeteners like sugarcane, honey or jaggery.
Eat several small meals a day, rather than three large meals. By eating little portions spread throughout the day, you’ll feel more satiated and be less inclined consume unhealthy sweets.
Limit alcohol intake.Alcohol contains a large store of hidden sugar.
Restrict bread and bread products as much as you can, especially those containing wheat. Wheat has a higher glycemic index than table sugar. Avoid white rice and white maida as well as much as you can.



Should doctors study art and literature?

Medicine Comments Off

Emotions make up an important core of the doctor-patient relationship. A patient who comes to the doctor is emotionally vulnerable. He/she is struggling with feelings of anger, sadness, despair, guilt, irritability, anxiety, fear, etc., which may at times manifest as negative behavior. Failure to recognize these emotions of the patients in the rush of the day and accordingly respond in an empathetic manner often result in disputes, which may even manifest as violence against doctors. Suppressing emotions or feelings can manifest as disease. The stress of holding in strong feelings can increase blood pressure and heart rate and increase muscle tension. On the other hand, disclosing or expressing deep emotions can boost immune function as well as mood and well-being. As doctors we need to know and understand humanity. Art and literature are both expressions of emotions or feelings arising from human experiences. This way both help to understand the emotions of a person. In this age of litigation, doctors are relying more and more on lab tests and imaging methods. By doing so, they may be losing out on one of the most important skills for a clinician i.e. observational skill. Simply knowing the facts is not enough to practice medicine today. Medicine is an art based on science. And it is an uncertain science at that. No two patients are alike. Also, diseases often do not present in a classical, text book manner. Doctors need to be alert to recognize all atypical signs and symptoms. Sir William Osler said, “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis.” Doctors need to broaden their horizon and avoid limiting their thinking. Study of art is one way they can do this. Studying art or exposure to art, both visual and literary, can help doctors improve their observational skills during “inspection – the first step in patient examination” by training their eye to notice details that they might have otherwise not noticed to become better diagnosticians. Art also enhance their critical thinking and helps doctors to better understand facial expressions of the patient leading to a positive doctor-patient interaction. Bill Kirkup, a public health physician wrote in 2003 in the BMJ, “We have lost something of the art of medicine in a headlong rush to embrace the science” (BMJ. 2003 Aug 16; 327(7411): 401). Developing visual skills in art observation can help doctors, including medical students, to pick up more subtle clues to diagnosis and sharpen their diagnostic acumen and also communicate more effectively with their patients. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own.