Award winning Nutritionist and Founder of Nutri-Health Systems, Dr Shikha Sharma, answers readers’ health and nutrition queries
My 34-year-old son has become such a health fanatic that to avoid the SLS in toothpastes, he has not brushed his teeth since the last two years, relying only on water and toothbrush to clean his teeth. While his teeth and gums are still healthy, the teeth in his lower jaw have visible black spots. He says he will now switch to brushing with neem bark/leaves. Is this alright? Aashish Agarwal, 68, New Delhi
Dr S: SLS-free toothpastes are available in the market; for ex, Sensodyne Pronamel. He can also use neem stem or mustard oil with salt to clean his teeth.
I always feel drowsy no matter how much I sleep or rest. I am overweight by roughly 5 kilos but eat sensibly most times, and am otherwise perfectly healthy. I lack the stamina my peers possess. I can only do one thing, ex, either work or exercise. On days when I do both, I find it difficult to concentrate on work, as if my tiredness seeps into my mental faculties. Is it a genetic thing (my paternal aunts are all particularly dainty and lazy), or do you think its diet related? What should I eat to be more energetic? Sumita Pulla, 35, Guwahati
Dr S: I would suggest you to get some blood tests done, namely, Hb, Vit D, Vit B 12, and Calcium. In case there is any deranged value or deficiency, then you can start having supplements to overcome the deficiency. In the meanwhile, start having 10-12 glasses of water every day, and include vegetable juice of ghiya (bottle gourd), beetroot, and amla (Indian gooseberry) in your diet. Take small and frequent meals.
I have type 1 diabetes but cannot do without sweetening my tea with artificial sweeteners. Is it safe to have them? I have about two tablets per cup of tea. And I have about 4 cups a day on most days. Lisa King, 44, London, United Kingdom
Dr S: Artificial sweeteners are not a very good idea in the longer run as it comes with added side effects. Stevia (a herb) is a natural sweetener and a healthy option for diabetics and can be used regularly.
I’m a 55-year-old woman with BP, sugar (type 1), hypothyroid, and mild arthritis— all under control with the help of medication. I have two tablespoons of flax seeds in the morning and about 100 gm of walnuts in the evenings. Is it alright or is it too much? I am a vegetarian, so I don’t eat fish but do eat eggs about thrice a week. Ramana Muzumdar, 55, Mumbai
Dr S: Doses of flax seeds should not be more than 1 tsp per day, and one walnut is absolutely good for a woman in your age bracket. Flax seeds contain phytoestrogens which is good for post menopausal women. Walnuts are a good source of Omega 3, which is good for the heart and ensures weight control.
Which is healthier— rice bran oil or olive oil? Which would you recommend for an Indian kitchen, considering we are a north Indian parantha*-loving family that also makes the odd poori chola* and so on? Shailendra Khanna, 36, Bengaluru
Dr S: All oils are equally important as every oil has different kinds of fatty acids present in them. Different oils should be used in rotation. A thumb rule is 20% saturated (ghee or butter), 30 percent poly-unsaturated (canola oil), and 50% mono-unsaturated (sunflower oil or olive oil), but this also includes the nuts and oil seeds as a source of natural oils. Rice bran oil has the best balance of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Rice bran is also good for Indian cooking.
*Parantha & poori chola are both Indian foods of high calorific content
Dr. Shikha Sharma is an award winning Nutritionist and Founder of Nutri-Health Systems, an organisation offering preventive healthcare advisory programmes. A pioneer in integrating modern nutrition with vedic knowledge. Dr Sharma has been honoured with many awards over the years, including the ‘Women Achievers Award’, ‘Talented Ladies Award’ by the Bharat Nirman Society, and the ‘Young Achievers Award’ by The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)