Smoking, Sugar, & Sitting Destroy Health of a Billion Plus

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. health care spending grew 5.8 percent in 2015, reaching $3.2 trillion or $9,990 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.8 percent. India’s health care spending, on the contrary, according to the World Bank, is only 4.7% of GDP. This will keep on increasing over next several decades as India’s economy keeps on growing, but it can never reach the level of spending in the USA. And it does not have to if the primary causes (smoking, sugar, and sitting) of escalating health care cost are dealt with effectively.

There are a host of other factors leading to the increase in this cost – direct and indirect cost of malpractice insurance, inefficient delivery of the healthcare, increasing cost of the medications, and an aging population – but as a physician in practice for a quarter of a century, my focus, here, is on individual health behavior.

If we stop using tobacco products and help our friends and family members to do the same, we will be improving our health and the health of our communities. Let us also teach our kids not to start smoking in the place.

I have seen my patients lose weight and reduce blood sugars just by going on a low-carb diet. I have managed my type 2 diabetes completely on a low-carb diet. I reduced my glucose levels by eliminating wheat, rice, and sugar from my diet and by increasing lentils, beans, soy milk, vegetables. Multiple studies have shown the same. In a study of obese diabetic subjects, a Low Carb diet (20% carbohydrates) was associated with a significant reduction in body weight, fasting blood glucose and HbA1C (the three months’ average blood sugar) at 6 months compared to the high carbohydrate group (60% carbohydrates). Significant decreases in insulin and the medication requirement were also observed in the low carbohydrate diet group.

Can you walk to a healthy heart? That is what the Tsimanes do! The Tsimane are a native population in the Amazon who make a living by hunting, fishing, foraging, and farming. The group has preserved their culture and language for thousands of years. And their way of life is incredibly good at protecting the heart, Thomas and his colleagues reported in The Lancet.

Of  Tsimane people over age 40, about 85 percent have no blockage of coronary arteries. And nearly two-thirds over age 75 were apparently free of arterial plaque.

Compare that to Americans — who have exactly the opposite statistics. Nearly 85 percent of Americans over age 45 have atherosclerosis. And only 14 percent are free of the plaque.

That data means the heart of an 80-year-old Tsimane has the “vascular age” of an American in his or her mid-50s. And the Tsimane have officially dethroned Japanese women as the group of people with the healthiest hearts in the world, the study reports. The Tsimane now have the lowest levels of coronary artery disease ever recorded.

“I was just floored by the data,” Thomas says. “The Tsimane have extraordinarily healthy hearts.”

So what’s their secret?

The Tsimane get a ton of exercise, Gurven says, but it’s not really intense exercise.

“I think there’s a general stereotype that if you’re a hunter-gatherer and farmer, that you’re exercising vigorously every day, like the equivalent of running a marathon, and that’s not the case,” Gurven says. “It’s really just that they’re not sedentary.”

Instead, the Tsimanes do a lot of walking — about 7 1/2 miles each day. And they’re active for more than 90 percent of daylight hours. In contrast, Americans spend about half their waking hours sitting down.

We all can get in the habit of working while standing. A standing meeting will be healthy and more productive. Take the stairs at work. Walk the floor at work. Do the same at home too and you shall walk your way to a healthy heart.

In short, if we all work together to fight smoking, sugar, and sitting, we can live a long and healthy life and can help reduce the healthcare cost. Do you think it is dificult? Yes, it is, but it is not impossible. Let us take a few baby steps in that direction.




Achieve Samadhi in 28.8 Minutes


Samadhi, the deepest level of meditation and the highest level of consciousness, can be achieved in 28.8 minutes, according to Swami Vivekanand. So let us get started.

1. Sit in a comfortable position.

2. Close your eyes gently and focus on your breathing.

3. Observe your sensations and thoughts without getting drawn into them.

4. Now, withdraw your attention into your Divine Self – the eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, and blissful. When you maintain your gentle, uninterrupted focus on your Divine Self for 12 seconds, you have achieved one Dharana. Doing twelve such Dharana (144 seconds) without getting pulled away by thoughts or sensations lead you to Dhyaan. When you continue your pleasant and relaxed focus on your Divine Self for a total of twelve Dhyaans (144 multiplied by 12 seconds = 28.8 minutes), you achieve Samadhi according to Swami Vivekanand.

To keep your attention focused uninterrupted for 28.8 minutes is difficult, but with practice, faith, and non-attachment it can be achieved. Thoughts and sensations will be there, but you have something infinitely more important, your Divine Self, to rest your consciousness in. You can use breath-awareness to bring back your attention to the Divine. Ultimately, these intruding thoughts will leave their hold on you making it easier to maintain your focus on your True Self.

When you do finally achieve Samadhi, you are connected to a limitless source of energy, creativity, health, and joy. All the doubts and diseases, fears and uncertainties, mistakes and miseries disappear for good when your consciousness gets firmly rooted in your Divine Self. It is an experience that cannot be described in words. You have to experience it yourself. So, start the journey. If you are already on that journey, continue it with unshakeable faith and you shall find your Divine Self.

Best wishes. God bless you.

Does Meditation Make You a Sad & Serious Loner?

Photo Credit - Kevin Clifford

Photo Credit – Kevin Clifford

Sad, certainly not as it uncovers the eternal bliss within, but meditation can make you a serious loner. People, as soon as they learn that you meditate regularly, expect you to be different from them. They expect you to be against all the pleasurable activities. They assume you to shy away from music, dance, and laughter. For them, you are a boring, soy milk drinking, vegan eating, religiously exercising, risk-avoiding no-fun person! And we start looking at ourselves the same way. This is where the problem starts. How can we avoid this?

Krsna, who described the technique and the benefits of meditation so succinctly in Gita, was a charming and fun-loving individual. He played flute hypnotizingly. He danced with gopis (young ladies) enthusiastically and frequently. Mischievous as a child, he was right in the center of political and social activities as an adult.

We should learn that too – mingle freely, laugh daily, sing loudly, dance deliriously, eat mindfully, drink blissfully, and love passionately.  

Meditation is Fun. Meditation is Bliss. Meditation is Life. Meditate Daily.

Sleep 7+ Hours to Live a Long, Healthy, & Happy Life

Consensus Statement (published in June 2015 issue) from American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommends 7 or more hours of sleep every night.

1. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night on a regular basis is associated with adverse health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain, impaired performance, increased errors, and greater risk of accidents.
2. Sleeping more than 9 hours per night on a regular basis may be appropriate for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep debt, and individuals with illnesses. For others, it is uncertain whether sleeping more than 9 hours per night is associated with health risk.
3. People concerned they are sleeping too little or too much should consult their healthcare provider.

Sweet Dreams! God Bless!

– Yatin J. Patel

Meditate As You Work

Photo Credit Soni Metz

Photo Credit Soni Metz

I am not an early morning person, hence most days, I don’t have time to meditate before I leave for work. Daily lunch meetings make it difficult to carve out time for meditation. These are the days I meditate as I work and it has helped me greatly. You too can try it.

Take a slow deep breath as you silently say AUM. Notice the air going through the nostril. Pleasantly notice your entire body relaxing as you breathe out. Think of the Divine within as you repeat this several times every hour. If your work environment permits, you can close your eyes too.

Once you start doing this, you will notice that you do not get tired, exhausted, and cranky as the day goes on. Your interpersonal skills improve because of the empathy emanating from the Divine within. You connect easily. Doubts disappear. Problems turn into opportunities. Your confidence soars. You go home with energy instead of exhaustion.

As I practice this, I feel buoyant. My neck tightness is gone. I am solving the tough patient management problems efficiently and effortlessly. Perennial headaches from the insurance companies don’t bother me. I am able to deal with them effectively. I am laughing with my patients. I am cracking jokes with my colleagues. Life is great!

So, go ahead, Meditate as you work. Take a slow deep breath as you silently say AUM. You can say Jesus or Allah or any other name based on your preference. You may not say any word if you so choose. Just focus on your soft breath. I use AUM as it is the primordial sound that is the name and also the form of the ultimate reality. It wakes up the Divine stationed within all of us and in the Universe. It connects me to that inexhaustible wealth of energy, love, and bliss.

Peace. Love. Bliss.

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