Interviews

‘Binge watching can harm your thyroid glands’

Apeejay School, Faridabad alumni Keshav Sharma, a healthcare consultant, shares tips that can help people fight post-Covid complications and commonplace life-style disorders

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Apeejay School Faridabad alumnus Keshav Sharma is a successful health care consultant, nutritionist and lifestyle manager. In an interview, he shares the inspiration behind choosing this field, gives handy health tips and elaborates upon the reasons behind health disorders among Covid survivors. Edited Excerpts:  

What are some of the most common lifestyle-based diseases that you deal with?

Basically, everything these days — starting from auto-immune disorders to high cholesterol levels, to Polycystic ovarian diseases (PCOD) — used to earlier affect people in the age bracket of 45 or more. But in the current times, due to so many changes in lifestyle, environmental hazards, pollution of every kind at every level, these diseases occur between 30 years and 40 years.

Almost everybody is addressing the biochemical changes which cause these disorders but no one is focusing on the mental health aspect of it. Sleeping anxiety, hyperactivity are all linked to the increased screen time which is about 8-10 hours daily for an average person. Everyone these days gets up around 10 AM and sleeps around 2-3 AM. The consequences of these lifestyle habits which the present generation is facing is still manageable but for the upcoming generation it will get very difficult. We must mend our ways timely so that we don’t have to deal with lifestyle disorders later in life.

At what age did you decide to choose this field and what was the motivation?

I have a medical history of my own. I suffer from spinal kyphosis. So I always wanted to do something in this field. I was also an overweight kid. Initially I wanted to do something in the field of cancer, since I lost my mother to uterine cancer.  I always wanted to research in that field.

But at a later stage, when it came to my health (I was doing a course in Ayurveda back then) I decided to transform myself health-wise, especially with regard to my spinal problems. That was a big motivation. I healed myself to a huge degree. That is when it struck me that despite being a semi-disabled person, if I could transform myself, I could certainly be of help to others. Now, it has been seven years since I have been working in this field. I feel that I am making a change in society on an everyday basis.

Please tell us about your journey as a patient of Spinal kyphosis and how you transformed yourself?

Spinal kyphosis basically means that one’s spine is bent. I was a normal kid but with a wrong diagnosis of Tuberculosis, my spine began to bend and twist. Spinal dystrophy is a lifelong disability. I was walker bound initially . But I worked a lot on my body and now it has come to a stage of just being a postural deformity.

So many cases of some or the other form of a post-Covid health scare have been reported in the last months. How does one deal with them?

That is a vast question. I will be dealing with it point wise. Among Covid survivors the people who were very conscious and were following home remedies have been comparatively safer than people who went to hospitals for even basic treatments. The reason is that most of the cases are due to steroid side-effects. A major post Covid health scare has been problems in lung capacity. In the changing season a lot of people are facing breathlessness. Air pollution is not the only reason for it. Post Covid, the basic micronutrients of the body such as zinc, magnesium, vitamin D3 all get depleted drastically which triggers this circle of health disorders. It leads to disturbances in the menstrual cycles in women and depression to an extent.  One must note that many survivors have lost their dear ones in the pandemic: that also contributes as a trigger for depression.   The gut profile changes a lot after Covid, this explains the numerous cases of indigestion.

People have to bring a shift in their basic lifestyle. I recommend the use of different kinds of detox waters for at least a year to detoxify the body system. The bottom line for my recommendation is that, the more alkaline our system is, the more we detoxify the body. It helps in the revision of our bio-chemistry system.

 White pumpkin juice is very beneficial for the body, good hydration is a must. We must keep a tab on our water intake. The spices we use in our kitchen also help in detoxification of the body. These can be a good start for detoxification. Everyone has a different body type, so I cannot give one common remedy. It depends upon one’s current physical condition as well.

Sitting for 8-10 hours in front of a screen affects eyesight, blood pressure and sugar levels and also leads to neck and posture problems. Any tips for preventing them?

I will answer the question by focusing on two age groups.

Disturbed hormone levels are a common problem these days among school kids. This leads to improper growth of height. The reason behind this is improper nutrition. Parents, too, pamper their kids.  Kids nowadays order in, around five days a week. They consume all kinds of junk food. This leads to a spike in cholesterol levels in the age group of 12-13 years.

 In the case of adults they have hectic targets and not enough time for relaxation or for their family. They have huge daily commutes and there is barely time and energy left for physical exercise.  Their mental capacity is targeted every day due to limited social interaction apart from their work sphere.

Every disorder is related to mental health as well. We need to calm down our systems, detoxify the environment around us and build a good routine which includes at least 30 minutes of meditation or yoga. Yoga and meditation prolong the setback of any disorder. One must practice them every day.

What are the common do’s and don’ts for sound health?

The basic Dos are: Proper water intake, regular fruit intake, a good sleep hygiene including a fixed wake up and sleeping time. One must also have fixed screen time as well. During the pandemic, the Netflix culture has increased. Binge watching of Web series during the night disturbs the thyroid glands. 

One must limit the consumption of junk food as much as possible, keep a good fibre intake and maintain a balanced alkaline level in the body.

Please share some good habits people of all age groups can practice to begin with?

Start your day with fruit or coconut water or any alkaline drink or fresh juice. White pumpkin juice is supposed to be the most alkaline thing on the planet. So for people with major health issues in terms of biochemistry of the body, you can start your day with an alkaline juice, it’ll help.

There’s a culture of black coffee shots and protein powders these days among gym lovers. These have a lot of side-effects on your overall biochemistry. A single cup of coffee takes around 14 hours to digest itself. During that period, no matter how healthy you eat, the basic nutrition is not absorbed properly by the kidney. People who regularly consume such substances have very low Vitamin B12 and D3 levels. These are vital nutrients for the body. Their scarcity leads to many health disorders.

 What are some of the most nutritional foods that are also affordable?

There are a lot of fad diets these days such as Ketogenic diet, GM diet but all these are of no use. We must stick to the basics. Millets are now back in fashion. They are magic grains for the body. They have a very low glycaemic index and are very good for the gut.

Apart from this, regular fruit intake and consumption of nuts is good. The key is to never mix fruits. That way none of the nutrients gets incorporated in your body except for the fibres.  Also, have fruits early in the morning.

Please name 3 must have and 3 must avoid food items?

According to certain studies over-consumption of processed milk can lead to 30% of cancers.  So it must be avoided.  Similarly caffeine too must be avoided. People these days consume 5-6 cups of green tea in offices thinking that it is healthy. This depletes basic nutrients from the body.

The must-have foods that are good for health include millets, desi ghee (a must for a good body profile that keeps the gut and mental capacities in shape), mustard oil and olive oil.   

If you follow this, I am sure 50% of your body issues will be sorted.

How did the school help you in realising your passion?

The faculty at the school always motivated me. They never judged me on my disability. I used to be the Vice-principal of the Interact club of my school. The school never focused on the limitations of the student and always saw the potential instead. This gave me a lot of confidence. It is this confidence that helped me later in life to be a part of public service.

The best memory I have from school is being nominated for the Dr Stya Paul Scholarship. Though I did not get it, at the end of the day it was a great source of motivation. It told me that if you have some potential, everybody in the school including the school peon motivates you. This fire helped my classmates and I to reach somewhere in life. I think we are making some difference on the public platform. ‘Soaring high’ is our motto.

I would like to thank our ex-Principal Mrs Samra. She was so humble and encouraging. I want to thank Ms Shweta Taneja, my class teacher in school. She was a true mentor who helped me in every way. I would also like to thank Dr Parul Tyagi, the current principal of the school. She has been really generous.

Arijit Roy is a trainee correspondent at Apeejay newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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