When it comes to health and fitness, there are many things our parents and grandparents did differently in the ‘good old days.’ Rhea Dhanbhoora & Gargi Bansod take a look at some modern habits that are harmful and slip back into time for a few remedies we can use
Fast food, fast cars, desk jobs and no time for exercise… when you think about the 21st century, ‘healthy’ isn’t the word that springs to mind. Stress, heart attacks, pollution, a fast paced life and more pollution than we thought possible, are all key features of a modern life.
But, unlike our ancestors, the average Indian in 2012 also knows more about how to maintain a healthy body and live a healthy life. While there are new diseases emerging, there have also been advances in the medical field. We take the best of both worlds, figure out what we’re doing wrong and find out what some Mumbaikars think they had better in the past.
Here are a few modern problems that didn’t exist in the past:
Gadgets: Radioactive waves dulling our brain, cell phone addiction and health problems that surface when you spend too much time in front of a computer or a TV
screen — modern technology plays a major role in ruining your health.
Social networking: Yes, it really is ruining your health! The constant need to stay updated can make us obsessive, jumpy and emotionally fragile which can often lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Obesity: Easy accessibility to fatty, fried foods, readymade meals and colas means that we aren’t getting the nutrition we need on a daily basis. This lack of vitamins and minerals can bring on a host of problems.
Stress: With high stress jobs demanding us to be on call 24x7, it also means we are stressed out all the time. People as young as 30-years-old are having heart attacks! That’s something that was unheard of in the 80s.
Easy rides: When was the last time you took the stairs? Or walked instead of driving? Because we have to get everywhere so fast these days, we don’t have the time to stroll back and forth from our destinations.
Pollution: In the last few decades, pollution has increased by leaps and bounds. Step outside and you’re enveloped in a wave of dirt, smog and unhealthy pollutants, all caused by us.
Call centers and routines: Staying up till 3am, partying till the sun rises — we all know how bad that is for us. But, working in a call centre, switching your body’s natural clock to work all night and sleeping all day is also ruining your health.
Old age remedies for common problems
Let’s take a look at what out grandparents and, to an extent, our parents did to cure common problems. Some of the remedies are centuries old and have been passed down through generations. They are natural and have no side-effects. The remedies are easy to make and inexpensive as compared to modern day treatments. And, with prices rising every day, don’t we all want something that’s easy on our health and our pockets?
l In 1 cup of warm milk, add a pinch of turmeric powder. Drink the milk before going to bed.
l Take 1 onion and boil it with some water. Mash it up and add some butter, salt and pepper to it. Eat this mixture.
l Keep a piece of raw onion inside the mouth on the affected tooth.
l Keep a clove in your mouth and bite on it. You can apply clove oil on the affected tooth.
l Drink lemon tea with honey added to it.
l Mix 1 tsp each of mint juice and lime juice. Add some ginger juice and black salt in it. Drink this mixture.
l Chew fennel seeds (saunf) frequently.
l Boil cinnamon (dalchini) in a cup of water. Store it in a clean bottle in your bathroom. Use it as a mouthwash daily.
l Apply 1 tsp lime juice on your scalp for your last rinse. It will not only aid in removing stickiness and getting rid of dandruff, but also lend a glow to your hair.
l Rub snake gourd juice on your scalp.
l On a hot pan, roast a clove. Keep it in your mouth and suck on it.
l Take 1 cup water and bring it to boil. Add 1 tsp haldi and 1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain). Boil till it reduces to half the quantity. Add 1 tsp of honey and drink it twice a day.
l Try eating guava with the seeds. This provides a good amount of fibre to your diet and aids in normal evacuation of the bowels.
l Eat raw spinach.
l Prepare a tea mix by putting half a tsp of saffron in 30 ml of boiling water. Have a tsp of this tea every hour till your temperature returns to normal.
l Oranges are ideal for all types of fever. They provide energy, increase urinary output, and promote body resistance against infections. They are especially effective when the digestive power of the body is seriously hampered.
l Take a tbsp of carom seeds (ajwain), crush and tie them properly in a muslin cloth. Inhale in case of a nose blockage.
l Take 3-4 tsp onion juice and 3-4 tsp honey and mix well before consuming.
Go back in the past
Want to live life in the 21st century but take the good things from the past with you as you move forward? Here are a few things you can inculcate into your daily life that will be better for you in the long run:
Walk: People walked everywhere. Home from school and back from the market. Walk around as much as you can to be healthier.
Go natural: Give coffee and supplements a break for a while and go natural. Forget pre-packaged foods, junk food and fast food. Stick to home cooked meals and watch your energy levels pick up.
Switch off: When you’re at home, switch off from technology. We don’t mean complete abstinence, but, take a break, switch off everything that connects you to the outside world and curl up with a book or try your hand at a new hobby.
Laugh: There’s so much stress in the world that, there’s often no time to laugh or joke. Take a step back and laugh a little, let the stress slip off and watch life get less worrisome.
Slow down: Life is too fast paced. Take a breather. Do things a little bit slower. It may land you in a spot of trouble now and then because people aren’t used to things going calmly (so caught up with hectic, quick results) but you’ll be healthier and a lot less stressed.
Watch the sunrise: And we don’t mean after a night of partying! Watch the sun rise by getting up early in the morning; it’s a healthy routine to follow.
BOX 1Then & now
Then: Cancer treatment was limited to radiation and chemotherapy.
Now: There are more treatments and a range of options including linear accelerator treatments.
Then: Mammography’s were performed with the help of x-rays.
Now: There are dedicated digitalised mammography machines.
Then: MRI’s were still being tested and took over five hours to perform.
Now: MRI’s are properly equipped with patient friendly machines as well as quicker results.
Then: There were lower cholesterol problems but still heart attack problems.
Now: Heart attacks and cholesterol levels have hit an all time high.
Then: Stress was not much of a factor; people were afflicted more by diseases.
Now: Stress is one of the leading causes of death in the 21st century.
“Things were much healthier in our times. There were no viral infections, leptospirosis or chikangunya. The mistake people make now is depending too much on modern technology and moving away from natural remedies. They’ve started taking over-the-counter medicines at the slightest hint of a stomach upset, headache or cold. This is not good for the body in the long run. I love my homemade remedies and I’d swear by ones for stomach trouble and indigestion such as powdered spices like cardamom, cumin and aniseed. Also, bay leaf tea and grated apple help to bind the stomach, it’s something I’ve passed down to my kids and grandkids too. Healthcare is getting better in these modern times with new research so it’s not all bad. But, I believe old habits that keep us healthy should be continued; getting up early and going to bed early, having your meals at regular timings and avoiding too much fast food and packaged foods. Having some form of exercise daily or even just going for a walk every day helps a lot too.”
— Roshnak Gorakhpurwalla, 80, Charni Road
“We used to walk to school, cycle to the market and play so many sports! I think it’s sad that children these days have no time to do any of it. They’re stuck indoors at classes, in school or doing homework. The fact that everyone wants to do so much in so little time is making life much less healthy. But, it is easier to find a specialised doctor now and treatments are a lot better. But, life in general is not healthy at all. Everyone is lazy, fat and very unhealthy. Walking is something I swear by and I’ll never stop. Walk everywhere and you’ll be so much healthier. Also, youngsters really don’t have a regular routine. Routine, exercise and healthier food — that’s enough to be healthier.
— Homi Colombowalla, 84, Bandra (W)
“Back in the day, things were really healthy! Because, the external environment was less pollution filled. Homemade and ayurvedic medication, based on selected herbs, were the least reactive or harmful, were easy to concoct and not as costly. The reason people have so many more problems now is because of sheer neglect. There’s averseness and prejudice against natural medication and too much dependence on quick fixes. It’s best to be regular at everything, practice “pranayama” (deep breathing exercise), practice “haasya-yoga” (hearty laughter) and cultivate a feeling of tranquility. Healthcare seems to be getting better but it’s too commercialised. It should be more genuine!”
— Dr. K. Dileep Kumar, 86, Andheri (E)
“Everyone was healthier in our times even though we had just the basic amenities. Nowadays, all the young people live such a fast paced life that they forget to do simple things such as eat breakfast or go for a walk. I’ve never skipped my breakfast or my morning walk. If they follow these simple rules, they won’t need high-end medications. The quality of fruits and vegetables has reduced as well and we don’t get the much needed nutrients. So, it’s important that we eat home cooked food. One home remedy I swear by is definitely the kaadha that my mother used to make. It is a mixture of garlic, cloves, tulsi, wheatgrass and honey boiled in water and reduced to half the consistency. This cures coughs, cold, and boosts immunity. It’s the best medication during the monsoons.”
— Shakuntala Bansod, 77, Santacruz (W)
“I remember life was a lot healthier in my time. I think that there’s a trend these days to ignore most health problems in your youth, thinking there is nothing wrong with you until it is too late. I think having fun and partying, staying out late and an event filled life is alright, but in moderate amounts. You can never say healthcare is getting worse because scientific advancements have made it possible to cure almost anything. But, I do wonder sometimes if all medical practitioners are as up to date as they need to be. Sometimes, I think there’s too many doctors but too few you can really trust. I don’t have a remedy in particular that I’d swear by, but I think living life without too many excesses and keeping yourself fit does the trick.”
— Cawsi Dhanbhoora, 54, Andheri (W)