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Vispi Speaks: Simple Solutions for Healthy Aging

vispi-kangaWe are happy to start a new regular column on health, skin care, personal care and wellness by our dear friend Vispi Kanga. This is his first column for Parsi Khabar

Healthy aging was defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease and stroke.

To determine what factors contribute the most to “healthy aging”, researchers examined a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fiber intake, glycemic index and sugar intake. It was then determined that FIBER made the biggest difference. If you want to eat something for better health, make it fiber.

There are several types of fiber such as “soluble fiber” and “insoluble fiber” and within each of those labels are many different kinds of nutrient. Each works differently in your body and gives you distinct health benefits.

Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Soluble fiber is also found in psyllium, a common fiber supplement sold as “Metamucil”. Suluble fiber attract water and turn to gel during digestion. They help lower risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer by binding with fatty acids, flushing them out of the body and helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Oatmeal is an excellent source of fiber on its own, but you can further boost the fiber content by adding strawberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, diced apples, oranges or another type of fruit.

Insoluble fiber has proven to help relieve constipation by restoring and maintaining regularity, and it’s the only fiber that won’t ferment to cause excess gas. They help hydrate and move waste through your intestines and helps prevent constipation and keeps you regular.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include beans, whole wheat or bran products, green beans, potatoes, cauliflowers, and nuts.

Whole grains have more fiber and there is a link between reduced inflammation and whole grain consumption. Whole grains you may want to try include brown rice, steel cut oats, buckwheat and bulgur wheat. Almonds and walnuts are full of fiber, vitamin E and calcium. Walnuts are full of omega-3s. Avoid Refined grains (white bread and white rice) which on the other hand increase inflammation.

Inflammation is a naturally occurring process that happens when the human body incurs injury or damage. As we age the internal “systems” become damaged and chronic inflammation become an issue. This leads to a host of diseases including those of the central nervous system such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. Chronic inflammation cripples the body due to series of inflammatory enzymatic reactions. Chronic inflammation is something people can control through diet and the inclusion of functional foods that reduce the processes that cause these diseases. Average mainstream diets lack important nutrients beyond basic vitamins and minerals.

Turmeric is a rising star of functional foods ingredients even in North America. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin appears to inhibit inflammation through several mechanisms, including the COX-2 pathway blocked by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Documented benefits of turmeric include significant reduction in the pain and limitations of age-related arthritis.

Ginger has the anti-inflammatory compound gingerol, which provides free radical protection. The active components of Ginger such as gingerols, zingerone, give ginger it’s distinct aroma and flavor as well as it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens and swiss chard are full of vitamin E, which could protect the body from pro-inflammatory cytokines. Dark green and cruciferous vegetables have very high concentrations of minerals and phytochemicals.

Bell peppers have capsaicin in them, which is a chemical that can reduce pain and inflammation. It is best to eat a mix of bell peppers in different shades.

Beetroot juice can reduce inflammation and is a popular drink for athletes. In fact, Olympic athletes were guzzling beetroot juice at the Summer London Olympics in 2012 for a performance boost. Beets are high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. There is a long list of functional anti-inflammatories and antioxidant food ingredients such as dark chocolate, kidney beans, barley, cloves, dark raisins, pomegranate, rosemary and others.

According to 10-Jan.-2019 issue of “The Lancet”, people who eat higher levels of dietary fiber and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts. Readers can also download the soft copy of the updated version of “Dietary Guidelines for Indians” from India’s premier “National Institute of Nutrition”, Indian Council of Medical Research.

In summary, lifestyle changes like drinking more fluids, consuming more soluble and insoluble fiber, regularly eating foods rich in functional anti-inflammatory / antioxidant properties can make a significant difference in healthy aging.

About Vispi Kanga

Vispi Kanga was the principal scientist in global technology at Unilever and has more than 35 years experience in product development in dermatology and skin care formulations, working for multi-national companies in health and personal care industry. He has followed the evolution of the Health & Personal Care industry since the 70’s to it’s current stature as a $146 billion business in the United States.

His expertise has resulted in several patents in the development of new innovative products. He received his BS in Pharmacy from Ahmedabad India and did his postgraduation from Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (formerly known as Brooklyn College of Pharmacy).

Vispi has given numerous presentations in the area of skin care delivery systems and use of natural ingredients to the Personal Care Ingredients & Technology division of Health & Beauty America as well as other scientific organizations including Panacea, natural products expo India. He was the contributing editor of HAPPI magazine and also contributed articles and editorials in SpecialChem-The material selection platform. He was also an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Natural Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University.