Do as the doc says

Published: 18 December, 2012 10:22 IST | Anjana Vaswani |

Don't you nod your head when the doctor metes out advice, even as you wonder if your doctor practices what they preach? We listen in to what a dentist, skin specialist, cardiologist, dietitian, orthopaedic and an optometrist do to follow their own advice, as they share their health regimes with MiDDAY's readers

A brand new Gallup-Healthways Report, compiled after interviewing almost six lakh Americans, aged 18 and older, from January 2011 through to August 31 2012, revealed that physicians are not only physically healthier but also have better health habits than other workers — doctors scored higher on the wellbeing index than nurses even. So, we got these Mumbai doctors to share their health regimes with you.

BONE TRUTH >> Stay in shape
Dr Ravi Shah, Orthopaedic Surgeon, affiliated to Breach Candy Hospital, Cumballa Hill Hospital and BSES (Andheri) shares, “I walk for about 45 minutes to one hour, at least six days a week (my regime also includes stretching and breathing exercises — a sort-of semi-pranayam) and my diet includes milk and fibre-rich food such as wheat flakes with walnuts, almonds and pistachios.” Explaining how this helps him stay healthy, the doctor says, “A healthy breakfast and exposure to sunlight are crucial for the health of your bones.” He points out that sitting in air-conditioned rooms can take its toll on one’s bones and joints and that insufficient exposure to sunlight has meant that most of Mumbai is now dependent on Vitamin supplements. “One’s face, arms and legs must be exposed to sunlight for at least 15 minutes every day,” says the doctor surprising us by adding, “Sunscreen hampers the absorption.” He therefore makes two recommendations — “Take in the sun at around 7.30 or 8.30 am, and make sure your diet is rich in calcium.” Paneer and buttermilk are essentials in his diet.

HEALTHY HEART >> Tips to keep it ticking
Forty-one-year-old Dr Sudhir Pillai, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at PD Hinduja National Hospital admits that his is a demanding profession, so even though his typical work day extends for 10 hours, Pillai believes he must chalk out time to de-stress on a regular basis: “I run between eight and 10 kilometres, thrice or four days a week,” he reveals. Pillai has participated in the Mumbai marathon, previously, and has also registered for the 2013 marathon. “It’s the most relaxing part of my day,” he adds, stressing on the need for new-runners, especially over the age of 35, to check with their physician and conduct routine tests before they emulate him. “On Sundays, I cover about 25 to 30 kilometres.” A SoBo resident, Dr Pillai says he often sees colleagues at the racecourse too and he doesn’t mind telling us, “I’ve seen my lipid profile and waist circumference improving steadily because of running.” Conscious of the need to combat work pressure, the cardiologist has also started learning how to play the guitar. “I play for 45 minutes to an hour each day,” he tells us, crediting his wife for keeping his diet in check and ensuring that he cuts down on carbohydrates. “I don’t believe in dieting,” he says, explaining that it’s important to weigh the calories you’re burning before you draw up a meal plan, “but I do have a high-fibre diet and I eat lots of fruits and vegetables.”

FOOD FACTS >> Inside the dietician's kitchen
At just a little under 5’3", Dr Pooja Makhija (35) weighs 48 kg but the dietician who practices out of her Khar (W) clinic tells us she loves Indian food and sticks to a basic diet. “I don’t get bored easily so, unlike most people, I can eat the same thing over and over,” she reveals. “Variety can be introduced by altering the cooking style rather than the ingredients,” maintains the doctor who starts her day with a fruit or a single biscuit. This is is a prelude to breakfast, which comprises three to four egg whites and a small slice of bread after her kids, aged eight and five, leave for school. The eggs could be scrambled, prepared as bhurji or an omelette. Makhija doesn’t opt for white or brown bread, and goes for, “whatever is at home.” Sometimes, she substitutes bread with half a cup of poha. “A couple of hours later, at the clinic, I take coffee and a biscuit (my one cup of caffeine, unsweetened),” she adds. She snacks on a fruit at noon; sometimes, snacking through an appointment, otherwise taking a break to fit her fruit in. “By 1.30 or so, I eat 200 gm of Nestle slim dahi, and occasionally, if I’m very hungry, I might eat one salted jeera cream cracker as well.” Lunch, follows about an hour later, and includes two rotis (these could be palak-roti, or roti with pudina or lassun, for variety), ½ bowl of salad, one bowl of veggies and ½ bowl of dal. “I wrap up work between between 4.30 and 5 pm, at which time I drink a glass of chaas and a fruit and then at 6 pm I drink a glass of veggie juice (a blend of three vegetables). When my kids eat dinner at 7.30 pm, I eat two egg whites with them.” If Makhija dines out, she still eats a bowl of dahi and a roti, “because I know if I haven’t eaten something, I'll overindulge, but if I'm not famished, I’ll choose what to eat carefully.”

ORAL HYGIENE >> 32 reasons to smile
While images on digital screens in his clinics (Byculla, Tardeo and Bandra) show you what dental transformations he can achieve, cosmetically, Dr Ashdin Turner, Associate Professor, Department of Prosthodontics (dental prosthetics), MGM Dental College and Hospital, and co-author of Art and Science of Aesthetic Dentistry attributes his sparkling smile to good old-fashioned oral hygiene. This father of two tells us that his entire family switched to battery-powered toothbrushes a few years ago, and he highly recommends that others do the same. Citing a study conducted in Iowa University, which was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, Turner shares that though the gadget was initially devised for individuals with reduced motor skills, “this study established that using it, correctly achieved 67 per cent plaque reduction, as compared to a toothbrush.” Turner points out that changing toothbrushes doesn’t help. “The brush needs to be held so that the spinning bristles are in contact with the scalloped margins. Let the bristles spin where the gums meet the teeth, on the inside of the tooth as well as outside, so that the teeth and the gums are treated.” Additionally, the Turner family gargles with Colgate Total Plax after every meal and before bedtime, “we brush using the battery-powered toothbrushes and then floss.”

SKIN SENSE >> Not just skin deep
When Dr Jaishree Sharad says she’s 39, it’s easy to imagine one in an anti-ageing commercial. Though the cosmetic dermatologist needed coaxing to reveal the names of products she uses. “I begin the day with a mild face wash (Crème Lavante), then use a Clinique moisturiser — I have combination skin so it gets dry if I don’t apply a moisturiser; if I use a greasy product, I break out — so this keeps my skin hydrated. Next, I use a sun-block — La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Extreme Face Fluid in winter as this moisturises more than Bioderma’s Photoderm, which I use the rest of the year.” A touch of finishing powder by bareMinerals and lipstick liner, and Sharad is heads out to her Skinfiniti Aesthetic Skin and Laser Clinic. “By afternoon, I spray thermal water mist (Avène or Uriage) on my face. This keeps the skin hydrated and seals the makeup,” she says, telling us that her night ritual is simple. “I wash my face with Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O lotion, which removes makeup, then splash my face with water, pat it dry and use Dermaceutic Serum C25 that contains Vitamins A, B and E. The cream fights free radicals and the skin damage from pollutants and the natural ageing process. She drinks 2.5 litres of water, daily, and sips on warm water (with lime) at intervals. “I eat plenty of papaya and oranges, everyday. On Sundays, I apply a papaya blend with honey and 2 tsp of yoghurt for my face and arms.” Yoghurt lightens the skin, honey is a soothing agent and a skin moisturiser while papaya with its antioxidants has anti-ageing properties. Sharad leaves this on for ten minutes.

EYE CARE >> Looking forward
With over 20 years of experience under his belt, Dr Swaranjit Singh Bhatti, Consulting Eye Surgeon (at The Fortis Eye Hospital, The Central Railway Hospital and The Pramukhswamy Eye Hospital) says, “The best thing to do for your eyes is to leave them alone. “When we ask about his eye-care regime, he says he doesn’t keep touching his eyes. “Most eye-related problems are created by rubbing and touching,” he emphasises. “Your eyes have a built-in 24-hour system that ensures they stay washed. Tear ducts, eyelids and the nasal tube synchronise so it's like you have a tap running non-stop that constantly washes your eyes.” If he’s in a dusty area, Dr Bhatti would close his eyes and wash his face, as, he explains, “It’s important to clean the skin around the eyes, but not the eyes.” Additionally, at 65, the doctor also gets a regular eye-check up done each year. “The optic disc and retina should be checked every two or three years after the age of 35 or 40,” he recommends, “since diseases like Glaucoma (which eventually can cause blindness) may otherwise remain undiagnosed until it’s late.”  

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