Question and Answers from Webinar # 1

MediCounsel conducted a Webinar on lifestyle management on May 10, 2020. A lot of questions were asked during the Q&A session. A list of all important questions (grouped together) and their answers are below. By any chance, if your question is not listed below, please feel free to reach out to us on

All the questions are answered by our three panallists – Dr Mahendra Bhandari, Dr Pallavi Aga and Dr Avantina Sharma Bhandari

In case you missed the webinar, you can watch the talk of three experts below:

Dr Mahendra Bhandari –
Dr Pallavi Aga –
Dr Avantina Sharma Bhandari –

Question and Answers:

1) How to deal with disturbed sleep? 

Ans: It is essential to avoid stress and learn to relax before sleeping. A good thought to repeat over and over would be “I am well, and all will be well” before sleeping. Try counting numbers backwards till you fall asleep. Do not watch TV or use the smartphone for at least an hour before going to bed. Listening to soft, soothing music is helpful.

Eat at least an hour before bedtime. Have a glass of warm milk with turmeric as the last thing you have before sleep. Use lavender essential oil on your pillow. Keep the room dark while sleeping. 

Foods that help are those which contain Serotonin, as it helps to build Melatonin (it helps us sleep), like pineapple, tofu, walnuts, sesame seeds, eggs, cheese, poultry. Add Magnesium glycinate 500 mg at bedtime. You can also add Ashwagandha 100 mg / L theanine or Melatonin for a night of better sleep. 

2) Is a high carbohydrate diet better for brain health?

Ans: The Brain being a dense energy organ it does require glucose to keep pace with its energy needs. Having said that, a balanced diet is the best bet. As we have the whole body to take care of, and each nutrient has a specific function to perform. The consideration here is to ingest complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables in the diet rather than sugar, processed foods or sugary drinks. Fats and Proteins are also essential for brain health. 

The brain needs glucose as fuel. However, research is being done on the fact that brains can also use ketones for giving energy in a glucose deprived state and can lead to better cognition and alertness 

3)  Can someone just live well on protein? 

Ans: What food source you believe would be only protein? Theoretically, it can tout weight loss but would be short term; Excess protein diets are associated with several risks and of course bad breath, constipation, or diarrhoea, dehydration or possible kidney damage. Any imbalance diet is irrational and not recommended. 

4 ) What are the primary food sources of Serotonin?

Ans: Amino acid tryptophan is a precursor for Serotonin to be produced in the body. So a diet rich in tryptophan has been shown to help. Including eggs, poultry, turkey, cheese, walnuts, sesame seeds, soy products like tofu, pineapples, mangoes, chickpeas all contribute to boosting serotonin levels. 

5) How to encourage children to stay relaxed and avoid building up stress?

Ans: The feeling of love, care and being wanted all contribute to a sense of well being. “All will be well, and this shall also pass” are two sentences which help relieve anxiety and stress. Stress creeps up when the fear of the unknown starts haunting the individual. Restrict on-screen time and encourage mental exercises. Encourage deep breathing and yoga in kids. Although it is important to inculcate in them the habit of giving their best, the undue pressure of results should be subtly addressed. The biggest reason for anxiety and stress in children is the extreme pressure to meet the expectations of family. Give them the knowledge to decipher between good and bad but don’t tutor them to lead a life envisioned by you. Inspiring stories of great men benefits from staying motivated yet relaxed. Making mistakes is a natural learning process so they should not fear to make mistakes but understand that one should always learn from their mistakes. Above all, let them be children and lead a happy life by providing a loving atmosphere at home. 

6) I would like to know about brain fog and how to cope up with that?

Ans: Brain fog is a state of mental confusion and partial wakefulness. It makes one unaware of ones’ surroundings and unclear thought process. It is a fuzzy and unclear state. It is caused due to a variety of reasons like stress, nutritional deficiency, food intolerances etc. It is completely manageable, and foods like fatty fish, walnuts, sesame seeds, cod liver oils along with vitamin supplements, have shown improvement as have relaxation techniques to keep stress at bay. 

A low carb diet, especially avoiding processed and refined packaged food will prevent brain fog and increase alertness. 

7) Fresh fruits are also all GMO and full of fruit sugar, so should we eat them?

Ans: Currently squash, soybean, corn, papaya, canola sugar beat, potato, apples are a few approved genetically modified crops (GMO). Many of these are used as processed ingredients in everyday foods. Yes, fruits contain sugar in fructose form and too much of consumption of everything is bad.

8) Which kind of fruits suggested for pre-diabetes and diabetes mellitus patients?

Ans: Berries, blue and black and straw, apple, pear and kiwifruit are highly recommended.

9) What is the sequence in which the nutrients are broken down? Protein, fats and carbs.which one is broken down first? Also, does the sequence remain the same during a workout or any other activity performed?

Ans: The breakdown of nutrients is dependent on the requirement of the body and the need for the nutrients. Each nutrient has its own set of enzymes and processes for being assimilated in the body. During exercise, carbohydrates and fat are used simultaneously. During running, a larger muscle mass is used, and less glycogen is broken down in the leg muscles and m. the gastrocnemius is not depleted for glycogen at exhaustion.

10) Can you suggest ways to boost immunity during the pandemic?’

Ans: It is essential to stay healthy and develop a strong immune system, especially during this pandemic. 

Increase your indoor physical activity by 10% than usual.

Eat plant-based healthy and more raw food.

Consumption turmeric, garlic and cinnamon will increase your immunity.

Meditate to keep your mind quiet?

Create a healthy and cheerful environment in the house.

Shun negativity and talk positive

11) Do you need to avoid gluten for Hashimoto patient

Ans: Yes, a gluten and dairy-free diet result in significant relief of symptoms if not total remission.

12) Could you please tell us about how protein works after one take it in meals after a physical workout and how it affects the rate of lipolysis?

Ans: It is believed that there is a short window after exercise “anabolic window” during which the consumption of protein helps to recover muscle mass and even grow and become stronger. It revolves around the concept that muscles are that muscle is more sensitive to protein. However, one school thought does not believe in the consumption of proteins.

13) Intake of more cow’s milk leads to obesity in children, so how much you suggest?

Ans: It is hard for babies to digest the protein and fat of cow’s milk. Children above the age of 2years should drink whole milk. There is evidence that children who drank whole milk are at lower risk of obesity.

14) There are many theories on how much protein should be consumed. Please share your insights on this.

Ans: Protein is an essential macronutrient, and the RDA is 1- 1.5 gm/ kg depending upon the personalised needs of the body. Protein is especially needed in growing children and the elderly.

15) Your views on the use of coconut oil in cooking?

Ans: The fatty acids in coconut oil can encourage your body to burn fat. And provide quick energy to your body and brain. It raises High-Density Lipid (HDL) an excellent variety to cholesterol in your blood helpful in preventing heart disease.

16) Please describe the difference between lipids and fats?

Ans: To put it simply, all fats are lipids, but all lipids are not fats. Fats are a subclass of lipids. The main difference between lipids and fats is the types of molecules. Lipids are a diverse group of biomolecules, consisting of triglycerides, phospholipids, and steroids. Fats are a type of triglycerides, which are solid at room temperature due to their high degree of saturation. Both are only soluble in organic solvents.

17) There are a plethora of oils in the Indian market. What should we look for in oil, other than non-refined? Is filtered oil good?

Ans: As a rule say a complete “no” to refined seed oils. Move to ghee or coconut oil or Olive oil for cooking.

18) Can you please elaborate on the role of micronutrients in athletes and persons engaged in regular physical exercise?

Ans: Micronutrients are very important, especially Magnesium, B12, Omega3 and Folic Acid. Their smallest deficiency could lead to severe symptoms.

19) How can someone with high cholesterol switch to a more fat-based diet?

Ans: Although this is a whole topic in itself, to cite a few pointers cholesterol is derived from the diet with animal food sources as well as produced in the body. Avoiding all forms of animal fat like milk and dairy, butter, ghee, meat products will help a great deal. Additionally, all baked products, biscuits, namkeens need to be restricted. Switch to nut oils, avocado oil, olive oil. Include healthy fats in the diet like nuts, oilseeds, avocado, fresh coconut, cod liver oil, fatty fishes etc. in the diet. Some alternatives to low cholesterol cheeses are low-fat cottage cheese, fat-free cream cheese, non-fat cheddar, non-fat Swiss, low-fat ricotta, soft goat cheese, low-fat provolone, low-fat mozzarella, grated parmesan, and blue cheese. This is dependent on the level of cholesterol, and that would decide the level of restriction or allowance. It is best done under dietitian supervision.

20) Olive oil isn’t traditional in the Indian diet. Are groundnut oil or other such oil traditionally taken, not as good?

Ans: Ghee, mustard oil, sunflower oil, Olive oil, Flaxseed oil, Groundnut oil and palm oil

21) Can human just survive on protein? Or on just protein and fat? Without taking any carbs?

Ans: There is growing evidence that carbs are required in minimal amounts depending upon metabolic health of the individual. However, any imbalance diet is not recommended.

22) In this lockdown situation if someone is not doing any regular physical exercise should he or she cut down on overall energy intake? Yes and also practice intermittent fasting.

Ans: To answer the first part of your question, it is extremely important to cut down on the calories ingested due to our lifestyles have become very sedentary. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and restrict processed high fat, high sugar foods. It is better to cook at home than get food delivered from outside. It will be a good idea to experiment with intermittent fasting and see how your body reacts to it. 

23) Should we be scared of fats? 

Ans: The answer is “Never”. It is a very important component of our diets and its importance should never be undermined. It has a pivotal role to play in the body’s functions. We just need to move to a “good fat syndrome” from a “no fat syndrome” Fat-free diet has led to a tsunami of lifestyle diseases.

24) Can milk and milk products be given to Type 1 diabetic child?

Ans: Yes, it can be given in optimal amounts. Hung curd and Paneer is better as the sugar content is reduced. I am sure you are following a well-planned diet recommendation for your child.

25) Your take on cooking oils. Which oil do you recommend for regular cooking?

Ans: Ghee, mustard oil, sunflower oil, Olive oil, Flaxseed oil, Groundnut oil and palm oil

26) Do you think diabetes should always be tackled with medicine? 

Ans: No, in fact, it is the other way. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease and can be contained with drastic lifestyle changes even without medicines. Medicounsel could help you in attaining drug-free control of diabetes.

27) What is carbohydrate intolerance?

Ans: It is an inability to digest carbohydrates due to a lack of one or more intestinal enzymes. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and distention, flatulence. Treatment of accurately diagnosed case would need the removal of causative disaccharide from the diet

28) Dr Pallavi, You spoke of reading the product well before choosing. As simple as Vitamin D, fortified milk is in the market. How do we trust that the products genuinely have the nutrients as they claim?

Ans: Follow the golden of avoiding all packaged and processed foods. Trust recognised brands.

29) What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Ans: It comprises high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. These individuals are at risk for heart disease and stroke.

30) How important is a diagnosis of fatty liver? What are the consequences of fatty liver?

Ans: It is extremely significant to know if you have fatty liver even without the consumption of alcohol as it causes inflammation of your liver and lead to fibrosis and scarring of your liver leading to cirrhosis and liver failure in some cases.

31) If I am observing intermittent fasting, have my dinner at eight and then plain milk without sugar at ten then break to fast at 10 AM next day, would the timing of Intermittent fasting be 12 hours or 14 hours?

Ans: It is variable some even practice for 16-18 hours. We propose to cover up this subject in one of our next webinars stay tuned.

32) Great insights on Einstein’s brain? Isn’t the same feature on dyslexic patients as well?

Ans: Thanks and you are correct! Einstein having dyslexia and having difficulty with verbal speech and communication, is a known fact. However, his brain was unique, given his mathematical capabilities. The brain is a very complex organ, and it is the ability to CHANGE continuously makes it an untapped resource.

33) What are veg sources on Complex carbs?

Ans: Millet, chickpeas, old fashioned oats, Barley, Sweet potatoes, Spelt, Potatoes, Black beans and Quinoa,

34) Difference between the simple carb and complex carbs, please

Ans: Simple carbs lead to a sudden spike of blood sugar and then a crash leading to fatigue and ultimately, diabetes. Complex carbs lead to a gradual spike. 

35) Can the brain work on anything other than carbs resulting in glucose? So from protein or fat resultant things? What should be the optimum diet between protein, carb and fat sources?

Ans: The brain is dependent on glucose as a primary energy substrate, but is capable of utilising ketones as occurs with fasting, prolonged starvation or chronic feeding of a high fat/low carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet). Protein is a vital part of brain growth during early development. Neurons may be mostly fat and fueled by glucose, but they use proteins to communicate with one another and control what happens throughout the body. About 60% of the brain is composed of fats, primarily omega 3 DHA. The ratio of carbs, proteins and fats is dependent on a variety of factors, but generally, for a healthy adult, a 40:40:20 ratio is followed by most dietitians.

Make protein the fulcrum. Fats are essential as according to your needs. Carbs to be added according to the amount of energy you are needing. Fats are also a good source of slow-release of energy without spiking of blood sugar. 

36) Is there a special food for the schizophrenic patient?

Ans: Love, care and understanding is the best diet for people with schizophrenia. Having said that foods that should be included in the diet are whole grains, citrus fruits, almonds, colourful capsicum, spinach, mustard greens, fresh fenugreek, kale, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, milk and dairy products, cheese, eggs, fish, poultry, legumes, pulses. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables help a great deal. Avoid high sugar foods, processed foods, fried foods. 

37) What is the difference between the quality of protein sources and how much impact this has and sources of functional quality proteins for veg diet pl?

Ans: Vegetarians and vegans should eat a varied diet of plant-based foods of getting the required range of amino acids. This includes high-protein foods such as tofu, lentils, seeds, quinoa and nuts.

38) In the case of obese people, how does intermittent fasting helps in improving health?

Ans: It will work very well if combined with regular physical exercise. 

39) How to cut down our hunger naturally? 

Ans: Eat protein and healthful fats. More fibre diet, exercise before a meal, eat bulky, low-calorie diet, mindful eating.

40) What is the reason behind suddenly mood swings according to scenery and sounds? How to increase focus? 

Ans: The brain releases happy neurotransmitters on seeing pleasant scenery and hearing soothing sounds which result in relaxation and happiness. Researchers led by Vrije University Medical Centre in the Netherlands recruited 46 participants in an experiment designed to see how looking at images containing nature could settle a person’s nerves. It was found that their stress levels lowered, thanks to the activation of their parasympathetic nervous system, which controls certain rest functions. Studies have also shown the lowering of cortisol, which causes stress. Meditation and practising deep breathing help in increasing focus, and so does engage the mind with puzzles and brain teasers.

41) For the brain- any research on how digital interaction stands in comparison to social interaction? Moreover, if inferior to what’s the way out in new world normal of “physical distancing” days?

Ans: Social interaction is by far the best way to stimulate positivity in the brain, but given the circumstances, we have to make do with the safest way possible, which is through digital interaction. Video calls, as well as audio calls or interacting taking into account physical distancing, would all have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the individual. 

42) Does thinking and reading about positivity really changes the facts around you? Doesn’t it merely camouflage the sadness for a while? And when you get back to reality its the same?

Ans: Yes, it has a profound effect when practised over a period of time. There are no quick fixes, but consistent exposure to positivity infused deep within. 

43) When does digital distraction like watching movies, checking WhatsApp,etc.? Move from good engagement to bad one? How much time watching movies or series, would you say is fine?

Ans: This is a great question and very pertinent. Watching unmindful TV is one of the few leisure activities that has not been able to show any improvement in brain function, albeit studies have revealed that it leads to cognitive impairment. In my opinion, especially for children and young adults, an hour or so should be good enough. But, it is easier said than done, especially during the current lockdown. Therefore realistically 1-2 hours during the course of the day should be taken as a threshold. Alternative constructive activities to keep engaged should be explored. Having said that, there is a treasure of knowledge available online which must be mindfully tapped. The day has only 24 hours, and it is up to us how to spend them. Best is being mindful and aware. 

44) Sleep its also part of the stress management?

Ans: Absolutely a good sleep has a significant impact on stress reduction and a feeling of being rejuvenated. Stress and sleep have a unique relation. Although sleep reduces stress is a known fact, but when stressed, it gets increasingly difficult to sleep. So we have to manage both and try relaxation techniques to aid in better sleep, which would translate in reduced stress. 

45) What is to be done for good sleep? My sleep is not sound sleep.

Ans: It is extremely important to avoid stress and relax before sleeping. A good thought to repeat over and over would be “I am well, and all will be well” before sleeping. Try counting numbers backwards till you fall asleep. Do not watch TV or use the smartphone for at least an hour before going to bed. Listening to soft, soothing music is helpful. Eat at least an hour before bedtime. Have a glass of warm milk with turmeric as the last thing you have before sleep. Use lavender essential oil on your pillow. Keep the room dark while sleeping. Foods that help are those which contain Serotonin, as it helps to build Melatonin (it helps us sleep), like pineapple, tofu, walnuts, sesame seeds, eggs, cheese, poultry. 

46) What should I do if I am getting negative thinking and stress even after journaling?

Ans: Every individual is different from their reaction to external stimuli. What might work for one individual isn’t necessarily going to work for another. Therefore, please try other techniques like listening to meditative music and inspiring talks. Looking at nature and happy pictures has also been found to help. Another thing, avoid the feeling of “regret” and replace it with the feeling of “having done your best”. Keep repeating the maxim “All will be well, and this shall also pass” in mind. Deep breathing and meditation have also been found especially useful. If advised by a doctor, you could consider taking mild medications, only if considered necessary. Include foods like pineapple, bananas, cheese, chickpeas and dark chocolate in your diet. 

47) What would be a piece of advice to Alzheimer’s and brain issues? Have more fats or complex carbs?

Ans: It is best to keep the brain in good health by making the six pillars a part of our daily lives. The sooner we start, the better it is. Eat healthily, exercise regularly, interact with people, engage in constructive brain teasers, sleep well, avoid stress, relax and strive for good medical health. 

Both fats and complex carbs are beneficial for us, so a personalised balanced diet is best. Omega 3 fats primarily DHA is especially beneficial for the brain. Walnuts, egg yolks, chia seeds, flax seeds, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil etc. are some good examples. 

48) Can you share views on Intermittent Fasting? Is it good or bad?

Ans: Intermittent fasting is trending and highly recommended. We are going to conduct a webinar covering the subject. Stay tuned.

49) Why avoid salts? Is it bad? 

Ans: Yes. It reduces the future risk of high blood pressure. Salt (Sodium) retains water in the body.

50) What is the definition of a balanced diet? 

Ans: Balanced diet means the inclusion of all major and minor nutrients in the diet in a proportion that promotes health and fitness. Make protein the fulcrum and balance it with fats and carbs as per your energy requirements and metabolic health.

51) How effective is Oil pulling besides gums treatment for releasing toxins immediately upon getting up ? and which should be a preferred oil?

Ans: Oil pulling, as a detoxifying technique, is a topic of debate and has both staunch followers as well as staunch critics. It is an ancient technique which helps sanitise the mouth by acting on oral bacteria. Usually, sunflower oil or sesame oil has been used for oil pulling. There are ongoing studies which have drawn flak from the medical community regarding this practice. 

52) I want to know what to do to resolve insomnia. Are there foods that can help?

Ans: In order to relieve insomnia, you can try a few things, and in combination, they help in better sleep. It is extremely important to avoid stress and learn to relax before sleeping. A good thought to repeat over and over would be “I am well, and all will be well” before sleeping. Try counting numbers backwards till you fall asleep. Do not watch TV or use the smartphone for at least an hour before going to bed. Listening to soft, soothing music is helpful.

Eat at least an hour before bedtime. Have a glass of warm milk with turmeric as the last thing you have before sleep. Use lavender essential oil on your pillow. Keep the room dark while sleeping. Foods that help are those which contain Serotonin, as it helps to build Melatonin (it helps us sleep), like pineapple, tofu, walnuts, sesame seeds, eggs, cheese, poultry. Psychotherapy or melatonin tablets can be taken, only on prescription and when advised by a doctor. 

53) Green tea or black coffee to be taken before exercise or after exercise?

Ans: It is advisable to consume it before exercising. Green tea has Catechins, which increase fat burning and energy expenditure.

54) How much walnut is useful for the brain?

Ans: A handful of walnuts taken daily will help in brain health. They can be taken right in the morning or used as a mid-morning or evening snack. 

55) What are your thoughts of intermittent fasting? Is it healthy? How does it work for weight loss? Any tips?

Ans: It is good. Stay tuned for a detailed webinar in the subsequent weeks.

56) For vegetarians, pls suggest good sources of protein. 

Ans: Good sources of vegetarian proteins are lentils, legumes, seeds and nuts Paneer, tofu, curd

57) My father uses to have a very balanced diet without snacking and munching. But his cholesterol levels use to be on the borderline. Can I know what would be contributing to cholesterol?

Ans: He might need more physical activity.? More details are needed before any specific recommendations for an individual could be made.

58) It is tough to balance Complex Carbs, Proteins, Fats, Fibre & other micronutrients while planning your daily menu? 

Ans: It is not. Please follow our webinars, and you will not find it difficult to plan.

59) Can the efficiency of the brain be increased or decreased by taking some specific food? If overdose of any specific or beneficial food is taken, how will it affect the brain? 

Ans: Foods have the power to heal and nourish as they supply the required nutrients to the body. Thus consuming certain foods beneficial for the brain, structurally and functionally, in our regular day to day diets would certainly help. If the brain is nourished, it will naturally perform better. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and oilseeds, milk and dairy products all contribute to brain health. Excess of anything is bad, and so is the case with food. It will put excess strain on the organs to digest and assimilate the nutrients. These can have detrimental effects on the body. Thus, moderation is the key.

60) Some people suffer from the so-called “Hypochondriac conditions”. How can such people facing this type of disorder be cured? Can auto-suggestion help in this disorder?

Ans: A feeling of reassurance and reasoning, that all is well with them helps a great deal. Rather than rebuking them or negating all their claims, it is best to care for them in a sensitive manner. 

A mantra “All is well with me” repeated time and again helps a great deal. Psychotherapy, which might include auto-correction (based on the discretion of the doctor, has been shown to help as well. 

Include antioxidant-rich foods (amla, citrus foods, red and yellow capsicum, almonds, aloe vera, etc.) in the diet along with walnuts, avocado, coconut as well as stay adequately hydrated. Foods rich in Serotonin like pineapples, tofu, cheese, eggs, poultry, chickpeas, sesame seeds, bananas, mangoes, walnuts are also helpful. 

In the case of unmanageable mood swings, antidepressants might be prescribed.

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