All you need to know about Monk Fruit sweetener to maintain good health

The temptation to eat sweets is the most difficult thing to navigate in the journey of staying fit and healthy. Occasional indulgence in social gatherings is deemed okay as far as optimal health is concerned but imagine you are having three cups of coffee and every time you add sugar in it. You have it every single day for thirty days without knowing that you are adding 90 teaspoons of sugar to your usual food regime. Plus, if you have sweet tooth, we can add 20 spoons of sugar to it. Too much sweet is it not? We don’t say do not eat sweets, we say eat it in such a way that it does not hurt the body. Is that even possible? Well, yes, it is. You can use natural sweeteners in the place of sugars and voila! Monk fruit sweetener is one such sweetener that we will be knowing about in this article.

What is a Monk Fruit Sweetener? 

Monk Fruit Sweetener

Source: www.howstuffworks.com

Monk fruit is a melon like fruit that is native to Southern China, it is called as Lo Han Guo, a small melon named after the Chinese monks who cultivated the fruit ages ago on the misty mountains of Guilin for its sweetness and healing capacity. It is also found in Northern Thailand. Mogroside, the extract of the fruit is the main reason why this fruit is cultivated. This extract creates sweetness that is 250 times more than sucrose. Mogroside extract is a low-calorie sweetener following the tradition of its usage in Chinese Medicine for centuries as cold and digestive aid.

It is named as Siraitia Grosvenorii after the president of National Geographic Society, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor helped to gather funds for national expedition to find the plant in Native land in China where it was being cultivated. ( Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii)

How does monk fruit look like and can it be used fresh?

Monk fruit looks round and greenish fruit that has brittle shell with hairy covering.

It is not possible to use fresh monk fruit as it is difficult to store and transport it without fermenting. It is usually dried till gets dark brown. It is brewed into a tea to treat cough and cold symptoms. It is very effective in curing sore throat in the “Traditional Chinese Medicine”

Due to its healing properties, it is known as the “Longevity Fruit” worldwide.

Is Monk Fruit an artificial sweetener?

Monk fruit is deemed as a natural sweetener as it is made from the extract that is derived from the fruit. Having said that it may be added with dextrose to balance the sweetness.

Is Monkfruit Safe as a sweetener?

Monk fruit sweetener is classified as Generally Recognized As Safe ( GRAS) by the U.S Food and Drug Administration ( FDA).

Is Monk Fruit Good For You?

Natural Sweeteners are the go-to inclusions in our food as they do not have underlying concerns of artificial ingredients. Monk fruit is 250 times sweeter than any other sweetener available and also has some healing properties.

Does Monk Fruit Sweetener Raise Insulin?

The natural compound Mogrosides gives all its sweetness to the Monk Fruit that does not increase blood sugar levels after consumption. It is said to be safe for diabetic people. But one must be very cautious over here. You may get drinks that have added sugar apart from Monk Fruit Sweetener. So, keep an eye on what goes in your beverages.

Is Monk Fruit Sweetener Good for Weight loss?

The monk fruit extract is calorie free, carb free, sodium free and it is by fast the most popular sweetener alternative for the companies who are into low carb low calorie products. Though weight loss is all about energy balance equation, consuming less sugar than usual is always a welcome change. That may also reduce the overall calorie intake creating a calorie deficit. The calorie deficit may promote weight loss. So, there may or may not be the direct correlation of consuming Monk Fruit Sweetener on weight loss.

Does Monk Fruit Have Anti Inflammatory Property?

Monk fruit at first was regarded in The Chinese Medicine practices and hence the Chinese monks cultivated it in Southern China. As per a study conducted in 2011, it is said that the monk fruit extract is used to make hot drinks in Chinese medicine which alleviated the symptoms of sore throat and phlegm. The mogrosides that are available in the extract are anti-inflammatory. They also help keeping the blood sugar level balanced.

It is also said that Mogrosides reduce oxidative stress which prevents many diseases including cancer. A 2013 study points to the potential of Monk Fruit in reducing oxidative stress.

What are the side effects of the monk fruit sweeteners?

Let us first understand that if offered in pure form Monk fruit sweeteners are natural but when they are manufactured in a commercial facility there might be some additives such as Erythritol, sugar alcohol, dextrose and so on. These additives are artificial for sure. As such the pure form of Monk Fruit Sweetener may not cause any digestive issue or problems to the gut, these additives are known to cause these symptoms after prolonged usage.

Is it safe to use Monk Fruit Sweetener on everyday basis?

The answer is, well, there has not been any substantial research conducted on the regular consumption of Monk Fruit Sweetener yet, so it is difficult to deduce that it is safe or unsafe to consume monk fruit sweetener every day. The labels on the Monk Fruit sweetener need to be studied before buying it from the store to avoid addition of any additive or bulking agent as mentioned above.

Does Monkfruit Sweetener Cause Digestive Issues?

Monk fruit extract per se may not cause digestive issues. Sometimes the additives that are used in the processing of Monk Fruit extract may result in digestive issues.

Monk Fruit Sweetener or Stevia which one is better?

Those who want to opt for low calorie sweetener can use both but here is a simple comparison between the two.

The monk fruit sweetener is hard to find in stores as against stevia that is widely available now.

There are no clear studies mentioning about the digestive issues caused by the monk fruit sweetener yet. But stevia has a little patchy history when it comes to the digestive issues caused specially nausea, vomiting and gas.

Stevia has a bitter after taste which may fade after you get used to it.

Monk fruit sweetener also has an aftertaste that is difficult to get accustomed to.

Both the sweeteners are costlier than sugar.

Conclusion: 

Using an artificial sweetener regularly is not recommended. It is always better to

reduce overall sugar intake in your diet. Here is how you can go no sugar.

Les Mills Body Combat Workout Review

Introduction

What are your go-to workout routines? well, I have quite a few. For some days now I have been running and on other days I am totally hooked onto the Les Mills On Demand Body Combat Workouts. I have already written the review for Les Mills On Demand App and thought of elaborating on the Body Combat Program of Les Mills On Demand App.

In the world of HIIT and other workouts that concentrate on different body types and involve different techniques, I found Body Combat liberating. Let us get some information and review body combat classes.

What is body combat class? 

A very different format of exercise if you are not aware of combat techniques but that makes it super unique. If you are the one who gets easily bored and does not feel challenged with the usual Jumping jacks, Push Ups, Squats, and Lunges, body combat is for you. The best part about it is all the conventional exercises are incorporated in it but from the point of view of combat. What is combat? You can find your way to a chiseled body through some punching and kicking. Initially, for me, it was a coping mechanism but now it is more of a therapy. It is one of the best forms of workouts that relieves the stress that you have accumulated in the body, additionally, it helps the fat burn.

Is Body Combat Hard? 

Well, Les mills body combat has an introductory session to make us understand the stances that they use in the workout. In fact to start with they have their free YouTube lessons of combat as an Invisible series that you can use as the first step for learning. The intensity level for each class can be adjusted as per your energy for that day. Usually, I do a full-throttle for body combat class as I love it but if you feel tired or not recovered you can simply opt for low impact version that one of the trainers would be showing on the stage. Some days are hard and the low-intensity options are a saving grace.

Does this workout shape the arms?

One hour session of Body Combat expends approximately 500 calories. All the exercises are extensively focussed on each part of the body thereby toning if performed regularly. Personally, my arms are toned pretty much after doing combat sessions. I have a frozen shoulder that restricts the lateral movement of the right shoulder. I can hardly do pushups, only kneeling push-ups are possible. In order to strengthen and tone my arms, I have found that Body Combat classes are very effective

How long are the classes?

The best part about Les Mills On-demand App is that they have all the workouts divided into specific time slots ranging from 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and 55 minutes. When you do not have much time to take the 55-minute class, the same class you can take for a shorter duration. Is it not wonderful? The typical class lasts about 55 minutes that accounts for the maximum fat burn.

Is it a Strength Training Workout or Cardio?

Instead of boxing the body combat workout as strength or cardio, we can say that it is a toning workout that improves agility and burns fat. If you want to build core strength, body combat is definitely a way to go.

Body Combat fact: You actually do 1700 crunches in Body Combat’s 1-hour session, as per Les Mills Website.

How can you get Body Combat?

I suggest trying Body Combat on YouTube, as Invincible Program. If you like to format, move on to buying Les Mills On Demand App, the pricing is approximately Rs.1700 for three months. You can opt for a yearly subscription as well.

Overall Rating: 5/5

 

 

Tribhanga – concept, narrative and review

As I sat beside the window reminiscing my kathak classes with Guruji Jigyasa Giri, I fondly remembered the way pre covid classes were conducted. Looking at most of us madam had told candidly about Tribhanga posture, little did she know she had sown a seed of curiosity in me then. Days past and I was still not very sure about this Tribhanga concept which is pretty much the basis for one of the Indian Classical Dance Forms, Odissi.

Abhanga, Samabhanga, and Tribhanga are the postures of symmetry and asymmetry as per Natyashastra. These along with different sutras ( medians ) , measures  ( maanas) and sthanas ( Standing, sitting, reclining) constitute the dance poses and postures. The human body is divided into three planes which are the basis for the movement. Tribhangi posture is seen across all Indian sculptures and is a matter of interest to many scholars.

Tribhanga

Source: https://sreenivasaraos.com/

The picture is added to understand the importance of the axis around which the human body is depicted.

We all have our own axes but very few of us are

  • Samabhanga ( Equally distributed on both sides, having balanced thought and opinions),
  • Abhanga  (standing on the toe of one leg not taking either side, holding on to their own opinions),
  • Atibhanga (eccentric or the situation around them make them eccentric )
  •  Tribhanga ( Easily deviated in all three planes or in directions)

This reminded me of the different types of personalities called Myers and Brigg’s type of personality indicators. These personality indicators are absolutely very new as compared to the Natyashastra for sure.

The poses and the type of personality may or may not have a connection because as human beings we are so dynamic, putting us in one particular pose is really tough and so the 16 types of indicators and many variations of the dance poses. I feel there might be a connection and reinforcing my feelings one of my very favorite TV personalities “Renuka Shahane” has directed a film called “Tribhanga”.

A story of three generations of women, each having a different personality that is cleverly classified in these three poses. Loved the treatment that was given to the subject. Renuka is my favorite since her Surabhi days, I have always expected more from her just because I feel a woman like her can do so much more. I have an eye on all her ad films and older content that she has been an integral part of.

She has cleverly roped in Kajol as a daughter of a famous writer ” Nayantara Apte” played by Zareena Wahab. Kajol plays the part very well but I could not get the need of using cuss words in each of the dialogue. Maybe it is the way to depict her angst but as a seasoned actress, she could have shown it in a different way ( in my very personal opinion).

Mithila Palkar is cute and nice as her character. I liked the understated cast, the warm feeling of all sets, and overall the calmth that Zareena Wahab depicts as a writer despite taking many difficult decisions in her life as Nayan.

The peak point of the film comes when Robindro, Anuradha’s brother who is a devotee of ISKCON, tells why he has forgiven his mother for whatever she has done. The understated part is played by Vaibhav Tatvavadi.

Kunaal Roy Kapur stands tall in front of super abusive Anu with his soft language and very good body language.

Some scenes stole the whole show.

Watching the film connected dots for me in terms of the personalities and these off the axis on the axis body position in Natyashastra.

Let me know what do you feel.

Tribhanga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things That Prompt You To Overeat and How To Avoid it

All through my childhood, I was an obese girl. Sparing some comments here and there, nobody actually

told me that being obese is a thing and I should be playing more or working out to just keep it as is or to

reduce. Portion control was nowhere in the dictionary of my folks and me but I was clearly not overeating 🙂 

I am not a foodie but my relationship with food is very emotional. If I am very happy, I want to have good

food without any portion control because nobody had taught me how to portion my food.

When I am low or meh, I want to have food again without any portion control because that turns me off.

I can either be eating until my stomach is full or nothing at all. So, the journey started with being obese to

normal in a cycle. I could refrain from food totally or totally give in to feel good. Now, my relationship with

food is ok if not great and I am happy with it.

What helped me understand my relationship with food?

When you sit and reflect on any of your habits, it becomes easy to sort it out. If you want to understand

your relationship with food, just sit down, relax, and write down, what makes you feel better? 

What prompts you to overeat?

Here are 10 questions that you can answer and find out what actually makes you overeat. 

Are you eating in front of the TV or a mobile? 

Distraction is a major cause of overeating. In Indian tradition, dinner time is usually family time. We would sit down and have our food with all the family members. We are not mindful while eating in front of the TV and may end up eating more. 

Are you stressed?

Some people eat more when they are stressed. Identify your triggers for stress. They can be 

  • Life-Changing Events 

  • Lack of sleep

  • Workplace issues 

  • Home chores ( For stay at home mom, or work from home moms) 

  • Company of negative people

  • Sabotaging environment


Just take a diary and write down whenever you have time, what is your trigger to stress and how are you

dealing with it. Being stressed is common but how are you dealing with it is important. 

Are you bored?

Have you ever seen babies asking for food when they are not hungry? or just because they are bored? We

get bored and we just feel like eating something. Anything which is eaten out of your hunger cues is

overeating because our body simply does not need it. The best way to deal with “Bored and want to eat”

is to engage yourself in an activity you like to do. Whenever you feel bored, just make sure you walk 10

steps and increase it to 100 steps over time. If you still feel hungry you are really hungry and you need to

eat.

How are you eating?

I have a bad habit of eating when I am standing and in the kitchen. So anything that happens during the

morning, any stressful call, or anything which disturbs me prompts me to eat something which is

available at the counter. Believe me, this realization was tough and it took me years to accept it. 

Can eating be a ritual?

Things that we do ritualistically become a habit. Here is how you can make eating a ritual

Sit in a proper posture on a dining table preferably cross-legged.

Make sure you do not have any gadget in your hand while eating

Take food on your plate and chew it slowly till you feel satiated 

After you finish eating, make sure you clear your plate and wash it. 

Please observe this ritual even for a snack. If you want to eat on the go, make sure you take some time

out to eat in your busy schedule. 

Every day overeating may lead to weight gain. The above points will definitely help you get through it.

 

How to identify highly processed food?

How many times in a day do you open a highly processed food packet? A pack of cereal, a Juice carton, A pack of curd, a pack of biscuits, cakes, cupcakes, chips, wafers, french fries, and so on. The matter of fact is we are so surrounded by packaged food that we seldom realize the amount of sodium and salt that is being ingested. Some days before in one of the YouTube videos of the Satvic Movement, it was elaborated that the average sugar consumed by a kid of 7-10 years is 21 spoons which are shocking and surprising. 

What is Highly Processed Food?

Let us first understand why is food processed. The simple answer is to preserve its form and texture also to increase the shelf life. These foods not only include salt, sweeteners, and fat but also add in artificial flavors and colors. A research paper from Harvard suggests that this type of food is designed to increase cravings so that people eat them in more quantities improving the profit margins of the food and beverages industry. 

How to identify highly processed food?

  • Ready to eat
  • Mostly low on fiber or any nutrient if you check the nutrient chart 
  • High level of sodium
  • Presence of coloring agents and other additives 
  • High sugar content ( Which might have some other name like Fructose, sucrose, Corn syrup, and so on)
  • Requires min or no preparation to eat. 

Examples: 

Sugary drinks, chips, crackers, breakfast cereals, luncheon meals, frozen dinner, and lunches.

Food additives in highly processed food:

The additives play an important role in highly processed food. While checking the labels on these processed food cartons, we might ignore some less familiar names of these additives. Here is a sneak peek into the different names and their differentiation.

Preservatives: Helps to increase the shelf life of the food 

  • Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherols, Sodium Benzoate 

Emulsifiers: Keeps the consistency of the product intact 

  • Soy Lecithin and monoglycerides 

Thickeners: To keep the texture intact 

  • Xanthum gum, guar gum, pectin, carrageenan 

Colors: Making the food look attractive despite longer shelf life

  • Artificial FD & C Yellow No.6 

The above info is as per a Harvard Report 

Different names of sugar labeled as 

  • corn syrup,
  • high-fructose corn syrup,
  • honey,
  • agave nectar,
  • cane sugar,
  • evaporated cane juice,
  • coconut sugar,
  • dextrose,
  • malt syrup,
  • molasses, or turbinado sugar.

For sodium, the labels are used such as 

  • monosodium glutamate (MSG) or disodium phosphate.

Effects of consuming highly processed food:

As stated above, highly processed food is a reason for more cravings. The additives in them make you eat that extra chips packet or more cereal than required. 

High intake of sugar and salt increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes as we have read in numerous other reports. 

In my personal experience, there are many people who have stopped consuming processed food and have been immensely benefitted. The results are apparent from the weight loss, increased vigor, drop in sugar levels, and so on. 

If you do not want to indulge in the details of additives, simply make sure that you do not consume anything which comes in a package. It is better to eat wholesome, homecooked food than ready to eat meals. 

The choice is always ours.

Reference:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5691719/

https://khni.kerry.com/trends-and-insights/ten-key-health-and-nutrition-trends-of-this-year/#good_carbs_bad_carbs

https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/en/

 

Should you go gluten free?

Are you planning to go gluten free to lose weight before holidays? If you are, then this article will be helpful for sure. 

Let us first understand what is gluten? 

Gluten is a glu like substance which is present in grains which makes the dough sticky. It is a family of proteins glutenin and gliadin. Surprisingly, Gliadin is the protein which is bad for health. Making a dough of grains is possible due to this glue like susbstance which creates a net and binds the flour together. 

What is gluten free diet? 

Gluten free diet involves avoiding grains which has gluten. Here is a list of grains:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye 

These grain flour become sticky when they are mixed with water. Some people are allergic to gluten so, they prefer avoiding the above grains. 

Who should avoid gluten? 

People generally tolerate gluten without any sensitivity. But people diagnosed with Celiac disease have severe allergy to gluten. Symptoms of celiac disease are as following: 

  • Chronic Diarrhea 
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weak bones 
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach and muscle pain 
  • Joint Pain

What is celiac disease? 

Celiac disease triggers overreaction to the protein available in glutenous food and starts damaging the lining ( villi) along the wall of small intestine. When these villi are injured, the body cannot absorb appropriate nutrients from food and leads to the above symptoms.

People suffering with the following also tend to avoid gluten.

Non celiac gluten allergy:

Despite testing negative for gluten allergy some people do show allergic symptoms to gluten, those people should not consume glutenous food/products. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

Having experienced IBS myself, I can say that it is very difficult to zero down on one thing which irritates the stomach causing pain, diarrhea or constipation. 

People who are suffering IBS can get benefitted with gluten free diet. 

To follow a gluten free diet, you need to totally avoid food and grain containing gluten. It is always better to have only whole food like vegetables, fruits and other non glutenous grains. 

Here is a list of gluten free grains: 

  • Amaranth 
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Cassava flour
  • Water chestnut and water chestnut flour 
  • Corn
  • Millet 

What are the disadvantages of gluten free diet?

As per NCBI, here are some of the disadvantages of following a gluten free diet. 

Deficiencies of Micronutrient and fibre 

Naturally, when you avoid certain food group, you tend to be deficient in micronutrients. You might be having fibre deficit too.

Financial cost of gluten free diet: 

Due to the popularity of the diet, the food market is full of gluten free diet and needless to say that the cost of all gluten free products is double the normal food. 

Increase in fat content of food:

A 2013 nutrition survey performed in support of a thesis included 58 healthy adults on a GFD and showed that men on a GFD consumed significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, niacin, folate, and calcium, but significantly higher amounts of fat and sodium, than men on a GCD. Women on a GFD consumed significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, folate, iron, and calcium, but significantly more fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, than women on a GCD. Overall, adults adhering to a GFD did not consume enough nutrient-dense foods to meet all nutritional recommendations. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866307/) 

Summary: 

In short, while following any diet or any fad, it is always better to thoroughly check the pros and cons of the same. Following a diet blindly without being in touch with the requirements of the body would not work in the long term. Though some people have experienced weight loss on gluten free diet, unless absolutely necessary and prescribed by the doctor, gluten free diet is not recommended. 

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318606#what-is-gluten

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318606#problems-with-gluten

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866307/