The Weekend Leader - ‘And it’s not just about the calories or whether you lose or gain weight’ | Culture |

‘And it’s not just about the calories or whether you lose or gain weight’


Vol 6 | Issue 18

In this excerpt from ‘No One Has To know: Smart Anti-Ageing For Indian Skin’ well-known dermatologist Dr Jamuna Pai elaborates how eating right can slow down ageing and guarantee good health. Whereas all the foods that taste oh-so-good are, in fact, oh-so-bad for the system, a diet that is all about moderation is the right way to feel good and more energetic.

The To-go Green Drink: tank up on antioxidant-rich, chlorophyll-rich spinach to feel good and stay fighting fit (Photos: WFS)

Food can age you. So many things you eat, depending on how it gets digested by your body, can prevent or hamper the supply of essential nutrients to the skin and other organs, ageing you both from within and without.

And it’s not just about the calories or whether you lose or gain weight. Depending on what you eat, food can tire you and nutritionally deprive you. It can also energize you. And cure you. Never underestimate the impact of what you eat and drink on how you look and feel. Food has the power to transform. Food has the power to heal. …


It was my husband’s diagnosis of terminal cancer that really drew my attention to the acid-alkaline balance of our bodies. A very dear friend of mine insisted on giving me a jar of something that was believed to have completely reversed the advanced-stage breast cancer of her friend’s mother.

Before she dropped it off, I was envisioning this high-tech bottle with complex compounds listed on the label. When I actually saw what she brought me, there was no label and it was barely a bottle; it was a small unassuming container of amber liquid – not even 50 ml – that cost a whopping 15,000 rupees. This reversed advanced-stage cancer? I thought to myself.

But, by now, I had heard of the doctor who was selling it and, frankly, I was ready to try absolutely anything to alleviate my husband’s suffering. Before giving it to him, I tried a tiny drop of it myself. It tasted like honey with a little bit of soda but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.

At about the same time, recipes were coming in from all over for my husband. One such recipe included adding baking powder to maple syrup (without sugar) when the syrup reached a particular temperature. And then suddenly it hit me: these recipes for cancer patients were all trying to alkalize the system.

What we eat either has an acidic effect on our body or alkaline. The body needs to be more alkaline than acidic for us to feel and look both young and healthy. The more you alkalize your system, the more you prevent the further spread of diseases like cancer and the greater your ability to combat ageing.

It all started making sense: why wheatgrass shots are given to cancer patients, why so many of my doctor friends gave us liquid chlorophyll or soda bicarb. The chlorophyll, the wheatgrass, the soda bicarb, all this was helping to alkalize the system. Then I started thinking: What if we do this before the disease and the premature ageing have a chance to invade our bodies? …

So how do you make your system more alkaline?

Western diets are notoriously more acidic in nature as they include coffee, tea, meat, wheat, sugar, dairy, pastries, pizzas, pastas, cakes, bread and other foods that have refined flour as their base. All of these are acid-producing. Chinese food is pretty acidic as well. As a nation, we are also slowly being inducted into the acidic hall of fame, as we are increasingly more influenced by Western fast food diets.

So which foods are more alkaline? …

Lime is alkalizing. Though it’s ironically acidic to the taste, it gets assimilated as alkaline in the tissues. The same holds true for other citrus fruits. The innocuous nimbu is a master alkalizer.

Second, I never step out of the house without my glass of green juice: it’s spinach and water mixed in a blender and seasoned to taste. I tank up on antioxidant-rich, chlorophyll-rich spinach everyday. It’s my green drink.


You can start this NOW

The Daily Lemon Shot

Choose four healthy medium-sized limes, squeeze them and drink the juice immediately. Do not add water. Avoid contact with your teeth and throw it straight to the back of your mouth. This should be taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning or, alternatively, after a heavy meal.

The Daily Liquid Chlorophyll Alkalizing Smoothie

Take a bunch of coriander or broccoli or spinach or anything that is green and put about a glass of water in a blender. Blend it and strain it. Drink immediately because the moment you let it wait for more than two minutes, it is exposed to the air and gets oxidized thereby becoming dead juice with no nutritive value.

You can reduce this NOW


Sugar is one of the most ageing foods that exist and an overload of refined sugars or foods containing sugar (pastries, cakes, sweet beverages and the like) trigger disease and ageing. Before buying or ordering, study food labels extremely carefully.

Sugar isn’t always listed as sugar: it can manifest itself in various forms like fructose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup or anything ending in -ose like glucose, sucrose and more. And that’s just one avatar of this deadly ingredient. Do a little research before you step into a supermarket the next time. Even sugar substitutes need to be dodged. Like the plague.


An overload of salt is also incredibly unhealthy and ageing. And the worst part is that it creeps up in packaged goods, processed foods and in so many other products that you would never think would have salt in them. Again, read your labels. Try to choose foods lowest in sodium. Unless otherwise specified by your doctor, 3 grams of salt per day is enough.


Increase ‘colour’ in your diet over the next few months. Deeply coloured, vibrant food products, fruits and vegetables have been known to give a tremendous boost to antioxidant activity as compared to other foods. …

The best thing about making dietary changes is that they start showing results in a comparatively short amount of time. There’s nothing indicated in any of the above that won’t do wonders for your health in general. ... Food for thought.

(Excerpted from ‘No One Has To know: Smart Anti-Ageing For Indian Skin’ by Dr Jamuna Pai, published by Harper Collins; Pp: 244 Price: Rs299) - Women's Feature Service 

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