Friday, January 31, 2014

என் நாள்

தெய்வம் மறிக்கின்ற வழியெனது
சாத்தான் திறக்கின்ற வழியுமெனது

மழை கலங்கும் நீர்த்தேக்கங்களில்
மறையப்போகும் முகங்கள்

எதையோ இழக்க நேரிடுமென்றே
எதையும் சேர்க்காதொழிந்த காலம்

எஞ்சுவன எண்ணும்  விரல்களுள்
கூட சேர்ந்தெண்ணும் காலனின் கைவிரல்

தொலைவில் எனக்கான
அழைப்பு விடுக்கப் பட்டுவிட்டது

எனக்கேயான என் பெயர் பொறித்த
மாற்றவியலா அழைப்பு

பிறந்ததும் செய்யத் துவங்கும்
பருவந்தோறும் எண்ணி எழுத்தேறும்

நிறமும் செம்மையும்
நிதமும் மாற

மறிக்கின்றதும் மரிக்கின்றதும்
கரைகின்ற நாள்

என் நாள் அதுவென்
அழைப்பின் நாள்


Sunday, January 26, 2014

வெண்முரசு - 'நோக்கங்களின்' தகுதிகள்

“ஞானம் என்பது அடைவதல்ல, ஒவ்வொன்றாய் இழந்தபின்பு எஞ்சுவது….”

அன்புள்ள ஜெயமோகன்,

வணக்கம்.

வெண்முரசு படிக்கும்தோறும் விரிந்து வருகிறது. மகாபாரதக் கதையை முழுமையாக அறிந்திருக்க வேண்டியவர்கள் இந்தியர்கள் மட்டுமல்ல ஒவ்வொரு மானுட பிறவியுமே.

தத்துவ விளக்கங்கள், அறநெறிகள், உளச் சிக்கல்கள், ஆண் பெண் உறவுகளின் வெவ்வேறு படி நிலைகளில் அவரவர் கடமைகள் - என இக்காவியத்தில் இல்லாதது என்ன இருந்து விட முடியும்?

நடையழகும் மொழிச்சுவையும் கூறலின் அடர்த்தியும் முன்பின்னாக கிளைக்கதைகளை இணைக்கும் நேர்த்தியும் மனதை ஏதோ செய்கிறது. இந்தியனாகவும், தமிழ் அறிந்தவனாகவும், ஜெயமோகனை படிப்பவனாகவும் இத்தொடர் என் மன எழுச்சியையும் பெருமிதத்தையும் ஒவ்வொரு நாளும் தொட்டுத் திரும்புகிறது.

“ஞானம் என்பது அடைவதல்ல, ஒவ்வொன்றாய் இழந்தபின்பு எஞ்சுவது….”

இவ்வரியை சிந்திக்காத நாளேயில்லை.

ஞானம் அடைதல்; ஞானம் சித்தித்தது என அதை ஒரு பெறுபொருளாக, வெளியிருந்து உட்சேரும் கூறாக எண்ணி வந்ததற்கெல்லாம் மாறாக, அனைவருக்குள்ளும் எப்போதும் இருந்து கொண்டிருக்குமொன்றெ அது; பல்வேறு மாயைகளும் அறியாமைகளும் இன்ன பிறவும் களைகையில் மிஞ்சுவதே என்ற கருதுகோள் என்னை பொறுத்த மட்டில் ஒரு பெரிய திறப்பு.

இத்தனை லௌகீக இடையூறுகளுக்கிடையேயும் மேலும் மென்மேலும் இவ்வரியின் உட்சென்று சிந்திக்க உங்கள் வெண்முரசு ஓர் உந்துசக்தி.

பத்து வருடங்கள்! தினமும்!
இது ஒரு வேள்வி.

தானறிந்ததை தன்னை ஈர்த்ததை தான் கூற முடிவதை தன்னை உருக்கித் தருவதென்பது நான் கண்டிராத ஒன்று.

இதற்குள் என்ன சுயலாபம் இருந்து விட முடியும்? பிர்தௌஸ் கேட்டது போல் என்ன 'நோக்கம்' இருந்து விட முடியும்?

அந்த 'நோக்கம்' கேள்வியும், இன்றைய தமிழ் பொதுச் சிந்தனையில் எழுப்பப் படப் போகும் உள்ளர்த்தங்களும் எதிர் பார்க்ககூடியவையே என்றாலும் மிகக் குரூரமாக, வக்ரமாக உணர்ந்தேன்.

எத்தகைய உழைப்பு!

காலை சிங்கப்பூரில் 7 மணிக்கு படிக்க முடிகிறதென்றால் இந்தியாவில் 4.30 மணிக்கு பதிவேற்றப் பட வேண்டும். கேள்வி கேட்பவர்கள் இது போன்றதொரு அர்ப்பணிப்போடு ஏதேனுமொன்றை படைத்து விட்டு கேட்கும் தகுதியுடன் கேட்கலாம் என்ற சுய உணர்வு இருக்காதா?

அது போன்ற 'நோக்க' கேள்விகளுக்கு நீங்கள் மீண்டும் மீண்டும் பதிலளிக்கத்தான் வேண்டுமா?

சரி, அப்படியே இந்தப் படைப்புக்குப் பின் உங்களுக்கு ஓர் இந்துத்துவ நோக்கம் (கேட்பவர்களின் நோக்கங்களோடு முரண்படுவதாக இருந்தாலும் - மகாபாரத காவியத்தை இந்து காவியம் எனல் எவ்வளவு முட்டாள்தனமாக பாமரத்தனமாக இருப்பினும்), இருந்தால்தான் என்ன தவறு?

ஒரு படைப்பாளன் தான் விரும்பும், நம்பும் ஒரு கொள்கைக்காக தன் படைப்பூக்கத்தின் உச்சத்தில் விளம்பரம் விழையாமல், இயக்க சார்பும் ஆதரவுமில்லாமல், வருவாயின் வழியாக இவ்வெழுத்தை எண்ணாமல், இந்த படைப்பும் உழைப்பும் தருவதென்றால், அந்தக் கொள்கையும் அந்த அர்ப்பணிப்பும் அழியா அர்த்தம் பெறுகிறதல்லவா?

உங்கள் நோக்கங்களை சந்தேகிப்பதற்குமுன் அவரவர் நம்பும் நோக்கங்களுக்காக வருடக் கணக்கில் உழைப்பை செலுத்தி விட்டு உங்களை கேட்பதே முறையல்லவா?

உள்நோக்கங்கள் நிறைந்த, கையாலாகாத, தகுதிகளற்ற வினைகளை புறந்தள்ளி விட்டு, தயவுசெய்து உங்கள் நேரத்தையும் திறனையும் இம்மாகாவியத்தை வடிப்பதில் செலுத்துங்கள்.

மற்றபடி, புரிதலுக்காக அவ்வப்போது நீங்கள் விடையிறுப்பது சரியே எனினும், கூறியது கூறல் வேண்டுமா?

உங்கள் முயற்சியின் உன்னதம் வெற்றியடைய வாழ்த்தும்,

சரவணன்

Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to do Effective Intermittent Fasting the (South) Indian Way?

Following up from the previous two articles, inspired by BBC's Peter Bowes, I have set upon to find how to do this on a regular basis instead of an aggressive 5 day calory-reducing intermittent fasting.

A good research yielded very doable diet plan for an avid South Indian food follower like me. 

According a website called diet burp, this is how we start:

Personalising a South Indian diet plan for weight loss


To make a south Indian diet plan for yourself, follow the following steps
  • Calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) to know your basic calorie requirement.
  • Calculate your BMI to know how over weight you are and how much you really need to lose to be healthy.
I started with my own.

My height: 5'10 inches, age: 44 and current weight: 72 kgs.
My Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is now 1460 cal/day
My Body Mass Index (BMI) is now 18.5% - 25% - Normal 
My Body Fat Index (BFI) is now 18.3% - Average, fitter range would still be in 14 - 16%

To maintain my current weight, I need to be taking in 2007 cal/day, which I believe I am overdoing a bit as the weight steadily is increasing the last two years from 67 kgs to the current 72 kgs.

To loose an approximate 0.5 kg/week, I need to bring the calorie intake to as close as possible to the BMR - around 1500 calories/day.  

By the above calculations, I should be able to loose 2 kg/month and 4 kgs in two months and get closer to my earlier weight, but yes, this is not intermittent but all 30 days in the month.

Aggressive it might sound, but in total resonance to Peter Bowes' clinical trial suggestions.

Now the suggestions from the Diet Burp website:

South Indian Diet Plan for Weight Loss (1200 calories)

Food Item
   Amount
     Calories (kcal)      
     Protein (g)    
Early Morning
Lukewarm water with lemon
1 cup
Tea (without sugar)
1 cup
35
4
Marie biscuits
2
56



Breakfast
Ragi ganji/Rava ganji
1 glass
100
2
or
Idli with Sambar
2 no
150
4
or
Neer dosa with
Coconut chutney
2 no
150
3


Mid-morning
Fruit salad


1 m bowl


40
-
Green tea (without sugar)
1 cup
35
4


Lunch
Ragi ball ( 2 no ) /steamed rice


1 bowl


200


6
Koshimbiri
1 bowl
30
2
Bus saaru
1 bowl
50
3
Cabbage palya
1 bowl
50
1
Evening
Green tea (without sugar)
1 cup
35
4
Wheat rusk
2
120
6
Dinner
Chapati (without oil)
2
200
6
Bhendekai gojju
1 small bowl
100
4
Curd
1 small bowl
30
1.5
Total
———
1131 kcal
45.5 g
The above mentioned South Indian diet plan for weight loss is a sample plan for how a 1200 cal South Indian diet plan for weight loss looks like.  

Of course you can add up a lot of options based on the right choice of veggies. like for example instead of Bhendekai gojju with Brinjal / Onion / Tomato etc.

I, on my part, replaced the tea with black coffee with no sugar (10 cal) and morning breakfast with a cup of skimmed milk and 4 spoons of oats which adds up to 125 calories (Milk -100 cal and oats - 25 cal) which is better than Idly and Thosai.

The benefits of Indian Regular Controlled Diet as against Intermittent Fasting


- Multiple options of cuisine and food
- Not intensive 500 cal/day, 5 day course for a month
- But a regular food-life style pattern
- Can be cooked at home or eaten at restaurants, unlike the intermittent fasting food regime which Peter Bowes claims cannot be cooked but needs to be ordered
- Flexible calorie intakes in relation to the improvement in weight loss

As per the recent findings of how Indian subcontinent owing to its veg-based diet has far lesser obesity and obesity-induced diseases, it is imperative that we turn to our traditional ways of creating a sustainable food style.

Keeping the compelling scientific findings from the clinical trials of Peter Bowes, I believe this is really important to lead a disease free, healthy ageing life just by following simpler and efficient calorie intakes - 1000 - 1500 cal/day.


Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Health Living - Part II

In Part II, Peter Bowes presets the results of the clinical trials he underwent during the intermittent fasting. Really interesting, yet to be validated with more clinical and field trials, are these facts:

1. Changes in the levels of a growth hormone known as IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). 

High levels of IGF-1, which is a protein produced by the liver, are believed significantly to increase the risks of colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. Low levels of IGF-1 reduce those risks. Studies in mice have shown that an extreme diet, similar to the one I experienced, causes IGF-1 levels to drop and to stay down for a period after a return to normal eating.

The author's trial data showed exactly the same pattern.

2. Author's blood tests also revealed that the major inhibitor of IGF-1, which is called IGFBP-1, was significantly up during the fasting period, indicating the body is switching to a healthy and more conducive way of ageing.


Part II of the article:


Many of the changes in my body when I took part in the clinical trial of an intermittent fasting diet were no surprise. Eating very little for five days each month, I lost weight, and I felt hungry. I also felt more alert a lot of the time, though I tired easily. But there were other effects too that were possibly more important.

During each five-day fasting cycle, when I ate about a quarter the average person's diet, I lost between 2kg and 4kg (4.4-8.8lbs) but before the next cycle came round, 25 days of eating normally had returned me almost to my original weight.

But not all consequences of the diet faded so quickly.

"What we are seeing is the maintenance of some of the effects even when normal feeding resumes," explains Dr Valter Longo, director of USC's Longevity institute, who has observed similar results in rodents.

"That was very good news because that's exactly what we were hoping to achieve."
Clinical tests showed that during the diet cycles my systolic blood pressure dropped by about 10%, while the diastolic number remained about the same. For someone who has, at times, had borderline hypertension, this was encouraging. However, after the control period (normal diet), my blood pressure, like my weight, returned to its original - not-so-healthy - state.

The researchers will be looking at whether repeated cycles of the diet could be used to help manage blood pressure in people over the longer term.

Arguably, the most interesting changes were in the levels of a growth hormone known as IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). High levels of IGF-1, which is a protein produced by the liver, are believed significantly to increase the risks of colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. Low levels of IGF-1 reduce those risks.

"In animals studies we and others have shown this to be a growth factor that is very much associated with ageing and a variety of diseases, including cancer," says Longo.
Studies in mice have shown that an extreme diet, similar to the one I experienced, causes IGF-1 levels to drop and to stay down for a period after a return to normal eating.

My data showed exactly the same pattern.

"You had a dramatic drop in IGF-1, close to 60% and then once you re-fed it went up, but was still down 20%," Longo told me.

Such a reduction could make a significant difference to an individual's likelihood of developing certain cancers, he says. A study of a small population of people in Ecuador, who have much lower levels of IGF-1, because they lack a growth hormone receptor, showed that they rarely develop cancer and other age-related conditions.

My blood tests also revealed that the major inhibitor of IGF-1, which is called IGFBP-1, was significantly up during the fasting period. Even when I resumed a normal diet, the IGFBP-1 level was elevated compared with my baseline. It is, according to Longo, a sign that my body switched into a mode that was much more conducive to healthy ageing.

Data from other participants in the study is still being analysed, but if they also show lower levels of IGF-1 and higher levels of IGFBP-1, it could help scientists develop an intermittent fasting regime that allows people to eat a normal diet for the vast majority of the time, and still slow down the ageing process.

One idea being explored by Longo is that a five-day intervention every 60 days may be enough to trigger positive changes in the body.

"This is exactly what we have in mind to allow people, for let's say 55 every 60 days, to decide what they are going to eat with the help of a good doctor, and diet in the five days. They may not think it is the greatest food they have ever eaten, but it's a lot easier, let's say, than complete fasting and it's a lot safer than complete fasting and it may be more effective than complete fasting."
The very small meals I was given during the five-day fast were far from gourmet cooking, but I was glad to have something to eat. There are advocates of calorie restriction who promote complete fasting.

My blood tests also detected a significant rise in a type of cell, which may play a role in the regeneration of tissues and organs.
It is a controversial area and not fully understood by scientists.

"Your data corresponds to pre-clinical data that we got from animal models that shows that cycles of fasting could elevate this particular substance, considered to be stem cells," said Dr Min Wei, the lead investigator.

The substance has also been referred to, clumsily, as "embryonic-like".

"At least in humans we have a very limited understanding of what they do. In animal studies they are believed to be 'embryonic-like' meaning... they are the type of cells that have the ability to regenerate almost anything," says Longo.

It would be highly beneficial if intermittent fasting could trigger a response that enhances the body's ability to repair itself, but much more research is required to confirm these observations.

This diet is still at the experimental stage and data from the trial are still being studied. Other scientists will eventually scrutinise the findings independently, and may attempt to replicate them.

"We generally like to see not only an initial discovery in a trial but we like to see confirmatory trials to be sure that in the broadest kind of sense, in the general population that these findings are going to be applicable," says Dr Lawrence Piro, a cancer specialist at The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute.

"I do believe fasting to be a very effective mechanism. They are pieces of a puzzle, that puzzle is not fully revealed yet, the picture isn't clear yet but there's enough of the picture clear. I think we can be really excited that there is some substantial truth here, some substantial data coming forward and something that we can really be hopeful about."

Future clinical trials will focus on "at-risk" members of community - those who are obese - to gauge their response to a severely restricted diet.

But if this diet, or another intermittent fasting diet, is eventually proven be effective and sustainable, it could have profound implications for weight loss and the way doctors fight the diseases of old age.

Insulin-like growth factor 1

·         IGF-1 is a protein produced by the liver when it is stimulated by growth hormone circulating in the blood
·         It plays a role in the growth of muscle, bones and cartilage throughout the body, and is critical to growth and development during childhood
·         Lower levels of IGF-1, induced by calorie restriction, have been shown in rodents to slow the ageing process and protect against cancer
·         IGF-1 levels in adult humans vary according to age and gender
Credit: BBC News

Effect of Fasting on Healthy Living - Part I

I read this interesting article recently which establishes a clear link between controlled and intermittent fasting with healthy living.

The direct results seems to be the:
- control of obesity (and its related diseases)
- slower ageing
- measurable improvement of vital parameters and vitality

How I am amazed at the fact that Indian culture and traditions have been advocating a veg based similar fasting techniques (though in the name religious beliefs)! 

I recall my teenage when my mother insisted, apart from her and father's following, that we take up fasting twice a week with very minimal intake of veg, rice, soup only for lunch and dinner and go without anything in the morning.

Not only my family but all other believers used to be fasting this way - 2 days a week and 8 days a month much similar to what the author of this article recommends 30 years later now.

There are serious fasting months wherein, a special pilgrimage upcoming, mostly once in a year, we are to follow the above routine for 40 days (yes, 40 days!) at a stretch. The results usually are longer lasting than what is seen in this author's personal clinical trial. We, returning from the pilgrimage, would be slimmer, fitter, healthier and revitalised the effects of which lasted longer till the next fasting season arrives. This is even after returning to normal diet for the rest of year, of course the twice a week routine continuing.

Now having read this experiment, I fully well understand the science and methodology behind what we have been practicing and still being practiced in most parts of India.

The first part of the article:


Intermittent fasting: Enduring the hunger pangs
Scientists in California are conducting a clinical trial to test a diet that may help people lose weight while also boosting resistance to some diseases. One of their guinea pigs was the BBC's Peter Bowes, who reports here on his experience of fasting for five days per month.

Author: Peter Bowes
It's been tried on mice and now it's being tried on humans - a diet that involves multiple five-day cycles on an extremely low-calorie diet. Each of those five days is tough, but the upside is that for much of the time - about 25 days per month - people eat normally, although not excessively.

The low-calorie period includes small amounts of food to minimise the negative effects of a total fast. Designed by scientists to provide a minimum level of essential vitamins and minerals, the diet consists of:
·         vegetable-based soups
·         energy bars
·         energy drinks
·         dried kale snacks
          chamomile tea


·    
Spinach soup: Dinner, three nights out of five

Dried Kale snack
These meals are extremely low in calories - about 1,000 on day one and 500 for each of the next four days. With the exception of water and black coffee, nothing else is consumed.
The limited selection of food (with no choice of flavours) means that everything has to be eaten. It's monotonous... but at least it makes meal planning easy for five days.
"The reason why diets don't work is because they are very complicated and people have an interpretation problem," says Dr Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California (USC) Longevity Institute.

"The reason I think these diets work is because you have no interpretation. You either do it or you don't do it. And if you do it you're going to get the effect."

Dr Longo established a company to manufacture the food, based on research in his department at USC. He has shown in mice that restricting calories leads to them living longer with less risk of developing cancer.

The food used during the trial is the result of years of experimenting. The idea is to develop a diet that leads to positive cellular changes of the same kind seen in mice that have been made to fast.

"It turned out to be a low-protein, low-sugar-and-carbohydrate diet, but a high-nourishment diet," explains Longo.
"We wanted it to be all natural. We didn't want to have chemicals in there and did not want to have anything that is associated with problems - diseases. Every component has to be checked and tested. It's no different to a drug."

Longo stresses that the experimental food could not be made in your kitchen.
But it is a big leap from laboratory mice to human beings. Restricting the diets of rodents is easy, but people have minds of their own - and face the culinary temptations of the modern world.

I knew the diet cycles would be difficult.

I love to eat. I enjoy a big, healthy breakfast, exercise a lot and - left to my own devices - snack all day before digging in to a hearty evening meal. At 51, I am in good shape. I weigh 80kg (12 stone 8lbs / 176lbs) but like most middle-aged men, I struggle with belly fat. I have never tried any kind of fasting regime before.

The diet meals were better than I expected - at least initially. I was so hungry I would practically lick the soup bowl and shake the last kale crumb from its bag, to tide me over to the next feeding time.

Note: it is no longer lunch or dinner. It is a feeding opportunity. It is certainly not a social occasion.
The diet

Day 1 (1,000-1,100 cals)
Day 2 (500 cals)
Day 3 (500 cals)
Day 4 (500 cals)
Day 5 (500 cals)
Morning snack
Chamomile tea + bar
Chamomile tea + bar
Chamomile tea + bar
Chamomile tea + bar
Chamomile tea + bar
Lunch
Carrot soup + dried kale
Carrot soup + drink
Beetroot soup + drink
Carrot soup + drink
Carrot soup + drink
Afternoon snack
Tea + energy bar
Tea
Tea
Tea
Tea
Dinner
Beetroot soup + dried kale
Spinach soup + dried kale
Spinach soup + dried kale
Beetroot soup + dried kale
Spinach soup + dried kale

Headaches, a typical side effect of fasting, started on Day 2 but they waned within 24 hours, leaving me in a state of heightened alertness. During the day - and especially in the morning - I was more alert and productive. Hunger pangs came and went - it was just a matter of sitting them out. But they did go.

By the evening - especially on Day 5, I was exhausted. Tiredness set in early.

But I made it through the five days - for three cycles - without deviating from the regime. I lost an average of 3kg (6.6lbs) during each cycle, but regained the weight afterwards.

All participants keep a diary, noting their body weight, daily temperature reading, meals and mood. The feedback - positive and negative - is vital to the integrity of the study, which is partly designed to establish whether the diet could work in the real world.

For me, and for all but about 5% of the volunteers who have completed all three cycles, the diet was do-able - although opinions vary about the taste of the food.

Lead investigator Dr Min Wei says that for some people the diet is a greater wrench than for others, depending on their lifestyle. The absence of carbohydrates and desserts, can hit some people hard, for example, and also the restriction to black coffee alone. "We are fairly strict," he says. "We recommend people stick to the regimen. If people enjoy special coffee - lattes for example - they won't be able to enjoy them."

Data from the volunteers is still being collected and analysed. The early signs are that the diet is safe and could be adopted by most healthy people, providing they are suitably motivated to endure the periods of hunger.

But the full effect can only be measured over the long term. Initial changes in the body may not tell the full story.

"Having dietary factors influence your body sometimes takes years and years," explains Dr Lawrence Piro, a cancer specialist at the Angeles Clinic and Research Institute.

This particular trial now moves into the laboratory. Based on blood tests, has anything changed inside my body to suggest extreme dieting improves my chances of avoiding the diseases of old age?

Credit: BBC News

Jing'an Temple, Shanghai

And oh, the Jing'an Temple! As per the piece of history printed in their ticket, the shrine was first built in 247 AD in the Wu Kin...