7 condiments on your kitchen shelf that wear an invisible heroic cape.

Spices in India have a long standing history for its numerous benefits. The disc shaped spice – box containing aromatic whole / powdered spices can be found in almost every Indian household. These spices / condiments and herbs have been used as ‘grandma’s remedies’ since time immemorial.  

These spices improve the flavor of food and have certain scientific and medicinal merits.

Phytochemicals in spices, which primarily serve in plant protection, are considered vitamins of the 21st century. They are also less toxic compared to drugs.

 

  1. TURMERIC: It is the ‘queen of all spices’ in India. Turmeric is made from the roots of the plant ‘Curcuma Longa’. It is also known as Indian Saffron’. According to the journal of American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of anti- oxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic properties. It can help prevent prostate cancer, controls diabetes and reduces cholesterol levels.

  1. CUMIN SEEDS: Cumin is the seed of a small umbelliferous plant. Cumin is widely used in Indian cooking – tempering or in the roasted/powdered form. Cumin may lower blood sugar, reduce seizures and strengthens bones. Cumin may have anti- carcinogenic properties.

  1. BLACK PEPPER: Black pepper is the fruit of the piperaceae family and is used as a spice and medicine. It is native to Kerela the southern state of India. The health benefits include relief from respiratory disorders, cough, common cold, indigestion, anemia and cardiovascular disorders.

  1. ASAFOETIDA: Asafoetfida is a spice from the Indian peninsula and it is also commonly known as ‘spice of God’. From the nutritional viewpoint asafetida offers protein, fiber, iron, niacin and riboflavin. Asafoetida is a remedy for indigestion, menstrual pain and body ache.

  1. FENUGREEK SEEDS: Fenugreek seeds is a savoury spice. These pastel green seeds contain Galactomannan which aid in reducing high blood sugars and it acts as a super food for lactating mothers.

  1. FENNEL: The famous saunf’ is a wonderful spice and a freshener . It is used in meat preparations and has a sweet smell. Fennel contains good amount of iron and calcium and is an excellent source of fiber.

  1. CARDAMOM: The mighty elaichi’ is widely used in India to flavor savoury as well as sweet preparations. It has balmy and sweet aroma and is widely used in ‘Biriyani’s’ (rice preparations) and ‘kheer’. (rice sweet pudding). Cardamom helps in combating nausea, reducing heartburn and acidity.

 

So let’s get some health through our majestic old ‘Indian masala’s’.

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Depression and psychological illness – let’s remove the stigma attached to it.

What is depression?  The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as ‘(major depressive disorder) a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

WHY ONE NEEDS TO KEEP A TAB ON ONE’S MENTAL HEALTH

The way people look at medical illness is now changing. An individual’s stable mental health is cardinal to achieve certain needs or goals of a person. The question that might strike someone that ‘why this urgency towards mental health examination and awareness call’? The reason is the rate of patients suffering from depression has zipped to a prodigious 18 percent according to a source.

The World Health Organization India is the most depressed country in the world, with one in ten Indians are said to be suffering from depression. Also, to add to this India also has recorded the highest suicide rates crossing one lac a year.

Watch out for causes of depression:

  • Loss of a loved one / grief.
  • Genetics – most researchers suspect that having parents or siblings with depression may be a risk factor.
  • Imbalance in neurotransmitters – Brain chemicals.
  • Poor nutrition.
  • Drug addiction.

Child birth, menstruation and perimenopause ie; the period of a woman’s life shortly before the occurrence of the menopause.

  • FOMO – ‘fear of missing out’ coined by assistant professor Darlene Mc Laughlin at the Texas Am health centre college of medicine. This is seen in teenagers and adults. A research shows that a student who is studying for exams gets depressed because his or her friend is going on a vacation.

Awareness and prevention:

  •  Encourage non-judgemental speak. Try to educate those around you on how to talk about mental illness. Never use words like “crazy” or “insane” as insults.
  • Read about it. Educate yourself about mental illness and suicide. Learn about the signs and symptoms and where to receive help in your area.
  • Most importantly append mental health awareness in academic curriculum. What can be better than educating about mental health through schooling!
  • Write a blog post about mental health awareness. Include up-to-date statistics and facts on mental health and always include information on where people can find help.
  • Spread the word about Screening for Mental Health’s social media pages on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn. (Social media can be a powerful tool)
  • Watch out for bullying at school or in the office. Bullying can lead to many difficulties including depression. Be aware of destructive behavior around you and report it to a trusted adult when necessary.
  • Reading extensively stimulates good mental health.

Books like The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and many more …

Establish rehabilitation centers for people suffering from alcohol and drug abuse.

It’s time we re-design our lives and remove the smirch on the fabric of mental health.

The notion of beauty

I find beauty in unusual things, like hanging your head out the window or sitting on a fire escape.

-Scarlett Johansson.

One evening while travelling back home i leaned  my chin on the cab window with my ear plugs on and letting the breeze deliver me a sort of ‘message’ that the term or subject ‘beauty’ is never fully learnt by us as we tend to become slaves of our mind numbing routine oriented life. I leaned back into my seat and mulled over the little things that makes life meaningful. Beauty is often affirmed to a certain nonsensical standards made by humans which hamper one’s ability to fully appreciate life. I pondered on the idea of beauty and an image flashed in front of eyes and I immediately connected the motif of pulchritude to innocence and human emotions like ‘happiness’. This meaning of beauty made me invite my old childhood friends to my old house for a game of badminton. This may be seen as abstract beauty and is often ignored by grown ups. We often come across ‘challenges’ entailing a certain purpose like ‘100 happiness day challenge’s social phenomenon  first promoted and put forth by Dmitry Golubnichy ; inspired by this I framed my own phenomenon a kind of cognitive sort that required keen observation of one’s surroundings ‘appreciate what is beautiful for a week’ .

For seven days I recorded the motifs and images that I saw around me that gave the idea of ‘beauty’ an altogether broader purview. The first thing I associate to ‘beauty’ is the idea of ‘humanity’. I found a girl near the market place. She was famished and needed some food. I gave her my chicken roll and she took it with gratitude and liveliness that was evident in her smile. To make an unknown person smile buy extending with little things or gestures is a beautiful act.

I asked a dear friend ‘ what is the first image that comes to your mind when I put forth the subject of beauty? To which he promptly said ‘ when a mother beholds  her child for the first time that is beautiful to me.  Motherhood is indeed a beautiful phase in a woman’s life. One evening I sat on my bed cross legged and my face buried into my palms and just then my fourteen year old Labrador came upto me to calm me limping as he was diagnosed with ‘hip displacement’. He licked my face until my frown was replaced by smiles. I immediately thought to myself ‘what could be more beautiful than this bond, eh ?

My scout for the ‘sublime’ did not stop there. The other day my mother introduced to our new neighbor who have a three year old kid diagnosed with thalassemia but despite her condition she roamed in and around her house lively and high spirited just like any other kid. Such warriors are indeed beautiful.  Beauty is an exchange of good vibes and is not entirely laced around ‘physical attractiveness’. To substantiate this point I would give an example; I met a stranger a couple of years back at starbucks a couple of months back. I was engrossed in making a sketch that day and this unknown guy approached me and befriended me and asked about my interests and goals in life. I told him I wanted to be a writer. He could make out the fright hid in my mind. He counseled me on how to chase my dreams. Such experiences in life are unusual and these events make our lives beautiful. Therefore, communicate well.

Beauty is synonymously used for motherhood. I recall an article I read some days back on C section delivery versus vaginal delivery. The author of the article made a valid point in the article that we should not forget that though cesarean delivery may be different but a birth indeed took place and it should not be treated any different. The mothers who went through c section are equal and should not feel ashamed. The author renamed c section delivery to ‘belly delivery’ to give it equal status as ‘vaginal delivery’ has.

On the last day of my seven day project I came across a beauty magazine with a cover that promoted models who were skinny as well as plump and white skinned  and dark skinned women and proposed an idea that all of them should be paid ‘equal remuneration’ and should not be discriminated in any form.

Confucius once said that ‘everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it’. Be that individual who can see and appreciate life and its beauty to live a fuller life and have farfetched vision.