Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness


Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan

By M. P. Ravindra Nathan,

We know the longevity enjoyed by the people living in the blue zones, many reaching 100 and beyond. The reason is, of course, their lifestyle, the main factor that influences your health. According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes and 40 percent of cancer could be prevented, with improvements to diet and lifestyle.

Here is the “Life's Essential 8” for your to remember, the key measures for improving your total health including prevention of heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes and hypertension, the major causes of death and disability in our society. These observations are based on the study of 135,000 adults published by American Heart Association.

  1. Diet: A healthy diet is a calorie-controlled, plant-based diet with less of meat, sugar and salt and more of protein. This means eating a lot of vegetables, fruits and nuts, choosing whole grain foods, limit processed foods (canned foods), restricting or even avoiding red meat altogether. Keep your body well hydrated all the time. Clean water is the best drink but diluted juices may be okay. 

  2. Regular physical activity: Ideally, this should involve: Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, tennis and other similar sports. Flexibility exercises like yoga and calisthenics like 'squats, push-ups, lunges and crunches!' Upper body training and strengthening are important. Mental exercises, like playing intellectual games, will help delay the onset of dementia. Regular meditation sharpens your mind and aids you with peace of mind and stress reduction. Breathing exercises such as pranayama improve your lung function.

  3. Maintaining a healthy weight: As measured in body mass index (BMI), the ideal is to maintain your BMI in the 20-25 range. Indians should be in the lower range. Obesity has become a major problem in USA and is a major cause of hypertension, diabetes and cancer. I see this among Indians too. Mindful eating along with exercise is the right answer.

  4. Healthy sleep: On average, you should get about 7-9 hours of continuous sleep. So, it's important to maintain proper sleep hygiene – like you go to bed and wake up about the same time every day. Avoid napping in the afternoon for longer than 30 mts. And expose yourself to regular sunlight during daytime.

  5. Maintain ideal blood pressure (BP): Do you check your BP regularly? Hypertension is a  common problem and can lead to many complications like heart disease, strokes and kidney disease, just to name a few. Sadly, many hypertensives don’t even know they have the disease (silent hypertension)! The most recent guidelines suggest “a reading of less than 120/80 mm Hg as normal. 120-129/80 is mildly elevated. And anything over 130/80 is definitely elevated and one should consider therapeutic measures.” We have gone over these in detail before.

  6. Control your blood sugar: Diabetes Mellitus, especially Type 2, is common particularly in Indians and causes heart disease and chronic kidney disease. Among Indians, one of the commonest causes for “dialysis” is diabetic nephropathy. HbA1c is the best parameter to decide if your DM is well controlled.  Normal is 5.6 or below. Levels of 5.7 to 6.4 indicate pre-diabetes and anything over 6.4 means you have diabetes. So, try to keep HbA1c as close to 6.5 or below when possible.

  7. Control your Bad Cholesterol (LDL-C): Heart disease from coronary atherosclerosis is still the No. 1 killer, especially among Indians. The main substrate of the atherosclerotic plaque is LDL - Cholesterol. So, keep your LDL as low as possible. For Indians, it should be <70 but <55 is even better. Low fat diet coupled with appropriate drug therapy, especially 'statins' is the way to go. The lower the LDL-C, the better. No harmful effects have been observed from low LDL-C.

  8. No smoking:  Tobacco products have become the largest, single preventable cause of death in America. Sadly, in spite of the warnings by Surgeon General, people still smoke! In general, a smoker dies 20 years earlier than a non-smoker. So, if you are a smoker quit now. If you are not, don't start the habit.

These are just some guidelines for you to follow. Needless to say, you should avoid excess alcohol, non-prescription drugs, maintain good oral hygiene, have a good social support system and practice stress reduction. Common sense should prevail in all actions. Then you can have a long, healthy enjoyable life. Your lifestyle is the best medicine.

This concludes the series.

M.P. Ravindra Nathan, M.D., is a cardiologist and Emeritus Editor of AAPI Journal. For further reading, “Second Chance - A Sister’s Act of Love” by Dr. Nathan from Outskirts Press, can be found at



September is Healthy Eye Aging Month

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan


Tips for Maintaining Clear Vision and Eye Health

As we journey through life, our eyes play a pivotal role in how we experience the world around us. Just like the rest of our body, our eyes undergo changes as we age. While some changes are natural, there are steps we can take to support healthy aging of our eyes and maintain clear vision. Here's a guide to help you understand the process of aging eyes and how to keep them healthy for years to come.
Understanding the Aging Process of the Eyes:
The aging process affects various parts of the eyes, leading to changes in vision and eye health. Some common age-related eye changes include:

  1. Presbyopia: This is a natural loss of near focusing ability that becomes noticeable in your early to mid-40s. It's why many people start using reading glasses or multifocal lenses.
  2. Dry eyes: As we age, the eyes may produce fewer tears, leading to dryness, irritation, and discomfort.
  3. Floaters and flashes: These are small specks or cobweb-like shapes that seem to drift around in your field of vision. While usually harmless, sudden changes in floaters or flashes could signal a retinal issue requiring prompt attention.
  4. Reduced pupil size: The pupil size may decrease with age, affecting how much light enters the eye and potentially causing difficulty seeing in low-light conditions.
  5. Changes in color perception: Some color perception changes can occur as the lens of the eye becomes less transparent over time.
  6. Increased risk of eye conditions: Aging increases the risk of conditions like cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Tips for Healthy Aging of the Eyes:

  1. Regular eye exams: Routine eye exams become even more critical as you age. Comprehensive eye exams can detect early signs of eye conditions and ensure your prescription is up-to-date.
  2. Nutrition for eye gealth: A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals supports eye health. Foods like leafy greens, colorful fruits, fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, nuts and whole grains are beneficial.
  3. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated supports tear production and helps prevent dry eyes.
  4. UV protection: Sunglasses that block UV rays protect your eyes from sun damage and reduce the risk of cataracts and AMD.
  5. Quit smoking: Smoking increases the risk of eye conditions, so stopping is a significant step for maintaining healthy eyes.
  6. Manage chronic conditions: Conditions like diabetes and hypertension can affect eye health. Work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions effectively.
  7. Screen time and eye care: Practice the 20-20-20 rule when using screens: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.
  8. Eye safety: Wear protective eyewear during activities that pose a risk to your eyes, such as sports or home repairs.
  9. Stay active: Regular physical activity supports overall health, including eye health, by promoting good blood circulation.
  10. Stay informed: Stay educated about age-related eye changes and conditions. Knowledge empowers you to recognize potential issues and seek timely medical attention.

Proactive Steps to take for Vision enhancement:
Vision enhancing steps that you can take as discussed in my previous columns, if you notice your reading vision decreasing, you can opt for laser vision techniques or multifocal lens surgical techniques to make you see distance and near. And if you feel you have cataracts, you can undergo early cataract surgery with new generation lens implants for all ranges of vision. If you have dry eyes, that can be corrected and also if you have had previous Lasik surgery or previous radial Keratotomy surgery, you could be helped so you can gracefully age with better vision rather than wait for vision to decrease and then take action.

Conclusion: Embracing Clear Vision and Eye Health as You Age
Aging eyes are a natural part of the life journey, and by taking proactive steps, you can support healthy eye aging and maintain clear vision. Regular eye exams, a balanced diet, UV protection, and other preventive measures can make a significant difference in preserving eye health. Remember, eyes allow you to appreciate the beauty of the world, so investing in their well-being is an investment in your overall quality of life.


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