The Telegraph
| Monday, December 12, 2016 |


And demon in your drink

Dr. Gita Mathai Your Health - Dr. Gita Mathai

Q: Can coffee cause diabetes?

A:Blood sugar can rise after drinking coffee - even black coffee with no calories - thanks to the caffeine. It's the same for black tea, green tea, and energy drinks. Each person with diabetes reacts to foods and drinks differently. Ironically, other compounds in coffee may prevent type 2 diabetes.

Gout diet

Q: My doctor says I have gout and wants me to take tablets. Can I (with diet) control the uric acid levels?

A: Gout occurs when high levels of uric acid are produced and the kidney is unable to remove it efficiently. The uric acid can crystallise in the joints causing pain, or in the kidney causing stones.

Sometimes, the high levels are due to medication such as diuretics or a diet high in purine, an amino acid found in red meat and sea fish such as sardines. Eating lots of purine-containing vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower does not increase uric acid significantly. A vegetarian diet with no alcohol (particularly beer) may help. It is best to follow your physician's advice.

Pinch of salt

Q: I had diarrhoea so I purchased ORS sachets. I added more water than recommended as I disliked the taste. I was confused and was taken to hospital, where they found my sodium levels were low. How did this happen?

A: Both low sodium (hyponatraemia) and high sodium (hypernatraeima) are dangerous. Usually the body is able to handle high or low sodium levels and auto correct it by increasing or decreasing the urine concentration and output. I don't know why this did not happen in your case. The ORS sachets have to be strictly reconstituted as per the instructions on the packet. Next time, it may be better to buy the "redimix" in tetra packs. Also try to safely rehydrate yourself with natural liquids like lightly salted lime juice or buttermilk.

Apply, don't eat

Q: I have decided to eat a teaspoon full of aloe vera every day. Is it harmful?

A: Aloe vera is an excellent product to apply externally. It keeps the skin soft and helps wounds to heal. Taken internally, it can cause heart arrhythmias and lower blood sugar.

Pop a pill

Q: I get headaches on and off. Is there any natural remedy? My eyesight is normal.

A: Try resting in a dark room, taking a mild painkiller such as paracetemol with a cup of coffee and applying warm or cold compresses to your head and neck. Regular exercise can help too.

Size does matter

Q: I want to increase the size of my breasts naturally. What do I do?

A: You cannot change your genetic make up or body frame, but you can check your estrogen and progesterone levels (hormones) and determine that they are in balance. You can also do exercises to develop the chest muscles. This will not increase size but will make your breasts more prominent. Simple push-ups and dumbbell exercises (using a baby 1-2kg dumbbell) will do. Do around 20 repetitions.

Dr Gita Mathai is a paediatrician and author of StayingHealthy in Modern India.
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