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Get some sun

I read that exposure to sunlight is good for you. I am scared of getting tanned.

Dr Gita Mathai   |   Published 25.09.17, 12:00 AM

Q: I read that exposure to sunlight is good for you. I am scared of getting tanned.

A:Indians used to do suryanamaskar early in the morning, facing the sun and absorbing its beneficial ultraviolet rays. Allopathic medicine caught on to the benefits of sunlight much later. They expose patients to specific wave lengths for psoriasis, eczema and other skin conditions. Sunlight has bone-strengthening effects because of natural vitamin D3. It elevates the mood. If it is combined with 30-40 minutes of aerobic activity (cycling, running, jogging, swimming) the endorphin release with give you an all day "high."


Toe trouble

Q: I stubbed my toe against the wooden leg of a sofa. It is swollen and painful with a hairline fracture. The doctor says he cannot plaster it.

A:You could try placing an icepack on your foot every two hours. Then take micropore tape and fasten the injured toe to the one next to it. This will keep it immobile, speed up healing and reduce pain.

Fruit sugar

Q: I have diabetes. I need to count my calories and watch my sugar intake. I was told it is all right to eat plenty of fruits. Is that right?

A:Fruits contain fibre, vitamins and protective antioxidants. They are much healthier than oily, sugar-filled snacks. They do contain sugar but it is absorbed slowly. The fruits to avoid are grapes and mangoes. A few slices the king of fruits or a few grapes are, however, all right. The best fruits for you are papayas, guavas and melons since they have less sugar.

Cholesterol diet

Q: My cholesterol levels are high and I have been started on medication. Is there any other way to lower it?

A:Eat less red meat and more fish. Eat 4-6 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day. Exercise, with even just walking as little as 30 minutes a day will help a great deal.


Never too late

Q: My father, who smoked regularly, died of lung cancer. I also used to smoke but I stopped after he was diagnosed. Is it too late for me?

A:The risk of developing lung cancer is reduced if and when you stop smoking, even if it is after many years. There are other risk factors such as living in a polluted area, working with certain chemicals, and being around people who smoke even if you have quit. Studies show that regular aerobic exercise for 40 minutes a day and breathing exercises in yoga (pranayam ) also reduce the risk of lung cancer. So make it a point to take time out for exercise everyday.


Sweet craving

Q: I have diabetes, and when everyone is eating a sweet after food, I want one too! Are the "sugar free" pastries all right to eat?

A:You can occasionally (once a week) have a sweet, provided you monitor your blood sugars carefully. "Sugar free" chocolates and pastries have calories that need to be factored into your calorie count for the day. Some of them contain harmful transfats, others are sweetened with agents such as sorbitol, which can case diarrhoea.

Gita Mathai is a paediatrician with a family practice in Vellore and author of Staying Healthy in Modern India . If you have any questions on health issues please write to

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