Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others. Welcome, Shakiba.
Shakiba Rangoonwala: Thank you for having me here.
AB: Welcome. The last time you were on this chat, you had a particular view of what wellness was. Given the year we’ve had, has your view on wellness changed?
SR: So, wellness for me has always been a healthy mind, emotions, and body. All three are connected. And as homoeopaths, we are always looking at the causative, which is mind related. And this year has had a lot of stresses, with this pandemic, and it’s created havoc in people’s lives in many ways. Stress and anxiety— that leads to the mind being unhealthy. And I’ve seen many clients having insomnia, headaches, and also gut issues. There’s a gut-brain connection via a nerve called the vagus nerve. The whole gut is full of nerve endings. And when you have negative emotions, and you are anxious, and you have stress, inevitably your gut will be affected.
So as a result, you are not absorbing nutrients. Nutrients are needed for various functions of the body, and you will experience various symptoms depending on which nutrients are lacking. So, when you ask what has changed, I would say that the emphasis to achieve a state of wellness would be to keep a healthy mind and looking positive, looking towards happier times, rather than having a gloom and doom attitude. And now we have light at the end of the tunnel, we have vaccines, and we can look at many other positive things in our lives.
AB: No, that’s great. Wellness to you now is about keeping a healthy mind.
SR: Definitely. Great emphasis on that. Of course, coupled with healthy eating and lifestyle.
AB: Okay, lovely.
SR: That goes hand in hand.
AB: I know you’ve studied lots of things. Why did you choose to combine what you mostly do, which is nutrition, with homeopathy and bioresonance?
SR: So basically, when I was about 20, I was in medical college. And then I got married, had children, so I left medicine. But my whole idea was to help people get better. And after having three kids, I realized that the way forward was to help the body heal itself. And that’s what homeopathy and other alternative complementary health practices do. And I looked into homeopathy and I said, that’s the way forward. So, I became a homeopath over here in 1997. And as I was getting clients, I realized that only homeopathic remedies didn’t help if they were eating unhealthy and not having the right lifestyle. So I would give basic information and the client would get better. Many times I would give a placebo in homoeopathy. So that’s where I said nutrition has to go together.
So I studied nutrition, and I was doing both. In the meantime, I came across the bioresonance device called Asyra, which I talked about last time. Maybe a lot of the people listening weren’t there. And that has nutrition and homoeopathy, it’s programmed in there. So it was ideal for a person like me. And that also helps me get some more information about the client. For example, their food sensitivity test. There are nutrition deficiency tests I can do there. So coupled with my consultation, after extensive questioning, which you will probably fill a questionnaire and come, then I will use the bioresonance as an added tool, and combine all these three things and devise a plan for the client.
AB: Okay, so tell me, and you see a lot of clients every day; so have the issues that people have been coming to you in 2020, are they different from before? Are there one or two things which people are focusing on?
SR: There are a lot of stress issues. People haven’t been able to travel as they used to. They are stuck at home. They are being made to make their home food, which they probably never did. Most people went out two, or three times a week, socializing, in pubs, bars, and restaurants. So the uncertainty in the papers and the media didn’t help us at all either. So for myself, I just said I’ve got to stop watching all that and look towards positive things that I can do. Changing the way you live, working from home, all these things. So, the media and all didn’t help because it caused negative emotions.
You got to look towards actually positive things in your life. And I found that, yes, definitely, there were a lot of issues that were stress and anxiety related, which affected the body. As I said, the vagus nerve connects the body. And what happens when you go into fight and flight mode when you are stressed and anxious? It shuts the digestion down. It wants to conserve the energy to be used because it is facing a stressful situation. So as a result, you’re not absorbing the nutrients and your body breaks down.
SR: And many times it starts with IBS and not absorbing, and then it can lead to various issues, skin breakouts, et cetera.
AB: Right. Last year, several people in the first lockdown, and the second lockdown complained about putting on excess weight because they weren’t moving as much. They said, we’re home, so we’re next to a kitchen, and we’re eating more. And then towards the end, towards the holiday time, combined with the stresses of another lockdown, it just seems to have gotten enhanced. So, there is a lot of concern about weight at the moment. What tools can you give people? What advice do you have for people about that?
SR: So, I’ll give the basic advice that I give to a lot of my clients, I just jotted a few points down. And people may either make notes and all, but it must be remembered. It has to be very individualized. And each person has got a different metabolic rate. So there could be things like you need to… first when I get a client, I do check their blood test because it could be something hormonal based like thyroid or something where you’re putting on weight. But if you don’t have issues and you want to know some sort of pointers, I will give you some. Many diets are going around. Like there’s a five-two diet, where you eat for five days, and diet for two. There’s an Atkins diet, there’s a Keto diet, intermittent fasting, whatever works for you. Everybody’s different, so there’s no rule for everyone which is universal. But avoiding sugars, white is poison, that is my first line, and refined grains. Instead, eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains. A Mediterranean-style diet is great. This is quite general, but the main thing that I focus on is that in-between meals do not eat. Try to fast in-between meals. Let your body use your fat for energy in between meals. The idea is not to snack. Many times the stomach is rumbling and my Ayurvedic training tells me that the stomach doesn’t always rumble for food. It may be water that you need, and 90% of the time it needs the water. If you had a full meal at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then you will not need food in between. So the snacking should be out. So, water intake would be much better to have and let your body use fat for energy.
Intermittent fasting— I’m sure a lot of people are going to be wanting to ask me about that. So it doesn’t always work for everyone, but at maximum it has been working. That’s the new way that everybody is looking at right now. Limit the hours of the day when you eat and for the best effect, do it earlier in the day. So for example, you would start at ten and stop at six. Okay, So you would have your three meals within that time. If you want to have two meals, that’s up to you. It’s the way you want to do your intermittent. And after 06:00 p.m., no snacking either. But if you want to make it late, you want to eat at eight and you start at maybe twelve. It works for you. But make sure there’s a four-hour window between the last meal and sleeping. Because if you eat after that, the excess sugar gets turned into fat and it gets stored as fat. So that’s your extra weight.
Eating proteins with each meal will keep your hunger pangs down because protein takes longer to digest and thus sustain your blood sugar levels. Because when blood sugar levels fall, that’s when you feel hungry. And that’s when you get hunger pangs. And the other one, which is a really important one that I give out as advice, is input and output. What you put into the body, if you do not work it out, then that will be stored as fat. So here, exercise is key. So keep moving, keep moving your body, keep moving your mind. Mind exercise is really important to keep your interest going. Make pointers, set goals, and keep yourself busy. I wake up, my diary’s full and it starts getting full from the day before I sleep. I’ll have my points to do for the next day. So there’s never a day… My husband always tells me even if she has nothing to do, she has plenty to do. So these are the main pointers that I give for helping with weight.
AB: Okay and besides intermittent fasting, of all these diets which are going on, is there one that you would choose over the other for your clients?
SR: For me, intermittent somehow doesn’t work. When I wake up, I’m hungry. So that sorts healthy digestion as well. So always the people who don’t like to eat first thing in the morning, either you eat late at night or sometimes your body gets used to being without food till late. So if you are one of those— intermittent works. But for me, what works… I know that you’re going to ask me this question later, but maybe I can expand further. But I have breakfast and then I don’t eat anything till lunch. If I feel hungry, I’ll go and have water, I’ll make herbal tea and then you don’t eat till dinner, which is an early dinner. I eat at about 6:30 or 7:00. So, in between that if I feel hungry I may… Because from 1:00 to 6:00-7:00, it’s a long time. So a five hour gap between meals is ideal because it helps the gut bacteria also rest and do their work. Otherwise, they get confused when you keep on putting food in your mouth. So, fasting between meals and not eating carbs after 06:00 p.m., I mean, these two things, if you remember, can help. And portion control to a certain extent, so don’t eat so much that you feel, oh my God, I’m not going to eat for the next 5 hours, right? So fill your plate and do not go for seconds.
AB: Okay. Interesting. Do not go for seconds.
SR: A few points…
AB: Actually, I find, I make that mistake a lot. I take a little bit, then I take a little bit more and by the end of it, I’ve lost track of how much I’ve eaten.
AB: And tell me what advice… Now from what you’ve told me, right, basically, if you’re stressed, when there’s stress and anxiety, then everything breaks down. That’s when you put on weight, this whole gut-brain connection, and all that. So what would you advise, what tools and advice do you give people for stress and anxiety? And how can nutrition help here and how can homeopathy help you?
SR: Okay, so basically I do a lot of counseling when the client comes in. So I do advise mindfulness in whichever form works for you. There’s an app called Headspace. There’s Calm, maybe that works. For me, I started using Headspace and that relaxed me. And you forget about everything else for that time. There’s yoga also, so whatever works for you. Go for a walk in the fresh air, listen to music, look at nature, be grateful, and look at what’s around you.
So, I know you’ve had other therapists talk about this, but I just feel this goes so much hand- in-hand with nutrition. So I will tell you all the nutritional tools, but this is important to keep your mind healthy, whether it’s a Zoom call with friends, whether it’s a Zumba class that you do— make and set goals and decide what you’re going to do and what you will enjoy.
For me, it’s a Zoom call with friends to voice my anxieties. And you’ll find that everybody else has that and that becomes like a support group and you’ll feel better after that. I’m sure that you do these things. Now, when nutrition goes, I’m going to go slightly more technical here. So there are four happy hormones— serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. So I’m going to concentrate now… I’ll explain to the others, but I will explain to you something called serotonin and melatonin. I’m sure a lot of the people who are listening know about or have heard about melatonin, and they may even have more tablets, to either relax or to help them sleep.
So basically the precursor for this is an amino acid called tryptophan. What are amino acids? Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. So basically one of the building blocks of protein is called tryptophan. And this, naturally, in your body converts to serotonin and then to melatonin. Serotonin is a happy hormone and melatonin is a relaxing hormone, and this should be running in a normal way in your body. Now because of the stress and anxieties, these tend to run low, and the [best] thing to do is to have tryptophan-containing foods. What are tryptophan-containing foods? So, the proteins which are high in tryptophan are— whole milk, maybe some of you can’t have whole milk; canned tuna, turkey, chicken, oats, and cheese. You could also then have a supplement called 5- HTP.
AB: Which is quite in rage right, Shakiba, at the moment?
SR: At the moment it is. And you were also saying that in a health farm, they had mentioned?
AB: Yes, at Viva Mayr, they have mentioned it to me.
SR: So, that is tryptophan, what I just told you. That’s just you giving the precursor for the body to produce melatonin and serotonin naturally. So you would have this an hour before sleeping.
AB: And it is, just to reinstate, it’s not medicine, right? It’s a supplement, correct?
SR: Not a medicine. It’s a supplement. It’s an amino acid that you’re putting into your body which is protein-based. And what they’ve done is they’ve isolated that. So, I like to use… if you want to ask for company, I use a company called Cytoplan because it’s food-based. There are others like Wild Nutrition. So, I like to use food-based ones. What are food-based supplements? They are ones which are made from actual foods? So, they take the tryptophan out of the food, freeze it…
SR: And they put it into a little tablet form. So it’s not a medicine, it’s a supplement made from fruits. And the ideal time to have it is in the evenings, but you could have it in the mornings too. No harm, it will calm you. Then there’s another supplement called Amantilla, made by a company called NeutraMedix. These come in dropper form, it’s homeopathic and you can have it many times in the day.
AB: So, there are two supplements you’ve recommended: 5- HTP and Amantilla.
SR: And I was talking about the other hormones…one was endorphins. As many of you may be knowing, endorphins is the happy hormone that is produced when you exercise. And exercise is very necessary for diets as well, as you know. Your 10,000 steps a day, you could do a class at home, whatever, but whenever you finish that, don’t you come back feeling happy? That is the endorphins that are released and that’s the happy hormone. So that’s another one to help beat your anxiety and stress.
And then there’s oxytocin, which is like… basically it comes out when you are delivering a baby or you’re breastfeeding, or when you hug someone, the warmth, the love. So, I just feel that when you’re with a friend, whether it’s on Zoom or something, you get feelings of— yes, I love that. So that’s a happy hormone. So that’s being in contact with humans, and besides your family, your friends, that’s important. Because we are lacking that in this lockdown period, in this tier 4, whichever one you are in. And then dopamine is also a happy [hormone], the fourth one that I wanted to talk about and that also comes from an amino acid called tyrosine. Again, protein. So increase your protein-based foods. So besides sustaining your blood sugar for your diet, it also helps with your moods. So protein is very important.
AB: So, what proteins here would you recommend for dopamine?
SR: So, for dopamine, there’s a lot of protein, from eggs, soya-based, legumes, these are some of the examples.
AB: Okay, so any protein is fine.
SR: Tyrosine-based protein.
AB: You’re always glowing, you’re always looking slim. You’re always too kind to give us your secret formula.
SR: My first formula is I need to talk to you every day to feel good. I think that gives me my dopamine hit. Well, for me, I think we had a chat about this, I weigh myself every day. I know you do as well.
AB: I do as well.
SR: A lot of the health firms say you don’t…
AB: I hope no one from Viva Mayr’s is listening to this because I get told off every time I go there.
SR: Maybe one of the Viva Mayr people… I might get a call from them. But that somehow worked for me, because I feel that, why not have a cheat day, okay? I feel that I let my clients have their cheat days. Just being healthy doesn’t mean you have yuck food you may not like. Once in a while if you have a pizza or whatever [it’s fine] But if I weigh myself, I do find that the next day the weight does go up. So that keeps you in check, in my opinion. And then you just cut down in a day. I mean, that’s what the five-two diet is doing. It’s letting you eat what you want for the five days, but then two days, you fast. So weighing myself every day has worked for me.
I drink plenty of water in-between meals. I keep myself hydrated. I have something called apple cider vinegar every day that keeps my digestion and skin in a healthy form. I’m very regular with my exercise. Maybe I’m a health freak there because I love my exercise. I love the endorphins. I come from a family where both my parents are on antidepressants and I didn’t want to go down that route. One way out of that route, which I didn’t talk about, which is important, is also vitamin D. And you get that from natural sunlight. So it is much better to get it from sunlight rather than from pills. But there’s never enough sunlight in London. I don’t know how many people from London have joined. So that’s why you do need to know.
AB: But even in places like India, I find people are getting into cars. They’re not walking around so much.
SR: And can I tell you, Asians, we are all lacking in vitamin D because we naturally have a pigment in our skin which prevents the absorption because we are supposed to be in the sun. We are dark because God has made us like this, so that it prevents the harmful effects of the sun. So, vitamin D… But just a little word of caution, do not go around buying thousands and ten thousands [of tablets] and having them daily because you have to watch your levels. That’s why I always see a blood report before I recommend the dosage of vitamin C.
And another thing about sunlight is that it’s very important, the sunlight, for your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is your sleep-waking cycle. So you need to get out into natural light. In this cold weather, it’s -1 sometimes outside, these days. I still put on my warm clothes and I’m out there. It’s very important to get sunlight. The pupils need to change for the sunlight to come, to be absorbed. So I get out every day. I keep going off track from your question, I’m trying to stick to that…
AB: You are giving us all your secret formulas, so it’s great.
SR: And then, of course, portion control. I try my best to not have, and I do limit, carbs at night. I mean, whatever I have suggested, I try to implement them. Practice what you preach is my motto, for sure.
SR: And immune-boosting supplements. I’ll just say a quick word here. Very important to have to keep your health in optimum form— so my four go-to at this point, with this pandemic, which is all over, is vitamin C, thousand milligrams. And what I like is the liposomal sort, and my favourite is Altrient C. Because liposomal means it goes straight into the bloodstream. I have that daily. Zinc, a good multivitamin, a probiotic to keep your gut bacteria in optimal form, because the imbalance causes something called dysbiosis. And the imbalance is largely due to stress. And again, the gut-brain connection. And a good fish oil. Fish oil is omega-3, which is essential because we cannot get enough from the diet.
AB: Yes, agreed. Would you recommend fish oil for that or would you recommend something like flaxseed oil for that?
SR: So, flaxseed is mostly for my vegetarian clients because they won’t have the fish oils. Fish oil from fish is a higher dosage of a more observable omega-3. And flaxseed is very important. We’re talking about flaxseed, flaxseed powder. I have one tablespoon per day because it’s not only omega-3 that’s there, there’s fiber and there’s something called phytoestrogens, which are plant-based estrogens and they are really important for perimenopausal and menopausal women. Okay, so I’m post… sorry to say my age coming out, but I sailed through menopause having this one tablespoon per day, giving you all these very essential ingredients.
AB: Okay, so you’re saying you’ve had both flaxseeds as well as fish oil?
SR: Both, I have both. I have it in powder form. I put it on my porridge every day. So I have that daily. So these two are necessary. If you are not able to have fish oil, then good flaxseed oil supplements are there. They’re good ones. Available as well.
AB: Okay, fabulous. And during the lockdown we’ve had now, we’ve had in different countries, long periods of more or less lockdown. What mistakes have you seen people make? And again, we’ve recently had a lockdown combined with holidays, which is a really lethal combination, I think.
SR: I think that people have let this anxiety get to them and they haven’t made efforts to do positive things. So again, my advice would be to set goals. Think of something that you would like to do the next day. Whether it’s a course, whether it’s a new skill. It’s very important to be looking forward rather than looking at, oh my God, my friend has COVID, now it’s going to get to me. You start imagining you have it. And then of course, the other thing where food and nutrition go, comfort eating and the mistakes people have made to keep the wrong food in the house. Don’t keep it at arm’s length that you will go for that. Find out healthy recipes. Make little things from oats and healthy ingredients, nuts, and make your own snacks. And I’m saying don’t snack, but this could be like a dessert for you. And try to go for the foods that you know are going to be beneficial for your health and body.
AB: Okay. And lastly, what advice do you have for the clients?
SR: Okay, I will repeat, set goals for yourself. Do it. Think positive. Make lists of all the things that you would like to do for which you haven’t had time. Enjoy this time of bonding with your family, with friends on Zoom, and looking at the positive rather than the negative. Be grateful every day, write down a few things that you’re grateful about. You will find your life is still changing. Go out, and admire the thinking of nature. Be thankful.
AB: Yeah. No, I agree. I’m a big believer in gratitude. I’ve seen it change people’s lives. It’s incredible.
SR: It will. But you have to channel your thinking towards that. It’s very easy to think negatively.
AB: And also, once you start living in, life just changes. It just changes.
SR: It changes. Changed for a lot of people. Including us.
AB: Lovely. And what’s your view on pure essential oils for weight loss?
SR: Pure essential oils help you because they relax you. I’m not really into essential oils besides them relaxing and calming you. So that would be helping you in weight loss because then you would think clearly and you would choose the right way forward, whether it’s food, whether it’s exercise, whether it’s to keep your mind healthy.
AB: Okay. How do we consume fruit if we don’t eat between meals? If you can’t eat it as a snack, how would you recommend people consume fruit?
SR: I would prefer you have fruit before meals. Before a meal is the best time, because fruit after a meal would sit on your food, and it would ferment and give you gastrointestinal issues like gas and flatulence. So I would give it… I know Ayurveda says, do not mix fruit with vegetables. I have my fruit in the mornings, if you ask me how I have my fruit. I put it on my porridge with oats. So, it’s a good combination to have with oats made in water. And put some fruits. I put berries. So try and have low-fat fruits. If you’re watching your weight, then you have low-fat fruits such as blueberries, and blackberries. The darker-colored fruits are rich in antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which are good for antioxidants. All the pollutants that you’re taking in, help fight that. Those are antioxidants, the free radicals that you take in. Then I put one tablespoon of flaxseed powder in there, and then I put a little bit of cinnamon— cinnamon helps with your blood sugar, and a couple of walnuts and a few almonds that I’ve soaked the night before because this is easier to digest. So, that gives you your protein. So always mix protein with carbs. I was telling you. So that’s how I would do it.
AB: Okay, fabulous. You know when you’re trying to lose weight, what is a good weight to be losing, say, per week or per month? Because there’s one amount that is too much, and then that’s water weight, and you put it on very quickly. So what shouldn’t we be aiming for?
SR: So basically, too much weight loss at one go. Like a lot of the health firms, they put you on this fasting diet, and what happens? You lose like, five to seven kilos in a week, and you come back. But that doesn’t stay down slowly, you will go back to the weight you started with. So slow and steady is the way to lose. So I would say a kilo a week, a kilo in ten days. And slow weight loss is way better than drastic weight loss. But it all depends on which stage of life you are at. What happens around menopause and later— your metabolism naturally slows down. So you will also lose less as compared to when you were younger, because your metabolic rate is so much higher that you stop eating one day, and then you’ve lost like, two pounds.
But I find that… it takes me much longer to lose weight now than compared [to before]. Also, your food intake needs to go down after a certain time, so you have to be monitored. But keep in mind the other factors, such as thyroid and other hormonal issues which may be impacting the weight. That is why you need to go to a skilled practitioner, as we keep all that in mind, rather than doing a drastic diet on your own.
AB: Okay. Are you an advocate against dairy as well?
SR: So, pretty much, but the odd dairy here and there is fine. Only because it comes from cows and cows have been given antibiotics— dairy has been proven to cause inflammatory reactions, if not compound, something that you’ve already had. So, I would rather go for sheep and goat products. So, dairy has got to do with a cow. So you can have, for example, goats or sheep’s yogurt, which is also higher in probiotics.
AB: Okay. Lovely. Lovely. Thank you, Shakiba. Thank you for being here.
SR: Thank you for having me. Thanks. Bye Anshu.
AB: Take care. Bye-bye. Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the Wellness Curated podcast. Please subscribe and tell your friends and family about it. And here’s to you leading your best life.