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Stay hale & hearty: Author of 'Total Wellness and Fitness' Heema Shanker reveals tips for a healthier life


1st Dec 2021 Wellbeing

Stay hale & hearty: Author of 'Total Wellness and Fitness' Heema Shanker reveals tips for a healthier life

Author of plant-based diet and nutrition cookbook, 'Total Wellness & Fitness,' with over 40 years of culinary art experience and experiments and 35-years-long yoga, meditation, psychology, nutrition, and spiritual understanding, Heema Shanker reveals the ultimate secret to living a healthy life.

If you suffer from bouts of irritability or lethargy, there is an emerging need to fix your diet. Your habit could immensely impact how you feel. To sustain your moods on an even keel and boost energy levels up, Heema Shanker, author of the incredible plant-based diet and nutrition cookbook, 'Total Wellness & Fitness,' reveals some top tips below. She is certified in nutrition and has garnered exposure to certain diet research such as the Keto diet, Aat-kin diet, Paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, Ayurvedic diet, and Naturopathy diet, making her subject-matter expert.

Heema Shanker explained that the ultimate secret to staying on top of your health is to adopt a well-balanced, plant-based diet, which fuels your body with adequate nourishment. A plant-based diet is more beneficial to maintain the health of your body, mind, and soul.

"Our inability to make healthy food choices, topped with the deficiency of structure around meals, decreased movement, for some, low vitamin D levels, and even immense emotional stress amid pandemic triggers our inflammation, making us gain weight as a means to soothe ourselves on a conscious and subconscious level," she said.

Shanker elucidated that why a whole foods-based, vegan diet is so vital for human health is because of the power of plants: "Eating plant-based foods is miraculous as it supports the natural movement and pharmacy of our body in the best manner. Fiber from grains aids digestion and eliminates toxins from our bodies while regulating blood sugar. Fruits and vegetables give us vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, boosting our immune system and inflammatory response," she said. "While plant-based proteins like legumes and nuts/seeds offer essential amino acids and omegas, regulating our nervous system to dispense the hormones required to keep us calm, grounded, and receptive to stay healthy and active," she added.

Explaining why she prefers a plant-based diet over meat; is because some plant-based food recipes are about "fermented and cultured" food consumption. In essence, some lentils and flours are fermented to provide the most vital macro-nutrients that people think can be consumed only via meat. Another aspect of fermented protein and carb is the consumption of living bacteria or microbes in the growth process. By eating meat, you consume dying bacteria or microbes. The moment it's slaughtered, it starts to perish and diminishes. It's not growing; it's dying. Dying microbes can not form healthy guts and become a source of diseases in the human body.

Heema Shanker also talked about how modern individuals have underestimated the power of breakfast. "Breakfast really is the essential meal of the day. I see so many teens and adults skipping breakfast, gulping just coffee. However, our body necessitates a well-rounded breakfast that will power up our day, including a serving or two of whole-grains, fruit - whole fruit, rather not just juice, to ensure ample fibers intake and a portion of high-protein food, such as low-fat yogurt, as the culture of the yogurt contains not only protein and carb but also vital vitamins. Some of the Bactria in yogurt does not die even at high temperature. These colonies of healthy microbes benefit our entire digestive system from mouth to anus. The carbohydrates kick-start your metabolism, fueling your brain fuel to function all morning long, while protein helps you stay full until lunchtime rolls around," she said.

The most astonishing aspect of balance-diet that Heema Shanker exposed is that it's particularly significant to eat protein at lunch to avoid that afternoon slump. As protein contains amino acids, such as tyrosine, the building block for alertness-boosting neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that relay signals between nerve cells), protein is a staple to fade away mid-day blues.

It was indeed a revelation, provided that lunchtime is mostly known for munching on salads filled with greens to the brim. Adding red beans or chickpeas could fill the protein's void. In fact, the protein from chickpeas and other varieties of tiny brown chickpeas is produced mainly in India. Its flour called 'besan' consumed in Gujarat, India, has the equivalent protein in almost all the recipes as chicken.

It is also vital to incorporate plenty of carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruit, beans, brown rice, and whole-grain bread or pasta. But, choose wisely, especially if you're running on overdrive: our stressful lives often leads to a craving for carbohydrates as they boost serotonin, inducing a calming effect. 

"When you're in that stress state, it's easy to succumb to chips, cookies, pretzels, or other highly refined carbohydrate snacks.  But, instead, try to fulfill your carb craving by munching on some "good carbs" like whole grains and fruits, which also offer you a nutritional boost in the bargain. Some staple snacks to have on hand include whole-grain granola bars, fresh or dried fruits, and whole-grain crackers. Choosing the right carbohydrates can help increase the nutritional content of your meals and snacks," said Shanker.

An added savvy piece of advice to keep in mind while embarking on the total wellness and fitness journey is to incorporate scheduled fasting into your eating routine. Heema Shanker also revealed insights into her accidental discovery about the extreme benefits of fasting in the book 'Total Wellness And Fitness To Body, Mind, And Spirit.' She now practices 36 hours long fasting—one day and two nights—frequently, taking inspiration from Indian communities who fast ten days in a row without food and water.

Many Indians fast during the Navratri festival, while in another Jain community, people fast for ten days without food and water, during Pariusha, a designated time of the year, when everyone in a community does this spiritual fasting together. The benefit of ten days of fasting without food and water is to give total rest to the entire digestive system from the mouth to the anus. Another benefit of ten days of fasting is not just weight loss; it's the elimination of the bad bacteria or microbes from the entire digestive system.

"The ten days of fasting benefits are not merely at the physical level. I have experienced stunning results at the mental and spiritual levels. Since my childhood, I have felt some kind of mental control of some energy or abstract personalities over my existence. Even after many attempts to go against, often I could not fight back to those control. However, I have constantly been watching over my thinking process since childhood. When I fasted for ten days, I found the control of such an entity was lost, and I felt relieved of bondage given by them.

Also, I started to perceive that entity in profundity, and I have been learning how to deal with that entity. We interact with many people during our day-to-day life, which bombards us with a lot of thoughts at an abstract level affecting our mind sphere. When fasting those adverse bonding, I felt diminishing," she said.

By practicing fasting and adopting a plant-based diet regimen when she was not fasting, Heema Shanker was able to reduce 18 pounds; her sugar level came to total control as well — in between 75 and 95, that has never been the case even with metformin pills. "I relished fresh breath, and I think it eliminated microbes from my mouth to anus. I also followed a plant-based diet, losing another 10 to 12 pounds along with fasting. It's more energetic, and I discovered why people are obese nowadays, which stirred me to narrate my life-transforming journey to benefit others, empowering them to live the healthy life they deserve. Thus, I decided to write my nutrition cookbook to take readers on the ultimate healing journey, manifesting total wellness and fitness to body, mind, and spirit.

In the conversation, Heema Shanker also busted the myth about total wellness and fitness, describing that total wellness does not depend on diet alone; we need to work on all three physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. "This overall journey is not easy and is extremely tedious, but it's permanent and leads us toward perfection. In my personal experience and experiment, I have worked towards perfection for about four decades and still working on it. With my guidance, it's possible in a very little period of time. We may notice changes in a few months by following it right. We generally believe that our nature and mentality are fixed, permanent, and not changeable—people born with different abilities and capacities. In my opinion, it is very much possible to develop talent and abilities that we are not born with. When I talk about mental and spiritual fitness, I believe in correcting the thinking behavior and attempting to think right at all times. People assume there's no one to listen to our thoughts and voices, but that's not true. Multiple abstract personalities hear our voices. And each and every thought has its own effect, that is not only on ourselves but also on the people whom we interact with and think about. Only if we foster a positive mindset can we attain total wellness and ultimately achieve anything we set our eyes on, " she concluded.

In her book, Heema Shanker created a concoction of certain articles on diet, nutrition, Indian plant-based diet, fasting benefits and experiments, spiritual fasting, master diet plan, and listed 17 master recipes that are the essence of her 40 years of culinary art experience and experiments. In her 35-years-long yoga, meditation, psychology, nutrition, and spiritual understanding, Shanker also has an article published on total wellness and fitness for physical, mental, and spiritual upliftment, which is the essence of her life experiences and experiments in overall development for body, mind, and spirit. Revealing more about yoga, she explained that it means 'union' in the literal sense. It deals with the breathing technique mainly.

She explained the highest form of breathing technique is when a man and woman unite. The true purpose of union has been forgotten and is now primarily done to reproduce and have pleasures. At the time of the process, if one practices' deep breath' and 'controls' it, the body fluids rise from the base to the brain. Then it flows back down. It's like stirring the entire liquid contents of the body. So it removes stagnation in the body of any sort and enables circulation. More than 75% of our body consists of fluids. Besides Union, yoga is about uniting two different energies at an abstract level. In general, people think that yoga is only at the physical level. However, Shanker clears the misconception; yoga is done at the spiritual level as well. 

Heema Shanker's first volume consists of scrumptious recipes that span global cuisines, bringing the palate to your plate from all around the world. The book is truly the encyclopedia for plant-based recipes from starters to soups, breakfast, to desserts. She is currently working on her second volume, which will extend on her life-transforming wellness journey narrated in the published book. She wishes to expand on the experiment on ten-day of fasting experience in detail with some new plant-based recipes that will leave your tastebuds tantalized.

We cannot wait to try out these recipes and indulge in a mouth-watering yet healthy diet! Bon Appétit!

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