|SPORTS & WELLNESS|
Spit and span
Spit and span
The Capital is getting all dressed up for
the Commonwealth Games, but is it well mannered enough for the event?
The Commonwealth Games organisers appear pleased with the way tickets for the event are selling. But with less than four months to go for the October 3-14 games, it would be quite in order to ask how prepared the Capital is to host the mega show. Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has been aggressively touting that Delhi was on the way to becoming a world-class city. Now, what makes a city world class?
For all those flyovers, what about the pot-holed roads? The traffic lights that don’t function? Traffic snarls? The ugly, uncleared refuse dumps with cows, dogs and crows rummaging into the garbage? The inadequate public transport? (What about the CM and her officers once in a while riding on the public buses to show that they are leading the aam aadmi by example?) What about people wantonly spitting all over the place? Car owners opening the windows of their airconditioned vehicles to unabashedly spatter the road with red paan spittle? If that wasn’t repulsive enough, what of the sight of men unzipping and standing against a wall? One hopes they are able to resist the urge at least when the Queen’s Baton Relay is being run in October. A city can’t be world class if its citizens lack elementary civic sense.
One has learnt of counsellors holding special sessions for the benefit of autorickshaw drivers, who are being taught basic lessons in politeness and the art to keeping their cool. But for all that, they can’t resist the temptation of demanding at least a ‘tenner’ over and above the fare shown on the meter. “CNG bahut mehnga hai,” they remind you (CNG has become very costly). How about a vigorous drive against spitting and littering, now that Delhi is said to be the country’s greenest metropolis?
There is little time to lose. When the monsoon sets in, in about a fortnight’s time, the pace of work will inevitably slow down. That is precisely the time of year when the potholes on the roads become deeper and wider. If past experience is any guide, all government and municipal agencies will have their hands full coping with emergencies like floods and waterlogging. Road repairs, they’ll tell us, can come later.
So, why was work not completed earlier? Events like the Commonwealth Games are allotted to cities several years in advance. You see, everyone loves to delay work. One suspects there is a vested interest in delay. Anybody can get things done over a long period of time. The real art is in rushing through a task after putting things off until you are desperately late, just like the big Hindu wedding.
The city’s netas, who should be worried about getting roads and traffic lights repaired, of ensuring uninterrupted supplies of power and water and smooth transportation, are said to be eying the flats being built for housing athletes; that, too, at concessional prices and not at the prevailing market prices. To return to the sale of tickets. At least someone in the Games organising committee remembered to show due courtesy to the office of the city’s Mayor by presenting him with a ticket along with one to the state’s Lt. Governor, even if they forgot to send an invite to the state’s Chief Minister herself for the ceremony. It couldn’t have been a case of oversight. The lady has taken the slight in her stride.
For centuries, in many regions, salt was highly prized and hard to come by. One cannot imagine food without the special taste and flavour of common salt. All those curries, dals as well as savoury snacks would lose their appeal if that little pinch of salt were omitted from their recipe.
So what is all this hue and cry about salt being harmful to health?
Table salt or sodium chloride is 40 per cent sodium. All health professionals agree that sodium is an essential nutrient for the human body.
Sodium has an important role in maintaining the water balance within cells and in the function of both the nerve impulses and muscles. An adequate intake of sodium is also required for the optimal growth of fat, bone and muscle tissues. Severe sodium restriction may negatively affect your glucose metabolism and disturb normal blood viscosity. It is also found that sodium deficiency can induce behavioral changes, such as reduced motivation, fatigue, and feelings of depression.
How much sodium does our body need?
Normally, our diet provides an adequate amount of sodium required for our body. In fact, a deficiency of sodium occurs only if there is excessive loss due to vomiting or diarrhoea or some metabolic defect. The maximum recommended level of sodium intake for a normal individual is 2.4 g per day, which is about a teaspoonful of table salt.
If one sticks to a simple home-cooked food, the odds are that this limit will not be exceeded. But you are definitely in trouble if you are fond of processed and preserved food. Did you know that all the yummy processed cheeses, ready-to-eat soups and sauces, canned and preserved foods, cured meats, pickles, potato chips, pappads are loaded with sodium.
Why is excess sodium harmful?
Sodium intake is one factor involved in the development of high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. Hypertension tends to develop as people age. Some individuals are "salt sensitive," so reducing the intake of sodium helps to reduce blood pressure levels. A high intake of sodium early in life might weaken the genetic defences against developing high blood pressure. Experts recommend not to wait and see if you develop hypertension, but to reduce the sodium intake while blood pressure is still normal. This may decrease your risk of developing hypertension. Of course,`A0other equally important considerations are healthy eating, maintaining ideal body weight, physical exercise, stress management and the amount of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet. Foods rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium are strongly recommended as protective measures against hypertension.
Consuming excess sodium may lead to edema or water retention. Women who suffer from bloating and water retention as a part of the premenstrual syndrome definitely feel better if they take less salt. Women who consume excess sodium may be at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis even if the calcium intake is adequate. Athletes and heavy labourers are sometimes concerned about not getting enough sodium to replace what is lost through perspiration. However, salt tablets are not recommended. They may increase dehydration and actually lower performance. Sodium losses are easily replenished at the next meal in a healthy individual.
Where is this sodium hiding in our food?
Sodium is naturally present in most foods. Green leafy vegetables like palak, methi, and other vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower are among the natural foods which have a higher sodium content. But it is important to note that this amount is not as harmful as the sodium added to the preserved and processed foods. Most of the sodium in processed foods is added to preserve or flavour in them. Salt is the major source of this sodium. Salt is added to most canned and some frozen vegetables, smoked and cured meats and pickles. It is used in most cheeses, sauces, soups, salad dressings and many breakfast cereals. Salt is the major, but not the only, source of sodium in processed food products. Any ingredient that has sodium, salt or soda as part of its name (monosodium glutamate, baking soda, seasoned salt, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate) contains sodium. Soy sauce and other condiments used as ingredients also contribute sodium.
The writer is a dietician with the Department of Dietetics, PGI