Health Expo speakers address full house; topics hit home with timely issues

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While the first-ever Indian and South Asian Health Expo was a great success this past weekend, with approximately 700 attending over the day-long event at the Marriott Hotel in Newton, Mass., on April 27, particularly popular was the speaker series, which had a packed hall filled with attentive listeners being addressed on a number of health-related topics.

The Health Expo was sponsored The Indian Medical Association of New England and INDIA New England news, as well as 15 community and professional organizations, including the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and the Association of Pakistani Physicians of New England, and 24 exhibitors.

The event, which was free for the attendees, brought the area’s major hospitals and health-care providers together with the Indian and South Asian community in New England to educate them about common diseases and their prevention. The Health Expo is the first major collaborations with community groups on such a large scale, according to organizers.

While the exhibition hall had an array of health info, services and organizations on display, many spent a large portion of the day listening to the speakers.

The lineup included: “Indian Diet: Friend or Foe?” — Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, CDE; “Heart Disease: Prevention and Management: an Indian Perspective” — Dr. Salil Midha; “Yoga Therapy for Your Health” — Jay Gupta; “Success Unprecedented: Unleash the Power of Mind to Realize Your Full Potential” — Dr. Sanjiv Chopra; “Osteoporosis: the Silent Disease” — Dr. Onaly Kapasi; “Key Issues in Woman’s Health and Wellbeing” — Dr. Pankaj Shah; “Diabetes in Indians: What We Need to Know to Protect Us and Our Children” —Dr. Om Ganda; “Primary Prevention with Ayurveda” — Pratibha Shah; and “Anti-Aging Therapy: Rejuvenation for the Face: Something Old and Something New” — Dr. Sonal Pandya.

Pradhan’s talk on “Indian Diet: Friend or Foe?” revealed some very interesting insight on the common Indian diet and ways to eat healthy in the confines of the Indian diet. “You can see how powerful food can be in reducing your risk factors,” Pradhan said.

One of the things she pointed out is that synergy in the food you eat is crucial to a health diet. “They work together to form something that is grand and absolutely greater than the sum of its parts,” she said. “The traditional Indian diet can be well balance and nutritious.”

Gupta’s talk on yoga impressed upon the audience that yoga is a very good tool for improving the body and the mind. Physically yoga can improve systems such as muscular, metabolic, cardiovascular, endocrine and immune, lungs and bowels. “Yoga has a direct and immediate impact,” he said.

Gupta also pointed out that yoga is increasing becoming viewed for its medical benefits. “Yoga therapy is like personalized medicine. It is a new trend in our medical system,” he said.

If anything yoga is a great boost for energy. “After doing normal exercises we feel tired and we don’t want to do more. After doing yoga we have more energy,” he said.

He also dismissed concerns that yoga is difficult to learn. “I’m not talking about handstands or headstands. If people can stand on their feet or sit on a chair they can do yoga,” Gupta said.

Dr. Ganda’s talk on “Diabetes in Indians: What We Need to Know to Protect Us and Our Children” hit on a topic critical and close to home for most Indians. “This is a very big problem that we are facing,” he said.

The numbers are stunning: 63 million people in Indian have diabetes; Type 2 diabetes affects 90-95 percent of Indians.

Ganda said that the biggest reason for increased diabetes in Indians is that, while the Indian genitive makeup has not changed, there have been changes in the lifestyles of most Indians. The changes that have had the most impact are less exercise and living a more sedimentary existence.

He suggested two things that can really reduce the risk of diabetes: 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, five days a week; and eating a variety of foods that are low in fat.

According to Ganda, the problem of diabetes in Indians is secret no more, but the battle is far from over. “I go to India several times a year and everywhere I go in India people are getting the message, but there is still more to go.”

Shah’s talk on “Primary Prevention with Ayurveda” proved a different view point than a lot of the other medical topics, stressing the need to consider other options for primary prevention.

She walked through the daily regime of Ayurveda practices for the audience and shared personal insight and tips on how certain practices can really improve health.

She also placed a big emphasis on diet and said that most can really improve their health just by improving food choices. “Please pay attention to the source of your food,” Shah said. “It is an investment in your health to eat organic.”



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