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Is Shisha/Hookah Smoking Safe For You? Our Expert Debunks Myths And Facts

The Kashmir Monitor




“Cigarette smoking is a health hazard,” correction, “Smoking is a health hazard altogether!”

A glass-bottomed water pipe, some fruit flavored tobacco and roasted charcoal, shisha is so relaxing and so much safer than cigarette smoking. Turns out, this is not true.

If you believed that smoking shisha/hookah is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes, check your facts. This habit can have repercussions worse than those of smoking cigarettes.


Where young adults meet in shisha cafes, sharing the pipe with each other and enjoying a peaceful and relaxing time, they fail to realize that they are doing worse to their lungs that they could do with cigarettes.

But the water in hookah absorbs all the toxins right? Well, it doesn’t!

And it’s not just water, even if you prepare a milk-based hookah; it is not going to be any better. No matter what you use as a base, the effect of hookah on your body will not be a positive one.

Dr. Himanshu Garg explains this. He says, “Hookah is as harmful as cigarettes. People have this perception that it is safer because smoke passes through the water but that has been proven wrong. While smoking hookah, people tend to inhale very deeply and people do it all day long which makes it a part of the culture. It might be a little milder but turns out that the impact will be the same altogether.”

In fact, smoking hookah exposes you to more tobacco due to the excess amount of smoke that you inhale in one go which is much more than cigarettes. Hookah lasts for more than an hour as compared to a little cigarette which goes out in just a few minutes.

A World Health Organisation report suggests than smoking a hookah for an hour is as bad as smoking a 100 cigarettes or more. So if you feel that opting for hookah is cooler and safer, trust us, it’s not. Even if the tobacco passes through water, the cancer-causing chemicals are still there which can affect you with lung and heart cancer.
Take a look at the potential risks involved with smoking shisha:

1. Smoking hookah exposes you to more toxic compounds and high levels of tar. Also, people smoking hookah are exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide.
2. Hookah smoking can lead to lung cancer, heart diseases, oral cancer and other health risks.

3. Hookah smoking does not guarantee lower levels of nicotine; it can actually be more than that.

4. Second hand smoking risk is greater.

5. If pregnant women smoke shisha during pregnancy, it can result in low birth weight.

6. You never know the hookah pipes in shisha cafes are cleaned properly or not. This can mean a high risk of infections like Hepatitis, meningitis and even tuberculosis in some cases.

7. Hookah smoking can also harm your fertility.

8. It may also lead to wrinkled skin and impotence in extreme cases.

How to quit?

Dr Garg gives his inputs as to how you can quit smoking altogether. He says, “Giving up smoking like they say is like going up a mountain. You may fail some attempts but eventually you will climb the mountain. There are two basic issues involved with it. One is Nicotine addiction and the second is identifying and preventing the basic queues for smoking.”

Dr Garg explains queues as the excuses you make for smoking. For example, after every meal you feel like smoking or even when you wake up you feel the need to smoke. It becomes an automatic behaviour.

He says, “We encourage people to identify these queues and write them down and then work around them. Instead of smoking, you could go for a coffee or juice or any other substance. For nicotine addiction, we recommend nicotine substitution therapy.”

(Dr Himanshu Garg is the Head of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at the Artemis Hospital.)



5 Foods That Will Detoxify Your Lungs And Heal Them Naturally

The Kashmir Monitor



Are you a chain smoker? Do you live in a polluted area? Our lungs are a vital organ and the most ignored organ of our body. It is through them that we breathe.

Consequently our lungs are also sucking in harmful elements from the air around us. They are exposed to harmful pollutants and microbes that get deposited from the air we inhale. For people who smoke, their healthy lungs turn black with the deposition of tar in their lungs. Regular detoxification of lungs will help in smooth functioning and help in expulsion of toxins. Thus it is important that we choose healthy foods to cleanse our lungs, so as to reduce common lung diseases and respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and cystic fibrosis.

Some foods which are great for good lung health are listed below:


1. Garlic: The anti-inflammatory properties along with a high level of allicin helps to fight infections and reduces inflammation. Garlic has also been considered by many as being an effective remedy in improving asthma and can help to reduce the risk of lung cancer.

2. Apples: An apple is healthy, loaded with nutrients, high energy, high fiber, low calorie food. Its flavonoids and the wide variety of vitamins, and antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, helps us to maintain a strong immune system and a healthy respiratory system. When we have healthy respiratory functions, we can fight off lung diseases and prevent them naturally.

3. Ginger: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties ginger will help to clear your lungs naturally. You can add ginger to various dishes as it is a widely used herb. Also you can add it in your morning tea.You can also use it to prepare ginger tea blended with some lemon in it. This is beneficial to remove toxins from the respiratory tract.

4. Green tea: Drink a cup of your favourite herbal green tea before going to bed to release toxins in the intestine that can lead to constipation or other stomach ailments. You should refrain from overloading your lungs with tedious work during this purification process.

5. Lentils: In order to optimize the oxygen transportation faculties of the lungs, healthy hemoglobin levels are absolutely critical. Hemoglobin is a protein molecule that is found in red blood cells and aids in transporting oxygen from the lungs to body tissue. As an added benefit, hemoglobin stimulates the internal processes that returns carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be expelled from the body. Black beans, cow peas, dried peas, lentils, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and soybeans are some foods containing properties that raise hemoglobin levels. Additionally, supplement beans and lentils with vitamin-C rich foods to maximize iron absorption.

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Fasting may help keep age-related diseases at bay: Study

The Kashmir Monitor



Fasting can boost the body’s metabolism and help protect against age-related diseases, a study has found. The circadian clock operates within the body and its organs as intrinsic time-keeping machinery to preserve homeostasis in response to the changing environment. While food is known to influence clocks in peripheral tissues, it was unclear, until now, how the lack of food influences clock function and ultimately affects the body.

“We discovered fasting influences the circadian clock and fasting-driven cellular responses, which together work to achieve fasting-specific temporal gene regulation,” said Paolo Sassone-Corsi, a professor at the University of California, Irvine in the US. “Skeletal muscle, for example, appears to be twice as responsive to fasting as the liver,” said Sassone-Corsi.

The research, published in the journal Cell Reports, was conducted using mice, which were subjected to 24-hour periods of fasting. While fasting, researchers noted the mice exhibited a reduction in oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and energy expenditure, all of which were completely abolished by refeeding, which parallels results observed in humans.


“The reorganisation of gene regulation by fasting could prime the genome to a more permissive state to anticipate upcoming food intake and thereby drive a new rhythmic cycle of gene expression,” he said. “In other words, fasting is able to essentially reprogram a variety of cellular responses. Therefore, optimal fasting in a timed manner would be strategic to positively affect cellular functions and ultimately benefiting health and protecting against ageing-associated diseases,” said Sassone-Corsi.

The study opens new avenues of investigation that could ultimately lead to the development of nutritional strategies to improve health in humans.

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High-fibre diet lowers risk of death, non-communicable diseases: Lancet

The Kashmir Monitor



Eating up to 30 grams of naturally-occurring dietary fibre — such as whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits — daily may prevent the risks of developing non-communicable diseases, finds a review of studies published in the journal The Lancet.

The results suggest a 15-30 per cent decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality; and reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, Type-2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24 per cent.

Increasing fibre intake is associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intake or synthetic and extracted fibre.


“Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fibre and on replacing refined grains with whole grains. This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases,” said Professor Jim Mann, from the University of Otago, New Zealand.

“Fibre-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favourably influence lipid and glucose levels.

“The breakdown of fibre in the large bowel by the resident bacteria has additional wide-ranging effects including protection from colorectal cancer,” Mann said.

Protection against stroke, and breast cancer also increased. Consuming 25-29 grams each day was adequate but the data suggest that higher intakes of dietary fibre could provide even greater protection.

The researchers included 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adult participants.

The study also found that diets with a low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load provided limited support for protection against Type 2 diabetes and stroke only.

Foods with a low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load may also contain added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

However, high intakes might have ill-effects for people with low iron or mineral levels for whom high levels of whole grains can further reduce iron levels, the researchers noted.

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January 2019
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