Stay well, stay healthy: Sujata Kelkar Shetty offers health and wellness tips in her book, 99 not out!
During the pandemic of the corona virus, people are struggling to stay healthy and deal with various ailments. ‘Sujata Kelkar Shetty's new book, 99 Not out’ shows us how to make wellness an important and positive aspect of life.
Rather than waiting for disease to strike, and thinking about health only when illness hits us, the book shows us how to view health in the first place. We learn that by following certain principles, we can slow down the ageing process and boost our immunity too.
‘Sujata Kelkar Shetty
Through the carefully curated 29 principles laid out in this guide, the author teaches us how living a healthy life is something we must practise in order to be the best version of ourselves.
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender, Sujata talks about her book, 99 Not Out, the arduous research that went into writing it, and her advice to those wanting to live a balanced, healthy, and purposeful life.
YSWeekender: You mentioned following an Ayurvedic diet and falling sick less often. How did you make this a daily practice?
Sujata Kelkar Shetty: Ayurveda is personalised medicine. So, you need to see an Ayurvedic physician to figure out what will work for you. For me what works is being mostly vegan and 100% gluten free.
I have stayed healthy by eating lots of pomegranate, getting enough sleep, walking doing yoga, some weight training and Pilates.
Ayurveda has taught me to be patient with my mind and body when and if I fall sick. I don’t expect to get well instantaneously because I know that it took many months for my mind and body to fall sick in the first place.
I also follow my Ayurvedic doctor’s advice and typically there are several restrictions on food and lifestyle in healing that are imposed but when followed I have found that it boosts my health and wellbeing to another level.
YSW: With the outbreak of coronavirus and cholera now, what do you feel that we as citizens can do to protect ourselves? What do you think we should eat to boost our immunity?
- Wash your hands well and frequently.
- Stay indoors as much as possible
- Cancel going to large gatherings, movie theatres and malls
- Avoid public spaces
- Try to keep your throat moist by sipping water frequently as the corona virus loves a dry throat.
- Don’t eat street food or salads at restaurants.
- Drink boiled and filtered water
To boost your immunity, load up on vitamin C ( either as fresh orange juice or a daily supplement like Celine) take Vitamin D supplements if you are vitamin D deficient (which most of us are and this can be determined with a blood test and should be done every year during the winter months), drink a water-based concoction of tulsi leaves, haldi, ginger and black pepper in the morning when you wake up. Get enough sleep every day. Manage your stress well!
Once you’ve taken the above precautions you must not worry. Worrying is no good for your immunity!
YSW: Can you tell us about yourself?
SKS: I got a BSc in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then I went to the University of Kentucky- Lexington, where I received a Ph.D. in Toxicology. My post-doctoral fellowship was at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.
YSW: Was health and wellness something you were always passionate about? How did you get into this space?
SKS: Yes it was. I studied how immune cells behave in HIV infected individuals during my PhD and then how stress impacts the immune system in my postdoctoral work. I have subsequently been writing and researching on health and wellness in India for the last decade. I have written for several magazines and newspapers on health and wellness.
YSW: How did you get the idea for this book?
SKS: The book is an amalgam of everything I have learnt while writing on Preventive Health in the past decade and more. There was no doubt in my mind by the time I wrote this book, that for a happy and fulfilled life, a strong mind, body and spirit is crucial.
Looking back, the idea for the book was probably seeded when I was working on my post doc at the NIH and I realised that if stress could impact the body in so many ways, then we must expect healing to take place in the same way too.
If the organs of the physical body can be impacted by the mind enough to cause disease then healing must also involve the mind.
YSW: Who was your target audience for this book?
SKS: 30+year-old adults.
YSW: How did you come up with the 29 wellness principles described in your book?
SKS: The principles are everything I have learnt about the mind, body and spirit while writing and researching on health and wellness for the last decade.
YSW: What was the writing process like? Who were some of the key individuals you worked with in the health and wellness sector to make your vision come alive?
SKS: The whole process was long and arduous. I wrote and researched everyday from 9am-12pm till I finished my first draft. The book took a year to write. During that time, I switched off all my devices and told my children’s school to call my admin assistant if they needed to reach me during those hours.
The people I interviewed for the book are many and far too many to list. There are international experts who lent their expertise, and octogenarians and centenarians who lent their stories. Without them this book wouldn’t be half of what it is.
YSW: How are the mind, body, and spirit interconnected according to you?
SKS: Mind-body practices like yoga, meditation and tai-chi help integrate us. And one way that they do this is by strengthening the vagal nerve. The vagal nerve is the physical connection between the brain and the body, which plays a monumental role in keeping us healthy.
I have devoted an entire chapter to the vagal nerve in my book because so few people seem to know about it.
YSW: Who are some of the individuals who have inspired you in the health and wellness space?
SKS: Dr Farokh Udwadia, who wrote the forward for this book is a huge inspiration, especially the he way he heals his patients, his commitment to his work in public health and his own life journey.
Dr Duru Shah is someone who I look up to as well. Her commitment to excellence and to the wellbeing of each one of her patients is something to emulate.
My parent’s values of simplicity, integrity, commitment to public service, and cheerfulness in the face of all of life’s circumstances are what keep me going.
When it comes to my own wellness journey, I am my own inspiration. By that I mean that wellness is a process of self-discovery, learning what works and doesn’t work for you and then doing those things that boost your wellbeing.
You must eliminate the habits that don’t work for you. This is what I suggest in my book to my readers as well!
YSW: What do you enjoy doing on the weekends? What are some of your hobbies? Which you like doing most in your free time?
SKS: I enjoy spending time with my family, my dogs and my friends and I love walking in Cubbon Park.
I enjoy singing Ghazals and bhajans too and I held a concert at the NGMA a few years ago and hope to do another one soon!
I also love baking cakes and cookies for my two sons and that usually happens on Sunday afternoons when the household is calm and the kitchen is clean!
(Edited by Asha Chowdary)