Put Your Anxieties In A Pickle


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health leadWe have all experienced ‘butterflies in our stomach’ when faced by any unexpected, irregular or high-pressure situation. Be it meeting new people or answering probing questions, sitting for an exam or giving a job interview, even the most extroverted among us feel anxious.

Not to worry – because scientists have discovered a method to “potentially help people overcome social anxiety”. A recent study of over 700 college students’ lifestyle, exercise and dietary habits, published in Psychiatry Research, concluded that pickles (including pickled cucumbers and our desi achaars) contain probiotics and bioactive peptides that help alleviate anxiety.

So, how do pickles help you de-stress? Research has established a close link between anxiety and our gastro-intestinal system. The probiotics found in pickles and other fermented foods (including Greek yoghurt, kefir and kimchi) reduce gut inflammation, a known trigger of stress-inducing hormones in the body.

Now the million dollar question is: can overcoming anxiety be as simple as eating pickles? Probably not, says Reid Wilson, author of Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks. Fermented foods can help people experiencing anxiety only to a certain extent, but when these symptoms become chronic, a visit to a psychologist becomes mandatory.

Another researcher, Matthew Hilimire, points out that eating fermented food can reduce but not eliminate anxiety altogether. As for how much fermented foods should people be eating, he advises that for now, “more is better”.

And that is good news for all of us. A Pakistani dastarkhwan is not considered complete without an assortment of achars, chutneys and raita. In the process of writing this piece, I ended up eating pickles everyday and my moods showed a definite turn for the better.

Therefore, the next time you get goose bumps or feel your heart race, take a deep breath and reach out for a jar of pickles.

– Dr. Summaiya Syed-Tariq
The writer works as Senior Medico-legal Officer at the Police Surgeon Office, Karachi.



The Alternative Perks Of Pomegranates


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alt apoIt’s pomegranate season again and making this news ever better is the fact that these fantastic fruits are just as wonderful when applied on your ‘outside’ as they are healthily delectable for your insides.

Health enthusiasts have long had a love affair – and rightly so according to recent research – with pomegranates, gulping down the vitamin rich juice whenever the chance arises. However, most people throw away the peel and seeds, which is a pity as pomegranate powder (made by drying and grinding them) provides myriad health benefits. Continue reading

Here’s To The Six-Hour Work Day


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CareersTwo centuries after British factory owner Robert Owen proposed that a worker’s day should comprise “eight hours of labour, eight hours of recreation and eight hours of rest”, a new HR theory practised in Sweden entails work days that amount to six hours.

The idea behind Sweden’s six-hour work day is to encourage workers to stay focused during the day, complete their tasks and leave on time in order to achieve a better work-life balance. Continue reading

Saving Pakistan’s Wildlife


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3rd boxThe recent furore over the illegal captivity of a baby Ibex in Gilgit-Baltistan by a government official has highlighted the plight of wildlife, rare or otherwise, in a country where few people care.

In this particular case, the captor held onto the Ibex for 10 days before forest officials managed to rescue it and release it in the Kunjerab National Park, where it probably galloped off into obscurity. Continue reading

Yoghurt – Your Heat Wave Essential


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NutrationsWith the Met Office forecasting yet another heat wave – temperatures are expected to soar to 42 degree Celsius until October 21 in Karachi – health officials have issued a warning to people to take precautions to prevent heatstroke. These include using sunscreen, covering their heads and staying hydrated.

Given that recent research has highlighted a host of health benefits found in yoghurt, it is recommended that you have a helping of this ‘cool’ super food every day to stave off heat-related problems.

Nutritionists recommend substituting caffeine and carbonated energy drinks with a yoghurt smoothie to start the day. Or, if you are one of those people whose appetite is reduced in the hot weather, opt for a bowl of yoghurt – with the seasonal fruit of your choice to add flavour and nutrition – for an energy-packed lunch. Continue reading

Will Pakistan’s Amilcar Cross the Chequered Flag In Shanghai?


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AdBuzz LeadThe fifth edition of the Classic Cars Challenge China (4C) – an annual international vintage car rally – began on Friday, October 9. What makes the event all the more exciting is the fact that Pakistan will be one of the 60 countries participating from around the

The Rally flagged off from Beijing and after covering nearly 1,700 kilometres, passing through Hebei Yesanpo, Shijiazhuang, Tai’an, Xuzhou, Yangzhou and Suzhou, will cross the chequered flag in Shanghai on October 17.

Pakistan’s entry, driven by Shahzeb Ul Haq and his wife Anum – members of the Vintage and Classic Car Club of Pakistan (VCCCP) – is a rare 1922 French Amilcar. Only a few models of this car have survived since the company became defunct in 1929. This diminutive, French engineered car – all the more unique because it has retained its original Duval aluminium boat tail shaped body – was discovered in a derelict condition in Karachi four months ago by members of the VCCCP.

Continue reading

Succeeding At The Top


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CareersIn his book Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success (2015), Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner at Millennial Branding (a Gen Y research and management consulting firm), describes why newly promoted managers often hit performance roadblocks.

According to Schawbel, there are five common challenges which new managers face. Here are his solutions on how they can be overcome:

1. Setting clear expectations. Your first task as a new manager should be to call a departmental meeting. At the outset, present a clearly articulated business vision of ‘where’ you see the department in the next three to five years, while outlining ‘how’ to get there. Setting new performance standards and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and establishing SMART goals is crucial in ensuring effectiveness and efficiency. Continue reading

The Perils Of Over Indulgence


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Drs ramble copyFor the past four years, almost like clock-work, Mr S enters my clinic immediately after Bakra Eid, looking miserable. His statement is always the same: “They made me eat too much again and I feel really sick!”

Although I know that freshly roasted kaleji, grilled gurdas and marinated maghaz masala are hard to resist, I tell my patients that the key to staying healthy is not to starve and deprive your body of essential nutrients, but to eat in moderation. As for Mr S, his health issues are compounded by the fact that he has a sweet tooth and believes that “passing up on sheer khorma and mithai is a sin.” No surprise then that every year I end up prescribing digestive tablets and a usually ignored lecture beginning with, “You really need to watch what you eat…” Continue reading

Distinguished Gentlemen In Action


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AdBuzz LeadThe Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) is a motorcycle parade that began in 2012. It was established by Mark Hawwa in Australia, and has so far been held across 406 cities in 79 countries. Next Sunday, on September 27, it will hit the roads in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for the second consecutive year.

DGR aims to raise awareness for prostate cancer as well as change the negative stereotypes associated with heavy bikers; the latter is done by ensuring that all participants are dressed to impress. Interestingly enough, Hawwa’s inspiration to create DGR came from the series finale of the well-known TV show Mad Men, in which the protagonist, Don Draper (played by John Hamm), rides off on a Vintage Café Racer to join a hippie commune, wearing a crisp three piece suit. Continue reading

Prepare For Bakra Eid


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3rdIt’s almost that time of the year when hunks of beef, racks of lamb and mutton legs will grace your dinner table once again. Although these meaty meals are the tradition at Eid-ul-Azha, they require a great deal of time to prepare – time that would be better spent enjoying the festivities with your friends and relatives. The good news is that there are plenty of gadgets and make-ahead tips to make life easier.

A new set of good quality knives, although pricey, would be an excellent investment. Not only will they last for years, they will make the experience of slicing and dicing much easier. And while you are at it, look into buying an electronic knife; your roast beef platter will look so much nicer with evenly sliced pieces of meat glistening with well-made gravy. Continue reading


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