Eat, drink and be merry

When should one drink water? Is it correct to drink it before, during or after a meal?

Basically, one should drink water whenever one is thirsty. The urine should always be a light lemon yellow in colour. The best time to drink water is 30 minutes before a meal or one hour after it. There is, however, no hard and fast rule.

Sugar burp

I have had diabetes for 20 years. Of late, I have noticed that I burp a lot and my stomach feels distended whether I have eaten or not.

Delayed gastric emptying does tend to occur in diabetes. There are many reasons for this, such as neuropathy of the vagus nerve, poor muscle tone, weak stomach contractions and myopathy of the stomach muscle. The symptoms can be reduced by eating small, frequent meals while maintaining the total calorie intake, reducing the consumption of milk and milk products, and eating less raw foods such as salads.

Loss of smell

I read that loss of smell is one of the signs of Covid-19 infection. I can’t smell. I am scared.

Loss of smell can occur due various reasons. It may be caused by a common cold with a stuffy nose, a deviated nasal septum, sinusitis, head injury or other neurological problems. If you do not have fever, then just try saline nose drops every two hours followed by steam inhalations. If it does not help clear up your nose in five days, consult an ENT specialist.

Go bananas

My mother says bananas are bad as they cause “cold”. Are they healthy?

Bananas are an excellent complete food. A large banana is around 120 calories, rich in fibre, potassium and Vitamin B. It is an excellent source of slow-release energy and can be taken before exercise. It protects the intestine during diarrhoea. So a banana a day is a good idea.

Snack and workout

After I started working from home, and especially during the festival season, I overeat. Naturally, I am putting on weight.

Place whatever you are going to eat on a plate, this helps with portion control. Do not take a second helping. Walk for 20-30 minutes after a meal to aid digestion. Drink a glass of water 20-30 minutes before your meal. Increase your workouts by 10 minutes.

Prostate pills

I was given tablets for an enlarged prostate. How long do I have to take them?

Before medication was widely available, surgery was the only option for benign prostate enlargement. Medication became widely available in the Nineties. These drugs help reduce the size of the prostate by blocking the hormonal changes that cause the prostate to grow. They need to be taken all your life — if you stop them, the prostate will start to grow again. You also need to go for regular check-ups.

Gout goals

I am on regular medication for gout. Is there anything that I can do to cut down on my medicines?

Gout is hereditary and caused by high uric acid levels in the blood. You may be able to reduce the dosage of your medicines by attaining your ideal body weight (weight divided by height in metre squared should be equal to 23). You could also check if you are on diuretics — these can increase uric acid levels — and stop drinking alcohol. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet and avoid excessive consumption of red meat and shellfish. 

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to

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