Diwali – the festival of lights, is here! Diwali is synonym with great food, colorful rangoli, festive lights, new decorative attire, and a vibrant fireworks display. Are you looking forward to the celebrations and spending time with your family? As you get caught up in the festivities, it’s equally crucial to remember to stay safe during Diwali to avoid mishaps. Thousands of people visit the Emergency Room each year during Diwali because of unexpected accidents, burn injuries, exacerbation of asthma and heart attacks. Some of the injuries can have a permanent impact on your life. Firecrackers for example cause also harm to our environment by being both an air and a noise pollutant. Here are a few healthy and safe tips to celebrate Diwali as shared by Dr. M S Meenakshi, Cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Vadapalani.
Bursting crackers should be avoided:
Burning rubbish, dry leaves, a bonfire, firecrackers or any smoke can cause significant short- and long-term health risks. People with pre-existing allergic diseases may have worsening of their symptoms due to carbon / metal particles from fumes and chemical vapors from firecrackers. Smoke particles can adhere to the nostrils and stay there for an extended period, triggering allergic rhinitis, asthma and can lower the immunity. The increase of harmful gases in the blood maybe detrimental for patients with pre-existing cardiac diseases and hypertension. The toxic gases and heavy metals released from smoke maybe carcinogenic and leads to cancers. It also exacerbates pre-existing lung diseases.
Excess sound from firecrackers may increase your heart rate and blood pressure and thereby leading to plaque ruptures and increased incidence of heart attacks. So, use silent crackers.
Before lighting Diya/candles, do not use a sanitizer:
Before lighting your Diyas or candles, avoid using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Sanitizer bottles are commonly found in homes as individuals keep them on hand as a routine practice since the commencement of COVID 19 pandemic. Sanitizers are combustible as they contain alcohol and can readily catch fire resulting in severe burn injuries, that may result in permanent deformities. So before lighting Diyas / candles / firecrackers we recommend that you wash your hands with soap and water; and keep your sanitizer bottles in a secure location away from fire.
Choose your food wisely:
When you think of Diwali, thoughts of mouthwatering dishes, delicacies and sweets flood our mind. On this occasion, people also take non-vegetarian diet with more spice and oil, dumping their stomach with more proteins. We recommend you take less spicy and less oily foods with a balance of proteins and vegetables.
Stay away from street food and purchase food and sweets from trusted sources that guarantee their quality; or preferably make sweets and food at home because it is hygienic and prepared with love and care. Before eating, make sure you and your children wash your hands properly.
An eye on blood sugar:
Indians from all four corners (Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Arunachal to Gujarat) love and cherish sweets. A festival is seen often as the best occasion to indulge. However, these indulgences will have harmful effects in the long term. India being ‘the diabetic capital of the world,’ and Indians being genetically at risk of diabetes, are advised to restrict the intake of sweets to a minimum to keep blood sugar levels under control. If you wish to celebrate the occasion with sweets, you may consider a limited intake of sweets / sugar-free sweets and drinks.
Gift good health:
Diwali is the occasion when people exchange gifts with their friends and loved ones. Think and make sure that your gifts are healthier with low calories rather than the usual sugar and ghee-rich sweets. You can consider gifting healthy fresh fruits, dry fruits, and nuts for this season. Almonds are one best example, as it lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol and is beneficial for a healthy heart. Healthy gifting inculcates good healthy habits in the recipients and indicates that you care about the health of your dear ones.
Also, at the time of this pandemic, we recommend you to continually adhere to all COVID protocols (Social distancing, Masking, and Sanitizing) while handling the gifts and during gatherings to double your joy and safety.
Vigilant and responsible with glass:
Diwali is the time to meet friends and loved ones to share your joy and happiness. For some, the celebration and enjoyment would be with sweets and food, for others it’s with a glass of alcoholic beverage. When you are catching up with friends it’s easy to consume a little excess of alcohol. This will adversely impact your health, including hardening your arteries, affecting the liver and kidney. Excess alcohol combined with excess food leads to more incidence of heart attacks during the Diwali occasion. Hence, we advise being mindful about your alcohol consumption.
Also, please make sure that neither you nor your friends try to drive under the influence of alcohol, as it may lead to irrecoverable damages.
Festive occasions are enjoyable and exciting for everyone. As a socially responsible person, it is your duty to ensure that senior citizens and sick individuals in your neighborhood also have a safe and enjoyable Diwali. Take care of your health as well, so that you can enjoy Diwali and cherish the memories for many more years. These small tips will assist you in ensuring a safe and healthy Diwali.
Dr. M. S. Meenakshi, Cardiologist @ Fortis Hospital, Vadapalani.