Secret to Staying Young and Healthy

Published in Hilal English

Written By: Dr. Anum Hussain

How do you define beauty? If you ask this simple question from different age groups you may get a diverse response. For example, a teen’s reply would be different from a 25-years-old adult. Their answers will be based on a certain defined criteria set in their minds, for instance; skin tone, height, and hair, whilst others would decide based on different factors of persona like self-belief, speaking style, dressing sense, etc. but this isn't the end; additionally you may receive responses like beauty is directly proportional to age. According to them, if he/she crosses certain line of age then they aren't eligible to be called beautiful and sadly majority of the crowd would assume this false belief as a universal criteria. Now you must be thinking a doctor would provide you a catalogue of anti-aging treatments like botox, rehydrating fillers, meso-therapy, photo-facials, non-surgical facelifts and a never ending list of treatments. Being a doctor I clearly admire the outstanding progress in medical and health science. Allow me discuss some vital facets that are normally neglected in the process of achieving beauty targets or simply looking young.

Take a deep breath and accept the fact that aging is a natural process and there's no direct or inverse relation between age and beauty, Why? Because the former is simply a number and latter is a mixture of mind and personality. This growing old process affects every single cell of your body including all your internal and external organs. In general skin is the largest external organ of human body and usually this organ is our main concern. With advancing age skin becomes fragile, bruised, tough, and slack due to thinning of dermis and loss of support around the blood vessels. So in case you are thinking about the usage of anti-aging creams or are in search of anti-aging treatments and you think it is going to make you younger then please take a moment here and think about those billions or trillions body cells that make your other vital organs like heart, kidneys, liver, muscular tissues, and bones, etc. They are also growing old. Don’t they need anti-aging treatment too? Now you need to understand this phenomenon just like you are worrying about your nasolabial fold lines, crow feet, sagging cheeks or wrinkles etc., you should pay equal attention to your whole body because this aging process is targeting it all.

It is very crucial to maintain weight according to BMI because a lot of health conditions are directly associated with weight gain and it can be a major cause of the underlying conditions. In the process of growing old, it becomes difficult to get rid of excess weight as your muscle tissues certainly shrink and lose mass. Your ligaments and tendons might also end up inflexible with age and may lose tone, even with everyday exercise. You could have constrained strength and endurance required for exercise. Hormonal changes in older women and men may contribute to muscle loss. This gradual decline in musculoskeletal system directly affects your activities of daily living (ADLs) and limit your physical activities, which in turn causes slowdown of your metabolism and ultimately leads to unburned calories that are likely to become fat deposits. The fat deposits further deteriorate your another major body system i.e., cardiovascular system. With advancing age, blood vessels also undergo aging process including arterial stiffening and thickening. These structural changes play important part in developing hypertension (high blood pressure). The fats already stored in the body due to limited physical activity build up inside the arteries. This accumulation of fat is known as atherosclerosis. It speeds up the process of aging in arteries leading to further fatty buildup and narrowing which may result in blocking major arteries that supply blood to heart and brain and the results could be devastating i.e., heart attack or stroke. Now you can clearly see all body systems are interconnected and problem in one directly affects another. But it is not very difficult to overcome these age related issues – all you need is a little attention and time for your body.


Growing older is no regret but dying before one’s actual death is. There is no rewind button in life, so value the time you have and value the gift of life. Avoid negativity and add positivity. Don’t limit yourself under the label of age to live a purposeful and healthy life.

First of all, it is important to monitor your weight on regular basis. If you notice any fluctuation you can take measures. I mentioned earlier that as you are growing old you lose muscle mass so add proper amount of protein in your diet plan e.g., meat, poultry, fish, salmon, trout (contains heart healthy omega 3 fats), eggs, beans and nuts etc. Also your bone health is important for maintaining your overall musculoskeletal system so dairy food with calcium and vitamin D must be a portion of your diet plan.

It is important to maintain recommended cholesterol levels to avoid fatty buildup in blood vessels. Total cholesterol level (lower than 200mg/dl) LDL i.e., low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol (100mg/dl or low) HDL i.e., high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol (40mg/dl or high) and triglycerides (149mg/dl or low). Like protein we also need fats for our body but this is mandatory to choose right fat or heart healthy fat. Saturated fat or animal fat raises cholesterol level so strictly avoid butter, cream or cream based sauces, hard margarine fats on meat, processed meat like sausages, burgers, cake, chocolates, heavy cream, milk etc. Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, peanut oil, unsalted peanuts, cashew nuts and almond help replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats and protect your heart as it lowers cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat also reduces cholesterol level and is found in oily fish (omega 3 fat), sunflower oil (omega 6 fat), sesame oil, walnuts and hazelnut. But you must always keep in mind that all these types of fats, either saturated or unsaturated, contain equal amount of fat and calories so it is essential to avoid their excessive use. It is better to go for small meals rather than heavy meals because your metabolism slows down as you age but never go much longer than 3 hours without eating.

Hydration is important as nearly all of your systems in body depend on water. Moreover, this is a tip for anyone who wants to lose weight. With advancing age, the hypothalamus (which controls our hunger and thirst) becomes desensitized and our body can easily mistake thirst for hunger, which causes us to eat more than we actually need. Dehydration leads to high cholesterol, (produces more cholesterol to prevent water loss from cell), high blood pressure (because blood becomes thicker causing resistance to blood flow in arteries), constipation, tiredness, fatigue and weight gain. So, drink plenty of water (best is about 8 glass/day). You can also compensate by eating hydrating food i.e., cucumber, watermelon, bell pepper, pineapple, carrots, apple, grapefruit etc.

Balance food intake with proper physical activity. If you think skipping above mentioned dietary ingredients or in other words “starvation” will prevent the side effect of accumulation in the body, you are totally wrong because on one side your body needs all the above nutrients to keep your body systems young and healthy and on the other side your body also needs to utilize these calories in the form of physical activity. Make your schedule and assign one hour of the day for physical activity. It can include mild fitness programs like walking at medium pace, or swimming to strength training programs. My recommendation is to choose the activity according to your body needs e.g., if your task is weight loss at 35 or 45 you can freely engage in heavy exercises but if you are above 60 you must keep in mind that now your bones have lost much calcium and muscle mass. Moreover, if you are having any comorbid condition (hypertension, coronary artery disease etc.), you should prefer modified plan according to your body demand; better if it is under the supervision of a trainer. Don’t skip this portion because physical activity has direct effect on all of your body systems, so picking the best one according to your body demand will be beneficial. Set some goals and tasks before starting any fitness program.

Alcohol and smoking are the root cause of many medical conditions ranging from mild to life threatening conditions. They not only cause serious damage to respiratory system but also adversely affect our other body systems including circulatory, immune and reproductive systems. If you are a smoker or alcoholic, you have two choices: either arrange your bills for a long stay in hospital or simply quit this habit.

Just like your physical health is important, your mental wellbeing should also be part of your goals. Whatever your age is, value yourself and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies even if you find time once in a week. Communicate with good and ambitious people because your company has an effect on your lifestyle and your goals. Meeting with positive people will have a positive effect. Good company will not only motivate you but also boost your energy for your tasks. Break monotony and try new things or modify your existing activities like change your walking track, meet new people or add some recreational trips even if it is only once in a month. Stress is a part of life, whatever the age is, it can strike you anywhere, anytime, the important thing is to know how to cope with it. Check out triggers for your stress and how you react. It can help you to avoid triggers and learn how to manage them. Avoid overthinking because nothing is permanent, whatever the reason of your stress. Always keep in mind that everything will get better although it can take some time. The best approach in adverse situations is to avoid taking stress that will ultimately lead to anxiety and depression, further deteriorating your physical health. Try to think positive because “problem isn’t a problem until the mind says it’s a problem”

Growing older is no regret but dying before one’s actual death is. There is no rewind button in life, so value the time you have and value the gift of life. Avoid negativity and add positivity. Don’t limit yourself under the label of age to live a purposeful and healthy life.


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Written By: Kokab Khawaja

Vegetable Crumble


1 kg diced vegetables (carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc.)

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup grated cheese

1 cup hot water and 2 chicken cubes

For Crumble

2 tablespoon butter

1 cup bread crumbs

½ cup chopped mixed nuts

Salt and pepper to taste


Fry the vegetables in butter, add water mixed with chicken, cook uncovered until tender • Add cheese and mix well • Mix all the crumble ingredients in a bowl • Place the vegetables in a glass dish • Sprinkle crumble over the vegetables • Bake at 180 oC for few minutes in a pre-heated oven until crumble turns golden brown • Serve hot

Chicken with Almonds

500g chicken breasts cut into fingers

2 egg whites

½ cup almonds (skinned)

1 cup oil

1 cup mushrooms

1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

2 tomatoes

2 tablespoon cornflour

1 spring onion

Seasoning as required


• Marinate the chicken fingers in whites and salt • Heat one cup oil, fry ½ cup almonds and remove from heat and keep aside • In the same oil, fry the chicken and remove from heat • Take ¼ cup oil from similar oil and fry one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste • Add one cup of tinned sliced mushrooms and 2 tomato’s wedges • Add fried chicken fingers (golden brown) • Add two tablespoons of soya sauce, salt to taste and two levelled tablespoons of cornflour mixed with little water • Add a cup of green onions (1” cut into 1”) • Garnish with sliced fried almonds before serving.


An Army Officer’s Love for Books: The Biggest Library Collection in South Asia

Written By: Dr. Amineh Hoti

As the habit of reading books seems to become a thing of the past, with the pervasive use of internet and computers, I was delighted to have the privilege to get my hands really dirty whilst cleaning up and dusting a few old books of the Nawab, or Lord of Hoti, Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Akbar Khan Hoti – the paternal grandfather of my husband, Arsallah Khan Hoti. Akbar Khan Hoti was son of Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti. Born in 1885, Akbar Khan Hoti was a smart army officer who studied at Chief’s College (now Aitchison), Lahore, and at the Imperial Cadet Corps, Dehradun.

In 1904-5, he joined the Indian land forces and accompanied Sir Louis Dane’s mission to Afghanistan where he was on special duty with the Amir of Afghanistan in 1907. He was Orderly Officer to Inspecting Officer, Frontier Corps, Peshawar in 1907-8. He served with the Imperial troops in Egypt in 1914, and in Gallipoli in 1905. And with the 3rd Ambala Cavalier Brigade in France in 1916. Finally he retired as Major in 1922 while he was member of the Council of State of India. Sir Akbar was awarded a KBE in 1931.


anarmyoff.jpgDespite his military background, foreign travels and many commitments, he dreamed to build a library, which would hold almost every book on every subject published. He had taken pains during his lifetime to collect a large and a most impressive collection of books, ordering books from far and wide at personal expense. His library in Hoti, Mardan, built of some of the finest woodwork in the region, would grow to become larger than life. The famed U.S. Foreign Service officer who once served in Pakistan, James W. Spain, had remarked that this was one of the largest libraries in South Asia at the time (Spain, James W., The Way of the Pathans: 1973). It is undoubtedly a national treasure of Pakistan, the value of which must be reaffirmed in our modern, fast-paced world.

What often gets lost in today's world is the rich value of books. They help us with acquiring and appreciating different perspectives and celebrating diversity. They open our minds and help us delve into different times and different ideas in ways that no other medium can quite match. They are our best teachers and friends. And at this time when so many in Pakistan and around the world feel lost in the swirls of the modern world, books can fetch us back our human values and ideals.


anarmyoff1.jpgThe Nawab’s collection of books was breathtaking because it spanned over such a diverse range of topics. For instance, on religion alone, the collection ranged from a 1957 Holy Bible to more contemporary works. For example, there was a book on History of the New Testament Times: the Time of Jesus (London: 1878). I found one fascinating old book, Christian Dear, published and printed in London by James Parker and Co., owned by John Slater, and signed by him in 1876, which began with the wisdom of a Biblical verse from Isaiah XXX. 15: “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”. Another book called David of Judah (London: 1937) by Richard Blaker, stated in its subtitle, “Out of the strong came forth sweetness”.

I had heard that the Nawab had in his library the hand written Qurans by the emperors of Mughal India with their seal on them. I even learned there were also some precious Arabic and Persian books in the original collection, and even a handwritten manuscript by the great Pashtun scholar, Khushal Khan Khattak. The Nawab’s collection revealed a refreshing reverence for different faiths and the knowledge that they can pass to us regardless of our own belief systems. Just think of the rich quotes from the Bible and other sacred texts above and their deep universality. This is a practice which we could all learn to adopt from Akbar Khan.

One surprise though was the discovery of a book titled Mahomedan Law by Moulvi Mahomed Yusoof Khan Bahadur. Although it was an old book dating back to 1895 the title was an objectionable misnomer for Muslims especially because it was written by a supposed Moulvi, or Islamic religious scholar. Apart from going along with an orientalist image of his own faith, he was androcentric in his laws on women and Islam.

The Nawab’s collection of historical texts spanned the globe and the great expanse of human history. Peoples of All Nations consisted of volumes of fascinating descriptions of people from Palestine to Russia and so forth. There were also several volumes of The Cambridge Modern History (1907) books, from the Story of Spain to the Story of Venice. The Story of Spain, Al Andalus, was particularly thrilling for me, as I had visited Spain on my research project Journey into Europe with my father, Professor Akbar S. Ahmed. Al Andalus gave the world an idea of coexistence called La Convivencia, where people of different faiths and cultures, as one humanity, could live together in mutual respect and focus on creativity, knowledge and art. This was a brilliant culture – a model for today’s world – that one does not need a flight to Spain to learn all about. All one needs is a good book on the history of the era, one which could easily be found in so rich a library.

Continuing the historical tour de force offered by this library, another book, Historians’ History of the World Vol VIII (London: 1907), covered a wide array of topics ranging from “The Scope and Influence of Arabic History” to the Crusades. This was a beautifully bound book, reflecting the practice of a century ago of publishers to take great trouble giving the inner covers of a book a marbled effect, creating a work of visual art to go along with their written word. Another work, titled Racism by the Law, by Magnus Hirschfeld (1938), teaches, “Racial fanaticism” is “a phantom that bodes destruction”. The book continues: “There may be no defence against gas attack but there is a defence against false ideas, which can be dispelled by critical truths”. This book is a “critical counter-blast to the poison of racial fanaticism”. This is just more evidence that the lessons needed for our divided modern world are hiding within the pages of old books that just need some tender care to spring back to life.

For the romantic and thoughtful, there was a book on The Romantic Folk Tales of Pakistan by Behram Tariq and another on the Ninety Short Tales of Love and Women from the Arabic (London: 1928). To give a flavour of this rich collection, here is a small story from Ninety Short Tales, called The Afflicted Palm Tree by Nuzhat-ul-Udaba: “I saw in a certain land two palm trees, and one of them was dead. The other groaned and wept for a long time, so that the caravans that passed drank of its tears and watered their beasts with them, thinking that they came from some hidden spring”. As these tales reveal, we need to take this story of Akbar Khan’s love of books to the younger generations – some of whom may be undoubtedly struggling with facing a consumerist world dominated by materialism and superficiality and some of whom could use some philosophical conversations and fables like the ones posed by ul-Udaba: what is the story about? On what level can it be read and interpreted? As a lover pining for his lost love or simply the ignorance of mankind who blame their life’s good fortunes on the idea of fate.

The measure of a successful society is through its love and respect for books: all societies that have libraries and value books grow strong and prosperous, as Al Andalus did with its multiple magnificent libraries. Furthermore, Muslims, have long valued books, just like their Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic brothers and sisters. Indeed, the Quran, the book of God, is derived from Iqra (read) in which God says, “Today I have perfected your religion for you” because in the Quran, God demonstrates how He values thought, reason and knowledge. God even calls all human beings who have knowledge “Ahl-e-Aql” i.e., “People of Thought”. Muhammad Asad, the famed translator of the Quran, whose grave I visited in Granada, Spain, dedicated his Quranic translation to “People who Think”. As Pakistan is a Muslim majority country, it too must come to once again value books.

Yet sadly, books seem to be losing their value around the globe. Children today spend a large part of their time on their gadgets and access the world through the internet. One wealthy English speaking Pakistani woman whom I asked what she was reading, answered, “I do not read. Full Stop!” Mr. Barmak Pazhwak, who has spent years promoting peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan and who works at the U.S. Institute of Peace, once told me that during war in Afghanistan his ancestral books at home were used by soldiers to make fire and keep themselves warm in winter. This saddened me. Nawab Akbar Khan’s priceless books too have suffered similar adversity – apparently they have become food for termites, they have been stolen and sold in the Islamabad market for minimal sums, and some have simply been discarded. While some remain in private homes of his descendants, they are very little read by those who give full focus to material consumerist goods – such as designer shoes and bags.

Akbar Khan had written a number of booklets and also interestingly drawn up his genealogy from the time of Adam, literally naming every ancestor in line. One of his little booklets is his Presidential Address in Simla 1933 on the 15th of September in which he writes: “No one in Athens should prefer wealth to virtues but should always prefer virtues to wealth” (page 4), but he also adds, “the path of righteousness and truth is full of dangers, and is extremely difficult to traverse” (page 11). In this speech he addresses a Shi’a audience and quotes Jesus. In his words, he seemed to reflect great tolerance and acceptance of the ‘Other’. He writes, “According to Islam, Muslims should not interfere with any place where people worship their God, be it a church, temple, fire-temple or any other place of worship”. He also seemed to be compassionate about women and the elderly saying, “No Muslim army has the right to molest females, the aged, children, the priests or to destroy their crops, gardens or buildings of any kind”.

In line with Sufi tradition, he even quotes the interfaith Muslim saint, Mian Mir, who laid the foundation stone of the Sikh temple in Amritsar. Indeed Mian Mir, whose grave I have visited in Lahore, was the teacher of Prince Dara Shikoh – the eldest and favourite son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Dara Shikoh himself wrote on inter-cultural understanding, such as his book Majma Al Bahrain. Despite being brought up as the next Mughal Emperor, Dara Shikoh kept his humble attitude in all his spiritual and profound writings. Because Nawab Akbar Hoti was treading the path of tolerance, I was highly impressed by him. In this booklet he openly celebrates and yearns for “religious tolerance” (page 16) and he says “may it be that the same tolerance and unity [that once existed] again be witnessed amongst” the people of what is now the South Asian region. Olaf Caroe writes that Akbar Khan Hoti was “a man of great learning in history and philosophy, Islamic and other, he was the possessor of what was probably the finest private library north of Delhi… and he often did unlooked-for kindnesses to the poor and needy, concealing his generosity from the public gaze” (Olaf Caroe, The Pathans, pg 425-427).

Apart from his generosity and charitable spirit, the most valuable, special legacy of Akbar Khan Hoti, known for his great writings on accepting the other, is his effort in acquiring knowledge (ilm) and his love of books. This collection of books covering a diverse array of topics shows his sense of acceptance and of his appreciation of diversity. What made Akbar Khan Hoti a great leader and a great human being was not the shoes he wore or the bag he carried, but his work quenching the human thirst for knowledge. If coupled with humility, this message will resonate not just for his descendants but also for younger Pakistanis and for all global citizens. As our forbearers did, we all must rediscover books and begin to value them for the wonderful treasures and companions they are.


The author is a PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. Presently she is Director at Centre for Dialogue and Action, FCCU, Lahore.

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