Certified diabetes educator and dietician Neelanjana Singh is out with her third book, Indian Diet for Interstitial Cystitis, on the lesser-known bladder pain syndrome.
How and when did you think about writing Indian Diet for Interstitial Cystitis? Can you give us some figures?
Interacting with the patients of Interstitial Cystitis (IC) over the years made me realise that though it is a widespread problem, little is known about it, both in the medical community and among patients.
Also called Bladder Pain Syndrome, IC is prevalent worldwide. In areas where a lower incidence is reported only means that the disease is not being diagnosed there.
This is exactly why the Indian figures indicate a lower prevalence than in the US. For instance, in the US, a patient walks into the urologist’s clinic and asks pointed questions such as “Do I have IC?” Butin India, both the patients and the healthcare providers are not adequately sensitised to this condition. About a decade ago, the ratio of IC in men and women was 1:10. Now this has changed to 1:5. It means men are catching up. Even youngsters are being affected by IC.
For other health issues, there are workshops and camps. Why is this not the case for IC?
While it is true that bladder health has not managed to get the attention that heart health and bone health does, it is incorrect to say that there are no workshops promoting awareness about this condition. But the real way to reach the public is through the media, including the vernacular media. There’s a dire need to reach out to people, particularly women. Hence we are planning to hold workshops and lectures at working women’s hostels, nursing hostels, and other women-oriented organisations.
Do people easily come forward to talk about this disease?
There is almost no awareness about this condition. Very often, people suffering from IC do not even know that it is something to be reported. For example, there was this woman who used to frequent the washroom six-eight times a night, but did not think there was anything unusual. As women, we tend to neglect self-care and do not pay adequate attention to our health issues. Only when the problem goes out of hand that medical advice is sought.
What foods do you recommend for a person suffering from IC, and what foods should one avoid?
Broadly speaking, one must avoid heavily processed foods, stimulating beverages (tea, coffee and cocoa) and hot spices (chillies). Following the generalised diet modifications is a starting point but every IC affected person needs to have a personalised diet plan as the mechanism by which the bladder is affected varies from person to person.
Can you suggest any lifestyle changes?
We need to modify not only what we eat but also the way that we eat. We need to be eating in more relaxed atmospheres. Not hurriedly or in front of a screen. Also, our dependence on ready-to-eat foods has to go. Eat foods which are closer to their natural state. Learning to manage stress is key when it comes to IC recovery process. Anxious people tend to have more spasms in the pelvic floor, which precipitates the symptoms of IC. Meditation, sports and exercising, all reduce stress.
Indian Diet for Interstitial Cystitis by Neelanjana Singh & Rajesh Taneja
Price: Rs 400