Are Packaged Goods Really ‘Good’?

The inspiration for this blog comes from a girl sitting next to me eating Doritos for around 30 minutes. Truly saying, not only the munching sound was annoying, the smell of jalapeno-flavored Doritos was making me also all the more hungry.

We all know that parents aren’t really great fans of packaged food items, because they know that these goods are dangerous for our health. The material used for packaging, storing and processing of food items is harmful to human health. The use or I must say the overuse of chemicals to increase the shelf life of the products makes people sick, obese and lethargic..

The most common and all-time favorite member of the packaged goods is CHIPS.

As we all know that chips are everyone’s favorite snack, at any time of the day. They are inexpensive, easily available (at every convenience store), and tasty. But the fact we are unaware of is that eating chips have negative effects on our health. They are typically high in fat and calories. And this raises the risk of weight gain and obesity. According to SFGate, one ounce of plain potato chips (15-20 chips), contains about 10 grams of fat and 154 calories. Chips might help us fill our stomach, but they aren’t any good source of nutrition. They are low in vitamins and minerals and affect our eating habits. We no longer consume healthy food items, once we are full eating chips. The levels of sodium and cholesterol contained in them are not that healthy too. Frequent chips consumption contributes to high cholesterol levels in our body. Since they are deep-fried, they contain trans fats as well as saturated fats (present in oils used for deep-frying) which also contribute to high cholesterol levels. Also, the sodium content in chips adversely impacts our cardiovascular health. Potato chips generally have between 120 and 180 milligrams of sodium per ounce. The high levels of sodium trigger an increase in the blood pressure in our body, which can lead to stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease, and kidney disease.

Moving on, next in the list, we have aerated drinks, also known as carbonated drinks. Carbonated drinks have high sugar content, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives like phosphoric acid, and chemicals to add color to these drinks. The high sugar content can cause diabetes and affect the heart as well as the liver. The phosphoric acid can cause bone loss and the citric acid can cause severe dental erosion. These drinks are also responsible for weight gain. According to CureJoy, having 1 or more soft drinks per day leads to a substantial weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women. In men, having 1 or 2 servings of such drinks daily increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The story doesn’t end here. Aerated drinks can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. The excess amount of phosphoric acid intervenes with the proper calcium metabolism for proper bones. In addition to that, the amount of caffeine present in these drinks is highly addictive and interrupts our sleep and digestion.

Jellies and candies, which are every child’s favorite, are actually dangerous for their health. The preservatives and food colorings used in preparing these sweet toffees and candies pose a threat to children’s health. These contain saturated fat and sugars in risky amounts, which can cause dental cavities, weight gain, and poor nutrition. Eating candy on a regular basis adds to our calorie intake, ultimately leading to obesity, and other serious problems associated with it, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, and certain types of cancer.

Oh! And how can I forget to mention the frozen and ready to cook foods? Again, frozen foods are hazardous because of the preservatives used for a longer shelf life. These chemicals can cause nausea, tingling in limbs, headache, chest pain, fatigue, and serious breathing difficulties. They are carcinogenic (can lead to pancreatic cancer), can elevate blood pressure, and contribute to clogged arteries, due to the presence of Trans fats in them.

By this time, you will be wondering what should we probably eat then. First of all, packaged food items aren’t really dangerous if consumed in limited and healthy amounts. Also, there are alternatives available. Baked potato chips and tortilla chips are healthy alternatives. Although they do not have a lesser amount of salt (sodium level), they are not deep fried and are lower in calories and fat. Also, we should try to consume more fruits, which are natural sources of sugar, and not give candies to the kids. Parents should develop healthy eating habits in their kids, and should not depend upon any sort of packaged food.

Eating well is a form of self-respect. So, respect yourself, people!


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WaSH Advocacy Project Media

WaSH: Water, Sanitation, and Health


Poster 1_ Sanitation, Water and Health_ Advocacy Project

Poster 2_ Sanitation, Water and Health_ Advocacy Project (2)




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Why Should You Care About Other’s Access To WaSH?

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Sanitation refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human waste and aims to improve and protect the health and well-being of people. It includes all four of these engineering-based management systems such as excreta management systems, wastewater management systems which include wastewater treatment plants, solid waste management systems, and drainage systems. People around the world do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. Although sanitation is a basic human right, many people struggle hard to gain access to something as basic as a pour-flush toilet and a septic tank. Around 2.3 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets and latrines. Inadequate sanitation facilities contribute to other problems such as lack of access to clean and safe water which further results in causing diseases such as diarrhea as well as cholera.

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Around the world, 946 million people in 2014 went to the toilet outside because they really do not have an option. Adequate sanitation, along with access to safe water and good hygiene is fundamental to the well-being of people. The absence of sanitation exposes children to infectious diseases such as typhoid and diarrhea, and these diseases hinder their ability to absorb nutrients which leaves them malnourished. Inability to meet the requirements of basic sanitation and quality water as well as poor hygiene cause a great number of world’s poorer people to die from many pollution-borne diseases which can be avoided with little care.

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Getting access to clean water isn’t that simple anymore as one might think. Over 1 billion people lack access to an adequate water supply worldwide. Open defecation and improper waste management are the main reasons for the lack of access to clean and safe water. More than 80% of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged without treatment into rivers or seas. I conducted a survey and it had a question about describing some of the sanitation-related challenges faced by people around the world. The responses to the question included that people in various countries do not have clean and safe water to drink and also lack the most basic sanitation facilities. They have to relieve themselves either in open or no proper infrastructure, low-quality, toilets. In addition to that, open defecation and improper waste management contaminates the water and makes it unsuitable to drink. The sad fact is that the responsibility of collecting water falls on women and girls. Defecating in open exposes them to assaults and rape, which increases the concern of their safety and emphasizes that every human should be provided with resources to have access to basic sanitation.

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Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban areas. According to The Guardian, nine in ten people who practice open defecation live in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa faces specific challenges while providing basic sanitation and safe, accessible water for its growing population. In 2004, 38% people (the highest percentage of the population across the world for the year 2004) in sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to basic sanitation. There are limited sources of water available to provide clean drinking water to the entire population of Africa.

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Improving water and sanitation programs plays a crucial role in the overall development (sustaining economic development). Every US $1 invested in improved sanitation translates into an average return of US$9. The aim of this piece is to make the readers aware of the situation of people who do not have access to the facilities in various countries. Sustainability Development Goal is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. While we are struggling for providing people with adequate sanitation and access to safe as well as clean drinking water, how do we aim to provide the future generations with these facilities? Providing people with access to clean and safe water is the least we can contribute to, and make the situation better. The government must come up with suitable and effective programs to ensure that every citizen has access to sanitation and water. Providing everyone with these facilities can help promote gender equality and achieve poverty as well as health-related goals. The prevention of sanitation and water-related diseases could save up to 7 billion dollars per year in health system costs.

With all these ongoing efforts, campaigns by organizations, and global-level programs in progress, we can hope a world with everyone having access to basic necessities of life such as sanitation, water, and ultimately, good health.

Image result for open defecation causing diseases


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Crapulence – Hangover From Last Night

Alcohol is considered as a drug, classed as a depressant, and contains ethanol which makes the people drunk. It slows down the vital functions of the body, resulting in unsteady movement, disrupted nervous system, garbled speed, and inability to react quickly. Alcohol reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his judgment. Alcohol is considered as the most popular recreational drug in the world.

Some common products that contain alcohol along with the percentage of alcohol present in them are given in the list:

Beer: 2 to 6% alcohol

Cider: 4 to 8% alcohol

Wine: 8 to 20% alcohol

Tequila: 40% alcohol

Rum: 40% or more alcohol

Brandy: 40% or more alcohol

Gin: 40 to 47% alcohol

Whiskey: 40 to 50% alcohol

Vodka: 40 to 50% alcohol

Liqueurs: 15 to 60% alcohol

Why is alcohol so common in college-culture?

Harmful and underage alcohol consumption are significant public health issues. Drinking in colleges has become really common. In order to fit in among friends and among friends, as well as the peer pressure that the students go through, they choose to go to parties and drink before their legal age. Many times, non-drinkers are bullied and persuaded by the children who drink and introduce alcohol into their lives. Not being under parents’ supervision also contributes to this issue. College life can be and is pretty stressful and many students consume alcohol to relieve this stress. Game and school spirit also contribute to this drinking culture in college as tailgates and celebration parties after games include alcohol, ultimately leading to long-term addiction. Many college alcohol problems are related to binge drinking. It is a drinking pattern which brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. In layman terms, this generally occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men, in about 2 hours.

How does alcohol affect the body?

Alcohol interferes with the body’s nervous system and blocks the brain’s communication pathway. This makes it harder for the person under the influence of alcohol to think clearly. Drinking alcohol in excess damages the heart and causes irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. Binge drinking also adversely affects the liver, and sometimes, in severe situations, the liver needs to be operated upon and might be removed from the body. In addition to that, drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of developing certain cancers and can weaken the immune system, making our bodies more prone to diseases.


Alcohol poses a danger to people from every age-group, especially youth. It can cause car crashes and other accidents. That is the reason why it is advised not to ‘drink and drive’. This contributes to alcohol-related deaths and innocent lives are sacrificed.

AlcoHOLE in the commUNITY!

Alcohol can be fatal, lead to assaults and this way affects more than one life, and that is the reason why we need to prevent students from drinking. Consuming alcohol can also cause academic problems and traumatize students even more. Since alcohol is too common in the community, and even parents know about the fact that their children are going to be affected by the college-culture, they should take firm steps in order to educate their children about harmful effects of alcohol and irresponsible drinking. In addition to that, middle, as well as high schools, should also come up with stricter, but interesting educational programs to be integrated with the curriculum, and ensure that children are educated about responsible drinking and consequences of over-consumption of alcohol.


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We Are Yet To Be Educated

Education was first introduced in the 17th century with the introduction of the first schools in 13 different American colonies. It is a human right and not a privilege.The right to education was enforced in many countries to ensure the access to education at an affordable cost for everyone without any discrimination. We have all heard of the 4A’s associated with education: available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. According to this definition and the International human rights, every individual has the right to be educated and provided with an education that falls under the category of the 4A’s. It is 2018, and 62 million girls around the world are still not in school due to some absurd, but obvious reasons. Firstly, the unimaginably high cost of education, irrespective of the fact that education should be free, there are many costs associated with sending children to school. The associated costs are the cost of uniforms, stationery supplies, or traveling costs if the school is pretty far. But, apparently, these costs are the same for every student, irrespective of their gender. Then, why does this have to be a problem for the girls?

When girls are forced to marry young, they are often pulled out of schools, at a very critical age in their development. Other reasons for families not educating girls are safety concerns. Due to the crimes and the criminals that exist in the society, people want their girls to be safe as if they are raped, no one would ever marry her, and the girl would have to live her whole life as a burden to the family. I never understood why girls are considered as a liability. As the schools in rural areas are located far from the residential areas, going to school becomes a dream for many of the girls. Even if that isn’t the case, lack of sanitation in schools becomes another reason for girls out of schools.

People in patriarchal societies happen to believe that educating girls is a waste of resources as they believe that women are destined to be married off at a young age, and then, their only job is to take care of the family and the household work. In addition to that, girls are not even given the right to get the basic education, because the families do not have enough money to pay for their education and believe that the girls should focus on learning household work.

Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala Yousafzai’s father, feels proud of his daughter’s achievements. She was shot in the head by the members of Taliban when she started fighting for her rights as a girl, her right to be educated. In his TEDx talk, he talks about the life of a girl child in a patriarchal society-until the age of 12, the girl child has a free life, although she isn’t allowed to make her own decisions, she is still allowed to play with her friends in the streets, or stay away from the household work. After that, she is prepared for her married life, she learns to do the daily chores like cooking, washing clothes, cleaning, and so on. Once she has acquired all these skills, she is married, and is ready to start a new life. Most of these girls do not even get to decide who their groom is going to be.

Her father further goes on by saying that Taliban has always aimed to negate women participation in all economic, political and social activities. Malala started her campaign and started fighting for her rights in 2007 when she was 10, and it seems that Taliban could not stand a 15-year old girl, hence, decided to shoot her. This proves the fact that the male-dominated societies do not want the girls to have their rights, lest the females would outshine and overpower the men.

Malala’s father quoted a sentence in his talk when asked what he did to support Malala that she turned out to be so courageous and righteous, he replied, “Don’t ask me what I did, ask me what I did not do, I did not clip her wings.” He believes that girls should be set free and allowed to explore the world. The best gift that a father can give his daughter is the gift of education-this phrase applies to the developing and the underdeveloped countries where girls live in similar situations as mentioned.

This isn’t just about Malala, this is about the 130 million girls in countries such as India, Pakistan, Africa, and you name it, between the ages of 6 and 17, who are denied education, because of completely illogical reasons. We, as the youth, need to educate the people about the importance of education in an individual’s life. Here’s a difference between what we say and what we do. We say that education is a right that everyone must get but at the same time, it is still beyond the reach of many. Girls are the most neglected members of the society be it in the terms of health, education or safety. In many parts of country discrimination against girls and women is prevalent.

Many girls in Africa are denied the right to education, whereas, the boys enjoy their rights. Kakenya Ntaiya was lucky as she got the opportunity to complete her education, and attend a college too. She tells her story and quoted a really important point. Most of the times, they (women) are unaware of their rights. The females, in Africa, have to undergo female genital mutilation around the age of 13, which those people consider as the path to womanhood. They believe that this ceremony prepares girls to become women, and after that, they are not allowed to go back to schools. Kakenya was furious how these girls were never told that mutilation is illegal in Africa. They did not have to trade a part of their body to be educated. She demanded to go back to school, even after the ceremony was carried out, and hence, was able to acquire it. There is an African proverb, ‘If you educate a woman, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.’

Married off at a young age, getting pregnant early in their puberty and managing the household; these girls do not get enough time for themselves and there is no chance of them getting an education.

In her TED talk, ‘To Learn Is To Be Free’, Shameem Akhtar talks about the scenario of education of girls in Pakistan and her story of getting an education. She had to live the life of a boy to get her basic education from her school, surrounded by boys. Apparently, people were opposed to girls being educated, but her willpower to get education proved to be helpful and she was successful in doing so.

Educating girls can bring many positive changes in the society. It can empower girls by making them physically, mentally and emotionally strong. Education has a profound effect on girls’ and women’s ability to claim other rights and achieve status in society, such as economic independence and political representation. As the following examples demonstrate, having an education can make an enormous difference to a woman’s chances of finding well-paid work, raising a healthy family and preventing the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

Women with at least a basic education are much less likely to be poor. Providing girls with one extra year of schooling beyond the average can boost their eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An infant born to an educated woman is much more likely to survive to adulthood. In Africa, children of mothers who receive five years of primary education are 40 percent more likely to live beyond age five. Our duty is to educate women about their rights. They have the right to take their own decisions and voice their opinions, they have the right to educate and to be educated, they have the right to live their lives on their own terms.

Many improvements have been made over the past few decades, still, the girls continue to be deprived of this basic right in many countries due to many reasons; religious, social, cultural and economic. In the end, I would quote Malala, who said, “Let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most powerful weapon.”


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Is Our Environment Healthy Enough?

It might be surprising to read, but, the environment is killing us. We might not notice the fact that our surroundings constitute particles which are dangerous to our lives. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the surroundings where we study or work, everything around us might be contaminated with pollutants and particles contributing to the growth of disease-causing microorganisms. According to a TIME article, more than 12.5 million deaths globally each year are due to unhealthy environments. People should probably realize till now why this is a serious issue, and the point that how much we try to protect ourselves, we won’t be able to, because those particles are everywhere (in our surroundings).

We need to know that the best possible solution is to take preventive measures and work hard enough to keep the environment clean around us. Environmental diseases are a direct result of the environment which includes diseases caused by exposure to toxic chemicals and pathogens present in the environment. The various types of pollution that affect the environment are air, water, land, radioactive pollution and the most common pollutants are chemicals like sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide and other volatile organic compounds.

The problem is more substantial than we think it is. It is true how contaminants in a single component of the ecosystem can pollute the whole ecosystem and make it really difficult for us to survive. Man cannot live and survive amidst waste. The environment and the disease-causing agents it contains are the key factors in the pathogenesis of chronic diseases. People, especially children, die due to consuming polluted water and limited access to sanitation. In addition to that, a report claimed that the young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the poor environmental health conditions. Not only this, other factors that lead to the growth of these diseases are waste mismanagement, chemicals, poisons, radiations, and poor farming practices. According to a new study, half of the sea turtles on the planet have ingested plastic in one or the other form. This plastic generally comes from the waste that is dumped in or near the water bodies. Turtles and the rest of the aquatic creatures can be killed directly by ingesting plastic and the harmful chemicals released by the various plastics in the water bodies. The video below is the recording of some researchers pulling out a straw from a sea turtle’s nostril, and it is clearly seen that the sea turtle is in deep pain and our mistakes are giving rise to problematic consequences for us and others.

This and the coming generations deserve a clean environment which includes clean air, water, land, and energy, an environment which is safe for humans and animals, an environment free from diseases and pollutants. We need responsible consumption from the side of the consumers and conservation in order to solve many of the existing environmental problems and ensure our future generations a ‘disease-free’ environment. We need to get the environment rid of all the unwanted matter that is the reason for the adverse situation of the ecosystem right now.

It might not be the most efficient solution, but we know that it could help make the situation better than what it is. Cleaning reduces environmental risks, exposures to hazardous material and prevents from diseases. A research revealed a really surprising fact that the cleaning products we use contain toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are, rather more harmful and make the situation more unfavorable. The researchers and many other people demanded various producers of cleaning agents to produce green products, which supposedly must contain less percentage of or no toxic chemicals and ban the use of the existing products. Companies should make an effort to reduce VOCs in products and also regulate product labeling to make them safer and the people informed about what they are about to buy and take to their homes.

Talking about effectively cleaning surroundings, the sanitary environments must be cleaned to an extent that the general health is protected, as unsanitary conditions pose a likely health risk. To protect other resources, everyone needs to learn resource management and try to protect water resources by disposing of our wastes appropriately, introduce clean energy technologies to reduce the trade-offs of the conventional methods of producing energy and try to make informed choices, when it comes to buying products. Let us all make sure that none of the garbage would be disposed carelessly and irresponsibly. It is our duty to keep our surroundings clean, and try to cut down the use of various equipments such as deodorants, air conditioners and refrigerators, as these all contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which is not at all good for the environment.  We all, irrespective of all the boundaries, need to join hands and work together to make this world a better and a safer place to live.


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