Apart from being a published author of the globally acclaimed book, ‘The Great Indian Diet’ (with Shilpa Shetty) and ‘Eat Smart, Move More, Sleep Right - Your Personal Health Coach’, Luke COutinho is a Holistic Nutritionist, Speaker, and Exercise Physiologist, qualified in lifestyle medicine and integrative healing.

Luke has been involved in nutrition, coaching and fitness ever since he graduated from IHM with specialization in food science and nutrition. He believes in lifestyle change and helps coach people to make ‘shifts’ in their lifestyles to achieve their health goals. Luke currently specializes in cancer and handles cases across the globe. He is involved in nutrition and micro nutrition for the prevention and healing of cancer and other diseases and is also involved in pain management.

He encourages and helps people steer away from conventional medicine and use natural foods and a change in lifestyle to help alleviate medical conditions. He is of the belief that we need a system that works beyond the one that simply brings people into clinics and can actually look at improving overall health. He strongly believes that we are all products of nature and if we align ourselves, that is, the way we eat, sleep, think and move with nature, then anything that’s a problem, call it arthritis, cancer, diabetes, obesity, slowly fades away.

Luke is the founder and director of Herbs Nutrition Pvt. Ltd. He is also the head nutritionist, master coach and mastermind behind GOQii’s lifestyle and health coaching model.

Here is an interview with him.

Children, these days, face great pressure from parents, school and peer groups. In your wide experience working with children who are ill, how do you think this development has impacted children's health?

Clearly the parents, schools, media are to blame. Children are not meant to go thru the stress they go thru today. From school to after classes, to tuitions, its just wrong, and all this stress and pressure has a direct impact on the child's growth, development and health and many of the issues they face and go thru in their teenage and adult lives have a direct correlation to their life as children. The needs to be a balance and parents have to change their approach from a competitive one to that of balance, nurturing and more love and time. No parent has the ability to predict what the child’s future or career may be and they should so their basics of providing a sound education and a more loving and nurturing environment for their growing kids. Time spent between parents and the child is most important and this does not include the servants or nanny that working parents can afford as as substitute to their own time with kids.

Please can you educate our readers about the importance of consuming freshly made food vis a vis food that comes packed with lots of preservatives.

Children growth both in body and mind is highly dependent on the food we feed them. Fresh natural foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, pulses, lentils, clean fresh lean meats/fish/eggs provide all the nutrients that our cells need for growth, immunity and development. Processed foods are devoid of nutrients and deprive the cells of what they need, leading to cravings, tantrums , addictions and health problems causes due to deficiencies.Processed foods are designed to addict children and adults and they do a great job in that field. Almost all children and adults have some addiction or dependency on sugar and salt, the key ingredients in almost all junk food. These two ingredients along with preservatives and so many chemicals interfere with growth, immunity and the mind and must be consumed in moderation or completely avoided and replaced with healthier options that nature gives us

When children come to the level of sitting for their Board exams, most parents stop all their extra-curricular activities. Please could you explain to our readers how taking time out for exercises, yoga and other holistic fitness activities, contributes to improved academic and cognitive performance.

In fact the time to engage in extra curricular activities, yoga and exercise is before and even during the exams. Many parents think the this will distract the child from studies, but it will actually improve their concentration and focus and reduce their stores levels allowing for better focus and health. So many students lose their health around exam time and parents need to instill feelings of support thru this period rather than fear. The mind absorbs best when in a relaxed mode so stress actually becomes the biggest obstacle to a child learning something and their cognitive skills. I feel parents need to relax more that the child and the fear of the parent of their child not doing well or not doing enough should not transcend to the child

What are the lifestyle changes that you feel we must definitely make in order to ensure better quality of life and overall health status and wellbeing.

It revolves around balanced nutrition of wholesome and real foods, getting sufficient physical activity daily, it could be from walking, dancing, playing a game to being in a gym or yoga....sleep is so important, getting enough sound sleep recharges the body and mind and is so needed for great mind body health and ofcourse managing stress effectively,,,stress and emotions is one of the leading causes of most problems and diseases too, and when we aim for a holistic way of living the four parameters defined above play a vital role...we need to invest in spirituality , it could be religion for some and for others it could just be living well, being kind to the self and all others, knowing the importance of doing the right thing rather than doing everything else. Diets don't work, lifestyle is everything and the major investment should be in immunity and the mind. Eat local and staple simple foods with enjoyment and mindfully, sleep peacefully each night, enjoy your body thru physical activity, remember what you don't use you lose, so use your body and mind well and everyday).