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Perfect way to look younger as you get older



By Dr Indrajith P. Hathuruisngha

At present, people are keener on their appearance than ever before. Irrespective of gender, age, occupation, social status, everyone wants to look attractive, younger or handsome, and this has become more manifest with the advent of social media. The real challenge, however, is for you to look younger as you grow old. Ageing is something that we cannot prevent because it is a natural phenomenon. Weight gain becomes a concern as you reach middle age and this is more prominent, especially around your belly area. This is also known as the middle-age spread. This will make you look somewhat older, or unappealing, and even may extend to obesity, leading to certain health problems. It is a much-discussed issue, but the real question is whether it is being addressed scientifically. If you know how it happens or what causes it then it would be easier to control or tackle it. Some areas to focus on in terms of maintaining your figure that will eventually lead to a healthier and happier life in the long term, will be discussed here.

Our body needs energy to sustain life, and its operating mechanism is almost like that of a moving vehicle. The vehicle meets its energy requirements by burning fuel, and our body does the same thing with food on a daily basis. Our food contains a lot of nutrients such as protein, fat (lipid), carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins. They provide us with energy in terms of calories. If our daily calorie intake exceeds the demand, the additional amount will be stored in our body leading to weight gain. Fat is known to be the component mostly responsible for unwanted weight gain. If you can remove already existing fat in the body and also regulate further addition, you may be able to control it to a certain extent.

Fat is metabolically broken down to generate energy in our body. This is biologically called ‘lipid turnover’ and this process has been proven with C14 (a radioactive carbon) by scientists. The lipid turnover is about the capacity for storing or removing fat from our body and it happens in fat cells in the adipose tissue. Whether you are gaining weight or not, your lipid turnover rate in fat tissue will lower with age. You are therefore more likely to gain weight as you get older. In other words, weight gain is not prominent in younger people due to their higher rate of lipid turnover. It is also seemingly independent of other biological processes in our body. However, the particular concern is whether we can do something about it. We certainly can. But it is not easy, it would mean going against nature.

We cannot consider increasing the lipid turnover alone, as it is linked to other aspects such as food intake and physical exercises. Therefore, a well thought-through plan and a strong dedication is a must for achieving the desired outcomes. Here are a few ways to lose weight sensibly.


Types of exercises

Scientists have found that physical exercise is one of the ways of increasing lipid turnover. But the problem here is, what sort of exercise should one do? People often complain about not gleaning expected results even after intense exercise over a prolonged time. And most cannot find time to work out due to their busy schedule. If you are unable to exercise regularly you can engage in incidental activities such as walking or using the stairs instead of the lift. Exercising does not mean weight loss alone, as it has many other benefits.

You can start your workout in a more structured way, with aerobic exercises, such as cycling, running, swimming and hiking. Recent studies have shown that walking for extended periods is a good way to burn fat and you need to do it continuously for better results. It helps stimulate both heart function and breathing and improves the pumping of oxygenated blood to muscles. Muscles require enough oxygen to burn calories and to generate the required energy for smooth functioning of body. This type of exercise entails many benefits, such as better cardiovascular function, muscle fitness, bone and joint fitness, heart and lungs health. Eventually, it will improve the overall level of fitness and reduce chances of cancer, diabeties, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

On the other hand, resistance exercises play a major role, than aerobic exercises, in weight loss. Lifting weights is more efficient as it helps to burn fat fast. Therefore, doing both these types of exercises in conjunction will be more beneficial. Apart from improving physical fitness, exercise also improves your mental health.


Food intake

Sometimes, it is difficult to control weight gain by exercise alone. The control of food intake is another way of losing weight. But you need to do it wisely. Eating delicious food is an enjoyable experience. Consequently, changing eating patterns is not that easy and needs to be done systematically. You will lose weight if you reduce food intake drastically. But it is not a good move in the long run and will also not be sustainable. The food is the source of energy for your daily routine. If you do not get the adequate calories, you will be easily fatigued, tired and perhaps end up with some nasty side effects. Therefore, having a balanced diet is of paramount importance to a healthy life. Besides, you must be physically fit to be able to exercise regularly.

You may find it difficult to change your food intake at the beginning but it needs to be continued for better results. You need to set goals in your weight loss endeavour. Maintaining a food diary is a good way to start, but you need to be honest about it. You are required to write down everything you eat irrespective of the situation, what, where, when and with whom you ate. The food diary helps you cut down the discretionary calories (optional foods and drinks). However, it is all about your commitment and dedication. If you are too concerned about your weight, it is advisable to consult a doctor or dietician before changing your eating habits. It is worth noting that processed food, surgery drinks, and alcohol must be avoided.

It must be emphasised that if food intake is to be reduced, it should be done sensibly, since you might lose certain important nutrients that are required to maintain a healthy life.


Re-gaining weight once exercise stops

When you lose weight by controlling food intake, your metabolism slows down automatically. Then the brain stimulates hunger, making you want to eat more to gain the required energy. Scientists have found that our body has remarkable resistance against weight loss but not for weight gain. This has become an intriguing point of interest among the people who want to shed a few extra kilos. According to another scientific revelation, weight is regained particularly as fat mass and not in lean mass. This finding has discouraged many who work towards sustainable weight loss. However, there is no clear cut explanation and more research is being done to understand the science behind it.

In general, you could either eat less and exercise less or eat more and exercise more. Whichever the method you apply, the one you should remember is that food intake is more important of your weight loss regime and it is about incorporating physical activity with food intake.


Types of food to eat


People often worry about what to eat and avoid. Your food should have three main characteristics; low in calories, promotes fat burning and slow in digestion. When you feel hungry, you tend to eat more. But if you can suppress your hunger, you can reduce your food intake. Therefore, you must select the food that keeps you full longer. In other words, the foods which slow down the metabolism and control your appetite. What are these food; those food with a high level of fibre, contain water or are rich in protein. Beans, chickpeas, lentils, eggs, nut and oatmeal are highly recommended. It is always good to add some grains to your breakfast as they are rich in fibre. Our nation is blessed with a variety of green vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and grains.

You must also stick to healthy food and stay away from fast or junk food. Always choose food rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. There are plenty of options for affordable meals. Expensive food should not be resorted to in the weight loss plan. Our staple food is rice, same as most other Asian countries. But you must choose brown rice instead of white rice. This is because brown rice is low in calories and contains important elements such as phytonutrients, fibre and starch.

Adding green vegetables to the diet as much as possible is a good move. For instance, cabbages, low in calorie, contain antioxidants and vitamin C. Similarly, cauliflower is a very low-calorie option and has vitamins such as C, K, and B6. Moreover, cauliflower and carrot have calorie burning properties.

Bananas help keep full longer and put you on fat-burning mode. You must not forget to add fruits and nuts to your main meal. Apple, orange, avocado and almonds are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and fibre. This will help shrink your waistline and keep your hunger at bay longer. It is best to add yoghurt or curd as a dessert to your main meal, because yoghurt and curd are packed with protein and will help you feel full for longer. These are just a few examples out of many affordable options available and you have to be wise enough to choose healthy food for your daily intake.


If overweight

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator to assess your condition for the weight loss plan. It indicates the ideal weight of an average person based on height. A general physician or a family doctor can easily tell you your BMI value or you can do it by yourself if you are familiar with the index.



According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) classification, people with an IBM value between 25.5 and 29.9 fall into the overweight category. If this value is above 30, it is considered obese and immediate doctor or dietician consultation is recommended. They will advise you how to control your food intake systematically. The BMI of a healthy person is usually 18.5 to 24.9 and should not drop below the minimum threshold. It must be emphasised that the purpose of eating is to sustain life and should not be driven by gluttony. Therefore, you must avoid taking additional calories. It is all about self-control.

If the situation is irreversible, one can still opt for bariatric surgeries. These types of surgeries are varied and the doctor decides what sort of surgery is suitable for each individual. Bariatric surgeries involve removal or shortening of a part of the stomach, with gastric bands, by altering the path of the intestine. However, there are pros and cons of such surgeries, and therefore, must be considered the last resort. You must be in charge of your own health before things get out of hand.


Advertisements and weight loss

Weight loss seems to be a good marketing tool, with various advertisements attempting to coax consumers to buy certain products. For instance, some advertisements showcase a pretty athletic woman drinking tea, claiming that she got her athletic figure by drinking a special kind of tea. Do you think that they have a secret recipe for weight loss? They don’t, but they know what you want and the demand in the market. The science behind this is simple. Because tea, particularly green tea has fat-burning properties. Apart from that scientists have found that green tea is full of antioxidants, has the potential to fight against inflammation, improve metabolism, boost energy, and refresh your body. Therefore, drinking green tea, instead of opting for advertised products, is a healthy and smart choice.

Non-fat milk or milk powder advertisements are another fad. We all know that milk is a good source of nutrients but fat is the killer. In general, mammalians, including humans need milk during infancy but not in adulthood. You may drink fresh milk if required but not milk powder. This is because vital nutrients are removed during the processing of milk powder and you are forced to drink a product which is low in nutrients. However, manufactures have different formulas to please consumers. Eventually, you get very little in return, but hoodwinked by misleading advertisements, spend hard-earned money.


The most important aspect of weight loss is the lipid turnover rate in the body. People often overlook it or do not have a grasp on the scientific facts. Weight loss maybe short term and you need to know how to make it sustainable. A combination of aerobic and resistance exercises offers a lot of health benefits and can help achieve sustainable weight loss, if undertaken in conjunction with food intake control.


(The writer is a lecturer at the Department of Applied and Environmental Chemistry, CRTAFE, Geraldton Campus, Western Australia.)


Have Humanities and Social Sciences muddied water enough?



By Maduranga Kalugampitiya

The domain of the humanities and social sciences is under attack more than ever before. The relevance, as well as usefulness of the degrees earned in those fields, is being questioned left, right, and centre. The question of whether it is meaningful at all to be spending, if not wasting, the limited financial resources available in the coffers to produce graduates in those fields is raised constantly, at multiple levels. Attempts are being made to introduce a little bit of soft skills into the curricula in order to add ‘value’ to the degree programmes in the field. The assumption here is that either such degree programmes do not impart any skills or the skills that they impart are of no value. We often see this widely-shared profoundly negative attitude towards the humanities and the social sciences (more towards the former than towards the latter) being projected on the practitioners (students, teachers, and researchers) in those areas. At a top-level meeting, which was held one to two years ago, with the participation of policy-makers in higher education and academics and educationists representing the humanities and social sciences departments, at state universities, a key figure in the higher education establishment claimed that the students who come to the humanities and social sciences faculties were ‘late-developers’. What better (or should I say worse?) indication of the official attitude towards those of us in the humanities and the social sciences!

While acknowledging that many of the key factors that have resulted in downgrading the humanities and social sciences disciplines are global by nature and are very much part of the neoliberal world order, which dominates the day, I wish to ask if we, the practitioners in the said fields, have done our part to counter the attack.

What the humanities and the social sciences engage with is essentially and self-consciously social. What these disciplines have to say has a direct bearing on the social dimension of human existence. It is near impossible to discuss phenomena in economics, political science, or sociology without having to reflect upon and use examples from what happens in our lives and around us. One cannot even begin to talk about teaching English as a second language without taking a look at her/his own experience learning English and the struggles that many people go through at different levels doing the same. One cannot talk about successful ways of teaching foreign languages without recognizing the need to incorporate an engagement with the cultural life of those languages at some level. No reading of an artwork—be it a novel, a movie, a painting, a sculpture, a poem, whatever—is possible without the reader at least subconsciously reflecting upon the broader context in which those artworks are set and also relating her own context or experience to what is being read. A legal scholar cannot read a legislation without paying attention to the social implications of the legislation and the dynamics of the community at whom that legislation is directed. The point is our own existence as social beings is right in the middle of what we engage with in such disciplines. To steal (and do so self-consciously) a term from the hard/natural sciences, society is essentially the ‘laboratory’ in which those in the humanities and social sciences conduct their work. There may be some areas of study within the humanities and social sciences which do not require an explicit engagement with our social existence, but I would say that such areas, if any, are limited in number.

Needless to say that every social intervention is political in nature. It involves unsettling what appears to be normal about our social existence in some way. One cannot make interventions that have a lasting impact without muddying the water which we have been made to believe is clear. How much of muddying do we as practitioners in the field of humanities and social sciences do is a question that needs to be asked.

Unfortunately, we do not see much work in the humanities and social sciences which unsettles the dominant order. What we often see is work that reinforces and reaffirms the dominant structures, systems, and lines of thought. Lack of rigorous academic training and exposure to critical theory is clearly one of the factors which prevents some scholars in the field from being able to make interventions that are capable of muddying the water, but the fact that we sometimes do not see much muddying even on the part of the more adept scholars shows that lack of rigorous training is not the sole reason.

Muddying the water is no simple matter. To use a problematic, yet in my view useful, analogy, a scholar in the said field trying to make an intervention that results in unsettling the order is like a hydrogen atom in H2O, ‘water’ in layperson’s language, trying to make an intervention which results in a re-evaluation of the oxygen atom. Such an intervention invariably entails a re-evaluation of the hydrogen atom as well, for the reason that the two atoms are part of an organic whole. One cannot be purely objective in its reading of the other. Such an intervention is bound to be as unsettling for the hydrogen atom as it is for the oxygen atom. Similarly, in a majority of contexts, a scholar in the area of the humanities and social sciences cannot make an intervention, the kind that pushes the boundaries of knowledge, without unsettling the dominant structures and value systems, which they themselves are part of, live by, and also benefit from. For instance, the norms, values, and practices which define the idea of marriage in contexts like ours are things that a male scholar would have to deal with as a member of our society, and any intervention on his part which raises questions about gender-based inequalities embodied in such norms, values, and practices would be to question his own privilege. Needless to say that such an intervention could result in an existential crisis for the scholar, at least temporarily. Such interventions also entail the possibility of backlash from society. One needs thorough training to withstand that pressure.

In place of interventions that unsettle the existing order, what we often see is work, which re-presents commonsensical knowledge garbed in jargon. To give an example from an area that I am a bit familiar with, much of the work that takes place in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL) identifies lack of motivation on the part of the students and also teachers and also lack of proper training for teachers as the primary reasons for the plight of English education in the country. This reading is not very different from a layperson’s understanding of the problem, and what we often see as research findings in the field of ESL is the same understanding, albeit dressed up in technical-sounding language. Such readings do not unsettle the existing order. They put the blame on the powerless. Very limited is the work that sees the present plight of English education as a systemic or structural problem. Reading that plight as a systemic problem requires us to re-evaluate the fundamental structures which govern our society, and such re-evaluation is unsettling is many ways. I argue that that is what is expected of scholarship in the ESL field, but unfortunately that is not what we see as coming out of the field.

If what gets produced as knowledge in the humanities and social sciences is jargonized commonsense, then the claim that such fields have nothing important to say is valid. If what a scholar in those fields has to say is not different to a layperson’s understanding of a given reality, the question whether there is any point in producing such scholars becomes valid.

In my view, the humanities and social sciences are in need of fundamental restructuring. This restructuring is not the kind which calls for the incorporation of a bit of soft skills here and a bit of soft skills there so that those who come out of those fields easily fit into predefined slots in society but the kind that results in the enhancement of the critical thinking capacity of the scholars. It is the kind of restructuring that would produce scholars who are capable of engaging in a political reading of the realities that define our existence in society and raise difficult questions about such existence, in other words, scholars who are capable of muddying the water.

(Maduranga Kalugampitiya is attached to Department of English, University of Peradeniya)

Kuppi is a politics and pedagogy happening on the margins of the lecture hall thatparodies, subverts, and simultaneously reaffirms social hierarchies.

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Selective targeting not law’s purpose



By Jehan Perera

The re-emergence of Donald Trump in the United States is a reminder that change is not permanent. Former President Trump is currently utilising the grievances of the white population in the United States with regard to the economic difficulties that many of them face to make the case that they need to be united to maintain their position in society. He is coming forward as their champion. The saying “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is often attributed to the founders of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, among many others, though Lord Denning in The Road to Justice (1988) stated that the phrase originated in a statement of Irish orator John Philpot Curran in 1790. The phrase is often used to emphasise the importance of being vigilant in protecting one’s rights and freedoms.

Ethnic and religious identity are two powerful concepts by which people may be mobilised the world over. This is a phenomenon that seemed to have subsided in Western Europe due to centuries of secular practices in which the state was made secular and neutral between ethnicities and religions. For a short while last year during the Aragalaya, it seemed that Sri Lanka was transcending its ethnic and religious cleavages in the face of the unexpected economic calamity that plunged large sections of the population back into poverty. There was unprecedented unity especially at the street level to demonstrate publicly that the government that had brought the country to this sorry pass had to go. The mighty force of people’s power succeeded in driving the leaders of that government out of power. Hopefully, there will be a government in the future that will bring the unity and mutual respect within the people, especially the younger generations, to the fore and the sooner the better as the price is growing higher by the day.

But like the irrepressible Donald Trump the old order is fighting to stage its comeback. The rhetoric of ethnicity and religion being in danger is surfacing once more. President Ranil Wickremesinghe who proclaimed late last year that the 13th Amendment to the constitution would be implemented in full, as it was meant to be, and enable the devolution of power to be enjoyed by the people of the provinces, including those dominated by Tamils and Muslims, has gone silent on this promise. The old order to which he is providing a new economic vision is clearly recalcitrant on ethno-religious matters. As a result, the government’s bold plan to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as promised to the international community in 2015 to address the unresolved human rights issues of the war, is reportedly on the rocks. The main Tamil political parties have made statements that they will not legitimise or accept such a mechanism in the absence of a genuine devolution of power. Politics must not override policies.


The sense of threat to ethnicity and religion looms too large once again for forward movement in conflict resolution between the different communities that constitute the Sri Lankan nation which is diverse and plural. Two unlikely persons now find themselves at the centre of an emotion-heavy ethno-religious storm. One is a comedian, the other is a religious preacher. Both of them have offended the religious sensibilities of many in the ethno-religious Sinhala Buddhist majority community. Both of their statements were originally made to small audiences of their own persuasion, but were then projected through social media to reach much larger audiences. The question is whether they made these statements to rouse religious hatred and violence. There have been numerous statements from all sides of the divide, whether ethnic, religious or political, denouncing them for their utterances.

Both comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya and pastor Jerome Fernando have apologised for offending and hurting the religious sentiments of the Buddhist population. They made an attempt to remedy the situation when they realised the hurt, the anger and the opposition they had generated. This is not the first time that such hurtful and offensive comments have been made by members of one ethno-religious community against members of another ethnic-religious community. Taking advantage of this fact the government is arguing the case for the control of social media and also the mainstream media. It is preparing to bring forward legislation for a Broadcasting Regulatory Commission that would also pave the way to imprison journalists for their reporting, impose fines, and also revoke the licences issued to electronic media institutions if they impact negatively on national security, national economy, and public order or create any conflict among races and religions.

In a free society, opportunities are provided for people to be able to air their thoughts and dissents openly, be it at Hyde Park or through their representatives in Parliament. The threat to freedom of speech and to the media that can arise from this new law can be seen in the way that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which is the world’s standard bearer on civil and political rights has been used and is being abused in Sri Lanka. It was incorporated into Sri Lankan law in a manner that has permitted successive governments to misuse it. It is very likely that the Broadcast Regulatory Commission bill will yield a similar result if passed into law. The arrest and detention of comedian Natasha Edirisooriya under the ICCPR Act has become yet another unfortunate example of the misuse of a law meant to protect human rights by the government. Pastor Jerome Fernando is out of prison as he is currently abroad having left the country a short while before a travel ban was delivered to him.


The state media reported that a “Police officer said that since there is information that she was a person who was in the Aragalaya protest, they are looking into the matter with special attention.” This gives rise to the inference that the reason for her arrest was politically motivated. Comedian Edirisooriya was accused of having violated the provisions in the ICCPR in Section 3(1) that forbids hate speech. Section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act prohibits advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, violence or hostility. The international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has pointed out that in the case of Edirisooriya that for speech to be illegal on the grounds of being hate speech it requires “a clear showing of intent to incite others to discriminate, be hostile towards or commit violence against the group in question.” Amnesty International also notes that “When the expression fails to meet the test, even if it is shocking, offensive or disturbing, it should be protected by the state.”

Ironically, in the past there have been many instances of ethnic and religious minorities being targeted in a hateful manner that even led to riots against them, but successive governments have been inactive in protecting them or arresting their persecutors. Such targeting has taken place, often for political purposes in the context of elections, in blatant bids to mobilise sections of the population through appeals to narrow nationalism and fear of the other. The country’s political and governmental leaders need to desist from utilising the ICCPR Act against those who make social and political critiques that are outside the domain of hate speech. The arrest of Bruno Divakara, the owner of SL-Vlogs, under the ICCPR Act is an indication of this larger and more concerning phenomenon which is being brought to the fore by the Broadcasting Regulatory Commission bill.

The crackdown on the space for free expression and critical comment is unacceptable in a democratic polity, especially one as troubled as Sri Lanka, in which the economy has collapsed and caused much suffering to the people and the call to hold elections has been growing. The intervention of the Human Rights Commission which has called on the Inspector General of Police to submit a report on the arrest and its rationale is a hopeful sign that the independence of institutions intended to provide a check and balance will finally prevail. The Sri Lankan state will hopefully evolve to be a neutral arbiter in the disputes between competing ethnic, religious and partisan political visions of what the state should be and what constitutes acceptable behaviour within it. Taking on undemocratic powers in a variety of ways and within a short space of time is unlikely to deliver economic resurgence and a stable and democratic governance the country longs for. Without freedom, justice and fair play within, there can be no hope of economic development that President Wickremesinghe would be wanting to see.

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Girl power… to light up our scene



Manthra: Pop, rock and Sinhala songs

We have never had any outstanding all-girl bands, in the local scene, except, perhaps…yes The Planets, and that was decades ago!

The Planets did make a name for themselves, and they did create quite a lot of excitement, when they went into action.

Of course, abroad, we had several top all-girl bands – outfits like the Spice Girls, Bangles, Destiny’s Child, and The Supremes.

It’s happening even now, in the K-pop scene.

Let’s hope we would have something to shout about…with the band Manthra – an all-girl outfit that came together last year (2022).

Manthra is made up of Hiruni Fernando (leader/bass guitar), Gayathma Liyanage (lead guitar), Amaya Jayarathne (drums), Imeshini Piyumika (keyboards), and Arundathi Hewawitharana (vocals).

Amaya Arundathi and Imeshini are studying at the University of Visual and Performing Arts, while Gayathma is studying Architecture at NIMB, and Hiruni is the Western Music teacher at St. Lawrence’s Convent, and the pianist at Galadari Hotel, having studied piano and classical guitar at West London University.

They have already displayed their talents at various venues, events, weddings, and on TV, as well (Vanithabimana Sirasa TV and Charna TV Art Beat).

Additionally, the band showcased their talent at the talent show held at the Esoft Metro Campus.

The plus factor, where this all-girl outfit is concerned, is that their repertoire is made up rock, pop, and Sinhala songs.

Explaining as to how they came up with the name Manthra, founder member Hiruni said that Manthra means a word, or sound, repeated to aid concentration in meditation, and that the name was suggested by one of the band members.

Hiruni Fernando: Founder and leader of Manthra

She also went on to say that putting together a female band is not an easy task, in the scene here.

“We faced many difficulties in finding members. Some joined and then left, after a short while. Unlike a male band, where there are many male musicians in Sri Lanka, there are only a few female musicians. And then, there are some parents who don’t like their daughters getting involved in music.”

With talented musicians in their line-up, the future certainly looks bright for Manthra who are now keen to project themselves, in an awesome way, in the scene here, and abroad, as well.

“We are keen to do stage shows and we are also planning to create our own songs,” said Hiruni.

Yes, we need an all-girl group to add variety to our scene that is now turning out to be a kind of ‘repeating groove,’ where we see, and hear, almost the same thing…over and over again!

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