15 March 2014

Common Symptoms of Anaemia

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Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity is insufficient to meet physiologic needs, which vary by age, sex, altitude, smoking, and pregnancy status. Iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause of anaemia globally, although other conditions, such as folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin A deficiencies, chronic inflammation, parasitic infections, and inherited disorders can all cause anaemia (WHO Definition of Anaemia).

Iron rich foods

The most common symptoms of anaemia include:
  • tiredness
  • lethargy (lack of energy)
  • dizziness or drowsiness
  • shortness of breath (dyspnoea)
  • head ache
  • pica
  • hair loss
  • difficulty swallowing
  • feeling itchy

You may also notice changes in your physical appearance like a pale complexion, painful ulcers (open sores) on the corners of your mouth, dry, flaking nails.

Anaemia may be due to
  • Insufficient blood formation when there is inadequate intake, absorption or utilisation of proteins, vitamins, and minerals
  • Due to blood loss in excessive menstruation, bleeding piles, hook worm infestation
  • Inexcessive intravascular blood destruction.

Diet
A list of foods suitable for anaemic patients is given below: Whole cereals, legumes, pulses, greens, citrus fruits, dried fruits and nuts, mushroom, mutton, egg yolk, liver, kidneys.

Vitamin C rich foods should be included to aid absorption of iron rich foods.

Iron Rich Foods
 No Food Nutritive value/100 gm 
 Cereals and their products 
1Ragi3.90
2Handpounded rice3.20
3Rice flakes20.00
Pulses
4Bengal gram whole 4.60
5Bengal gram-roasted9.50
6Green gram whole4.40
7Green gram-dhal3.90
8Cow Pea (karamani)8.60
9Horse gram 6.77
10Peas Dried7.05
11soya bean10.40
Leafy Vegetables
13Agathi3.90
14Mint15.60
15Paruppu keerai14.80
Other vegetables
16Plantain green6.27
17Sundakkai dried22.20
Nuts and oil seeds
18Almonds5.09
19Cashew nut5.81
20Gingelly seeds9.30
21Mango powder45.20
Fruits
22Seethaphal4.31
23Pomegranate1.79
24Dried dates5.60


Image Credit: Flickr/ USDA

14 March 2014

Heavens’ Dew

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The water of tender coconut is the most nutritious beverage that the nature has provided. Coconut water has a long history of use as both a food and as a medicine. It not only gratifies thirst but revitalizes the body and brings about a sense of well-being and renewed health.

Tender coconut, the most nutritious beverage nature has provided

Compositionally, its major constituents are Sugars in the forms of glucose and fructose (0.5 to 1.4%) Coconut water also contains small quantities of protein (0.7 percent). The fat content of coconut water is so low; it is essentially fat-free. It has caloric value of 17.4 per 100gm.

Tender coconut water is rich in electrolytes which closely resemble the electrolytes present in our body .It is particularly rich in potassium, an essential nutrient. Calcium, magnesium and sodium are some of the major constituents. It also contains a variety of trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulphur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, and others. Tender coconut water contains both ascorbic acid and vitamins of B group which help in boosting immunity.

Benefits of tender coconut water

  • Coconut water acts as an excellent oral re-hydration medium in case of de-hydration. When there is loss of fluid, especially during strenuous exercise, during bouts of illness like cholera, dysentery, influenza, jaundice and other ailments.
  • Coconut water also alleviates constipation, improves intestinal function and promotes digestive health. It is often suggested for people suffering from ulcers.
  • Coconut water helps reduce plaque formation and improves circulation, thereby reducing the chances of heart attack and stroke. It’s rich in Potassium and magnesium there by effective in reducing high blood pressure.
  • Tender coconut water is a natural diuretic, increases urine output. It is reported to clear-up bladder infections, remove kidney stones, and researches have proved that coconut water can be very effective in dissolving kidney stones.
  • Women are encouraged to drink it when pregnant and nursing so their milk will provide all the nutrients necessary for a healthy baby. Infants are fed with coconut jelly (soft immature coconut meat) as weaning food.
  • Coconut water is a safe method to get rid of these worms in infants.
  • Coconut water is the finest natural source of cytokinins. (Growth hormone). When cytokinins are rubbed on to the skin, they stimulate cell division of connective tissue which replaces older, damaged tissue with younger tissue. This is the reason for adding cytokinins to facial creams and lotions. Also applied over the rashes of smallpox, chicken pox, measles and prickly heats.

Image Credit: Flickr/ McKay Savage

13 March 2014

Prebiotics and probiotics

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Probiotics are viable microorganisms that survive passage through the gut and exert positive effect on the consumer. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifido bacteria are the most conventional types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be useful. Many species of lactic acid bacteria and fungi are used in the form of capsules, tablets and sachets. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures like yogurt, soy yogurt, cheese, jellies. Researches into the benefits of probiotics suggest a range of possibly favorable medicinal uses like prevention of diarrheal diseases, cancer prevention, lipid lowering, and enhancement of immune responses.

Prebiotics are non digestible carbohydrates that selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial microbes. It is believed that a prebiotic should increase the number and/or activity of microorganism. The most predominant forms of prebiotics are nutritionally categorized as soluble fiber. Adequate scientific evidences exist for the beneficial effects of prebiotics such as improved bowel function, cancer prevention, and lipid lowering effect. More widely used prebiotics are whole cereals, onion, garlic, honey.

Synbiotics is the term used to describe foodstuffs in which the prebiotic compound selectively supports the probiotic compound.

11 March 2014

Tips to reduce incidence of kidney stones

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Here are some ways to reduce the threat of kidney stones:

Drink a glass of water
Image Credit: Flickr/ thenext28days
  • Drink water throughout the day. Normal healthy persons are recommended to drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. If you live in a hot, dry climate or you exercise frequently, you may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine. If your urine is light and clear, you're likely drinking enough water.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is not too high in animal protein. This includes chicken, mutton, fish, egg, curd and paneer. These foods contain a lot of protein, and too much protein may lead to kidney stones.
  • Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose non-animal protein sources, such as legumes, grams and dhals A diet with high levels of sodium, sucrose, or animal protein increase the likelihood of kidney stone formation.
  • Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. About 75% of Kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones. Hence,   it advisable to reduce foods with high oxalate content and introduce high levels of citrates. Citrates reduce calcium oxalate stone by dissolving them in the kidneys. Drink lemonade made from real lemons especially homemade ones.
  • Increase fibre content of your diet.
  • Include tender coconut water, fresh fruit juices, aerated water and weak tea to ensure passage of over 2000 ml of urine per day.

Foods those are rich in calcium, oxalate and Phosphate:

Reduce the foods listed in the following table if you are prone to renal stones.

Calcium
Oxalates
Phosphates
Ragi, Leafy vegetables, CauliflowerLeafy vegetables, Grapes
Chickoo, Tomatoes,Tea
Soft drinks, organ meat, nuts whole cereals
Milk and milk products,
Small fish with bones, Prawns, Crabs
Beetroot, Cashew, Chocolates. Cocoa,cola drinks

Know about phytochemicals in your diet

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What do tomato, onion, apple all have in common? They do not belong to the same food group nor do they have the same nutrients. Tomato has ample of lycopene, onion contains sulphur compound and apple contains quercetin. These foods contain phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals in your diet
Image Credit: Flickr/ Just_Jane
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds in plants but are not nutrients. These compounds have strong biologic actions when they are consumed at effective levels on regular basis. Awareness in these compounds has developed because of compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains improves health and decreases risk of chronic degenerative diseases.

Phytochemicals are chemicals that vary from plant to plant. They include thousands of pigments, antioxidants and thousands of other compounds that have been associated with protection from heart diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes mellitus.

Phytochemicals – Their food sources and Actions


Phytochemical

Sources

Benefits
Alkyl
resorcinol
Whole grains Reduces risk of
diabetes , heart diseases and some types of cancer
Capsaicin Hot peppers, chillies Prevents clot formation of blood and reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Carotenoids (includes beta carotene, lycopene, lutein) Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes Boosts antioxidant activity
Improves vision, contribute to maintenance of prostrate health.
Curcumin Turmeric Inactivates enzymes that activates carcinogens
Dietary fat(Beta glucan, cellulose, gums and mucilage) Whole grains, oats, legumes, Whole pulses. Promotes a healthy digestive tract, reduces risk of heart disease, and maintains healthy blood glucose levels.
Fatty acids
Polyunsaturated
fatty acid (PUFA)
Monounsaturated
fatty acid (MUFA)

Walnuts, flax seed

Olive oil

May reduce risk of heart diseases, improves mental and visual function
Flavanones Citrus foods Boosts antioxidant activity
Flavonols

Onions, apples, tea, broccoli Bolster cellular antioxidant defences
Proanthocyanidins

Peanuts, Cinnamon Maintains urinary tract health and heart health
Prebiotics and probiotics Whole grains, onions, garlics, honey, yoghurt Improves gastrointestinal health, and healthy immune function
Soy proteins Soya based foods Improves heart health
Reduces risk of osteoporosis
Maintanance of menopausal health in women
Sulphides and thiols Cruciferous vegetables like brocolli,cauli flower, kale, cabbage, raddish Healthy immune function

10 March 2014

Cinnamon, the wonder spice

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Indian folk medicine has been in practice from time immemorial. Traditional medicine interconnects our body with nature for a healthy living. The practice of consuming natural foods must be cultivated rather than loading one’s body with chemicals.

Let’s be acquainted with the benefits of cinnamon:

Cinnamon, the wonder spice
Cinnamon, the dried bark of an evergreen tree that grows in the tropics, is one of the world's most popular spices. It can be found in foods, chewing gums, toothpaste, beverages and medications. Researches carried out to prove its effectiveness in treating high blood sugar levels and lipid levels are very promising.

Among several plant materials of the genus Cinnamomum, only the bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum contains the major phenolic metabolite methyl hydroxyl chalcone polymer (MHCP) accountable for its therapeutic use. While there are approximately one hundred varieties of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamomum aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon) are the leading varieties consumed. Ceylon cinnamon is also referred to as "true cinnamon", while the Chinese variety is known as "cassia". While both are relatively similar in characteristics and both feature a fragrant, sweet and warm taste, the flavour of the Ceylon variety is more refined and subtle.

Scientists have discovered that cinnamon has insulin-like properties, and can be useful for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe the benefits of cinnamon may include decreasing blood glucose levels as well as triglycerides and cholesterol all of which are especially important for diabetes sufferers.

The benefits of cinnamon include treating
  • stomach disorders,
  • diarrhoea,
  • nausea and
  • vomiting.

It acts as a digestive aid and can relieve gas and bloating. One of the many health benefits lies in its antibacterial capabilities. Researches have proved that the essential oil of cinnamon can provide an adequate degree of protection against food borne pathogens to a certain extent due to its anti-bacterial quality.

Cinnamon has thermo genic properties that help accelerate your metabolic engine and narrow your waistline. Obese subjects who consumed cinnamon on a regular basis experienced a significant alteration in body composition. Their body fat decreased by 0.7%, and their muscle mass increased by 1.1%. These changes took place without alterations in the diet or physical activity of the subjects.

Other common uses include treatment for
  • common infections,
  • the common cold,
  • menopausal symptoms,
  • rheumatic conditions,
  • hypertension,
  • angina and
  • kidney disorders.

Consuming roughly one half of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day or less leads to dramatic improvements in
  • blood sugar,
  • cholesterol,
  • LDL-cholesterol and
  • triglycerides.

Intake of cinnamon, at these levels, is found to be very safe and has no side effects. Avoid using cinnamon during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.