Posts filed under 'Healthy Foods'

Walnuts each day keep heart disease away

I like walnuts and I was delighted to see that not only are they good to eat, but they can help prevent coronary heart diease.

The humble walnut looks like it should be a super star amongst healthy foods for not only does it contain a range of healthy Omega 3 oils, as found in oily fish, but it can also reduce cholesterol levels too.

According to the study in the Journal of Nutrition, eating about 1.5 ounces of walnuts each day brings many cardiovascular benefits, reducing many of the risk factors that can cause heart disease.

Of course nuts are infamous for their high calorific properties, which can help put on those extra pounds, however it appears this small amount of walnuts eaten daily should not have adverse affects on your weight, particularly if you are following a healthy balanced diet anyway.

Add comment October 11th, 2006 Written By: chris

Your diet may lack vital enzymes

Enzymes are vital to the metabolic processes that take place in your body. They work as catalysts in assisting the chemical processes involved in converting one substance
into another.

For instance, a proteolytic enzyme will convert proteins into peptides and amino acids so that the latter being smaller molecules could be readily absorbed in your intestine.

Dr Jeremy Kaslov, a biochemist and Ellen Cutler have authored a book ‘Micromiracles: Discover the Healing Power of Enzymes.’ In the book they underline that our current diets and lifestyles lead to deficiencies of essential enzymes which in turn result into food cravings, weight gain, premature ageing, lowered immunity and food intolerances.

Being “essential to every bodily function including breathing, circulation and immune response,” says Cutler, “poor diet, digestive stress, metabolic imbalance, illness and medications lower the enzyme levels.”

The authors explain three basic groups of enzymes and their functions. The systemic enzymes maintain blood and tissues, keep your heart beating in the right rhythm and your senses, mood and memory in order. The systemic enzymes are made by your body when you are healthy. Your body faces deficiency of systemic enzymes during stress and sickness. Hence your healing power is affected.

The digestive enzymes help your body absorb food nutrients. Hence, the need for your body to keep producing digestive enzymes to help digestion.

The food enzymes are the enzymes which are present in the food naturally. They are vital supplements to the stock of enzymes present in your body. But if they are deficient in your food your body has to work so much more to make up for the deficiency, thus curtailing the supply of enzymes to some other vital bodily functions.

Your diet therefore needs to be watched for unhealthy attributes.

Since digestion of food starts in your mouth, the authors of the book recommend that you chew your food 30-40 times and not just 3-5 as normally done. This will help the food enzymes to help complete digestion in your mouth.

Add comment October 6th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Tea and Yoga please

I like tea, and in fact I like it even more now that I’ve learnt that black tea can help relieve stress.

Of course as a British person, I’m used to the ritual cup of tea that is offered whenever there is a crisis, and even when there isn’t. Perhaps this is the reason – it helps sooths our fevered brows in time of need.

Actually, according to the research, it seems that drinking black tea helps to reduce cortisol in your blood. Cortisol is one of the stress hormones, so reducing its blood levels could explain how the subjects in the experiment could de-stress more quickly and effectively after a stressful event.

I am intrigued that it was black tea that seems to exhibit these beneficial properties during the experiment and tea with milk doesn’t seem to have been tested – presumably to ensure standardisation of tea “dosage”. It is reassuring, however, that tea can be so beneficial, given the huge quantities that are consumed worldwide.

So for those with busy and stressful lives, we can now prescribe the perfect solution – a session practising yoga followed by a nice cup of tea!

Add comment October 5th, 2006 Written By: chris

The wonderful elderberry

I am fascinated about how certain foods can improve our health and was interested to read how elderberries can be used to combat bird flu.

It seems that an extract from the elderberry, Sambucol, can reduce the number of bird flu viruses that can enter cells of an infected patient, by blocking the viral entry through the cell membranes.

The elderberry extract isn’t actually curing bird flu, by killing the viruses, and eliminating them from the patient, but it can stop bird flu viruses from spreading through the cells of the body. Apparently the extract can also be used to control seasonal influenza too.

The work is still experimental at the moment and much more research is required before we all start growing elderberry bushes in our gardens, however this shows how natural plant extracts can exert powerful pharmaceutical effects, and may even be our saviour should the worst happen and the world succumbs to another flu pandemic.

Add comment September 21st, 2006 Written By: chris

Mickey Mouse says “Eat your veggies!”

I was amused to see that Disney cartoon characters are being recruited to encourage children in the USA to eat more healthily.

Apparently a company in the United States has signed a deal with Walt Disney to licence cartoon characters that will be displayed on packets of fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods such as breakfast cereals.

With childhood obesity so prevalent in the States – and elsewhere – I think any attempt to make healthy foods more appealing to children should be encouraged.

Research has shown that if young children are introduced to foods with a high nutritional value, they are more likely to incorporate these healthy foods into their diet as they get older. Hopefully they will eat less fast food and more fruit and vegetables instead.

So Mickey, Tweety Bird and Daisy Duck you are welcome recruits in the war against obesity. Please pack your kit bags and come to the UK too!

Add comment September 6th, 2006 Written By: chris

Holy basil the auspicious

If there is a system of beliefs that has caught the fancy and has stayed on to rule the mind of a common man, an architect, a builder, a developer and just anybody who has anything to do with construction, that is Vastu, the Indian version of the Chinese Feng Shui. Vastu and Feng Shui claim that the inanimate objects like the design and direction of the structures we live and work in and the effects placed in them affect our present and future.

I have been observing for the last five years or so how Vastu in India has established its roots in the psyche of all and sundry. A number of my friends living in the so-called inappropriately designed houses ordered, at vast expense, drastic changes to make them Vastu compliant.

Properties which do not face east and north, going by Vastu, are inauspicious and hence would be sold at a far lesser price than those which face the “good directions”.

Needless to mention, Vastu and Feng Shui have spawned an army of experts and consultants, some of who are highly paid for their advice. Feng Shui calls for far lesser changes and hence expense, though.

Living in a westward facing house for more than a decade and going through several hardships too, convinced me that non-compliance to Vastu was the root cause of my troubles. Unable to pay for a consultant, let alone for the anticipatory changes to my house, I decided to consult my yoga teacher. “Put a plant of Holy basil in your house and forget”, he was clear about the solution.

After having done that, I realized that my entire westward facing neighbourhood was prospering. My neighbours were changing their cars frequently enough, a ready sign of their prosperity. If I had to put up with my old car it had nothing to do with my house or its direction. It was to do with the way I managed (or mismanaged) my affairs. That was something I put right after I put Holy basil, neatly tucked in a pot, in my house. Things started looking up thereafter.

The leaves of Holy basil adorn all the rituals of worship and daily prayers. They are used both fresh and dry. In a traditional Indian home freshly prepared food is first offered to God before every one else is served. The food offered to God is topped with Basil leaves as a mark of purity and respect.

The Basil plant is worshipped as goddess Tulsi, the Hindi name for the plant. In worship it is offered water with chanting of religious verses from holy scriptures. The religious place of the plant is much attributed to its ability to keep insects at bay and for its anti-microbial properties. It is known to purify the atmosphere as well as having a high medicinal value.

Dr George Birdwood, Professor of Anatomy, Grant Medical College, Bombay wrote to The Times, London, dated May 2, 1903 – “When the Victoria Gardens were established in Bombay, the men employed on those works were pestered by mosquitoes. At the recommendation of the Hindu managers, the whole boundary of the gardens was planted with holy basil, on which the plague of mosquitoes was at once abated, and fever altogether disappeared from among the resident gardeners”.

Add comment September 5th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

High fat diets and copper intake cause memory loss

A recent study shows that a high intake of fat and copper are most likely associated with the cognitive decline in older adults. The study was led by Martha Clare Morris at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The researchers found that copper alone “was not harmful at all in people who did not have this high-fat diet; but the combination of the two had a significant detrimental effect.” The findings of the study are reported in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology.

An earlier study had revealed an increase risk for Alzheimer’s disease by two to three folds and cognitive decline in older adults who were on the diet rich in saturated and low in unsaturated fats. Fat is saturated by the process of hydrogenation whereby it solidifies at low temperatures. The process helps increase the shelf life of fat.

The findings of the earlier study were based on an animal study. In the study a set of rabbits were put on a high cholesterol diet and were given distilled water which had copper in trace amounts. The presence of cholesterol is associated with the hydrogenation of fat.

Another set of rabbits were put on a diet rich in unhydrogenated fat along with distilled water. A loss of memory function was discovered in the former set of animals only.

Also during autopsy, amyloid beta plaques were discovered in appreciable amounts in the rabbits that were on a diet rich in hydrognetated fat and distilled water containing copper. The deposition of Amyloid beta plaques is particularly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

A daily intake of 1.6 mg of copper is considered to be high, however the element is also part of vitamin supplements which older adults are advised to take on a regular basis.

Add comment August 28th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Have a headache? Take a strong curry!

I like indian food, particularly the mild or medium strength ones such as masala based sauces, but I never realised that curries can have health benefits too.

In fact I’ve always associated strong curries with anything but good health as I suffered the after effects the next day, however the news that curries can help relieve headaches is great news for curry lovers across the world.

It is well known that many plants can exert a pharmaceutical effect, and this is of course the basis for homeopathic medicine, however it appears that the active drug in aspirin – salicylic acid – is found in indian spices such as turmeric, cumin and paprika.

So much so that in fact a portion of vindaloo contains more salicylic acid than one aspirin tablet.
Not only is aspirin effective for relieving headaches, it is also taken by those with heart problems, as it can help prevent clot formation, and can help prevent bowel cancer, so it turns out that curries are indeed good for your health.

Luckily for those who do not like indian food, salicylic acid, the research has found, is also present in a variety of other foods such as tomatoes, fruit and salads which further supports the five fruit and veg a day theory for health eating.

Add comment August 22nd, 2006 Written By: chris

Healthy food choices for children

Dr. Robert Lustig, a paediatric endocrinologist from the University of California, San Francisco, has blamed high-calorie, low-fibre Western diets for hormonal imbalances that lead to over eating among children. America now has twice as many overweight children than three decades ago. That means one in five children in the US is overweight.

Dr Lustig has particularly blamed the food processing industry, especially the fruit juice manufactures, for their increasing practice of loading their products with fructose and reducing their fibre content. Fructose is a form of sugar present in many fruits.

The fibre comes from the indigestible component of food, such as the peel in the case of fruits. The drink, which is therefore rendered less nutritious, is promoted as healthy for the children thus leading to its excessive consumption.
Going by the reports in the media, Dr Lusting has become a strong opponent of the processed food industry. He has also blamed parents at home and administrators at schools for their unhealthy choice of foods for children.

According to Dr Lustig, diseases that once occurred among adults are now increasingly seen in children. He particularly quotes type 2 diabetes in children to be largely associated with their being overweight and obese.

Overweight children will become overweight adults who will be at a greater risk of hypertension, heart disease and strokes.

Lustig says that the current Western food environment has become highly “insulinogenic”, which is demonstrated by its increased energy density, high-fat content, increased fructose composition, decreased fiber, and decreased dairy content.

“In particular, fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin,” he adds.

Lustig’s current research focuses on the hormone leptin, which is associated with regulation of calorie intake and expenditure in the body. When leptin is functioning properly it increases physical activity, decreases appetite, and increases feelings of well-being. Conversely, when leptin is suppressed, feelings of well-being and activity decrease and appetite increases, a state called “leptin resistance”.

It is well known that another hormone called insulin acts on the brain to encourage eating and also helps in processing the blood sugar that comes from the food we eat.

The food processing industry has been held responsible for adding sugar to a wide variety of foods and for the removal of fiber. Both of these promote insulin production. This, according to Lustig, has created a “toxic environment” in which our foods are essentially addictive and tend to lure kids into eating calorie-rich, low-fibre products, and making them lose their sense as to when they should eat and when not.

Add comment August 21st, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Breakfast like a pauper

You may have heard this saying:

“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper”

It’s always made sense to me as it generally follows the changes in your daily metabolic rates. It delivers energy when you need it during the day and reduces the calories as your metabolism slows in the evening and whilst you are asleep.

I have followed this pretty well, apart from one thing – I thought I was a king at either end of the day and had a big breakfast as well as a big dinner!

Well that was until about a week ago. It wasn’t a sudden desire to lose weight or become more healthy, it was that I changed my trip to the gym from the afternoon to first thing in the morning – basically to free up the rest of the day for work.

Before you imagine me as some huge rotund beast feasting on plates of bacon, eggs and sausages for breakfast every day, actually my “king sized” breakfast had consisted of a large bowl of cereal or muesli, a glass of orange juice and a cup of tea.

One day last week, I had this breakfast and went to the gym to do my usual stint on the treadmill. Disaster!

I could hardly run and felt pretty ill. All that cereal wasn’t doing me any good at all as I tried to jog along.

The next day all I had was a cup of tea for breakfast and then I went to the gym again. What a difference! I felt really fit and light on my feet.

When I got back home I started work and at around 11am suddenly remembered that I hadn’t had breakfast at all that day so I had a banana and a pot of yoghurt. I wasn’t really hungary.

Ever since, my breakfasts have only consisted of a banana, a pot of yoghurt and a cup of tea and I’ve been feeling great. I’ve not missed all that cereal for breakfast and I’ve not been keeling over with hunger. I feel fitter and more alert, probably because my body hasn’t got to digest all that cereal or meusli.

So breakfasting like a pauper seems better – but I still dine like a king!

Add comment August 9th, 2006 Written By: chris

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