Fertility: Enjoying a Healthy Diet

Many people don’t associate fertility and healthy diet with each other, but they go hand-in-hand. Your reproductive system is affected by what you eat. Everything you eat eventually enters your blood stream and travels throughout your body. If you put processed foods or unhealthy foods into your body, it affects your digestive system, nervous system, immune system and reproductive system. For increased fertility and reproductive health, you’ll need to make a few lifestyle changes that involve eating a healthy diet.

Incorporate the following foods in your diet that are good for your reproductive system.

  • Green leafy vegetables are high in folic acid. Include Brussel sprouts and asparagus as part of your daily intake. Folic acid reduces the risk of ovulation issues.
  • Fruit are high in vitamins and have numerous nutritional benefits. Oranges and strawberries contain vitamin C which strengthens the immune system and improve sperm quality. Bananas contain vitamin B6 which regulates the hormones for egg and sperm development. Apples are high fibre and low in calories.
  • Cereals that are high in fibre are also good for your reproductive system. It helps to control sugar levels and protect heart health.
  • Almonds contain vitamin E which is an antioxidant and helps to protect the DNA in the sperm and eggs.
  • Chicken is an important source of protein that is great for egg production.
  • Dark chocolate contains amino acid which can double the sperm volume.
  • Garlic improves the blood flow to the man’s sexual organs and it protects the sperm from damage.
  • Tomatoes boost the sperm count by up to 70% and can increase their swimming speed.
  • Sunflower seeds and oysters each contain zinc. Zinc is crucial for conception and is an important mineral for male and female fertility.
  • Carrots also increase your chances of conception because it is filled with carotenoids.

It is important to note that you’ll need to make a lot of changes to your diet if you are one who usually eats junk food or take-away meals. Smoking, alcohol and medication can all have a negative impact on your fertility. So you will need to cut down on these too. Good nutrition which is largely based on natural foods is essential for a healthy body and a productive reproductive system. A fertility doctor will advise you that a fertility treatment can be a challenging phase and it is always best to have a healthy lifestyle. Always consult a doctor when making lifestyle changes to your health.



How To Restore Gut Health After Antibiotic Use

The first antibiotic, Penicillin, was discovered in 1928 by a Scottish biologist named Sir Alexander Fleming while he was experimenting on influenza virus. He found that a common fungus, Penicillium notatum, can control the growth or kill certain kinds of bacteria. He named this newly discovered substance Penicillin, which successfully treated some deadly bacterial infections like syphilis, gangrene, and tuberculosis.

These days, most antibiotics are synthetic though they are usually chemically related to natural antibiotics. Antibiotics are of great value because they combat infections, save millions of lives, and are not harmful to normal body cells. However, they have their drawbacks as they kill healthy gut bacteria and may have side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infection.

When penicillin and other antibiotics were first introduced, they were perceived as wonder drugs because they worked quickly and seemed like an answer to all common illnesses. Unfortunately, decades of overuse have resulted in more and more drug-resistant germs – any bacterium that survives an antibiotic treatment can then multiply and pass on its resistant properties to other bacteria.

  • Although antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections, they have often been misused for viral infections as well (for example cold, flu, bronchitis, most coughs and sore throats, some ear and sinus infections, and stomach flu).
  • Antibiotics are commonly sprayed on fruits and vegetables and given to animals like cattle, chicken, and pigs. As a result, humans are consuming minute doses of antibiotics every day. The cumulative effect on healthy gut bacteria cannot be underestimated.

Antibiotics kill beneficial gut bacteria. Even a single round of antibiotics causes havoc to our gut health.

First, antibiotics cause leaky gut or intestinal permeability, because they so viciously inflame the intestinal lining resulting in the widening of spaces between cells. Normally, the food that we eat is broken down into tiny molecules before they are being absorbed. When we have leaky gut, large molecules of food get through the gut lining into the bloodstream. This triggers the immune system to react, makes antibodies against that food, and result in a food allergy.

Second, antibiotics decimate the population and diversity of good bacteria in the gut. Since 80% of our immune system is in the gut, these good bacteria are our major defense system against all sorts of illnesses. Not only is it important to have a preponderance of good bacteria versus bad, diversity of gut bacterial strains is also critical. Antibiotics are known to reduce the number and diversity of the resident bacterial population in the gut.

What do we do if we absolutely have to take antibiotics? Are there ways we can counter the damages caused by antibiotics?

First and foremost, take a quality probiotic supplement as this will immediately help to reseed some of the good bacteria in the gut.

Check to make sure the supplement contains one or more of these bacteria strains that have confirmed health-promoting features:

• Bifidobacterium bifidum

• Bifidobacterium brevis

• Bifidobacterium infantis

• Bifidobacterium longum

• Lactobacillus acidophilus

• Lactobacillus bulgaricus

• Lactobacillus casei

• Lactobacillus paracasei

• Lactobacillus plantarum

• Lactobacillus rhamnosus

• Lactobacillus salivarius

• Streptococcus thermophilus

Choose one with a higher bacteria count by looking at the number of organisms per capsule, expressed in billion CFU’s. Most brand range from 1-50 billion CFUs. In general, the higher the number, the more potent and expensive it is.

Duration

For the first month after antibiotic use, take a probiotic supplement twice a day, morning and evening. Some supplements are to be taken on empty stomach, some with food. Follow instructions on the bottle. For maintenance, take a probiotic supplement every day.

Apart from taking a supplement, the following are five additional dietary tips to help restore gut health:

1. Avoid Inflammatory Foods

With leaky gut, the gut lining is already inflamed, therefore, it makes no sense to continue eating foods that will cause more inflammation. The worst foods are:

  • wheat
  • dairy
  • sugar
  • deep fried foods

Duration

Stay away from inflammatory foods during antibiotic use and at least 7-10 days after. Best is to avoid for 2-4 weeks so that the gut lining has a chance to completely heal and rebuild.

2. Stewed Apples

Cut up two washed, unpeeled, organic apples into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a pot with filtered water up to about one-third of the apples. Add a few raisins and some cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the skin of the apple becomes shinny. This makes four servings.

The magic with stewed apples is the fiber inside the skin called pectin. When it is cooked, the pectin comes to the surface. It acts as a prebiotic (food that feeds the good bacteria) and helps seal the leaky gut.

Duration

Have the stewed apples twice a day for the first week after antibiotic use. Then reduce to once every few days for the rest of the month.

3. Chicken Bone Broth

For those who are not into cooking or have no time to cook, many health food stores do carry pre-made chicken bone broth. However, homemade bone broth still tastes the best.

Place organic chicken bones in a soup pot. Add vegetables (such as onions and carrots) and herbs (such as thyme, oregano, parsley, and bay leaf). Add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Fill with filtered water. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 3-4 hours. Season to taste.

Chicken bones are rich in collagen which acts as a prebiotic (food that feeds the good bacteria) and helps seal the leaky gut.

Duration

Drink a cup of chicken bone broth every day for the first few weeks after antibiotic use. For maintenance, drink on a regular basis.

4. Foods That Make Butyrate In The Gut

Butyrate is a fatty acid naturally found in butter, ghee (clarified butter), raw milk, parmesan cheese, animal fats, and kombucha (fermented tea).

Butyrate is also formed inside our gut when the good bacteria feed on insoluble fiber (bad bacteria do not feed on insoluble fiber.) Insoluble fiber passes through our intestines largely intact because humans do not have the enzymes to digest it (whereas soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid). Insoluble fiber prevents constipation by retaining water in the stool and making it soft and bulky.

Top insoluble fiber foods include:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds and flax seeds.
  • Vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, okra, green peas, artichokes, asparagus, beets, sweet potato, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, kale, bell peppers, onions, and carrots.
  • Fruits such as apple (with skin), pear (with skin), orange, raspberries, strawberries, apricots, mango, prunes, and figs.

(Please note that it is always preferable to buy organic fruits and vegetables as conventional produce is often sprayed with pesticides and antibiotics. However, if organic is not available, it is still preferable to eat non-organic vegetables than not eating vegetables at all.)

Butyrate is crucial to the well-being of our gut because it supports the health and regeneration of cells in the gut lining. In other words, butyrate helps to repair leaky gut. Multiple studies have shown its ability to fight colon cancer – people with higher levels of butyrate in the gut have a lower risk for colon cancer.

Duration

Make sure your daily diet is always rich in insoluble fiber, especially vegetables.

5. Fermented Vegetables

If you are not into making your own fermented vegetables, you can find them in the refrigerator section of many health food stores. Just make sure they have not been pasteurized as all the healthy bacteria will be lost.

Fermented vegetables are very rich in healthy bacteria or probiotics. Each type of vegetable provides a different strain of bacteria. Since diversity of gut bacteria is essential, it is best to eat several types of fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, fermented beets, and pickled carrots, cucumbers, and onions.

Duration

Eat a forkful of fermented vegetables twice a day for the first few weeks after antibiotic use. For maintenance, eat once a day.



What is a Healthy Eating Plan?

 Healthy  eating is important for everyone, from babies to the elderly. Learning to eat well is more than just eating a variety of foods so that your body gets the proper nutrients. It is also about enjoyment of  foods  and maintaining a  healthy  weight. Anyone can eat for good health. It involves 2 simple steps. First is to eat foods from all the different food groups. The second step is to eat a variety of foods from each group every day. Sounds simple. However so many people are not following a  healthy  eating plan. Busy lifestyles, availability of fast  food , advertising and a lack of understanding of what  healthy   food  is, all work against people trying for  healthier  eating. Unhealthy eating causes illness and weight problems. Type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically and is directly linked to the increase in obesity. Heart disease and some cancers are also linked to obesity.

A study by the Medical Journal of Australia found that 56% of Australian adults are considered overweight or obese. This is a 61% increase in obesity since 1991 Un-treated obesity poses significant, even life-threatening health risks.

Everyone understands the importance of having car/home/ insurance. Have you considered the importance of nutritional insurance? This means eating the foods that will protect you against future disease, and understanding the benefits nutritional supplements can provide.

If you are currently not following a  healthy  plan you will be surprised that you are most likely not eating enough. You may need to increase the amount of food you consume.

Daily Food Suggestions

Fruit 2-3 serves, Vegetables 5-7 serves, Protein 3-6 serves, Whole grains 2-3 serves, Dairy 2-3 serves

Antioxidant Super Foods

Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage. Eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants such as almonds, berries, citrus, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

1. Top your cereal with almonds or berries; add tomatoes to sandwiches, soups or stews; layer your whole grain bread sandwich with slices of peppers and fresh spinach.

2. Pack a snack bag of nuts, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and bell pepper slices for a nutritious pick-me-up between meals.

3. Protein snack bars carry easily for quick energy and a tasty treat.

Calcium

Calcium is the super nutrient that keeps bones and teeth strong. Now research shows that low-fat dairy also helps people lose weight! The best sources of calcium come from the cow.

1. Start your day with a protein rich breakfast. Add a bowl of whole grain cereal topped with skim milk and fresh fruit for a breakfast of champions.

2. Snack on low-fat yogurt or cheese between meals for an energizing treat.

3. Calcium-fortified juices and cereals are excellent alternatives to meet your three-a-day requirement.

Fibre

Fibre does wonderful things for the body, from lowering cholesterol levels, keeping you regular, and perhaps preventing certain cancers. Grandma called it roughage and we need plenty of it each day.

1. Read food labels to find whole grain breads and cereals that provide three or more grams of fibre per serving. A bowl full of bran or high-fibre cereal is a great start to meeting your daily needs.

2. Eat whole fruits and veggies for a  healthy  dose of fibre. Aim for five to nine servings a day. Juices don’t contain as much fibre as whole fruit.

3. Dried beans and lentils are loaded with fibre and protein, so add them to soups, stews, salads, eggs, and salsas.

Soy

Soy is a super nutrient and excellent source of protein. It can lower cholesterol, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease. 1. Tofu takes on the flavour of foods that it is cooked with. Try a stir-fry of colourful veggies and cubed tofu with a light Asian sauce for a quick meal. You can also find cereals at the store loaded with both soy and fibre. Serve with skim milk and you’ll get three super nutrients for breakfast.

2. Take a soy protein bar for a quick snack or lunch during the day. Soy nuts are another great portable snack option.

Water

Most of us don’t get enough of this precious stuff. As a result, we may look peaked and feel fatigued. Our bodies are composed of more fluid than anything else, so water is a vital nutrient for our well-being.

1. Fill up a 2 litre water bottle each morning and keep it with you for quick and refreshing drinks throughout the day.

2. Don’t rely on thirst; this sensation diminishes with age. Drink often and choose from nutritious liquids, including 100% fruit and vegetable juices, skim or low fat milk, broths, water, and herbal teas.

Never skip meals. It is important for your metabolism t eat 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks.

By following a  healthy  eating plan you will maintain your body in optimal fitness. You will decrease your risk of developing life style diseases. Your body will reward you by being in peak condition.



Health Benefits of Eating Rice

Rice is predominantly one of the most common foods of the world. In fact, it is eaten several times per day across different cultures. Still, it is one of the most misunderstood cereals or food. People across the world surrounded with many myths and misconceptions about eating rice, and the reason for this is the high concentration of carbohydrate and starch. While rice has great nutritional value and is among the healthiest foods of the world. When combined with fresh vegetables and spices it can make an incredible meal and can offer enormous health benefits.

No matter whether you are eating brown or white rice this food will offer valuable benefits in either of its forms. The range of benefits starts from one of the most admonished contents of rice that are carbohydrates. While, it is the presence of carbohydrate that makes rice one of the richest source of energy, and it acts as a fuel for the whole body. Carbohydrate present in the rice provides the uninterrupted supply of energy to the body.

Both white and brown rice have particular nutritional values altogether. White rice is a healthier choice as it resists oxidation. Mineral like calcium and iron are highly concentrated in white rice. And it is also a rich source of vitamin D, thiamine, riboflavin and various other Vitamins. Brown rice is considered as a whole grain, and is one of the best anti-oxidant. It is rich in selenium that restrains the development of common diseases like cancer, cardiac diseases and arthritis.

Gluten, the most problematic part of many grains is totally absent in rice and makes it a non-allergic grain. So it can, easily form part of the diet of those who are suffering from intestinal diseases and those who are allergic to proteins as it is gluten free food. It is also a safe option for all those who need a healthy source of carbs. Further, it contains a negligible amount of sodium and is considered as a great and safe food for all those who are in their stride to control salt intake in their diet.

Nearly half of the world is suffering from the problem of obesity, and rice is looked upon as an aid to lose or control weight. It has low fat and cholesterol content that can restrain the problem of obesity, and its consumption can lead to weight loss. Further the presence of healthy fibre in it allows overcoming the problem of constipation. Also, these fibres help in the growth of good bacteria that contributes to improving digestion and regularise the bowel movement.

Rice is both a nutritious and affordable food item, not only it provides great health benefits but also keep you prudent. Rice has a great use in Ayurveda to cure various imbalances of the body. Any rice dish can be prepared in few minutes and you will not only be served to enjoy a rich and tasty food but will also allow improving your overall health. Rice is a superb food, and you should include it as part of your well-balanced diet without any apprehension.



10 Healthiest Foods for Youngevity

Health is determined by what you eat. “Let nutrition be your medicine,” Aspostolus said.

What is true then has not changed today.

From my research and on-hand materials that I used to study for my Masters in Science in holistic nutrition, and clients who successfully improved health, energy or accomplished weight loss between 10 lbs and 100 lbs, here is my list of the top 10 foods.

These foods were selected for their general health, low toxicity and nutritional value (in terms of protein, fats, carbohydrates, antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals).

And what is good for your health is great for weight loss and your youngevity. Both go hand in hand.

10 best foods (and why)

Water is the number one nutrient for your body. Without clean, fresh, uncontaminated water, you will not maintain your body’s fluid balance, which consists of 90 percent of water. Minerals and many vitamins are transported to our cells with this fluid. Many basic reactions and enzymes require water. To prevent your body from building up toxic compounds, you need to flush them out. This can be accomplished by simply drinking fresh water. Check where your water comes from? Old water pipes may leach into the water system over time. (Many large cities offer free water testing kits. Look into it.)

Eggs can provide all our essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Protein sources are important to maintain and build your muscle tissue and to maintain a healthy immune system. Your body renews itself constantly and to help your body accomplish this task, eggs are a great source for protein. Eggs also supply cholesterol, which is concentrated in the yolk. If cholesterol is an issue, I recommend that you check in with your doctor. Yet, studies have shown that the cholesterol from the egg yolk does not just lower the LDL (“bad”) level but also triglycerides while raising HDL (“good”) levels. This study was conducted by Harvard University in 1997.

Sardines are great protein sources as well. Besides providing all the essential amino acids, sardines are excellent sources for Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. These are important for transporting fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins E,D, and K and COQ10 into the cell. These little swimmers are also powerhouses of minerals. Calcium, magnesium, zinc, and cooper are minerals that support bone health as well as mental health. Another advantage: Sardines are very low on the marine food chain and toxins like mercury don’t accumulate in them as they do in other fish.

Flaxseeds = fiber. That means they are a great item for health, weight loss and breast health. Ground flaxseeds provide fiber to improve your digestion transition time. The general population in the U.S. eats around 12 mg of fiber daily. Thirty-five milligrams are recommended for good health. Even in the Stone Age, this amount might have been considered inadequate because much because at least 135 mg of fiber a day was consumed. Fresh-ground flaxseeds are the best source.. The oil as well as the seeds provide essential fatty acids., such as Alpha Linoneic acid.

Olive oil is the fat of the Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that this diet, high in vegetables, fish, and olive oil, is beneficial for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Olive oil has to be found to lower cardiovascular disease risk because of its monounsaturated fat content.. This type of fat lowers the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides but helps to increase the HDL cholesterol level as well. All are important to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Cruciferous vegetables are power foods. Broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts provide similar benefits and belong to the same family. I don’t want to single out one particular vegetable that belongs to this family. Each and every one of the members of this family is high in minerals, vitamins, folic acid, phytochemicals (isothiocyanate) such as lutein, zeaxanthin, slforaphane, and idole-3-carbinol.

Those phytochemicals help to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancers and may also slow down aging. Antioxidants help protect cell damage that occurs from free radicals that are flowing free in your blood and looking to bind with an extra molecule; which is taken from the your cells.

Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and goji berries are chockful of vitamins and minerals. Berries are mostly always in season. And if you can’t find them fresh, frozen works as well as they are picked and processed at their peak. Each of the berries is high in phytochemicals, thereby helping to protect us from cardiovascular disease and cancers. If you had to pick one, go blue. Blueberries have the highest oxygen radial absorbance capacity (ORAC) when compared to other fruits. Because berries have a thin skin and do not need to be peeled before consumption, it is best to buy organic, as many berries can be loaded with pesticides.

Lemons are a bile emulsifier. Bile is produced from the liver and stored in a little gland called gallbladder. By adding lemon juice to your diet, you will help your body with weight loss. as your system improves your fat metabolism and cleanses your system of excess fecal mater. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which your body does not produce, and has powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. All of these can work to prevent high cholesterol and may help prevent and fight cancer. There are two basic types of lemons: acidic and sweet. If you have issues with lemons, then experiment with both kinds to find out which better suits your digestion. Organic lemons are recommended to prevent ingestion of pesticides and fungicide. Caution: Lemon can cause an allergic reaction like wheat and dairy does for some people.

Sprouts are a power plant. Sprouts are miniature versions of the full-grown plant, which can be broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and others. What makes them so powerful is the concentration of nutrients. “Researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered that broccoli spouts contain anywhere from thirty to fifty times the concentration of protective chemicals found in the mature broccoli plants, including, indole-3-carbinole, one of the cancer-fighting compounds” writes Jenny Bowden in The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Carcinogens and free radicals damage your DNA. The high and concentrated amount of antioxidants, photochemical and minerals are the perfect weapon to prevent and protect your systems for various diseases.

Peppers, the green variety, have the highest amount of vitamin C. Your body does not produce vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant to strengthen your immune system, strengthen your arteries and rejuvenate vitamin E. This plant contains lycopene, which has shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, peppers where placed on the “most contaminated with pesticides” list. Therefore, only organic peppers should be consumed and still washed very well.

The foods chosen above are my “Top 10” foods list.

This list addresses protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, which are essential for longevity and maintaining a healthy disease-free body.

The foods on this list contain the necessary building blocks to fortify your body, maintain a youthful skin and a healthy immune system.

This will help to maintain body weight and may prevent new-century diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancers when consumed according to your personal BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).

Stay focused.

Stefan

Europe’s Premier Natural WeightLoss Coach

M.Sc. in Nutrition, Affa, Ace, Reebok University



Let’s Deal With Junk (Food) in the Right Manner!

In our hectic lifestyle today, we actually cannot keep a tab on the kind of food we are putting into our system. Meeting deadlines and arranging for presentations; it’s a rat race out there. The result is, many a time we land up munching on junk food/fast food and sipping on countless coffees. These improper eating habits lead to problems like acidity, constipation, anaemia, lethargy and even irregular periods in women. If neglected, an excess of junk food could even cause colon cancers, diabetes, heart trouble, hypertension, ulcers etc. at a later stage in life.

We get accustomed to suppress the minor illnesses with over-the-counter medications. But this is harmful because they only curb the illness temporarily while causing damage to some or the other organ in our body. These days we hear of cases of men and women in their late 20’s or early 30’s who suffer from diseases like diabetes, heart trouble etc. which was rather rare in our past generations. If you wish to live a moderately healthy life then you could let your hair loose and indulge in junk food about once a week. We too can live a good, healthy life if we are a bit careful about what we choose to eat. Read on the following guidelines to know how to do so…

1. Balance is the key:

If you are supposed to dine on heavy, high calorie food in the evening, either at a party or some wedding reception you must learn to balance it. Try and have a fruit salad (without any dressing, of course!) and some soup in the afternoon and then you can enjoy the heavy meal for dinner (without any guilt).

2. Munch on a digestive:

Junk food is void of fibre, therefore too much of it leads to constipation and unhealthy bowels. If you’ve eaten junk food for lunch, you could munch on some digestive biscuits later in the evening. This will give you the required fibre for the day.

3. A dash of lime:

Form the habit of sprinkling lime juice on your food (gravies, starters etc.) and include lime juice (with little or no sugar) in your meals as a drink instead of the usual soft drink. Lime has Vitamin C which boosts your immune system and makes you stronger.

4. Tea time nibbles:

Store some low calorie, baked snacks and biscuits which are low in sodium. This way when you crave for snacks at tea time, you’ll fill up yourself with the healthy options.

5. Addicted to caffeine:

Too much of tea or coffee is detrimental to health as it makes you dehydrated. 2- 3 cups of tea or coffee a day would be quite okay.

6. Impure white:

Maida/ rice flour is not good for your intestines. The bonding in the flour is so strong that it actually sticks to our stomach making digestion difficult. This leads to constipation; and constipation is the root cause of many diseases. You could instead ask for a wheat roti/paratha when dining in a restaurant. Choose brown bread or multigrain breads for your sandwiches. Noodles made from maida are unhealthy too; cook some hakka noodles instead.

7. Healthy alternatives:

Processed foods are not nourishing as they have actually gone through many processes from its raw form till they are made, ready to be eaten. They also have chemicals and preservatives which cause harm in the long run. Cheese, sauces, tinned fruits etc. are some forms of processed foods. It is best that you develop the habit of eating more of fresh chutneys with your snacks, instead of sauces and ketchups. Packaged foods, i.e. foods that are ready to eat are rather detrimental to our health. They are usually high in monosodium glutamate, called ajinomoto (Chinese foods) an intake of which causes certain cancers. Also restaurant foods are not only stale but are also high in soda bi carb., known as food soda. This is used to cook lentils and meat faster but it eventually causes colds and weakening of our bones.

8. Work on it:

15 to 20 mins of exercising at least thrice a week is a must in order to live a good, healthy life. Walking up to the bus stop or bending and stretching while working in the kitchen does not surmount to exercising. Cycling, going for walks, doing cardio work outs are some of the examples of what could be counted as exercising.

9. Go nuts:

That’s right! Nuts like almonds, pistachios and other dry fruits are high in cholesterol but they contain good cholesterol; if eaten in moderation they are actually good for your heart and health. In fact, gram (chana) is better than groundnuts as it has more protein comparatively.

10. Dressed to work:

Roadside eatables and restaurant food is usually made attractive with colours and essences which enhance their appearance and the aroma but the chemicals used in them can cause certain cancers in the long run. There are chances of stale food being heated and decorated in restaurants in such a way that you would not realise that what is served to you is yesterdays leftover. Such food is not at all nutritious and infected with bacteria. Stay away from such food, more so during the monsoons when diseases like cholera and malaria are spread rather easily.



Effects of Junk Food on Health

The phrase “junk food” itself speaks of endangerment to health. Junk foods are deemed to be trash foods as they are high in fat and sugar components regardless of how they are labeled by manufacturers. The apparent effect of junk food on health administers when there is excess in intake. Teenagers comprise the higher bulk of junk food fanatics and they seem to be unhealthy with such a lifestyle of munching in chips, fries, crackers and other snack foods in front of the television. Majority of junk food choices do not deliver beneficial nutritional values, but you could actually integrate a few junk foods in your diet with an assurance that it is of moderate amount.

Regardless of age, the effect of junk food on health settles as bad as it could be especially when you eat too much of some. You will end up easily getting exhausted by being a junk food fanatic. Because it doesn’t balance the appropriate levels of energy you ought to consume, you have tendencies of craving for more food when you eat junk foods. Also, you can be less focused with anything you undertake at work and home because what you are acquiring from junk foods are mere fats, not healthy ingredients. Also, you will experience lack of important oxygen that eventually result to poor brain functioning.

In the long run, your heart cannot function as it should because of too much cholesterol absorbed in the body as an effect of junk food on health. If there’s too much plaque in the arteries, your heart has to assert more effort in pumping blood which may cause you to be in fatigue. The excess amount of cholesterol in your body can destroy the liver as well, leaving you overweight at the same time. Most of obese kids have acquired their overweight dilemma because of too much junk food intake. Most of those who are junk food eaters are likely to get diabetic at any point in their life because of high presence of sugar in the body. High blood pressure due to great amount of sodium from junk foods can also occur.

As they always say it, whatever is avoided comes so tasty. Ice cream, chocolate, junk foods, fries, burgers, potato chips and shakes are all tempting. You can perhaps be disciplined in indulging in these types of food because they are initially unhealthy to have. Too much of anything sweet or salty is health threatening. Not only will you have a bad effect of junk food on health, you will also largely embrace mood swings, decreased enthusiasm to handle workouts, weight gain and constipation problems if you eat junk foods unstoppably. In lieu of them, you can pick fruits and high-fiber food for good snacks and meals.



How to Make Your Own Baby Food and Save a Fortune!

Baby in a highchair, mom in front with a small spoon and a jar of baby food. It looks like something right out of a parenting magazine, and it’s a scene that is played out several times a day in the majority of homes with small babies. Unfortunately, it’s also a powerful marketing image that can cost a family a great deal of money in the long run.

The Convenience Factor

Most parents would say the main reason for using commercial jarred baby food is the convenience aspect. After all, with the busy lifestyle many of us have today, no one has time to specially prepare a meal for each member of the family. It doesn’t have to be a special event to create your own baby food, however. Baby can usually eat what the rest of the family is eating with very little special preparation.

Good Nutrition

Everyone worries about proper nutrition for growing babies. Iron, calcium, and vitamin D – all of these things are legitimate concerns in children’s nutrition. However, fortified and processed foods aren’t necessarily better than whole foods. Homemade baby food, created from fresh ingredients, offers your child superior nutrition as well as encourages a taste for simple, unprocessed foods – a taste that will possibly prevent obesity-related problems later in life. It’s not necessary to offer commercial baby foods in order to have a healthy child.

Economics

Why pay more for an inferior product? Beginning baby food often runs between forty and seventy cents for two ounces. It’s entirely possible to purchase half a pound of produce for the same amount, and baby will reap the benefits of eating fresh, nutritious food. Buying produce in bulk can result in even more savings, and even frozen produce is preferable to what you find in the jars.

Getting Started

It’s important to know when baby is actually ready for solids. Introducing solids too early can lead to an increased likelihood of food intolerances and food allergies. Most medical associations agree that starting solids around six months of age is ideal, and many people find delaying solids for allergy-prone babies is even better. Signs of readiness for solids include:

  • Increased nursing for more than a few days, which is unrelated to illness or teething, or, if baby is fed artificial baby milk, consuming more than 32 ounces daily.
  • Ability to sit up unsupported.
  • Absence of the tongue-thrust reflex. This life-saving reflex causes babies to push foreign objects (in this case, solid foods) out of their mouths to avoid choking.
  • Ability to pick foods up and place in mouth independently (or development of the pincer grasp).

What About Allergies?

Experts recommend introducing new foods between three days and a week apart. This helps parents and caregivers identify signs of a food allergy or intolerance. Common signs of food allergy/intolerance are:

  • Increased bloating and gassiness, painful discomfort.
  • Sandpaper-like raised rash on face, often where the offending food made contact with skin.
  • Runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Diarrhea or mucous in the stools. Blood in the stool can also be an indicator of a food allergy, usually dairy or soy.
  • Red rash around anus, or an unusual diaper rash.
  • Vomiting or increased spit up with discomfort.

Ideally, it is best to introduce foods that are less likely to produce an allergic reaction in baby. Avoiding foods such as egg whites, certain nuts such as peanuts, cow’s milk, corn, wheat, and some berries such as strawberries is recommended, as they are more likely to cause reactions. Instead, start with foods that are easier on baby’s system. Some good ideas include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Brown rice

Tools of the Trade

Fancy equipment isn’t necessary to make healthy food for your baby. Things that might be helpful include a blender, a food mill, a steamer basket and ice cube trays if you want to freeze small portions. Most people have blenders already in their kitchens, and a food mill (or baby grinder) isn’t necessary if you have a good blender or food processor. Steamer baskets can be found in most grocery stores for only a few dollars, and fit easily into saucepans. Many beginner foods require nothing more than a small pan and a fork.

Sequencing

Many doctors recommend starting your baby on rice cereal first. Many parents find, however, that fruits go over better for beginning eaters. It is a myth that babies will prefer sweet things if they are given fruits first – nature’s first food, breast milk, is naturally sweet, and that is what baby is accustomed to. Banana is a wonderful first food, as its creamy consistency is similar to mother’s milk. After introducing banana, try another fruit or vegetable. Continue adding fruits and vegetables until baby has a wide variety of tastes. Then consider adding whole grains in the form of cereal. Many whole grains have naturally occurring iron, so there is no need to supplement baby’s iron unless there is a medical indication for doing so. Brown rice, oats, and barley are all good choices. Next, introduce a meat or poultry such as beef or chicken.

If you are a vegetarian, introduce another protein source such as tofu or lentils. As time goes on, introduce a combination of tastes, such as cereal mixed with applesauce or peas and carrots. This is also a great time to introduce finger foods, especially if baby has teeth. As baby learns to self-feed, you can move away from making purees and offer small baby-sized portions of the family meal.

Getting Started

Bananas make an ideal food for a baby starting solids. To serve, let bananas ripen well (the more ripe, the better – brown spots are desirable), cut into small chunks and mash with a fork. Pears are an excellent source of fiber and can be cooked like apples: peel and cut into chunks. Place in small saucepan and just cover with water. Cook until tender. These can then be mashed with a fork, run through a food mill, processed in a blender or food processor. They can also be offered as finger food if they are cut into small enough chunks. Carrots, another popular first food, should be scraped with a vegetable peeler, sliced and steamed or boiled until soft. Process in blender or food mill. Carrots can be a choking hazard for children, so do use caution if offering as a finger food.

Sweet potatoes are extremely easy to make, and one potato can last a long time if frozen after cooking. Place sweet potato in a microwave for about eight minutes, remove and let cool. Open up and serve right out of the peel – the potato is very soft and needs no further processing. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of B6.

Winter squash such as acorn or butternut makes an excellent first food. Cut squash in half and clean. Place in one half inch of water in a baking pan and bake at three hundred and fifty degrees for half an hour. Use a spoon to scoop out squash and feed directly to baby.

Avocadoes are an extremely nutrient dense food and offers important vitamins and minerals such as iron and potassium. Cut avocado in half around the pit, grab each half and give it a twist. Scoop out meat and mash or dice.

Making cereal for baby is very easy. Take a cup of the whole grain if your choice such as brown rice, oats, or barley and process in the blender until the desired consistency is reached, usually about two minutes for very young babies. Store in an airtight container. To cook, mix with liquid of your choice and heat over medium heat on stove until thick.

Enjoyment

Enjoy this fun stage in baby’s development, and rest assured that baby is getting superior nutrition and developing good eating habits which will last a lifetime!



Dietary Supplements – Do I Really Need Them?

Dietary supplements can include vitamins, minerals, herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes. Dietary supplements are products that people add to their diets. Dietary supplements can’t replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Dietary supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel tabs, extracts, or liquids.

Supplement

A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. To take a supplement as safely as possible Tell your doctor about any dietary supplements you use do not take a bigger dose than the label recommends. Stop taking it if you have side effects Read trustworthy information about the supplement National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Some dietary supplements may help some people get enough essential nutrients to improve their diets and be in their best health.

Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs in small but steady amounts for normal growth, function and health. Vitamins and dietary supplements work only when properly dissolved and absorbed. Vitamins act as powerful preventative measures against disease and the aging process, not to mention their critical function for healthy living. A dietary supplement, also known as food supplement or nutritional supplement, is a preparation intended to supply nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fatty acids or amino acids that are missing or are not consumed in sufficient quantity in a person’s diet. Liquid vitamins provide a sound alternative to multivitamin pills. They constitute a new approach to delivery of nutrients, in addition to classic pills and less conventional liquid vitamins. So you need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day. People often use vitamins and minerals to supplement diet and treat disease. The “dietary ingredients” in dietary supplements may include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids as well as substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, metabolites, extracts or concentrates. Fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins are the two basic forms of vitamins required by every human body. Nutrients are the substances the body needs to function–about 45 different elements and compounds according to some professionals–including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other chemicals. If you’re a vegetarian, you may not consume enough calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins B-12 and D.

Healthy

If you’re generally healthy and eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats and fish, you likely don’t need dietary supplements. However, if you can’t or don’t eat enough healthy foods, or can’t or don’t eat a variety of healthy foods, you may need a daily dietary supplement. Taking vitamins does not make up for an unhealthy diet, and vitamins are an insufficient substitute for nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but a general multivitamin and mineral supplement can be a good safeguard. Do not assume that because a product claims to support or promote healthy body function that it prevents or reduces the risk of any disease, including cancer. Don’t rely on supplements to make up for an unhealthy diet. This is because many people have turned to dietary supplement in order to fill the gaps that arise due to unhealthy diet.

Benefits

Scientists use several approaches to evaluate dietary supplements for their potential health benefits and safety risks, including their history of use and laboratory studies using cell or animal models. A few individual dietary supplements have been shown to have positive benefits for your health too.

Eating

To achieve your personal best requires a balanced eating plan and a consistent physical activity program. But eating healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need.

Dietary supplements are widely available in the United States in health food stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, on the Internet, and by mail. At this time, supplement manufacturers must meet the requirements of the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for foods. Dietary supplements can help us lead healthier, longer lives, but only if taken properly. You should not use the information contained on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication.



Postnatal ‘Confinement’ Food – Part 2

Everybody will ask you to eat only ‘ healthy’ food and avoid cold or cooling food as your body is cold after childbirth. This applies to the 3 main races in Malaysia but sometimes, what is considered ‘healthy’ may be ‘cooling’ for another which increases our dilemma. The best option is to try out the food as far as your culture and religion advices and learn to substitute the ingredients wherever possible to suit your taste. I am afraid that my culinary expertise is limited to Chinese and Western food so I can only talk about this type of food at this moment in time.

Traditional Chinese confinement food consists mainly of old ginger, rice wine, sesame oil, black vinegar, some warming alcohol, lots of meat especially kampong chicken and lean pork, white fish such as white pomfret and some vegetables.

Apparently, you are supposed to eat 30 chickens, 12 bottles of rice wine and 15 kilos of old ginger root during this period. Whether you can achieve this target is up to you but I find that most women nowadays cannot manage it. On average, if you do practice what is recommended, the cost could easily be about RM 1000.00 ++ just for the food only.

Food to avoid during the first week only

Ginger – Delays healing of wounds and increase risk of jaundice in baby. Substitute with peppercorn or garlic.

Fish – Causes foul smelling lochia or discharge.

Alcohols which are recommended for consumption during the confinement month are: Brandy, Yomeishu, rice wine and Guinness Malta because they are ‘yang’. If you are a non-drinker, this sudden consumption may cause alcohol rash, redness in the face and heart palpitations, so do take it easy. Alcohol does go to the baby through breast milk, so if you want a good night’s sleep, drink the alcohol after your dinner. The content of alcohol is reduced during cooking therefore you might consider adding it to your food during cooking instead of drinking it neat. Guinness Malta is non alcoholic and has high iron content therefore is suitable if you are anemic. Pulut rice is rich in iron therefore is used to make rice wine for postnatal nursing mothers. The rice is low in fat and free of cholesterol with high dietary fiber to reduce risk of heart attack and diabetes. It is better known as Shaoxing wine.

Drinks

It is believed that iced or cold drinks may cause severe shock to the system and further weaken the ‘cold’ body therefore it is strongly recommended that boiled warm teas are consumed throughout the day as they are supposed to help heat up the womb. For those who do not believe in these teas you may try drinking Chamomile tea which is beneficial for the baby as well, because it helps to reduce wind

Soups

Soup is a nutritious replacement for water. You can use any meat for stock. The meat supplies fat that is essential for extraction of fat soluble nutrients. Drinking soup about 1 hour before breastfeeding may help to increase milk flow. Chinese soups are usually clear and easier to drink compared to creamy western soups and it is less fattening.

Below are some food ingredients that you might want to add to your diet during the postnatal ‘confinement’ month.

Boxthorn fruit or Chinese wolf berry is best known to correct poor eyesight and eye strain. Used in conjunction with other herbs it is effective for improving energy and strength

Chinese angelica root or dong kwai is supposed to nourish the female organs, alleviate menstrual pain and prevent hemorrhage.

Chinese yam (wai san) used in conjunction with meat and other herbs aids digestion, regulate sugar level and control inflammation of the uterus. The dried variety must be soaked for at least 15 minutes before use to remove the powder

Solomon’s seal (yok chuk) is used to alleviate many ailments especially those affecting the throat and lungs

Sesame oil, besides being rich in Vitamin E, Iron & Calcium, helps heal the womb and rid it of “dirty residual blood”.

Chestnuts invigorate vital energy. Resolves fatigue depression and irritability. High in phosphorous, selenium and calcium

Black vinegar is made from glutinous rice and lowers ph of food. It leaches calcium from bones cooked with it, therefore it is used to prepare high calcium food especially for breast feeding mothers and it also relieves a windy abdomen.

Dill has antibacterial and antispasmodic properties. It is a warming herb which aids digestion, gets rid of gas, encourages lactation, freshens the breath and soothes colic. It is the main ingredient in Gripe water.

Almonds and walnuts contain leucine and isoleucine which are amino acids that regulates growth, blood sugar and wound healing.

Malay confinement food is the same as normal but with a lot of jamu which is basically natural herbal remedies used internally and externally for health and beauty. Make sure the products are registered with the Ministry of Health and that they are locally produced

Kani seeds contain antioxidants to promote youthfulness, tighten vaginal muscles, prevents excessive discharge, odour and itchiness. It firms the breasts and promotes healing of the reproductive system after childbirth.

Gallanggal is a member of the ginger family and it functions as an antibiotic. It warms the body, cleanses the blood, improves appetite, reduces wind and energizes the muscles.

Pegaga leaves increases energy, helps ease sleeping problems, improves blood circulation.

Turmeric functions as an antibiotic and promotes a healthy circulatory system.

Drumstick leaves are rich in proteins, vitamin C and A, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium and other minerals. Because of their nutrients and ability to encourage milk flow, they are a valuable food for survival in impoverished countries.

The most important thing to remember is that you must be comfortable with what you eat. Do not force yourself to eat something that you do not like or will cause problems later. Although you are ‘in confinement’ you are not a prisoner per se.