Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Whole foods: the nutritional benefits of date fruit

Dates are one of the most energy rich fruits, they are also one of the most sugar rich fruits.

They contain B group vitamins particularly B1, B2, niacin and B6 which function to facilitate the utilization of sugars by the body's cells.

Dates are among the richest of all fruits in minerals, among those present are potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcuim are prominent. The trace elements copper, manganese and zinc are also present in significant quantities.

Dates have been traditionally used to relieve excessively dry cough and to fight bronchial colds. They are also useful in cases of fatigue or weakness at any age.

They are beneficial to adolescents, young athletes, pregnant and lactating women because of their richness in sugars, vitamins, and minerals (including iron).

Monday, 23 February 2015

Green Tea: Good for Your Heart and Brain


Tea has been cultivated for centuries and remains one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Sipping a cup of green tea can offer much more than refreshment: the positive health benefits are impressive and well-documented. The delicate leaves of green tea are packed with cell-protecting polyphenol phytochemicals called catechins that have significant medicinal and antioxidant properties. They have been shown to protect against heart disease, cancer, cell damage from oxidative stress as well as promote brain health.

Anti-Cancer Effects
Eipgallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, is a potent polyphenol catechin in green tea that has been the most extensively studied and shown to have the greatest anti-cancer effects. In addition to helping prevent cancer, studies have shown that EGCG also inhibits cancer cell growth by preventing one cancer cell from splitting into two cells and inhibiting the mechanism that spreads cancers cells. It also repairs the UVB-induced DNA damage in skin cancer.

EGCG and Your Heart
EGCG also has the highest number of anti-oxidant properties with beneficial effects on the prevention of cardiovascular disease. These protective benefits for heart disease come from the plant compound's ability to improve blood flow, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and protect against the oxidation of LDL particles that can lead to atherosclerosis. A study of 40,530 people in Japan, where green tea is most widely consumed, found that drinking green tea lowered the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease by 31 percent in women and 22 percent in men.

What's Good for Your Heart is Good for Your Brain
EGCG in green tea has been shown to protect brain cells and have neuroprotective agents that protect against neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The studies show that EGCG can be protect against the formation of beta-amyloid plaques that are thought to contribute to Alzheimer's. Studies have also shown that it potentially helps to improve working memory.
The nutrition guidelines for the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease suggest avoiding caffeine; however, green tea is an exception due to the significant well-studied benefits on health and heart disease. The nutrition guidelines recommend limiting green tea to 2 cups a day since it still does contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. Green tea, however, does have a calming effect that counteracts the high and jitteriness caused by caffeine because of its concentration of an amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine boosts alpha wave activity in the brain that produces a state of relaxed concentration. A meta-analysis of 13 randomized control studies found that this relaxation effect also decreases blood pressure.

Caffeinated V. Decaffeinated
A cup of green tea has anywhere from 20-45 milligrams of caffeine, which is lower than black tea or coffee, which averages 145 to 200 milligrams per cup. Decaffeinated green tea has less caffeine, but the process to remove the caffeine also strips it of the beneficial polyphenols. If you do choose green tea that has been decaffeinated, select a brand that uses an "effervescence" method, which is a natural process using water and carbon dioxide without chemicals that preserves most of the polyphenols present in regular green tea. To derive the most benefit, drink freshly brewed green tea and avoid powdered tea, sweetened or bottled, which contain fewer polyphenols.

The Most Benefits
The concentration of theanine, EGCG and other elements are most abundant in fresh, high quality loose leaf green tea. The concentration can vary depending on the brand. Steeping tea in hot water for three to five minutes will most effectively extract the powerful polyphenol activity of EGCG.

What effect have you noticed when you replace your daily coffee with green tea?
This article was originally published at Ornish Living.

Source: Huffingtonpost

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Best ways to manage stress

 Meditation can trigger the     antidote to stress, called the relaxation response
Goal setting and relaxation techniques reduce stress and ease the physical and emotional burden
it can take.
Stressful experiences come in many forms, such as a demanding job, a chronic disease, or an argument with a loved one. But all types of stressors—even stress from positive experiences,
such as planning a party—can result in the same physical and emotional burden on health, especially when you’re an older adult. “As we age, our immune systems are less efficient, and adding stress to that can lead to disease progression or the onset of disease,” says Dr. Ann Webster, a health psychologist at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

The stress response

Stressful situations trigger a physical reaction known as the stress response. The brain relays warnings to the muscles, which tighten, and to the adrenal glands, which release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help your body prepare to fight or flee to safety: your heart pounds, blood pressure rises, and more of your blood is sent to your brain and muscles; your breath quickens to get more oxygen into your blood; and your body releases sugars and fats into the blood for energy.
In the short term, the stress response can help you navigate a difficult situation. But chronic stress can lead to physical damage. “Stress increases blood sugar and can make diabetes worse. It can create high blood pressure and cause insomnia. It can also make people become anxious, worried, depressed, or frustrated,” says Dr. Webster. Chronic stress also increases the risk of heart disease, heartburn, and many other health problems.

Recognizing stress

Symptoms of stress can take many forms. Stress may cause physical complaints, such as tension headaches, back pain, indigestion, or heart palpitations. It may appear as cognitive problems, such as poor concentration and indecisiveness. Emotional symptoms of stress include crying, irritability, and edginess. And stress can also show up as negative behaviors. “Driving a car too fast, overeating, or smoking can all be behavioral symptoms of stress,” says Dr. Webster.

Managing stress

The first step toward reducing stress is learning what your triggers are. “If you know what pushes your buttons, then avoid it. But there are stresses we have to accept, so we must change our reactions to them,” explains Dr. Webster. She offers the following ways to reduce or manage stress:
  • Relaxation techniques. These are activities that trigger the relaxation response, a physiological change that can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones. You can achieve this with activities such as meditation, guided imagery, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is based on the idea that changing unhealthy thinking can change your emotions. A CBT therapist will help you identify negative thinking and learn to automatically replace it with healthy or positive thoughts.

  • Goal setting. “When people set goals for themselves, they have a positive sense of commitment, feel they’re in control, and are optimistic,” says Dr. Webster. She recommends setting goals in your career, relationships, creativity, play, and health. 

     Source: Harvard Health Publications

Friday, 13 February 2015

How to Rid Yourself of Belly Pooch Forever

Clean eating and hitting the gym can help you reach your weight-loss goal, but you might find you have a little extra pooch around your midsection. Here are three things you can do to help you achieve a trimmer belly.

When Eating
Take an honest look at your diet and your bathroom schedule. Your belly might not be caused by fat but by air trapped in your digestive system. If you're not getting enough fiber (you need 25 to 30 grams a day), constipation can cause bloating. On the other hand, overdoing it on fiber or eating too many gas-producing foods like broccoli, apples, or beans can also make your belly pooch a bit. Thankfully, there are also foods you can eat—like blueberries—that are proven to diminish belly fat.

When Doing Cardio
Studies show that including interval training in your cardio sessions is proven to diminish stomach fat. If you find that you normally stick to a consistent pace when running, biking, or swimming, mix it up by adding 10- to 60-second, fast-paced or sprinting intervals. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) works on the same principle as intervals, where you push to your maximum training for a period of time and follow up with a shorter rest period. 

When Strength Training
Basic crunches can help tone your abs, but they only target certain abdominal muscles. Incorporate full-body exercises like variations of plank or core moves using a ball. Also, try using different types of equipment.

Source: POPSUGAR Fitness

Friday, 6 February 2015

Whole foods: the nutritional benefits of avocado pear

Avocado is a concentrated fruit with high nutritional and caloric capacity. It is among the richest fruits in fat. 

The fat in avocados are of high biological value and are primarily unsaturated and contain no cholesterol.

They contain vitamin E which promotes reproductive functions, a powerful antioxidant that protects against cancer and cellular aging.
They are also rich in vitamin B6, iron, fiber and protein.

When Avocado is used in place of cheese and cream in salads, the result is a significant reduction in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Enjoy your avocado pear in place of butter as a healthy alternative.

Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

World Cancer Day 2015

Not Beyond Us

This year the theme of World Cancer Day is “Not Beyond Us,” to emphasize that solutions exist and are reachable. The campaign’s goal is to implement what is already known in the areas of cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and care.

In many countries, cancer carries a stigma that makes it harder for people to get accurate information about the disease. World Cancer Day 2015 has identified 4 main areas for education and action:

- Choosing healthy lives: Healthy lifestyle choices can lower the risk for cancer. They include avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, eating right, getting plenty of exercise, and staying away from the sun and other sources of UV rays.

- Early detection: For many cancers, there are warning signs and symptoms and the benefits of early detection are indisputable.

- Achieving treatment for all: All people have the right to access proven and effective cancer treatments and services on equal terms, and without suffering hardship as a consequence.

- Maximizing quality of life: People with cancer and their caregivers deserve high-quality, compassionate care during treatment and survivorship. This includes care for the emotional, mental, and physical effects of cancer.