Posts Tagged ‘digestion’

Cereal Grains:A NUTRITIONAL COMPROMISE

Since the time that mankind is present on this earth, the natural diet of humans has been food that could be hunted, fished, gathered or plucked. As my main topic today is “GRAINS” I would only be focussing on talking about them as foods that were plucked – “seasonal fruits and veggies” is another topic altogether to discuss which is beyond the limit of this discussion. I will save my next post for that.

So, coming to GRAINS (The so called “Good Carbs”)

Man rarely ever consumed cereal grains up until about 10,000 years ago. With the increase in population the supply of the natural resources became more limited, thus it became necessary to provide supplementary means of nourishment and thus agriculture was born 10,000 years ago.

The eight cereal grains (wheat, corn, rice, barley, sorghum, oats, rye and millet) provide 56% of the calories and 50% of the protein consumed on this planet.

On one hand we would not have cities, civilisations and industrialisation without cereal grains, on the other hand cereal grains are a nutritional compromise. Today if we take away rice, wheat and corn almost 1/2 the people on this planet will not eat. The decreasing supplies of our ancestral natural diet of wild animals and wild plants, along with huge increase in the planet’s population has made agriculture a necessity for survival.

Cereal grains are not nearly as healthy , nor as nutritionally complete, nor as perfectly suited to our ancient digestive wiring as the foods that these grains have replaced. Ex. milk and cereals in place of bacon and eggs for breakfast.

The health complications and implications of eating a diet high in cereal grains, way different from the diet that we were designed to eat are recently beginning to be understood.

As Dr.Loren Cordain points out, humans have had little time since inception of agricultural revolution 10,000 yrs ago to adapt to the new food type.

Whole grains are not really any better.
Grains have a host of nutritional shortcomings. It’s finally coming to light that the refined grains which constitute most of our cereals, pastas, and breads – are absolutely useless nutritionally.

The researchers are not 100% sure that the so-called “whole” grains are any better. No grain can be eaten in a completely unrefined state. No one plucks wheat from ground and starts eating.All grains need to be milled and ground to some degree, one reason being that in their natural state they contain many “anti nutrients” called “Phytates” that interfere with the absorption and assimilation of nutrients in the grains, especially the absorption of essential minerals. As compared to the refined grains whole grains have been less processed and milled therefore they contain more of bran the outer coating of the grains providing fibre for the diet.

Most of the “whole grains”  on the cereal packages are fibre lightweights. Its rare to find a cereal with 5g of fibre per serving–most have 1or 2 g fibre per serving ,making it a pretty bad nutritional bargain.

Now comes something crucial “Gluten Issue”. Gluten is a primary component of grains such as barley, rye, oats, and especially wheat. One of the seven top allergens in the diet is wheat. Amongst doctors, nutritionists and naturopaths who practice integrative and functional medicines, their one of the first dietary orders for patients who have multiple complaints is to take them off wheat, dairy and sugar. Dr. Jonny calls Grains the Starch “juggernauts”as almost all of them raise the blood sugar and insulin quickly.

In my personal experience with my clients suffering from high, uncontrolled sugar, allergy issue, fat loss issues etc, putting them off wheat,dairy and sugar allowing only limited gluten free varieties of carb sources , high protein, high fat diet show excellent results within 3 months.

Make a choice out of millets ragi, bajra and jowar. Oats can also be a better choice as they are least processed.😀It is advisable to choose the less processed variety, such as Steel-cut oats or old fashioned rolled oats, to get full health benefits .

Stay tuned, stay updated, stay fit😀

 

** The above information is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. **

 

Reference:-

Bowden,J, Ph.D.,C.N.S(2007). The 150 Healthiest foods on earth. Pp:74-75 Beverly,M. A: Fair Winds Press.

Advertisements

Housefull with “HOLY” Basil

 

Tulsi

Holy Basil, popularly known as “TULSI” in India is an absolute    “WONDER HERB”. In India holy basil/tulsi is considered to be a sacred plant and keeping this plant at home is considered to be holy and healthy living. Both the leaves and the seeds of this plant possess medicinal properties and the benefits of using this plant are known from as early as the vedic period.

This plant has many therapeutic benefits and the reason i am writing about it, especially at this time of the year, is its role in respiratory disorders and in viral infections. Every other household has common cold, cough or viral fever going on in my part of the world (Bangalore, India). Normally during the rainy season, common cold, flu, dengue fever are widely prevalent. Experts say that during this time a decoction of tulsi leaves acts as a preventative ( exactly why i add tulsi+ginger tea in my diet plans 😉

The leaves of tulsi plant have expectorant properties. They are shown to help remove phlegm from the bronchial tubes. According to ayurvedic physicians, a decoction made of 5-6 tulsi leaves + honey (pure/organic) and fresh squeezed ginger juice is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, flu, cough and cold (Dr. Bakhru, 2007,pp 205).

According to the review of the scientific literature, it is the darker coloured leaves, known as Krishna Tulsi, is more beneficial in respiratory disorder than the lighter coloured version, known as Shyam Tulsi.

The leaves of Tulsi plant are considered “TONIC”.

Benefits of Tulsi leaves:-

  1. They are shown to sharpen memory
  2. Remove catarrhal matter & phlegm from bronchial tubes
  3. Stomach strengthening
  4. Induce copious perspiration. They are specific to many fevers, especially viral fevers.
  5. Helps relieve sore throat
  6. Found beneficial in cardiac disease and reducing blood cholesterol levels.
  7. According to some studies, the usage of leaves protect against stress significantly. This makes the leaves “anti-stress” agents too (major requirement today 😉
  8. Tulsi is also shown to have strengthening effect on the kidney.

Ayurvedic and herbal experts suggest that 5-12 leaves of tulsi chewed twice a day, morning and evening, helps prevent stress, helps in purifying blood and in the prevention of several common ailments.

 

** The above information is for educational purposes only. There is absolutely no intension to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any health problems or diseases. Consult your doctor  for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment and a diet and exercise expert for advice on diet, herbs and exercise.**

Referances:-

1.Bakhru, H.K. (2007). Healing through natural foods. Mumbai, India: Jaico publishing house.

2. Bakhru, H.K. (2007). A Complete Handbook of Nature Cure 4th ed. Mumbai, India: Jaico publishing house.

3. Bakhru,H.K.(2007). Naturopathy for Longevity. Mumbai, india: Jaico publishing house.

4. Chaudhury, R.R.(2007). The healing powers of HerbsNew Delhi, India:Sterling paperbacks

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamonilicious…..

cinnamon

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Very happy Holidays 🙂

Holiday season means lots of new “FLAVOURS TO SAVOUR”-

Pumpkin Cinnamon/Spice HOT latte of  Starbucks—- yummmmm!!!!

Pumpkin pie and apple pie— yum!! yum!!

Christmas Plum cake

or

My Desi masala CHAI (Tea) mmmmmm!!! so good

1 thing all of the above have common is “CINNAMON”. I like to call it “THE WINTER SPICE”.

Cinnamon is used in all types of cuisines at some point. In india it is used in tea, sweets etc.

Cinnamon goes way beyond its flavour and beautiful aroma, it has a lot of medicinal properties. Read on to know those…

  • Cinnamon has shown to help ease pain and stiffness in muscles and joints: Presence of anti-inflammatory compounds make this possible.
  • Cinnamon functions as a carminative (GAS RELIEVER) thus being wonderful for digestion.
  • Cinnamon also contains compound called “catechins” which help in relieving nausea.
  • Cinnamon contains 2 phytochemicals, “eugenol” and “geraniol” which are shown to combat candida (overgrowth of yeast in our system).
  • Excellent for diabetics as shown the ability to moderate blood sugar. In clinical studies cinnamon extracts have shown to reduce blood sugar and “bad” cholesterol. C.Leigh Broadhurst,Ph.D., a research scientist at the USDA and her team tested the effects of 49 different herbs,spices and some medicinal plants on glucose metabolism and according to them, cinnamon was the “STAR” of the show. From the test it was seen ” An active ingredient, methylhydroxychalcone polymer, or MHCP mimics insulin function, increasing the glucose uptake by cells and signalling certain types to cells to convert glucose to glycogen (the storage form of sugar)” – J.Bowden, 150 healthiest food on earth, pp 279. 

Homemade treatment for blood sugar as per mentioned in the book on diabetes by C. Broadhurst :-

“3 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (less if sodium is a problem for you). Take a 32 oz canning jar and fill it with boiling water and the spice mixture. Let it steep at room temperature till it’s cool. Strain the liquid and discard the grounds, put a lid on he jar, stick it in the fridge. Initially drink 1-8 ounce cup of the tea 4 times a day and drop down to 1 to 2 cups a day after 1-3 weeks”-  J.bowden, 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, 2007; pp 279.

** The above information is for educational purposes only. There is absolutely no intension to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any health problems or diseases. Consult your doctor  for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment and a diet and exercise expert for advice on diet, herbs and exercise.**

Reference :-

1.  Bowden, J, Ph.D., C.N.S, (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,Beverly,M.A.: Fair Winds Press.

“You are what you eat & absorb”.

We have all heard the saying “You are what you eat”. But, “you are what you eat and absorb” is the one that caught my attention yesterday at the Neulife- roadshow, Bangalore. This was spoken by Jay Jacobson when he was providing his valuable inputs about various supplements especially the latest one The Optimum Nutrition Hydro Builder.

Well this article is not about the supplements and i will not go that route. I will focus on this statement “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT AND ABSORB”.

When i start talking about “healthy” eating and “healthy” food choices with my clients, many a times they jump off their chairs telling me ” but Radhika I always eat roti, sabzi, daal, chawal and i think that is pretty healthy. I do not eat fried foods and no sweets at all. It’s just that I need to lose these love handles and i will be good to go”.

Remember friends, just because you are eating roti, sabzi,daal, chawal doesn’t mean that your body is absorbing all the nutrients present in that food. There are a lot of factors that come into play when we look at proper absorption.

How is the food prepared?

1) Were the vegetables cut up and left in the refrigerator overnight? yup loss of some essential vitamins there.
2) Was the cooked food left for over 2 hrs and then reheated? Again, loss of important nutrients.
3) Are the roti, sabzi, daal and chawal prepared fresh for every meal??? I have seen people preparing entire week’s meal and freezing it (in separate containers with labels for each day and meal- heights). I would tell such a person to not eat at all rather then eating such “lifeless” food.
3)The vegetable that was prepared was seasonal or hybrid product? For sure this matters.
4) How much pesticide laden were the food products? Are you sure about this? None of us are unless we decide to go ORGANIC (will talk about ORGANIC pretty soon :>) and so i recommend supplements.
5) Are we at a peaceful state of mind while eating? Very, Very important for proper absorption, assimilation and elimination.

So, you see these are just a few of the many factors that play a major role in our digestion process (Ingestion, digestion, absorption and elimination). We might be eating the healthiest of foods available to us but if our digestion and absorption is faulty than the body is not gaining any health giving nutrients from the food we eat.
So the main thing to look at when you are trying to gain,loose or maintain weight, or looking to have a beautiful, glowing, pimple free skin, is to make your digestion strong and effective.

Remember, this is proven by several researches that diet plays 70% role and exercise plays 30% role in achieving a “complete state of health” . A proper balanced diet (for optimum digestion), a good exercise regimen and enough rest are the prescription of “naturally” being healthy inside out.

I am happy to see the dietitians getting some importance today in our country but it is still not as respected and this is what makes me a little sad.
The bottom line is: “HEALTH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WEALTH”.

There is plenty of help out there. There are professionals willing to help you gain back your health and vitality but they cannot do it until you let them.

Take charge of your health. Put some time in looking for a nutrition expert in your city or wherever convenient and pick the one who “really” understands your needs and makes you feel “comfortable”.

Just a few simple diet and lifestyle changes will take you a long way. You will be able to add “life” to your years.

“Herbs for health”

Role of kitchen spice while cooking food:

Different cultures use slightly different types of kitchen spices in their cooking. In India, Turmeric, coriander and cumin are widely used in curries. Culinary herbs have considerable medicinal value along with the flavor adding quality. Coriander is added to spicy stimulating foods to impart a balanced coolness. It also has carminative properties. Cumin is known as one of the best spices to prevent and relieve gas. Turmeric is a good digestive aid. It dissolves the undesirable fats in the body. It also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Most of the kitchen spices are carminative (prevent and relieve gas), stimulants and aids to digestion. Many kitchen spices are also known to relieve nervousness, spasms and coldness during first acute stage of disease. Some of these herbs and spices provide essential vitamins and minerals ex. garlic, parsley and oregano. These spices can also be used to treat problems like headache, bleeding, diarrhea, heart attacks and acute infections. Thus, our kitchen spice rack can be considered a safe and natural alternative to the synthetic, side effect causing medicines.

List of appropriate herbs to aid and support the digestive system

Ø Basil: Sweet basil is considered good for indigestion when taken as tea.

Ø Bay: Bay leaves when added to food, are known to help prevent gas and indigestion

Ø Caraway: It is considered excellent aid to digestion. It is useful for indigestion, gas and colic

Ø Cardamom: It has carminative and stimulant properties.

Ø Cayenne pepper: Stimulant, carminative and astringent properties.
Includes red and green chillies, cayenne, paprika and bell peppers.

Ø Cinnamon: It acts as carminative. It is also a strong stimulator of insulin activity and thus useful in Diabetes.

Ø Cloves: These are known to improve digestion and treat flatulence, vomiting and nausea.

Ø Cumin seeds, ginger, turmeric and rosemary are also valuable for our digestive system.

* Fenugreek Seeds/ methi dana: The seeds are highly mucus solvents and soothing agents.

WESTERN HERBS:

Ø Alfalfa: This herb is known for improving digestion and assimilation. In the form of herb tea, it is known to provide alkaline benefit for hyper acidic stomach. It is also know to prevent gas formation (bakhru, 2000).

Ø Angelica: Carminative used for digestive weakness and gas.

Ø Asafotida: Also known as “Hing”(Bakhru, 2000) in India and is widely used in Indian cooking. It is ideal for many stomach disorders. According to Dr H.K. Bakhru, “it is one of the best remedies for expelling wind from stomach” (Bakhru, 2000, p.137).

Ø Calamus: Helpful during hyperacidity associated with stomach and intestine.

Ø Camomile: Widely used in the form of tea for various digestive disorders.

Ø Elecampane: Used for digestive weakness.

Ø Beleric myrobalan or bhibitaki: Known to be useful in regulating bowel and digestion.

Ø Noni or Indian Mulberry: It is effective for digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and gastric ulcers.

Ø Papaya: This is a digestive fruit.

Ø Citrus Peel: This is a Chinese herb useful in indigestion, diarrhea and abdominal swelling.

** The above information is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. **

References:-

Tierra, M. (1998). The way of herbs. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Haas, E., & Levin, B. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts.
Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. (2002). The Answer To Cancer. New York: Select books, Inc.
Mabey, R., McIntyre, M., Michael, P., Duff, G., & Stevens, J. (1988). The New Age Herbalist. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc
Bakhru, H.K. (2007). Healing through natural foods. Mumbai, India: Jaico publishing house.

Love and respect thy “Stomach”

Every time I go to any social lunch or dinner event I am bombarded with comments like “what you eat? No wonder you are so skinny,” or “come on girl, it’s your stomach teach it to get more and soon you will be eating like us. ” or even worst ” Apna pet samajh ke kha yaar.”  Exactly, it is my stomach so i should know to respect its working and digesting capacity and not load it up with all the things my tongue desires. But, majority of people are just doing that. Their sense of taste is  their “boss”.   Let’s learn to love and respect our very important organ STOMACH.

Just imagine making a rangoli. If your hand shivers and shakes then how can you even make one straight line???? So if the beginning is  faulty then how can you get a perfect rangoli??? In the same way, our stomach is the site of the first stage of digestion. If the first stage is faulty, imagine what will happen to the digestive process??? Ever thought about it???? Let’s do it….

Most of the digestive disorders either begin from the stomach or at least are first noted there. According to ayurveda, the condition of our stomach indicates our state of contentment, nourishment and happiness. Stomach is a very sensitive organ and is easily disturbed by wrong eating habits like wrong food choices, overeating when like something and not eating properly when don’t like it or worst is skipping meals. Stomach’s job is also disrupted due to stress and other emotional disturbances. Vomiting, acidity, ulcers, bloating, constipation, diarrhea are some of the problems that arise from faulty stomach function (Frawley,2008).

We never pay attention to the screaming , yelling and crying of our stomach. We have quick fixes like sodas, antacids and laxatives to take care of that. We eat all the junk available around  us and then rely on these quick fixes on a daily basis which are harmful in the long run.

What is overeating? Overeating simply means eating much more than our body’s ability to digest. It does not just mean eating wrong foods or eating even after you are full. Our stomach has the fire or power to digest at a particular time. If the stomach lacks this fire to digest at a particular time, then even a healthy balanced meal or a fruit will amount to overeating. So, overeating is not only eating too much food but eating it at the wrong times.

Say bye bye to the life of not eating anything through out the  day and then hogging at dinner time. This is brutal for our stomach.

Dietitian Rujuta Diwekar has explained this in a wonderful way in her book ” Don’t lose your mind, loose your weight”.

Rujuta explains that it’s like hiring staff to work a 9 to 5 shift and giving them hardly any work till the end of the shift and suddenly loading them with all the work possible. These kind of bosses do not receive any respect from their staff and this also causes loss of productivity, creativity and loss of health of the organisation ( Diwekar,2009, pg 47).

To keep the digestive fire active and digestion proper, experts suggest the following :

  • Disciplined lifestyle:
  1. Do not skip any meal. 3 main meals and 2 in between meal snack is the ideal way to go.
  2. Try to eat slowly, savoring each bite as you go along.
  3. Pay attention to your overeating “threshold”.
  4. Do not watch T.V. while eating.
  5. Don’t starve just eat healthy nutritious foods.
  6. Try to eat at the same time everyday.
  • Indulge in regular exercise
  • Be positive and Optimistic

** The above information is for educational purposes only. There is absolutely no intension to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any health problems or diseases. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment, advice on diet, herb and exercise.**

References:

1. Frawley,D. DR (2008). Ayurvedic Healing- A Comprehensive Guide. Delhi, India: Motilal banarsidass Publishers PVT.LTD.

2. Diwekar, R (2009). Don’t lose your mind, Lose your weight. Delhi, India: Random house Publishers India Pvt. Ltd.


Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular herb used in most Indian dishes in powder form. This turmeric root imparts its golden color to the Indian dishes. The scientific name is “Curcuma longa”. This herb has a lot of health benifiting  properties and thus is a valuable herb to keep in our kitchen.  

Biochemical constituents:  Essential oils, compound called curcumin, 60% turmerones, miscellaneous proteins, sugars, fixed oil and vitamins (Tierra, M. 1998).

Health Benefits: This herb has much more to give us apart from giving color to our food. Turmeric is shown to be helpful in regulating menses or in preventing or lessening the symptoms of PMS. This function of turmeric is attributed to its ability of gently activating the liver functions that help to regulate and balance the hormones. Turmeric has also shown to be an important aid in helping prevent and dissolve gall stones. Turmeric is known to contain anti-inflammatory properties, which make it particularly useful in the treatment of bruises and injuries. When combined with some other blood moving and stimulant herbs, turmeric is shown to be an effective external liniment. Turmeric is also a good source of powerful antioxidants, which are substances that fight the damage causing free radicals. Studies show that curcumin found in turmeric reduce inflammation by lowering the levels of two anti-inflammatory enzymes, COX 2 and LOX, in the body and also stop the platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.  

Ayurvedic Super “anti-cancer” herb: Turmeric is ayurveda’s top candidate as the best anti-cancer herb. It is related to the ginger plant and just like ginger; it is derived from the root of the plant. Ayurvedic tradition knows both, the importance of this herb and how to get its maximum benefits.

Western medicine has devoted a good deal of research on this herb.

Some of the western science documented benefits of curcumin (substance found in turmeric) as cited by Thomas M. Newmark and Paul Schulick:

  • More DNA protective then lipoate, vitamin E and beta carotene
  • It is a strong anti-inflammatory, both orally and topically and is also anti ulcerative.
  • It is shown to inhibit leukemia at initiation, promotion and progression
  • Inhibits the growth of multiple breast cancer cell lines
  • Shown to suppress colon cancer
  • Inhibitory of oral tumor and when applied topically, curcumin show to inhibit skin tumor promotion.

Turmeric is also known to be good for digestion. It is shown to help dissolve the undesirable fat in the body.  Turmeric also has antibacterial properties(Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. 2002).

Ways to use turmeric:

Turmeric is a potent herb. The right way to use turmeric is to cook with it. According to the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, using turmeric in this way, makes it taste better and easier to digest.  Cooked turmeric gets the gastric juices flowing, which is shown to help us assimilate the herb and get the most benefits from it. Turmeric is versatile. This means that it goes with every kind of taste identified by ayurveda. It can be added in a salty dish and a sweet dish. Turmeric, when cooked with other food, does not lose its innate plant intelligence but it enhances the intelligence of the food and vice versa. Turmeric can also be enjoyed in a liquid form by adding it to a glass of milk and boiling it. Taking turmeric in this form has shown to be helpful in preventing colds. Do not overdo it. The right amount suggested to be used is a quarter teaspoonful per meal, cooked with your food. Moderation is the best. According to ayurveda, turmeric is hot in its effect because it stimulates digestion and liver. Overdoing it has shown to create an imbalance for example irritability or a short temper (Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. 2002).

Last but not the least; western medicine confirms that using the whole plant is better than using isolated curcumin in supplement form. Studies have shown that extracts can sometimes have opposite effect of the whole herb. Ayurveda also prefers “wholeness” of the herb.

** The above information is for educational purposes only. There is absolutely no intension to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any health problems or diseases. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. **

References:

  1. Tierra, M. (1998). The way of herbs. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
  2. Sharma, H., Mishra, R.K., & Meade, J.G. (2002). The Answer To Cancer. New York: Select books, Inc.
  3. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/turmeric-000277.htm