Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lack of ‘sunshine vitamin’ ups diabetes risk

Low levels of vitamin D caused by a lack of sunlight is putting millions of people in danger of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers have found.

A landmark study in Australia, the largest of its kind, found that people with high levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop it, reports the Daily Express.

Pathologist Dr Ken Sikaris, from Melbourne, co-author of the study, said: "It's hard to underestimate how important this might be."

Previous research has already shown that vitamin D deficiency could be to blame for 600,000 cases of cancer worldwide each year, particularly in northern Europe. The vitamin apparently slashes the chance of bowel cancer by 40 per cent and cuts the risk of women developing breast cancer by half.

Research has also suggested that people with high levels of vitamin D can almost halve the danger of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Although we get some vitamin D from foods such as fatty fish, milk and eggs, around 90 per cent is generated in the skin by the sun's ultraviolet light.


Ills of a very tight bra

When it comes to dressing even the bra you wear is important. Many women think that the tighter the bra, the better it is.

Tight bras give you a fuller and more enhanced bust and more importantly, gives support and shape. Some woman are so used to wearing bras that they even wear one when they sleep! However, a recent study conducted at the Harvard university, has linked wearing tight bras to breast cancer. This is because wearing a very tight bra can restrict blood circulation and can also impair the lymph tissues.

According to the study, less oxygen and fewer nutrients are delivered to the cells, while waste products are not flushed away. This is especially the case with women who wear bras for more than 12 hours a day and even sleep in them. The study also discovered that middle-class women are at a higher rick of breast cancer since they work for longer hours.

Since lymphatic vessels are very thin, they are extremely sensitive to pressure and are easily compressed. General Physician Dr M D Mody agrees. "The main reason why extremely tight bras are bad for breast health is because they restrict the lymph flow in your breasts. Normally the lymph fluid washes out waste materials and other toxins away from the breasts but bras inhibit this action, so toxins can start to accumulate in the breast, and that can help cancer to develop."

Many experts say that a lot of women believe that if they follow a regular diet and exercise daily, their chances of developing breast cancer are reduced. According to gynaecologist, Dr Smiti Kamath, "A lot of the women who come to me are very health conscious people, who exercise regularly. They get surprised when they're told that the lymphatic circulation in many tissues (especially the primary lymphatics) is highly dependent on movement. Wearing a bra, especially a constricting one with underwires, and especially to bed, prevents normal lymphatic flow and is likely lead to anoxia (lower than normal oxygen content), which has been related to fibrosis, which in turn has been linked to increased cancer risk," she says.

Oncologist Dr M V Shah says that women who have a history of breast cancer in their families should be especially careful. "Bras inhibit the way our bodies normally cleanse themselves and get rid of cancer cells and toxins like dioxin, benzene and other carcinogenic chemicals that cling to the body's fatty tissues like breast. In fact, if you find a lump in your breast, it may very well be filled with lymph fluid that was not able to move away from the breast tissue," says Dr Shah.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Best vegetarian sources of protein

Perhaps one of the most neglected meal components - Protein is the reason behind muscle regeneration, performance, and upkeep.

Without it, you will find it impossible to get fitter. Animal protein helps maintain a well-balanced diet for most non-vegetarians. But what about the vegetarians? Does one really need to switch meal preferences to gain the maximum protein punch? Not at all. Today we bring you the best vegetarian sources of protein that will help you gain muscle tone and maintain good nutrition. Read on...

Whole grains: Although a fine line between carbs, cereal and protein - whole grains like quinoa and barley are excellent sources of protein. At approximately 18gms of protein per cup of cooked quinoa, this wonder grain is one of the best vegetarian sources of protein. Unfortunately, quinoa isn't easily available in India, since it's a South American crop. However, some premium stores do stock it. Failing that, barley or jowar and other whole grains are also sufficient vegetarian sources of protein.

Soy: A wonderfully versatile ingredient, soy in all its shapes and forms is a great protein source for vegetarians. Drink soy milk, stir in tofu with your salads, or simply munch on soy nuts. You'll find that soy products can be roped in with just about any meal or snack - from vegetarian biryanis to light noon-time salads...Even mid-evening beverages. One cup of tofu contains approx. 18-20gms of protein. Most packaged tofu and soy milk is fortified with even more nutrients that would serve a vegetarian well.

Nuts and seeds: These are protein sources that even non-vegetarians can't ignore. Nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts and seeds like flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin are protein and energy powerhouses. However, nuts are also high in fat, so munch on the side of caution. You can even make your own homemade nut butters by simply grinding the nuts of your choice with a dash of olive oil and some more flavourers.

Sprouts: Although technically, sprouts come under the beans, legumes and lentils category in vegetarian protein sources, they deserve a special mention. You can sprout already healthy ingredients like alfalfa, mung beans, chickpeas, peas, and soyabeans. These sprouts are highly nutritious and rich in protein. Eat them raw with salads, or mix them in with a spicy, hearty dish - either way, your day's protein requirements can be sufficiently met with these wonder sprouts. Do remember that for people with acidity, sprouts aren't the best protein sources.

Beans and lentils: Chalk one up for Indian cuisines, because our diets are already rich in these hearty vegetarian protein sources. Whether it's the ever-loved Rajma Chawal or the various East coast beans and lentil curries with kokam and tamarind, beans and lentils are an intrinsic part of our food culture. And rightly so. One cup of beans (kidney, black, red) contains approximately 15gms of protein. These do not, however, perform as optimally as dairy and soy sources of protein. Therefore, vegetarians must still take care to include all the other protein sources mentioned here.

Dairy: If you do not have any digestion problems or adverse reactions to natural whey protein and simple plain yogurt, we say give it a try. Whey protein is simply the leftover residue from the cheese-making, paneer-making process. Resort to artificial (closest to natural state) whey protein only if you aren't getting enough protein in your daily diet. Yogurt is easier to digest than milk, and is a great protein source for vegetarians.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Must-do morning habits

The right moves and foods when incorporated at the start of any day lead to a positive and focused outlook. These must-do morning habits will enable you to enjoy your day no matter what the schedule. And to top it all, they will kick-start your metabolism levels on a high, thus helping you torch extra calories too. Here they are...

Brighten up your morning with colour! Colour experts suggest that if you see a bright, vibrant colour right when you open your eyes in the morning, you tend to feel a sudden surge of energy, which is good enough to keep you up and about all day long. Try throwing in a pillow, lamp shade or a blanket which is bright red, or orange (did we hear fuchsia pink?) in colour. Or if you love experimenting with food, then let your morning glass of juice do the talking with rich colours from pomegranates, cranberries or oranges.

"You snooze, you lose" The more you hit the snooze button, the more sluggish will be the start of your day. This is because when you snooze your brain is aware of the fact that it can go off again for 5 minutes (and let's face it, it's more 15 than 5), thus you tend to go into a deeper slumber, waking up lethargic - and as a result yawn all day.

Visualize the day ahead. Now that you are up, try and visualize in your head what you need to do through the day. No, this won't add to stress. Rather, this will help you compartmentalise your day and be better planned. Ask yourself what that one exciting and energetic thing you will be doing that day and that alone will be enough to get you thinking ahead positively.

Drink water. Sipping on a tall glass of water as you wake up, aids in restocking bodily fluids lost over the night. Even a single percent drop in your body's water stores can tire you physically and mentally. Thus, maintain the level of water in your body by drinking 8 to 10 glasses in a day.

Make hay when the sun shines. As soon as you see the first streak of sunshine, your biological clock winds up on secreting melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy). Step outside for the morning sunshine or read your morning newspaper sitting by a sunny window.

Start the physical activity. Kick starting your day with a 45 minute run outside or by visiting the nearby park for a quick walking session with friends, will help in shaking off that grogginess. Even though we already know the endless benefits of exercising, using morning sunlight to do so is a great way to start the day!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Spices are good for you!

Here are the benefits of some popular spices....

Indians are known to like their food hot and spicy. So to imagine your food without spices is rather unimaginable, isn't it?! They say wherever you find an Indian, chances are you will find a range of aromatic spices. But along with the taste that spices and herbs provide, they also have several medicinal benefits as well. Spices have been used for centuries for their medicinal qualities and researchers continue to study their healing properties. Here are some of their benefits:

Chili powder: It relieves painful joints. Research shows that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help ease arthritic swelling and pain.

Cinnamon: Protects against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A study has discovered that about half a teaspoon lowered blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Garlic: Improves your heart's health. Garlic consumption can lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by an average of 10 per cent.

Cloves: Clove oil is a well known treatment for toothache, and its antiseptic properties make it an excellent mouthwash. The main ingredient in the oil is eugenol, which is anti-inflammatory and can help ease the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis. It is a warming spice, which can help reduce congestion and stimulate digestion.

Ginger: Ginger contains antioxidants and can help protect against diseases. It calms down spasms and reduces flatulence in the digestive system. It is also an excellent treatment for nausea associated with travel sickness, pregnancy and hangovers.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Home remedies for grey hair

There are home remedies that help check greying of hair. However, in some cases the greying of hair may be due to an underlying health issue. Hence, it is sagacious to rule out any medical reasons for grey hair before resorting to home remedies.

Castor oil
It is widely believed that gently massaging the scalp with warm castor oil stops the greying process. Let the oil soak into your scalp overnight.

Powdered sandalwood and coffee
Prepare this oil. Take a litre of castor oil and approximately an ounce each of grounded coffee and sandalwood in a vessel. Heat for 15-20 minutes. Let it cool. Strain and store in an airtight bottle. Use this oil to massage your scalp and let it stay overnight. Regular use of this oil is said to improve the colour of your hair and even reverse the greying process.

Herbal hair pack
Some believe the following herbal hair pack if used weekly prevents grey hair or reverses the process of grey hair. To prepare the pack, take a tablespoon of henna, amla and tea leaves powder and put it in a vessel. Add a cup of hot water to the powders. Mix well. Stir into the mixture a pinch of salt and one small lime juice. Let it set for 4-5 hours. Now the pack is ready for application. Apply and let it stay for 2 hours. Wash off with plain water. Do not use soap or shampoo immediately. Using this pack regularly once in seven days is said to check and prevent grey hair.

Sage infusion
There are some who claim that a strong infusion of sage leaves works wonders for grey hair. Take 4-5 tablespoons of sage leaf infusion and add to it one cup of strong tea water. Use this water on your hair daily, letting it seep well into the hair roots. After a few days, you will notice a satisfactory change in the colour of your hair. From then on, use it once a week.

Charakacharya described indigo as kesharanjak and kehavardhak. Indigo is a hair growth stimulant, soothing to the skin, heals wounds. It is described as a bactericidal and antitoxin. Its natural properties help maintain the natural dark colour of hair. To avail of these natural benefits for greying hair, use the powder of natural indigo leaf in equal quantity with henna powder. Make a paste and apply on hair for two hours or so. Wash off with plain water.