Home Remedies to Reduce Cholesterol

Natural Home Remedies to Treat High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a wax like substance. It is fat made by the liver. Some cholesterol is needed for good health (it is essential for formation of cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D). Too much cholesterol in the blood leads to problems. The extra cholesterol in the blood may be stored in the arteries and cause them to narrow. Large deposits block an artery. When an artery that supplies blood to the heart is blocked it causes a heart attack and when an artery that supplies blood to the brain is blocked it causes a stroke.

Cholesterol travels in blood through carrier proteins called the lippoproteins, that help it dissolve in blood and be transported to all parts of the body. Low-density lippoprotein or LDL deliver cholesterol to the body and hence is called the bad cholesterol and high-density lippoprotein HDL, removes cholesterol from the blood stream and hence is called the good cholesterol. Fortunately, the build up of cholesterol and triglycerides can be slowed, stopped and sometimes even reversed.

Natural Food to Treat Build up of Cholesterol

Increase your Omega-3sOmega3

Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are actually said to lower cholesterol. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are great sources of Omega-3s. Fish oil supplements also contain two types of omega-3s. Flaxseed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating 2 tbsp of flaxseed daily can cut LDL cholesterol by as much as 18%.

Increase the fibreFibre helps reduce cholesterol

Oats are rich in soluble fibre. Fibre works in the intestines by binding of cholesterol so that it cannot be absorbed and helps the ingested food to move through the tract more quickly, so that there is simply less time for the cholesterol to be absorbed. Eating around one cup of oats daily could lower the LDL cholesterol quite substantially. The most valuable sources of fibre for reducing high levels of blood fat seems to be oats bran, beans, barley, apples, soya bean and alfalfa. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fibre, which can help lower cholesterol.

Herbs and Spices

Several herbs and spices like fenugreek seeds and leaves, holy basil, ginger, turmeric and garlic help lower cholesterol. Nuts like almonds and walnuts, that are high in fibre should replace foods high in saturated fat. To control and maintain cholesterol levels, minimize consumption of animal products including dairy products as animal foods (other than fish) are high in saturated fatty acids and dietary cholesterol. Eat a lot of anti-oxidant foods such as strawberries, apples, nuts, carrots, broccoli and spinach.

Home Remedies to fight Cholesterol

Boil water with 2 tsp coriander seed. Strain and drink this water twice daily. It helps reduce cholesterol, flushes out toxins, and improves digestion.

Guggulu (Commiphora mukul) is effective in lowering cholesterol. Studies investigating the hypolipidemic benefits of gum guggul show that it can reduce cholesterol levels by 14-27% and lower triglycerides by 22-30%. It is also said to increase the good cholesterol (HDL). There is a difference in the outcomes of Indian and Western studies. While Indian studies have found strong evidence to support this fact, western studies have not found it to be so. This difference is being attributed to the difference in diet followed.

Green tea is said to have hypocholesterolemic properties. Researchers have found that consumption of green tea reduces both LDL and total cholesterol. Polyphenols in green tea are said to block the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and promote its excretion from the body. It also inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots.

Garlic also lowers cholesterol in the blood by singling out the especially harmful LDL fraction. Crush a couple of garlic and let it stand for a few minutes, then have it early in the morning on an empty stomach. It helps to breaks up cholesterol in the blood vessels and helps prevent the hardening of arteries.

Arjuna is said to have the ability to contain the blood’s absorption of lipids and thus regulates cholesterol. It possesses hypolipidemic properties. Arjuna is rich in co-enzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) that helps lower LDL cholesterol and enhances HDL recovery. Take 1 to 2 capsules per day of Arjun (Terminalia arjuna) extract available in a capsule form.

Artichoke is an old traditional home remedy. It has been established that artichokes have cholesterol-lowering ability. A German study on a group of volunteers, in which they were given artichoke extract for 6 weeks showed that it lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 18.5% and 22.9% respectively. The effect on HDL and triglycerides however were minimal.

Apart from having the right kind of food, some other measures one can take is to maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, eat a low-fat, low-salt diet that includes many fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Exercise or walk everyday at least 30 minutes and avoid alcohol if you can.

Know more about natural ways to prevent and treat high cholesterol

Acidity Home Remedies

The stomach contains millions of glands that secrete gastric juices, mostly hydrochloric acid. The acid activates the secretion of the enzyme pepsin, which starts protein digestion. The stomach also secretes various other enzymes that are necessary for digestion and to help break down food. Sometimes there is excess production of acid in the stomach. These gastric juices move from the stomach into the esophagus. Lying down can result in acid regurgitation, (where the acid sensation is felt in the mouth). This condition is called acidity. Acidity can lead to dyspepsia, heartburn and even formation of ulcers.

Home Remedies for Acidity

Hyperacidity caused by wrong diet can easily be treated and prevented. Acidity is mostly caused by dietary and bad lifestyle choices. A proper diet and physical activity go a long way in controlling acidity. Diet for acidity

Keep a small lump of jaggery in your mouth and keep sucking it slowly. The sweet juice of jaggery will help reduce acidity. Jaggery breaks down and becomes alkaline in the digestive system.

Boil one cup of water and add a tsp of Aniseed to it. Cover and leave overnight. Strain the water in the morning, add 1 tsp of honey and take it 3 times a day. Saunf  or aniseed helps in digestion, thus preventing acidity.

Banana, Water Melon, grapefruit and cucumber are some of the fruits which prove helpful in acidity. It is always good to eat fruits every day as it helps to increase alkaline in the body, thus neutralizing the effects of acidity.

A tsp of lime juice mixed with water and a pinch of sodabicarb is an excellent home remedy for reducing acidity in the stomach.

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is said to be a effective home remedy for acidity. Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and then follow it up with a glass of water.

Virgin coconut oil is very helpful in acidity. Coconut oil is an excellent antibiotic. Studies have also confirmed its high antimicrobial and anit-bacterial activity.

Almonds help to quickly control the heart burn. A few pieces of almonds taken daily helps relieve acidity.

Add a tsp of Caraway seeds (shah jeera) to one and a half liters of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drink it while still warm, 2-3 times a day.

Powder equal quantities of clove and cardamom and use the powder as a mouth freshener after a meal. It helps to cure acidity and also bad breath.

Slice an inch of ginger and simmer in 2 cups of water, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and drink it about 20 minutes before a meal.

Sipping on holy basil (tulsi) tea helps alleviate acidity. Mint leaf tea is also a good home remedy for acidity.

Probiotics like yogurt, buttermilk, and other fermented products can help prevent acid reflux problems.

Cynodon dactylon is another natural remedy to treat acidity. Make a juice of  the herb and mix about 3-4 tsps. of the juice in 1 cup of water. Drink this on an empty stomach in the morning.

Eat right – the traditional way

The purpose of food, it is said is not only to increase longevity and bodily strength, but also to purify the mind and consciousness. Food is supposed to nourish the organs, regulate various activities of the body and help the different organs in the body to grow. Eating the right kind of food promotes health and growth, while there are some food items and practices that should be avoided as they lead to health problems. Ayurveda tells us to combine food wisely, eat in a pleasant atmosphere and at fixed times to get maximum benefits from the food that we eat. The choices we make regarding food, either builds up immunity or destroys it.

Start the day with warm water

The water that is used by the body overnight for digestion, cleansing, and elimination, needs to be replenished. It is hence, necessary to drink water first thing in the morning, preferably warm. Warm water is said to stimulate digestion and wash out the toxins, thus preparing the body for the day ahead. Adding the juice of half a lemon to warm water, makes it even more healthy. This is because lemon leaves an alkaline residue, which is necessary for good health.

Do not Overeat

Ayurveda advises us to eat slightly less than what the appetite demands, because it is not only about the amount of food we ingest, but also how well we digest and absorb the nutrients from the food into our system. The stomach needs working space, and so, it should be filled only half and actually thats how much we need to feed our hunger. We should leave 1/4th space for liquids and 1/4th space for air to help in digestion. Overeating dulls the mind and tires the body.

Chew properly

It is said that half the digestion takes place in our mouth. By chewing properly, we can save our intestines a lot of work. The intestines have to work harder to digest half-chewed food. One should eat slowly and chew well. This helps in two ways. It gives the brain enough time to receive the signal from the stomach that it’s full. Therefore, the slower we chew, the lesser we eat. Also, when we chew thoroughly, our digestive system becomes aware of incoming food, and triggers the production of digestive acids which  helps the body absorb nutrients.Food that has not been chewed properly, promotes all sorts of problems like intestinal bacteria, flatulence, bloating, constipation, stomach ache, cramps and even diarrhea. That is why we are asked to chew our food at least 32 times before swallowing it.

Focus on the Food

Ayurveda asks us to eat with the belief that the food we eat is enhancing the energy, intelligence and health. It advises us to eat mindfully, that is , eating without distraction. How do we do this? We eat mindfully by not doing anything else while eating, like watching television or reading. By eating slowly and savouring the food, one enjoys it more. Above all, when we are aware of every morsel we eat, we know when we are getting full, and can avoid over eating. The environment should be peaceful during meals and we should refrain from emotions like anger, irritation, and negative thinking. The food should be cooked with love and care in order to transfer positive energy to food. Food is considered next to God because it gives us life, and it is said that, eating the food with our hands enables to transfer the warmth of our body to the food, and creates a closeness and a bond with our food.

Should you drink water with food?

Our stomach starts releasing digestive juices as soon as we start eating, or even before. When we drink water during meals, what we are essentially doing is diluting the digestive juices that are released to digest the food, thus hindering them from breaking down food. Sipping a little water during meals isn’t a cause for concern but drinking more than that may interfere with digestion. Drinking water before eating leads to loss of appetite and this may be helpful for people who want to lose weight. It is best to drink water about 30 mins before we start eating. We should avoid drinking water for about two hours after meals as this helps in the absorption of nutrients. Eating in a hurry causes us to gulp down our food, thus triggering our need to wash it down with water. If we chew our food well, we will not find the need for water to wash it down.

Eat at fixed times

In ayurveda, an important rule is to maintain atleast a gap of three hours between meals. The habit of snacking in between meals, hampers the digestive process and other complex functions of the body. The digestive power is said to be the strongest at mid day, and therefore we should take our main meal at this time. Ayurveda asks us to wait at least three hours after a light meal and five after a heavy meal before eating again.

Have fresh and natural food

Eat fresh food to remain healthy. One should try to eat seasonal vegetables and fruits, and whole grain and dried fruits. Food should be as fresh as possible. Natural foods like milk products, grains, fruits, and vegetables are believed to increase longevity, give strength, health and happiness. It also satisfies the body and mind. Ayurveda also tells us to eat different tastes – salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, in one meal. This is because these various tastes stimulate the digestive juices to a great extent. This may explain why a traditional Indian meal (which has a variety of different tastes and flavours), also includes a small sweet dish in the main meal and not as a separate dessert.

How to cook your vitamins

We all are aware that fruits and vegetables should be an important part of our diet. Most of us try to ingest as much as possible. Yet we don’t see positive results, we don’t seem to be really getting all the nutrients from the food. This may be because of many reasons – the food is not fresh, and hence has lost most of the nutrients; we lack knowledge about how a particular vegetable should be cooked, so that we can absorb most of the nutrients;  Should the vegetable be eaten raw or cooked? Most of the time, we lose a lot of vitamins during the process of preparing, storing and cooking food.

First of all it is necessary to know our vitamins. For instance, we all know that tomatoes, red capsicums, spinach are rich in vitamin C. So we cook them and eat them, thinking we have had a very nutritious diet. But the truth is that vitamin C is water soluble and when we cook it, it leaches out into the water, and if you don’t drink the water or use it in a soup, you didn’t really get vitamin C from the food you ate. So its best to eat them raw or steamed. But wait a minute, there is something called Lycopene in tomatoes, that is not available all that much in raw tomatoes. Lycopene increases as the tomatoes are cooked more and more. Also, when eaten with oil, it increases lycopene absorption by the body. Spinach has quite a good amount of calcium. But it also has oxalic acid which can interfere with the absorption of calcium by the body. Since spinach offers a lot nutritionally, you cannot stop eating spinach. The answer is to eat yogurt to get calcium and spinach to get all the other nutrients like vitamin C, Iron and vitamin A.

The secret here is to know your vitamins and minerals, and how to cook them. There are water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. We can avoid specific types of vitamin loss, by cooking them right. Vitamins A, E, D and K are fat soluble vitamins, therefore the food has to contain some fat, to be a good source of one of these vitamins, and to get the most from them. In general, fat soluble vitamins are fairly well retained while preparing food, largely because they don’t dissolve in water. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. They are used by the body as required and eliminated more slowly than water-soluble vitamins. So an overdose of these vitamins could lead to toxic results.

Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body and as such have to be replenished every day. The water soluble vitamins are the B vitamins, vitamin C and folates. These vitamins are also easily excreted by the kidneys. Water soluble vitamins readily dissolve into the water used in cooking. This is one reason why you should cook with just enough water or use the liquid from cooking to make soups. Heat is another problem for many water soluble vitamins.

Following these tips will help cut down the nutrient losses from foods while preparing and storing food.

Use fresh fruits and vegetables, as soon as possible after purchase, as nutrients get destroyed with the passage of time. Avoid soaking vegetables in water for long periods of time. Keep the skin intact whenever possible, as in some vegetables and fruits the nutrients are often just below the skin. Do not wash the vegetable after cutting it and try to cut it into larger pieces as there is less loss of nutrition. Vitamin C also evaporates into air, hence keep juices covered tightly in the fridge. Riboflavin is destroyed by exposure to light, hence keep food with riboflavin, covered and in the fridge as soon as possible. Serve cooked vegetables immediately, as it starts losing nutrition after 24 hours in the fridge.

Where cooking vegetables is concerned, it is better to steam vegetables than to boil them. Don’t cook for long and avoid high temperatures. To avoid stickiness in food like pastas, adding some oil is a better alternative than to rinse them, as some vitamins will also be washed off. The key is to cook vegetables gently, without a great deal of water. This will help protect the water-soluble vitamins. Blanching the vegetables will also help preserve the color and nutrients in the food we eat.

Toothache home remedies

Tooth decay is usually the cause of tooth aches. A tooth ache is a sign of decay, abscess or inflammation inside the tooth or of the gum. The main cause of tooth decay is plaque. Plaque is a film of mucus and bacteria deposited on the teeth that encourages the development of dental caries. Dental caries is also known as tooth decay or a cavity. It is an infection which is bacterial in origin, that causes demineralization of the tooth surface.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is usually caused by a sticky film of food residue, saliva and bacteria that accumulate on teeth. The bacteria feeds on the sugars and starches from food we eat. These bacteria produce an acid that can destroy the enamel, which is the protective surface of the tooth.  When the decay advances. it leads to deep cavities that allow bacteria to enter the pulp deep within the tooth, and eventually leads to a painful dental abscess. It is called a tooth abscess, when pus has accumulated in a cavity on the interior of the tooth.

Home remedies to prevent and treat tooth aches

Tooth decay invariably requires  treatment by a dentist, but you can use a variety of natural home remedies to relieve pain while dental treatment takes effect, and even prevent it by performing these simple actions, which will keep the teeth healthy.

Prevention:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss it to remove food particles from between your teeth.
Minimize the consumption of refined carbohydrates. Such foods promote plaque formation and raise acid levels in the mouth.
Reduce excess acidity in your mouth after eating by brushing or rinsing your mouth well so as to remove food residue and counter acidity.
Drink tea, which is a good source of fluoride and tannins. Fluorides is a decay fighting mineral and the tannins help fight bacteria. Green tea can prevent tooth decay by inhibiting oral bacteria.
Minimize snacking, (including sugary drinks, candy and mints) as this leads to a constant supply of acid in the mouth.

It is not how often we brush our teeth, but how well we brush our teeth that matters. It is recommended that we hold the brush at a 45 degree angle against the gum line. Point the brush upwards while brushing the upper teeth and downward while brushing the lower teeth. Use short back and forth motion to clean the surface of teeth. Tilt the brush vertically and use the front part of the brush in short up down strokes to clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth. Finally, brush your tongue too, as it has disease containing plaque.

Another important thing to do everyday is to floss your teeth. The teeth are usually touching each other, so there is no other way to get into the space between teeth. Flossing too has to be done the right way. You don’t want to slash your gums. Floss not only removes the food particles from between teeth, but also the plaque that builds between teeth. It is good to be methodical when flossing and brushing, so that no surfaces of any teeth are missed.

Treatment

To reduce the pain of an abscess, apply a hot compress for five minutes, every half an hour and wash out with warm salt water afterwards. This may help release the pus.
Apply a few drops of clove oil on the gum above or beneath the aching tooth. Cloves contain eugenol, a local anaesthetic. If you do not have clove oil at home, powder the cloves finely and make a very thick decoction out of it. Soak a cotton wool in this decoction and place it on the hurting tooth.
Apply a cotton wool ball soaked in echinacea tincture to the affected tooth.
Apply a paste of powdered slippery elm bark mixed with a little water.
Herbal tea made from mango flowers acts as an astringent, soothes inflammation and relieves pain.

For gums

After cleaning teeth, gently massage gums with fingertip, then rinse mouth with cold black tea. The tannin in the tea acts as an astringent and reduces bleeding.
To counter infection, make mouth washes out of meadowsweet tea. You can make this tea by pouring boiling water over the dried herb and steeping for 10 mins. Strain, cool and use.
Take a tbsp of mustard oil, and add a tsp of common salt to it. Massage this mixture on your gums with your forefinger, in circular strokes for about half a minute. Gargle with warm water and repeat three times a day.

Diet for teeth

It is important to keep teeth strong in addition to keeping it clean. Calcium helps make the teeth strong. With an increase in calcium intake, magnesium and zinc intake also has to go up, as the requirement of magnesium and zinc increases with an increase of calcium in the diet. Vitamin C is very important for gum health. Vitamin C is said to supply the gum tissues with oxygen and strengthens the texture of tissues. It also cures infections quickly. Eating raw hard vegetables on a regular basis, helps to clean and exercise the gum and teeth, thus making them stronger.

Swar Yoga – Unification through breath

‘Swara’ in addition to being a ‘musical note’ in sanskrit, also means the continuous flow of air through one’s nostrils. Swar yoga allows us to be in tune with the lunar and planetary cycles, and change right or left hemisphere dominance through breath, whenever we want.  It helps us synchronise our inner rhythms with those of the cosmos.

It is a known fact that we don’t breathe through both nostrils at the same time, except for brief periods in the course of the day.  Breathing with the right, left or both the nostrils creates certain physical and emotional states. A task undertaken during the operation of one nostril is sometimes not suited for that state of body chemistry.

For example, when both nostrils work, we are in a good place to meditate and concentrate. When the right nostril is operating, we are in a rational and logical phase, because it communicates with the left side of the brain. It activates the thinking hemisphere of the brain. When we breathe with the left nostril, we are more tuned to the intuitive, emotional and visual side of our nature, i.e the feeling hemisphere of the brain.

One important aspect of swar yoga is that, it helps us to adapt our activites to the breath in dominance at that point of time, or change our breath to suit the activity we are doing. How do we do this?

In his book, ‘Dhanwantari’, Harish Johari says, breath can be changed from one nostril to the other by lying down on the side of the operating nostril with a pillow placed under the ribcage  The breath will change over in healthy people within 10 mins.

The cycle of breath is directly related to the moon. The right nostril operates at sunrise for three consecutive days, after full moon. After that, for the next three days, our left nostril operates at sunrise and this goes on till the new moon. After the new moon, the cycle changes and the left nostril operates for an hour at sunrise for three consecutive days followed by the right nostril for three days and so on.

When there is a disturbance in the natural cycle, the proper nostril does not open accordingly and body chemistry becomes disturbed. As a result, physical and psychological   disturbances occur. Knowledge of Swar yoga, helps us to quickly respond to the imbalance and avoid the consequences. We can change our breath by the method outlined above. Changing the breath at the first sign of any physical or mental disturbance, prevents worsening of symptoms and promotes well being.

It is said that indigestion can be cured by eating only when the right nostril is dominant. This is because when the right nostril operates, the body chemistry is acidic and heat is produced. This helps in digestion. When left nostril is working, the body chemistry is mostly alkaline. This nostril cools the system and hence, when our left nostril is operating, we should not eat, bathe or defecate. When we want to change an unwanted emotional state, we should breathe through the non active nostril.

There are sciences like chronobiology and chronopsychology, that are investigating the periodic phenomena in living organisms and their adaptation to solar and lunar related rhythms. Chronopsychology is the scientific study, of the way changes in our daily sleep-waking cycles, can adversely affect our ability to work well. Chronopsychologists found that during a 24 hour day, a person’s mental, physical and emotional aptitudes, that depend heavily on biological clocks, vary according to the time of the day. There is a ‘favourable’ time for most of these abilities.

Swar yoga says the same and even tells us what these best times are. Since these abilities depend on the hemispheres of your brain, and the predominance of the hemispheres depends on whether you are breathing with your right or left nostril, you can choose to breathe the right way, to get the best result. Organising your tasks according to your breath will make you more efficient.

Health benefits of fruits

 

fruitsWe are most often born with healthy minds and bodies, but as we grow older, our body invariably loses its natural capacity to renew and rejuvenate itself. The main reason for this is poor diet and lifestyle choices. We have become completely alienated from nature. The progress of science has led to man being better fed, but very poorly nourished. The food we eat is devoid of vital nutrients. Diet plays a very important role, in the maintenance of good health, in addition to prevention and treatment of various diseases.

Nature has given us a vast choice of natural and fresh food which helps us lead a healthy, energetic and disease free life. All that we need is available in nature. We just need to have the knowledge to use them effectively in order to gain the most from them. Fruits are the most natural food you can find, which can be eaten raw – that is, in its natural state. Fruits are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. They can be easily digested and have a cleansing effect on the blood and the digestive system. There are a lot more reasons why we should have a generous helping of fruits in our diet.

Why should we eat fruits?

Fruits are alkaline forming    

When the body is acidic, it is more susceptible to diseases, and can lead to acidosis. It has been known for a long time that fruit is one of the most alkaline forming foods that exist. Some fruits like oranges maybe acidic to taste,  but are alkaline forming after digestion. An alkaline diet is said to improve the K/Na ratio and may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as prevent diseases such as hypertension and strokes. Most fruits are alkaline forming, except a few like prunes, plums and cranberries.

High in Water Content

Fruits also have a high percentage of water, about 80%, and hence are very hydrating. Water is one of the most essential nutrients. It regulates body temperatures, eliminates toxins, carries nutrients and helps chemical reactions that occur in our cells. Water also lubricates and cushions our joints.

Source of natural sugar

The body needs natural sugar as a source of energy. The complex sugar from starchy food is broken down into simpler sugars by digestive enzymes. Fruits contain simple sugars which is used directly by the body, unlike refined sugar which is devoid of nutrients and fibre, and do not provide any minerals and vitamins. Fruit on the other hand is a nutrient-dense food, full of vitamins and minerals.

Medicinal Properties of fruits

Fruits help to clear the system of wastes and toxins and replenish the body’s sugar, vitamins and minerals. The fibre in the fruits acts as a laxative and aids the smooth passage of food in the digestive tract. Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C and carotene, and a medium sized mango provides much of the vitamin A necessary for the body. The minerals in the fruits and dry fruits like raisins help to build strong bones. Fruits like custard apple supply enough calcium to meet our daily requirement.

Certain fruits are known to be beneficial in combating certain ailments. Apple, pomegranate, lemon and orange are said to be beneficial for the heart. Fruits like apple dates and mango are said to be good for the central nervous system. The nutrients in these fruits exert a tonic effect on the nerves. All berries are said to strengthen nerves and build blood. Watermelons cleanses the kidneys. Lemons are a good remedy for liver problems and indigestion. Thus, a generous helping of fruits taken everyday, may help prevent diseases and keeps one energized and healthy.

How should we eat Fruits?

Eat Seasonal Fruits

Food culture usually evolves to suit the needs of every region. Globalization has taken away the food culture that is suited to a region. When one chooses to eat local fruits, one is sure that they are fresh. Nowadays it is difficult to know what fruit is in season as all kinds of fruit are readily available. When we eat seasonal fruits, we know that the phytonutrients have developed to their full potential. Fruits are available in certain seasons for a reason. We need more of certain nutrients during certain seasons. Water melons and tropical fruits are available in the summer, and they should be eaten then as they are high in water content and potassium. They replenish the water and salts that have been lost through sweat. Citrus fruits are available in winter. According to ayurveda, in winter, the constitution is usually imbalanced, which results in a sluggish internal environment that leads to the breeding of many viruses. To avoid this we need to build up our immunity, and what better fruit than oranges to do this.

Eat a Large variety of raw fruits

Nutritionists advice eating a large variety of fruits, so as to get all round nutrition.  One should also eat one type of fruit at a time, and avoid mixing acid fruits with sweet ones. Choosing local variants and seasonal fruits will be more affordable and an assurance that one eats fresh fruit rather than packaged, processed or preserved stuff. Fruits are best eaten raw, as they lose much of their nutritional value when cooked.

When Should we Eat Fruits?

The best time to eat fruits is first thing in the morning after a glass of water. There are some nutritional claims that fruit should not be eaten along with other foods. This is because they believe that when fruits are eaten with other foods, they stay longer in the stomach and ferment the other digested foods, causing gas and indigestion. Another claim is that the body has trouble digesting the carbohydrates in fruit when in combination with other foods. Even though this is not supported by the science, natural hygienists believe that fruits don’t combine well with other foods. The reason is that fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion, and hence don’t stay for a long time in the stomach, whereas foods rich in fat, protein and starch, stay in the stomach for a longer period of time because they take more time to digest. Therefore when you eat fruit after or along with a meal, the fruit sugar stays longer in the stomach and ferments. You need to leave a gap of at least 30 minutes between a meal and a fruit snack. Ideally, one should eat fruits an hour before the meal or two hours after, if they have diabetes or any other digestive problem like acidity.

The Science of Breath – 2

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It has been said that all organisms are but subsystems of the One. Our individual selves are only part of the universal self. Each organism contains all the elements present throughout the cosmos. That is why all the spiritual gurus tell us to know ourselves, in order to know and understand the cosmos.

We have been gifted with certain mechanisms that help us experience life in this world. The most important of these mechanisms are the two nostrils. You breathe from the moment you are born till the moment you die. Breath keeps a man in continuous contact with the energy in the world. It is an important part of staying healthy.

Under normal conditions, electrical activity in the brain, i.e brainwaves are concentrated more in one hemisphere than the other. What are brain waves? The brain is made of billions of brain cells called neurons, which use electricity to communicate with each other. These charges are measured in frequencies. There are 4 kinds of brainwaves, namely, Beta (13 – 40Hz), Alpha (7 – 13Hz), Theta (4 – 7Hz) and Delta  (0 – 4Hz). There is also a Gamma (>40Hz).

It is believed that at the alpha level, the brain waves of those of the right hemisphere and that of the left hemisphere are synchronised. When this happens, man is able to consciously tap the tremendous powers of knowledge hidden in the subconscious mind. So then it follows that, one should be able to cultivate a theta brain wave or to diminish the brain rhythm to alpha, when needed. How do we do this?

Research has shown that each hemisphere of the brain has certain forms of behaviour and that those forms of behaviour are present only when electrical activity centers in that hemisphere. When energy concentrates in the left hemisphere, one becomes more active, verbal, intelligent, extroverted and creative. It is also considered to be a channel of solar energy.

The right hemisphere is characterised by passivity, orientation to sights and sounds, emotional responses, introspection and is a channel of lunar energy. As a result of the movement of energy from one hemisphere of the brain to another, the nature of our responses also change. Perception, actions and even involuntary bodily responses vary according to the dominance of one hemisphere over the other.

The movement of energy from one hemisphere to the other occurs simultaneously with the change of breath from one nostril to the other. The nostrils, are connected with the neuromotor responses, and hence with the autonomic nervous system. These neuromotor responses influence the hemispheres and activity of the brain.

When we observe our breath, we notice that the breath does not come out through both nostrils in equal volume, except for very brief periods. Normally one breathes through one nostril at a time. Breath alternates between the two nostrils, according to a regular pattern. When there is airflow in the right nostril, left hemisphere of the brain dominates and viceversa. When both operate, both the hemispheres operate in unison. This happens only at certain times, for a short time. This usually happens when the transition from one nostril to the other takes place and also at dawn and dusk.

By simply changing the breath from one nostril to the other, we can change brain hemisphere dominance, thus altering chemical reaction taking place throughout the organism. Therefore control of the pattern of breath enables conscious control of body chemistry, such as pH of the blood leading to both short term and long term effects on physical and mental functioning. Most diseases are the product of body chemistry and thus can be prevented by controlling the breath.

Knowledge of the play of breath in the nostrils forms the basis of the ancient discipline of ‘Swar Yoga’ which means unification through breath, which is a topic for another day.

Health Benefits of Sprouts

alfaalfasproutsSprouting raw grains, seeds and legumes is considered one of the best ways to enhance the nutrients in the food that we eat. Sprouts are one of the most nutritious food. This is because, when food is sprouted, it improves its digestibility and nutritional qualities. All edible grains like wheat, barley, maize, wheat and rice, seeds like alfalfa, fenugreek, sesame, and legumes like mung, bengal gram, peas and beans can be sprouted.

The grain is considered a sprouted grain, during the brief period in its cycle when it has started to sprout, but has not developed into a plant. The outer layer, which is called the bran, splits open and the beginning of a young shoot becomes visible. Some of the starchy portion of the grain gets digested by the shoot. By sprouting whole grains, we increase their vitamin, mineral and fibre content, lower their glycemic index and increase bioavailability, which is the ability of the body to make use of nutrients like calcium.

Raw nuts and seeds already have a lot of nutrients in them. Sprouting them multiplies their nutrition. Soaking the seeds and rinsing them helps to remove the enzyme inhibitors. The seed begins to germinate and the nutrients in the seeds start to break down into simpler components. Proteins break down into amino acids and amides. The complex starches break down into simpler sugars. Fats and oils are converted into more simple fatty acids by the action of the enzyme, Lipase.

The vitamins, minerals, ascorbic acid and proteins increase substantially with corresponding decrease in calories and carbohydrates content. Due to this breaking down process, the food becomes easily digestible (often referred to as ‘pre-digested food’). This is because the food has already been acted upon by the enzymes.

Legumes like beans lose their gas producing quality. Oligosaccharides are considered responsible for gas formation. Oligosaccharides are large molecules which are not broken down or absorbed by the human body as other sugars are, as the human body does not produce the enzyme that breaks down oligosaccharides. When beans start sprouting, the oligosaccharides is reduced by 90 per cent. In the book ‘History of Soy Sprouts (100 CE To 2013): Extensively Annotated Bibliography’ … by William Shurtleff, there is a reference to soya beans where the ”concentration of oligosaccharides decreased with germination”. Thus sprouting is a simple way of removing most of the oligosaccharides, which cause flatulence or intestinal gas in humans from soya beans.

There are reports of many studies that have proven the phenomenal health benefits of sprouts. German researchers have found that the process of sprouting decreased gluten proteins and  increased folates. Longer germination process led to a substantial increase of total dietary fibre, with soluble fibre increasing three times and insoluble fibre decreasing by half. Korean researchers fed hypertensive rats for five weeks with raw buckwheat extract and germinated buckwheat extract and compared the results. They found that the rats that were fed the germinated buckwheat had lower systolic blood pressure. In Japan, a few men and women with type-2 diabetes were randomly asked to eat either white rice or sprouted brown rice three times a day. They reported that “blood concentrations of fasting blood glucose, fructosamine, serum total cholesterol and triacylglycerol were favorably improved on the sprouted brown rice diet but not on the white rice diet”

Korean researchers found that when buckwheat was sprouted for 48 hours, it developed anti-fatty liver activities that led to a significant reduction in fatty liver in mice after eight weeks. They found that sprouting the buckwheat, increased the concentration of rutin quercitin, which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Forty-one breast-feeding Japanese mothers were randomly divided into two groups, one eating white rice and the other sprouted brown rice, for two weeks.  When psychological and immune tests were done with both groups, the group who had consumed sprouted brown rice, was found to have decreased levels of depression, anger, hostility, and fatigue, and a significant increase in immune system function.

In a study in the ‘The Journal Sprouting of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, December 13, 2006;’ it was found that the folates in rye increased by 1.7- to 3.8-fold, depending on germination  temperature. In a study on the effects of different processes on rye, they came to the conclusion that thermal treatments – including extrusion, puffing, and toasting – leads to significant folate losses. But, when  rye was sprouted and then heat-processed, losses were minimized, showing that sprouting helps to retain nutrients during food processing.

For those of us who want to include raw food in the diet, this is a very healthy way to go about it. Sprouts can be included in salads, sandwiches and rolls to add that crunch to the food. It can also be eaten as it is, a tablespoon at a time.

Keeping the Brain Agile in Old Age

 

Ageing as we all know, is simply a process of growing old, where every part of the body is affected. The systems slow down and the risk of disease increases. Numerous changes occur. The most important reason for pre-mature ageing is associated with oxidative damage due to free radicals. Our body constantly reacts with oxygen as we breathe and our cells produce energy. As a result, highly reactive molecules are produced within our cells known as free radicals, which create oxidative stress. The effects on the body as it ages include loss of elasticity in the skin, blood vessels and tendons, as well as a progressive decline in organ and joint function.

Even though we can’t be young for ever, we can avoid some of the negative effects of ageing with a healthy lifestyle and some well chosen supplements.

What we can do is

Avoid smoking cigarettes
Avoid excessive alcohol
Protect ourselves from the sun. Ultraviolet rays makes skin age faster.
Build and maintain bone and muscle mass with weight bearing exercises, and walking.
Enhance our body’s own anti-oxidant defences. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday.

How can we help our brain stay agile in old age?

A major change associated with old age, is of memory declining, and loss of brain cells. As we grow older the dendrites of nerve cells begin to die, which leaves less potential for synaptic connections, thus affecting our logic and memory. Stress is very bad for the brain. High amounts of cortisol get released when we get stressed, and this can seriously damage the neurons. It impairs cognition. As we age, it becomes harder to calm ourselves, when under pressure, and thus more susceptible to such damage.

There are somethings we can do to keep our brain active.

Keeping ourselves occupied by reading, solving puzzles, learning a new skill or language, taking up a new hobby, can keep our synapses working well.
Avoiding stressful situations that can poison the brain.
Taking time to relax.

How can supplements help?

Vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants that fight free radicals. They improve immune function and reduce the risk of age-related conditions like heart disease, some forms of cancer and possibly Alzheimers. Green tea and grapeseed extracts are other antioxidants that are very potent. Folic acid, a B vitamin, promotes healthy functioning of nerves. Vitamin B12 fosters healthy brain functioning. Older people lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food, and low B12 levels can cause nerve damage and dementia.

Two supplements that seem to boost mental clarity, and are natural brain builders  are Phosphatidylserine and Acetyl-L-carnitine.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an important chemical with many functions in the body. It plays an important part in the maintenance of cellular function, especially in the brain. The body makes phosphatidylserine, but gets most of what it needs from foods. PS is a building block of all brain cells. Without PS, our neurons could not send out neurotransmitters that relay messages throughout the brain. PS heals the brain and restores mental function. The sources of Phosphatidylserine are cow brains, organ meat (liver and kidneys) and plant sources like soy and white beans . The highest concentrations of phosphatidylserine occur in cow brains.

Phosphatidylserine supplements were once made from cow brains, but now are commonly manufactured from soy. This happened due to a concern that products made from animal sources might cause infections such as the mad cow disease. There is developing evidence that plant-derived phosphatidylserine improves memory in people with age-associated memory loss.

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is an  amino acid. Acetyl-L-carnitine works from within the brain. It ensures the efficient functioning of the mitochondria. It prevents the toxic accumulation of fatty acids in the mitochondria. Many studies document the use of ALC to repair the degeneration of neuronal tissue that can trigger age-related deterioration of mental function. Even though L-carnitine is available from supplements as well as food, it is the L-carnitine from food sources that is better used and absorbed by the body. Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are the richest sources of L-carnitine, in that order.

Dr. Richard N. Firshein, in his book, ‘The Vitamin Prescription (for life) says that, “A ground breaking 1991 study by Dr. Thomas Crook showed that in 57 subjects with age related memory decline, whose average age was 64, PS was able to turn back the mental clock by roughly 12 years.” He also says that, “over 50 human trials, demonstrate that, when used as a dietary supplement in a wide range of doses, PS is incredibly effective at conserving stores of brain power”.

When we lay the foundations of good health in youth and middle age,  we are much more likely to maintain it in old age. A good lifestyle and healthy food will help delay the onset of old age related brain conditions.

Herbal remedies

The herb ginko biloba is said to improve age related conditions as dizziness, impotence and memory loss.

Coenzyme q-10- increases oxygen transport through the mitochondria of the cells. It appears to slow age-related dementia. Coenzyme Q is available from three basic types of foods:  fish, organ meats (liver, kidney and heart), the germs of whole grains and from oils like soybean, sesame, and rapeseed.

A recent swiss study found a connection between high levels of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin C in the blood and better memory skills in older people. Beta-carotene can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale and mustard greens. Guavas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin C.

Garlic is good herb for immunity and circulation. It has a number of health benefits. It helps reduce cholesterol and prevent cancer. Regular consumption of garlic is linked with increased cognitive health in old age

The herb Ginseng helps to protect against loss of sex drive or general debility.

The Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) herb  has compounds that can repair damaged neurons, thus improving nerve impulse transmission.  It appears to work through proliferating dendrites in order to improve synaptic transmission, thus promoting neuron communication.