Category: Guest articles

Foods that affect your sleep

Foods that affect your sleep

woman_stress_worry_sleep_problems_insomnia“Oh! I am so tired, I didn’t sleep well last night. I don’t
even remember when was it last time that I slept like a log.”

Are you unable to get a good-night’s sleep? You are not the only one, there are many others who find it difficult to get a sound and fitful sleep. Sometimes it is the food and drink that we take affects that our sleep. Check out below if any of this might help you overcome your problem.

The type of foods we consume has an affect on our sleep.

1. The brain needs to be calm and not activated to get a restful sleep. Foods containing high amount of fat and spice spikes the metabolism, activates the brain and keeps you awake with gifts of heart-burn and acidity.

2.Carbohydrate containing foods make tryptophan available to the brain. Foods rich in tryptophan (an aminoacid) have a stellar reputation with sleep, as it promotes the production of sleep hormone, melatonin. Therefore an ideal dinner or night time snack should be carbohydrate based with moderate protein for an undisturbed sleep. Many foods like cereals in milk, dairy products, soy products, almonds, banana, oatmeal, whole grain cereals come under this category.

3.A popular grandma’s oldest and best home remedy is warm milk with a teaspoon of honey that may work wonders, as milk acts like a sedative.

4.Caffeine containing foods like coffee, chocolate and cocoa are stimulants known to activate the brain cells. To sleep better, such drinks need to be reduced or eliminated completely.

5.Eating sweets, pastries, cookies and other sugary foods in the night peps up the blood glucose levels, thus activating the brain. An ideal bedtime snack would be to eat fruits which take longer to digest.

6.Avoid alcohol. While sleeping, the body goes through different stages of sleep, the most important being the deeper stages which are the most healing. Alcohol may help a person sleep but prevents such restorative sleeping.

7.H. K. Bakhru, an expert naturopath in his book ‘Home remedies for common ailments’ suggest the intake of lettuce juice for the cure of insomnia, as lettuce contains a sleep inducing substance called ‘lectucarium’.

References (if Any): mayoclinic.com, fooddemocracywordpress.com

SPROUTS – A Storehouse of Neutraceuticals

SPROUTS – A Storehouse of Neutraceuticals

sprouts
sprout Salad

Sprouting is a process of germinating seeds in which a tiny shoot arises from the seed. Homemade sprouts are a common way of having fresh vegetables either in the raw or cooked form. A neutraceutical is a food product that provides immense health and medical benefits. Sprouts are indeed a storehouse of health benefits. The nutritional benefits far outweigh the nutritional qualities of the dry seed.

Sprouts are nourishable and are easily digestible as complex carbohydrates are transformed into simpler compounds. Their low calorie and low fat content makes them a favorite with weight watchers. In the sprouting process the seed makes use of the carbohydrates as a source of energy for the generation of the shoot or sprout, which is one of the reasons why they are termed low calorie food.

They have comparatively fewer calories than their counterparts-dry whole grains. Their high fiber content makes one feel fuller and wards off hunger pangs especially those on a weight
reduction or maintenance diets. When we say protein food, one needn’t think of only animal or dairy products. Proteins present in sprouts are broken down to simpler amino acids which can be easily
assimilated in the body. Sprouts are powerhouses of excellent protein minus the fat and cholesterol, no wonder a compulsory food for most vegans.

Sprouts are rich sources of vitamin B and C. The vitamin content of some sprouts increases 20 to 30 times or even a hundred times more than the original amount present in whole seeds. Fresher the sprouts eaten, higher the vitamin content as vitamins can be easily destroyed by oxidation or light.

Sprouts also yield substantiative amounts of vitamin A and E. Dry whole grains contain antinutrient factors or nutrient inhibitors like phytates which form complex bonds with minerals. The initial step of soaking in the process of sprouting paves way to break these indigestible bonds. Further sprouting activates enzymes like phytase which dissolve phytates and release precious minerals like calcium, iron and phosphorus. Thus the bioavailability of minerals in sprouts is higher than in whole grains. Enzymes like amylase, protease and lipase responsible for the breakdown of carbs, proteins and fats have become active in the process of sprouting.

The organoleptic or sensory qualities of sprouts are much improved and make them more delicious and appetizing than dry legumes.

In a nutshell, sprouting brings about marked changes

  • Increased enzymic activity.
  • Increased vitamin content.
  • Improved protein digestibility.
  • Bioavailability of minerals.
  • Decreased antinutrient factors.
  • Enhanced textural qualities.

Conclusion

Sprouts are an ideal food for overweights, diabetics, those suffering from heart disorders as well as those having constipation. All edible grains, seeds and legumes can be sprouted. Wheat, ragi, bajra, barley when sprouted are termed as malted cereals. Mung, Bengal gram, peanuts and peas are commonly sprouted at home. Other seeds like alfalfa,
fenugreek, coriander, muskmelon, pumpkin are also germinated. Inclusion of these into the daily diet maximizes the health benefits. Munching raw sprouts with a dash of lemon juice or salt and pepper makes them crunchy and nutritious. So, make sprouts a part of your daily diet.

Three Healthy Foods You Should Eat Everyday

Three Healthy Foods You Should Eat Everyday

eating vegetables

Life on earth, especially for humans, requires that we consume a lot of food, so much food in fact that the average person will consume
between 60,000 and 100,000lbs in their lifetime! Most of that food should be healthy but some of it really isn’t and having the wrong
foods in our diet can lead us to all sorts of different health problems; from acid reflux disease to cancer.

Medically speaking, it’s cancer that poses one of the biggest health threats to our lives. That being said, I’d like to take a few moments to share with you three healthy foods that may aid in the
fight against cancer. Keep in mind that none of these foods are a magic pill or wonder drug, but consuming them over the course of your
life may help prevent or delay some types of cancer.

The Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits and are the richest in cancer fighting compounds. They’re so easy to work into any food that they can be added to anything, from pancakes and muffins to
smoothies and salads. Not only are they easy to eat but they’re also great tasting and good looking. And it’s actually the blue color of the berries that researchers believe gives them their cancer fighting properties. This blue color comes from poly-phenol pigments called “anthocyanins.” These pigments are highly potent anti-oxidants, and for those who don’t know what anti-oxidants are let me try and explain.

Anti-oxidants act like little magnets for “free radicals.” Free radicals, without getting too technical, are atoms that lack an electron and try to steal from other atoms in your body. The loss of
electrons is one of the major causes for oxidation which results in the additional aging of cells. Anti-oxidants prevent damage from free radicals because they search them out and donate an electron of their own, ending the need for a free radical to “steal” electrons from you.

While blueberries help fight cancer they can also help prevent urinary tract infections by blocking certain kinds of bacteria from adhering to your bladder cells. Not a bad win-win for such a small berry!

The Truth about Dark Leafy Greens

When it comes to leafy greens and fighting cancer, remember one thing: the darker, the better. This is because the dark green color means the plants are high in “carotenoids,” which (like the anthocyanins in blueberries) are an effective anti-oxidant. In addition to the autoxidizing benefits, dark leafy greens are also a great source of folate, fiber, and flavonoids, which are another form of anti-oxidants.

A few easy to add leafy greens are romaine lettuce, collard greens, Swiss chard, kale and spinach. Most of which are particularly good additions to any salad or sandwiches you enjoy. Because leafy greens are so versatile you can add them to almost any dish, or food you make. Throw a few leaves in everything and remember to order something with dark leafy greens next time you’re out to eat. This will ensure you get a lot of anti-oxidants and reduce your risk to the ever present free radicals!

The Good of Garlic

Garlic is famous for bad breath and repelling vampires. Although I’ve never quite understood whether it was the garlic that repelled the vampire, or the bad breath, I do know that eating garlic can help
prevent cancer because of what it contains; Allyl sulfur compounds, or ‘ASCs’.

It’s these ASC’s that are responsible for giving garlic its cancer preventing qualities. These compounds are thought to help prevent or slow tumor growth, which is great since cancer usually kills because a tumor gets too large. If you’d like to maximize garlic’s natural anti-cancer properties be sure to use only high quality garlic.

Peeling garlic can also help make it more effective because of a chemical reaction that takes place in the garlic during the peeling process. I’d suggest waiting a good fifteen or twenty minutes after peeling the garlic before you consume or cook it as this will allow the chemical reaction enough time to take place.

Cancer is like a vampire in that it sucks the life out of your normal, healthy cells due to unregulated cell growth. Treat cancer like the vampire it is and fight back with a healthy dose of garlic. Just remember to brush your teeth!

Conclusion

Whether you already eat a lot of blueberries, dark leafy greens, and garlic or you plan to start, I hope you understand a little more about
how they can help prevent and fight cancer. These three are just a small example of the power that food has over our bodies. If the old saying “you are what you eat” holds any truth then the first step in preventing disease would be to control what you put in your body in the first place. Lucky for us, the stuff that’s good for us also tastes good to us!

Health benefits of Canola Oil

Health benefits of Canola Oil

canola

There’s a secret weapon in many kitchens today: canola oil. It’s the healthiest, most versatile and cost-effective cooking oil available. With its beneficial fat profile, neutral taste, light texture and high heat tolerance, canola oil is ideal for everyday use in just about any culinary application — from salad dressings, sauces and marinades to baking, sautéing and deep-frying. Plus, canola oil enhances the natural flavors of foods from all over the world.

A Heart-Healthy Choice

Canola oil has the least saturated fat of any culinary oil — half that of olive oil — and is free of trans fat and cholesterol. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim* for canola oil on its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease. About 1.5 tablespoons a day may keep the cardiologist away …for just pennies per serving. Canola oil also has the most omega-3 fat of any cooking oil and is a good source of vitamin E.

fatchart

In keeping with the dietary recommendations of health authorities, canola oil is:

  • Free of trans fat and cholesterol: Trans fat increases the risk of heart disease in two ways: it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowers “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • Low in saturated fat: Saturated fat has also been linked to increased risk of heart disease by increasing bad LDL cholesterol.
  • High in monounsaturated fat: Monounsaturated fat may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering bad LDL cholesterol and controlling blood sugar.
  • High in omega-3 fat: Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) must be consumed because the body cannot make it on its own. Omega-3 fat is anti-inflammatory and may help protect against heart attacks and strokes.
  • A source of omega-6 fat: Linoleic acid (omega-6) is also essential in the diet because the body cannot produce it. Omega-6 fat is essential for human growth and development as well as for skin health.

Remember, not all fats are created equally! The type of fat matters as much as the amount.

Low Profile, High Impact

Canola oil’s low saturated fat content benefits culinary applications as well. It remains free-flowing in the refrigerator, so vinaigrettes, marinades and salad dressings can be poured right out of the fridge. With its neutral taste, canola oil lets herbs, seasonings and food flavors shine. It’s like a supporting actor that makes a dish become a star. And canola oil will never upstage other ingredients. It’s ideal for showcasing fresh produce, herbs and spices and makes the perfect base for flavored oils.

Stable at high temperatures:

Canola is very stable oil that doesn’t break down at high temperatures, so it’s ideal for sautéing, stir-frying, deep-frying and other high-heat applications. Its smoke point — the temperature at which it begins to smoke and degrade — is one of the highest of all cooking oils at 468 °F (242 °C). That’s well above ideal deep-frying temperatures (365-375 °F or 185-190 °C).

Use in baking:

Canola oil adds to the delicious nature of baked goods by providing them with a moist, soft texture with no cholesterol and little saturated fat. Replacing solid fats like butter or lard with canola oil allows for a reduction in both total and saturated fat. In fact, total fat can drop by up to 25 percent, sparing calories without sacrificing goodness. The baking substitution chart shows how to use canola oil in cakes, muffins, brownies, pie crusts and other baking recipes* that call for solid fat. Also, try using canola oil instead of shortening or butter to grease baking pans.

Canola’s Basics

  • Canola plants grow from three to five feet tall and produce beautiful small, yellow flowers. The plants produce pods from which seeds are harvested.
  • Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of canola plants. These seeds contain about 44% oil — double the oil content of soybeans. This large percentage of oil comes in a small package; canola seeds are tiny and resemble poppy seeds, though they are brownish-black in color.
  • Part of the Brassica family, the canola plant is related to cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and mustard. Like these plants, canola is a crucifer — so called because its small, yellow flowers have the shape of a cross.
  • Canada — primarily the prairie provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba — is the world’s top exporter of canola and one of its top producers.
  • Although they look similar, canola and rapeseed plants and oils are very different. Canadian researchers used traditional plant breeding to eliminate the undesirable components of rapeseed and created “canola,” a contraction of “Canadian” and “ola.”

Canola Oil is available in various outlets of different cities:

In Indore it is available at:

Organic Sansar

MSB IIB 105, New Siyaganj,

Indore – 452007

Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1½ tablespoons (19 grams) of canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in canola oil. To achieve this possible benefit, canola oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. – U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Celebrate Holi Organically

Celebrate Holi Organically

HoliThe colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which comes in February end or early March. Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renews sweet relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other ‘Happy Holi’.
But unfortunately, in modern times Holi does not stand for all things beautiful. Like various other festivals, Holi too has become ruthlessly commercialized, boisterous and yet another source of environmental degradation. To de-pollute Holi and make it in sync with nature, as it is supposed to be, several social and environmental groups are proposing a return to more organic ways of celebrating Holi.
The aim of this articles is to generate awareness amongst people about the various harmful effects around Holi celebrations and encourage people to celebrate an eco friendly Holi Organically!

Please read on to know about the three main environmental concerns around Holi –

A.    Harmful Effects of Chemical Colours

B.    The Holi Bonfire

C.   Watery Holi

A. Harmful Effects of Chemical Colours: In earlier times when festival celebrations were not so much commercialized Holi colors were prepared from the flowers of trees that blossomed during spring, such as the Indian Coral Tree (parijat) and the Flame of the Forest (Tesu), both of which have bright red flowers. These and several other blossoms provided the raw material from which the brilliant shades of Holi colors were made. Most of these trees also had medicinal properties and Holi colors prepared from them were actually beneficial to the skin.

Over the years, with the disappearance of trees in urban areas and greater stress for higher profits these organic colors came to be replaced by industrial dyes manufactured through chemical processes.

Around in 2001, two Delhi based environmental groups called Toxics Link and Vatavaran, did a study on all the three available categories of colors available in the market – pastes, dry colors and water colors. The study revealed that all of these three forms of chemical Holi colors are hazardous.

a) Harmful Chemicals in Holi Paste type colors

According to their researched fact sheet on Holi, the pastes contain very toxic chemicals that can have severe health effects. Please check the table below to know about the chemical used in various Holi colors and their harmful effects on human body.

ColorChemicalHealth Effects
BlackLead oxideRenal Failure
GreenCopper SulphateEye Allergy, Puffiness and temporary blindness
SilverAluminium BromideCarcinogenic
BluePrussian BlueContract Dermatitis
RedMercury SulphiteHighly toxic can cause skin cancer

(Source: Vatavaran)

b) Harmful Chemicals in Gulal
The dry colors, commonly known as gulals, have two components – a colourant that is toxic and a base which could be either asbestos or silica, both of which cause health problems. Heavy metals contained in the colourants can cause asthma, skin diseases and adversely affect the eyes.

c) Harms of  Wet Holi Colors
Wet colors, mostly use Gentian violet as a colour concentrate which can cause skin dis-colouration and dermatitis.

These days, Holi colors are sold loosely, on the roads, by small traders who often do not know the source. Sometimes, the colors come in boxes that specifically say ‘For industrial use only’. These colors can have an adverse effect and can cause several skin related problems.

Ways to Combat harmful effects Make your own Holi colors

 

i) Make Organic Colors in our Homes:

Holi festival lovers will be glad to know that it is possible to make simple organic colors in one’s own kitchen. Here are some very simple recipes to make organic colors:

ColorMethod of Preparation
Yellow1) Mix turmeric (haldi) powder with chick pea flour (besan)
2) Boil Marigold or Tesu flowers in water
Yellow liquid colorSoak peels of pomegranate (Anar) overnight.
Deep PinkSlice a beetroot and soak in water
Orange – red pasteHenna leaves (mehndi) can be dried, powdered and mixed with water.

ii) Purchase Organic Holi Colors
For those who do not have the time to make their own colors, there is the choice of buying organic Holi colors. Several groups are now producing and promoting such colours, although it is important to verify the ingredients of the colors and ensure you know enough about the source.
In Indore Organic Sansar, M.S.B. IIB, 105, New Siyaganj, Ph. No. 0731-2530220 is promoting such colors.

B. The Holi Bonfire:
The burning of fuel wood to create the bonfire for Holika Dahan presents another serious environmental problem. According to the facts of various studies done reveal that each bonfire uses around 100 kg of wood, and considering that approximately 30,000 bonfires are lit in the state just for one season, this leads to wastage of a staggering amount of wood.

Various Groups are now advocating one symbolic community fire, rather than several smaller bonfires across the city as a way to reduce wood consumption. Others are also suggesting that these fires be lit using waste material rather than wood.

C. Watery Holi:
In the current situation, when most cities in India are facing acute water scarcity, the wasteful use of water during Holi, is also being questioned. It is common for people to douse each other with buckets of water during Holi, and children often resort to throwing water balloons at each other. The idea of a dry Holi seems alien at first, especially as the climate becomes warmer around Holi, and the water provides welcome relief from the heat. However, considering that in some urban areas, citizens can go without water for several days, it seems wasteful to use so much water simply for a celebration.

Environmental Consciousness amongst People

The awareness about the environmental impacts of celebrating Holi is being brought to light by various NGOs. And gradually, more and more Indians are choosing to turn to a more organic and less wasteful way of playing Holi.