Thursday, September 13, 2007

ALOE VERA –The Nature’s Silent healer

Aloe Vera has a long history as a most natural, safe and effective medicine. Legend says that it was the desire for Aloe plants that caused Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra, where Aloe was cultivated in the fourth century B.C. In Africa, hunters sometimes would rub Aloe juice on their bodies to reduce sweating and to mask human scent. In India, it has been used by herbalists to treat intestinal infections, suppressed menses, and colic.
Aloe is one of the easiest house plants to grow. Modern technology now offers Aloe Vera in a variety of forms, from the fresh juice to an array of concentrates that make Aloe Vera convenient to use as a daily tonic.
Muscle pain and pain in the joints occurring because of arthritis can be alleviated by the application of Aloe Vera gels or sprays. In fact if it is used regularly, it can actually help to regress arthritis. It is considered to be the best remedy for joint pains.

Aloe Vera is a stimulant to the immune system, a powerful anti –inflammatory, an analgesic. Rheumatic arthritis is a painful, debilitating condition. It manifests itself as stiff, swollen joints with varying degrees of associated pain caused partly due to nerve damage and partly by the pressure of the swollen area. Conventional treatment includes use of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, typically cortisone injections or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These certainly can ease the painful side-effects but unfortunately do not repair damaged tissues. There can also be undesirable side-effects, particularly thinning of the skin and osteoporosis. Repairing damaged tissue by regenerating cells is a function at which Aloe Vera has been shown to be most successful. It not only relives the painful symptoms but also helps to disperse damaged tissue – a type of detoxification process. Aloe Vera may be taken both internally as a juice or as a gel applied to the painful joint. Here aloe vera’s deep penetration will show benefit. The degree of success with this treatment varies from person to person.
The most important fact that must be remembered about Aloe Vera is that it has no known side – effects. It is known as a “First Aid Plant” throughout the world.

Aloe Vera juice has many benefits to the human body. It has natural healing and detoxifying powers and works gently within the intestinal tract thus helping to cleanse the bowel. It can help to ease constipation and prevent continuing diarrhea (setting regularity to the bowel). All this helps to reduce discomfort and bloating. As these symptoms are eased so the stress related to it is also reduced.
It also contains anti inflammatory fatty acids –compersterol and B - sitosterol. B- sitosterol , a powerful anti –cholesteromatic , helping to lower the harmful cholesterol levels thus acting as a boon to various heart patients .

Regular consumption of a dose of Aloe Vera juice can improve and maintain the feeling of well-being and quality of life. Nevertheless, it must be stressed that professional medical advice should always be sought at the earliest possible stage for abdominal problems and pains.

Aloe Vera is one of the oldest plants known to man and holds the highest level of their interest. Today there are more than 500 aloe producing industries getting established and thus heading towards a mini revolution. However there is no scientific evidence to prove the use of aloe vera as a substitute of a standard medical treatment. Further research is being carried out on these issues. But till then we can have the aloe juice as healthy drink and part of our balanced diet.

Monday, July 9, 2007


You’ve probably heard those narrators on the National Geographic specials say things like "Water gives life" or "Without water there could be no life." They’re overly dramatic, but they’re right. We humans are more than 70% water. Taking enough fluids is the basis for keeping your body working at its best. We begin to get dehydrated and our performance drops off with just so much as a 2% water loss. What can cause a 2% water loss? It doesn’t take much. It can happen to an athlete who’s competing, to someone who’s in bed with the flu or diarrhea, in the very hot weather, or even to someone who just doesn’t drink enough. Water is continuously lost from the body partly in urine and stools (approx 1.5litres), partly in sweat and partly as water vapor in respiration. Even mild dehydration of 1% of the body, which would represent approximately 0.75 to 1 liter of water (1% of 75 Kg = 750 ml.) can create a reduction in muscle performance and start to show dehydration symptoms. Early symptoms are headaches, dry eyes (ask any contact lens wearer what happens after a couple of glasses of wine), drowsiness, loss of concentration, irritability. If you don’t meet your fluid needs, you can also experience frequent muscle gramps.
Since all these things are worsened by dehydration it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that water and keeping hydrated is important for you. The more you weigh, the greater your fluid needs. Dehydration can begin a negative impact in your daily activities. By drinking adequate fluids in daily routine, you will decrease the chances of getting injuries.


You can do quick things to keep an eye on your hydration status. Every person perspires at different rates depending on their biological make-up.

Monitor your urine output: If you are hydrated, you should go to bathroom frequently. If you don’t produce much urine or if it is very dark in colour, chances are you are dehydrated. Ideally urine should be pale or colourless. Remember some of the medicines, vitamins and dietary supplements may also change the colour of your urine.

Within 2hours of a workout or competition, aim to get back to your pre-exercise weight: Weigh yourself before and after workouts to ensure you are not losing too much fluid. Remember losing weight by losing fluid or becoming dehydrated is not the way to get the pounds off.
If you are heavy sweater, make sure to use beverage containing sodium during
workouts. Eat and drink foods and fluids with sodium after your workout to replenish the sodium lost in sweat.

 Drink atleast 2 glasses of water when you get up in the morning.
 Drink 2 glasses of water 1-11/2 hour before your workout.
 Keep sipping fluid after every 10-15mins during workout.
 Don't wait until you are thirsty to decide to drink. Your thirst sensation runs quite a bit slower than your body’s need for water. By the time you realize that you’re feeling thirsty, your body will already be suffering from drought. Most experts suggest that you drink before you get thirsty. Even if you’re just pushing a long distance – drink water before, during, and after.
 People involved in intense or long duration workouts are prone to heavy, repeated sweating, thus losing high amount of electrolytes(sodium, potassium, magnesium).These people can replenish the body by having salty fluids and foods like energy/sports drinks, tomato juice, orange juice, grape juice, milk, potato, bananas, spinach, canned soups and beans.
 You can include other fluids like juices, tang, lemonade, milk, buttermilk and coconut water in your mid-meals.
 Cool water is the best fluid for keeping hydrated when it’s warm outside. Cool water is absorbed much more quickly than warm fluids and may help to cool off your overheated body. If you’re going to be away from home or outdoors, make sure you keep a bottle of water close by.
 Make a habit of keeping water or other non-caffeinated beverages with you all day long. . Keep a large bottle of water next to your bed so you can sip it throughout the day without having to get up. One should drink at least 10 – 12 glasses of fluid everyday.
 Keep a bottle of water at work space, in your backpack or in the car as easy to access.
 There are foods you eat that can contribute fluid to your diet. Some foods contain 80%or more of their weight in water. So you can eat more of these foods to stay hydrated if you just don’t like water.
Foods with at least 80% water are like tomatoes, papaya, peaches, pear, yogurt and oranges. Cucumber and watermelon contain 90-95% (highest) of their weight in water.

You should drink 2glasses of water for every alcoholic drink as this helps the body to stay hydrated. Drinking beer or alcoholic beverages is not the right way to rehydrate yourself. Alcoholic beverages contain little carbohydrates and the alcohol can actually work against you by causing your body lose fluid and get dehydrated more quickly.
Caffeine based beverages like tea, coffee or colas are a diuretic. Therefore when you are having these kinds of beverages be sure to stay well-hydrated.


How do you know if you are not getting enough water? Check off the questions that you can answer "yes" to:
 ____Is your skin dry? If you wrinkle it or pinch it, does it take awhile to "bounce "back"
 ____Is your urine dark? (It should be a light yellow in color)
 ____Are you frequently constipated?
 ____Do you get groggy or headachy part way through the day?
 ____Do you have a lot of trouble staying cool – or keeping warm?

A "yes" to any one of these questions can mean you’re not getting enough water. Any of them could be lessened by taking in more fluids. However, don’t kid yourself – every one of these problems or complaints can also be caused by something other than dehydration – sometimes by something very serious. Till then you can feel safe prescribing "extra water" for yourself and get your body to perform at its best.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reading of labels – FOOD LABELS
Something scribbled somewhere in the corner, screaming out from the dirt piled on it on the outside of packaged food, usually not hard to find. A tabular consisting of information relating the nutrients present in the food items commonly used …what is it? Have we noticed it, do we really care to check it out.HUH!!!
Recall the time we would yawn when our science teachers, our dieticians’ doctors would tell us the importance of nutrients, eating healthy…etc. But sadly people till date either don’t understand or don’t want to understand these concepts.
Since 1994 food manufacturers have been required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include food labels (or Nutrition Facts labels) on product packaging so that consumers that means ‘us’ have accurate nutritional information about the food we purchase. Spending a few extra minutes in reading the labels can make eating healthy much easier as once you understand the information they provide, you can use food labels as a guide to planning healthier meals and snacks. Food labels are supposed to be on almost all foods, except those that don't provide many nutrients such as coffee, alcohol and spices. The FDA recommends that sellers provide nutritional information on produce, meat, poultry and seafood, but it's strictly voluntary.
Let’s learn some basics for reading a Food Label
Reading Label Lingo The FDA regulates the use of phrases and terms used on the product packaging. Here's a list of common phrases you may see on your food packaging - and what they actually mean.
ü No fat or fat free: Contains less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving
ü Low fat: Contains less than 3 grams of fat per serving
ü Lite: Contains 1/3 the calories or 1/2 the fat per serving of the original version or a similar product
ü No calories or calorie free: Contains less than 5 calories per serving
ü Low calories: Contains 1/3 the calories of the original version or a similar product
ü Sugar free: Contains less than 1/2 gram of sugar per serving
ü Reduced sugar: at least 25% less sugar per serving than the reference food
ü No preservatives added: Contains no added chemicals to preserve the product. Some of these products may contain natural preservatives
ü Low sodium: contains less than 140 mgs of sodium per serving
ü No salt or salt free: Contains less than 5 mgs of sodium per serving
ü High fiber: 5 g or more per serving (Foods making high-fiber claims must meet the definition for low fat, or the level of total fat must appear next to the high-fiber claim)
ü More or added fiber: Contains at least 2.5 g more per serving than the reference food
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Reading a Food LabelUntil you become accustomed to reading food labels, it's easy to become confused. Avoid these common mistakes when reading labels:
A label may say that the food is reduced fat or reduced sodium. That means that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced by 25% from the original product. It doesn't mean, however, that the food is low in fat or sodium. For example, if a can of soup originally had 1,000 milligrams of sodium, the reduced sodium product would still be a high-sodium food.
Don't confuse the % DV (daily values) for fat with the percentage of calories from fat. If the % DV is 15% that doesn't mean that 15% of the calories comes from fat. Rather, it means that you're using up 15% of all the fat you need for a day with one serving (based on a meal plan of 2,000 calories per day).
Don't make the mistake of assuming that the amount of sugar on a label means that the sugar has been added. For example, milk naturally has sugar, which is called lactose. But that doesn't mean you should stop drinking milk because milk is full of other important nutrients including calcium. What you can do is look at the list of ingredients. If you see the words high-fructose corn syrup or sugar high on the list of ingredients, it probably means refined sugar has been added to the product.
A common mistake people make, forget to check the manufacturing dates on food packs. It is very important to select the food items before their expiry. Get into the habit of checking the expiry dates.
· What's a Footnote? Below the asterisk sign (*) at the bottom of the label, you can see the key nutrients listed .This info is trying to tell you as to how much you should eat, depending on your calorie intake.
With some Nutrition-Facts practice, you'll be able to quickly scan a food label and learn how the food fits into your nutrition and diet for the day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shortcuts to Healthy Living

Everyday, with unfailing regularity and even without your knowledge, a faint little feeling in the stomach prompts you to involuntarily look down at the extreme corner on the right hand side of your computer screen and the clock shows 5:00pm.Then the revelation hits you – it is evening and you have not had the time to eat your lunch.

In today’s time, where a sedentary lifestyle has become the norm, it’s observed that the health of people is deteriorating day by day. In the city that never sleeps, people are always on the run. Due to their busy schedules, the stress levels have immensely increased. They have forgotten all about themselves and have started taking themselves and their body for granted. They don’t even remember when they last had a proper meal.

You may find it difficult to keep to a healthy diet all the time, particularly if you eat out a lot or if you rely on convenience foods. The questionnaire below will help you to identify some areas that can make the difference between a healthy diet and a nutritionally poor diet.

Has your weight stayed the same over the last 6 months? (assuming you have not been trying to change it)
Ans. YES or NO
Do you try planning your meals a day before to avoid any kind of binge eating?
Ans. YES or NO
Do you drink at least 10 – 15 glasses (3 litres) of water a day?
Ans. YES or NO
Do you tend to grill food rather than fry it?
Ans. YES or NO
Do you avoid drinking more than 4 cups of tea or coffee in a day?
Ans. YES or NO
Do you tend to eat more than 3 meals a day?
Ans. YES or NO
In restaurants do you order salads with your main meal?
Ans. YES or NO
Do you try to avoid junk foods such chocolates and crisps?
Ans. YES or NO

If you answered “yes” to all the questions, you are probably eating a diet that will benefit your health. If you answered “no” to two or more questions, you should consider your diet in more detail. Learn about what constitutes a healthy diet.

Your body is the vehicle of all your deeds. For your body to have any chance of keeping up with schedules, it is very important to supply it with some energy. And it has to be in a good condition for whatever you want to do – working, talking or thinking. After all “Health is wealth “kind of proverbs were not made in a day.

A healthy diet comprise of different kind of foods in such quantities and proportions that the needs for all the body’s essential nutrients are adequately met, thus promoting the highest level of physical and mental health.

Eating healthy is not that difficult. It just requires a little planning. Just as you need to know where and when you are going, similarly you need to know what you will be eating. Always remembers that if one fails to plan, one plans to fail. Here are some shortcuts to achieve a healthy body.

Breakfast is a ‘MUST’ - Start your morning with some breakfast, be it a piece of fruit or a whole wheat bread to munch while you run out the door to catch your bus. Try to make your breakfast the night before. Put oatmeal into a thermos of hot water, and let it sit overnight. In the morning you shall have hot cooked oatmeal ready to eat. Similarly a hard boiled egg can be made available in the morning. This will prevent your body from going into starvation mode and decreasing its metabolism, which will result in the body being unable to expend energy. Or if you are trying to lose weight, your body would be unable to burn fat.

5 Meals a day – Have at least 5 meals a day in which three can be the main meals i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner, while other two meals can consist of foods which are handy and nutritious at the same time. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs, provides consistent energy, and maintains metabolism efficiency. Grab healthy foods such as a fruit that is high in fiber like apple, watermelon, orange, sweet lime and papaya. Try to avoid fruits like mango, banana and custard apple as they are very high in calories. Instead of tea, coffee or cola which is most frequently had as a mid meal, it can be replaced by fresh fruit juice, coconut water or buttermilk.

Plan your Dines – Some people’s work demands frequenting restaurants for dinner. Since this cannot be avoided, one should plan ahead for what one might select before one walks in. Always watch out for hidden fats. Creamy soups, white breads, flaky pastries and mayonnaise – based salad dressings add unnecessary fats to the food. Try consuming broths instead of creamy soups. Always ask for green salad to be brought to the table before the main course. This will keep you nibbling while you wait for your order. Instead of mayonnaise dressing use variety of condiments and flavoring agents such as lemon, vinegar, herbs, onion and garlic to improve the palatability of your salad. As remember, a gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate. Ask for grilled, baked, boiled or broiled food rather fried foods. In place of fries or fried onion rings, order corn on the cob, green beans or baked beans. Instead of cake or pastries, fresh fruits with yogurt and honey dressing or just a mix bowl of fresh fruits can be an ideal dessert.

Hydrate your traveling – People‘s work might involve a lot of traveling in which air travel is one of the most dehydrating experiences. Because of this people often complain of sore throats and other respiratory illness. To avoid these, one should not drink caffeine, cola or alcohol before or after the flights as there are diuretics and can increase the water loss. Avoid salted snacks like salted peanuts or farsan (fried foods) in order to minimize dehydration. Try consuming lots of fluids in the form of water, fruit juice, coconut water, lime water etc. In any case one should drink at least 12 – 15 gasses of water everyday.

The stress associated with travel may slightly increase the protein requirement, so one should make a conscious effort to consume a little more protein each day. For instance, add a boiled egg to your intake or add sprouts to your breakfast. This could assure your protein requirement is met.

Good quality of food – Always remember quality of food you eat determines your efficiency in your work. Avoid refined foods like white rice and those used to make white bread and sugary breakfast cereals as most of their vitamins and minerals are striped away. They turn into blood sugar (glucose) so fast just like sugar; they can cause a spike in our insulin level. This tells our body that plenty of energy is readily available and that it should stop burning fat and start storing it. Alternate refined flour with wholegrain flour. Substitute white sugar with honey and jaggery. Use skimmed milk instead of whole milk.

Healthy eating habits travel more easily than you think. They make a fit body, thus helping us to not only live longer but to also lead a better quality of life.

Let’s take a conscious decision to eat healthy, let’s drink coconut water instead of cola and eat a fruit instead of a samosa when the urge to binge strikes.