Sep 1, 2014

The Importance of Fiber in our Diet

There are many benefits of healthy fiber for digestive health. Studies show that fiber is important for people of any age, and it helps treat and prevent a number of conditions -- ranging from severe acid reflux (known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) to inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) to obesity  and diverticulitis.

Here’s how healthy fiber helps digestive health -- and why you need to get more of it.

  1. Regularity. Fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, can help people prevent constipation. It bulks up stools and keeps food moving through the digestive tract.
  2. Healthy bacteria. You might have heard of probiotoics -- healthy bacteria that live in your intestines. Some types of soluble fiber are considered a prebiotic -- a fuel that feeds these healthy bacteria and increases their numbers. What do these bacteria do? They boost digestive health. And some studies suggest that they might have far-reaching effects, perhaps improving the immune response and preventing allergy development. 
  3. Diverticulitis. This painful condition is caused when pockets in the intestines rupture and become infected. One study found that a diet high in healthy fiber -- insoluble fiber in particular -- could reduce the risk of diverticular disease by 40%. Other studies suggest that a high-fiber diet can ease symptoms in people who have the condition and prevent future exacerbations.
  4. Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and ulcers. The evidence is not clear yet. But some studies have suggested that a high-fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of GERD and duodenal ulcers. Some soluble fibers have been linked with lower levels of gastric acid.
  5. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS.) There is some evidence that certain types of fiber supplements – such as those containing psyllium, guar gum, and methylcellulose -- could help with IBS. However, high-fiber wheat bran seems to worsen symptoms.
  6. Soluble fiber, like that found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber may help with weight control.
  7. Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve at all and helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination. Many whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, naturally contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
  8. Blood sugar control: Soluble fiber may help to slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control. 
  9. Weight loss and management: Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people, likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness. 
  10. Skin health: Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
  11. Hemorrhoids: A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
  12. Gallstones and kidney stones: A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.
Unless you regularly eat whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds, you may be missing out on the healthiest forms of fiber available – and that could be a problem.  Bulking up your diet with bran muffins and cereal is typically a big mistake. Humans are NOT designed to eat grains, and doing so may actually be damaging to your gut. You can get by just fine and meet every single nutrient requirement that humans have without eating grains. And grains are absolutely poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables and meat and fish."

But the problem isn't only that there are superior sources of nutrients; grains actually contain anti-nutrients that may damage your health. Ironically, since we're often told that whole grains are one of the best sources of fiber for our health, the high-fiber bran portion of grain – a key part that makes it a whole grain -- actually contains many of the anti-nutrients. Substances in grains, including gliadin and lectins, may increase intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut can cause digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal cramps, as well as cause or contribute to many others symptoms such as fatigue, skin rashes, joint pain, allergies,psychological symptoms, autism, and more.

If your diet could use more fiber, resist the urge to fortify it with whole grains. Instead, focus on eating more vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The following whole foods, for example, contain high levels of soluble and insoluble fiber.

Chia seeds, Berries, Vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, Root vegetables and tubers, including onions and sweet potatoes, Almonds, Psyllium seed husk, and flaxseeds, Green beans, Cauliflower, Beans,
Peas are all good sources of fiber.

A simple “rule” to remember is simply to get most of your fiber in the form of vegetables & fruits, not grains.

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Replace Chips and Cookies with Fiber Rich Popcorns

Plain popcorn provides whole grains, fiber and antioxidants.

Whole grains, fiber and antioxidants are wrapped up in this simple snack. Be careful though. Smothering this naturally healthy snack in salt, fat, sugar and flavorings turns natural goodness into junk food. Popcorn is naturally a whole grain and therefore provides the healthy benefits derived from the nutrients in every component of the whole grain. Popcorn provides about 4 grams of dietary fiber for every 4 cups of popped corn. An adequate fiber intake not helps you to stay regular but may also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce blood cholesterol and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar. The antioxidant concentration of popcorn is much higher than anticipated. In fact, the study found the concentration of polyphenols in popcorn surpassed that of most fruit. This nutrient was found within the hull and so popcorn without the hull may not contain this healthy antioxidant. Polyphenols possess numerous health benefits, including the prevention of degenerative diseases such osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes.

While plain, natural popcorn is full of health benefits, the cry for convenience have led to the addition of unhealthy “extras.” Microwave popcorn is usually packed with unhealthy oils, other additives and a lot more calories. Kettle corn and caramel corn provide hefty doses of sugars. Cheddar and other flavored types of popcorn not only include artificial flavorings, but unhealthy fats and other additives as well. Air pop or use oil to pop whole kernels. Lightly season it with sea salt or a very small bit of butter, if you can't eat it any other way.

Buttery, salty popcorn is not a healthy snack; it’s loaded with fats, sodium and unnecessary calories. That doesn’t mean all popcorn is bad, though. Without unhealthy additions, popcorn is an ideal snack that has few calories and a lot of fiber. Fiber slows digestion, which prolongs fullness and holds you over until your next meal.

To make popcorn healthful, you need to start with plain popcorn kernels. They’re sold in bulk at most grocery stores. Don’t be intimidated by popping your own kernels -- it’s easy to do. Place them in a brown paper bag, roll the top closed and microwave the popcorn as you would commercial popcorn. Alternatively, you can place the kernels in a microwave-safe bowl and set a microwave-safe plate on top to contain the kernels as they pop. If you plan to make healthful popcorn on a regular basis, though, consider a specialty air popper. While these machines are often loud, they pop the kernels more evenly than a microwave oven does and the popcorn often has a better flavor. Plus, there’s less risk of burning the popcorn in a specialty air popper. To avoid additional calories, don’t use any popping method that requires you to add oil or other fats.

While you shouldn’t add salt or fats to your popcorn, you don’t have to eat it plain. You have several options for healthful seasonings. For spicy popcorn, try a blend of crushed red pepper and cayenne. Paprika and chili powder make a less spicy popcorn, lemon pepper makes popcorn zesty and a blend of basil, oregano and parsley will give popcorn an herbal overtone. If you’d rather have sweeter popcorn, try ground cinnamon or grated nutmeg. Powdered ginger, ground black pepper, five-spice powder and allspice are other examples of healthful seasonings. It’s usually best to add the seasonings after popping the popcorn, but if you’re microwaving the kernels, you may add them before you pop.

Serving Size: While air-popped popcorn without salt or oil is low in calories and fat, you still need to limit your serving size. A 3-cup serving is reasonable for a snack, but if you’re voracious, a double serving is okay too. You need to use 1 1/2 tablespoons of kernels to make 3 cups of popped popcorn. One 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn has 93 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3.5 grams of fiber and 2 milligrams of sodium. To compare, 3 cups of commercial microwave popcorn with oil has 192 calories, 14 grams of fat, 2.7 grams of fiber and 348 milligrams of sodium. If you add just 1/4 teaspoon of salt to your air-popped popcorn, its sodium content will skyrocket to 581 milligrams.

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Aug 28, 2014

Ayurveda Reasons for Hair Loss & Suggested Products

According to Ayurveda, the hair is derived either as a by-product or produced as a breakdown product of Asthi (bone tissue). Any disturbance in this tissue metabolism, which very much depends on the digestive fire, can affect the health of the hair. To a certain extent, the quality of hair depends on the body constitution.

The major causes of hairfall are hormonal, nutritional deficiencies and complication to other diseases and medications. Hormone related hair fall may also result from an increased sensitivity of hair follicles to male hormones or due to greater number of male hormone receptors attached to hair follicles. This is the component that is inherited through the genes — termed as Pitta constitution.

According to Ayurveda, excess of Pitta dosha in the body is increased by hot climatic conditions, excessive intake of spicy, salty and sour food, hot and sharp food, tea, coffee, alcohol, meats and excessive smoking. Eating too much fried, oily, greasy, and acidic foods also aggravates Pitta. Pitta balancing herbs (Eg: Shatavari —Asparagus) and vegetables which improves the quality of Asthi dhathu (Eg: bitter vegetables) are effective in treating hair fall.

Try: Organic India Shatavari - 60 Capsules

There are a number of other causes for hair fall like acute illness, high stress, and thyroid imbalance, certain drugs, sudden weight loss and high fever.

The first step is to locate the root cause in your diet or lifestyle that may be increasing the Pitta dosha. Once you locate it, try to give up or at least reduce the diet, habit, or activity responsible for increasing Pitta. Internal use of Ayurvedic medicines like Thikthakam kashayam, Thikthakam ghritham as per medical advice are effective to correct the metabolism. Ayurvedic general tonics like Narasimha rasayanam, Chyavana prasam are effective for improving hair growth. In alopecia, due to systemic diseases, treatment of the same is also required.

Ayurveda recommends - A high protein and an iron rich diet is recommended for hair loss. An adequate intake of raw vegetables, fresh fruits, salads, green leafy vegetables should be included in the diet on a regular basis. - Use a natural shampoo to clean the hair. Amla (embilica officinalis), Shikakai (Acacia concinna) are very good for washing the hair.

Try These Ayurveda Hair Shampoo Products:
Vedica Amla Shampoo With Conditioner, 250 ml
Swati Ayurveda Shikakai Sath Hair Cleanser, 210ml

- Oiling and massaging of scalp is very beneficial for stopping the hair loss. Use coconut oil at least three times in a week. Certain medicated oils like Neelibhringadi oil, Kunthala kanthi oil, Kanjunnyadi oil are very useful. Put oil on the scalp, and massage gently in the roots of the hair.

Try These Ayurveda Hair Oils:
Himalaya Herbals Anti-Hair Fall Hair Oil, 100ml
Himalaya Herbals Anti-Dandruff Hair Oil, 100ml
Swati Ayurveda Brahmi Amla Hair Oil, 210ml
Khadi Premimum Herbal Shikakai & Hibiscus Hair Oil (Total Hair Care) 210 Ml

Along with this The person should maintain a regular bowel movement everyday. In case of constipation, a mild natural laxative can be taken. Triphala is very useful. 

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Organic India Triphala powder

- Regular physical exercise is very beneficial as it helps in balancing the aggravated doshas.
- Rub your scalp after washing the hair. It increases the blood circulation, and activates the sebaceous glands.
- A mixture of lettuce and spinach juice is good to drink to induce hair growth. The juice of carrot, and lettuce juice is also good to take.
- Applying juice of green coriander leaves on the head is also good.
- Washing the hair with a paste of cooked green gram and fenugreek (methi) two to three times a week, is also good.
- A paste of licorice made by grinding it in milk can be applied in the bald patches.
- The seeds of fenugreek is soaked in coconut oil and kept under direct sunrays for seven days and applied to the scalp, which prevents hair loss.
- Traditional therapies like Dhara, Abhyangam, Thala pothichil, Nasya shows excellent effects.

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