10 Health Reasons You Should Never Skip Breakfast

Keywords: breakfast, skip breakfast, lose weight, weight gain

Google the term “skip breakfast” and you get nearly 50,000,000 results. Most of the information is about the importance of eating breakfast to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Since you are without food for several hours during the night you do need plenty of energy to get going, when you get up in the morning. And only breakfast can provide you with the energy in the morning. It is not for nothing that it is called ‘breakfast’. Simply put, it means eating in the morning after a break of almost 10-12 hours.

Breakfast is a very important meal of the day. If you are of those who skip breakfast, now’s the time to change that habit. Here’s why:

1. Breakfast improves your metabolism and gives you an energy boost.

Since your blood sugar level drops in the morning you need food that can provide you energy to get through the morning. Your body needs fuel to keep it running and the night is the longest gap in the refueling process. To ensure your metabolism keeps you going you must eat something within a couple hours of waking up.

Eating something in the morning increases metabolism and also provides energy for exercise later in the day, required to help you manage your weight. If you have not eaten for 12 hours, you would not have enough carbs remaining in your body’s stored supplies for your normal get-up-an-go drive. This is particularly relevant if you exercise in the morning. Doing so will burn off any leftover energy reserves. Without a breakfast to replace those carbohydrates, you would become lethargic, and your metabolism may fall so you expend fewer calories than you normally would.

2. Breakfast helps you be on track if you intend to lose weight.

Those who eat breakfast tend to maintain and lose weight. People who skip breakfast hoping to lose weight tend to eat more during lunch or even choose unhealthier options which results in weight gain. Your body has to be refuelled a few times every day. When you skip breakfast you may feel very hungry by lunch time that makes you eat more foods than you normally would, which nullifies the calories you cut by not having breakfast. You may also be tempted to opt for foods that are not the healthiest choices when you feel like you’re starving.

People who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Breakfast keeps your metabolism running higher because skipping meals causes the body to get into ‘starvation’ mode. But it really isn’t what happens — it takes three or four days of eating fasting before the body starts decelerating your metabolism. People who eat breakfast regularly are likely to make good dietary choices the rest of the day.

3. Breakfast helps to maintain insulin response.

When you skip breakfast it leads to a hyper insulin response when calories are consumed later on. This means the level of insulin in blood is more than the blood glucose level. It can lead to metabolic disorder resulting in fat accumulation.

100 calories per day of sugar is what is recommended for women and men should not cross 150 calories per day to keep diabetes and heart disease at bay.

4. Breakfast makes you feel fuller longer.

When you do skip breakfast do you find yourself dying for a snack by 11 a.m.? You probably go hanker for higher-calorie foods when mid-morning hunger strikes because they’re either readily available in the office cafeteria or at nearby fast food restaurants. Eating a filling breakfast can satiate your appetite for several hours, making it easier to pass on the high-calorie.

If you find it difficult to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, you can opt for two smaller meals. Have a hard boiled egg or a cup of yogurt before you leave home, then about an hour or two later, have an apple and a handful of healthy nuts like pecans or walnuts.

5. Breakfast helps perform better at work.

When you are hungry you become irritable and disinterested at school or work and this reflects on the quality of your work and productivity. Breakfast energizes you and makes you attentive.

Some breakfast foods can increase your productivity and give you more energy. A morning cup of coffee can give you a boost, but so do foods that are rich source of vitamin B, such as avocados, bananas (also rich in potassium), oatmeal and pineapple. Have a good source of vitamin B in the morning as it can improve your ability to concentrate and help you think more clearly.

6. Breakfast helps burns calories early.

It is possible to burn calories by having breakfast early? Instead of going hungry till lunch and then wolfing down something loaded with calories with fewer hours left in the day to burn it consider refueling yourself early and getting enough time to burn those calories.

Spreading your calories over three meals a day or eating the same amount for just lunch and dinner does make a difference in terms of your waistline. Research has have shown that those who eat several small meals a day consume more calories during the day than those who eat just one or two large meals.

7. Breakfast helps in setting a good example.

If you have kids, you would certainly want to set a good example for them. When you have breakfast on time you will show the importance of the meal by example.

8. Breakfast delivers essential nutrients first thing in the morning.

There are certain foods which we normally consume only as a part of breakfast like cereals, fruits and milk. If you skip breakfast you may not get these nutrients.

A healthy breakfast provides a quarter of the nutrients and total energy required by the body. The first major meal of the day should be a nutritious excellent combination of carbohydrates, fibre and protein. Make sure you include berries, fruits, good fats and whole grains. Have plain dosas with green chutney, idlis with sambhar, milk with cornflakes / wheatflakes, vegetable poha / upma with a milkshake and sprouts. Include fruits like apples, muskmelons, oranges, papayas or watermelons that are high fibre.

There are some foods you should avoid because they are high in added sugars, calories, sodium and saturated fats. Cut down on sugary breakfast cereals (over 5.0 grams per serving) and high-calorie pastries. Bacon and sausage too should be avoided as these are high in saturated fat and sodium.

Deep fried, left over or junk food, processed or oily food, preserved meat and having only juices are a no-no. Avoid refined foods like white bread and white rice. Instead opt for cereals and whole wheat bread. Deep fried candy bars, cookies, doughnuts, pakodas, potato chips, puris, samosas and sodas are foods that you should stay away from. Food items like bhajias, French fries, pizzas, vada pav and wafers are high in calories, fat and salt and have very little fibre – keep them at an arm’s length.

9. Breakfast prevents diabetes.

Men who skip breakfast are more likely to develop diabetes. Research has found a link between skipped meals and an increased chance of contracting diet-related disease type 2 diabetes. According to the study, men who got to work on an empty stomach are 20% more likely to develop diabetes, than those who have breakfast. Men, however, need to consider not only ‘when’ but also ‘what’ they eat.

10. Skipping breakfast can make you grumpy:

Have you skipped breakfast and found yourself in a grumpy mood? You may not have realized it but not having breakfast can put you in a bad mood.

Summary

Skipping breakfast may put you on the fast track to diabetes, heart disease, hormonal stress, irritability or mood swings, low energy levels, low memory, menstrual irregularity, osteoporosis and weight gain. People who skip breakfast develop higher levels of LDL (‘lousy) cholesterol levels and are less susceptible to insulin than people who eat breakfast every day.

Missing breakfast makes you feel tired early on in the day with low concentration levels, affecting your efficiency. Skipping breakfast also reduces metabolic rate making it difficult to lose weight. Skipping breakfast is also more likely to make you heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast. If you are looking forward to losing weight, have a wholesome breakfast to get a healthy start to the day.

Stay full, stay healthy!

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7 Super Nutrients for Weight Loss

Nutrients like fibre, protein, and monounsaturated fats are necessary to sustain long-term health. Now add 8 of these super nutrients to your diet so that you can optimize your weight-loss progress.

I. Monounsaturated fats: Replacing carbohydrates in your diet with monounsaturated fats will help you slim down by shuttling fat away from your abdominal region.

These kinds of fats are the constituents of vegetables and animal products. The Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA) contains low level of total cholesterol with a little increase in the level of HDL-C (good). These fats are quite beneficial as they help to lower the blood glucose level and triglycerides level in diabetes (type II). They are also cardio-protective and may even provide protection against some types of cancer like colon and breast cancer. The MUFA is composed of one of the main fatty acids, oleic acid.

The oils that are best suited for cooking and frying contain a high amount of MUFA. Olive oil, mustard oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil and groundnut oil are a few examples of oils rich in this kind of fat. These oils do not get transformed into saturated or hydrogenated fats easily, that is, they are quite stable at high temperatures. Thus, their oxidation thresholds are quite high. The MUFA solidify only on refrigeration and remain liquid under ordinary conditions or room temperature.

Oil, or fat, are found in many Indian recipes, but the varieties are different between the regions. Northern and Eastern Indians rely on mustard oil, which contains 60 percent monounsaturated fatty acids, 21 percent polyunsaturated fats, and only 12 percent saturated fats. Its high content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid makes it adequate to anyone who is concerned about healthy living and weight loss. In contrast, southern and western Indians use peanut oil, which is rich in oleic and linoleic acids. Since this is also a monounsaturated fat, it is recommended as a substituent for oils rich in trans fatty acids. While the Indian diet may not be a low fat dietary plan, it is based on healthy fats. These oils have an aromatic smell and are responsible for the good taste of many Indian diet foods.

Where to get it: Peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios are all rich in monounsaturated fats.

Tip: Nuts are a good alternative for unhealthy snacks, such as chips. They can be combined with dried fruit and seeds used to make an easy trail mix or toasted and added to a healthy garden salad for extra delicious flavor.

Peanut butter: Peanut butter, like peanuts and peanut oil, is also an excellent source of monounsaturated fat.

Tip: Use peanut butter instead of regular butter or margarine on toast or waffles. It will not only taste better but incorporates more healthy fat into your diet.

Note: You want to only consume natural, organic peanut butter.  Stay away from peanut butter products that contain hydrogenated oil!

Avocado: Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fat, as well as rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K, and fiber. Avocados have numerous health benefits and best of all, they are delicious.

Tip: Avocados are tasty eaten alone, on salads, or in sandwiches and wraps. They can also be used to create your own version of guacamole dip, served with pita chips or vegetables.

Seeds: Pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds are all good sources of monounsaturated fat.

Tip: Like nuts, seeds can both be consumed as a light healthy snack and can be added to variety of dishes for flavor and texture.

II. EGCG: EGCG or Epigallocatechin gallate is an antioxidant found in green tea (and put in most weight-loss supplements available today). EGCG can increase thermogenesis or heat production through extra calorie burning and the use of stored fat as energy. Some research also shows that EGCG can stop the growth of new fat cells. A study conducted by Japanese scientists discovered that drinking at least five cups of green tea per day can increase metabolism and burn fat fast.

Where to get it: The greatest weight loss effects of EGCG are seen when combined with caffeine, as it naturally occurs in green tea.

III. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is one of the two omega-3 fats found in oily fish like salmon. DHA can stop growth of young fat cells and actually causes them to die, says research published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Where to get it: To get more DHA in your diet, you can eat more oily fish (Sardines, salmon). If you are a vegetarian, pick up an algae-based DHA supplement to reap the same benefits. Flax seeds and walnuts are excellent food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

IV. Acetic acid: Vinegar, a dilute form of acetic acid, has potent glucose-lowering effects. One study in Italy found that when participants added just more than1 tablespoon of vinegar to their meal (as salad dressing) they experienced a 30 percent decrease in their post-meal blood sugar levels. Controlling blood sugar remains an essential component to weight loss and maintaining a lean body.

Where to get it: Adding vinegar to salads should be standard protocol, but if you can manage to find chocolate balsamic vinegar, it makes an excellent addition to a protein-packed chocolate smoothie.

V. Protein: Protein from lean sources like beef, poultry, fish, dairy, or soy are weight loss rock stars. The amino acids that make up protein cause your body to release the fat-burning and energy-stabilizing hormone glucagon. The process of digesting protein also stimulates your body to release the satiety hormone CCK. This one-two punch combined with the fact that it takes your body more energy to digest and breakdown protein compared to carbohydrates or fat makes it a must-have at every meal throughout your day.

Where to get it: The possibilities are endless, but lean proteins like Greek yogurt , cottage cheese, and organic grilled chicken strips are especially convenient.

VI. Caffeine: Caffeine is one of the most potent weight loss compounds available to you each and every day. Caffeine blocks the breakdown of a compound call camp, which is responsible for mobilizing stored fats so they can be burned as energy.

Where to get it: If you are looking for a bigger fat-burning boost, then make sure to choose black tea over green tea or light roast coffee over dark roast for a larger dose of caffeine.

VII. Fibre: Previously called ‘roughage’, dietary fibre is the term that describes the carbohydrates that human’s can’t digest. Dietary fibre is found in plant foods such as cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables and occurs mainly in the plant cell wall where it provides structural support for the plant. Fibre is often touted to be a great nutrient for weight loss because it slows down digestion, allowing for sustained energy and stable blood sugar. However fibre can also optimize hormones released during digestion that are responsible for feelings of hunger and satiety.

Where to get it: Try to get your fibre in its raw form instead of from foods that have been overly processed. The processing of fibre can change its chemical make-up, which can decrease its effectiveness at promoting satiety or lowering cholesterol. The following foods are all good sources of dietary fibre…

  • Wholemeal, granary and softgrain varieties of bread
  • Jacket potatoes, new potatoes in their skins and baked potato skins
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereals, eg. unsweetened muesli, porridge oats
  • Wholemeal pasta and brown rice
  • Beans, lentils and peas
  • Fresh and dried fruits – particularly if the skins are eaten
  • Vegetables – particularly if the skins are eaten
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wholemeal flour

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Top 14 Power Foods for Men

True manhood lies in your strength. You may look muscular and great on the outside but how strong are you from inside? How is your stamina? Do you start panting after climbing three flights of stairs?

Here are some super foods that can help you improve your stamina and work towards improving your power to fight illness.

1.    Tomatoes

Eat tomato to stay young. Tomatoes helps prevents skin wrinkles. Tomatoes reduce the risk of arterial aging, heart disease, stroke, memory loss and impotence. Tomatoes contain Lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent prostate cancer. Even better doses of lycopene are found in cooked tomatoes, such as tomato sauce. More lycopene equals more protection. So start adding it to your vegetables and salads.

2.    Berries or Cherries

The violet, blue, and red colors in all kinds of berries and cherries are responsible for the healthy properties of these fruits. These little jewels are chock-full of the health-protecting flavonoid, anthocyanin.

Antioxidants in blueberries help protect the brain from free-radical damage and cut your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. They can also improve cognitive processing. Pterostilbene — the fat-fighting compound in blueberries — has been found to have cancer-fighting and diabetes-fighting properties. Wild blueberries, if you can find them, have even more brain-boosting antioxidant than the cultivated variety. Remember you can store them in your freezer for months at a time!

Berries contain over 4,000 different compounds that have antioxidant properties beyond vitamin C. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, and cherries can enhance brain function and keep your brain healthy.

3.    Green Tea

Leafy tea is best for your body. Green tea is one of the world’s most powerful foods. It has been shown to help fight almost every major illness. With each sip, you get two potent flavonoids — anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin — plus a healthy dose of catechin, which may enhance the antioxidant activity of alpha-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E). Green and black teas also contain antioxidant polyphenols, thought to block cell damage that can lead to cancer.

4.    Leafy Greens / Red-Orange Vegetables

Leafy greens like spinach are rich sources of B vitamins, and are packed with nutrition. One serving of leafy greens is loaded with fibre, calcium, and virtually your entire day’s recommended dosage of beta carotene, a nutrient vital for immune-system health.

Celery is another power food. Celery is just one of the many underappreciated foods that can instantly improve your diet. Besides being a perfect vehicle for peanut butter, this vegetable contains bone-beneficial silicon and cancer-fighting phenolic acids.  Make a place for them on your plate, and you’ll gain a new respect for the health benefits they bestow-from lowering blood pressure to fighting belly fat. And the best part? You’ll discover just how delicious health food can be.

Phytochemicals in celery, called phthalides, help relax muscle tissue in artery walls and increase blood flow. Beyond the benefits to your BP, celery also fills you up-with hardly any calories.

Vitamin C and beta-carotene are antioxidants that help preserve healthy skin cells and prevent oxidation from the sun. Vitamin C is involved in collagen production and beta-carotene converts to the active form of vitamin A, which helps to repair epithelial or skin cells. You can get these from carrots, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.

But for that matter, just about any vegetable should be on the list of top foods for men (and women). Dark, leafy greens and any nutrient-rich vegetable can help reduce the risk of enlarged prostates. Men whose diets are high in nutrients found in vegetables — like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium are less likely to develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate.

5. Whole Grains

Most men get enough carbs in their diets, but they tend to be the wrong kind. Whole grains are great alternative to white flour. They leave you feeling fuller longer, and they provide the longest possible supply of sustained energy. In addition, to reach your goal for fibre, it is recommended eating at least three servings of whole grains a day. A man should try to get 25 grams of fibre in his diet every day.

A diet rich in whole grains provides fibre, vitamins, and minerals – all the co-factors for heart health, building muscles, and keeping waistlines small.
Oatmeal and barley are rich in soluble fibre, full of B vitamins that can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and are also good for the prostate. We recommend getting 10-25 grams of soluble fibre a day from oatmeal or other sources of soluble fibre such as apples, pears, and beans.

When buying grain products, look for those whose labels say they have at least 3-5 grams of fibre per serving. To avoid digestive problems, increase your fibre intake gradually, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

6.    Beets

Beets are one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease.

7.    Bananas

Bananas are a great portable source of quick energy and are rich in potassium, which is needed to regulate nerves, heartbeat and, especially, blood pressure. Diets rich in potassium and magnesium (which is also found in bananas) can reduce the risk of stroke.

As a super source of vitamin B-6, bananas can also aid your immune system, help form red blood cells, ensure a well-functioning nervous system, and assist protein metabolism. So enjoy a banana each day, at breakfast on your whole grain-cereal or before your workout at the gym.

Not a banana fan? Orange juice, milk, tomato products, and beans are other good sources of dietary potassium.

8.    Lentils

It’s no surprise that these hearty legumes are good for you. But when was the last time you ate any?

Boiled lentils have about 16 grams of belly-filling fibre in every cup. Cooked lentils also contain 27 percent more folate per cup than cooked spinach does. And if you eat coloured lentils-black, orange, red-there are compounds in the seed hulls that contain disease-fighting antioxidants.

9.    Soybeans

Soy is rich in isoflavones, which protect prostate health and have been shown to lower prostate cancer risk. Isoflavones found in soy foods are beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer in men. Eating 25 grams of soy protein a day can help decrease cholesterol.

10.    Garlic

You might not like the smell but remember it is packed full of goodness. It has antibacterial and decongestant properties to keep coughs and colds at bay.

Men should have at least two chunks of garlic every day as it works wonders on your health. Your immune system will improve drastically. Men with high cholesterol should swear by garlic as the phytochemicals in garlic helps in lowering the cholesterol level and prevents the blood from clotting.

11.    Broccoli

While virtually all vegetables deserve a place on the super foods list, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are helpful in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. It’s loaded with vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and a phytochemical called sulphoraphane, which may have anticancer (prostate and colon) properties.

Broccoli contains folic acid that men need extensively. Folic acid reduces the level of homocysteine that is amino acid in blood. The increased level of homocysteine increases the risk of heart attack.

Don’t like broccoli? Go for other cruciferous choices like cabbage, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts.

And did you ever wonder where the term “cruciferous” originates? It is not because they are crunchy vegetables, but when the buds from this group of vegetables sprouts, their leaves form a cross like a crucifix.

12.    Nuts

Walnuts and almonds are excellent for health. High in protein, fibre, and vitamin E, nuts are great for your heart, digestive system, and skin. And not only are walnuts and hazelnuts excellent sources of omega-3 fats that nourish your heart. Nuts, when eaten, also help slow down the assimilation process so that the fats and sugar in your body are processed effectively.

Brazil nuts are packed with magnesium and selenium; powerful antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease and cancer and protect prostate health. Selenium also helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and reduces the incidence of blood clots and heart disease.

13.    Fatty Fish

No list of super foods would be complete without the healthy fat, omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats are the preferred form of fats in your diet for many reasons. They can benefit the heart, circulation, and immune system and reduce the risk for prostate cancer, among other things.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are potent anti-inflammatory foods that can help lower triglyceride [blood fat] levels, reduce aches and pains in athletes, and offer relief with certain kinds of arthritis. Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring) are the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is recommended that everyone eat fish twice weekly.

You can also get omega-3s in plant-based foods, like flaxseed, walnuts, soy, canola oil, and fortified products such as eggs. But there are other good reasons to eat fish.

Fatty fish are also a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient that tends to be deficient in our diets and [which] in adequate supply can help prevent cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and bone disease.

14.     Sesame Seeds / Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Zinc is an essential mineral required by the body for maintaining a sense of smell, keeping a healthy immune system, building proteins, triggering enzymes, and creating DNA. Zinc also helps the cells in the body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter. A deficiency in zinc can lead to stunted growth, diarrhoea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, and depressed immunity. Conversely, consuming too much zinc can disrupt absorption of copper and iron, as well as create large amounts of toxic free radicals. The current DV for Zinc is 15mg.

Sesame products contain about 10mg of Zinc per 100g serving (70% DV). Sesame flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in cakes and breads.
Roast pumpkin seeds them in the oven. The seeds are typically eaten by cracking the outer shell and eating the seed inside. Typically, they contain about 10mg (70% DV) of zinc per 100g serving

You can also get your daily recommended dose a day by eating oysters and other shellfish, lean beef, lean pork, or legumes.

Nourish and strengthen: Including these items in your diet will nourish your body and make it healthy. It will also improve your immune system and make your body powerful enough to fight against not just viral fever and flew but health risks like prostate cancer and heart attack.

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Top 10 Foods to Keep You Young

Are you keen to stay looking as fresh and young as possible? Yes?

While there’s no way to pause or turn back the clock you add years to your life by making smarter food choices. Let me share with you a few age-proof strategies to help slow the aging process and perhaps even stave off age-related diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. The solution lies not in pharmacies but in your fridge. All you have to do is add them to your diet.

There are many variables involved in how long you live, but by following a healthy lifestyle, staying active and eating a nutrient-packed diet, can give you extra ammunition when it comes to combating the signs of aging.

As we grow older our caloric needs drop, making it even more important to pack your diet with nutrient-rich low-calorie foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains—and limit foods that are considered less-healthy and more calorie-laden.

Antioxidants are the kamikaze power foods that reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. These health-protecting compounds found in plant-based foods help stop damage to the body’s cells by destroying cell-damaging free radicals.

So which foods are best to make you look young and healthy? Here they are:

1. Green tea: Some people have referred it to the elixir of life! The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression. The secret of this super drink lies in the fact it is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. You can appreciate the importance of the latter when you realise that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. Green tea is believed to help regulate blood pressure, lower blood sugar and boost the immune system.

2. Leafy Greens: When it comes to veggies, the darker in color, the better. Dark vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help build and repair our cells.  Spinach is great for boosting the body’s immunity from illness. Other leafy foods like kale and collard are high in folate which is vital in preventing DNA and blood vessel damage. If you can maintain a healthy circulatory system you are reducing your risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.

If you don’t like the taste of these foods mix them into foods that you like.

3.  Chocolate: Dark chocolate is especially beneficial. In fact, many experts recommend eating one or two ounces of dark chocolate every day.

Cocoa contains flavanols, a type of flavanoid that is only found in cocoa and chocolate. Flavanoids are naturally-occurring compounds that occur in plant foods that act as antioxidants and help counteract free radicals in the body. Flavanoids help preserve healthy function of the blood vessels thereby lowering the risk of type II diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.

Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 10 percent and the theobromine in chocolate prevents tooth decay.

Chocolate contains serotonin, a natural anti-depressant and creates feelings of happiness and pleasure. Chocolate works as a cancer fighter is by inhibiting cell division and reducing inflammation.

A Dutch study followed 200 men over 20 years and found that those who  large amounts of chocolate, both milk chocolate and dark, lived longer and had lower overall disease rates than men who ate little or no chocolate.

4. Yogurt: Yogurt is associated with the term “probiotics”, which means “that which supports and is for life”! Yogurt is a dairy product that is obtained by fermenting milk. This fermentation uses bacteria to transform milk which is a liquid into yogurt which is semi-solid in nature. Yogurt is a proven treasure-trove of enriching elements like zinc, calcium, lactic acid, Vitamins B1, B2, B-6 and B-12, protein, and yeast. It holds rich deposits of friendly bacteria that boost overall health.

Yogurt has many healthy enzymes and adds natural oils to the skin. It can diminish pore size, a frequent nuisance for the skin, and can improve the overall skin texture, besides adding a healthy glow to your skin. You can also use yogurt to treat your acne and acne scar.

Many people who cannot tolerate milk, either because of a protein allergy or lactose intolerance, can enjoy yogurt. The culturing process makes yogurt more digestible than milk.

Yogurt lowers the risk of colon cancer as it contains intestines-friendly Lactobacteria that reduces the conversion of bile into carcinogenic bile acids. The bacterial cultures in yogurt have also been shown to stimulate infection-fighting white cells in the bloodstream. Yogurt can lower cholesterol and also decrease yeast infections in the vagina.

Antibiotics kill not only harmful bacteria; they also kill the healthy ones in the intestines. The live bacterial cultures in yogurt can help replenish the intestines with helpful bacteria before the harmful ones take over.

Yogurt is a rich source of calcium and protein. The live-active cultures in yogurt increase the absorption of calcium. 250gm of yogurt gets more calcium into the body than the same volume of milk can. This daily intake is equivalent to twenty percent of the daily protein requirement for most persons.

5. Red wine: Wine is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages on the planet. While heavy drinking of any alcoholic beverage rather brings lots of health-related troubles instead of benefits, current research suggests that a glass of red wine each day may be providing you with more than just a little relaxation. A glass of red wine gives you a healthy dose of anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants, minerals, and resveratrol.

Resveratrol helps to increase ‘good cholesterol’ levels in the body, prevents blood clotting and a healthy circulatory system, is beneficial for women during the menopause by reducing the risk for conditions for breast cancer and osteoporosis that result from reduced estrogen levels.

Wine has anti-aging effects, improved lung function from antioxidants in white wine and stronger bones. Drinking wine reduces ulcer-causing bacteria and keeps the arteries clean thereby reducing strokes

Red wine intake reduces the risk of kidney stone formation and moderate wine drinking correlates with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Water: It truly is fountain of youth. Very few people, active or not, drink sufficient water every day. Drinking water helps you lose weight because it flushes down the by-products of fat breakdown. Drinking water reduces hunger; it’s an effective appetite suppressant so you’ll eat less. Water helps to relieve headache and back pains due to dehydration also make you look younger when your skin is properly hydrated. Water helps to replenish skin tissues, moisturizes skin and increases skin elasticity, helping boost your anti-aging armory.

Drinking water raises your metabolism because it helps in digestion. Drinking plenty of water also helps fight against flu and other ailments like kidney stones and heart attack.

If your body lacks water, your heart, for instance, needs to work harder to pump out the oxygenated blood to all cells, so are the rest of the vital organs, your organs will be exhausted and so will you.

Drinking a healthy amount of water may reduce the risks of bladder cancer and colon cancer. Water dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shortens the time in which they are in contact with bladder lining.

7. Blueberries: Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit being very rich in anti oxidants like anthocyanin, vitamin C, B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper (a very effective immune builder and anti-bacterial), selenium, zinc, iron (promotes immunity by raising haemoglobin and oxygen concentration in blood) etc. boost up your immune system and prevent infections. Once your immunity is strong, you won’t catch colds, fever, pox and all such nasty viral and bacterial communicable diseases.

The antioxidants neutralizes free radicals which can affect disease and aging in the body. The abundance of vitamin-C is also a big factor for this as well. Blueberries inhibit the building of colonies of b-coli along the lining of the inner walls of urinary tract that is responsible for inflammation, burning sensation during passage of urine and other complications.

Blueberries have also been found in clinical studies to slow down visual loss, preventing or delaying all age related ocular problems like macular degeneration, cataract, myopia and hypermetropia, dryness and infections, particularly those pertaining to retina, due to their anti-oxidant properties.

The fruit can prevent and heal nerve disorders by preventing degeneration and death of neurons, brain-cells and also by restoring health of the central nervous system.  These berries can also cure serious problems like Alzheimer’s disease to a great extent, heal damaged brain cells and neuron tissues and keep memory sharp for a long-long time.

Blueberries are an ideal dietary supplement to cure many heart diseases as it strengthens the cardiac muscles.

Blueberries have also proven to prevent and cure cancer as it contains Pterostilbene (excellent remedy for colon and liver cancer) and Ellagic Acid.

Blueberries keep you fresh, active, fit, sharp, close to nature and in a good mood, as they are very good anti depressants.

8. Fish: Eating fish regularly – one or two servings weekly –may reduce the risk of diseases ranging from childhood asthma to prostate cancer. Fish is low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids.

The omega 3 fatty acids in fish may reduce the risk of many types of cancers by 30 to 50 per cent, especially of the oral cavity, oesophagus, colon, breast, ovary and prostate. Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina.

Eating fish every week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation, improving blood vessel elasticity, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood fats and boosting ‘good’ cholesterol. Elderly people who eat fish or seafood at least once a week may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

People who regularly eat fish have a lower incidence of depression and may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Regular fish consumption may relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and autoimmune disease.

Healthy ways to enjoy fish include baked, poached, grilled and steamed forms.

9. Eggs: Eggs make the list because they are nutritious, versatile, economical, and a great way to fill up on quality protein.  Eggs also contain 12 vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for brain development and memory.

Eggs are great for the eyes. According to one study, an egg a day may prevent macular degeneraton due to the carotenoid content, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. Eggs can also lower the risk of developing cataracts, because of the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs.

Contrary to previous belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it. Research suggests that it is saturated fat that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol and prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.

Eggs are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D.

Eggs may prevent breast cancer. Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulfur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals. Many people find their hair growing faster after adding eggs to their diet, especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulfur or B12.

10. Nuts: Nuts have 0f late been given a bad name because of their high fat content. But their protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and antioxidant content earn them a place on the top 10 list.

Nuts are rich in energy and nutrients. Nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and palmitoleic acids, which help to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” thereby preventing coronary artery disease and strokes.

Nuts are rich source of all important omega-3 essential fatty acids which helps to lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate cancers. by their virtue of anti-inflammatory action. Omega-3 fatty acids also offer some benefits in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and in cases of Schizophrenia, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Nuts are storehouse of health benefiting flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenes, resveratrol, lutein, cryptoxanthin etc. These compounds have been found to be protective against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and infections.

Almost all the varieties of nuts we eat come in shells. There is nothing to worry about contamination or handling issues. Just grab healthy looking nuts of your choice and enjoy!

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Keeping Your Liver Healthy

Liver disease appears to be on the increase. Every year, more than 200,000 people in India die due to liver failure. Part of this increase in liver diseases may be due to our frequent contact with chemicals and other environmental pollutants. The amount of medicine consumed has increased greatly with resulting dangers to the liver. While those who smoke, abuse alcohol and drugs, and live in severely polluted environments are at greatest risk, we all suffer some threat of damage or disease to the liver. The liver, the detoxifying factory in the body, has now become an increasingly overworked organ.

Besides excessive intake of alcohol, the bulk of cirrhosis cases are caused by fatty liver and Hepatitis B and Hepatitis-C infections.

The liver plays several important functions in the maintenance and performance of the body, through a vast network of biochemical reactions. Some of the major functions include carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism, formation and storage of vitamins and minerals; detoxification of drugs and other toxins, and secretion of bile.

Owing to its many roles, the liver impacts normal human growth and development, fertility, cardiovascular maintenance, and bone integrity. The maintenance of a healthy liver, therefore, is vital to overall health and well being. Unfortunately, the liver is often abused by environmental toxins, poor eating habits, alcohol, and prescription and over-the-counter drug use, which can damage and weaken the liver and eventually lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis, and alcoholic liver disease.

Seldom is attention paid to the abuse of the liver because of the organ’s considerable capacity to regenerate. Secondly, the problems associated with liver function occur in apparently unrelated parts of the body. An overstressed liver can impair detoxification and manifest in what may appear to be unrelated symptoms, such as dyspepsia, generalized malaise and achiness, headaches, menstrual irregularities, bone pain, and muscle stiffness. Eventually, a dysfunctional liver cannot perform its tasks properly and consequently the body becomes subject to toxicity and an overall decline in metabolic function.

Symptoms: Symptoms of liver disease include yellow discolouration of the skin and eyes, dark urine, gray, yellow, or light-coloured stools, nausea, vomiting and/or loss of appetite, vomiting of blood, bloody or black stools, abdominal swelling, prolonged generalized itching, unusual change of weight, abdominal pain, sleep disturbances, mental confusion, and fatigue or loss of stamina.

Summary of Major Liver Functions:

I. Carbohydrate Metabolism

Produces and stores glycogen (glycogenesis), produces glucose from liver glycogen and other molecules (gluconeogenesis) and releases it into the blood.

II. Lipid Metabolism

Oxidizes fatty acids to acetyl-CoA for energy production, synthesizes cholesterol, phospholipids, and bile salts, and excretes cholesterol in bile.

III. Protein Metabolism

De-amination of amino acids and produces urea, albumin, plasma transport proteins, and clotting factors.

IV. Formation and Storage of Vitamins and Minerals

Forms the intermediate product in the synthesis of active vitamin D hormone.

Stores iron as ferritin, and stores large amounts of vitamins A, D, and B12, and smaller amounts of other B-complex vitamins and vitamin K.

V. Detoxification of Blood

Conjugates and excretes steroid hormones.

Biotransforms endogenous and exogenous compounds via Phase I and Phase II pathways of detoxification (glucuronidation, etc.).

Ayurvedic medicine, for the past several centuries, has been pursuing the use of natural products such as herbs to provide the support that the liver needs on a daily basis. Many Ayurvedic herbs, such as Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata), have a proven history in revitalizing the liver and treating liver dysfunction and disease. Many of these herbs have been evaluated in clinical studies and are currently being investigated phytochemically to better understand their actions.

Prevention

Alcohol consumption: To ensure that your liver is safe, drink in moderation. One unit of alcohol is equivalent to a small glass of wine, half a pint of beer, or a single measure of spirits. Women should not drink more than one or two units a day. Men should not drink more than two or three units a day. More importantly, avoid binge drinking.

Weight Loss: Rapid weight loss may also lead to fatty liver. It is advisable to opt for Ayurvedic weight loss programmes as it follows a natural way to reduce weight. One can lose 3 kg to 5 kg in about 20 days. Consult our doctor today.

Hepatitis: In case of blood transfusion, ensure that the blood is sourced from a blood bank that is reputed. One should also get vaccinated against Hepatitis-B. Hepatitis can also be sexually transmitted, it’s advisable therefore advisable to have protected sex.

Ayurvedic Approach to Liver Dysfunction

Ayurveda recognises that balancing liver function is crucial to ensuring overall health. In dealing with problems of the liver, the primary goal within Ayurveda is to enhance liver detoxification processes and help protect against further damage to the liver. Based on traditional use, herbs are selected and combined for their ability help promote “balance” within the body and to nourish the liver and related functions, including digestion and bile acid secretion.

For the treatment of liver complaints, kashyams (herbal decoctions) consisting of several e herbs with a variety of properties is often prescribed. The majority of Ayurvedic herbs, such as those listed below, are reported to work on multiple biochemical pathways capable of influencing several organ systems simultaneously. The benefit of an herbal decoction is that one can nourish the body as a whole by supporting various organ systems, yet its main focus will be on support of the liver.

  • Kalamegh, Andrographis Aerial Parts (Andrographis paniculata)

Traditionally used for a variety of ailments including liver disorders and has also been shown to protect against toxin induced hepatotoxicity.

  • Katuka, Hellebore Root (Picrorhiza kurroa)

Used traditionally in Ayurveda for centuries as a general liver tonic and for liver cleansing, hepatitis, biliousness, fevers, and poisoning. The root also protects against alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity.

  • Ginger Rhizome (Zingiber officinale)

Recommended for promoting digestion. Ginger has been found to have a stimulatory effect on gastric secretions and has metabolic and circulatory enhancing effects, which reinforces the therapeutic activity of other herbs.

  • Vidanga, Embelia Fruit (Embelia ribes)

Used for hepatic conditions and liver rejuvenation.

  • Trailing Eclipta Leaf and Root, Bhringraj (Eclipta alba)

Traditionally used to aide secretion of bile and for removing functional obstructions in the body in cases of liver enlargement, for jaundice, and other ailments of the liver and gall bladder.

  • Haritaki, Indian Gall Fruit (Terminalia chebula)

Traditionally used in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, flatulence, vomiting, colic, and enlarged spleen and liver.

  • Chicory Seed (Cichorium intybus)

Traditionally used for hepatic conditions and liver rejuvenation and has shown protective effects in mice with high levels of liver damaging enzymes.

  • Pippali, Long Pepper Fruit (Piper longum)

Piperine, an active alkaloidal constituent, has been shown to exert a significant protection against liver toxicity by decreasing the reduction of GSH, a powerful antioxidant.

  • Arjuna Myrobalan Bark (Terminalia arjuna)

The powdered bark is traditionally used as a diuretic and general tonic in cases of cirrhosis of the liver.

  • Amla Fruit (Emblica officinalis)

Traditionally used for enlarged liver and for liver revitalizing.

  • Punarnava, Spreading Hog Weed Whole Plant (Boerhaavia diffusa)

Traditionally used for hepatic disorders and for internal inflammation.

  • Phylanthus Aerial Parts, Bhumi Amla or Keezha Nelli (Phyllanthus niruri)

The fresh root is traditionally given in jaundice

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Is it good to use soap?

Soap is a type of surface-active agent or surfactant that works by making fat and oil water-soluble which can then be easily removed by wiping or washing. Soaps are made from fatty acid salts. Soaps clean by reducing the surface tension of your skin with anionic agents such as carboxylate, sulfonate and sulfate ions which are potential irritants.

While soap serves the basic purpose of cleansing it regrettably removes essential fatty oils from the skin.  Should we then use soap?

The Disadvantages of Soap

It was once thought that soaps caused irritation by removing only fat from the outermost layer of the skin, but research has now shown that soap damage affects both the fat and protein structures of the epidermis causing unpleasant skin reactions and also resulting in a rougher skin. Our skin has a normal balanced pH level of 5.0-5.6, which is between acidic and close to neutral. The soap salts that emulsify dirt and oil are by nature alkaline and will raise the skin’s acidic pH as well as provoke swelling of the skin surface. Studies have shown long-term use of a neutral or alkaline surfactant, such as soap, can increase the amount of bacteria on the skin, while swelling can lead to cellular damage or even breakage. Soap salts can also remove natural moisturizing factors and disrupt the skin’s protective barrier. The fatty acids in soap can have harmful effects too, by plugging follicles (pores) and causing acne.

If you have to use soap choose the right one. For example, people with dry and sensitive skin must use a body wash. Why? Because body washes, are “milder” as compared to the “hard” regular soaps. Body washes can clean without denuding the skin of essential natural oils and fatty acids.

Another reason to prefer body washes is that they are more hygienic as their surface is untouched by different users and since these are sold in containers air pollution does not affect it. Furthermore body washes are enriched with moisturisers that help nourish the skin better. All body washes are formulated to cleanse, without drying your skin.

Face wash, a must

When it comes to your face, use a face wash. The skin on your face is more delicate and needs extra moisturising care that you do not get from the regular soaps. If you want to use soap on your face, choose the ones with moisturisers, glycerine or moisturising milk as ingredients.

What can you use for a clean and fragrant skin?

As far as possible, you should use cleansing agents or soaps that use natural ingredients. These ingredients should take care of:

  • Effective Skin Maintenance
  • Fragrance and Freshness

Ayurvedic medicine puts great emphasis on using plants, and plant extracts instead of manmade chemicals or animal byproducts. Ayurvedic soap therefore will be made from all natural ingredients, staying away from the harsh chemicals, and animal byproducts which can be harmful to our skin. They soaps are formulated using vegetable oils and extracts. Here are a few of the common oils and extracts used:

§  Coconut oils are used to moisturize the skin and stimulate lightening of dark skin.
§  Ginger extract is included to help relax and tone the skin. It can be effective in promoting healing and warding off infections, too.
§  Orange oil is added to help reduce the occurrence of pimples and blackheads. It can be very effective in improving skin quality, while reducing skin blemishes.
§  Sandalwood oil is included in many Ayurvedic soaps due to the pleasant scent and skin relaxing qualities.
§  Lime seed oil adds a deep cleaning astringent effect to the soap to help avoid skin blemishes. It also deep cleans the dirt out of the follicles (pores).
§  Hydnocarpus oil helps to ward off rashes and skin irritations. It is very comforting and soothing to the skin.

Combining these extracts together go to make a mild soap that can be very refreshing, relaxing, while improving the health of your skin. Instead of denuding the skins moisture and protection, it helps to cleanse, moisturize, and balance the skin. Manmade chemicals can be very harsh on our skin and actually be the cause of rashes and skin blemishes. Ayurvedic soap is mild and helps to eliminate the symptoms, while effectively cleaning the skin. Instead of getting a dried out skin, you get a deeply nourished and moisturized skin just as the nature intended.

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Want to Live for 100 Years? Follow These Habits

Living upto 100 years may sound unrealistic but if a proper health regime is maintained one can certainly expect a good long healthy life. Here are some healthy habits that would actually help you to live to be a 100.

1. Be Active even after Retirement.

Where people stop working abruptly, the incidence of obesity and chronic disease increases after retirement. To avoid such problems, keep working to stay cheerful and active.  Even after job retirement at the right age, you should not stop working as there are ample options to work on, such as gardening or you can practice your hobbies which will engage you at work.  This habit surely helps you to stay out of heart related diseases and will keep you to live longer.

2. Exercise regularly.

Physical exercise has large number of benefits. Exercise helps to improve mood swings, mental acuity, bones and muscles. It is not necessary to exercise in a gym always. You can also go for walk or jog every morning or evening. Exercise is the only real fountain of youth that exists.

3. Have Sex.

Couples with a healthy sex life can look up to seven years younger than those who don’t. This is because sex reduces stress, leads to greater contentment and better sleep.

4. Food.

Include fiber-rich cereal with breakfast. Cereals are one of the best sources of fibres, which is usually preferred for breakfast.  Fibre-rich cereal in your diet helps maintain blood sugar level, prevent diabetes and also help lose weight. It also provides energy to stay active for longer period of time, which will lead you to live longer.

Research has found that people who eat a moderate amount of chocolate live longer than those who eat sweets three or more times a week, and those who never touch sweets. Chocolate contains chemicals called phenols, which are thought to protect against heart disease and cancer.

Green and ordinary black tea pack the same amount of antioxidants and have equal benefits. Drinking one cup of black tea a day cuts heart disease risk dramatically and also the survival rate, following a heart attack, by 28%. About 40 per cent of cancers are diet related. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day to reduce your risk of cancer of the lung, digestive tract, bowel, bladder and breast.

5. Sleep for at least 6 hours.

Sleep is one of the most important habits to keep oneself fit and fine. Lack of sleep can increase the risk of dying early. Less sleeping hours can increase the heart relate diseases, stroke, blood pressure and cholesterol, whereas, good sleeps help you to keep away stress, depression, inflammation and heart diseases.  One has to sleep at least 6 hours to stay fit, as it gives energy for the forthcoming day.

6.  Laugh often.

Laughter is an excellent medicine to stay hale and hearty. Laughter gives you good feelings from inside which consequently protect your heart. It also kicks start healthy physical processes within the body. Laughter fortifies immune system, improve energy level and reduce stress. To keep your mind and body balanced, laughter works faster than any other medicines, which in turn will help you to live longer.

7. Build your social contacts.

Social contact is necessary for staying happy and fit to keep away depression which can lead to serious health issues. To avoid it go around with friends and dear ones, to maintain healthy lifestyle. Communication, sharing ideas and opinions reinforce the immune system and also you feel relaxed and stress free.

8. Maintain strict routine and checks.

Maintaining strict routine is one of the suitable habits to stay healthy, balanced and also to live longer. Follow the routine of early to bed and early to rise; also try to maintain timings with other stuff like food, exercise, work etc.

Examine your breast: Get to know how your breasts normally feel and look, and report any changes, such as a lump, dimpling, unusual pain or discharge. The best time to do it is a week after your period. Remember that over nine out of ten lumps are benign, and many breast cancers are curable if they’re caught early enough.

PAP Smear Test: You’ll usually be called once every three or five years for a smear test.

If you experience any dramatic change in bowel habits – such as an unexplained increase in constipation, or increased looseness or passing blood – you should see a doctor immediately. At worst it could be bowel cancer, which is often discovered too late, after it’s already spread.

Introduce floss habit in your routine: Everyday flossing helps to reduce gum-disease-causing bacteria inside the mouth, which can cause arteries to swell.  The bacteria cause inflammation in the arteries after entering through the bloodstream, which can arouse risk for heart diseases. Therefore, it is important to floss daily which will benefit you to stay longer and healthier.

9.  Attitude and conscientiousness.

How and what you think can not only impact the quality of your life, but also how long you actually live. In 2002, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA, found that optimistic people decreased their risk of early death by 50% as compared to those who were pessimistic. Pessimists are more prone to viral illnesses, such as colds and flu. They are also less likely to carry out the essential self-examinations that detect breast or skin cancer, while positive thinkers are more likely to take health advice.

Conscientiousness is related to mortality in a significant way. The Life-Cycle Study, which ran from 1921 to 1991, examined factors like personality, habits, social relations, education, physical activities and cause of death.

People with low adult conscientiousness died sooner. Conscientiousness does not mean looking both ways before crossing the street; it means looking both ways when the light turns green so you don’t accidentally run down some slow-moving pedestrian. Beyond that, a conscientious person’s long-living qualities probably have to do with the fact that they are predisposed to constructively reacting to emotional and social situations, and are more likely to create work and living environments that promote good health.  (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7065794/ns/health-forbes_com/t/ten-ways-live-longer/#.T1RgD3Lwq9s)

10. Live Healthy.

Obesity contributes to several medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and various cancers. So powerful are certain lifestyle choices that recommended diets along with maintenance of physical activity and appropriate body mass can, over time, reduce the incidence of cancer by 30 percent to 40 percent, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Never Smoke again. The earlier you give up the better. The damage caused by smoking is cumulative. The longer a person smokes the greater the risk of developing a smoking-related disease, such as lung cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

11. Keep a pet.

Animal lovers will be happy to know that having a pet can add years to your life, as well. The survival rates of heart attack victims who had a pet were 28 percent higher than those of patients who didn’t have an animal companion. Families who own a dog or cat are less stressed and visit their doctors less often than those who don’t. Pets make you feel optimistic and relaxed, which lowers your blood pressure. Dogs give best results, but even a goldfish in a bowl works.

Interactions with pets reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The ability of companion pets to reduce our overall stress level probably accounts for most of their life-extending qualities.

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The Top 5 Aphrodisiac Foods – Foods that Set the Mood

For centuries people have known that some foods have the unique ability to set a romantic mood and now science has proven what people have long known all along. You are what you eat, because what you eat directly influences your body and your body functions. The food you consume can have a direct impact on your sex life, affecting your hormones, brain chemistry, and energy and stress levels.

To create the right mood and a little spice in your sex life inside your refrigerator.

After all, the way to your lover’s heart is through his stomach after all!

Avocados

Avocado is a superfood full of vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium) and nutrients that not only stimulate your sex drive, but will keep your body youthful and strong. They are also said to boost immune system. By looking at the shape of avocado, you will see the reason why it was associated with sexuality. The Aztecs called the avocado “Ahuacuatl”, or “testicle tree” because the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled the male’s testicles. The Catholic priests in Spain found this fruit so obscenely sexual that they forbade it.

Oysters

Oysters are the classic aphrodisiac food and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire. Casanova, the 18th-century author and womanizer from Venice, was reported to have eaten dozens of oysters before his legendary trysts. Oysters may be thought as an aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content, which helps produce sperm and increases libido.

Chili Peppers

The fiery heat of the chili pepper that causes burning discomfort on your lips and tongue also stimulates the release of endorphins and feelings of pleasure and exhilaration.

Capsaicin is the enzyme that makes chili peppers hot. When you bite into a chili pepper, pain signals are sent to the brain, which causes the release of endorphins and pleasurable feelings. The more you eat, the more endorphins are released, which is why chili peppers are often considered to be addictive.

Dark Chocolate

Pure chocolate is not only packed with vital nutrients and healthy antioxidants, it’s good for your sex drive too.

Chocolate also contains anandamide, the psyochoactive feel-good chemical, and PEA (phenylethylamine), the ‘love chemical’ which releases dopamine in the pleasure-centres of the brain and peaks during orgasm. PEA is said to help induce feelings of excitement, attraction, and euphoria. Cacao also contains tryptophan, a key component of the neurotransmitter serotonin known to promote a sense of wellbeing and relaxation.

Almonds

Almonds have been a symbol of fertility since ancient times. Their sweet scent is said to arouse passion among women. They even appeared in the Bible as a tool for romance when Samson used a sweet-smelling almond branch in his attempts to seduce Delilah. Studies have shown that almonds can be used to regulate the mood swings associated with premenstrual syndrome and menopause.

Through antiquity, almonds were regarded as fertility symbols. The aroma of almond supposedly arouses passion in females – or so thought the poets and scribes. The scientists say that almonds provide high doses of vitamin E, magnesium and even fiber. Therefore, there seems to be something in the almond myths after all.

Asparagus

It is said that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman”. In the 19th century France, bridegrooms were served three courses of the sexy spears at their prenuptial dinner. Apparently for a good reason: asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin and folic acid. The latter is said to boost histamine production necessary for the ability to reach orgasm in both sexes.

Bananas

By it shape its connection with sexuality is quite obvious, but you’ll also find that bananas are loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It also contains chelating minerals and the bromeliad enzyme, said to enhance the male libido.

Basil

Basil not only makes the meals smell and taste better, but it also has a lot of beneficial effects on human body. Basil has a fantastic aroma which is said to have an aphrodisiac effect; it is also very stimulating. Using sweet basil in a pasta sauce; will be sure to get your heart racing! Maybe this explains why Italians are so romantic!

Figs

This sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant and an open fig is believed to emulate the female sex organs. Figs are steeped in history and are one of the oldest recorded fruits. They are mentioned in the bible (Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts), are reported to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility.

Garlic

It smells, but more importantly it’s strong, which is exactly what it will happen to guys. Garlic is chalk full of allicin, an ingredient that will increase blood flow. So, whip up an extra garlicky dish and keep the Altoids handy.

Honey

Honey is a great source of boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolise estrogen, the female sex hormone. Studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance testosterone levels in the blood, the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. In addition, honey contains B vitamins needed for testosterone as well as other nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals.

Watermelon

It may be a cool fruit but multiple servings of watermelon everyday can add fireworks to your sex life. It is often called “natural Viagra.” Watermelons contain an amino acid called citrulline which aids blood vessel dilation and thus heightens sexual pleasure. It can also be used for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) naturally.

Oranges

It doesn’t really have some really awesome aphrodisiac properties but it is indeed a sweet and seductive fruit. One can use it as a good alternative to chocolates to entice and pull your partner for a stormy sexual experience.

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Are White Foods Good For You?

White food generally refers to foods that are white in colour and that have been processed and refined (bad carbs) like bread, cereal, crackers, flour, pasta, rice and sugar. White foods have been blamed for high levels of obesity worldwide. People who eat too many refined carbs are at increased risk for obesity and Type II diabetes. But should you stay away from white foods if you wish to lose weight and eat healthy?

The truth is that carbohydrates are essential for health as the body depends on it to fuel your activities.  You simply cannot live without them. Having said that it would of course be healthier if we obtained most of our carbohydrates from “smart carbs” like fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy and whole grains.  White, refined foods can be part of a healthy diet, but moderation is key.

Unprocessed or natural white foods such as onions, cauliflower, turnips, white beans, and white potatoes are in a different category but deep-fry them or consume them with butter and cheese and all the health benefits are lost.

Here are five most harmful white foods:

White flour: White flour has had all the good substances (bran and germ) removed during processing. It is then bleached.  Vitamins are added and it is sold to the unsuspecting public as “enriched.” White flour is hazardous to health!

Meat: Meat contains white fat! Meat eaters consume fat (cholesterol) that clogs the arteries, ultimately causing the heart attacks and strokes. Meat also causes colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other forms of cancer. Meat also causes gout and arthritis and a host of other physical problems.

As the human alimentary canal is longer than that of carnivores meat requires about 96 hours pass through. A healthy transit time for food through the colon is approximately 72 hours. The longer the meat remains in the colon the more it putrefies. Meat has been recommended for protein and strength, but when cooked the molecular structure of the protein changes protein and makes it unusable by the body.

Salt: Everyday refined table salt is 98% sodium chloride and has been processed at such a high heat that it chemically changes the structure of it. Your body cannot absorb sodium chloride (salt) in this form. Most processed foods are very high in salt which has been added to not only improve taste but to increase their shelf life as well.  The high amounts of sodium in these processed foods are what can adversely affects your health and destroy your immune system.

Sugar: The white food many of us would find hardest to give up is sugar and it is the fourth white substance creating our physical problems. Sugar is so changed and concentrated from its original plant form… that it is actually a drug! Just 10 teaspoons (approximately the amount found in one soft drink) will immobilize the immune system by about 33 percent. Approximately 30 teaspoons of sugar will shut down the immune system for a whole day. Over time, the extra calories from sugar add up, causing weight gain and displacing other important nutrients from the diet.

Sugar, in whatever form, provides few nutrients other than calories.  Some experts think eating sugar helps lead to cravings for more sweets – and, of course, it can lead to cavities.

Dairy is another dangerous substance. Milk is not the perfect food for our requirement of calcium. Indeed, when milk is pasteurised (heated to temperatures of 160 degrees or higher) it changes the calcium to an inorganic form, which cannot be assimilated by the body.

So how do you keep from overdoing the white foods or “bad carbs” in your diet?

Use the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels to find out the total carbohydrate, fibre, and sugar content of food products.  Also, read the list of ingredients; look for breads, pasta, and other carbohydrate foods that list whole grains as their first ingredient.

To keep sugar in check, limit additional sugar to 100 calories a day for women and 150 for men.  And make your sweet calories work for you by choosing foods that also offer some nutritional goodness, like yogurts or whole-grain cereals.

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Ashwagandha: Wonder Herb of India

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) or winter cherry is an amazing adaptogenic and can be compared favourably to ginseng and similar herbs. For centuries, people of India have believed in the ability of ashwagandha to increase energy, vitality, stamina, promote longevity and strengthen the immune system. Moreover, it is considered to be the most powerful aphrodisiac in the plant kingdom. Unlike many tonics, Ashwagandha is also anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-anxiety calmative as well as an aphrodisiac. Ashwagandha is one of the most highly valued herbs in Ayurveda.

The unique properties of ashwagandha, while being an energy tonic like ginseng is uniquely more beneficial for calming the mind, relieving arthritis and building sexual energy. Different people will have different reactions to ashwagandha but for most, the first reaction to taking ashwagandha even after a few days is a sense of increased warmth and more energy. This further transmutes to heightened libido. For this reason, ashwagandha is not often prescribed to normal and healthy adolescents or normal individuals below 40 years of age. If there are specific signs and indications of chronic weakness and deficiency, ashwagandha can be prescribed to individuals of all ages. For such conditions, it is best to take ashwagandha in powder or alcoholic extract with warm scalded milk and honey. Ashwagandha should be considered as an ideal herb for all negative conditions associated with aging. This includes its use for the prevention and inhibition of senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, low energy and arthritis.

The other important properties of ashwagandha includes its traditional use as an alternative for detoxification, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitussive (alleviating coughs), bitter (in small doses, stimulating appetite), sedative and as an overall rejuvenative. Ashwagandha is specific for a wide range of conditions including arthritic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, respiratory disorders including emphysema, asthma bronchitis and coughs, nervous disorders, gynecological disorders, especially functional female and male infertility and impotence. From this it would seem that ashwagandha should be considered for all immuno-compromised diseases including TB and AIDS, chronic upper respiratory diseases, degenerative symptoms attendant to aging, juvenile mal-development and growth, chronic neurological diseases especially anxiety, nervousness, depression and insomnia, weak digestion, fluid retention caused by lowered body metabolism and last but certainly not least, for low sexual libido.

Large doses of ashwagandha may possess abortifacient properties so that it should not be taken during pregnancy.. It is also contraindicated in conjunction with sedatives or anxioletics (a substance that reduces anxiety) or if one is suffering from stomach ulcers. Ashwagandha should not be taken when there are signs of inflammation or advanced arterial congestion. For this reason is may be best to precede or accompany taking it with a general detoxifying herb or formula such as Yogaraj guggul.

Ashwagandha is relatively safe when taken in the prescribed range of dosage. Large doses, however, have been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea and vomiting. Finally, because ashwagandha has been found to potentiate the effects of barbituates, it is generally recommended that it be not taken under such conditions.

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