Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fighting Asthma with Food

Asthma is an inflammatory airway disease. It is a condition that causes reactions leading to respiratory distress. However, asthma is curable and can be treated by proper medication and a slight modification in your diet.

Eating to control asthma

You can control asthma attacks by eating a diet, which is:
  • Moderately low fat, preferably vegetarian
  • Rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • Low in sugar
  • Making proteins about 12-15 per cent of your diet, which is slightly lower than than the normal allowance of about 20 per cent
  • Low in red meats and dairy products

Natural foods for controlling asthma

Here are some great fruits and vegetables that have been found useful in controlling asthma. Take your pick:

Banana: A low-cost, delicious fruit, which is available round the year. It has a high nutritional value with a rare combination of energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Banana is very useful for those who are allergic to certain substances and suffer from asthma. The reason underlying this is that banana is rich in those amino acids, which are anti-allergic to asthmatics.

Grapes: A high therapeutic value -- owing to their easy assimilation property - makes grapes beneficial for asthma. The fruit as well as its juice has a favourable influence in controlling the disease since being rich in moisture grapes increase the moisture of the lungs.

Orange: The most popular citrus fruit, orange is an effective remedy to control asthma. All you have to do is mix a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of honey in orange juice. Orange acts by its saline action on the lungs and protects from secondary infections.

Bitter gourd: Karela or bitter gourd has excellent medical virtues and has been used as a folk medicine for respiratory disorders from ancient times. A teaspoon of root paste mixed with equal amount of tulsi leaf juice taken for a month acts as an excellent medicine for asthmatics.

Garlic: A food, herb, medicinal plant and a beauty accessory since time immemorial, garlic owes its medicinal values to a volatile oil called allyl sulphade, that has a marvelous therapeutic value. The garlic pod is peeled and boiled in 120 ml of pure malt vinegar. This mixture is strained and mixed with equal amounts of honey and then preserved. A teaspoon of this mixture taken every day helps to reduce the severity of the attacks.

Ginger: A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction acts as an expectorant in asthma.

Spinach: This green vegetable is a rich source of essential amino acids, iron, vitamin A and folic acid. Infusion of fresh leaves prepared with fenugreek seeds and mixed with a pinch of ammonium chloride acts as an effective expectorant for treatment of asthma. It soothes the bronchioles and forms healthy tissue in the lungs, thereby increasing resistance against respiratory infections.

Safflower seeds: These are beneficial in the treatment of bronchial asthma. Taking half a teaspoon of the seed powder along with a tablespoon of honey acts as an expectorant and reduces the spasms by liquefying the tenacious sputum.

Honey: This sweetner is rich in ethereal oil and alcohol that is beneficial in asthma. Inhaling the air that comes in contact with honey brings relief and the patient is able to breathe deeper and easier.

Thus by consuming a diet rich in these foods, you can easily control your asthmatic condition.

Your Diet and Dental Health

Remember how often as a kid your mom used to restrict the number of chocolates or sweets you ate saying that they were bad for the teeth. Thanks to her you probably have a perfect set of pearly whites. It's true that your dental health is related to what you eat. In fact bad food is the main culprit for poor dental health.

Diet and tooth development

The development of oral cavity and teeth formation depends on adequate nutrients. Vitamins A, C and D and minerals such as fluoride and calcium play a very important role in the development of hard and soft tissues of the mouth during the early development as well as throughout life. Studies have shown that even a single incidence of malnutrition in the first phase of life, can severely affect the oral cavity development and also cause increased incidence of caries in the later phase of life.

Diet and dental decay

Dental decay or caries is the most infectious disease of the oral cavity and many fall prey to this. Caries is a result of nutritional deficiencies as well as a result of microorganisms such as bacteria, general hygiene and family history.

The tooth surface is covered with bacterial coating known as plaque. Dental caries results when acid producing bacteria dominate in this coating. When you eat food, there are fermentable carbohydrates in the food that can be metabolized by these bacteria and converted to lactic acid. The already acidic plaque gets more acidic, causing dental caries, leading to loss of tooth and further bacterial invasion.

Dietary considerations

Good dietary intake is the key to healthy teeth. However, prevention of caries is also dependant on the body's needs being met with certain minerals such as fluoride in adequate amounts. A balanced diet is unable to provide fluoride, so you have to take care that the water levels of fluoride are adequate. Or else go in for toothpastes and mouth rinses that have extra fluoride in them.

Caries is caused by your food intake: what you eat, how much you eat, how much time you devote to eating and the fermentable carbohydrate in your diet. Carbohydrates are classified as cariogenic foods, i.e. foods that dissolve slowly and remain in the mouth for a longer time, whereas fats and proteins are noncariogenic. Since all carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, they can result in caries due to bacterial action.

Foods such as cheese are considered as caries protective foods since they internally provide protection due to its components and also increase the flow of saliva, which prevents the formation of plaques. This stands true for all dairy products. In fact milk is a rich source of calcium, which is a necessary mineral for healthy teeth. High fat and protein foods such as meats and nuts are also protective since fat results in less stickiness of food in the mouth and hence less fermentation by bacteria.

Tips for healthy teeth

Avoid frequent snacking since snacks are basically carbohydrate based and hence increase the risk for caries. Thus carbohydrate foods should be taken in combination with fat and protein, as it reduces its exposure with teeth and hence less decay.

Avoid sticky foods such as chocolate and toffees since they remain in the mouth for a longer time and hence are available to the bacteria.

Restrict the intake of soft drinks. Being acidic in nature, they have the capacity to destroy the tooth enamel.

Frequent brushing of teeth with fluoridated toothpaste can help to reduce the contact of fermentable sugar with teeth.

Thus proper hygiene and good dietary habits can help in fighting the life long problem of tooth decay.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Vegetarianism is Healthy

If you are a vegetarian, you have company. In fact, lots of it. Currently, even in America the land of meat and ham, more than 12.4 million individuals are vegetarians by choice. Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw and Albert Einstein were all veggies. So you are in hallowed company too. Vegetarianism, or the practice of excluding one or more type of animal products from your diet, is more than just a food habit – it’s a lifestyle that is here to stay.

Do you know why more and more people are embracing vegetarianism? Because it permits you to lead a healthier, disease-free lifestyle. Check out these amazing health benefits of vegetarianism:
  • Veggies have lower mortality rates because they are less prone to certain cancers and heart diseases.
  • Vegetarians have less chances of getting colon cancer.
  • Vegetarianism is a natural substitute for anti-impotency drugs. In most cases of impotency, blocked arteries are to blame. Reducing or eliminating meat could help with this problem.
  • Veggies have lower rates of coronary artery disease, hypertension and non-insulin dependent diabetes than non-vegetarians.
  • They also have fewer kidney and gall stones.
  • Recent research has shown that plant food diets or veggie diets are the best way of controlling diabetes

Did you know that vegetarians are of four kinds? Puzzled, then read on:

A vegan is someone who does not eat any animal flesh or products, meaning no milk or eggs either.
An ovo vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat any animal flesh, does eat eggs but not dairy products.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products but abstain from animal flesh. And lastly, there are Lacto vegetarians who eat dairy products but avoid animal products and eggs.

A standard Indian balanced diet for a sedentary worker is a lacto vegetarian diet, where the nutrient composition of the diet fully meets with the recommended dietary allowance. An Indian vegetarian diet generally includes milk, legumes and pulses, nuts, vegetable oils, vegetables, fruits. And if you thought that vegetarians were lacking in any nutrient, you were wrong. A vegetarian diet is complete and able to meet all the nutritional requirements of your body more satisfactorily than a non-vegetarian diet.

People choose to be vegetarians for different reasons. It could be for ethical reasons, health benefits, religious reasons or simply a matter of food habits and preferences. Whatever be the reason, a vegetarian diet is a good safeguard against chronic diseases and definitely healthy, hip and happening.