My Healthy Baking Secrets Revealed!

desStory at-a-glance 

With a few healthy ingredient substitutions, you can prepare delicious, nutritious, guilt-free baked goods in your own kitchen

Five top baking secrets are revealed—and they include butter and chocolate

If you’re like many, Continue reading

Surprising Finding: Gut Microbes Make Dark Chocolate Healthy

darkDark chocolate, especially raw cacao powder, has pronounced health benefits, provided you eat it in moderation

Bacteria in your gut break down and ferment the components in dark chocolate and cacao, turning them into absorbable anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit your health  Continue reading

Can Food Affect Your Mood?

moodStory at-a-glance

Individual food choices may make a difference in how you feel mentally and emotionally from day to day

Mood-boosting foods include dark chocolate, purple berries, Continue reading

Value of Zinc and Chromium

chroKeeping your blood sugar under control is no picnic — in fact, if you’ve been dealing with type 2 diabetes, I’m guessing your favorite picnic foods have been off the menu for some time.

The fact is, diabetes is more than a mealtime nuisance. It’s a deadly wrecking ball that unleashes oxidative stress on your heart and Continue reading

Heal Your Body One Sweet Bite at a Time with Cacao

Once used by ancient civilizations as offerings to their gods, cacao has a long and colorful history. Cacao beans – which are actually the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree – are native to South America and the West Indies.

The raw beans have been used in beverages and foods for more Continue reading

The Four Foods You Must Avoid if you’re Stressed

One of the more popular ways we cope with stress is to reach for a snack. Sugary or salty treats like chocolate and chips are regular fixtures of “stress eating.” The truth is, most of the things we reach for when we’re feeling stressed actually exacerbate the problem.

When you’re feeling stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisone, Continue reading

Do You Know About the “Love Hormone?”

If the table’s all set for your Valentine’s Day dinner, then you’ve prescribed yourself one of the best treatments to help reduce your stress and even improve your physical health: love.

Oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” is a neuropeptide that is released by the pituitary gland. Continue reading

The Foods That Can Fight Aging

Aging populations have spent lifetimes searching for the fountain of youth. Unfortunately, no such fountain seems to exist. There are, however, droplets of youth. By combining enough of these droplets together, you may not find the fountain you’ve been seeking, but you can still refresh yourself with a splash of youthful vigor. Continue reading

Omega-3 fatty Acids Dramatically Increase Female Libido

Women taking fish oil are sometimes pleased – or alarmed – to discover a common side effect: becoming spontaneously orgasmic. On higher-than-normal doses, women often see increased libido and enjoy faster, stronger and more plentiful orgasms. As outlined in The Orgasmic Diet, this and several other dietary factors contribute to adding explosive heat to the bedroom, but men beware: following this regimen will likely only lead to premature ejaculation. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate As Good As Blood Pressure-Lowering Drugs

Taking a major step into the limelight over the past decade has been dark chocolate. Eating a small piece of it each day, high in cocoa, is very good for you. And it’s best for your heart.

That is the reason why candy-bar shelves in supermarkets have changed recently. Alongside the well-known brands sit rectangular bars featuring a high percentage of cocoa. The package makes no mistake that it is dark chocolate.

A brand-new study is worthy of note. Continue reading

Fight HPV Infections with This

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is in the health news a lot these days — and for good reason. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection today. As a virus, HPV is also incredibly versatile, with over 100 different strains.

Of course, not all the variations of HPV infection are dangerous; some are fought off by your immune system before any harm is done. Other forms of the virus, on the other hand, could lead to cancers in the reproductive organs of both men and women, or the throat. As much as 75% of sexually active people are likely to get at least one genital HPV infection in their lifetime.

In particular, HPV can cause health problems for women. The development of cervical cancer is thought to be directly linked to the presence of HPV. Of course, it’s true that other factors are involved in the onset of cervical cancer — HPV likely doesn’t act completely on its own. Researchers point to oxidative stress as a promoting factor in the development of HPV-induced cervical tumors.

Now, guess Continue reading

Health Benefits of Chocolate

Why is Dark Chocolate Healthy?:

Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

Dark chocolate is good for your heart. A small bar of it everyday can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. Two heart health benefits of dark chocolate are:

  • Lower Blood Pressure: Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
  • Lower Cholesterol: Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.

Other Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

Chocolate also holds benefits apart from protecting your heart:

  • it tastes good
  • it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure
  • it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant
  • it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants

Doesn’t Chocolate Have a lot of Fat?:

Here is some more good news — some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:

  • Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
  • Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
  • Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you.

Chocolate Tip 1 – Balance the Calories:

This information doesn’t mean that you should eat a pound of chocolate a day. Chocolate is still a high-calorie, high-fat food. Most of the studies done used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits.

One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories. If you eat half a bar of chocolate a day, you must balance those 200 calories by eating less of something else. Cut out other sweets or snacks and replace them with chocolate to keep your total calories the same.

Chocolate Tip 2 – Taste the Chocolate:

Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. To really enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Professional chocolate tasters have developed a system for tasting chocolate that include assessing the appearance, smell, feel and taste of each piece.

Chocolate Tip 3 – Go for Dark Chocolate:

Dark chocolate has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. These other two chocolates cannot make any health claims. Dark chocolate has 65 percent or higher cocoa content.

Chocolate Tip 4 – Skip the Nougat:

You should look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate.

Chocolate Tip 5 – Avoid Milk:

It may taste good but some research shows that washing your chocolate down with a glass of milk could prevent the antioxidants being absorbed or used by your body.

 

Your Weird Body Explained

You’re at your office’s end-of-year bash, wearing silly hats and slugging cocktails containing umbrellas, fresh fruit and rum – you get the picture. The boss gets up to Say A Few Words and drops a line about “streamlining operations next year,” and there it is – the gut feeling.

A little tingle somewhere between your navel, your spine and your memory of all the Dilbert cartoons you’ve ever read tells you there’ll be some retrenchments in January.

How weird is that? And what about the other strange things your body does? We’re not talking about sudden urges to ask Lucy in accounts to a Salif Keita concert, or the need to advise the TV on the finer points of Springbok rugby.

What about all the involuntary, visceral rumblings, gurglings, spasms and jerks? Here’s a quick tour of your body and five strange sensations, explaining why it’s strange, but still pretty wonderful.

Why love makes you head for the fridge
Three hours in the sack and you manage to avoid the most cardinal of all male sins – rolling over and going to sleep – because despite Steenberg Hotel’s famous lamb shank, a generous and colourful order of veggies you’re starving.

So, into your shorts and downstairs for a little something, as Pooh Bear says – in this case, some cheese and a banana, plus half a litre of milk from the carton. Back upstairs, feeling rejuvenated and well, recharged.

First thing the next morning, feeling a little sore, but oddly pleased with yourself, and while making a restorative cup of tea for you and her upstairs, you’re back into the fridge, cramming in a slice of pecan nut pie, a slice of cold roast beef and another slab of cheese. Why all this? Well, to quote Lou Reed, love is chemical.

The exertion that so rightly accompanies lovemaking requires your muscle to work, and they burn energy by oxidising blood sugar. Afterwards, your blood sugar is low, making you feel hungry. Simple. Go easy on the saturated fats, Romeo.

Why you get gut feelings
Your boss may look like a worn-out Bryan Ferry, but his throw-away remark about streamlining gives you a funny feeling in your tummy, and that feeling’s never, ever wrong. It’s a primitive fight-or-flight response.

Just like Clint Eastwood’s jaw clenching and unclenching in the classic Hollywood “slow burn” as Bruce Dern walks into the saloon, your brain sends a message down a secure phone line to a veritable Pentium IV network of nerve cells in your belly called the enteric nervous system.

When you’re nervous or even aroused, your belly can produce sounds that would make a plumber reach for his calculator. The enteric nervous system is telling your digestive system to clear the decks for action, be it amorous, combative or simply asking young Lucy out.

Why you yawn when you exercise
You probably noticed this, especially when you were last unfit – oh, ten years ago. Your workout’s under way when suddenly you start yawning like you’re sitting through Police Academy reruns. It’s a shortage of oxygen resulting from being a couch potato. It’s the same thing that makes you sigh deeply occasionally (that and Kerry MacGregor).

Why your limbs “go to sleep”
You always thought this was because your girlfriend’s head on your arms shut off the blood supply to the lower limb. Wrong. It’s something called referred sensation and it happens when a nerve is compressed, then bounces back into the right shape.

Your brain goes “Ah, incoming mail,” and by the time it realises it’s just neurological spam, the tingling passes and you wonder what all the fuss was about. Either that, or you admit defeat and fetch you girlfriend a pillow.

Why you hear mosquitoes inside your head
It’s called tinnitus, a basket term for a number of conditions that produce a number of noises, mostly of the high-pitched, Isobel-Jones-infotainment sort, but also some clicking, pounding ones, like crickets playing castanets.

It’s most likely because you have nerve endings in the ear that have been frazzled by too much Massive Attack and are sending gibbering pleas for mercy to your brain, which your brain interprets as external sounds. When you hear the whine, look around for mozzies, infotainment or alien motherships.

If you see none of the above, resolve to give your ears a little time out from your new stereo.

Home Remedies Series – Diarrhea

Diarrhea treatment using Buttermilk

Buttermilk is one of the most effective home remedies in the treatment of Diarrhea. Buttermilk is the residual milk left after the fat has been removed from curd by churning. It helps overcome harmful intestinal flora. The acid in the buttermilk also fights germs and bacteria. Buttermilk may be taken with a pinch of salt three or four times a day for controlling this disease.

Diarrhea treatment using Carrot Soup

Carrot soup is another effective home remedy for Diarrhea. It supplies water to combat dehydration; replenishes sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, and magnesium; supplies pectin; and coats the intestine to allay inflammation. It also checks the growth of harmful intestinal bacteria and prevents vomiting. Half a kilogram of carrots may be cooked in 150 ml of water until they become soft. The pulp should be strained and enough boiled water added to it to make a litre. Three-quarters of a tablespoon of salt may be added. This soup should be given in small amounts to the patient every half an hour.

Diarrhea treatment using Fenugreek

Fenugreek leaves are useful in Diarrhea. One teaspoon of seeds which have been boiled and fried in butter should be taken with a cup of buttermilk twice daily. They are valuable in allaying biliousness. The seeds are also beneficial in the treatment of this disease.

Diarrhea treatment using Ginger

In case of Diarrhea caused by indigestion, dry or fresh ginger is very useful. A piece of dry ginger should be powdered along with a crystal of rock salt, and quarter of a teaspoon of this powder should be taken with a small piece of jaggery. It will bring quick relief as ginger, being carminative, aids digestion by stimulating the gastrointestinal tract.

Diarrhea treatment using Mint

Mint juice is also beneficial in the treatment of Diarrhea. One teaspoon of fresh mint juice, mixed with a teaspoon each of lime juice and honey, can be given thrice daily with excellent results in the treatment of this disease.

Diarrhea treatment using Bottle Gourd

The juice of bottle gourd is a valuable medicine for excessive thirst due to severe Diarrhea. A glass of plain juice with a pinch of salt should be taken every day in treating this condition.

Diarrhea treatment using Drumstick Leaves

The juice of fresh leaves of drumstick is also valuable in Diarrhea. A teaspoon of this juice, mixed with a teaspoon of honey and a glass of tender coconut water, can be given two to three times as a herbal medicine in the treatment of Diarrhea.

Diarrhea treatment using Pomegranate

The pomegranate has proved beneficial in the treatment of Diarrhea on account of its astringent properties. If the patient develops weakness due to profuse and continuous purging, he should repeatedly be given about 50 ml of pomegranate juice to drink. This will control the Diarrhea.

Diarrhea treatment using Mango Seeds

Mango seeds are valuable in Diarrhea. The seeds should be collected during the mango season, dried in the shade and powdered, and kept stored for use as a medicine when required. A dose of about one and a half to two grams with or without honey, should be administered twice daily.

Diarrhea treatment using Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are helpful in the treatment of this condition. Two tablespoons of the seeds should be lightly roasted in a frying pan. They should then be ground into a fine powder and mixed with one tablespoon of cow’s clarified butter. The mass should be divided into three parts and each part should be taken with half a cup of boiled goat’s milk thrice daily for six days by the patients. It acts as an excellent medicine in this condition.

Diarrhea treatment using Turmeric

Turmeric has proved to be another valuable home remedy for Diarrhea. It is a very useful intestinal antiseptic. It is also a gastric stimulant and tonic. One teaspoon of fresh turmeric rhizome juice or one teaspoon of dry rhizome powder may be taken in one cup of buttermilk or plain water.

Diarrhea treatment using Rice

Rice is useful in treating Diarrhea in children. A teaspoon of powder of charred parboiled rice, mixed with a glass of buttermilk, should be given in does of thirty grams every half an hour. This will bring excellent results.

Diarrhea treatment using Other Remedies

Cooked or baked apples are good for Diarrhea. The cooking process softens the cellulose. Much of its value as a regulating material is thus lost and it is effective in looseness of the bowels.

A glass of fresh tomato juice, mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper, taken in the morning, also proves beneficial.

Other starchy liquids such as arrowroot water, barley water, and coconut water are also useful in the treatment of Diarrhea. They not only replace the fluid lost but also bind the stools.

Other home remedies include bananas and garlic. Bananas contain pectin and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria. Garlic is a powerful, effective, and harmless germ killer. It aids digestion and removes intestinal worms.

Diets for Diarrhea

Observe complete fast for two days, take only hot water

In severe cases of Diarrhea, it is advisable to observe a complete fast for two days to provide rest to the gastrointestinal tract. Only hot water may be taken during this period to compensate for the loss of fluids.

Have juices, cooked vegetables, whole rice

Juices of fruits may be taken after the acute symptoms are over. After the condition improves, meals can be enlarged gradually to include cooked vegetables, whole rice, and soured milk. Raw foods should be taken only after the patient completely recovers.

 

Don’t Let Back Pain Get You Down

BEVERLY HILLS – Learn How to Minimize Your Risk Before you reach for that snow shovel this winter, think first about protecting your back.  When you do battle with Old Man Winter, or tackle any other kind of heavy lifting at home or on the job, do everything you can to reduce the chance of injury.

About 80% of the population develops back problems at some time in their lives.  Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move.  It can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy, or it can get worse slowly.  Discs that sit between the vertebrae of the spine can rupture or break down.  Muscles can strain or tear.

A wide variety of factors can increase your risk of back problems: getting older; being out of shape or overweight; having a job that requires lifting, pushing or pulling while twisting your spine; having poor posture; smoking; and having a disease or condition that causes back pain.  Race can also be a risk factor.  For example, African American women are 2-3 times more likely than white women to have part of the lower spine slip out of place.

You can help prevent back pain by standing up straight and minimizing the amount of heavy lifting you do.  When the snow drifts beckon, or you must lift something else that’s heavy, bend your legs and keep your back straight.

Exercising and keeping your back muscles strong are among the best ways to minimize your risk of back pain.  Maintain a healthy weight or shed some pounds if you weigh too much.  And maintain strong bones by making sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day.

If you do experience back pain, treatment depends on what kind of pain it is.  Acute pain, which starts quickly and lasts less than 6 weeks, usually gets better without any treatment.  Pain relievers can help ease the pain until it goes away.

Chronic pain, which lasts for more than 3 months, is much less common.  Hot or cold packs may bring temporary relief but don’t fix the cause.  Behavioral changes, such as learning to lift properly and exercising more, can help in the long term, as can getting more sleep, improving your diet and quitting smoking.

Your doctor might recommend medications or suggest you try complementary and alternative medical treatments, such as manipulation of the spine, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (mild electrical pulses), acupuncture (thin needles used for pain relief) and acupressure (pressure applied to certain places in the body).

Most people with back pain don’t need surgery, even if the pain is chronic.  Surgery is reserved for situations in which other treatments don’t work.

Back pain can also be a sign of many other medical conditions, including arthritis, pregnancy, kidney stones, infections, tumors and stress.  That’s why it’s a good idea to see a doctor if your pain is particularly bad or lasts for more than a few days.