Top 5 Proven Health Benefits of Probiotics

The Probiotic Foods are prepared by live Bacteria and Yeasts good for our digestion.

The term Probiotics conceived from both Latin and Greek word.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food- Hippocrates.

This quote is not a cliché anymore, despite advances in food and pharma technology for better health prospects. According to experts eating food close to nature is beneficial for optimal health.

New studies in nutrition for healthy eating have turned the table towards natural foods. The popularization of traditional foods is gaining momentum these days.

Among these, fermentation is an ancient, traditional and well-established process of food preparation.

Fermentation or Lacto-fermentation is a chemical reaction of food. It is a technique of food preservation. The process involves a breakdown of sugar and starch in food by natural bacteria that produce lactic acid. Thereby promotes a healthy gut.

Since ancient times, domestic as well as industries employ the practice of fermentation extensively. Due to its ability to transform one ingredient in too many forms.

For instance, milk into cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and soybean into miso, soy sauce, akhuni, and fermented soy beverage. Fermented food promotes good bacteria inside our gut which are now termed as probiotics.

Production and consumption of probiotics have seen unprecedented growth around the globe. It is also on the verge of innovative dynamics to not fall for any dietary rut.

History of Probiotics you should Know:

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Probiotics are often termed as functional foods, and the best way to avail this is through beneficial fermentation by good bacteria.

There are two ways to provide your gut with healthy probiotics.

  1. Through fermented foods and
  2. Through dietary supplements.

But here fermented foods have a little edge over supplements because fermented foods are easy to prepare and home-made.

Probiotic supplements are readily available in the market but, there are no guidelines set by FDA as it does for medicines.

All about Fermentation:

The oldest method of fermentation contains strains of good bacteria mainly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species proven for its therapeutic potential.

As functional foods probiotics are live microbial food supplement that improves intestinal gut microbiome hence improve digestion.

Understanding Microbiome:

A microbiota is a genetic material of the microbes. There are around trillions of microbes that inhabit on and inside a human body.

A microbiota comprises thousand of different types of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Research shows that microbiome boosts metabolism, enhances immunity, improves digestion and balances hormones.

The Microbiome and its presence:

A large portion of microbes resides in the gut or the gastrointestinal tract that balances microbial communities.

You get first exposed to the microbiome before birth in the birth canal that influences their gut microbiome on birth.

The microbiota community is responsible for gut health, immunity, heart health, good digestion and production of key metabolites that regulates human metabolism.

They form the most common genera in human colon and are considered key commensals in promoting host health by providing wide range of probiotic attributes and a host of other functional attributes.

Microbiome and its Functions:

The gut microbes or microbiota is involved in the production of enzymes that cannot be encoded by the human genome. Such as breakdown of polyphenols, cleavage of polysaccharides and synthesis of vitamins.

The Microbiota alters Metabolic Pathways of Dietary Intake as follows:

For Carbohydrates:

1. Short chain fatty acid (SCFA) is a metabolite formed during carbohydrate metabolism. It includes acetic, butyric and propionic acids obtained via fecal specimens. These metabolites are responsible for regulating metabolism.

For Protein:

Gut flora breaks down ingested dietary protein into short peptides, amino acids, short chain fatty acid. Also, gases like ammonia, hydrogen, carbon dioxide. Effective in the metabolism of essential and non-essential amino acids in humans.

For Vitamin Synthesis:

Gut microbes synthesize vitamin B, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, folate, thiamine, nicotinic acid, riboflavin and cyanocobalamine (vitamin B12).

  • 5 Health Benefits of Probiotics: Based on Research Studies

  1. Probiotics and Weight Loss:

    Probiotics aid in weight loss as they improve the barrier function of the gut mucosa. Studies show LAB (Lactic Acid Bacteria) and bifidobacteria with structural components and metabolites produced by microbial activity stimulate epithelial cells signaling pathways.
    Good bacteria strains in probiotics interact with bacteria that reside inside the gut. They alter their properties to affect the metabolic pathway involved in the regulation of fat metabolism.

  2. Probiotics and Digestion: 

    Lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt improves digestion and immune function.
    Bifidobacterium longum blocks bad bacteria and yeast in the gut. Improves diarrhea caused due to infections and antibiotics.
    If you don’t like fermented foods you still can reap the health benefits of probiotics in supplements with doctor consultation. Look for live and active cultures with a range of 90 billion to 500 billion CFU (colony forming units) per serving.

  3. Probiotics and Cardiovascular Health: 

    L.acidophilus in yogurt increase HDL levels (good cholesterol) and decrease HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio. L. plantarum in supplements decreases serum LDL cholesterol levels. Trimethylamine (TMA) a gut metabolite is formed inside the gut when microbes feed on a chemical known as choline. Choline is a chemical nutrient found in foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, eggs. Also present in small amount in the food of plant origin like chickpeas, split peas, cruciferous vegetables including spinach and asparagus). A study conducted by the American Heart Association proved that TMA gets converted to trimethylamine -N-oxide in the liver responsible for plaque formation in arteries. In the findings, high TMAO levels linked to about 60 % risk of cardiac disease.

  4. Probiotics and Blood Pressure: 

    Formation of short-chain fatty acids in the gut play a crucial role in lowering blood pressure numbers. By dilation and constriction of blood vessels, in a study conducted in mice.

  5. Probiotics and Cognitive Function:

    Studies show that probiotics improve mood and thus boost cognitive function. A recent focus on the gut-brain axis shows brain and gut are connected. The gut is now termed ‘second brain’ as it generates neurotransmitters like the brain does, for instance, dopamine and serotonin.

During situations of fear and flight, the brain sends a signal to the gut. That is why during the condition of fear and stress you feel a nervous stomach.

7 Ways to Lose Weight with Hormones in Harmony

The prominent question is how you gain weight again and again and how to reverse it. The belief that excessive eating and too little physical activity leads to weight gain and obesity is a myth now.

There is another cliché as we age it is likely to put on few kilos and have less energy.

You can reverse weight gain condition with clinically proven ways by fixing the hormonal imbalance.
Some triggers such as stress, environmental toxins, poor gut health, and aging lead to hormonal imbalance and weight gain issues.

Hormones regulate the biochemical processes in the body. Therefore, for its proper functioning, you need to bring your hormones in harmony to lose weight.

What are hormones: Hormones are chemical messengers produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of specific cells or organs. Hormones perform an everyday activity like digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction and regulate mood.

Follow the Remedies to Lose Weight with Hormones in Harmony

1. Cortisol Hormone:

Cortisol hormone is secreted by ACTH hormone produced and released by the adrenal gland in response to stress and low blood sugar levels known as F3 hormone (fear, fight, flight) or stress hormone.

Triggers: chronic stress, disrupted sleeping pattern, anxiety, low blood sugar levels
Effect: increase fat stores in the body and leads to a poor choice of food.
Note: stress hormones block estrogen

Include following simple tips to reset hormones to lose weight :

(1) Take up exercise as it releases brain chemicals (brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF) that improve mood.
(2) Basil leaves works as an adaptogen and stabilizes cortisol levels.
(3) Avoid excessive processed food and caffeine.
(4) Indulge in mindful eating practices, meditate to calm and socialize.

2. Thyroid Hormone:

Thyroid hormone is a combination of iodine and tyrosine (amino acid) in the thyroid gland. Two hormones secreted by thyroid gland firstly, T3 (triiodothyronine). Secondly,  T4 (thyroxine) to regulate oxygen and energy use by cells, glands, organs, and tissues.
The thyroid works with the pituitary gland in a feedback loop to regulate levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Its function is to stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormone.

 With the release of T3, T4, TSH, and calcitonin hormone thyroid gland maintain body metabolism.

Low TSH levels disrupt normal thyroid hormone function. High level of TSH makes thyroid hormone underactive.

As a result, produce less hormone that arises a condition of hypothyroidism leading to weight gain.

Triggers: stress, unhealthy food choices, gluten intolerance

Follow right nutrition for thyroid function to balance hormones to lose weight:

(1) Avail vitamin D enriched foods and supplements such as cod liver oil, milk, egg, oily fish and pumpkin seed to release pituitary gland that produces hormones.

Get the sunshine hormone/vitamin: a few minutes of sun exposure as a daily dose to sustain your hormones.
Vitamin D benefits: relieves symptoms associated with estrogen, weight, and appetite.
Note: vitamin D deficiency causes an abnormal release of the pituitary hormone.
(2) Coconut oil, a medium chain triglyceride boost metabolism that is good for heart disease.

(3) Include fiber in your diet: eat whole-grain foods such as fruits and vegetables for ample an amount of fiber in your diet.

3. Insulin:

Insulin stabilizes blood glucose levels in the body. But in the case of insulin resistance liver don’t take up glucose.

As a result, extra glucose wanders in the bloodstream that leads to a spike in blood sugar levels, weight gain, and diabetes.
Take right nutrition for your Insulin:

(1) Eat food rich in omega-3 fatty acid due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties produces and balances hormones. It also helps to lose weight.
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseed, chia seeds, walnut, tofu, olive oil. Omega 3 fatty acid supplement (500mg/dl).
(2) Fenugreek seeds: the presence of phytoestrogen ‘diosgenin’ in fenugreek seeds improve glucose metabolism, provide a therapeutic effect in diabetes and associated obesity.

4. Leptin or satiety hormone:

Leptin keeps hunger off and maintains healthy weight and energy in the body.
An increase in leptin levels could not give a signal to the brain hence it demands more food that gets deposited as fat in the liver and other parts of the body.

How to fix it with the right nutrition:

(1) Control portion size.
(2) Avoid sugary and processed foods.

5. Ghrelin or hunger hormone:

Ghrelin hormone is secreted by the stomach in antagonist to leptin hormone to optimize its functioning.
How to fix it with the right nutrition:

(1) Stay hydrated: drink water 30 minutes before and after the food. Dehydration can cause headaches and loss of concentration. Drinking water regulates body temperature.
(2) Eat protein rich food such as eggs, nuts, greek yogurt, quinoa, lentils, brussels sprouts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.

Note: According to an article published in Society for Endocrinology, high protein diet helps to lose weight. Phenylalanine, an end-product of digested protein triggers a hormone GLP-1 that makes us feel less hungry in contrast to ghrelin, a hormone that triggers a feeling of hunger.

6. Testosterone:

Although testosterone is more prominent in males but also present in females as well. This hormone strengthens bones and muscles and burns extra calories.
Study proves that muscle mass decreases 3-8% per decade with increasing age. Due to significantly low levels of testosterone, a decrease in bone mass density and loss of muscle mass occurs. With less muscle mass, one is unable to burn calories that lead to weight gain.

Our metabolic rates can’t change because genes determine our metabolic rate by increasing lean muscle mass. It burns more calories per hour than fat.
Triggers: Aging and Stress

How to fix it with the right nutrition:

(1) Eat protein-rich foods and magnesium-rich foods such as nuts and grains or supplements, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds.
(2) Go for strength training, gardening, take stairs to the office.

7. Estrogen:

Estrogen is primarily present in females but, its over-production can cause thyroid dysfunction, weight fluctuation, water retention, bloating and obesity.
How to fix it with the right nutrition:

(1) Avoid processed foods and alcohol.
(2) Eat organic foods and try to add more of flaxseed and fenugreek seed to your meal.

A balance in hormone levels is an effective way to lose weight.

Related post: 7 Powerful Behavioral Hacks to Inspire you for Healthy Weight Loss

Nutrition Facts Label you should Know about Added Sugar in Foods

Why Sugar matters?

Sugars are basically soluble carbohydrates that provide energy to the body.  In other words, the simplest form of sugar is glucose that is used up by the brain, muscles and other major organs for their proper function.

But, how much sugar a person needs throughout the day and through what sources are a major concern.
Above all sugars are natural ingredient that forms the major part of our diet since ancient times.

Therefore, added sugar in foods is now required on the updated nutrition facts label. It will focus on added sugars included during processing of foods or sugars from honey, concentrated fruit juices.

To clarify it includes < 10% of total daily calories from added sugars.

Types of Sugar:

1. Fructose or fruit sugar
2. Glucose or dextrose
3. Sucrose or table sugar

The problem is added sugar in foods because it readily digested and absorbed in the body and lead to lows and highs in blood sugar levels. Whereas, the natural sugar in fruits has fiber that facilitates slow absorption.

Sugar is added while processing to enhance taste, flavor and to increase palatability and shelf-life to some extent. But, added sugar increases the risk of weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.

Nutrition facts food labels with Sugar guises are as follows:

1. Maltose
2. Sucrose
3. Glucose
4. Molasse
5. Corn syrup
6. Maple syrup
7. Brown sugar
8. Cane-sugar
9. Honey
10.Fruit juices concentrate

Look if Sugar Tricks you:

Not only sweet food products like candy, jams, biscuits, fruit juices but non-sweet foods also contain added sugars such as ready to eat breakfast cereals, bread, sodas, and noodles.

Sugar tricks your Brain to eat more:

Scientists investigated that the dopamine, a neurotransmitter in our brain activates reward system linked to positive emotions and desires.

Since our childhood eating sugar-sweetened foods is based on emotional need rather nutritional need. Chocolate, cakes and cookies were used as a gratification food when you win or lose by our parents and friends.

On the contrary, the dopamine reward system is associated with addictions, in which people develop an urge to uncontrollable and pleasurable behaviors such as taking drugs, binge eating etc.

Sugar has been reported as an addictive food similar to cocaine intake.

At present added sugar is present in almost every processed and packaged food by the marketers to attract more customers to buy more. Hence when you eat chips, cookies or pastries you end up eating whole portion of them as it gives you a jolt of energy and feel good emotions.

But, after half an hour of eating such foods sugar crash starts that leads to a cycle of cravings.

Overconsumption of sugar leads to neurological symptoms like depression, anxiety and slows down learning ability in the long run.

Also Read: To Quit Sugar and Salt Apply Health Behavior Modification

Till now, nutrition facts food label focus on the total amount of sugar per serving mentioned by the manufacturers but does not differentiate between added sugar and natural sugar. There is a need to classify added sugars and if any fermented foods (fermentation process requires the addition of sugar).

However, FDA (U.S Food & Drug Administration)approved a new nutrition facts label for packaged foods in 2016 to make consumers aware of a connection between diet and chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart diseases.

Now consumers can make more informed food choices. The new version of nutrition fact labels will be fully implemented by 2020.

CaloriesIt is the total number of calories or ‘energy’ obtained from all the sources (carbohydrates, protein, fat) in one serving of the food.

Daily Values– It is the reference amount of nutrients to be consumed that should not exceed each day (for children >=4 years and adults).

% Daily value– It determines how much is a nutrient in a serving of the food that contributes to total daily diet.

New established FDA dietary reference values (DRV) for added sugars (10% of total calories) are as follows:

For children (4-18 years and adults)- 50 g
For children (1-3 years) – 25 g

Note:

*No DV (Daily values) set for infants through 12 months and pregnant or lactating women.
*If added sugar < 1g in a serving then no mention of added sugar is required.

What consumers can decipher about ‘Added Sugars’ in new nutrition facts label:

1. ‘Dual column‘ labels to indicate both ‘per serving’ and ‘per package’ calories for food products that can be consumed in one sitting and multiple sitting.

2. Look for the ingredients that are listed by weight in descending order, it means the ingredients that weighs more are listed above and so on in decreasing order.

3. New footnote of %DV to better explain serving size of food per calories in daily diet.

4. Moreover, larger and bolder fonts for serving size, and calories.

5. An updated version of daily values.

Let’s have a look at the daily intake of food products with added sugar:

According to National diet and Nutrition Survey:

  1. Dairy products: 6% of daily intake of added sugar. Dairy products is one of the major portion of healthy meal but flavored milk, fruit yogurt and ice-cream contain added sugar. Fruit yogurt- 19g/100g, Flavored milk-25g sugar/100g (12g lactose & 13 g added sugar) , ice-cream- 21g sugar/100g.
  2.  2. Non-alcoholic drinks: 25% of daily intake of added sugar. It is typically sweetened with sugar. Such as, Fruit juice- 9g/100ml, Cola- 11g/100ml.
  3. Alcoholic drinks: 11% of daily intake of added sugar. For instance, alcohol is a non-nutrient drink and contain empty calories that is about 7Kcal/g. Tip: Try to cut down quantity of alcohol drink each day, take breaks and stay hydrated. Subsequently, benefits to exclude alcoholic drinks are- improved mood, sleeping pattern, restores heart strength and immunity.
  4.  Snacks whacks- Snacks like biscuits, cakes, cereal based breakfasts and chips is consumed more frequently in breakfast in all age group and available on top shelves of cereals in the market. For instance, biscuits– 10g/100g, ready to eat cereals- (occupy market with no added sugar claim but high in sugar guises like fructose, honey, molases, high fructose corn syrup).

Distribution of Added Sugar in Foods

According to U.S Dietary Guidelines & NHANES (2009-2010) beverages (soft drinks, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages and flavored water except milk) account for 47% of added sugar in the diet. All added sugar in beverages and snacks and sweets (31%) together beverages, snacks (ready to eat meals, chips, fries) and sweets (jam, syrup, pudding etc.), grains (8%), dairy (4%), mixed dishes (6%) account for > 75 % of daily intake of all added sugar.

It’s not that complicated as you think:

There are some tips if you follow, you can overpower manufacturers who make your diet market driven and unhealthy for their profit.
1. Cut down on processed foods and drinks (contain hidden sugars or added sugars)

2. Sweeten your food with fruits, not artificial sweeteners (harmful for long-term use).

3. Cook your food at home more often (outside food mostly contain added sugars).

Related post: 6 health behavioral modifications to go for healthy food 

6 Tips to a Healthy New Year Resolution

Hello Readers,

 New Year Greetings to all. Today, I’ll write in hopes and share my experience of the truth of resolutions. Resolutions we make and/ or break that will nudge you to a healthier lifestyle.

You heard it right ‘the resolutions’, for me this word comes with a lot of emotional and physical baggage. To keep me motivated to achieve my goals either good health or good wealth.

For almost all of us, New Year comes with a nudge to make resolutions with gusto. Basically, to change habits, practices or clichés as well and is purely a subjective thing.

You try to acquaint yourself with some new skills or new goals to become a healthier version of you with each passing year. Evidently, to keep you motivated. All the commercials, newspapers and health websites show healthy recipes, gym subscriptions and motivational podcasts in an overwhelming amount.

We all get pretty excited to try new healthy diets, exercise regime. But in a couple of weeks or a month, most of us who were eager to start exercise or follow a particular diet fades away. Don’t worry about that because it’s a normal human tendency as experts say.

Mindfulness- In Practice

Psychologists suggest that happiness fades as one tries to achieve the next bigger or better things based on a concept known as hedonic treadmill. For instance, you take up keto diet for weight reduction and with time you see the results. But move on to next task without any acknowledge given to your earlier happiness of losing weight.

It is all because you reach a saturation point of happiness where one thing that made you happier soon comes to feel like the norm.

Giving thought to this, we all are on the same page, aren’t we? How hard we follow health experts’ advice to shed those extra kilos or eat nutritiously healthy food, cut back on sugar and salt and lip-smacking processed foods.

But how many of you have continued to stay on the course of improved health? What can we do to make our convictions transform into a good practice?

I’ll discuss some tips to healthy new year resolution that work best for me and to nudge you in a direction that may work for you as well.

# Nudge 1: Listen to your Body

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everything runs on the principle of energy so does your mind and body inside you. The gamut of positive emotions is the basic energy that drives us to do work. But, to inculcate this source of energy within you your attention has to be in the present.

Psychologists say that brain prioritizes one thing in detail at a time and filters out other processes as our brain runs on limited attention. Primarily, attention is a ‘spotlight’ that amplifies your process of perception at a particular moment.

You will be surprised to know that our brain has around 12 watts of power and with limited energy, it cannot focus on everything around you.

So why not put yourself in spotlight using brains function that is evolved to focus on what counts.

Finding you ikigai every morning develops attention, will power with simplicity and listening to your body is learning minimalism. For a healthier version, you start meditation a pathway to mindfulness.

 # Nudge 2: Find exercise and diet that suits you

It will take some trials of course. It’s not a problem if one exercise type didn’t work well for you because you have a lot of options such as brisk walking, jogging, cardio exercises, and weight training exercises.

Only 150 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended for moderate aerobic exercise and 75-minute vigorous exercise per week according to DHHS ( Department of Health and Human Services). Power yoga and 10 minutes of meditation are my best activities.

But which exercise goes well with your personality and energy level to be taken into account. Similarly, what food suits your physiology is to be considered. For me, plant-based diet, a handful of nuts and meditation have done wonders from improved sleep to creativity.

# Nudge 3: Find your exercise companion for the results

I know exercise can be a heavy task for people like us who are sedentary in lifestyle and to sustain on exercise routine takes an extra effort from ourselves. I used to give up before but what I discovered is that when we get a companion to exercise with can motivate us to continue.

As doing exercise together develops a sense of healthy competition that who can maintain one’s weight till longer time or who can lose weight fast. You can definitely try sacrificing something valuable to you such as a gifted pen, customized watch to give away if don’t reach your goal of maintaining weight and so on.

Also we all become supportive and friendly with each other that keep one on foot to go for exercise as well.

# Nudge 4: Learn the exercise of Gratitude

 A thankful heart is not only a virtue but the parent of all other virtues’’ – Cicero

Positive psychology proves that the exercise of gratitude gives a sense of kindness and happiness to achieve better health goals. It can be achieved in many ways. I journal every alternate day about what I like, what I have achieved and what I have to in the itinerary.

Because to acknowledge others’ good qualities be thankful to yourself first. Write a thank you letter or text a thank you message to your family and your loved ones.

You should also embrace nature as it gives us a sense of connection and satisfaction between the nature and us. Knowing feelings of others and yours enhance social and emotional intelligence.

Repeat positive affirmations in the present tense to rewire your brain. For instance, ‘I control my own feelings’ or ‘I prefer’ etc. Do you believe in affirmations, if yes how and if no, why?

# Nudge 5: Upgrade yourself with new skills

Expert says skill power is the new will power. Along with physical activity your mental activity, should be strengthened. Learning new things enhances the grey matter of the brain. If you enjoy doing something new happy hormones (endorphins) generate in your body and health and happiness are buddies as proved in many types of research.

 Sketching and painting are my stress busters and motivates to upgrade my skills from beginner to advanced levels. You can go for other activities as well like learn driving, learn new languages, photography or playing instruments and so on. It is all subjective to your choices. With new skills of creativity, you can develop an inventive solution to practical problems.

# Nudge 6: Reap happiness in daily activities

For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness- Ralph Waldo Emerson

To enjoy your work you don’t have to change your mindset. All you need to do is just be the ease with it. If you feel exhausted in daily routine take a day off, do breathing exercises (breathe in and breathe out). You can also go for digital detox for a month or so.

Be SMART in your approach to sustain your Healthy New Year Resolution:

  • Specific-observe your thoughts try doing something new.
  • Measurable– set goals that are attainable in the long-term.
  • Assignable– awareness is the key to mindfulness.
  • Realistic- thought bubbles are passing clouds just be at ease with your mind.
  • Time-related– Do not judge your mind and learn the exercise of gratitude to reap happiness with time.

Share your tips to Healthy New Year Resolution and nudges to sustain them.

 

10 Superfoods to Add to your Diet this Winter

Superfoods for your Health

This article focuses on functional foods or ‘Superfoods‘ often a misnomer as touted by the media. Firstly, the functional foods are effective and non-toxic. Secondly, provide clinically proven health benefits for prevention and management or treatment of chronic diseases.

Functional foods or superfoods are the foods in which specific nutrients and food components positively impact target functions or biological responses in the body. In addition, superfoods perform the following functions-
1. Growth and development
2. Defense against oxidative stress
3. Regulate basic metabolic processes etc.

With enhanced health and wellness consciousness among consumers, functional foods can turn the table for you.
For instance, gingerone from ginger, curcumin from turmeric is an arsenal of anti-oxidants. So consequently, protect against biological aging, environmental toxins, and free radicals inducing changes in DNA.

Superfoods list-

1. Ginger

Ginger is the main ingredient in beverages consumed in all seasons but largely in winters. Therefore, prevents nausea, cold and flu due to its therapeutic properties.

Contain anti-coughing and anti-inflammatory properties. A common spice you can find in every kitchen to season your food.

How to include them in the meal– Try ginger in tea, add freshness of ground ginger in your food as a flavor enhancer. Moreover, powdered form is used in making ginger sweets and ginger cakes.
Tip- Use ginger in moderation as its excess may cause diarrhea or heartburn.

2. Turmeric

Curcumin, an active ingredient of turmeric makes it a potent source of anti-inflammatory properties. In short, it has been known since ancient times for its medicinal properties to cure winter blues.
How to include them in the meal- Turmeric is a great flavoring agent, gives vibrant color in your diet and one of the ingredients of natural preservatives.

3. Avocado

Avocado is loaded with monosaturated fatty acid and fiber for heart health. Above all, avocado have more potassium content than a banana. Also, contain tartaric acid compound.
How to include them in the meal- Avocados forms the best party salad to start healthy, also in soup, shakes, and as toppings to your food.

Tip- Experts suggests leaves, seeds, flesh or peel of avocado fights metabolic syndrome.

4. Kiwi

Kiwi is a pack of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium and fiber. In addition, it contain actinidin enzyme that improves digestion of protein-rich foods.
How to include them in the meal- Can be eaten raw, can blend to refreshing squash drink, as topping in a salad, used in the dried form and as supplements.

5. Nuts

Nuts are a great source of plant protein lauded for its health benefits for instance, walnut, almonds, pecans. Loaded with monosaturated fats, an effective way to reduce the risk of heart disease.

How to include them in the meal- They are calorie dense so add a handful of it in oatmeal or yogurt or as trail mix. Nuts are a super accompaniment to salad dressing or snacks.

6. Brussels Sprouts

Rich in antioxidants, vitamin K and fiber, a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acid. Fights inflammation and cancer, and stabilize blood sugar levels.

How to include them in the meal- You can make brussels sprouts tasty and interesting to eat when roasted or glazed in honey

7. Gooseberry

Gooseberry is a profuse source of vitamin C (Ascorbic acid), a powerhouse of antioxidants to get rid of free radicals, detoxify the liver and enhance nutrient absorption.
How to include them in the meal- Gooseberry can be used in a variety such as juice, jam, pickle, can add a dash of dried gooseberry in soups and curries.

8. Lemon

People generally know that lemons contain citric acid or you can say a good source of vitamin C more than the limes. Improves immune health and helps to make collagen and healthy skin and tissues.

How to include them in the meal- Lemon are used in making sorbets, squashes, juices, as lime zest to add flavor to the dishes.

9. Yogurt

Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, contain calcium and promote healthy gut bacteria.
How to include them in the meal- A dollop of yogurt to your salad and dips recipes and star ingredient of parfait recipe. It is a flavor enhancer and promotes good bacteria for your gut health.

10. Oranges

A citrus fruit maintains low blood pressure, high in fiber, low in calories and high in anti-oxdant properties.

How to include them in meal- Oranges can be used as juices, orange flavored ice-cream, orange biscuits, pies, candy, marmalades, sorbets, sauces and salads, orange zest to add flavors to food.

The Takeaway-

Research suggests consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables in a natural state for better cognitive health rather processed (canned, frozen or cooked).

5 Penny-pinching Hacks to Redeem Health Care Goals

5 Penny-pinching Hacks that can Work Best for you to Redeem Health Care Goals

Most of us, as the month ends start muddling through household expenditure budget. It is no surprise that we often surpass daily or monthly expenses. Moreover, health expenditure takes a backseat in comparison to other household expenses.

We are often left thinking of having some more money to cover health incurs. You might have heard people apply ‘foolish penny wise’ perspective in their life approach.

In today’s age of technology and gadgets, penny-pinching approaches can save some few pounds than ever before in the past for one’s health care goals. You can rely on penny-pinching efforts to do the work for you to avail health benefits without cutting you dreams.

1. Avail free health-checkups:

Health services are widely available by profit and non-profit organizations both. You should be aware of free health-checkup options to take advantage to your benefit. Today world-renowned hospitals and  established pathologies offer a range of free health-checkup options on special occasions or during holidays. It could be lipid profile test, ECG to whole body check packages at free of cost or at good discounts rates.

 2. Go for cashback offers:

Most of the online pharmacies and medical stores have cashback offers. When you buy their products ranging from medicines to fitness supplements.

They have a tie-up with different banks and e-wallet companies that offer a different range of discount and cashback offers. Before going the payment gateway. Always check if the offer is valid or not.

 3. App-solute benefits:

Health and fitness related apps or applications for Android phones and smartphones come to your rescue when you are on the go. You can always keep a track of your kilometers of walk or run. In addition, food or water intake on your health app in your mobile or smart watches. To name few such as GoogleFit– A science-based app that helps you track whether you reach the  recommended amount of physical activity for cardiovascular health and relaxed mind.

HF Path TM– A self-management tool for heart patients to manage your health. All in one stop solution for a weight check, spot symptoms, and medications recall. It helps you to connect with other heart patients who face the same challenges as you.

Headspace– Keeps you motivated with daily thoughts based on mindfulness, an approach towards mental and physical health. Learn to meditate with guided meditation sessions on different health-related topics.

MyFitnessPal– keep track on your diet plan to lose weight or to start a new diet with a database of over five million foods.

Instant Heart Rate– Fastest and accurate to keep a track of your heart rate during workouts so do not put pressure on the heart.

 4. Taking on membership benefits:

It is not a wise decision to accept any loyalty cards of every store. Despite the fact, if you happen to visit any store more frequently then it does make sense to take the membership card.

Its benefits range from a discount on anniversaries, birthdays and with reward points that can be redeemed later on. However, to make most of these benefits, analyze membership fees if any and expiry date of the card in advance.

 5. Redeem coupon and compare prices and benefits online:

With so much to offer to their customers, one can get really overwhelmed that which has a better deal which doesn’t. Scrolling through each site can be a tedious job so, there you can rely on price comparison websites.

Such websites display the price feeds from many portals at one place, definitely a one-stop solution to many problems. Here, one can explore customer reviews, specifications of products as well such as Paytm, Amazon, eBay and so on.

The bottom line:

To exercise a sense of responsibility by keeping a track on such penny-pinching approaches you will be financially disciplined. But, also makes you prioritize your health and overall well-being.

Did you find the penny-pinching hacks to upgrade your health care goals interesting? Share your ideas to redeem health care goals.

Tips to Wellness Concepts around the World

Tips to Learn Wellness Concepts around the World From Ikigai, talkoot, shinrin-yoku to meraki.

So let’s take a journey of words that describe wellness concepts and understand its importance in your life.

  1. Ikigai- origin- Japan

    What is it– Finding your meaning in life.

How to include them– Get up early in the morning each day with a sense of awareness to infuse reason, happiness, and gratitude to your living.

Let yourself in the present moment and focus on what you love and enjoy to do, to eat, to work and to move.  Ikigai is your ingredient of happiness, longevity, and satisfaction to soak in every day. With each day comes new opportunities.

Do some soul-searching by paying attention to your thoughts and feelings and check in yourself.

What are your ikigai every morning?

   2.  Shinrin-yoku- origin- Japan

What is it– Shinrin-yoku translates to forest bathing. It is about embracing the outdoors and your connection with nature to de-stress, relax and enhance well-being.

How to include them– Go to outdoors and take up some activities like a walk in the greens, fire camping or just sleeping under the stars. You can also do some new activities like learning new languages, playing any instrument or cooking classes.

Just note what activities amplify your connection with nature. because 90% of the Americans stay indoors most of the times as reported by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). This decreases your sense of wellness with nature.

   3. Talkoot- origin- Finland

    What is it– Finnish version of social wellness. It’s all about voluntarily  do something for the common good.

How to include them- It could be anything from helping an old man cross the road safely, give water and food to someone in need or cleaning your surroundings. Prioritize well-being of others more than yourself.

  4. Meraki- origin- Greek

   What is it-  The word Meraki is derived from Greek culture that translates to doing actions from the heart.

How to include them- Doing things that you love no matter how small or difficult. All it takes is your devotion to happiness as your end result. Whether it is making a morning coffee or compliment someone.

5. Mono no aware- origin- Japan

What is it- The word Mono no aware is a Japanese word of well-being that connotes to embrace impermanence nature of life.

How to include them- The constant change in nature whether in terms of changes in days and seasons is the law of nature. It is hard to hold on to everything that is changing. More you cling on to pleasant more is the suffering in your life.

If you are ready to change then you are at comfort with changing nature and hence, you will be in peace. Being aware of the present moment, not reacting to the unpleasant events and letting yourself flow with life makes you find a satisfactory place to land to enjoy transient beauty of nature as nothing is stable.

6. Shoganai- origin- Japan

What is it- Accepting and embracing the events in life that are changing constantly without complaining.

How to include them- It has been proved in many types of research that complaining is fascinating and it develops a constant urge in people to complain in every typical conversation. Complaining can take a toll on your health as when you complain there is a release of stress hormone (cortisol) that lead to an increase in blood pressure and negativity in mind. This process shifts all your energy from other vital activities needed for proper functioning of the organs in the body into a flight-fight mode.

By developing an attitude of gratitude, reframing your sentences in a positive way and talking on a specific topic helps reset your mind in a postive frame shifting mindset of complaining without purpose to a problem-solving complaining.

How do you appreciate small things in your life? Do share with us if you know about other wellness concepts that people think are untranslatable is that so?

Celebrate Christmas- Zeal of Wellness

Celebrate this Christmas with Zeal of Wellness

The holiday season has arrived that starts with Christmas celebrations and New year on the board. These festivals are all about good and lavish foods, lighting, gifts and decorations along with social gatherings and parties. The feasting and decorations last for a year.

So gear yourself to ring the holiday with cheers of health and wellness.
Are you going to give a miss on your healthy diet plan or exercise routine? Maybe. But here are three important dimensions of wellness that is, environmental wellness, physical wellness, and social wellness you must stick to supercharge your festive mode.
But, to lead a healthy and disease free life it is important to give importance to your health and well-being each day, even during festival seasons.

Firstly, go green

Deck your home and workplace with eco-friendly, handcrafted Christmas decorations for a healthy environment. Light up your home with earthen lamps and candles with use of natural essential oils such as lavender and rose oil. Use wooden lamps and colorful decorative paper for gift wraps rather plastics that are harmful to the environment. You can also try handloom cloths that comes in various designs and ranges for decoration such as pottery, wall hangings or gift wraps to minimize harmful environmental impact. The art of handloom is traditional hand skill which uses no chemicals only skill preservation. Also bring home natural christmas tree not the artificial one.

Secondly, go healthy

Christmas and plum cakes are good buddies, one cannot imagine Christmas without traditional plum cakes and other desserts. Enjoy the mouth savoring home-baked cakes from chocolate fudge to banana walnut cake.
Why home-baked cakes? You can spend more quality time with family while preparing bake cakes which is without preservatives.
Most importantly, start your day with light exercise in the morning and a few minutes of meditation to give a boost to your festive mood.

Thirdly, go social

Gift your loved ones and friends with lifetime memories of wellness, sharing good food, good music, and happiness with others. Social interaction is also linked to better health as suggested by experts. You can get inspired for gifts this christmas based on six dimentions of wellness.
Share your mantra for a healthy routine this festive season.

6 Health Behavioral Modifications for Healthy Food

Your health goals – prepare, practice, prevail

This is a world where economies are sustained, policies worth billion dollars made across geographies. Welcome to the world of health economics, where information of every sort woven into the very fundamentals of nutrition.

Learning from our own mistake is bygone in today’s time. Now rational decision-making is a tool to live healthy, wealthy and happy life following ‘nudge’ a term coined by Nobel Prize winner economist, Thaler.

Nudge draws human psychology and thinking to better the decision-making of an individual. By health behavioral modifications without any subsequent compulsion.

Behavioral economics: An Intriguing Factor

Nobel Prize winner Richard H Thaler (2018) has been much acclaimed for his remarkable contributions in the field of “Behavioral Economics”. One can easily draw the analogy from his empirical findings and insights of his Nudge theory, which are instrumental in getting to the thoughts of people in choosing between two options.

It is a human tendency that people go for easiest over the wisest, even presenting with facts about healthy eating people tend to choose processed foods like burger and chips over healthy alternatives.

Poor decision, lack of thinking on time and lethargic habits account for picking the wrong one even knowing its negative impacts on health. Having captured the essence of “Behavioral Economics”, the theory aligned itself accordingly and is poised to become one of the most profitable panaceas to all health-related issues.

Triad of Behavioral Economics, Psychology and Economics-

Thaler suggests that triad of behavioral economics, psychology, and economics contribute to irrational decision-making.

Decisions such as whether to go to graduate school, whether to continue on healthy lifestyle or how to save money for the retirement makes an important part of one’s planning in their life at one point of time.

Behavioral economics explains why an individual decides one thing instead of going for other alternatives. Also, behavioral economics can direct any individual in making rational decisions on health and happiness.

Thaler’s nudge theory improves self-control towards beneficial health behavioral modifications in terms of healthy eating habits.

# Nudge 1- For School/ College by Rearranging the Cafeteria

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Without changing any menus experiment with the way food is displayed and arranged influence the choice of kids. This experiment can be achieved by keeping healthy foods like fruit salad at the eye level and processed foods at the last counter.

Make healthy food a default option, for example replacing French fries with sliced apples in children’s meal and limiting portion sizes as well.

As a nutritionist, I’m sure this will surely increase the consumption of healthy foods and decrease that of unhealthy ones. By changing the way of context in which people will make decisions with possible alternatives to go with.

# Nudge 2- For Patients Providing them with Alternative Treatment Plans

A doctor can help a patient by providing alternative treatment plans so that one can go with a proper health plan that suits best to the patient. For instance, if you are suffering from chronic kidney disease and doctor proposes kidney transplant.

You will definitely want to know about the odds. Now a doctor can nudge by positive framing of the statement. For instance, “out of hundred patients who went for a kidney transplant, ninety are leading a healthy and normal life after six years.

Rather than a negative statement, “out of hundred patients ten are dead after kidney transplant”.

Even doctors are more likely to recommend the operation/ transplant responding to the framing effects of the two contrasting statements as mentioned above (1).

# Nudge 3- Healthy Eating by Resisting Temptation (2)

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When you are hungry and have an appetite for pizza as aromas coming from the kitchen, you are said to be in a hot state. When you think of pizza that you will consume on Sunday before dinner, you are in a cold state. As mentioned by behavioral economist George Loewenstein (1996) ‘hot-cold empathy gap’ (3).

It does not confirm that decisions/ desires made in cold state will not be altered when we are under the influence of arousal. These conditions can possibly explain the reason behind failure in exercise, quit smoking and alcohol.

# Nudge 4- Transform following the Herd

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Humans like to confirm other humans and learn from social influences. Ingredients of social nudge involve information and peer pressure or priming.

To its evidence one of the research findings also prove that obesity is contagious. In other words, if your friend is obese or overweight, you are likely to become to gain weight (4).

# Nudge 5- The Default Rule at your Rescue in Effective Decision Making

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The default rule basically comes at your rescue when you are uncertain in decision-making. For instance, whether investing or not in a healthcare plan, organ donation or savings for future. In this government official or private sectors can play a major role.

Further, in setting one policy as the default option if it results in effective outcome over numerous other options.

According to The World Health Report 2000 pronounced that increased public financing for healthcare is an integral part of the endeavor to achieve equity of access (5).

# Nudge 6- Self Control Approaches to harness the power of Nudge

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Recent studies in Neuroeconomics demonstrate the evidence of a bimodal system of self-control. To clarify, a myopic ‘doer’ increases arousal behavior and a far-sighted ‘planner’ that suppress temptation.

In case of smoking and over-eating, the two sides of the brain are in conflict. Either it will stop you or tempt you as one is bound to lose.

Tip: Get small packets of food you like a small plate and never keep tempting food in your refrigerator.

Bottom-line-

Appraisal tendency framework curtails rationality in decision-making. As different emotions trigger different cognitive and motivational way that limits the time to make decisions.

This can be achieved by better placement of healthier foods on the shelves of a supermarket. In addition, updating one’s kitchen cabinet with healthier alternatives.

Making rational decisions while picking up foods in grocery shop with a guided motivation.

Rational decision-making serves as a raw material to build a healthy foundation of an individual. A shift in thinking approach will surely lift your nutritional status by fostering healthy eating habits.

References:

  • Thaler R.H, Sunstein C.R (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. New York:  Yale University Press.
  • Tversky, Amos, and Daniel Kahneman. ‘The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice’. Science 211 (1981): 453- 58.
  • Thaler, R.H, and Shefrin H.M. ‘An Economic Theory of Self Control’. Journal of Political Economy 89 (1981): 392-406.
  • Loewenstein G. ‘Out of control: Visceral Influences on Behavior’. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 65 (1996): 272-92.
  • Cialdini R. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: Quill, 1993.
  • World Health Organization. World Health Report 2000- Health systems: Improving performance Geneva: World Health Organization; 2000.

Tips to Diabetes Check at Home

Tips to Leverage your Health with Diabetes Check at Home

Leverage your Health being Diabetes Free-

For people who have diabetes (or any other chronic disease), for that matter – benefits of keeping its markers on a healthy number can’t be overstated. You can now get you A1C levels where you like it to be.
The two key factors to keep diabetes health check involves-
1. Blood sugar control
2. Feel free from fear of its complications and risk factors

A condition of pre-diabetes can trick you before the visible symptoms of diabetes appear. The sudden rise and drop in blood sugar levels can trouble you a lot.
With the diagnostic power, you can manage Diabetes- Control diabetes before it controls you.
Good news: Diabetes can be easily diagnosed and managed.
Bad news: Undiagnosed pre-diabetes condition can put you at risk.

You can note the ‘triple P’ symptom of diabetes namely, polydipsia (thirst), polyphagia (hunger) and polyuria (frequent urination) which is more visible in Type 1 and less frequent in type 2 diabetes. Eventually, it may go unnoticed which is potentially harmful. Endocrinologist Dudl say, Diabetes takes seven to ten years to progress and before the sugar is so high one can notice the symptoms such as thirst, frequent urination and hunger or blurred vision.
Now with the power of one drop (blood test), one can easily detect diabetes and avoid its complications.

Diabetes Diagnosis- Past, Present, and Future

Diabetes a complex disease is likely as old as the ancient Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Indians centuries ago. In the Indian literature, diabetes is referred to as ‘Madhumeha’ known as honey urine whereas ‘Siphon’ in Greece is referred to an increase in urination, these symptoms are still in use. Since then diabetes has come a long way.

Today diabetes health check can be done with a blood test. Diabetes is a condition that results from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin, a pancreatic hormone that regulates sugar when we eat food and while it gets used up in various cells, tissues in the body.

Simply put, insulin regulates blood glucose levels in combination with liver, muscles, adipose tissue like a traffic controller that maintains a balance of traffic. Similarly, insulin balance glucose levels for the proper functioning of the body. Because both high and low levels of blood glucose levels are harmful.
High levels of sugar affect different parts of the body such as eyes, heart, and kidney when insulin couldn’t perform its normal function or due to lack of insulin named insulin resistance.

Diabetes is primarily categorized into type 1 and type 2 diabetes that depends on the cause of onset. Firstly, a virus or infection attacks beta cells of the pancreas (site of production storage of insulin hormone) as a result of immune response and insulin production is destroyed in case of type 1 diabetes.

Whereas, in type 2 diabetes diminished the capacity of the pancreas to release insulin which needs medications or insulin.
Type 1 diabetes the original form is known from 100 years back but type 2 diabetes have resulted from lifestyle disorders or genetic predisposition.

Powerful Diagnostic Blood Tests- Diabetes Health Check Tools

1. HbA1c Test- This test measures average blood sugar over the past three months. It requires no fasting. HbA1c values from 5.7-6.4% denote a condition of pre-diabetes. HbA1c value 6.5% or above is the risk factor for diabetes.
2. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test- This test requires one to be empty stomach of about 8 hours without eating or drinking except water. A range of 100 or above depicts pre-diabetes and a value of 126 or above makes one prone to develop diabetes.
3. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) – This test requires you to eat or drink something sweet to test for before you consume and two hours after its consumption. A value of 140 or above indicates a condition of pre-diabetes and a result of 200 or above shows the risk of diabetes.
Good News: You can certainly decrease the risk of onset of diabetes by a simple change in diet, ideal body weight and physical activity.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines the following risk factors for diabetes:
1. Pre-diabetes– a condition that may predispose to diabetes
2. Overweight– BMI above 25
3. Age– 45 years and above
4. Genetically inherited– immediate relatives
5. Physically inactive – less than three times/week
6. Gestational diabetes- diabetes during pregnancy
American Diabetes Association recommends a blood sugar test or HbA1c test if above 45 years and every three years if normal.

  • Other factors include:

    1. High blood pressure
    2. High triglyceride levels over 250mg/dl
    3. HDL levels below 35mg/dl

If you have any of the above risk factors then go for a yearly checkup.
A condition of pre-diabetes makes you prone to the risk of stroke despite, a healthy diet menu along with enhanced physical activity. If followed for a period of six months can reverse the onset of diabetes.

Managing blood glucose levels and vitamin D status important goal for everyone. Studies prove a low level of serum vitamin D concentration is associated with high levels of glycosylated HbA1c.

A healthy food choice includes high fiber, anti-oxidants, essential supplements, probiotics etc with an increase in physical activity – such as aerobic and resistance training. If it doesn’t yield result the metformin is the medicine that can prevent the onset of diabetes for the next 10 years.

Research has shown a decrease in HbA1c value by 0.7 percentage point on exercise. Different forms of exercise – aerobic and resistance training are proven to lower insulin resistance in adults with abdominal obesity at risk factor for diabetes.

Exercise tips- Safety first:

How much exercise you should go for? Exercise for some can come as an aid to cut back on high blood pressure or diabetes medications. It also makes you feel happier and healthier.

150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week is recommended (Department Of Health & Human Services). But before you join any form of workout consult your doctor to prevent near future health complications.

1. If on insulin dose do check your blood glucose levels first before exercising. If the level of blood glucose is under 100 mg/dl you can have a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts to avoid hypoglycemia.
2. Monitor glucose level after 30 minutes of exercise to see if the numbers are stable.
3. Some experts suggest avoiding exercise if blood glucose levels are above 250 mg/dl as some forms of exercise can spike blood sugar even higher.
4. To avoid complications associated with diabetes always wear glucose monitor on your wrist that will remind you to take insulin dose.
5. Always carry some candy or glucose pills with you in case of a sudden drop in glucose levels during exercise.
6. Best time to start exercise or brisk walking after one to three hours of having your meal by this time blood sugar levels are high. But, if you feel fatigue or pain avoid exercise.