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28 August, 2007

Health Tips-6: 'Mighty Mushrooms' - Health, Supplement to The New Indian Express

Mushrooms have health benefits that many people are unaware of. They contain natural ingredients to naturally help prevent certain types of cancer and other life-threatening medical conditions.

Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years both as food and for medicinal purposes. They are often classified as a vegetable or a herb, but they are actually fungi. While there are over 14,000 mushrooms, only about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties, and fewer than one percent are recognized as poisonous.

Mushroom extracts are increasingly being used in nutraceutical products and sports drinks. Mushrooms contain about 80 to 90% water, and are very low in calories (only 100 cal/oz). They have very little sodium and fat, and eight to ten percent of the dry weight is fibre. Hence, they are an ideal food for persons following a weight management program or a diet for hypertensives.

Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower elevated blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke. One medium portabella mushroom has even more potassium than a banana or a glass of orange juice. One serving of mushrooms also provides about 20 to 40% of the daily value of copper, a mineral that has cardioprotective properties.

Mushrooms are a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.

According to studies, consuming just three and a half ounces of the white button variety each day, can decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Shitake mushrooms are also said to inhibit tumour growth. They are natural disease fighters, and like other natural foods, mushrooms can help keep the body healthy for many years to come.

(Courtesy: Health, Supplement to The New Indian Express, Madurai, Aug.28, 2007)

20 August, 2007

Health Tips-5: 'Slow down, it is healthy' - The New Sunday Express, Aug.19, 2007

What is so great about eating slowly? For starters, it helps you lose weight through consuming fewer calories (if you eat slower, you eat less) and also allows you to really enjoy your meal. Eating slowly also improves digestion (you chew your food more thoroughly), helps lower stress (concentrating on your food keeps you from thinking of life's other activities), and lets you rebel against fast food (if you are willing to spend time on a meal, you are more likely to spend it on a good one). Take 30 minutes out of your day to enjoy meal. It is really worth it.
(Courtesy: 'Better Living' Page, The New Sunday Express, Aug.19, 2007)

11 August, 2007

Health Tips-4: "Eat Less, Live Longer!"

Evidence has been accumulating since the 1930s that calorie restriction - reducing energy intake below energy expenditure - extends lifespan and delays the onset of age-related diseases. CALERIE(Comprehensive Assignment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy), a study sponsored by America's National Institutes of Health took 48 men and women aged between 25 and 50 and assigned them randomly to either a control group or a calorie-restriction regime. Those in the second group were required to cut their calorie intake for six months to 75% of that needed to maintain their weight. The study is a landmark in the history of the field, because its subjects were either normal weight or only slightly overweight. At a molecular level, CALERIE suggests that these advantages are real. They showed drops in body temperature and blood-insulin levels - both phenomena that have been seen in long-lived, calorie-restricted animals. They also suffered less oxidative damage to their DNA.

The search for a drug that will stave off old age is itself very old. Scientists are trying to find a drug that will mimic the effect of calorie restriction. There is a family of enzymes called sirtuins, which act both as sensors of nutrient availability and as regulators of metabolic rate. These might provide the necessary biochemical link between starving and living longer. Some plant-derived molecules are known to activate sirtuins in yeast. One of these molecules, resveratrol, has increased the maximum lifespan of a small fish by 60%. However, some of these molecules are already in clinical trials for safety.

(Excerpted from "Manorama Yearbook 2007)

02 August, 2007

Health Warnings-2: "Effects of Noise Pollution"

While levels and dangers of noise pollution are well-documented and everyone knows what an irritant and stresser noise is, what is lesser known is that chronic noise can cause:

Mental distress
Non-cooperative behaviour
Learning impairment
Musculo-skeletal problems
Heart problems
Tinninitus or a ringing sound within the ears (even when there is no noise in the surroundings)

It can hamper performance and productivity.

Chronic noise also affects interpersonal relationships.

(Courtesy: Aruna Chandraraju, Weekly Magazine, The Hindu, April 3, 2005)