• 15May

    Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is key to keeping your hormones in check. Your body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote weight loss. Healthy fats have the opposite effect of refined carbohydrates, which lead to inflammation and can mess with the balance of your hormones.

    Getting the wrong kinds of fats can create havoc on hormones. Coconut oil contains specific fats that support the body’s natural hormone production.

    Coconut Oil is amazing for hormone health. It provides the necessary building blocks for hormone production, can assist weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. My favorite way to consume it is to blend into coffee and use it as bread spread sweetened with palm sugar syrup.

    Fat and Calories in Coconut Oil

     

    Coconut oil has some anti-estrogenic properties. The thing that makes coconut oil anti-estrogenic, is the fact that the oil (and whole coconuts too) is filled with sterols, which are anti-estrogenic and natural aromatase inhibitors.

    Health benefits of coconut oil:

    Hormone balancing – the fatty acids in coconut oil actually help the hormones get to where they want and need to go in the body, and so support the creation, processing and elimination of estrogen and progesterone, leading to hormonal balance.

    Weight loss-promoting – studies show that coconut oil increases the metabolism and prevents hunger, allowing for successful weight loss.

    Thyroid-supportive – coconut oil has the ability to transform cholesterol into pregnenolone, which is one of the essential building blocks for thyroid hormone-creation. When you add more coconut oil to your diet, you’re increasing the saturated fats made up primarily of medium-chain fatty acids that aren’t found in many other oils. These medium-chain fatty acids increase metabolism and promote weight loss, which is a big part of your healthy thyroid function. In addition, coconut oil can increase basal body temperatures, which is super important for women with low thyroid function.

    Gut-healing – coconut oil repairs gut tissue and encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Like breast milk, coconut oil is powerfully antimicrobial and antibacterial. The high levels of lauric acid in coconut oil protects against infection from viruses, bacteria, yeast, parasites and fungi. Lauric acid inactivates harmful microbes in your gut that can lead to hormonal imbalance.

     

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  • 28Apr

    Spirulina is one of the nutraceuticals that I started to include in my diet since a year ago.

    Spirulina often gets misclassified as an herb because of its amazing health promoting properties, but it’s actually a bacteria, or a blue-green algae that’s found in pristine freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers. It is most commonly recognized as one of the world’s most nutritionally complete superfoods, as it offers health benefits to practically every organ and bodily function.  Today, popular lifestyle personalities endorse Spirulina as a secret, potent “superfood,” and a “miracle from the sea.”

    spirulina-algae-lake-benefits

    Spirulina was once classified as a plant because of “its richness in plant pigments as well as its ability of photosynthesis,” according to a study published in the journal Cardiovascular Therapeutics. New understanding of its genetics, physiology and biochemical properties caused scientists to move it to the Bacteria kingdom and the Cyanobacteria phylum.

    According to the FDA, Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. It also has essential amino acids (compounds that are the building blocks of proteins). In fact, protein makes up about 60 to 70 percent of Spirulina’s dry weight.

    Two bowls with spirulina powder and tablets

    How well researched are the benefits and risks of spirulina?
    Most of the studies that have been conducted to date have been either on animals or in small human trials, so more research is needed before any health claims relating to spirulina can be confirmed.

    Reduces blood glucose levels and cholesterol – There has been some research into the benefits of spirulina and its positive effects on blood glucose levels. In 2017 a paper was published which demonstrated that spirulina decreased blood glucose levels in diabetic mice and the researchers suggested that this may be beneficial in the future to those with type 1 diabetes. This is further supported by another study in the Journal of Medicinal Food that found spirulina supplementation of 2g a day for 2 months on 25 individuals with type 2 diabetes helped control blood sugar levels and improved their lipid profile. However, more research is needed before we can say for sure that spirulina is helpful in managing conditions such as diabetes.

    spirulina is Rich in Protein

     

    One 2008 study tested Spirulina’s lipid-lowering effects on 78 adults, ages 60 and 87. The volunteers took 8 grams of Spirulina supplements, or a placebo, a day for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, there were significant reductions in cholesterol among those who were treated, according to the abstract published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.

    Reduces risk factors for cardiovascular diseases– A 2010 study on rabbits found that spirulina had anti-atherogenic effects (reducing the build-up of plaque within arterial walls) even when fed a high cholesterol diet.

    Reduces anemia – There is also some evidence that spirulina may help reduce anaemia, although more research is required. One study on 40 older people with a history of anaemia found that supplementing with spirulina helped improve the haemoglobin levels in red blood cells.

    Improves muscle strength and exercise performance – There have also been a few trials into spirulina supplementation in sport, and early evidence that it may help improve both muscle strength and exercise performance.

    Oxidative stress protection – Spirulina contains a phytonutrient known as c-phycocyanin, which also gives it a deep green/blue colour. Research has suggested that this phytonutrient has potential benefits, including anti-inflammatory propertiesoxidative stress protection and neuroprotective qualities.

    Removes toxins from body – According to one study, spirulina is capable of treating arsenic poisoning.  Because high concentrations of arsenic are consumed by drinking water worldwide, Bangladeshi researchers conducted a three-month study.  34 patients suffering from chronic arsenic poisoning were given spirulina, whereas 17 patients received placebos.  Results show that spirulina mixed with zinc twice daily for 16 weeks caused a substantial improvement in symptoms.  This proves that spirulina is a powerful detoxifier, which is owing to high levels of chlorophyll and its ability to remove toxins from the blood and improve bowel and liver function.

    Fights allergies – millions of people are having problems and irritations from allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and many more.  If you are having symptoms like stuffy nose, watery eyes, or itchy throat, there is no doubt you are suffering from one of those irritants.

    Animal studies suggest that spirulina stops the release of histamine, which is responsible for symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

    According to human studies, spirulina consumption improved symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal itching, and nasal discharge when compared to the placebo group.

    Precautions and issues to be aware of

    As with anything, you can have too much of a good thing and that also holds true for spirulina. Though you may enjoy adding it to your diet and be open to the many health benefits it offers, you also don’t want to overdo it.  Taking the proper dosage, which really is centered around 1-2 teaspoons per day, is recommended.  Going over that may cause upset stomach or have adverse effects, which, of course, is never ideal.

    As mentioned before, you want to be very careful about where the spirulina comes to you from. In research, it was found that this type of algae in particular can absorb the materials that it grows within. If it grows in certain waters, then this may mean that the spirulina can get contaminated with these potentially toxic substances.

    Much of the research has pointed to the biggest problem areas being from waters in and around Japan and China.  Some of the potentially toxic substances may include lead, which can cause long-term damage to both children and adults.  Know where your spirulina is coming from and go for something outside of these identified problem areas.

    Also be sure that it’s a natural product because if you go with a blend, you may never be sure of what else is included within. Always opting for organic can also ensure that you get the highest-quality product.

    Be sure of what you are getting with this or any other natural product where the health standards aren’t necessarily in place to mandate the quality that you think you’re getting. Take your time when you begin taking spirulina because you should want to see how your body will react.

    If you have a seafood allergy, you’d want to avoid these algae as it can cause an allergic reaction.  If you have other health problems, make sure that spirulina is safe for you to take. For most people, this high protein superfood can be an excellent supplement, but just be sure that you don’t have any potential complications that may interfere with its effectiveness.

    Gradually increase your spirulina intake in small quantities and be sure that it doesn’t cause  an upset stomach.

    In the end, you may find that you enjoy it and the health benefits so much that it’s well worth it.

    Always remember that spirulina should come from the right source and that it should be pure, natural, and organic.

    Are there any side effects of spirulina?

    Spirulina also contains salt. One 5g teaspoon contains 0.13g of sodium which counts towards 2% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults. If you know salt is an issue for you, or you have high blood pressure then always check with your GP before supplementing. Others who should check with their GP before taking spirulina include those taking prescription medication, pregnant or breastfeeding women and anyone younger than 18.

    Those with the condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid spirulina completely as it contains an amino acid called phenylalanine which they cannot metabolise, as should anyone with an autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or multiple sclerosis.

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  • 10Feb

    One distinct Chinese food culture my late maternal grandmother and parents instilled in me is the tradition of soups.  Like a comforting bowl of chicken soup that Americans love, a bowl of nourishing and delicious Chinese soup conjures up the same kind of comfort, even nostalgia from childhood times with my close-knit family and my late grandmother’s soups.  Soup is a deep-rooted and endeared Chinese food tradition who are well-known for their “slow-fire” soups, boiled for 2-3 hours on the stove and over 5 hours in the slow cooker.  As an indispensable part of the Cantonese dining table, the culture of soup is deeply rooted in Cantonese lives. A popular saying goes like this: The Cantonese would rather drink soup than eat rice. From which we can gain a glimpse of how important soup is in the heart of the Cantonese. And this is so true for me as I do not eat rice. I can survive on just soups, vegetables and fruits with a little lean meat.

    Besides comforting and hearty, another reason why I love Chinese soups is for their health benefits.  Traditional Chinese soups are gentle tonics made from fresh vegetables, lean meats or fish, and flavored only by natural ingredients. We hardly season our soups with salt for it is already naturally sweetened from the ingredients.  One distinguishing point about traditional Chinese soups vs Western soups is that oil, cream, and butter are never used – making the soups naturally low fat, low calorie, and low sodium.  Many Chinese soups also include herbal ingredients that enhance the health-benefiting function of the soup.


    A bowl of ‘Buddha hand’ gourd soup with chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, goji berries and red dates that I cooked recently.

    My daughters’ favorite soup of all times is ABC soup ~ a soup composed of carrots, tomatoes, onions, celery, pepper corn, meat, cabbage, potatoes and much more. Lately I like adding sweet potatoes into my chicken soups as it imparts natural sweetness, antioxidants and goodness from the sweet potatoes.


    Vegetables ready to be put into the pot for making ABC soup (chicken breast meat not in the photo).

    The Cantonese are known to place utmost importance to the nourishing and healing functions of soups.  The benefits can range from detoxification, nourishment to major body organs, reduction of blood sugar and blood pressure, replenishment of the Qi, reduction of body ‘heatiness’ and release of excess element(s) that throw the body off its internal yin-yang balance.  When the internal body is off balance, outward bodily symptoms like sore throat, coughing or dryness can appear.


    Photo credits : Panpages.my

    Studies aside, experts agree that chicken soup is worth trying when you are sick and can come in handy when eating a solid meal feels like too much for your tummy to digest.  Chicken soup can offer a nutrient-dense food option when someone is struggling with a poor appetite according to Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It can also help increase hydration during a time when this could be a challenge.

    The effectiveness of chicken soups are backed by studies and you can read an article on the science of chicken soups by The New York Times here.

     

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  • 10Oct

    When I was exclusively breastfeeding my third and youngest daughter 9 years ago, falling sick every other month was a norm. I reckon that my baby sucked away all my nutrients, plus with the lack of sleep and stress of caring for a baby, my immune system weakened.  On top of breastfeeding, I was stressed out with my baby’s health issue, which only resolved after her surgery 13 months later.  I also had 2 older pre-school kids then who kept bringing the bad bugs back from school, which only made matter worse.

    To stay healthy, energetic and sick-day-free, we have to strengthen our immune systems.

    Here’s how the immune system works:

    Our body’s battle for immunity begins in the mouth. Bet you didn’t know that your saliva contains powerful antimicrobials like lysozyme, alpha-amylase and lactoferrin.

    Any germs that sneak past those will confront our stomach’s hydrochloric acid.

    Then, should they survive, they’ll go up against the proteins and chemical compounds in our digestive system that break down bad bacteria.

    Finally, our own personal good bacterial population goes to work. They prevent bad bacteria from entering our bloodstream or taking root in our small intestine and colon. Those good bacteria are called probiotics. Think of them as an army against illness.

    Your immune system is an incredible thing. The bacteria in your gut is actually a powerful army willing to fight on your behalf, but only if you feed them properly. And if you do get sick, certain foods can help you recover quicker. What you eat today can determine whether or not you get sick tomorrow.

    Should you really feed a cold and starve a fever?

    Feed your bacteria army
    The GI tract comprises over 70 percent of the immune system. That’s home to our good gut bacteria, which fight off a whole lot of yucky stuff.

    If you want those bacteria to work for you, you’ve got to feed them well. They love to chow down on nutrient-dense, fiber-rich whole foods. Steer clear of processed foods, fats and sugars. That’s why a balanced whole-foods diet is your best insurance against all kinds of viruses and infections.

    If you’re healthy, aim for one to two servings of probiotic-rich foods each day (more if you are trying to prevent or alleviate a medical problem).

    Some of the best whole-food sources of probiotics are:

    * Dairy: yogurt and kefir with live and active cultures
    * Fermented vegetables: pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi
    * Fermented soy: miso, tempeh

    Other superfoods to superpower your immune system:

    Chicken soup
    Chicken soup isn’t just good for the soul. It’s good if you’re feeling under the weather, too. Research has found that chicken soup helps to prevent inflammatory white cells from moving to other parts of your body, which can decrease your cold symptoms.
    The bone broth in chicken soup contains collagen, which can help boost your immune system, in addition to amino acids and nutrients that help prevent inflammation. Chicken soup’s illness-fighting ability is thought to be related to cysteine, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking

    Simple Chicken Soup

    Fatty Fish
    Your heart isn’t the only thing that can benefit from a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help control inflammation in your body. It’s important to consume inflammation-fighting foods on a regular basis, but especially when you’re feeling under the weather. That’s because chronic inflammation can weaken and disrupt the function of your immune system.

    Garlic
    Garlic contains allicin, a compound that can help fight infection and bacteria. One study showed that people who ate garlic daily were less likely to catch a cold.  Eat raw garlic if you’re feeling really daring, or add it to soups and other cooked meals to reap the benefits without the vampire-slaying breath.

    Foods Rich In Zinc
    Zinc isn’t a mineral you want to do away with. Some studies show that zinc may help reduce the duration of a cold if taken right away.  Zinc helps regulate the immune system, build and maintain lean body mass and heal wounds. Foods high in zinc include oysters, red meat, eggs, fortified cereal, beans and pumpkin seeds.

    Turmeric
    This flavorful spice is considered a superfood for a good reason. It’s rich in antioxidants and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests these qualities make turmeric a strong defense against colds, coughs, and congestion. Try it in a turmeric latte, aka golden milk, or use it to season lean meats, grains and other healthy foods.

    Turmeric2

    Fruits and Vegetables
    Vitamin-rich foods are key to maintaining a strong immune system.  Vitamins A, C, and E are particularly useful in building immunity. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of these nutrients. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, dark leafy greens and sweet potatoes.
    Vitamin C can be found in high quantities in citrus fruits, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Dark leafy greens, butternut squash and avocado are excellent sources of vitamin E.  Pairing these and other fruits and vegetables with adequate protein intake will help supercharge your immunity.

    Plenty of liquids
    In addition to consuming healthy foods, it’s also critical to stay hydrated in order to help keep your throat and airways clear. But not all beverages help fight illness. Steer clear of sugary drinks and sodas as too much sugar in your body can cause inflammation… which further weakens your immune system.
    getting-back-into-exercise.jpg
    Lastly, the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” always applies. The best way to stave off the cold and flu is try to stay as healthy as possible by maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active and practicing good hygiene. There is no miracle food that can help prevent a cold, but lacking in certain nutrients can contribute to a compromised immune system.  So for the best cold prevention, focus on eating balanced healthy meals and exercise regularly all year-round.
     Lastly, try to banish stress from your life. Stress suppresses the immune system, which makes it easier for you to get sick and harder to fight off bugs. When people are constantly under stress, they get sick.  Meditation, regular exercise, online therapy and plenty of sleep can also help you de-stress and boost your immune system.
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  • 09Sep

    In my fridge next to the roselle kefir are bottles of fruit vinegar. These drinking vinegars have now claimed a permanent spot in my fridge.

    I am a pro-apple cider vinegar health freak for many years. For more than a decade now, the first drink of my day has been organic apple cider vinegar with Manuka honey or raw honey mixed with a teaspoon of psyllium husk. This will kick start my  system to work and move the bowels. Recently, I added Korean Hong Cho fruit vinegars.  At mid day, I drink a glass of Hong Cho fruit vinegar. I currently have 2 flavors in my fridge: black raspberry vinegar and blueberry vinegar. Cass drinks this fruit vinegar too. It’s the only fruit vinegar that she likes as she loves the slightly sweetened and tang of berries from the vinegar. She says it tastes like her favorite Japanese fruit jelly.  The promoter at the supermarket who introduced this vinegar to us told us that Hong Cho fruit vinegar is effective in preventing constipation.

     

    While it’s not a miracle elixir, vinegar can give your health a boost in many ways.

    Grain vinegars and fruit vinegars, both of which are fermented, possess a variety of beneficial physiological effects, including antibacterial and antioxidant properties and even some anticancer activities (particularly with Japanese black soybean vinegar), according to a 2016 review in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

    Recent studies also point to the potential of drinking vinegar to promote weight loss and to treat insulin sensitivities.

    Benefits of Vinegar

    Weight Loss
    Apple cider vinegar helps to burn fat, improves the functioning of the metabolism, leading to weight loss.

    Management of Diabetes
    The ability of vinegar to moderate insulin and glucose levels seems to offer some benefit for diabetics. A Swedish study, published in a 2005 issue of the” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” showed that when participants ate a simple carbohydrate meal based on white wheat bread, but supplemented it with vinegar, they experienced less of a spike in blood glucose and insulin levels than participants who ate just the bread meal.

    An animal study, reported by the “Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences” in December 2008, indicated that apple cider vinegar ingestion may be of  “great value in managing the diabetic complications.”

    Reduces Glycemia
    Vinegar is also useful in reducing glycemia. Research has shown that its addition to a high glycemic meal has positive effects on the reduction of postprandial glycemia.

    Detoxification and Digestion
    The use of vinegar to promote cleansing dates back to Hippocrates, who recommended apple cider vinegar to cure joint pain, digestive distress and blood disorders.  Apple cider vinegar destroys harmful bacteria in the digestive tract—creating more efficient digestion and elimination of waste. He also noted that vinegar’s ability to break up fat helped improve the functioning of the liver and kidneys, whose primary role is to detoxify the body.

    Anti-aging Properties
    In many cultures, vinegar was thought to improve immunity and was associated with longer life and strength. Studies administering it to rats have shown quite encouraging results.

    Improves Acid-alkali Balance
    Taking two tablespoons of vinegar every day can help reduce high alkalinity in the blood. Alkalinity is increased by regular metabolism, which has to be balanced by an acid. It could be a good choice for this!

    Antimicrobial Properties
    Vinegar possesses antimicrobial properties. Tests on wood vinegar confirmed that wood vinegar was effective in controlling the growth of microbial cultures.

    Fun Facts
    Vinegar has been used as a food preservative for hundreds of years. Vinegar, due to its antibacterial properties, can effectively act as a good preservative for food by controlling microorganisms that generally attack food and cause decomposition.

    If drinking vinegars haven’t crossed your radar yet, they most definitely will soon as more and more drinking vinegar stalls and shops pop out at malls.

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  • 26Jul

    My brothers and I grew up eating Marmite and Bovril. We ate it with our porridge.  On days when my late maternal granny didn’t cook any soup, we would have instant soup of Marmite or Bovril.

    When our daughters were toddlers, I used to substitute dark soy sauce with Marmite.  It’s been a while since I last bought our last jar of Marmite.  The other day, I came across a recipe for Marmite pork and I was itching to try this recipe.  So off I went to get a jar of Marmite and dished up Marmite pork, which was outrageously yummy! Instead of deep frying the Marmite marinated pork strips, I pan-fried them.

    My Marmite Pork with Lemon Zest, SO delish!

    I like having a bowl of light Marmite soup for my mid-morning breakfast, with 1 teaspoon to about 300 ml of hot water. Whenever I crave for something savory and don’t have quick access to it, I’ll make myself a cup of Marmite soup to satiate my craving.

    Did you know that science has proven that Marmite is actually rather good for you.

    Originally containing only four ingredients (yeast extract, salt, spices and celery), vitamins and minerals were later added to the recipe to boost Marmite’s health potential, and scientists have been championing its benefits ever since.

    In fact, the black stuff was considered so essential for a healthy diet that it was included in soldiers’ ration packs during World War One and has subsequently been used to treat conditions ranging from malaria to malnutrition.

    Why Marmite Is Good For You: 

    1. It can help you sleep better

    According to a recent study, magnesium – a mineral that’s abundant in Marmite – can help us all get better shut eye. Scientists believe it calms the body’s nerves, hence relaxing muscles and improving our slumber.

    2. It can help prevent dementia

    A scientific study suggested that the cult British foodstuff could help boost brain power and stave off dementia. Researchers from York University said the high concentration of Vitamin B12 in the yeast extract increases levels of chemicals in the brain which are thought to protect against neurological disorders. Participants in the study ate a teaspoon of Marmite per day and were found to have increased levels of a neurotransmitter known as GABA, said to calm the brain and soothe the effects of anxiety.

    The effects were noted for eight weeks after the study was completed, suggesting that the health benefits of the inimitable brown spread could have a long term impact on the body.

    3. It’s as nutritious as vitamin supplements
    Marmite is packed with B vitamins that are essential for good health – containing so much per serving that you can probably do away with taking expensive B supplements. A single serving contains 17pc of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B1 (thiamin), 18pc of B2, and 36pc of B3. These vitamins are essential for eye and skin health, as well as protecting your nervous system and helping you to break down the energy from food. B vitamins are all water soluble so are not stored by the body, thus requiring a daily dose.

    4. It can keep your heart healthy
    Marmite’s high content of Vitamin B1 could be highly beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease, particularly among diabetics. A study at the University of Bristol found that supplementing diabetic and non diabetic mice with a chemical similar to Vitamin B1 called benfotiamine  improved their recovery after a heart attack and lowered their risk of cardiovascular conditions. Further studies are required to see if the same theory can be applied to humans, but it seems a good enough reason to up your Marmite intake, all the same.

    5. It keeps vegans alive

    Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system and blood, but cannot be found in plants. This is a problem for vegans, who do not eat any animal products, which naturally contain the vitamin.

    Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause numerous health problems, but Marmite may provide a solution.

    Fun Facts :

    In Sri Lanka, Marmite is apparently used as a potent hangover cure. Simply dissolve it in boiling water and lime juice, add a fried, sliced onion and watch your hangover quickly disappear
    After trying it on the UK on tour in 2011, Britney Spears admitted she’s a fan of the yeast based spread. According to insiders, she tried to make a stew with Marmite and also asked for Marmite Twiglets on her rider.

    Spears isn’t the only superstar fan of the spread. The Rolling Stones, Dido, and Eddie Redmayne are all reportedly fans.

    Britney Spears

     

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  • 19Nov

    The latest addition to our healthy eating regimen is roselle kefir from My Kefir World.  I have tried many different brands of probiotics for Cass and sadly, she liked none of them, except for the mango flavored probiotics from Melaleuca but it contains sweetener, which I don’t fancy.  When I first let Cass try roselle kefir, I was doubtful that she would like it as she’s such a little fussy pot.  But to my joy, she liked it! She only likes it when taken neat. She says it tastes like red wine, which is tart, slightly sweet with a soda / sparkling feel in the mouth.

    roselle 4

    Like yogurt, kefir is a cultured milk or cultured sugar water product with a tart and even sour taste, but the two foods have some differences as well.

    Kefir (pronounced kee-fer) originates from the Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe. It’s believed that the name comes from the Turkish word “keif” which means good feeling. Kefir’s flavour is naturally sweet and slightly bubbly, and mild but a bit tangy as well.

    Kefir contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics.  Because kefir does not have a standardized nutrition content, the content values can vary based on the cows, cultures, and region where it is produced. Yet even with the range in values, kefir has superior nutrition.

    Among the clinical researches done, some findings on kefir health benefits include:
    1. Allergy prevention and control
    2. Inhibits tumor growth
    3. Improves lactose digestion for those who are lactose intolerant
    4. Rats fed with kefir grains reduced their inflammation by 80%
    after 2 weeks
    5. Reduction in migraine, headaches, anxiety symptoms and more restful sleep
    6. Kefir grains taken orally prevented fungal infection in human
    trials in Russia
    7. In Japan, experiments with mice showed that kefir induced a
    positive immune response and the size of cancerous tumors
    was reduced
    8. Corrects gastric and digestive problems

    Rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, kefir also provides significant amounts of lactic acid bacteria and beneficial yeast. In fact, the cocktail of beneficial microbiota within kefir makes it one of the most powerful probiotic foods on the planet!

    Below – water kefir grains
    water grains 1

     

    Because of kefir’s unique set of nutrients it has been show to benefit the body in 7 main ways:

    • Boost Immunity
    • Heal Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Build Bone Density
    • Fight Allergies
    • Improve Lactose Digestion
    • Kill Candida
    • Support Detoxification

    The drink is made either with kefir grains or a powdered kefir starter — the grains aren’t an actual grain like wheat, but are made of bacteria and yeast. Generally of a thinner consistency than yogurt, kefir is usually sold as a drink, either plain or flavoured.

    Fun Facts On Roselle

    Roselle is becoming increasingly popular as a health drink.

    Roselle contains one of the highest content of Vitamin C. It contains 3 times more Vitamin C than blackcurrant and 9 times more than citrus fruit. It is also found to have rich anti-oxidant properties (anthocyanins).

    The fresh roselle calyx has been found to contain vitamin D, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin B2 Complex, Vitamin A, Niacin and Calcium.

    Known benefits of drinking roselle juice:

    1. Its drink acts like natural electrolyte beverage to substitute
    minerals sweated out while playing sport.

    2. Decreases inflammation of kidney and urinary tract.

    3. Scientists found it is good for arteriosclerosis and reduce blood
    hypertension.

    4. Normalize blood pressure.

    5. Stimulate internal peristalsis.

    6. Relief cough and fever.

    7. Increase our bodies’ resistance to diseases.

    8. Decrease absorption of alcohol.

    9. Softening and smoothening of skin.

     

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  • 14Nov

    The majority of soy that you find in in grocery stores is actually genetically modified or GMO and is not farmed the same way or yielding the same nutrition.

    However, when you ferment soybeans you have a completely different product that yields a completely different nutrient system for the body. When it comes to soy, the safest way to consume it is through fermented soy products like miso, tempeh or natto.

    Natto is fermented soy beans, with beneficial bacteria called  Bacillus subtilis. The beans are brown and soft, covered with sticky, slimy substance and it smells pungent. It takes time to acquire the taste, like how you would with stinky tofu. I never liked it initially but over time, through exposure to it, I have learned to accept the taste and even love it now!    Many people may take a longer time to get used to the taste of natto than with cultured vegetables or probiotic liquids but the taste is definitely worth acquiring!

    Picture

    Many health practitioners and dietitians do not recommend eating soybeans unless they are fermented. The key element in natto is the fermentation of the soybeans, which make them easier to digest while increasing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

    Primarily eaten as a breakfast staple in Japan for over 1,000 years, natto is a great source of protein and is low in calories. But it goes even further to enhance your inner and outer health.

    I had this bowl of natto rice with onsen egg at Isetan on Saturday and loved it. It is such a simple dish yet it tantalizes the taste buds. My daughters have not quite gotten used to the taste of natto yet.

     

    Unlike many foods that are only rich in Vitamin K1, natto is rich in both types of Vitamin K.

    Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables and makes up about 90 per cent of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet. Vitamin K2 isn’t produced in plants, but by various types of bacteria. It makes up only about 10 per cent of Western vitamin K consumption2.

    Natto increases the health and strength of your skin, heart and bones.

    Here are some of the many health benefits of natto:

    • Natto is especially rich in vitamin K2, which could reduce bone loss in post-menopausal women by as much as 80 per cent.
    • Fermented soybeans such as natto contain Vitamin PQQ, which is very important for the skin.  PQQ in human tissues is derived mainly from diet.
    • Vitamin K is repeatedly shown to reduce blood clots by slowing arterial calcification, enhance liver function and encourage the flow of urine.
    • Vitamin K2 has a better bioavailability than K1. Studies show that this molecule remains in the body for a longer period and is more effective at lower doses, hence is much more bio-effective.
    • Additionally, natto suppresses immune reactions.

    Created during the fermentation process, nattokinase is used for a variety of medicinal purposes:

    • Beriberi (B vitamin deficiency)
    • Cancer
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Endometriosis
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Infertility
    • Pain
    • Muscle spasms
    • Uterine fibroids

    When natto is eaten on a regular basis, these are some of the more common health benefits you can expect:

    • Effective against high cholesterol.
    • Effective against osteoporosis and hip fractures.
    • Fights against fibromyalgia.
    • Lowers blood pressure and improves circulation.
    • Less risk of colon cancer.
    • Less risk of breast cancer (as soy appears to lengthen the menstrual cycle).
    • Prevents stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
    • Prevents vitamin-deficiency disease.
    • Reduces the symptoms associated with menopause.
    • Relieves constipation.

    The high life expectancy enjoyed in Japan is largely down to the nation’s healthy diet, according to a new study. Japanese are very health conscious and hygienic.  Take a hint from the Japanese diet if you want to add more quality years to your life.

    Because of natto’s  health benefits on blood viscosity, those who are on blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) should not eat natto. But for others trying naturally to improve circulation, lower blood pressure and build stronger bones, natto is truly the super food of choice.

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  • 25May

    At one time, you would have to get in your vehicle, drive to the store, fight through the crowds, wait in line and then drive all the way back home just to get some fresh seafood. Thankfully, this isn’t the case anymore. With the help of the internet, you can order online fresh seafood that is delivered right to your door. Unfortunately, too many people still don’t understand the benefits associated with online seafood.

    More Convenience
    As I’m sure you know, shopping online is far more convenient than the time-consuming experience of shopping at brick and mortar stores. The whole hassle of trying to find a parking space and the seafood you’re looking for, as well as dealing with crowds, the long lines and traffic can become a frustrating chore. This is eliminated when you place an order online for the seafood.

    Larger Variety
    You are no longer restrained to only buying the fish species available at your local market. Let’s face it, your local supermarket cannot financially maintain a large selection of seafood. Because of this, you are limited to the seafood variety that your local stores have in stock. This isn’t the case with online seafood markets, which offer a wide array of fish and seafood. Using online fish markets allow you to more easily find the specific type you are looking for as well as opening up a whole new world of seafood species.

    Much Fresher
    The seafood sitting on the supermarket shelves typically change hands multiple types before it reaches the consumer. Because of this, the seafood is not as fresh as it could be, which increases the chance of bacteria growth. When you buy seafood online, however, you are getting the freshest fish possible, often times right off the boat. The only way you could come buy fresher seafood is if you caught it yourself.

    Healthier Seafood
    Online seafood companies place great emphasis on high quality. Which means they go to great lengths to ensure the freshness and quality of their product, as well as taking all the necessary steps to minimize the chance of deterioration in the quality. Furthermore, online seafood companies have greater control over their products than grocery stores do, which depend entirely on their suppliers and just hope they quality of the seafood is good enough.

     

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  • 06May

    Eating a handful of nuts is a part of my healthy diet everyday.  Nuts, which contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients are a great snack food, too.  Though some nuts like almonds, pistachios, macadamia and pecan are expensive in our country, I do not mind spending a little more on these healthy snacks.  Nuts are way healthier than chips, candies and fries.

    The type of nut you eat isn’t that important, although some nuts have more heart-healthy nutrients and fats than do others. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, you name it – almost every type of nut has loads of nutrition packed into a tiny package.

    My kids have been trained to eat nuts everyday.  I pack a handful of roast almonds,  cashew nuts, walnuts or broad beans into my children’s lunch boxes almost daily.  They add nuts into yoghurt, cereals or eat them as they are.  In the early days, nuts were not my children’s kind of snacks.  I  keep telling them that nuts are healthy and since they do not drink dairy milk, nuts are an excellent alternative source of calcium for the health of their bones and teeth.

    In our kitchen larder, hardly do our children see chips or crackers.  Instead, the larder is always well stocked with an assortment of nuts, organic brown rice rings, organic seed and nut crackers and the occasional ‘healthy’ low-sodium multi-grain tortilla chips with zero MSG.

    As you can see below, these are our comfort snacks to run to in between meals:

     

    Eating Nuts Benefits Your Heart

    People who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level in their blood. High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease.

    Eating nuts may reduce your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also appear to improve the health of the lining of your arteries.

    In A Nutshell, Why Are Nuts Healthy?

    Besides being packed with protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

    • Unsaturated fats.  The “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels.
    • Omega-3 fatty acids.  Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that may help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.
    • Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
    • Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
    • L-arginine. Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

    assorted-nuts-bazzini-500x900.png

     

    What amount of nuts is considered healthy?

    As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it’s still a lot of calories. That’s why you should eat nuts in moderation. Ideally, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products.

    Instead of eating unhealthy saturated fats, try substituting a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or two of a nut spread. The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Select raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than those cooked in oil.

    22100414-walnuts2.jpg

    Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat?

     Possibly. Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts are one of the best-studied nuts, and it’s been shown they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. And peanuts — which are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans — seem to be relatively healthy.

    Keep in mind, you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar, flavors, MSG or salt!

     

    Nuts Help You To Live Longer!

    The largest study of its kind, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finds that people who eat a handful of nuts every day live longer than those who do not eat them at all.

    Scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health came to this conclusion after analyzing data on nearly 120,000 people collected over 30 years.

    The analysis also showed that regular nut eaters tended to be slimmer than those who ate no nuts, putting to rest the notion that eating nuts leads to weight gain.

    Previous studies have already shown links between eating nuts and lower risk for many diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, colon cancer and diverticulitis.

    Eating lots of nuts has also been associated with lower cholesterol, reductions in inflammation, oxidative stress, body fat and insulin resistance.

    Each nut variety contains its own unique combination of nutrients and is generally rich in a few nutrients such as:

      • Almonds: protein, calcium and vitamin E
      • Brazil nuts: fibre and selenium: just two brazil nuts a day provides 100% RDI for selenium for an adult
      • Cashews: non haem (plant based) iron and a low GI rating
      • Chestnuts: low GI, fibre and vitamin C (although much vitamin C is lost during cooking)
      • Hazelnuts: fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin E
      • Macadamias: highest in monounsaturated fats, thiamin and manganese
      • Pecans: fibre and antioxidants
      • Pine nuts: vitamin E and the arginine amino acid
      • Pistachios: protein, potassium, plant sterols and the antioxidant resveratrol
      • Walnuts: alpha linoleic acid: plant omega 3 and antioxidants

    A healthy daily intake of nuts is 30g (a small handful) or approximately:

    • 20 almonds
    • 15 cashews
    • 20 hazelnuts
    • 15 macadamias
    • 15 pecans
    • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
    • 30 pistachio kernels
    • 9 walnut kernels
    • a small handful of mixed nuts or about two of each of the ten nut varieties (except chestnut which isn’t eaten raw)

     

    Should I avoid nuts if I Am Concerned About Gaining Weight?

    A small handful of nuts (30–50g) each day is not associated with a weight gain, and may also help reduce the risk of obesity. The healthy fats in nuts can help you feel fuller, which helps to control appetite.

    And since some fat is trapped in the fibrous structure of the nut, it passes through the body rather than being digested.

    Nuts can be part of a healthy diet to maintain or even lose weight, as long as your overall calorie intake does not increase.  Eating a handful of nuts is an excellent substitute for less healthy foods such as deep fried foods, biscuits, cakes, chips, chocolate and so on.  And don’t forget that apart from incorporating nuts in your diet, you must also include exercise in your daily regimen. And don’t forget to eat everything in moderation!

     

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About Me

I am a WFHM with 3 beautiful girls - Alycia, Sherilyn and Cassandra. I quit the job that I love to stay home with my 3 angels as that's what I've always wanted to do. I am a health freak, fitness freak and a clean freak too. I love to eat and live healthily and I want my kids and hubby to do the same too. Apart from being obsessed with good health, I am obsessed with fashion! I own an online store that sells ladies and kids clothing. Check out my online store at Old & New Stuff For Sale

I always believe that your health is your wealth and if you have good health, that's the best gift you can ever ask for from God.

Do check out my other blogs Health Freak Mommy and Health Freak Mommy’s Journal too!

I have been writing product reviews, food reviews / restaurant reviews and product advertorials since 2007. Please email Shireen at shireenyong@gmail.com to inquire if you are interested to place an advertorial or review in this blog.

Thank you!

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