Need of an hour- Immunity booster L-glutathione.

Nutrition Expert: Sana Saiyed , Practicing Clinical Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, Mumbai

Glutathione, called as the master antioxidant has a powerful effect on enhancing the immunity of the body. Glutathione also enhances the absorption of vitamin C, Vitamin E and CoQ-10. 

Do you know that our body can produce its own antioxidant in the form of glutathione? It is produced every month by our body which helps in maintaining the immunity game strong. 

Although the production of glutathione is hindered by a lot of factors like sun burns, autoimmune diseases, chronic stress, UV radiation, smoking, poor diet. 

Glutathione has the capability to cope with the oxidative stress by binding with the oxidative compounds that damages the DNA, cell membranes and energy production leading to a healthier immune response. 

There are two forms of glutathione in the body:

active form- Reduced glutathione (GSH, or L-glutathione) it repairs oxidative damage and oxidizes.

Oxidized glutathione (GSSG) is the inactive form, which can be recycled back into active GSH.

Glutathione and Mitochondria

Glutathione protects your mitochondria, ensuring your cells are able to make the energy your body needs.

Mitochondria are the “power plants” of your cells. Every one of your cells has mitochondria, which convert glucose, amino acids and fats into energy.

But mitochondria can also sense danger when cell energy levels drop, and are even involved in sending the final “death” message (apoptosis) when a cell is damaged beyond repair and needs to die.

Mitochondria need to be protected, and the “knight in shining armor” who guards our source of energy is none other than glutathione.

Glutathione makes sure that heavy metals, organic toxins, and free radicals generated during normal metabolism don’t damage the mitochondria.

Certain illnesses are known to decrease glutathione levels. Researchers are still determining whether low glutathione causes some of these diseases, or the other way around.

The most common low glutathione-related diseases are:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Macular degeneration
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • Cancer
  • COPD
  • Liver disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility

Glutathione is a Potent Antioxidant

Many people know the chef’s trick of sprinkling a little lemon juice over fruit to keep it from turning brown. Antioxidants are like that lemon juice. By consistently “sprinkling” your body with antioxidants like glutathione, you can prevent your body from “browning” or “oxidizing” which causes damage and aging of cells. Antioxidants are the “anti-agers” of the nutrient world, working to protect your body from free radicals, and the oxidative damage they cause.

Every time you eat, breathe, or move, your body uses fuel created from the food you eat to produce energy. But just as a car releases harmful byproducts as exhaust, so too does your own body’s energy-producing efforts produce a dangerous byproduct: free radicals.

Free radicals are highly reactive forms of oxygen that are missing an electron. When they come into contact with normal molecules, they steal an electron, damaging the healthy cell and its DNA.

In fact, some estimates show that your DNA takes 10,000 oxidative hits daily. Antioxidants work to counteract the damage caused by free radicals.

Glutathione is the “master” antioxidant, directly binding to oxidative compounds that damage cell membranes, DNA, and energy production. It directly neutralizes a wide range of oxidants, including superoxide, nitric oxide, carbon radicals, hydroperoxides, peroxynitrites, and lipid peroxides.

Glutathione offers the all-important antioxidant defense like few others can.

Glutathione and Energy

Energy production occurs within all cells (except red blood cells) via the mitochondria. Glutathione protects mitochondria from free radicals and the oxidative damage they cause. In this way, glutathione is paramount to energy production.

If mitochondria are damaged, they slow down and start to make less energy. The affected  “diseased” mitochondria leads to decreased bodily function and efficiency.

To make things worse, damaged mitochondria output more free radicals. In turn, these free radicals cause further mitochondrial damage and create a vicious cycle of less energy and more damage.

GSH binds these free radicals and relieves oxidative stress — not just on the mitochondria, but on the rest of the cell.

Glutathione and the Immune System

Glutathione helps your immune system stay strong and ready to fight infections. While vitamin C seems to get all the accolades when it comes to immunity, glutathione is the under-recognized supporting actor who deserves the starring role.

Research shows that active glutathione (GSH) primes white cells such as natural killer (NK) and T cells, your body’s front-line infection fighters. GSH-enhanced T cells are able to produce more infection-fighting substances, controlling both bacterial and viral infections.

One clinical trial in particular found that GSH doubled NK cells’ ability to be cytotoxic (kill invaders) after just six months of use. Glutathione actually has a potent antibacterial effect as it helps the immune cells called macrophages fight the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

In another study, researchers found that GSH modulates the behavior of many immune system cells, affecting adaptive immunity and protecting against microbial, viral and parasitic infections.

There are many chronic infections such as EBV, hepatitis, herpes viruses and Lyme, to name a few, which can deregulate and suppress the immune system. Glutathione can modulate and reverse this suppression. 

Autoimmune diseases also appear to be hallmarked by imbalanced glutathione levels.

Ashwagandha

By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai

Email: fihealthie@gmail.com

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine.

For hundreds of years, people have used the roots and orange-red fruit of ashwagandha for medicinal purposes. The herb is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The name “ashwagandha” describes the smell of its root, meaning “like a horse.” By definition, ashwa means horse. Practitioners use this herb as a general tonic to boost energy and reduce stress and anxiety. Some also claim that the herb may be beneficial for certain cancers,

Uses Of  Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. This is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and one of India’s healthcare systems. In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana. This means that it helps maintain youth, both mentally and physically.

There is some evidence to suggest that the herb can have neuro-protective and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation underpins many health conditions, and reducing inflammation can protect the body against a variety of conditions.

For example, people use ashwagandha to help treat the following:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Skin conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy

Different treatments make use of different parts of the plant, including the leaves, seeds, and fruit.

Health Benefits?

Scientific studies have suggested that ashwagandha might be beneficial for a number of conditions. That said, researchers do not know a lot about how the herb reacts within the human body. Most studies so far have used animal or cell models, meaning that scientists do not know if the same results will occur in humans.

Stress and Anxiety

Ashwagandha may have a calming effect on anxiety symptoms when compared with the drug lorazepam, a sedative and anxiety medication.

A 2000 study suggested that the herb had a comparable anxiety-reducing effect with lorazepam, suggesting that ashwagandha might be as effective for reducing anxiety. However, the researchers conducted this study in mice, not humans.

In a 2019 study in humans, researchers found that taking a daily dose of 240 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha significantly reduced people’s stress levels when compared with a placebo. This included reduced levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

In another 2019 study in humans, taking 250 mg or 600 mg of ashwagandha per day resulted in lower self-reported stress levels, as well as lower cortisol levels. Although this research is promising, scientists need to collect much more data before recommending the herb to treat anxiety.

Arthritis

Ashwagandha may act as a pain reliever, preventing pain signals from traveling along the central nervous system. It may also have some anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, some research has shown it to be effective in treating forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. A small 2015 study in 125 people with joint pain found the herb to have potential as a treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis.

Heart Health

Some people use ashwagandha to boost their heart health, including:

  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Lowering high cholesterol
  • Easing chest pain
  • Preventing heart disease

One 2015 study in humans suggested that ashwagandha root extract could enhance a person’s cardiorespiratory endurance, which could improve heart health. However, more research is necessary.

Alzheimer’s Treatment

According to a 2011 review, several studies have examined ashwagandha’s ability to slow or prevent loss of brain function in people with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. As these conditions progress, parts of the brain and its connective paths become damaged, which leads to loss of memory and function. This review suggests that when mice and rats receive ashwagandha during the early disease stages, it may be able to offer protection.

Cancer

The same 2011 review also describes a few promising studies that found that ashwagandha might be able to stop cell growth in certain cancers. This includes reducing lung tumors in animal studies.

How To Take Ashwagandha

The dosage of ashwagandha and the way people use it depends on the condition they are hoping to treat. There is no standard dosage based on modern clinical trials.

Different studies have used different dosages. Some research suggests that taking 250–600 mg per day can reduce stress. Other studies have used much higher dosages. Capsule dosages often contain between 250 and 1,500 mg of ashwagandha. The herb comes in the form of a capsule, powder, and liquid extract.

In some cases, taking high doses can cause unpleasant side effects. It is best to speak with a healthcare professional about safety and dosage before taking any new herbal supplements, including ashwagandha.

Side Effects

People can usually tolerate ashwagandha in small-to-medium doses. However, there have not been enough long-term studies to fully examine the possible side effects. Taking large amounts of ashwagandha can lead to digestive upset, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. This may be due to irritation of the intestinal mucosa.

Is It Safe?

Pregnant women should avoid using ashwagandha because it may cause distress for the foetus and premature labour.

Another potential concern for Ayurvedic herbs is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate the manufacturers. This means that they are not held to the same standards as pharmaceutical companies and food producers. It is possible for herbs to contain contaminants such as heavy metals, or they may not contain the actual herb at all. People should be sure to do some research on the manufacturer before purchasing any product.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some Ayurvedic products may contain lead, mercury, and arsenic in levels above what experts consider to be acceptable for human daily intake.

Summary

Ashwagandha is a herbal treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. Some studies suggest that ashwagandha could have a range of health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety and improving arthritis. Pregnant women and people with pre-existing health conditions should talk to their doctor before using ashwagandha.

Many of the studies so far have been small, conducted in animals, or had flaws in their design. For this reason, researchers cannot say with certainty that it is an effective treatment. More work is necessary. If a person chooses to use this herb as part of a treatment plan, they should be sure to discuss it with their doctor first.

Reference

Medicinal value of Guava!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email id: vidula708@gmail.com

Guava is one of the most important fruit and it is considered as apple of the tropics. In India; its position is forth after mango, banana, and citrus so far as area and production of major fruits are considered. Guavas are considered excellent sources of antioxidant phytochemicals, which include ascorbic acid, carotenoids, antioxidant dietary fibre, and polyphenols.

Carotenoids, which are yellow, red, and orange pigments, have demonstrated many beneficial health effects related to their antioxidant properties. Guava’s major carotenoid, lycopene, is responsible for the pink coloration in pink guava’s flesh.

The common types of guava include apple guava, yellow-fruited cherry guava, strawberry guava, and red apple guava. It is mostly eaten raw (ripe or semi-ripe) or consumed in the form of juice, jams, and jellies. The common guava has a fruit with a yellow skin and white, yellow or pink flesh. Guavas are known for their sweet and tangy flavour and many uses, but there’s much more to this fruit than meets the eye. Many consider it a “magical” fruit because of its array of nutrients and medicinal uses.

Interesting Facts and Health benefits of Guava:

  • Guava has a good amount of lycopene that is carotenoid phytonutrient. Lycopene has anti-tumor properties and protects from prostate cancer.
  • Guava is rich in dietary fibre, which can reduce the sugar levels in the body and help diabetes patients take control of their health.
  • People suffering from chronic pain can use the fruit and derive benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Guavas contain a mineral known as folate. It helps promote fertility in humans.
  • Guava is rich in magnesium which acts as a nervous relaxant. It helps to relax muscles and nerves of the body.
  • Guava has a capacity to shrink and contract any open tissues in your body.
  • This has anti-bacterial properties that can flush out the harmful toxins and bacteria from your body.
  • Guava juice is an effective remedy to treat dengue fever. It is recommended to drink the guava juice at least three times in a day for effective results.
  • Pink guavas contain twice the amount of lycopene present in tomatoes. Lycopene is an antioxidant that protects our skin from being damaged by UV rays and environmental pollution.

Uses of Guava:

  • The whole fruit of this plant is edible.
  • The fruit can be eaten raw or even cooked.
  • Fruits are sliced and used as salads or desserts.
  • Beverages are also prepared from the pulp of the fruit.
  • Many varieties of delicacies such as jam, guava paste, and guava cheese are produced from the fruit.
  • The leaves are also edible and have medicinal properties.

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330702066_A_short_review_on_a_Nutritional_Fruit_Guava
  2. http://www.jnkvv.org/PDF/04042020172628Guava.pdf
  3. https://www.scielo.br/pdf/bjps/v53n2/2175-9790-bjps-53-02-e16141.pdf
  4. http://icarrcer.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/EvalutionOfGuava.pdf
  5. https://www.doc-developpement-durable.org/file/Arbres-Fruitiers/FICHES_ARBRES/goyavier_Psidium%20guajava/GUAVA%20FRUIT%20PHYTOCHEMICALS-ANTIOXIDANT%20PROPERTIES.pdf

Goodness of Mustard Greens!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email id: vidula708@gmail.com

Mustard greens are part of the brassica family, also known as cruciferous vegetables. This leafy green is in the same family as kale, collards and cabbage. The greens are high in Vitamin A (skin and eyes), Vitamin K (bones), B1, B2, B6 (red blood cells, heart, metabolism), Vitamin C (immune system), and Vitamin E (antioxidant). Mustard greens are typically used in Southern, Chinese, Indian and Japanese cooking. Young leaves can be used in salads, while older leaves have a stronger, more “mustardy” flavour and are usually sautéed or braised. Mustard greens are considered a cancer fighting vegetable and are known to lower cholesterol, improve eye, heart and bone health (1).

The mustard plant is native to sub-Himalayan plains of the Indian sub-continent, commonly cultivated for its leaves and oil seeds since ancient times. Mustards are cool season winter crop. Their tender, crispy leaves are more flavourful which last from November until March.

Nutritive Value:

It is a rich source of flavonoids, carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin. Moreover, fresh mustard leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, several essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and manganese as well as phytonutrients (2).

Health Benefits: (3)

  • Antioxidant Properties

Mustard greens are the best source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and vitamin E! (This reflects that a food is simply not required to contain a large amount of fat in order to provide ample amounts of fat-soluble vitamins.) And also the best source of the antioxidant mineral manganese, as well as the water-soluble antioxidant vitamin C, mustard greens are a truly excellent source of conventional antioxidant support.

This cruciferous vegetable also provides unusual amounts of numerous phenolic antioxidants. Caffeic acid and ferulic acid are two phenolic antioxidants provided in significant amounts by mustard greens as are numerous polyphenolic antioxidants.

  • Glucosinolate Benefits from Mustard Greens

Cruciferous vegetables are perhaps most famous as a group for their unusual sulfur content, and especially their sulfur-containing glucosinolates. Glucosinolate get converted into closely-related molecules called isothiocyanates (ITCs). The potential for glucosinolates to get converted into ITCs is often referred to as “ITC yield,” and glucosinolate-containing foods with a high ITC yield are generally regarded as being especially helpful in terms of their health benefits.

The potential health benefits from intake of ITCs are known to be wide ranging, and they include decreased risk of certain cardiovascular diseases; decreased risk of certain cancer types; and support of the digestive tract including the stomach and intestinal linings. Also, it has the ability to support detoxification activity in our cells. Detoxification of potentially hazardous substances is not only a key to our general health, but it is also important for lowering our risk of certain cancer types. Mustard greens found to have high yield of ITCs.

  • Improve Cardiovascular Health

The strong antioxidant support provided by mustard greens is a natural candidate for helping lower risk of atherosclerosis. The glucosinolates in mustard greens have also been shown to provide help in the regulation of blood lipid levels, including levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Some of this regulation has been linked to the bile acid binding ability of fiber-related nutrients in mustard greens.

  • Keeps Digestive Tract Healthy

Mustard Greens support the health of cells that line both the stomach and the intestinal tract. In addition, the presence of glucosinolates from mustard greens and other cruciferous vegetables in the lower intestinal tract has been shown to potentially shift the balance of bacterial populations in the lower digestive tract that may be helpful to overall gut health.

How to enjoy Mustard Greens?

  • Young mustard greens make great additions to salads. Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely-related Brassica oleracea greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens).
  • Adding chopped mustard greens to a pasta salad gives it a little kick. One of the best combinations is chopped tomatoes, pine nuts, goat cheese, pasta, and mustard greens tossed with a little olive oil.
  • Sarson ka saag, a popular dish from the Punjabi cuisine of India and Pakistan is prepared from Brassica juncea subsp. tatsai which has a particularly thick stem and is used in making the Indian pickle called Achar and the Chinese pickle zha cai.
  • Mustard greens with pork also known as Rayo in Nepali is the dish prepared by the Gorkhas of Darjeeling and Sikkim. It is usually eaten and relished with steamed rice and can also be eaten with chapati (Indian breads).
  • Mustard greens are also used in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. Asian mustard greens are mostly stir fried or pickled. Asam gai choy or kiam chai boey, a popular Southeast Asian dish is often made of leftovers from a large meal and it involves stewing of mustard greens with tamarind, dried chillies and leftover meat on the bone.

References:

  1. https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/farmtoschool/documents/seasonality-chart/F2S%20Mustard%20Greens.pdf
  2. http://www.ijat-aatsea.com/pdf/v8_n4_12_July/22_IJAT_2012__8_4__%20Banerjee,%20A-Plant%20Science-accepted.pdf
  3. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=93

Mangosteen_ A Super Fruit

By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.

Email: fihealthie@gmail.com

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical fruit said to offer a number of health benefits. Often touted for its antioxidant effects, mangosteen is sometimes referred to as a “superfruit.” The fruit tastes slightly sweet and tart.

Mangosteen is available canned or fresh but is more commonly found as a juice or supplement powder. Mangosteen juice products typically include the fruit, rind (which is inedible in whole fruit form), and pulp of the fruit. Mangosteen is hard to find in the United States, but it can make a healthy addition to your diet.

Nutrition Facts

The USDA does not provide nutrition information for fresh mangosteen. The following information is for 1 cup (196g) of mangosteen that has been canned in syrup and drained (1).

  • Calories: 143
  • Fat: 1.1g
  • Sodium: 13.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Protein: 0.8g
  • Carbs_ A 1-cup serving of canned mangosteen provides 143 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrate. Just 3.5 grams of the carbs come from fiber.
  • Fat_ There is just over 1 gram of fat in a 1-cup serving of canned mangosteen.
  • Protein_ Mangosteen provides less than a gram of protein in a single serving.
  • Vitamins and Minerals_ Mangosteen is a good source of folate and manganese.

Health Benefits

In Southeast Asia, mangosteen rind has been used for medicinal purposes for generations. Proponents claim that mangosteen can also help conditions including acne, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Some also suggest that mangosteen may promote healthy skin and weight loss.

May Aid Disease Prevention

In experimental research, scientists have shown that mangosteen extract may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-tumor properties (2,3).

Mangosteen contains xanthones, a class of polyphenolic compounds known for their antioxidant activities. Some scientists believe that these compounds may be helpful in the fight against diseases including tuberculosis and malaria. But human trials are lacking (3).

May Aid Treatment for Mood Disorders

Some researchers believe that an extract derived from the pericarp of mangosteen has neurobiological properties and therefore potential as a therapeutic treatment for certain types of mental illness.

According to a research review published in 2019, mangosteen’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, neuroprotective, and mitochondrial-enhancing properties make it theoretically useful as an adjunctive psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. But study authors state that much more research needs to be done as studies completed so far have been scarce and the few studies that have been conducted have been small in scope (4).

May Improve Immune Health

In one of the few clinical trials testing the effects of mangosteen, researchers found that mangosteen may help boost the immune system. Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the study involved 59 healthy adults. For 30 days, study participants took either a placebo or a mangosteen product containing vitamins and essential minerals (5).

By the study’s end, members of the mangosteen group had experienced a significantly greater improvement in immune response compared to members of the placebo group. Mangosteen also appeared to reduce levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation). More recent studies have also suggested that mangosteen has the potential to improve immune function, but more high-quality human trials are needed to fully understand this potential benefit (6).

May Help Fight Cancer

According to one study, in vitro and animal studies have suggested that xanthones inhibit the proliferation of a wide range of human tumor cell types giving it the potential to prevent and treat cancer. But researchers also note that while there is compelling evidence to suggest that xanthones from mangosteen may be a “remarkable candidate” for chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic strategies, further research must be conducted before the compounds can be used in the treatment of cancer (7).

Furthermore, a report published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, scientists warn that cancer patients should use caution before consuming mangosteen products. Mangosteen can potentially interact with cancer treatments and also affect blood sugar levels, the report’s authors noted (8).

May Aid Diabetes Prevention and Management

According to a 2019 research review, mangosteen plant extract may have anti-diabetic properties. Study authors say that a large volume of in vitro and animal studies have shown that mangosteen extract may have potential for use in anti-diabetic medications.

Researchers also explain that a nationwide survey in the Philippines suggested that the use of mangosteen as tea or eaten raw could potentially curb diabetes in the local population. Study authors also note, however, that more thorough clinical trials on humans should be conducted (9).

Allergies

While health experts acknowledge that it is possible to have an allergic reaction to mangosteen (10). published reports are rare. Researchers have tested patients with birch pollen allergy and found that mangosteen is usually well tolerated. Those with birch pollen allergy often cannot tolerate any fruit (11). There is even some (limited) evidence suggesting that mangosteen has anti-allergy benefits.

Adverse Effects

Preliminary animal research suggests that xanthones have the potential to interfere with normal blood clotting. It’s not known whether mangosteen xanthones may interact with blood-thinning medication (such as warfarin) (12)

In a small study, some of the side effects of an oral mangosteen extract included tiredness, constipation, dry throat, headache, and indigestion (13).

Varieties

If you are looking for the whole fruit or the canned version, you are most likely to find it in Asian markets or online. When purchasing canned products, be sure to check the label for added sweeteners. If canned in juice or syrup, you can count on added sugars, but draining and rinsing can decrease the amount you consume.

You may also find mangosteen juice, mangosteen tea, or mangosteen supplements in capsule or powder form at health food stores, online, or in Asian markets.

When It’s Best

Mangosteen is primarily grown in Thailand where it is harvested between June and August. For some time, there was a ban on mangosteen in the United States because of concerns over the Asian fruit fly, but the ban was lifted in 2007. To choose the best fresh mangosteen, select one with a deep purple color. It should be relatively firm. Make sure that the top stem (sepal) is intact and that it has a raised flower pattern on the bottom.

Storage and Food Safety

If you buy fresh mangosteen, you should plan to use them quickly. The fruit will only stay fresh for about 2–3 days. The fruit should be refrigerated until you are ready to use it. Mangosteen should not be frozen.

Reference

Isabgol husk (Psyllium)

By-Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.

What is Isabgol husk (Psyllium)?

Isabgol husk (Psyllium), an indigenous natural dietary fiber, official in IP, BP and USP consisting of the epidermal and collapsed adjacent layers removed from the seeds of Plantago ovata Forsk. (P. ispaghula Roxb.), is particularly rich in alimentary fibres and mucilage. The husk mucilage is a clear, colorless gelling agent, able to increase in volume upon absorbing water up to 40 times its own weight. It consists of 85% water-soluble fiber; partly fermentable and acts by hydration in the bowel. Made up of polysaccharides, it is popularly used as a bulk laxative. (1)

Health Benefits

  • Constipation: Psyllium is a bulk forming laxative. It works by increasing stool size and helping relieve constipation. It then helps with the absorption of water, which increases the size and moisture of stools. The end product is bigger and easier-to-pass stools.
  • Diarrhea: Research shows that psyllium can relieve diarrhea. It does this by acting as a water absorbing agent. It can increase stool thickness and slow down its passage through the colon. Psyllium can, prevent both constipation and reduce diarrhea, effectively helping to normalize bowel movements.
  • Blood sugar levels: Taking fiber supplements can help control the body’s glycemic response to a meal, such as reducing insulin and blood sugar levels. This is particularly the case with water soluble fibers such as psyllium and it works better for this mechanism than other fibers, such as bran. This is because the gel forming fibers in psyllium can slow down the digestion of food, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Satiety and aid weight loss:  Fibers that form viscous compounds, including psyllium, can help control appetite and aid weight loss. Psyllium may aid appetite control by slowing down stomach emptying and reducing appetite. Decreased appetite and calorie intake may support weight loss.
  • Lower cholesterol levels: Psyllium binds to fat and bile acids, helping the body to excrete them. In the process of replacing these lost bile acids, the liver uses cholesterol to produce more. As a result, blood cholesterol levels decrease.
  • Heart health: All types of fiber can be good for the heart. The American Heart Association (AHA) say that dietary fiber can improve cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
  • Prebiotic effects: Prebiotics are non-digestible compounds that nourish intestinal bacteria and help them grow. Researchers believe that psyllium has prebiotic effects. Although psyllium is somewhat resistant to fermentation, intestinal bacteria can ferment a small portion of psyllium fibers. This fermentation can produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), including butyrate. Research has linked SCFAs with health benefits. (2)

Research indicates that husk is quite safe to use in functional and nutraceutical foods. The FDA has approved the use of food products containing psyllium husk due to its associated health claims. Supplementation of fiber, are appreciated by the consumers due to appealing taste and better storage stability. Seeds of psyllium have been used for hundreds of years in traditional Iranian medicinal prescriptions. Because of its pharmacological effects, foods fortified with Plantago ovata mucilage gum may have a superior consumer acceptance. It is commonly found in consumer products such as high fiber breakfast cereals. In addition to being part of fiber formulations, psyllium supplements can also be found in granule, powder, wafer, and capsule forms. And importantly, because psyllium contains an increased amount of soluble fiber gram for gram compared to sources such as oat bran, its use may help fulfill daily dietary fiber recommendations more easily. (3)

How to use Isabgol?

  • Isabgol husk can be taken either with warm milk or water preferably before going to bed. It is advisable to avoid excessive consumption of Isabgol as it may lead to complications like abdominal pain, loose stools, diarrhoea etc (4)

 

References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38111508_Isabgol_Husk_A_Herbal_Remedy_for_Human_Health/link/00463519cfaea9a98a000000/download
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318707#benefits
  3. https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v4i9/SUB158459.pdf
  4. https://www.1mg.com/ayurveda/isabgol-65

Black Rice: Incredible Health Benefits!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email id: vidula708@gmail.com

Rice is the staple food for most of the people in different countries. Black rice is one kind of rice that is getting more popular recently and is consumed as functional food due to the usefulness to health. Black rice is also known as purple rice, forbidden rice, heaven rice, imperial rice, king’s rice and prized rice (1).

Nutritional Value:

Black rice contains higher levels of proteins, vitamins and minerals than common white rice. Black rice contains essential amino acids like lysine, tryptophan; vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid; and it is a good source of minerals including iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus and selenium. It contains the highest amount of antioxidants, protein and dietary fibre of all rice varieties, besides it has phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins (2).

Health Benefits:

  • Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants are first line of defence against free radical damage, and are critical for maintaining optimum health and wellbeing. Black rice bran has more anthocyanin antioxidants. It contains more fibre and vitamin E (another essential antioxidant) and less sugar. Antioxidants are able to neutralize free radicals, and can help to prevent oxidative damage. Studies show that antioxidant supplementation can exert a preventive effect against the development of serious conditions like cancer, and may improve overall health (3).

  • Anti-inflammatory Properties

Systemic inflammation is considered a key contributor to a number of diseases and illnesses prevalent in society today. This includes arthritis and other joint issues, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and even cancer. Black rice bran has the capacity to reduce inflammation at a cellular level. This results in a reduction in the amount of systemic inflammation within the body, improving cell health, and acting as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of inflammatory disease and illness (4).

  • Weight Management

Black rice has an extremely high fibre content, which can promote gut health, and aid with digestive processes. Furthermore, as fibre is digested slowly (and subsequently stays in our stomach longer), it can reduce feeling of hunger, and results reduction in daily energy intake. This reduction in energy intake leads to weight loss (5).

  • Improves Heart Health

Black rice has also been demonstrated to reduce plaque build-up within arteries. Plaque build-up within the arteries can cause the wall of those arteries to harden and become blocked. This negatively affects the function of those arteries, while also placing an increased demand on the heart, causing a significant rise in blood pressure. This is considered a key risk factor to both heart attacks and strokes. By reducing plaque build-up in the arteries, black rice can directly reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular and heart disease, while also improving heart health and function (6).

  • Enhance Liver Health

The inclusion of black rice into the diet has shown to reduce risk factors that lead to fatty liver disease, suggesting its direct influence on liver health. The antioxidant properties of black rice can also help to detoxify liver and improve liver function. Black rice increased fatty acid metabolism and helped to reduce the risk of elevated blood sugar levels and high cholesterol. There was also a lower risk of developing liver disease (7).

  • Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Anthocyanins are flavonoids that occur naturally in plants and are responsible for their colour. Studies with cell lines and animal models and clinical trials in humans suggest that anthocyanins in black rice exhibit Antidiabetic properties. Published data suggest that anthocyanins may lower blood glucose by improving insulin resistance, protecting β cells, increasing secretion of insulin and reducing digestion of sugars in the small intestine (8).

  • Enhances Brain Function

The antioxidant effect of anthocyanins also has a beneficial effect on improving brain function. This means that black rice can help to improve memory impairment and prevent or reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and depression. Clinical studies also showed that anthocyanins helped to improve learning capacity and reduce symptoms of depression. By adding black rice in the diet, help to boost memory and prevent premature cognitive aging (9).

Why is Black Rice black?

Black rice gets its dark colour from the antioxidant called anthocyanin. It’s the same nutrient that is found in many purple-coloured fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and eggplant.

Some interesting Black Rice recipes:

Spicy Peanut, Black Rice Salad With Mango, Grapes And Avocado
Black Rice Stir Fry
Black Rice Pudding
Black Rice Idli Dosa

Conclusion:

Black rice is an excellent alternative to white and brown rice, due to its nutrient density, high fibre content, and rich antioxidant content. Currently, black rice is regarded as a nutraceutical and functional food because beyond supply of nutrients it involves in the prevention and control of diseases.

References:

  1. https://www.academia.edu/26128187/Black_Rice
  2. https://www.ijhsr.org/IJHSR_Vol.8_Issue.2_Feb2018/31.pdf
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12926869/
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12480539_Nitenberg_G_Raynard_BNutritional_support_of_the_cancer_patient_issues_and_dilemmas_Crit_Rev_Oncol_Hematol_34_137-168
  5. https://sci-hub.do/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2010.05.009
  6. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/131/5/1421/4686909
  7. https://sci-hub.do/10.1021/jf904407x
  8. https://sci-hub.do/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2011.11.021
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934544/

Sarsaparilla Drink (Nannari Syrup)

By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist.

Email: fihealthie@gmail.com

History

For centuries, indigenous people around the world used the root of the sarsaparilla plant for treating joint problems like arthritis, and for healing skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. The root was also thought to cure leprosy due to its “blood-purifying” properties. Sarsaparilla was later introduced into European medicine and eventually registered as an herb in the Unites States Pharmacopoeia to treat syphilis.

Sarsaparilla_ The Drink

Sarsaparilla is also the common name of a soft drink that was popular in the early 1800s. The drink was used as a home remedy and was often served in bars.

Contrary to popular belief, the sarsaparilla soft drink was typically made from another plant called sassafras. It has been described as a similar taste to root beer or birch beer. The drink is still popular in certain Southeast Asian countries, but is no longer common in the United States.

Though it can be found online and in specialty stores, today’s sarsaparilla drinks don’t actually contain any sarsaparilla or sassafras. Instead they contain natural and artificial flavoring to mimic the taste.

The Benefits

Sarsaparilla contains a wealth of plant chemicals thought to have a beneficial effect on the human body. Chemicals known as saponins might help reduce joint pain and skin itching, and also kill bacteria. Other chemicals may be helpful in reducing inflammation and protecting the liver from damage. It is important to note that human studies for these claims are either very old or lacking. The studies referenced below used the individual active components in this plant, individual cell studies, or mice studies. While the results are very intriguing, human studies are needed to support the claims.

Psoriasis

The benefits of sarsaparilla root for treating psoriasis were documented decades ago. One study found that sarsaparilla dramatically improved skin lesions in people with psoriasis. The researchers hypothesized that one of sarsaparilla’s main steroids, called sarsaponin, is able to bind to endotoxins responsible for the lesions in psoriasis patients and remove them from the body.

Arthritis

Sarsaparilla is a potent anti-inflammatory. This factor makes it also a useful treatment for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and other causes of joint pain and the swelling caused by gout.

Syphilis

Sarsaparilla has shown activity against harmful bacteria and other microorganisms that have invaded the body. Though it may not work as well as modern day antibiotics and antifungals, it has been used for centuries to treat major illnesses like leprosy and syphilis. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium. Leprosy is another devastating infection caused by bacteria.

The antimicrobial activity of sarsaparilla has been documented in recent studies. One paper looked at the activity of over 60 different phenolic compounds isolated from sarsaparilla. Researchers tested these compounds against six types of bacteria and one fungus. The study found 18 compounds that demonstrated antimicrobial effects against the bacteria and one against the fungus.

Cancer

A recent study showed that sarsaparilla had anticancer properties in cell lines of multiple types of cancers and in mice. Preclinical studies in breast cancer tumors and liver cancer have also shown the antitumor properties of sarsaparilla. More research is needed to find out if sarsaparilla can be used in cancer prevention and treatment.

Protecting Liver

Sarsaparilla has also shown protective effects on the liver. Research conducted in rats with liver damage found that compounds rich in flavonoids from sarsaparilla were able to reverse damage to the liver and help it function at its best.

Side Effects

There are no known side effects of using sarsaparilla. However, taking a large amount of saponins may cause stomach irritation. Be aware that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate herbs and supplements and they aren’t subjected to rigorous safety and efficacy testing prior to marketing. Sarsaparilla may interact with certain medications. It can increase the ability of your body to absorb other drugs. Call your doctor right away if you experience any side effects while taking sarsaparilla.

Risks

Sarsaparilla is generally considered safe. The biggest risk to you is fraudulent marketing and misinformation.

Fraudulent Claims

Sarsaparilla has been falsely marketed by supplement makers to contain anabolic steroids like testosterone. While the plant steroids found that the sarsaparilla plant can be chemically synthesized into these steroids in the laboratory, this hasn’t ever been documented to happen in the human body. Many bodybuilding supplements contain sarsaparilla, but the root has never been proven to have any anabolic effects.

False Ingredients

Don’t confuse sarsaparilla with Indian sarsaparilla, Hemidesmus indicus. The Indian sarsaparilla is sometimes used in sarsaparilla preparations but doesn’t have the same active chemicals of the sarsaparilla in the Smilax genus.

Pregnancy Risks

There haven’t been any studies done to show that sarsaparilla is safe for pregnant or breast-feeding mothers. You should stay on the safe side and avoid medicinal plants like sarsaparilla unless directed by a doctor.

Takeaway

The beneficial phytochemicals in the root of the sarsaparilla plant have been shown to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and skin and joint healing effects. Sarsaparilla is considered safe for most people, but be wary of false claims. The herb hasn’t been proven to successfully cure cancer or other diseases, and there’s no evidence that it contains anabolic steroids often sought by bodybuilders.

If you wish to take sarsaparilla for a medical condition, you should speak to a doctor before you start. Though sarsaparilla has been shown to help with certain medical problems, it may not be the most effective treatment for your particular condition. Even if you think sarsaparilla will help, your doctor may recommend that you only use sarsaparilla in conjunction with modern medical treatments, or not at all.

Reference

  1. Zhao, J. X
  2. ccba.bc.ca/discuss1/_disc1/00000a49.htm
  3. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000927970700275X
  4. smithspharmacy.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?StoreID=A2CA0A52C8E242409B8D577B01E035A1&DocID=bottomline-sarsaparilla
  5. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25732255
  6. nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM194207232270402
  7. rain-tree.com/sarsaparilla.htm#.V5eGbEYrLIV
  8. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874110003521
  9. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23681353
  10. mdpi.com/1420-3049/18/5/5265
  11. ingentaconnect.com/content/aarm/jrm/2012/00000001/00000001/art00004

Healthy Advantages Of Cumin ( Jeera)

Nutrition Expert- Saba Shaikh, Mumbai.

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum L) is a leafy plant that grows low to the ground in China, India, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean region. The fruit of the plant is called the cumin seed, and it’s popular all over the world as a spice. Cumin has become the subject of medical research, as anecdotal evidence claims it has all kinds of health benefits.

Most of cumin’s claimed benefits have to do with your digestion, immune system, and circulation. Some benefits of cumin can be demonstrated with clinical studies, while some remain hard to prove.

Health Benefits

1.   Promotes Digestion

Cumin is one of the most gut-friendly herbs, and promotes pancreatic enzymes, assisting in the digestion process. Cumin seeds contain thymol and essential oils that stimulate the salivary gland, thereby easing digestion. People with a weak digestive system are recommended to drink jeera water early in the morning on empty stomach for better digestion and to decrease flatulence.

Cumin is also Carminative i.e. relieves you from flatulence and thereby improves digestion and appetite. The presence of essential oils, magnesium, and sodium content provides relief from stomach ache when taken with hot water.

2.  Treats Haemorrhoids

Cumin is a rich source of dietary fiber, exhibits carminative, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. The essential oils cumin aldehyde and pyrazines in jeera act as a natural laxative, aids in curing infections or wounds in the excretory system and relieves haemorrhoids.

3.  Weight Loss

A study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice reveals the benefits for those on diet. Cumin not only helps in losing weight quickly but also influences the body’s fat profile in a positive way by reducing the levels of harmful lipids in the blood.

4.  Fights cancer

Cumin possesses detoxifying and chemo preventive properties. As per the study conducted by the Cancer Research Laboratory USA, the active compound cumin aldehyde found in cumin aids in retarding the growth of a tumour.

5.  Treats Insomnia

The essential oils in cumin are hypnotic in nature and have tranquilizing effects, which eases stress and anxiety that commonly causes insomnia. Moreover, jeera contains melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone, as well as significant amounts of iron and magnesium, which are all essential for regulating brain activity and inducing sleep in a timely manner.

6.  Relieves asthma and cold

The powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of cumin seeds, making it a wonderful remedy for treating asthma and cold. It acts as an expectorant, loosens up the phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tracts and makes it easier to eliminate. The essential oil acts as a disinfectant and helps ward off infections and boost immunity.

7.  Better memory

Packed with a bunch of minerals and vitamins such as riboflavin, vitamin B6, zeaxanthin, and niacin consuming cumin is beneficial for the brain to function properly. Cumin helps in promoting better mental health and sharpens the memory by nourishing the brain cells.

8.  Soothes the Skin & Treats Acne

Cumin well known for its anti-inflammatory properties can help you in getting instant relief from allergies and stings. It soothes the skin and assists in controlling any inflammation caused due to allergies. The anti-bacterial properties of cumin aid in killing the bacteria on the skin and cures acne. Washing your face with cumin water quite often during the day can keep skin infections at bay.

Three Quick-Fix Jeera Concoctions To Ease Your Tummy Troubles:

1. To counter loss of appetite, add 1 teaspoon of jeera (cumin) powder and ¼ teaspoon of pepper powder in a glass of warm water, and consume it half an hour before meals. This will effectively stimulate your taste buds and also improve the absorption of ingested food.

2. To neutralize stomach acidity, add 1 teaspoon of jeera powder and ½ teaspoon of dhania (coriander) powder, to half a glass of lukewarm water along with some sugar, and drink it twenty minutes before meals.

3. A teaspoon of roasted jeera powder along with some dried ginger and 3-4 saunf (fennel seeds) in warm water, taken thrice a day after meals, helps to relieve diarrhoea.

Kale: A Nutritional Powerhouse!

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email Id: vidula708@gmail.com

“Kale has received a lot of attention in recent years for its powerhouse nutritional benefits, making kale one of the so-called Super Foods.”

Kale, also known as borecole, is a vegetable with green and purple leaves, and can have a smooth or curly shape. Varieties of kale are grown all around the world, in a number of different climates, and the plant is able to grow well into the cooler winter months. The vegetable hails from the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, and collards. The vegetables of Brassicaceae family contain phyto-nutrients that promote health.

Kale Juice
Kale Salad

Nutritional Content:

Kale is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fibre, Protein, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese (1).

Types of Kale: (3)

  1. Curly Kale

Curly kale is probably the most recognizable kale. It is usually bright or dark green or purple in colour has tight ruffled leaves and fibrous stalks. It has a noticeable pungent flavour with peppery and bitter qualities, so seek out younger looking leaves for less bitterness.

  • Lacinato Kale

Lacinato kale is a kale variety that features dark blue-green leaves with a slightly wrinkled and firm texture. The hearty leaves are tall and narrow, and retains its firm texture even after it has been cooked. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than the curly kind.

  • Red Russian Kale

Red Russian Kale has flat, fringed leaves that resemble big outer leaves of a mature cabbage. Its leaves can have a red tinge and a reddish-purple tinge to the stems, and has a great flavour that is described as sweet and mild. Be sure to remove as much of the stems as possible before cooking as it has incredibly tough fibrous stems that are difficult to chew.

  • Redbor Kale

Redbor kale is beautiful and dark red in colour that can look a deep purple. Redbor makes a great addition to a meal, or even as edible plate decor.

Uses of Kale: (2)

  • Use of kale in traditional medicine is very similar such as other Brassica crops that have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, mostly to cure gastritis and gastric ulcer.
  • In addition to relief of symptoms of gastric ulcers, Kale has been reported to use for treating diabetes mellitus, rheumatism, bone weakness, ophthalmologic problems, hepatic diseases, anaemia, obesity etc.
  • Kale leaves are usually consumed fresh in salads and as kale leaf juice, and cooked as diverse soup dishes, omelettes, and stir-fry.
  • In a Europe, kale is often served with the smoked pork.
  • Some plant parts are occasionally prepared as pickles.
  • Recently, dried kale or so-called ´kale chips´ became very popular, although draying significantly decreases its nutritive and phytochemical content

Health Benefits: (2)

  • Effective against GI Disorders

Kale contains glucoraphanin, which is sulforaphane precursor, therefore, antiulcer activity of kale may be related with the sulforaphane anti- Helicobacter pylori activity. Kale also possesses antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Bacillus subtilis and Moraxella catarrhalis.

  • Powerful Anti-Oxidant

Kale contains compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids, glucosinolates hydrolysis products, vitamin C and E that show antioxidant activity. It is widely accepted that food high in phytochemicals with antioxidant activity can help with the protection against free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS), and therefore in prevention from chronic diseases.

  • Cancer Prevention

Several epidemiological studies over the last decades supported the fact that Brassica vegetables are promising in cancer prevention. Meta-analysis that combined results of different authors showed an inverse relationship between cruciferous vegetable consumption and the risk of cancers of the reproductive system, urinary system and lung. Mechanisms underlying anticancer activity have been attributed to the decomposition products of glucosinolates, which are also present in kale.

  • Promotes Heart Health

Presence of compounds such as polyphenols, glucosinolates, carotenoids, Vitamins E and C in food are associated with the cardiovascular protection. Bioactive compounds of cruciferous vegetables help in heart health mainly through their ability to reduce LDL, to combat free radicals and up-regulate GST activity (reduction of oxidative stress). Kale methanolic extract possess protective effect on the oxidation of very low density (VLDL) and low density (LDL) lipoproteins.

  • Good For Eye Health

Kale is rich in lutein which is a carotenoid that protects against macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in old age people.

Kale Recipe Ideas: (3)

  • Mix it in a salad
  • Pair it with nuts
  • Throw it in the soup
  • Put kale in a burger
  • Put it in a green smoothie
  • Use kale as a burrito shell
  • Just sauté it
  • Make kale chips
Kale and Bean Soup
Kale Chips

Conclusion:

Kale has antioxidant and anticancer potential, very similar as other cruciferous vegetables. Kale and collards are higher in Ca, folate, riboflavin, vitamin C, K and A content than other cruciferous vegetables.

References:

  1. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2
  2. https://sci-hub.do/https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2018.1454400
  3. http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/WI_KalePower.pdf