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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

8 Not So Simple Steps to Maintain Healthy Bones For Life

Written: 11/02/2007 | Join the discussion (1)

Today I received the following comment from a reader for the following post 10 Reasons Why You Must Drink Milk At Breakfast And Before Bedtime.

Human is the only mammals who drinks milk after childhood. I've always hated milk, even when i was a baby i couldnt stand it. I never had health problem related to the fact i never drink milk. I eat cheese and cream sometimes but nothing more. I exercise a lot and never had bones pb or muscle damage. We can find all the nutriment present in it with an healthy diet, so i'm not completely sure it is usefull to drink glasses of milk.

I study sport science and never heard milk was an important part of a good diet.
In my opinion people should drink milk if they enjoy it but not force themselves to do it cause it is not necessary when you eat properly.

There are some persons who have no problem drinking milk. This actually depends on a person's metabolism because some persons are lactase-deficient, that is they lack the enzyme to digest milk. If you take a look at the post I wrote about the reasons you must drink milk, there is one thing which I didn't mention but which is one of the most important reasons why you must drink milk or take atleast two dairy products per day. And that is the prevention of osteoporosis which can affect you later in life. Although you may feel fine now not drinking milk, the chance of getting this extremely painful disease is more likely to occur if you do not take any dairy products because dairy products are one of the most important sources of calcium. This is not a simple thing to comprehend now when you are find yourself fit and healthy but this is a serious disease that plagues about 60% of elderly persons. Over 1.5 million annual fractures are caused by osteoporosis in the USA. Here is a breakdown on the disease and how to prevent it from getting to you too early.

Osteoporosis is both a disease and a natural process whereby your bone mass decreases. In simple terms this means that your bones are becoming more fragile and brittle and the risks of fracturing them increase, namely your hips, wrists and your spinal column.

Osteoporosis appear usually after your 50 years old. For a woman, the decline in the production of sex hormones oestrogen, which happens after menopause, speeds up the loss of bone mass. To keep your bones strong and healthy, a healthy diet is a must... even after the loss of bone mass has begin or your bone mass index (BMD) has decreased. Your diet must consists of essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and antioxydants. You must also avoid abuse of salt, coffee, alcohol and soda drinks. Here are foolproof ways to strengthen your bones and live a long life:

  1. Increase intake of calcium and vitamin D

    Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. Our bones are made up 99% of calcium. A deficit in calcium makes your bone porous. To decrease the osteoporosis process, you must first make sure you have sufficient calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. You must eat about 1500 mg of calcium per day. To achieve this quota, you must take atleast two portions of dairy products and a substantial amount of fruits to get the necessary vitamins.

    A portion of dairy products is about
    • a cup of dairy product(milk)
    • 3/4 cup of yoghurt
    • 50 g of cheese.

  2. Increase intake of proteins

    Proteins form an inherent part of bones. They are also important in the absorption of calcium in your digestive system. An excess or a lack of proteins can both harm your bones. An excess of protein can acidify your bones and teeth and cause them to lose their mass. Calcium can neutralise this process though.

    The portion of proteins you must take daily depends on your lifestyle. For someone leading a sedentary lifestyle, the daily intake of protein is 46g for women and 56g for men. An active person must consume about 10g of proteins in addition every day. The finest sources of proteins are meats and its substitutes. For vegetarians, they can easily find tofu, soya and beans as excellent sources of proteins.

    A portion of protein which corresponds to about 50g of proteins is
    • 75g of meat/fish
    • 3/4 cup green vegetables
    • 1/4 cup of nuts
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup of tofu

  3. Increase intake of Vitamin K

    Vitamin K helps in the formation of bones. About 200 µg to 500 µg of vitamin K is needed daily to have healthy bones. Vitamin K is found mainly in green vegetables. Some vegetables like cabbage or spinach are enough to cover your daily needs of vitamin K because it is needed in small amounts only. To reach this amount, you must eat about 3 portions of green vegetables or a green salad every day.

  4. Check the amount of vitamin B12 in your blood

    There is a link between osteoporosis and a decrease in the amount of vitamin B12 in your blood. If you do not have a regular check up with your doctor, then you must schedule one as soon as possible. During the check-up, ask your doctor to make a complete blood test and to see whether or not, there is a lack of vitamin B12 in your blood. Beware: old people and pure vegans (the ones that consume only plants) are more at risk of this because the main sources of vitamin B12 are meat, fish, liver, eggs. Good sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians are dairy products or eggs. ½ pint of milk (full fat or semi skimmed) contains 1.2 µg. A slice of vegetarian cheddar cheese (40g) contains 0.5 µg. A boiled egg contains 0.7 µg. Fermentation in the manufacture of yoghurt destroys much of the B12 present. Boiling milk can also destroy much of the B12. Vegans are recommended to ensure their diet includes foods fortified with vitamin B12. A range of B12 fortified foods are available. These include yeast extracts, vegetable stock, veggieburger mixes, textured vegetable protein, soya milks, vegetable and sunflower margarines, and breakfast cereals.

  5. Eat a lot of soya

    Soya is a powerfood containing a large amount of isoflavones. Isoflavones belong to the group of phytochemicals and are being studied intensively because they extent physiological effects which may help reduce the risk for certain diseases. Isoflavones contain in soya act in humans like hormones, but to a lesser extent. A consumption of about 90 mg to 100 mg of isoflavones per day is necessary for a healthy bone growth.

    Here are some foods and the amounts of isoflavones they contain:

    Soybeans: 125 ml (1/2 cup) - 47 mg
    Tempeh: 100 g - 43 mg
    Tofu: 100 g - 22 mg to 30 mg
    Soya drinks (like Soya milk): 250 ml (1 cup) - 24 mg

  6. Reduce Salt Intake

    I'm sure all of you know this refrain by heart now. Still you must bear in mind that excess of salt in your diet is very, very bad for your bones! A tablespoon of table salt contains 2,325 mg of sodium - the average recommended daily intake is between 1,500 and 2,400 mg. I wrote a very comprehensive article on Salt which I recommend you to read carefully if you want to lead a healthy life.

  7. Avoid strict dieting

    Avoid strict dieting
    ! If you are keen on losing weight, you must follow a healthy weight loss method. Also bear in mind that no diet is 100% efficient for all people. What has worked for someone does not mean that it will work for you too. So take it one step at a time and follow these 17 steps to ensure that your diet is a success.

  8. Some practical tips

    • If you think that animal milk is not for you, then try to make a smoothie with soya milk and small fruits like strawberries or raisins.

    • Limit coffee, alcohol and soda intake.

    • If you feel that your diet is not sufficient (like the diet for an elderly person), do talk with your doctor about taking supplements. But I like mentioned in a previous article, there is no need to take supplements if your diet is balanced enough.

    • Use more nuts, beans, fruits and green vegetables in your diet.

    • Use more herbs in your meals and limit salt consumption.

    • Some daily moderate exercises will keep your joints in great form.

It is fine if you can do without milk now but as long as you are taking the necessary amounts of dairy products or "calcium supplements", then you will be able to age healthily and not suffer in your old age because you didnt foresee the need to eat healthily for later.

How to Cook With Oil The Healthy Way

Written: 11/01/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Yesterday I went to dinner in a restaurant recommended by a friend. He insisted upon this particular restaurant because according to him, "...they make the best Indian dishes".

When the waiter brought my order I quickly realized why my friend like that place. The food tasted great but it was oily and not very healthy. In fact, it is the surplus oil that conferred to the dishes extra delicious taste.

Fats and oils are an important component of the diet but they must be consumed moderately. Excessive consumption of fats leads to obesity. Complications from obesity can give rise to heart disease which can ultimately result in heart failure. The health related problems resulting from obesity is a vicious circle so it's best avoid it right from the beginning by controlling the intake of calories in our diet.

What do we have to keep in mind to practice a healthy cooking and with which oil?
  1. The smoke point of the oil being used must be checked. The smoke point refers to the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to break down. The substance smokes or burns, and gives food an unpleasant taste. When the oil in your pan starts to give a foul odor and smell, this implies it has exceeded its smoke point. High smoke point oil is best suited for cooking. Such an oil is canola oil.

  2. Oil based on mono-unsaturated fats is best for heart and health. It is an excellent oil for patients suffering from high-risk heart diseases or clogged blood vessels.

  3. Avoid deep frying as much as possible. Such cooking techniques allow the food to absorb too much oil.

  4. Non-stick pans are best for cooking.

  5. Instead of frying your fish or chicken, roast them. You will eliminate the excess fat they contain.

  6. Intake of saturated fat should be limited and replaced by polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated fats which are known to reduce the harmful LDL cholesterol.

To help you make sense of it all, here’s a list of some of the popular cooking oils and how to use them.

  • Avocado Oil
    Avocado oil has a soft nutty taste and a mild avocado aroma. This is a very healthy oil with a profile similar to olive oil. This oil can be used for very high temperature applications. It also offers flavors subtle enough to be appreciated in salad dressings, dips and in a variety of Southwestern dishes. High manufacturing costs make the oil quite expensive though.

  • Canola Oil
    This refined, light golden-colored neutral-flavor oil is used in salad dressings, cooking, sautéing, baking and salad dressings. It keeps well in the cabinet (for up to a year).

  • Grapeseed Oil
    This is a great choice for salad dressings because it emulsifies particularly well. When used in combination with walnut and hazelnut, its neutral taste really allows the flavors of the oils to shine through. It is best stored in the refrigerator and keeps for six months.

  • Extra-virgin olive Oil
    Extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined, meaning it has not undergone any modification whether chemically or mechanically after being pressed (usually cold-pressed to protect it from heat damage). It is an all-purpose salad oil. It has a full-bodied flavor that can be peppery, fruity, grassy or flowery. It is recommended to purchase by color, not by price. Bright green oils are peppery and a little bitter, while yellow oils are warmer and have a buttery flavor. These oils are best when they are still young and should be consumed within a year of pressing.

  • Peanut Oil
    It is a pale yellow refined oil with a very subtle scent and flavor which is made from pressed steam-cooked peanuts. It is widely used for cooking and salad dressings. Peanut oil can be expensive, so it’s best kept (in the cupboard) for special deep-fry indulgences.

  • Sesame Oil
    Sesame oil can be of two types. One is made from the seeds in their natural state and the darker oil which is more flavored is obtained from roasted sesame oil. The intense flavor of toasted sesame oil makes it too strong for most salad dressings (unless cut with a neutral oil), and can turn bitter when heated. It shouldn’t be used for frying. Sesame oil will store well in a cool, dark cabinet.

  • Sunflower Oil
    It is a good all-purpose salad oil with a mild nutty flavor that adds character to a dressing without dominating it. It can also be used for sauté. They go rancid easily and should be refrigerated once opened.

  • Vegetable Oil
    This classic oil is made mostly from refined soybean oil. It has a neutral flavor and stores well at room temperature. Mostly overlooked these days, vegetable oil is a reliable and inexpensive kitchen workhorse. It can keep for six months to a year after opening.
Oil is a double-edged sword to be used cautiously. Using it efficiently promotes good health while its abuse, most of the time, leads to irreversible damage to the organism.

Brain Diet: Healthy Recipes to Boost Your Brain Power

Written: 11/01/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Having memory or concentration problems? Check your diet as it may lack foods for the proper functioning of your brain. For optimum performance of your brain and correct mental coordinations, you need a good supply of nutrients, an adequate amount of oxygen and plenty of water.

80% of the brain is made up of water. To keep it hydrated we need to drink about 1.5 to 2 litres of water everyday. When the level of water in the brain decreases, stress hormones, which are harmful to your brain in the long run, are released. Water intake is not just pure water that you consume but every fluid that you ingest. Drinks with artificial colorings and flavors must be avoided as well as caffeine containing drinks. Nevertheless, green tea is recommended as it contains chemicals that improve brain relaxation and alertness.

For a good aeration of the brain, it is a must to practice deep breathing as often as possible.

  1. Carb
    The brain consumes 20% of the total daily glucose intake. It can be compared to a car engine. It needs fuel to run but the difference compared to a car engine consumption is that the brain output depends on a constant and uniform distribution of nutrients. The more steady is the supply, the more effective will be your thinking and concentration power. Not all carbohydrates have the ability to be degraded slowly by the body. Slow digestive carbohydrates are best to maintain a long but constant supply of glucose. Such carb include oatmeal, whole grain cereals among many others. Pasta should be avoided on important meetings as they consume a lot of energy to be digested and the blood circulation towards the digestive system is favored in detriment to your brain.

  2. Antioxidants
    When the brain uses the glucose to produce energy, free radicals are the by products. In small amounts, these molecules eliminate toxins. But as their concentration increases, they become toxic to the brain tissues. The best weapon against them is dietary antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich foods are fruits like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, tomato, orange, red grapes, avocados and the green leafy spinach.

  3. Omega3 fatty acids
    Rich in oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, herring, mackerel and anchovies, omega3 fatty acids make up a large portion of the human brain. They cover the neuron which is the simplest unit in the brain that carries messages from the brain to another part of the brain itself or to another organ and vice versa. Lack of omega-3 fats in your diet can lead to depression, poor memory, low IQ, learning disabilities. They also promote healthy moods as well as balanced emotions.

  4. Proteins
    Like any part of the body, the brain needs to communicate. For communication to be possible, the brain uses neurotransmitters. They are chemical substances that travel from one point of the brain to another to relay messengers. These neurotransmitters are synthesized using as raw materials, amino acids, which are the products of degradation of proteins from our diet. Nutritious protein can be extracted from fish, lean meat, poultry, milk, soya beans, and tofu.

  5. Vitamins
    'B' complex vitamins are particularly important for the brain and play a vital role in producing energy. Vitamins A, C and E are powerful antioxidants and promote and preserve memory in the elderly.

  6. Minerals
    Minerals are also critical to mental functioning and performance. Magnesium and manganese are needed for brain energy. Sodium, potassium and calcium are important in the thinking process and they also facilitate the transmission of messages.

The brain tissues continuously suffer from external and internal attacks. They may come from our nutrition and bad habits. To preserve your brain avoid them.

  1. Alcohol
    Alcohol is very bad for the brain and can be very dangerous when consumed in an uncontrolled manner daily. Difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory are symptoms we feel when we have one or two pegs. In heavy drinkers, these are more frequent and tend to lead to consumption of more harmful substances like drugs. This is often witnessed among youngsters. Alcohol, furthermore, clouds judgment and the ability to adequately solve problem.

  2. Smoking
    Cigarette smoke contains thousands and thousands of chemicals which affects the brain but nicotine is the chemical which can cause the most damage. Nicotine has the effect of narrowing the diameter of blood vessels, hence reducing the amount of glucose and oxygen reaching the brain cells.

  3. Heavy-fat diets
    Heavy fat diets have almost the same effect as nicotine except that fat deposits take longer to narrow or clog the blood vessels heading towards the brain. Depriving the brain of oxygen and glucose for a few seconds can cause irreversible damage as brain cells cannot regenerate once they die.

  4. Rapid digestive carb
    Rapid digestive sugars like refined sugar, flour or corn fructose syrup are unhealthy for the brain as they cause fluctuating blood sugar levels. This reduces considerably the effectiveness of the nervous system as they cause mental fatigues leading to headaches.

  5. Stress
    Stress is among the factors that deprive your brain of its maximum output. Stress releases stress hormones which cause harm to the brain tissues by prolonged exposure.

Healthy Recipes To Boost Your Brain Power

Strawberry Tomato Salsa

  • 2 cup(s)quartered strawberries

  • 1 cup red grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño, seeds removed

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

  1. Combine strawberries, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, mint, cilantro, and lime zest in a large bowl and set aside.

  2. Whisk together lime juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and pour over the strawberry mixture.

  3. Toss gently to combine, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  4. Serve the same day with tortilla chips.

Garlic Spinach salad

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, cleaned and de-stemmed

  • Minced garlic to taste

  • 4 plum tomatoes, quartered

  • Salt

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Put spinach, garlic and tomatoes in large bowl and sprinkle all over with salt.

  2. Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and about the same amount of olive oil.
    Toss over and over until spinach wilts slightly. Add more salt and oil if needed.

Cook's Notes: Add garlic to taste as you like.

If you want more of the brain recipes here is the link: IVillage - 7 recipes to feed the brain and prevent mental decline