Saturday, July 19, 2014

Have You Gone BANANA…

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose as well as fiber. We know that bananas give us an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

 Although, energy alone isn’t the only way that bananas can help us keep fit and healthy. It has been proven to help overcome and even prevent a number of illnesses and issues, helping it become the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes – after reading this we should be saying ‘a banana a day keeps the Doctor away’ 

Read on to learn how the humble banana can help in our every day lives and improve our physical and mental health: 

DEPRESSION: Following recent research by MIND (a well respected mental health charity) carried out on a group of people suffering from depression, they reported that the people surveyed said they felt much better after simply eating a banana. Bananas contain tryptophan, which is a type of protein that the body is converted into serotonin known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier. This backs up research which has previously claimed that an inbalance of serotonin in the body can lead to depression, and in fact serotonin is often called the ‘happy hormone’.

CONSTIPATION: Being high in fiber, bananas can help restore normal bowel function when eaten regularly, eliminating the need to resort to laxatives.

BLOOD PRESSURE: Unusually, the high potassium levels found in bananas are matched by a low salt level which makes it a powerful natural tool in the treatment of high blood pressure. Infact the US Food and Drug Administation recently permitted the banana industry as a whole to be able to make official claims regarding bananas ability to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and also in lowering the risk of strokes.

HANGOVERS: One of the quickest, easiest and healthiest ways of curing a dreaded hangover is to make a banana milkshake or smoothie, using local organic honey to sweeten. The banana has a calming action on the stomach and, together with the help of honey, rebuilds your depleted blood sugar levels, and the milk will soothe and re-hydrate your system.

ULCERS: Bananas are increasingly used as the dietary food of choice against several intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It also helps to neutralize high levels of acidity and reduces any irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

HEARTBURN: Bananas have been found to have a natural antacid effect in the body. Next time you suffer a bout of heartburn, try eating a banana for quick, natural and soothing relief.

PMS: Ladies ditch the pills – simply eat a banana. The high levels of vitamin B6 regulates your blood glucose levels, vital in affecting your mood.

NERVES: Bananas are high in several essential B vitamins that are known to help calm the nervous system. Studies at the Austrian Institute of Psychology found pressure at work can lead to us gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. They studied 5,000 hospital patients, and the researchers found the most obese patients were far more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. They report concluded that “to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady”. So we really should be taking a banana to work.

ANEMIA: Bananas are high in iron, vital for the stimulation of the hemoglobin production in the blood and is a natural tool in the treatment of anemia.

MOSQUITO BITES: Use banana skins as an alternative to insect bit cream when treating those pesky mosquito bites – simply rub the affected area with the inside of the banana skin. It is widely reported as a natural way of reducing local swelling and irritation.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL: Other cultures often use bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit, lowering both the physical and emotional temperature of pregnant women. In Thailand , for example, expectant women eat bananas regularly to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

MORNING SICKNESS: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep to blood sugar levels up and significantly reduce the symptoms of morning sickness.

BRAIN POWER: A recent study in 2013 in a school in Twickenham, England involved more than 200 students, who were sitting exams, eating bananas for breakfast, at mid-morning breaktime and for lunch. It was found that they were helped significantly with their concentration and energy levels, matching research previously highlighting that high levels of potassium can assist learning by making pupils more alert .

So, a banana can be a natural remedy for many conditions. When compared to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, FIVE TIMES the vitamin A and iron, and TWICE the other vitamins and minerals. It is super rich in potassium and is recognized by health experts and professionals as being one of the best value foods around.

10 Best Foods for Brittle Bones

To build strong bones and keep them sturdy, you need a diet that contains a lot of calcium and magnesium. But there's more to it than that -- you also need plenty of protein and vitamins B, D, and K.

Paying attention to bone health when deciding what to eat is more important than you might think. More than 10 million people over age 50 have osteoporosis, while another 34 million have osteopenia, which means they're on their way. Astonishingly, one expert panel says that by 2020, half of all Americans will have brittle bones.

Thanks to your mother's admonitions to drink your milk, you probably know that's one important bone-building food. But there are many other ways to make your diet bone-friendly. Here are ten foods packed with bone-building nutrients.

1. Yogurt and frozen yogurt 

Low-fat dairy is one of the best natural sources of calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients that build strong bone. And nonfat or low-fat yogurt is one of the best nonfat dairy foods because it has other benefits as well. Frozen yogurt, while typically not as healthy because it has more added sugar, still has lots of calcium -- as much as 200 to 300 milligrams per cup, depending on the brand.
How much: Aim for at least one one-cup serving daily for 300 milligram calcium; one and a half cups if it's frozen yogurt.
Tips: Choose a yogurt with live cultures. The lactobacillus, acidophilus, and bifidus will help maintain healthy intestines and digestion while also aiding calcium absorption.

2. Herring, sardines, and other whole canned fish

 Vitamin D plays a key role in promoting the turnover of osteoblasts, the bone-building cells. Herring and sardines (often the same thing when sold here in the U.S.) are king when it comes to vitamin D, with more than 1,300 IUs (international units) in one three-ounce serving. A same-size serving of canned salmon has 530 IUs. You can also drink your fish -- cod liver oil is one of the best sources of vitamin D, with 450 IUs in a single teaspoon. Perhaps the Victorians were onto something when they used to make their children drink the icky-tasting stuff.

How much: Tins of sardines typically come in 3.75-ounce and 4.75-ounce sizes; a snack of half of a smaller can gives you more than half your daily vitamin D.

Tip: To cut calories and boost health benefits, choose sardines and other canned fish packed in their own oil, olive oil, or water rather than in soybean or cottonseed oil.

3. Greens 

Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard and turnip greens, broccoli, lettuce, beet greens, and bok choy are the top sources of vitamin K, which is actually not a vitamin but an amino acid also called GLA or γ-carboxyglutamic acid. Nutritionists are only beginning to understand the role of vitamin K, which is important in the formation and proper functioning of a bone protein called osteocalcin. Vitamin K, by way of osteocalcin, aids the binding process of calcium and phosphorous into the bone protein matrix. Greens are a good source of calcium as well, so there's a double-whammy benefit here.

How much: Official serving sizes vary from a half to a full cup of greens; try to work one serving per day into your diet.

Tip: The darker the color of the greens, the more micronutrients they typically have, with spinach, kale, and collard greens among the most nutrient-dense.

6 Foods That Weaken Bones

To build and maintain strong bones, eating the right foods makes all the difference. By the same token, certain foods can actually sap bone strength by leaching minerals right out of the bone, or they block the bone's ability to regrow. Surprisingly, some of these are foods we eat lots of every day. Here, the six biggest bone-sappers:

1. Soft drinks
Soft drinks pose a double-whammy danger to bones. The fizziness in carbonated drinks often comes from phosphoric acid, which ups the rate at which calcium is excreted in the urine. Meanwhile, of course, soft drinks fill you up and satisfy your thirst without providing any of the nutrients you might get from milk or juice.

What to do: When you're tempted to reach for a cola, instead substitute milk, calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice, or a fruit smoothie made with yogurt. Or just drink water when you're thirsty, and eat a diet high in bone-building nutrients.

2. Salt 

Salt saps calcium from the bones, weakening them over time. For every 2,300 milligrams of sodium you take in, you lose about 40 milligrams of calcium, dietitians say. One study compared postmenopausal women who ate a high-salt diet with those who didn't, and the ones who ate a lot of salt lost more bone minerals. Our American diet is unusually salt-heavy; many of us ingest double the 2,300 milligrams of salt we should get in a day, according to the 2005 federal dietary guidelines.

What to do: The quickest, most efficient way to cut salt intake is to avoid processed foods. Research shows that most Americans get 75 percent of their sodium not from table salt but from processed food. Key foods to avoid include processed and deli meats, frozen meals, canned soup, pizza, fast food such as burgers and fries, and canned vegetables.

3. Caffeine

The numbers for caffeine aren't as bad as for salt, but caffeine's action is similar, leaching calcium from bones. For every 100 milligrams of caffeine (the amount in a small to medium-sized cup of coffee), you lose 6 milligrams of calcium. That's not a lot, but it can become a problem if you tend to substitute caffeine-containing drinks like iced tea and coffee for beverages that are healthy for bones, like milk and fortified juice.

What to do: Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee in the morning, then switch to other drinks that don't have caffeine's bone-sapping action. Adding milk to your coffee helps to offset the problem, of course.

4. Vitamin A

In the case of vitamin A, recent research is proving that you really can get too much of a good thing. Found in eggs, full-fat dairy products, liver, and vitamin-fortified foods, vitamin A is important for vision and the immune system. But the American diet is naturally high in vitamin A, and most multivitamins also contain vitamin A. So it's possible to get much more than the recommended allotment of 5,000 IUs (international units) a day -- which many experts think is too high anyway.
Postmenopausal women, in particular, seem to be susceptible to vitamin A overload. Studies show that women whose intake was higher than 5,000 IUs had more than double the fracture rate of women whose intake was less than 1,600 IUs a day.

What to do: Switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products only, and eat egg whites rather than whole eggs (all the vitamin A is in the yolk). Also check your multivitamin, and if it's high in vitamin A, consider switching to one that isn't.

5. Alcohol 

Think of alcohol as a calcium-blocker; it prevents the bone-building minerals you eat from being absorbed. And heavy drinking disrupts the bone remodeling process by preventing osteoblasts, the bone-building cells, from doing their job. So not only do bones become weaker, but when you do suffer a fracture, alcohol can interfere with healing.

What to do: Limit your drinking to one drink a day, whether it's wine, beer, or hard alcohol.

6. Hydrogenated oils 

For a number of years now, we've known from studies that the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oil into the solid oils used in commercial baking, destroys the vitamin K naturally found in the oils. Vitamin K is essential for strong bones, and vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil are the second-best dietary source of this key nutrient, after green leafy vegetables. However, the amounts of vitamin K we're talking about are tiny here -- one tablespoon of canola oil has 20 micrograms of K, and one tablespoon of olive oil has 6 micrograms, as compared with 120 micrograms in a serving of spinach.

What to do: If you're eating your greens, you don't need to worry about this too much. If you're a big lover of baked goods like muffins and cookies, bake at home using canola oil when possible, and read labels to avoid hydrogenated oils (which many manufacturers of processed foods have eliminated in recent years).