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Fight your sweet tooth with these 4 natural sweeteners and fluids

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Natural sugar

New Delhi, Jan 3: We are all set to begin the New Year with new pledges and resolutions to stay fit and tune in to a healthy lifestyle. To beat a big hurdle in your healthy resolution — dieting boredom — one needs to keep the diet plan and healthy eating target as exciting and simple as possible.

Nature has blessed us with a few natural sweeteners which can best fit into our healthy diet, says nutritionist and fitness trainer Iram Zaidi. Here are her four top natural sweeteners.

*Stevia-plant based, zero calorie, easy to use and safe sweetener

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Stevia is getting popular across the world as a natural sweetener. There were certain misconceptions with its bitter taste as a majority of products were based on traditional stevia sweeteners offered in the form of high purity Reb A molecule. A recently developed variety of stevia tastes exactly like sugar, so that our taste buds should not be compromised. Given stevia can replace some unwanted sweetener calories, it can be one tool for cutting calories from your daily diet without affecting blood sugar or insulin levels.

* Sugarcane juice — Nature’s superfluid and a great sweetener

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Sugarcane juice has been a part of Indian culture for thousands of years. Ayurveda acharyas prefer the juice to be extracted from healthy canes and consumed in hygienic form. A great energy drink, skin toner, body cleanser and loaded with a variety of medicinal properties to fight a majority of diseases, sugarcane juice is unfortunately missing from our diet plans. One of the biggest reasons was the hygiene factor. Now, a bottled sugarcane juice or cold-pressed sugarcane juice are good pick-ups for a healthy start.

* Honey — Nature’s best anti-biotic and great sweetener

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Natural honey is loaded with nutrients and is an essential part of Indian home remedy solutions from ages. It has proteins, minerals, and vitamins. The plant enzyme amylase present in raw honey is effective in breaking down and helping the predigestion of the starches and also helps to raise the level of antioxidants required in the body. One teaspoon of honey is only about 20 calories.

* Coconut sugar — lower glycemic index and great nutritional value

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Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is a good source of minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants. Coconut sugar and coconut nectar contain a fiber known as inulin. This fiber may help slow glucose absorption, offering an alternative for those dealing with diabetic concerns.

So, go ahead with these natural sweeteners as there is no need to put an extra effort to fight your sweet tooth by eliminating sugar from your meals.

IANS

Health

Eating muesli in breakfast may help combat arthritis

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muesli breakfast

London, Jan 13: Eating a fibre-rich breakfast consisting of muesli and enough fruit and vegetables throughout the day everyday can help maintain a rich variety of bacterial species in the gut, which may have positive influence on chronic inflammatory joint diseases, and prevent bone loss, a study has found.

The findings, led by researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg (FAU) in Germany, showed that a healthy diet rich in fibre is capable of changing intestinal bacteria in such a way that more short-chained fatty acids, in particular propionate, are formed.

Short-chained fatty acids are important for the body as they provide energy, stimulate intestinal movement and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

“We were able to show that a bacteria-friendly diet has an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as a positive effect on bone density,” said lead author Mario Zaiss from the FAU.

“We are not able to give any specific recommendations for a bacteria-friendly diet at the moment, but eating muesli every morning as well as enough fruit and vegetables throughout the day helps to maintain a rich variety of bacterial species,” Zaiss added.

In the study, published in Nature Communications, the team focussed on the short-chain fatty acids propionate and butyrate, which are formed during the fermentation processes caused by intestinal bacteria.

These fatty acids can be found, for example, in the joint fluid and it is assumed that they have an important effect on the functionality of joints.

The researchers also proved that a higher concentration of short-chained fatty acids, for example in bone marrow, where propionate caused a reduction in the number of bone-degrading cells, slowing bone degradation down considerably.

“Our findings offer a promising approach for developing innovative therapies for inflammatory joint diseases as well as for treating osteoporosis, which is often suffered by women after the menopause,” Zaiss noted.

IANS

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Health

This human heart-muscle patch can boost heart attack recovery

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New York, Jan 13: Novel heart-muscle patches made with human cells can significantly improve recovery from a heart attack, results of a clinical trial show.

The results are a step closer to the goal of treating human heart attacks by suturing cardiac-muscle patches over an area of dead heart muscle in order to reduce the pathology that often leads to heart failure, said scientists led by Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, Chair of University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In the study, described in the journal Circulation, the team tested human cardiac-muscle patches of 1.57 by 0.79 inches in size and nearly as thick as a dime, created in the lab, on large animals in a heart attack model.

Transplanting two of these patches onto the infarcted area of a pig heart significantly improved function of the heart’s left ventricle, the major pumping chamber.

The patches also significantly reduced infarct size, which is the area of dead muscle, heart-muscle wall stress and heart-muscle enlargement, as well as significantly reducing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in the scar boarder area around the dead heart muscle.

Furthermore, the patches did not induce arrhythmia in the hearts — improper beating of the heart, too fast or too slow.

Each patch was made from a mixture of three cell types — four million cardiomyocytes, or heart-muscle cells, two million endothelial cells — known to help cardiomyocytes survive and function in a micro-environment — and two million smooth muscle cells, which line blood vessels.

Each patch was grown in a three-dimensional fibrin matrix that was rocked back and forth for a week. The cells begin to beat synchronously after one day.

This mixture of three cell types and the dynamic rocking produced more heart muscle cells that were more mature, with superior heart-muscle physiological function and contractive force.

The patches resembled native heart-muscle tissue in their physiological and contractile properties, the scientists noted.

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Health

Gardening can make old people stay more healthy

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Germany, Jan 12: Indulging in gardening may not only keep older adults active but also boost their health and mental well-being, finds a study.

The findings showed that older women who spend more than three hours on household chores a day and got less or more than seven hours of sleep a night, were less likely to be in good health.

However, the researchers found that the similar criteria had no effect on the health of elderly men.

It is because older women spent more time doing repititive housework like cleaning and cooking, while men spent time in gardening and maintenance work, which is mentally very stimulating, the Daily Mail reported.

“The difference in the sexes’ health is probably to do with the type of housework women tend to do, which is a lot more repetitive and routine work, like cleaning and cooking. While this probably has some limited health benefits, it is not very physically active, is not really exercise and is not very stimulating mentally, which relates to physical health,” Nicholas Adjei, researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Germany, was quoted as saying by the paper.

“Men did much more active household chores, such as gardening and maintenance. The physical exertion is good for the health, with gardening involving digging, mowing and carrying soil. We think gardening and fixing things may also be more enjoyable than cleaning,” Adjei added.

For the study, researchers looked at more than 36,000 pensioners, who reported about their daily activities and general health. Healthiness was calculated based on participants’ answers to a questionnaire, in which they rated their health on a five-point scale from “poor” to “very good”.

The results showed that even taking away sleep, which can impact people’s health, men appear healthier when doing jobs around the house.

IANS

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