Why is it important to eat seasonal fruits and ditch the cold stored ones

Seasonal fruits and their benefits are known to us as our grandmas and grandpas often told us about them but what tops our list when we go out fruit and veggie shopping is an array of fruits that are placed over shelves from ice-cold chambers as they are preserved for off-season consumption. One of them is apples. It is sold throughout the year with a shiny layer of wax to preserve crunch and freshness. We often underestimate the abundance of nature and go in for more expensive and better looking produce, which is not only not in harmony with nature, it is also heavy on your pocket. I will elaborate why seasonal produce, fruits in particular, are a great choice and add up to your immunity and well being.

Fresher: seasonal produce is always fresher than fruits stored in cold storage that lie in an icy chamber for months together before being considered for selling. Apples, pears, grapes, California oranges are some examples that people often buy in all seasons because they look good due to the chemicals applied on them and they cost more.

Cheaper: because it is seasonal, it will always be cheaper. Fruits like jamuns, starfruit, jujubes, etc. are not intended for a year-long sale, which means no shortage in the market. When farmers harvest abundant produce in season, the cost of the produce goes down. There are lesser transportation charges as the produce is available locally.

Nutrient rich: when fruits are consumed immediately after harvesting, they are higher in nutritional value like anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, folate and carotenes, that reduce when stored for a longer span of time. Off-season fruit is also low in phyto-nutrients.

After seeing the pros of seasonal fruits, it is vital to talk about the kinds of seasonal fruits and their benefits.

Jamun (black plum) – Jamuns are packed with vitamins and minerals like  iron, manganese, zinc, calcium, sodium and potassium. The Gallic and tannic acids present in jamun are powerful antioxidants that fight disease. People suffering from diabetes swear by this fruit and consume not only the fruit, also its bark, leaves and seed.

Water melon – A fun fat-free delight, this fruits is high in water and fiber. An excellent summer fruit, water melon helps control body temperature, inflammation and blood pressure. Rich in Vitamins like A, B, C, water melon has high concentration of lycopene.

Mangoes – The king of fruits and everyone’s favorite, mangoes are indeed a juicy delicacy. Mangoes are sweet but have low glycemic index. This fruit is packed with selenium, Vitamin A, E and C. It helps fight inflammation and is high in anti-oxidants.

Jujube (ber) – My favorite! This fruit fights cancer, it strengthens immune system, aids in weight loss, promotes healthier skin, improves digestion and is packed with Vitamins.

Star fruit (kamarak) – extremely low in calories, it is high in Vitamin C. Star fruit is rich in antioxidant phytonutrient polyphenolic flavonoids. It is a good source of B-complex Vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6). Small amount of minerals and electrolytes like potassium, phosphorus, and zinc and iron are also present.

Peach – The peels and the pulp of peaches possess antioxidant properties that help boost skin health, fight cancer and obesity. Peaches are rich in phenolic and carotenoid compounds, which possess anti-tumor properties. To add to it, it has a delicious taste to it.

Strawberry – Strawberries are storehouses of several nutrients. The fruits help improve eye care, aids in brain function, provides relief from high blood pressure, arthritis, gout and various cardiovascular diseases. It boosts immunity.

There are several other seasonal fruits like guava, cherries, plums, grapes etc. Remember to have them all when they are harvested and restrain from eating cold stored fruits to optimize health. The next time you want to have an apple this season, ditch the idea and grab a bowl of black plums or jamuns or grab a guava.

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Hair loss and why men can’t do much about it

I am a keen observer and one of my recent observations is women losing hair, especially from the front. Men often suffer from male pattern baldness and men you cannot actually do much to reverse it, despite claims made by products and companies to regrow hair, not much can be done. But women losing hair in their 30s is something that made me research the internet spending hours scanning and reading reports and some conclusions I made that make sense, at least to me.

To start with, one of the biggest fears we have as we age is losing hair. ‘Aw snap! Look at my hair brush’, is a common expression we all have very often. Men tend to look at themselves in the mirror and freak out seeing a receding hairline but the fact is that in humans, men tend to lose their hair sooner and more frequently than women. Cashing on these fears, the hair-care industry is booming despite showing any significant results.

Did you know that human body also loses hair but it goes unnoticed. Maybe because the intensity is low and body hair does not appeal to us as hair on scalp does.

History and evolution

Monkeys are our ancestors and all mammals are covered in body hair unlike humans, who aren’t covered in fur for a number of reasons. The primary reason is that hair on our body makes it harder to cool the body. Human ancestors travelled long distances on foot in scorching sun and often needed to cool their bodies but were unable because we had excess body hair, which reduced with time. Sweating is the most effective form to cool down the body and fur present on the skin makes it hard to sweat. Therefore, humans evolved and started losing the fur over the course of generations.

It is not only the human species that lose hair, primates and other mammals also experience thinning of the hair.

Some theories by experts as stated by The Guardian:

In evolutionary terms, when ‘man’ became the hairless ape it coincided with the discovery of fire, which selected the less hairy cavemen as they were less flammable. So, it could be construed that as ‘man’ became older and generally slower in his reactions that his hair disappeared in order to prevent any hirsute horrors. Therefore, balding men have a genetic advantage that may now be redundant. Also, baldness may confer an aerodynamic advantage when swimming, chasing prey or potential mates. –C Jackson, Tseung Kwan O Hong Kong

A well-polished bald male head was often used by tribes of cavemen to blind predators. As a result every cavemen hunting group of 8 had one bald member, and thus thousands of years later 1 in 8 men experience early onset of baldness.

Females, by contrast, rate their hair highly because it is a way of attracting the attention of a potential mate. Therfore, baldness is much rarer in females than in males. It all comes down to how much energy the body is prepared to invest in any particular attribute. You may wish that it would invest more in your hair, but unfortunately the investment decisions were taken millenia ago and programmed into our DNA. All you can do now is grin and bear it. Or wear a wig. – Les Reid, Belfast UK

Apart from these theories, there is one observation that prevails, i.e. Vitamin D deficiency. Lack of Vitamin D leads to hair loss and a majority of us are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also vital for prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.

Due to indoor office jobs and almost no exposure to sun, we are facing acute shortage of the sunshine vitamin. There are other factors like thyroid disorders, medications, stress etc. responsible for hair loss. Lack of iron is another cause that lies undetected as we do not go in for detailed medical tests at regular interval. Lack of iron also leads to dry hair, rough texture and scanty growth of hair.

Next time a hairdresser tries to woo you at a salon, tell him to get the basics right. You can have the hair you had as a child or a teenager with proper nutrition. Go in for shampoos that contain no suplhates, parabens, salts and dyes. And again, this information might be useful for women only and men, please put the blame on your ancestors, who thought hair aren’t important to look good and this fact is so deeply rooted in your DNA that you can’t do much about it except taking it in good stride.

This is why children are hitting puberty early

Early puberty or precocious puberty has started to become normal these days and people seem to be just fine with this. But, have you ever given it a thought that what has changed now that did not exist during our time or when our parents were teenagers.

If I start to list out all of it, I will need too much space. I have come to list out some significant changes, how they affect the sexual health in children and sexual maturity.

Doctors think it is happening with greater frequency since the 1990s, especially among girls. Many factors have been implicated, hormones in food, hormone-mimicking pollutants in the waterways, and even social issues.

Imagine a girl of age six and a boy of age seven showing signs of puberty, I do not think this is normal and no, it is not in our ‘genes’. We happen to blame everything on our genes when it comes to health issues, habits, an increasing waist line, I mean just name it and it can be linked to genes.

I am not a doctor but my interest in these issues has led me to read, research and satiate the curious self within.

One possible reason for the rise in precocious puberty could be the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America, in the last 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. As far as India is concerned, by 2025, India will have over 17 million obese children and stand second among 184 countries where the number of obese children are concerned, says a study published in Paediatric Obesity, an international journal.

How fat plays a role in puberty

Puberty requires the body to have a certain weight and fat distribution, hence we see the delay for female gymnasts and ballerinas. This means that 8-year-old girls weighing as much as a normal 12-year-old are at risk for precocious or early puberty.

Also, across the board, fat children have high levels of the protein leptin. This chemical, through a complicated chain involving the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, can stimulate the release of the three main hormones in puberty, hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. In short, obesity among kids leads to early puberty. The facts are backed by a study by Kirsten Krahnstoever Davison of Penn State.

Milk can be the culprit

Let us come to the basics. When god made us and this Earth, he intended that cow or buffalo milk is meant to be digested by a 50 pound calf and not by a 3 kg human infant and so on. Mothers proudly invest in milk (coming in packets), add a dash of bournvita or whatever those chocolate coloured powders are and make kids have a glass full the first thing in the morning. Even I did this but now I don’t. Yes, my child does not drink milk and the difference I have seen is that she has gained height after getting off milk and bournvita, her skin has become flawless, her hemoglobin has increased and she has oodles of stamina.

Now, what is it that the packet milk or commercial dairy contains which is harmful? An excessive dose of estrogen. When cattle refuse to give milk, the dairy owners or farmers inject hormones (estrogen). The result is a hearty supply of milk but this milk is extremely high in estrogen. Estrogen is a female hormone, excess estrogen leads to male breast in boys (we often see this now) and an early sexual maturity in girls as young as seven to nine years of age. Organic dairy is however acceptable and can be consumed.

I am talking of dairy, it means milk and all of the milk products. Also, if your child complains of uneasiness or stomachache after having milk, please get a test done for lactose intolerance.

Milk does no good to your child if he or she is lactose intolerant, it will only add fat and more of it and lots of uneasy episodes. Please get it checked. I have lactose intolerance and I figured it out recently. Unfortunately, I grew up having loads of milk and now imagine the harm it has done to me. I cannot go back in time but I can mend my ways now.

Meat

Yes, you heard it right. Meat, especially that chunky juicy and extra soft chicken leg that you get in a bucket, is poison. Chicken is injected with estrogen to make it fleshy, plump, soft and juicy. Remember, chicken is suppose to be white meat, if it is pink, don’t eat it.

Eating meat can aggravate estrogen dominance. In fact, women who consume more red meat and eat less fish and vegetables are thought to be more at risk for endometriosis. Overall, more meat consumption is associated with less fiber consumption, which raises bad estrogens and grows the wrong bacteria in your microbiome and 70 per cent of our health depends on this microbiome.

Growth-promoting hormones are implanted in most cattle. These hormones promote protein synthesis and result in cattle that are 10 to 30 percent larger than non-treated counterparts. Synthetic hormones in cattle mimic naturally occurring hormones in the animal.

Some children eat meat and chicken almost every day. It is making them estrogen dominant, hence the early puberty.

Soybean

I had once heard a doctor saying that soybean is an excellent source of protein and everyone, especially women, should eat it on a daily basis. I started consuming soya, soymilk, soya chunks, bla bla and more bla. Ultimately, I got PCOD, a syndrome which affects most of us these days. Now, I do not consume soya, and guess what, my PCOD has gone and that too without any medical treatment. Now, imagine what soybean can do to kids. Yes, estrogen dominance again. Corn and soya are among the most genetically modified or GM foods. Stay away from GM foods as they are not natural.

Soybeans contain isoflavones, which are chemically similar to estrogens. Soybeans are a complete protein source and a dietary staple in many cultures. Soy contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones that may mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in your body.

Overly nice looking fruits and vegetables

Pesticides are used in many commercially grown fruit, vegetable, and grain crops to protect them from insects, weeds, fungi, diseases, mice and other animals, bacteria, viruses, and mold. There are several pesticides, insecticides and fungicides that inhibit male hormone and there are many that mimic estrogen.

The best way is that never buy vegetables and fruits that look extra appealing. If possible grow your own kitchen garden, buy fresh produce from vendors and not malls. Peel fruits and vegetables before giving them to your kids, at least, this will get us rid of a substantial percentage of dangerous chemicals. Immerse fruits and vegetables in table vinegar and water for about 20 minutes. It helps remove the wax and other chemical coatings from the produce.

Do not take your kids to international fast food chains

I cannot name them here but you know what I am talking about. Since the time, these international burger makers, fries makers and chicken bucket sellers have come to India, kids have seen a mammoth increase in obesity and adults are no exception. Imagine, sprinkling 50 grams of sugar on dal-chawal, roti-sabzi, even burger and fries. Can you eat it? I do not think so. Now, add a coke or sweetened soda to it and there it goes. You can have it. Medical science permits two teaspoons of sugar per day. Imagine gulping down 15 teaspoons of sugar with one meal; that is sweetened soda for you.

And ya, the fruit juices that come in cartons and tetra packs. I can’t believe this that kids’ meal onboard a plane, on a train, at restaurants etc. contain a pack of this poisonous liquid. It is nothing but a concoction made of very little fruit juice, loads of sugar and several preservatives.

Oh wait, there are these ‘No sugar and preservatives added’ juice types. Read the ingredients, it will say fruit juice concentrate and water. This fruit juice concentrate is made of sugar, added flavours, colours or dyes, and preservatives. When these companies prepare juice, they simply add water to the concentrates they buy from various other companies and dish out a selling gimmick to us ‘No sugar and preservatives added’. And, we happily buy it. Do not buy it. Buy a juicer instead and make fruit and vegetables juice blends at home. Your kids will love it. Excess sugar and preventives, salt and colourings create the same havoc on your children as they do on you.

https://youtu.be/iFVn3kuZ4Dc (Watch it).

Do not keep these fast food varieties (the frozen ones), tetra and bottle drinks at home and please do not serve them to your guests. They are no longer ‘izzat ka sawal items’. Make potato chips at home, they are way more healthy than the commercial French fries.

What types of products contain “foreign estrogens” or unnatural estrogen

  • Weed killers
  • Sunscreen lotions that contain 4-MBC (You will look cuter with a bit of tan and so will your child. Do not overuse sunscreens).
  • Food preservatives such as BHA (Almost all packet foods contain this).
  • Canned foods and plastics (BPA and BPA-S).
  • Insecticides and pesticides.
  • Food Dyes (Means food colourings, the ‘edible’ ones).
  • Food chemicals that are used to protect fats and oils from becoming rancid.
  • Anti-perspirants that are made with Metalloestrogens or toxic metals (Apply lemon as a deodorant. Trust me, it can cure the worst body odor).
  • Make ups and skin care products that have the preservative called paraben (Check out for paraben-free options. Biotique is a fantastic option).
  • Tap water (most city waters are contaminated with estrogens from oral contraceptive pills. Use glass bottles to preserve water. Say bye to plastics).
  • Detergents and surfactants (Thode mein zyada wala funda is good here. Use less detergent powder).
  • Growth hormones in dairy and meat products (I have already mentioned this).

 

Now you will think that what to eat if not all this. Simply follow a thumb rule that do not eat it if it is made inside a factory or comes in a packet. Make your own chana puri in mustard, coconut or olive oil. Make fries at home, fry papad, make cakes and cookies at home with jaggery (it imparts a better flavor than white sugar), make chips at home. Cut thin slices any vegetable of your choice (sweet potato, potato, tomato, zucchini, brinjal, carrot, jackfruit, raw banana, etc.) and drizzle with olive oil, add salt, pepper, and spices of your choice and spread the slices on a baking tray. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes on 200 degrees celcius (the time will be more for moist vegetables. The thinner the slices are, the crispier they will be). They are yum and you won’t ever grab a packet of chips.

Lastly, be an example to your children. They will eventually follow your eating habits.

We need Selenium and here is why

Several researches have been carried out in order to answer the query that how much selenium is needed and whether diets low in selenium lead to cancers. There have been no clear views on this but one thing that remains absolutely clear is that selenium is a vital mineral for the human body.

Our food consists of several vital nutrients and minerals and out of them; Selenium is one of the important dietary minerals that we need. However, we need it in small amounts, but we require it every day. Selenium is slotted in a tiny bunch of important proteins that play a significant role in health. The proteins that contain selenium are known as selenoproteins.

Benefits of selenium

This wonder mineral offers a variety of benefits and has emerged as a super mineral for today’s generation. Selenium is great for thyroid dysfunction. It is a great antioxidant and helps support the immune system. Selenium helps keep cancer away as it supports anti-cancer abilities of the body. It helps in regulating and ensuring a proper blood flow lowering the chances of heart diseases.

Foods rich in selenium

Let us see the top 10 foods that are rich in selenium.

Tuna

Tuna is consumed the world over and is loaded with selenium. A 4 Oz serving of Tuna gives 122.70 mcg of selenium. Tuna can be used for making a variety of dishes.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are counted as one of the best sources of selenium. These nuts are easily available and are tasty. They can be eaten by themselves or can be added to recipes for an enhanced flavor. Studies show that just two Brazil nuts a day can bring selenium levels to their normal range in a short span of 12 weeks.

Broccoli, Cabbage, Spinach

We swear by green vegetables and selenium is just one of nutrients they contain. If you have not included them in your diet yet, then do so because they are storehouses of not only selenium but various other nutrients and minerals.

Shiitake mushroom

Out of the different varieties of mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms or white button mushrooms are one of the best sources of selenium. They taste great and are rich in Vitamin D and selenium. Use them while making soups, salads, sautéed vegetables and other preparations.

Chia Seeds

If you want a super food in your diet then this is it. Chia seeds have selenium, amino acids, Omega 3 and Omega 6. Chia seeds can be added to anything, as they are neutral in taste and takes a gel like form when exposed to moisture.

Lima/Pinto Beans

Everyone’s favorite, Lima and Pinto beans are rich in selenium. They also deliver protein and fiber to the body. Moreover, the best thing about these beans is that they are tasty.

Brown Rice

Thank god, brown rice contains selenium. You can simply ensure selenium intake by eating this staple. Brown rice is gluten free, rich source of selenium and offers lesser calories. Carbohydrates, B vitamins, and soluble fiber are other benefits of brown rice.

 

Sunflower, Sesame and Flaxseed

Grab a handful of seeds and your body will thank you. Add selenium to your daily diet through this delicious and nutty option. These seeds are also rich in Omega 6 and Omega 3, fiber and protein.

Chicken

Yay! Your favorite food contains selenium too. Chicken is loaded with protein and offers selenium too. A 3 Oz serving has 22 mcg of selenium.

Shrimp

Shrimps are a delicacy the world over and are prepared in almost all cuisines. A 4 Oz serving of shrimps give 56.13 mcg of selenium.

 

The military diet: review and more

What is military diet? Putting it simple, it is a simple diet plan aimed at inducing quick weight loss and can aid ten pounds of weight loss in just one week.

Wow! Really? Yes, it is for real but again like every diet, only if you stick to it by the book. No substitutes and absolutely no cheats.

No diet is a magic pill and ultimately it boils down to how much you take in Vs how much you expend. The whole concept of military diet is the ingredients working together in a way that leads to weight loss. The only condition is that just stick with it and see for yourself.

Why is military diet better

This diet is good for over eaters and people who like to binge simply because it does not exclude any food group. Also, the portions on this diet are clear and this makes you unable to overeat if you stick to the diet. The best bet is that no one feels deprived of anything as there is sugar, salt and carbs too.

It is real weight loss

Unlike several diets that only lead to a loss in the water weight, military diet makes you lose actual weight. The body tends to retain water when you eat loads of salt and consume soda but when you eat healthy and drink water, the body flushes out excess water. This diet will also make you lose some water weight but fat too as it is a calorie deficit diet.

The Military Diet Day 1

breakfast 

½ Grapefruit
1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast
1 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
1 Cup of Tea/Coffee

Lunch 
½ Cup of

1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast
1 Cup of Coffee/Tea

Dinner 
3oz of meat

1 Cup of Green Beans
½ Banana
1 Small Apple
1 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream

 

 

The Military Diet Day 2

 Breakfast 
1 Egg
1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast
½ Banana

Lunch 
1 Cup of Cottage Cheese
1 Boiled Egg

5 Saltine Crackers

Dinner 
2 Hotdogs without buns

1 Cup of Broccoli
½ Cup of Carrot
½ Banana
½ Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream

The Military Diet Day 3

Breakfast 
1 Slice of Cheddar Cheese
5 Saltine Crackers
1 Small Apple

 

Lunch 
1 Egg Cooked to Your Liking
1 Slice of Wholegrain Toast

Dinner
1 Cup Tuna
½ Banana
1 Cup of Vanilla Ice Cream

Results

You must be wondering that what is the period of doing this diet and for how long can it be followed. Well, again, you have to follow it for three days atleast and then continue eating normal but not exceeding 1500 calories with little sugar, not an overload of both salt and sugar. You can again get back in case you want to lose more weight.

 

The diet is to the point, just right and has no frills attached. Just follow it and see the results. Do it only if you are high on willpower otherwise you will leave it in between and end up feeling frustrated.

Get ready to face some difficulties but if you really want it, then you will sail through. You do not have to be an exercise freak while doing this else you will start feeling hungry. But, don’t restrain if you follow a basic and simple exercise routine, which doesn’t burn too many calories.

The reason why it is so popular is because this diet works. This diet is for you if you really want to lose weight fast and that too without investing much into fancy foods and diet foods.