Thursday, August 23, 2012

Benefits of Drinking Water: Drinking Water for Health

Water is an extremely vital nutrient and the most plentiful substance in the human body.  It makes up approximately three quarters of the human weight and is the chief constituent of every cell. Drinking water is important due to its wide ranged benefits on our health. Here are some tips on how much water to drink and how to drink water correctly in order to maximize the health benefits of water.

Drinking Water for Health: How much water to Drink?

The benefits of drinking water are diverse and far reaching; it is involved in every bodily function, from maintaining normal body temperature, metabolizing body fat, facilitating digestion, conveying nutrients, and sluicing out toxins.
The importance of water in the human body cannot be overlooked; thus it is essential to consume 64 ounces or 2 liters or 8 glasses of water per day, and in case you are overweight or exercise on a regular basis, even more. 

Why is Water Important to the Body?: Functions of Water for Health
Water is a Vital for Good Health
Water performs the following functions in our body:

  • Maintaining the fluid balance: Normally, there is equilibrium between intake and elimination of water. Water is excreted through the kidneys in the form of urine, from the lungs in the form of vapor, through the skin via sweats, and through the intestines in the form of feces. In case the equilibrium gets disturbed, it can slow down the various vital bodily functions.
  • Water for conveyance: water transports nutrients and oxygen in to the cells.
  • For excretion and detoxification: water ensures that injurious and noxious products are thrown out from the body, and consequently aids in the process of detoxification. It helps decrease the burden on the kidneys as well as the liver.
  • Water as a solvent: water is an excellent solvent for nutrients, minerals and vitamins; and makes them accessible to the body tissues. It also dilutes several dangerous and noxious substances.
  • Control of the electrolyte balance: water helps maintain a balance of the essential electrolytes in the body, such as, sodium, calcium, sulphur, phosphorus, potassium, chloride, and magnesium.
  • Thermal regulation: water regulates body temperature and sustains a temperature of 37°C, in spite of how hot or cold it is outside the body.
  • Regulating the acid-base balance: chemical reactions are constantly being carried out in the body. Muscular action, metabolism, nerve conduction and a host of other functions are not possible without these chemical processes. Therefore, bases and acids occurring due to various chemical reactions must be balanced.
  • Healthy joints: Another important function of water is lubrication of joints and keeping them flexible.
  • Normal working of the GI: Water helps prevent constipation and ensures that your gastro-intestinal tract is working optimally by improving digestion.
Benefits of Water: Health Benefits of Drinking Water

Drinking plenty of water daily provides the following health benefits: 
  • Recent research says that a lack of water can result in headaches, heartburn and arthritis.
  • If you do not drink adequate amounts of water, your body pulls it from other places, including the blood. This results in the closing of the capillaries, making the blood thicker, vulnerable to clotting, and tougher to pump; and can have grim repercussions, such as, high levels of cholesterol, hypertension and cardiac diseases.
  • Drinking sufficient amounts of water helps prevent water retention; it helps maintain normal sodium balance in the body and facilitates the elimination of excess sodium (salt) as well.
  • Dehydration is responsible for weight gain. If you do not drink ample water, surplus glucose remains in the blood and then gets stored as fat. In case of dehydration or even consuming less than 2 liters of water per day, the body will pull water from inside the cells in an attempt to recompense for the dehydrated condition, including from fat cells. Less water in the fat cells will result in less mobilization of fat for energy; and consequently weight gain. Furthermore, water is an excellent natural appetite suppressant; thus water will definitely help you lose all the extra and undesirable fat quickly.
  •   The kidneys filter toxins, noxious wastes, and salts from the blood. In case of an insufficiency of water, the kidneys fail to function properly, and the liver has to work overtime to compensate. As a result, the liver will metabolize less fat. Hence, it is vital that you drink lots of water to ensure the normal working of the liver and the kidneys, as well as to facilitate the process of detoxification and shedding of surplus and unwanted weight.
Knowing how to Drink Water Correctly: Tips for Drinking Water for Health

Here are some simple tips for drinking water for health,
  • Drink a couple of glasses of water on getting up in the morning. This helps you detoxify and flush out the toxins that have accumulated in your body at night.
  • Drink a glass of water every hour. Dont gulp down your water, rather drink it slowly.
  • Avoid too cold water. This tends to alter the internal temprature of the body and can make you prone to head colds and flu.
  • Dont drink too much water as it may lead to water toxicity and may lead to flushing out of essential nutrients and electrolytes along with the toxins.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Calcium Benefits for Heart and Muscle: Calcium Facts and Calcium Supplements

Calcium has far reaching benefits – preventing and minimizing osteoporosis, lowering blood pressure and preventing colon cancer. A wide selection of calcium supplements is available, the commonest are, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, and calcium lactate. Foods with calcium, such as, dairy products and fish must be integrated in to your everyday diet to meet the daily requirement of the mineral. Only a sufficient daily calcium intake will help sustain healthy levels of the mineral in the blood and provide a generous reserve for the bones.

What is Calcium?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body; it is stored up in teeth and bones. A small amount of calcium circulates in the blood stream and facilitates the movement of nutrients across cell membranes. It has a role to play in the manufacture of enzymes and hormones that control metabolism. Calcium is necessary for blood clotting, muscle contraction, wound healing and communication among nerve cells.

Calcium for Healthy Teeth
Benefits of Calcium: Calcium Benefits

Calcium provides the following essential health benefits: 

  • Eases heartburn

  • Calcium Rich Foods: Calcium Requirements, How Much Calcium Do You Need?

    Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, fish, broccoli and almonds are excellent sources of the mineral. 
    In fact, yogurt, being predigested is the best dairy source of bio-available calcium. 

    Although calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, most adults get half of what they need each day. Eating adequate amounts of calcium rich foods may be difficult, but you can prevent deficiency by taking a supplement.
    The daily requirement for calcium for adults is 800mg per day. Women after menopause need 1000mg per day.

    Calcium Deficiency and Calcium Deficiency Symptoms

    The RDI for calcium is 800mg, per day; an intake of lower than this for protracted periods of time will result in a deficiency of the mineral.
    A prolonged insufficiency of calcium can lead to abnormalities in the bone, such as osteoporosis, loss of bones, brittle bones, etc.
    Muscle spasms, delayed blood clotting and tingling numbness are common clinical manifestations of a deficiency. 

    Yogurt is an Excellent Source of Calcium
    Too Much Calcium

    Very high doses of calcium can have adverse effects, especially in case it has been obtained from supplements. An excessive intake may lead to kidney stones and can impair the body’s absorption of iron, magnesium and zinc.
    Hence, you must confer with your health care professional before embarking up on long term calcium supplementation. Let him decide the frequency and dosage of the supplement.

    Calcium Supplements

    There is an extensive range of calcium products available in the market. Calcium is available in tablet, liquid, powder, capsule and soft gel forms. You can choose from calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, calcium phosphate and calcium lactate. Avoid supplements that are manufactured from oyster shells, bone meal and dolomite; these compounds may have undesirable levels of lead.
    To enhance the absorption of calcium, split the supplement dose, so that you do not consume more than 600mg of calcium at a time; also make sure that you take the supplement with food.
    Calcium Facts
    1. Calcium needs vitamin D for its absorption, (which is synthesized by the skin in response to sunlight).
    2. Spinach isn’t a good source of the mineral. It is loaded with oxalates which lock up the calcium and restrict the quantity that is accessible to the body. However, these oxalates do not get in the way of calcium absorption from other foods consumed simultaneously.
    3. In order to get 800mg of calcium (RDI) per day, you need to consume 50 florets of broccoli.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Lecithin Benefits for Health: Food Sources and Side Effects

    Lecithin is a fatty material found in the body that is of vital importance for the normal functioning of the liver, gall bladder and nerves. It also exerts some cholesterol lowering properties. Lecithin is however associated with certain side effects and increase intake by natural food sources is always safer and more beneficial.

    What is Lecithin?

    Lecithin Gel
    Lecithin is a fatty substance that is found in several plant based and animal based foods. It is also manufactured by the body. In addition, it is frequently used as an emulsifier in ice cream, chocolate and lad dressing.

    Benefits of Lecithin
    Here are some health benefits associated with consumption of Lecithin,
    • Lecithin builds cell membranes and facilitates the movement of fats and nutrients to and from the cells.
    • Lecithin plays a pivotal role in reproduction and in fetal and infant development. Lecithin supplements taken during pregnancy help prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida.
    • Adequate amounts of lecithin are necessary for the healthy working of liver, gall bladder and heart. It helps manage a host of liver and gall bladder disease. Low levels of lecithin in the body cause a precipitation of gall stones; consequently boosting your lecithin levels will help treat gall stones effectively. Lecithin has the potential to reduce damage in a liver that has been damaged by alcohol. It helps reduce scarring and cirrhosis to some extent.
    • Being a nerve-building nutrient, it helps preserve memory and wards off Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

    Food Sources of Lecithin, Lecithin Rich Foods. Soy Lecithin

    Excellent food sources of this nutrient are: liver, eggs, soy, peanuts and wheat germ. There is no RDI for lecithin; and by and large, deficiencies are rather rare.
    Soybeans are packed with Lecithin
    Soybeans are the primary commercial source of lecithin. Unrefined soy contains 3 % lecithin.
    During the process of refining, lecithin is removed and sold for use in baked goods and pharmaceutical preparations.

    Lecithin Supplement, Lecithin Granules, Lecithin Dosage

    Lecithin supplements are available in the form of capsules, powder or granules, tablets and gels. Supplements ought to be taken with meals, in order to enhance their absorption. Lecithin granules have a nutty taste and can be sprinkled over foods or added to drinks.

    Supplements vary widely in their content of the active ingredient phosphatidylcholine; for it to be effective, the supplement must have 35 % or more.

    Usually, the doctor prescribes 1200 mg capsules twice daily. In the granular form, you may take about 1 teaspoon, it supplies1200 mg of lecithin.

    Lecithin Side Effects
    In general moderate overdose of Lecithin is not associated with severe side effects. Very high doses can have certain adverse effects; bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and too much sweating has been observed in some cases of over dosage.
    Always consult your doctor before embarking upon supplementation.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Zinc Supplement for Health: Zinc Rich Foods and Side Effects

    Zinc is an essential mineral that is required by practically every cell in the body; it is concentrated in the muscle, bone, skin kidney, pancreas and prostate. Zinc health benefits are innumerable; it is a vital mineral that does everything from manufacturing DNA to healing wounds. Zinc supplementation is essential for those who have a weak immune system and are prone to frequent colds and coughs; it is also one of the remedies for acne.

    What are the Benefits of Zinc?
    Here are some important health benefits of including zinc supplements in your diet regularly,
    • Fights colds and coughs, and reduces their intensity and frequency.
    • Helps in the management of osteoporosis and arthritis
    • Helps heal a host of skin disorders and ailments. In fact, zinc is one of the most important natural treatments for acne.
    • Is helpful in cases of tinnitus (buzzing / ringing in the era)
  • Helps treat hair fall, keeps the scalp healthy and boosts the growth of healthy hair.
  • Improves fertility
    Zinc Treats Acne Effectively
     Benefits of Zinc for Skin:Zinc Supplements For Acne

    Zinc is one of the most important treatments for acne. It helps reduce flare ups, maintains a healthy skin, fights bacterial infection and prevents unsightly scarring that is associated with acne.
    It reduces skin irritation and skin inflammation and heals the scars and marks that occur due to acne, pimples and blackheads effectively and rapidly.
    Incorporating zinc rich foods promises you a clear, flawless and radiant skin that is blemish free.

    Zinc DeficiencySymptoms: Zinc Supplements and Recommended Intake

    The body does not produce zinc, thus it depends on external sources. Deficiency symptoms are seen as: poor wound healing, recurrent head colds, skin disorders, and a muted sense of taste and smell.

    Severe deficiency increases the risk of developing diabetes and having a low sperm count.
    In case of a severe deficiency, supplementation becomes necessary. The RDI for the mineral is 12 mg everyday; the dosage may increase in case of medical disorders.

    Natural Sources of Zinc: Side Effects of Zinc and Implications of Zinc Overdose

    Nuts are an Excellent Source of Zinc
    Excellent sources of zinc are: beef, pork, liver, eggs, seafood, oysters, beans, wheat germ and nuts. However, zinc from the non vegetarian sources is better absorbed than the vegetarian ones.

    Over dosing of zinc is fraught with certain adverse effects. Consuming more than 100 mg daily leads to impaired immunity and decreased levels of HDL or good cholesterol. You will experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Hence, it is crucial that you confer with your health care professional before staring zinc supplements.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    Folic Acid Health Benefits: Dosage, Natural Food Sources and Folic Acid Deficiency

    Folic acid belongs to the vitamin B group and has an important part to play in the maintenance of health and prevention of a host of disorders. You must ensure that you consume foods high in folic acid; there are several natural sources of folic acid; or boost the daily intake with a supplement.

    What is Folic Acid?

    Folic acid is a water soluble B vitamin; it was first extracted from spinach in 1940. The body does not store the vitamin; consequently, your daily intake of folic acid ought to be adequate.
    Cooking or long storage can destroy half of the folic acids in foods; therefore, consuming plenty of raw, fresh vegetables or a folic acid supplement is the best way to get sufficient amounts of this nutrient.

    What Does Folic Acid Do? Benefits of Folic Acid
    Green Leafy Vegetables are
     loaded with Folic Acid
     The primary functions of folic acid are:
    • Synthesis of red blood cells
    • Building of muscle
    • Quick healing of wounds
    • Manufacture of chemicals of the brain and nervous system
    • Vital for DNA and RNA formation, and makes sure that the cells replicate normally.
    • Crucial for normal fetal development

     Folic Acid Health Benefits: Importance of Folic Acid Supplements

    Here are a few important health benefits of folic acid supplements,

    • Folic acid is necessary to prevent birth defects
    • It protects the heart and diminishes the risk of developing cardio-vascular disorders. Folic acid plays a role in the synthesis and use of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine tend to damage the lining of the blood vessels, making the vulnerable to plaque buildup, and consequently cardiac diseases.
    •  Folic acid is known to prevent cancer, particularly, colon, skin, rectal and cervical cancer.
    • It is also an important weapon against depression. High levels of homocysteine cause depression as well, thus, folic acid can help manage depressive cases effectively. The vitamin also improves the efficacy of the prescribed anti-depressants.
    • The nutrient also helps maintaining healthy bones
    • It is also of some help in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
    Foods Rich in Folic Acid: Folic Acid Intake: Recommended Dosage
    The RDI for folic acid is 200 mcg per day, however, the need increases during pregnancy and with age.
    Good food sources are: spinach, lettuce, fenugreek, asparagus, and practically all green leafy vegetables, beans and whole grains.

    Folic Acid Deficiency: Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms
    Some of the symptoms associated with the deficiency of folic acid include, 
    Those who are taking medicines for cancer or epilepsy or suffer from a malabsorption disease have a severe folic acid deficiency.

    Folic Acid Supplement

    Folic Acid Crystals
    Folic acid supplements are available as tablet and capsules. Supplements are advisable during pregnancy and for elderly people. Doctors advocate taking 400 mcg daily. However, do confer with your health care professional before embarking on the supplementation.

    Folic Acid for Pregnancy

    Folic acid has a pivotal role to play during pregnancy. This vitamin protects against fetal birth defects. Taking adequate amounts of folic acid during conception and during the first 3 months of pregnancy greatly decreases the risk of serious birth defects, such as spina bifida.
    Incorporate plenty of folic acid rich foods in your daily diet. Your gynecologist will also recommence a supplement; 400 mcg during pregnancy.

    Folic Acid Side Effects, Folic Acid Overdose

    Very large doses of folic acid are not recommended. In fact, doses like 5000-10000 mcg may be dangerous, especially for people who have hormone related cancers, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer.
    Folic acid overdose may also trigger seizures in people having epilepsy. Experts say the upper limit for folic acid is 1000 mcg per day.

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Spirulina Health Benefit: Nutritional Supplement Dosage and Side Effects

    Health enthusiasts have discovered that algae found in lakes and ponds are powerful food supplements; these contain several noteworthy beneficial substances that promise to enhance health. This article provides information about the ideal dosage, side effects and nutrition facts about spirulina and its health benefits including aiding in weight loss
    Spirulina Supplements for
    bad breath
    What is Spirulina?
    Spirulina or blue-green algae is a single celled microorganism that resembles a bacterium. Spirulina is loaded with chlorophyll, thus it turns the lakes and ponds where it grows a deep blue-green.
    Spirulina Nutrition Facts
    Spirulina is packed with plant pigment chlorophyll, which is known to exert several significant health benefits. Also, contains proteins, vitamin B12, folic acid and carotenoids.
    Benefits of Spirulina: Spirulina Health Benefits
    Spirulina has been used medicinally for thousands of years in china. This alga claims to proffer a range of noteworthy health benefits:
    1.  This microorganism is known to boost energy levels and dispel fatigue and weariness
    2.   The high chlorophyll content of the alga helps battle bad breath effectively; in fact most breath fresheners available in the market are composed of spirulina
    3. It is enhances the functioning of the liver considerably and is beneficial in the management of hepatitis.
    4.  Spirulina perks up immune mechanism and helps prevent cardio-vascular and heart disorders and cancers.
    Spirulina and Weight Loss
    There have been a few claims of spirulina helping weight loss and weight management; however, there is no conclusive proof. Spirulina, along with a balanced and healthy diet, a regular exercise routine and a consistent lifestyle pattern can help maintain an ideal body weight.
    Spirulina Powder: Spirulina Dose
    Spirulina is available in the form of powder, capsule, tincture and tablets. By and large, spirulina is recommended for those who complain of chronic and obstinate halitosis or offensive breath. Experts recommend: mix 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder in one glass of water. Use this as a gargle as well as a drink, daily. You could also take a tablet or capsule twice every day.
    Spirulina can be contaminated
    with mercury or lead
    Spirulina Side Effects
    No adverse effects have been reported after consuming recommended doses of spirulina. However, some people have complained of slight nausea and vomiting or diarrhea. In case this occurs, lower your dose or stop the supplementation for a few days. Also, always take the supplement after meals; it reduces the chances of a gastric upset and gastric distention. On the whole, spirulina is considered to be a very safe supplement.
    Importantly, do not harvest your own spirulina from a pond or lake; these colonies of algae may be contaminated with sewage or industrial waste and could contain concentrated levels of lead, cadmium, mercury or other lethal toxins.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Vitamin D Deficiency and Brain Health: Vitamin D To Improve Brain Activity

    As per a recent study report, intake of Vitamin D can improve brain activity and brain functioning in later part of life. Cognitive performance of over 3000 Europeans between the age group of 40-79 years was compared with the level of Vitamin D using tests to evaluate mental agility. It was observed that lower levels of Vitamin D was associated with poor brain health and reduced brain functions. All the other variables including education level, depression, physical activity and physical performance were considered during the assessment. Though the study was not able to identify the actual reason for the association between Vitamin D and mental functions, the study contributed significantly to the understanding for management of conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

    Vitamin D is crucial in
    Improving Brain Functions
    What is Vitamin D? Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

    Vitamin D is a fat soluble pro-hormone, which plays the primary function of improving metabolism and absorption of calcium in the body.
    Vitamin D also regulates the absorption and metabolism of Phosphrous in the body. Vitamin D is naturally synthesized in skin which only requires sunlight exposure. However as per the National Health and Nutrition Survey, it has been observed that more than 7 million children across the United States suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, while another 50 million children have insufficient quantity of Vitamin D.
    Deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with Rickets in children and Osteomalacia in adults, both conditions characterized by poor calcification of bone matrix which in turn results in softening of bones, increased risk of fractures, and swelling of joints and limited range of motion. However there are other important functions that Vitamin D performs which include,
    • It helps strengthen the immune system and contributes towards protection against common disorders like flu and common cold. It is also considered beneficial in improving symptoms of autoimmune conditions like Asthma and Multiple Sclerosis
    • Improves mental functions and mental agility in later part of life. Lower levels of Vitamin D were linked with poor brain power in later part of life. 
    • Helps maintain optimum body weight and prevents obesity. Vitamin D deficiency was linked with increase in weight especially due to altered metabolism
    • Vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of development of rheumatoid arthritis 
    • Vitamin D for Better Brain
      Health during Old Age
    • Considered to have a protective action against DNA damage caused due to low levels of radiation. As per reports Vitamin D deficiency was consistently observed in all cancer patients treated in the United States, irrespective of their nutritional status.
    Foods with Vitamin D: Vitamin for Better Brain Health

    Though the exact action of Vitamin D on improving brain health is not clearly understood, it is believed that the hormone has an action on the neurons of the brain which in turn improve mental and cognitive functions. Though adequate exposure to sunlight is considered adequate for the production of Vitamin D in the body, sunbathing and undue sun exposure is not recommended as it is linked with skin cancer.
    Vitamin D supplements are often recommended in individuals with Vitamin D deficiency; however there are certain foods that can improve Vitamin D levels in the body,
    • Fish liver oil especially cod liver oil and cold water fish like herring and salmon are considered to be a good source of Vitamin D
    • Egg Yolk is also considered to be loaded with Vitamin D
    • Dairy products including Milk, Cheese and Butter are also good sources of Vitamin D. However consuming low fat milk can reduce the availability of Vitamin D through these sources.
    Improve Brain Activity: Lifestyle tips to Enhance Brain Power

    Here are some simple life style tips to help enhance brain functions,
    • Keep yourself physically active. Physical activity and mental agility are closely linked with each other. Physical activity ensures that the neurons and the nerves are actively involved in transmission of information across the brain, which in turn keeps the brain active and improves brain functioning. 
    • Solve some puzzles. Solving simple crossword puzzles or Sudoku can help in sharpening the brain and its intellect and keep it agile and active for longer 
    • Sleep Well. Inadequate sleep especially in patients with insomnia can increase the risk of irritability and also result in deteriorated brain functions. Getting adequate sleep now, will keep your brain active and agile during old age. 
    • Stop smoking and avoid alcohol. Both these foods interfere with normal metabolism, pass through the blood brain barrier and can cause damage to the brain cells.
    Diet to Improve Brain Health: Vitamin D and Other Foods for Brain Powder

    Though Vitamin D is considered to play a crucial role in improving brain functions, especially in the later part of life, there are a host of other dietary suggestions that can improve brain functioning and overall mental health.
    As per a study conducted by Gomez, California University, Los Angeles, who analyzed more than 160 different studies, found that a diet rich in fish, nuts like walnuts and fresh fruits like Kiwi fruit is considered to be beneficial to improve brain power. These foods contain Omega-3 essential fatty acids which help in the management of other brain conditions like Dementia, Schizophrenia and Depression.
    Also avoiding refined foods, junk foods, etc is necessary to improve brain power since these foods interfere with brain synapses and result in memory disorders.