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Today, we live in a time when manufactured medicines and prescriptions prevail, but do they have to be the only approach to healing?

Even with all of these engineered options at our fingertips, many people find themselves turning back to the medicinal plants that started it all: Herbal remedies that have the ability to heal and boost physical and mental well-being.

In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, 11 percent Trusted Source of the 252 drugs considered “basic and essential” by the World Health Organization were “exclusively of flowering plant origin.” Drugs like codeine, quinine, and morphine all contain plant-derived ingredients.

While these manufactured drugs have certainly become paramount in our lives, it can be comforting to know that the power of nature is on our side, and these herbal choices are available to complement our health practices.

One plant that has been known for enormous health benefits is the basil leaf.

It is a commonly used leaf for cooking but may not be referred to as the Basil leaf. Below are possible names based in some of the world most spoken languages, this is to create an understanding of what we are talking about in this article. 

The leaf is regionally grown mostly in Africa, India and some parts of Asia. In West Africa, it is believed to chase mosquitos where the name nchu-anwu originated for the Igbo tribe in the Eastern part of Nigeria.

Apart from chasing mosquitoes, it has great nutrients and other surprising benefits such as being rich in eugenol, rosmarinic acid, geraniol and others. Its minty flavor does a lot of wonders to a meal.

Basils also come in different types. Some are even packaged dry. Research shows that a pinch of the Basil leaf is said to contain a high amount of protein, vitamin A and fiber, potassium, iron and a little calorie.

Health benefits 

In India and Africa, the Basil is believed to be a natural medicine discovered to aid in the cure to problems such as:

  • Cold
  • Indigestion
  • Headaches and migraines 
  • Increase Libido
  • They have been discovered to be very effective for weight loss.
  • It helps with pain reduction 
  • It even sometimes aids with cardiovascular health. This is due to its high levels of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that stops free radicals from damaging cells. It also prevents the free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the bloodstream
  • Prevention of cancer due to its wide range of phytochemicals and other active ingredients
  • Helps improve sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Excellent for skin care due to its combination of antioxidant chemicals with antibacterial benefits. It aids in preventing acne and keeping your skin younger looking. It also helps reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles and increase skin elasticity.

There are countless ways to consume this herb though cooking seems to be its major purpose in many countries; it is good to also know its medicinal value. But it is advised that you speak to a trained herbalist or natural healer about the best means of consuming it therapeutically based on what effects you would like it to have. 

Vivian K

By: Yomi Henry-eyo

There is a health fad going round telling people when it is best to eat fruits.  

One myth says: You will get diabetes if you indulge in too many fruits.

If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, you should not worry about having your occasional favourite chocolate cake and ice cream every now and then.

Our bodies and digestive system are complex and are incredibly intelligent machines.  Fruits can be eaten at any time and it can be eaten along with other foods. The body produces digestive enzymes for protein, fat, and carbohydrates which help it digest mixed meals.  Besides, since the stomach has a high concentration of hydrochloric acid, bacteria is killed before it is able to reproduce so fermentation cannot take place in the stomach. 

This gives you an opportunity to cancel out the myth that, “always eat fruit on an empty stomach, if it is eaten with other foods, it can cause fermentation and rot in the stomach, hence affecting digestion”.

As far as I am concerned, as well as many people like myself, I would not eat fruits at all if you tell me there is “a certain time” to eat them.  Honestly, I would turn to my good old calorie dense, nutrient poor and sugar loaded milk chocolates instead. The odds of fruit timing is not as dangerous as we think.

This belief started from a certain chef and then it was accepted all around the world. We should be careful about demonising fruits because there are enough processed foods in the supermarkets, and fruits are certaining not one of them. It is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals higher mineral and vitamin content than we can ever get from other types of foods.

It is claimed that eating fruit can cause the stomach to empty more slowly.

The truth is that it does not cause food to sit in your stomach indefinitely. It is important to note that, this change in speed is significant, it does not slow down digestion, to a dangerous extent.  More so, is it not an advantage that the stomach holds the food for a while longer hence making you feel fuller for longer and consuming lesser calories in the day?
One study found that in healthy people, fibre slowed the time it took the stomach to empty half its contents from an average of 72 minutes to 86 minutes.

There is actually no scientific support behind the idea that, eating fruit with meals is the cause of bloating, diarrhoea and discomfort.

Another myth is that “eating fruits before or after a meal reduces its nutrient value.

It means that you have to eat fruits on an empty stomach if it’s not your first meal of the day, you have to wait for 30 minutes before eating fruits.  This is a topic of argument because the body was made to survive and extract the nutrients it needs from any pile of food in it. The body is efficient at separating what it needs to nourish the body from unwanted waste and so on.

Like all information on digestion, the body releases food from the stomach gradually into the small intestine gradually and carefully.

Fruits like pawpaw, pineapple and other exotic fruits like kiwi contain proteases; an enzyme that speeds up the breakdown of proteins – for example, meats and so on. 

Based on this information, it is definitely worth eating some fruits intentionally with your meal.

It can be added to salads and taken as an accompaniment with some stews.

Therefore the digestive system is more than able to digest and absorb the nutrients from fruits, whether it’s eaten on an empty stomach or with a meal.

Next time we will be considering some fruits that actually fight diabetes, and contribute dramatically to our nutritional health.

There is just one thing always willing to destroy the fun-filled summer experience you have always fantasized about and this is nothing else other than Summer health hazards.  It is true that with warmer weather comes an increased risk of sun exposure, heat stroke, and water injuries, among other, nevertheless, here’s how you can prevent them. 

According to the CDC, extreme heat sends an average of 65,000 Americans to emergency rooms annually. Stocksy Summer’s here, and with it comes longer days, summer Fridays, and weekend getaways. It’s time to get outside, hit the beach, and go on that camping trip you’ve been putting off because of uncooperative weather.

Although, just because flu season, snow, and ice-covered streets are behind us, doesn’t mean you can let your guard down when it comes to health. “It’s still important for people to be conscientious and aware,” even when summer fun is the season’s top priority.

Here, experts share the most common summer health hazards, symptoms to look for, and how to prevent them so you can stay safe and healthy all summer long.

  1. Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion — Limit Strenuous Outdoor Activity

When temperatures reach sweltering, it’s not just uncomfortable — it’s also dangerous and potentially deadly. Extreme heat sends an average of 65,000 Americans to emergency rooms annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the most dangerous of the heat-related illnesses, can occur when the body is unable to properly cool down after prolonged exposure to excessive heat (such as working or exercising outdoors). Heat stroke is a more severe case of heat exhaustion, Dr. Kapur explains. The good news? It’s preventable.

Prevention:

Kim Knowlton, PhD, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University in New York City, advises people to slow down and adjust work and activity schedules to keep cool during midday, when the sun tends to be the strongest. Dr. Knowlton recommends checking on friends and neighbors to make sure they’re okay. This is especially important for the young and the elderly, who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.  “If you start feeling sick, take the heat seriously.”

Some Symptoms include:

  • A body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • A fast pulse
  • Headache, dizziness, or confusion
  • Lost of consciousness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle Cramps
  1. Mild and Severe Dehydration — Don’t Skimp on Water Intake

We hear it all the time: Drink more water, but when out soaking up the sun, imbibing summery   cocktails, or playing sports, it’s even more important to make drinking water a priority. Skip it for too long and you could suffer from dehydration, which can range from mild to severe, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Prevention:

Simply put, drink lots of water throughout the day, especially when spending time outdoors in the sun. Kapur tells patients who plan to be lounging or sweating outside to aim for 16 ounces of water every hour, and to consider dialing back strenuous activity between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, when the sun is strongest.

  1.   Sunburn and Sun Damage — Make Applying Sunscreen a Daily Habit

Long, sunny days are arguably one of the best parts of summer, but can be a danger to our largest   organ which is our skin. Venture out too long without sunscreen and you could not only get a severe sunburn and age the appearance of your skin with wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but could also increase your risk for skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.

Prevention:

Again, limit your time in the sun and choose a shady spot whenever possible, says Kapur. Most importantly, make sunscreen a daily habit, whether or not the sun is even shining. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and be vigorous about reapplying. Spots to apply sunscreen that are commonly overlooked? The front and back of the neck, chest, the back of the knees, ears, scalp, and top of the feet, adds Natasha Mesinkovska, MD, director of clinical research for the department of dermatology in the School of Medicine at the University of California in Irvine. Once you’ve properly applied sunscreen, don’t forget to don sunglasses for more than style; UVA and UVB rays can also damage eyes.

  1. Water-Related Injuries — Practice Safe and Supervised Swimming

Nothing says summer like a beach or pool day. But swimming has plenty of dangers, from infections to diving injuries and even drowning, which is the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children ages 1 to 4, according to the CDC. This danger is only increased by the ubiquity of cellphones. With more adults scrolling on devices, they can be more distracted from keeping a close eye on kids while they’re in the water. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute suggests having one adult be the ‘designated water watcher,’ similar to a designated driver.

 Prevention:

Consider these tips from the American Red Cross for safe swimming setups, especially at pools:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Don’t leave young children unattended or without adult supervision.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • Have children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets but do not solely rely on them.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Every second is important in preventing death or disability.
  • Additionally, if you often find yourself predisposed to swimmer’s ear, an infection of the outer canal of the ear, per the CDC, try wearing earplugs when taking a dip, suggests Kapur.

5       Insect Bites and the Spread of Diseases — Be Mindful of Yourself and Your Surroundings

When traipsing through hiking trails and exploring the outdoors, don’t forget to be mindful of insect   bites, which “are not only annoying, but can transmit serious illnesses,” says Knowlton. Be especially wary of ticks and mosquitoes — mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as West Nile virus and Dengue fever, and for people who live in the Northeast, ticks can carry up to 16 different infectious illnesses, per the CDC, including Lyme disease.

Prevention:

  • Use insect repellent even on short hikes, says Kapur. If you’re camping, consider pretreating your tent or hammock with repellent as well. If you can, even in the heat, wear long sleeves and pants and tuck your socks into pants, Knowlton adds. Also be sure to check yourself, plus friends, family, and pets, for ticks after outdoor activities.
  • The CDC also suggests staying in the center of trails when going on a hike and avoiding areas with tall grass, as well as treating clothes with products that contain 0.5 percent permethrin, an anti-parasite medication that also acts as an insect repellent. If you’re worried you’ve been in a tick-infested area, they also advise bathing or showering within two hours after an outing and washing clothes in hot water — and drying them on high heat, too.

As you make superb plans for this summer, also make well-targeted safety plans to help ensure that your summer enjoyments are not short-lived by the presence of summer hazards. 

Sophia F. Gottfried

‘Until you look like me, you are disgusting.

What I actually saw, was all those ‘me’s were the perfect picture of grotesque and abnormal. They had ribs and bones sticking out from their chest and sides; their clothes falling off them, as there was no framework to support them, and the thickest layer of skin on their body was their lips.

But to many women (1 out of 250 women, out of whom 20% will die of Anorexia) this is clearly the image of beauty. Not just beauty but perfection — “True perfection has to be imperfect” was a line, a motto adopted from Oasis’ Little by Little, by some high school friends of mine, and the line stuck with me ever since. It really needs to be taught across the world as a guideline for people to live by! Anorexia is only one of the many eating disorders that are spreading like wildfire across the world.

The question is why? Eating disorders are not eating disorders alone but severe mental disorders. This may sound harsh to many who pride themselves on their petite waist sizes, and consider themselves healthy. Eating disorders, in this case Anorexia, are not just a diet fad and desire to lose weight. In fact these young girls and women are not anorexic because of the fact that they are losing weight, but the way in which they are doing it. It completely takes over their lives and destroys other aspects of them. An Anorexic person prevents herself from eating to the point of starvation. It is not a goal but an overwhelming fixation to change how they feel about their body. That is, in fact, the indication to help parents, teachers and even friends recognize anorexia in a patient. Some may have specific types in which the patient binges on food and then forces herself to throw it up in order to cleanse herself from all the “calories” she gained.

Image Credit –Organic facts

Ads and Television Programs reinforce the concept of the “perfect body”. Jean Kilbourne in her film, “Killing Us Softly” discusses the portrayal of women in ads, and says, “Women’s bodies are objectified” which results in inhumane treatment of women through physical, mental abuse not only though domestic violence imposed upon them, but also self-inflicted violence, and maltreatment of our bodies by trying to make them what they are not. We believe that beauty is thin and don’t connect with the idea of a medium or large sized woman being beautiful. So the ads show us thin women and television programs are centered around women who are exceptionally slim to show the viewers that something is wrong with their body if they are not thin enough. These days, the images we see in ads and images in the papers and magazines are not what they seem — and are instead redone with the use of computer technology. What happens is, as a result it creates images where the sizes are abnormally thin — and not just abnormally so, but impossibly as there is no person like the one they are portraying.

During my research for this article I came across a documentary, titled THIN, about a medical centre which helps people overcome eating disorders and I had to watch it very slowly, case by case to just keep my sanity intact. There was a woman, who is actually a nurse herself who had to be fed through a tube on her stomach for five years, due to the fact that she could no longer eat normally. She was unable to eat unless the food went directly to her stomach.

I found another documentary which completely made me catch my breath, (and not in the good sense) it was titled Dana the 8 year old anorexic, she said, “I wanted to lose weight, so I stopped eating” the person making this documentary continued to say that the number of children who were under the age of 10 who had been admitted to hospital doubled over the year. The reality about these diseases is they can be helped if caught in time.

“There are even websites, which teach you how to conceal your eating disorder,” shared a friend of mine when I told her that I was doing a piece on the issue. I felt shocked hearing those words; not only wondering why and how she knew that, but that such a thing existed.

So I Googled it and found the answers on Answer.com. There were many who answered that diseases like Anorexia cannot be hidden as it always show up and is a serious health concern which should be addressed. There was one who answered, “I will answer this question, as I had anorexia (now recovered) and know how lonely it can be. Just type in ‘pro ana ‘websites’”. My advice to you, do not search for them! You will not know how to recover from the mere shock that these sites exist, and contrary to what their disclaimers say — definitely promote anorexia by telling you repeatedly — You Are What you Eat. My opening line of this article is from such a site — Until You Look like Me, You are Disgusting.

It is easy to connect with the concept of not liking how we look, but that is not the reason and should not be the reason to motivate ourselves into thinking that something is wrong with us and we need to make drastic changes to our lifestyle to attain our idea of beautiful and perfect. What is essential for everyone to know is that eating disorders can be cured, when caught in time. It depends on the choice the individual make and the support she gets. People choose this lifestyle, as they feel they have no other choice. There are websites which help them make the healthy choice, and we as concerned friends and family members need to help them find the way to make the healthier choice.

By Radhika Ghose

The food and drink choices you make every day affect your health now and later in life. Choosing healthy foods and drinks more often can help prevent or manage many health problems that affect women. And studies show that when a woman eats healthy, everyone in her household is more likely to eat healthy.

Healthy eating is a way of eating that improves your health and helps prevent disease. It means choosing different types of healthy food from all of the food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins), most of the time, in the correct amounts for you. Healthy eating also means not eating a lot of foods with added sugar, sodium (salt), and saturated and trans fats.

Healthy eating also means getting nutrients primarily from food rather than from vitamins or other supplements. Some women might need vitamins, minerals, or other supplements at certain times in life like before or during pregnancy. But most women, most of the time, should get their essential nutrients from what they eat and drink.

What you eat and drink is influenced by where you live, the types of foods available in your community and in your budget, your culture and background, and your personal preferences. Often, healthy eating is affected by things that are not directly under your control, like how close the grocery store is to your house or job. Focusing on the choices you can control will help you make small changes in your daily life to eat healthier.

The amount of calories a woman need is based on her physical activity level, age, height, weight, and other unique health considerations, such as whether she is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Does Healthy Eating Include a Specific Diet or Kind of Food?

Image Source, Bien Magazine

When you’re in your 20s and 30s, the right lifestyle and screening tests can go a long way to keeping you healthy. These simple steps can greatly benefit you.

1. Start a Heart-Healthy Diet-and-Exercise Plan

Skip the fried and fatty foods, and try to get at least half an hour of exercise every day. Eating right and keeping active are the gifts that keep on giving.

If you set up these habits now, the benefits will last a lifetime. And if you plan on having children someday, it’s a good idea to take a multivitamin that gives you plenty of folic acid — between 400 and 800 micrograms a day. Start taking folic acid at least 1 month before you plan to get pregnant, and keep it up during your first trimester.

2. Work on Your Relationship with Your Doctor

Find one you trust. Before your appointment, make up a list questions, such as: What contraceptive method is right for me? What’s the best way to prevent STDs? What vaccines do I need?

3. Know Your Family Health History

Did your sister, mother, or grandmother have breast cancer or heart disease before they turned 50? Does diabetes run in the family? These are important questions to ask your family to help your doctor figure out your own health risks.

4. Don’t Forget Key Screening Tests

Make sure you get a Pap test to check for cervical cancer every 3 years starting at age 21. If you’re 30 to 65, you can keep getting a Pap test every 3 years, or you can get it along with an HPV test every 5 years. That other test is useful because most cervical cancers are caused by an infection with HPV (human papillomavirus).

If you’re sexually active and have a higher risk for STDs, get tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year. Take an HIV test at least once, more often if you’re at risk. Also consider tests for other STDs like trichomoniasis, syphilis, and hepatitis B.

Check your blood pressure every 2 years if it’s normal (lower than 120/80). If it’s high, or you’re at risk for high blood pressure, you’ll need more frequent checks and diabetes screening tests. Also, get your cholesterol tested, and ask your doctor how often that needs to be done. 

Source: WebMD