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  • 10 Surprising Uses of Listerine Mouthwash You’ve Never Heard Of

    10 Surprising Uses of Listerine Mouthwash You’ve Never Heard Of

    Listerine is an effective antiseptic mouthwash that many people include in their daily oral health care routine. This mouthwash is known to improve oral health and has been in the market for more than 100 years.

    Scientific studies have found Listerine to be effective in reducing the development of plaque and gingivitis, thanks to its antiplaque and antigingivitis qualities.

    However, this mouthwash is not just effective for rinsing plaque away and improving your overall oral health. Due to its antiseptic, antifungal, astringent and sanitizing properties as well as its alcohol content, Listerine has certainly proven itself useful in our daily lives in many other ways. Make sure you use the original brown-colored Listerine, not the blue one.

    Here are 10 surprising uses of Listerine mouthwash you’ve never heard of.

     

    1. Cures Toenail Fungus and Athlete’s Foot

    Whether you have a toenail fungus or athlete’s foot, your bottle of regular Listerine mouthwash can help treat the problem within a few days.

    Listerine contains thymol, which has antifungal properties that help kill the fungus responsible for toenail fungus. It provides fast relief from symptoms like stinging and burning sensations and excessive itching.

    Also, it acts as an antiseptic to prevent further infection.

    • For treating a mild toenail fungus, dab some Listerine mouthwash on cotton balls and place them on the affected toenails. Wrap them with a small bandage or tape to secure the cotton balls. Leave them on for about 45 minutes, then gently scrub the toenails with a soft toothbrush. Wash and pat dry thoroughly. Repeat once a day.
    • For severe athletes’ foot, mix equal amounts of Listerine and white vinegar. Soak your foot in the solution for 30 minutes before washing it off. Repeat 2 or 3 times a week.

    2. Treats Jock Itch

    You can use your regular mouthwash to treat jock itch, which causes a lot of itching and discomfort. Its cooling property can alleviate the itchiness instantly.

    Listerine’s antiseptic nature reduces soreness and inflammation, while its thymol and alcohol content helps kill the fungus that causes this infection.

    1. Soak a cotton ball in Listerine.
    2. Rub it gently on the affected skin.
    3. Allow it to dry on its own. Then, rinse it off.
    4. Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times a day for a few months for complete relief.

    Along with jock itch, Listerine can be used to reduce itchiness caused by bug bites, as well as the itchy reactions to poison ivy or poison oak.

    3. Whitens Yellow Nails

    If your nails are discolored due to some kind of fungal infection, Listerine can reduce the yellowness and make your nails whiter than ever before.

    Listerine contains several active ingredients that have antifungal properties, such as menthol, eucalyptol and thymol. These help fight the infection and restore the health of your nails.

    • Mix equal amounts of Listerine and vinegar. Soak your discolored nails in this solution for 20 minutes, then gently scrub the nails with a soft toothbrush. Repeat daily for a few days until your nails become white.
    • Alternatively, soak your discolored nails in Listerine for 20 minutes. Do this daily for a week, then take a break for a week, and repeat the procedure the following week.

    4. Reduces Dandruff

    Listerine can be used to treat dandruff, thanks to its antifungal properties and alcohol content.

     

    • Apply some Listerine on your scalp. Massage using your fingertips in circular motions for a couple of minutes. Leave it on for 5 minutes, then shampoo your hair as usual. Follow this remedy 2 or 3 times a week.
    • You can also rinse your hair and scalp with a mixture made from ¼ cup of Listerine and 1 cup of water. Later, shampoo your hair as usual. Repeat 2 or 3 times a week.

    This popular mouthwash can also be used to treat infant cradle cap, which is a severe form of dandruff.

    5. Kills Head Lice

    Listerine works well in killing lice, an annoying problem common among school-age children. It is safe and effective for using on small children. It’s cooling menthol content also helps relieve the itching.

    1. Massage the scalp and hair with a little mouthwash.
    2. Cover the hair with a shower cap for 2 hours.
    3. Next, wash the hair with a mild shampoo.
    4. While the hair is still slightly damp, use a lice comb to remove any dead lice and remaining lice eggs.
    5. Do this for a couple of days, then repeat weekly, depending on the extent of infestation.

    Note: When applying Listerine in your hair and scalp, make sure it does not enter your eyes and nose. Also, do not apply it on any open sores on your scalp.

    6. Softens Dry, Cracked Heels

    To soften dry, cracked heels, Listerine is very effective. It is often used in foot soaks to soften the heels, which can also prevent cracked heels.

    It also contains thymol, an ingredient that kills the bacteria responsible for foot odor. Plus, its astringent nature helps reduce the amount your feet sweat, which helps reduce odor.

    1. Put 2 cups of warm water in a foot tub.
    2. Add 1 cup each of Listerine and white vinegar.
    3. Soak your feet in this solution for 20 minutes.
    4. Add more hot water to keep the water warm.
    5. Remove your feet from the solution and use a pumice stone to scrub off the dead skin cells.
    6. Finally, wash your feet, pat dry thoroughly and apply some moisturizer.
    7. Follow this remedy once a week to keep your feet soft and smooth.

    7. Clears Acne

    Listerine works as an effective astringent, thus helping to treat acne and other skin blemishes. When used topically, it easily penetrates into the skin and helps dry out the acne. It also reduces redness and inflammation.

    Also, its antiseptic nature helps prevent skin infections.

    1. Wash your face thoroughly with lukewarm water.
    2. Dab a little Listerine on the acne before going to bed.
    3. The next morning, wash your face again.
    4. Repeat daily as needed.

    8. Fights Body Odor

    This germ-fighting mouthwash also works as a deodorant. It can help kill germs responsible for generating bad body odor.

    It also lends a nice minty fragrance to your body and keeps you feeling fresh longer.

    • Soak a cotton ball in Listerine. Rub the cotton ball on your underarms or other smelly areas.
    • You can also pour Listerine into a spray bottle and spray it on the areas that sweat a lot.

    9. Cleans Floors and Toilets

    Believe it or not, your regular mouthwash can also be used as a floor cleaner and a toilet cleaner.

    Listerine can kill odors and disinfect your toilet as well as the floors in your kitchen, bathroom and other areas. Using Listerine eliminates your risk of exposure to harmful chemicals found in commercial cleaners.

    It can also help kill mold and mildew.

    • Add 1 cup of Listerine to a bucket filled halfway with water and use it to clean your floors.
    • To clean a toilet, pour 1 cup of mouthwash into the toilet, allow it to sit for 30 minutes and finally give it a swish with a toilet brush.

    10. Sanitizes Laundry

    Just like Listerine removes bacteria from your mouth, it can remove harmful bacteria from your laundry as well. Make sure the Listerine you use does not contain artificial coloring or else it may leave stains.

    It can even disinfect your washing machine.

    • Add 1 cup of Listerine to the regular cycle of a full load of laundry for cleaner, germ-free clothing. Allow the laundry to dry in the sun for more effective results.
    • To clean and disinfect your washing machine, pour in 1 cup of Listerine and run the empty load through the cycles.

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  • Fava Beans: Nutritional Value, Recipes and Health Benefits

    Fava Beans: Nutritional Value, Recipes and Health Benefits

    The fava bean, alternatively known as broad bean, is a large, flat, green leguminous vegetable.

    The earliest record of its cultivation dates back to Old World Agriculture prevalent in the Neolithic times, about 6000 years ago, probably in Persia and Egypt. Traces of fava beans have also been unearthed in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, indicating that these legumes enjoyed royal patronage even in that era. No wonder then that fava beans became somewhat of a staple food all over the in the region thereafter.

    Fava beans, along with a wide array of other legumes such as lentils and chickpea, continue to dominate Mediterranean and North African cuisines.

    However, the acclaim for these beans that thrive in warm climates is no longer limited to their place of origin. In fact, a lot of people grow this winter season crop in their own backyard or kitchen garden.

    Today, fresh fava beans, as well as their canned, frozen, dry, salted, and roasted variants, are easily available in the global market. Easy-to-cook fava beans have a mildly sweet and earthy flavor and melt like butter in the mouth. It is on account of this understated texture and taste that fava beans make for a versatile addition to any diet as part of dips, salads, stews, and soups.

    When buying fresh fava beans, look for tender, bright-green pods that have recently matured and are evenly shaped. Springtime, ideally between March and June, is the best season for buying fresh fava beans.

    Unlike regular green beans, fava beans cannot be consumed along with their thick indigestible peel. To eat, shuck the beans to remove their thick pods. Then, the beans need to be blanched in order to loosen the tough skin. Once the seeds have been unshelled, place them in a perforated plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator that has been set at relatively high humidity.

    It’s best to consume the refrigerated beans over the next week.

    Nutritional Content of Fava Beans

    Like all other beans and legumes, fava beans are a source of protein and provide essential amino acids required by the body. There’s much more to the nutrient-dense composition of fava beans, which accounts for the various health perks ascribed to these green legumes.Not only do they boast of rich fibrous content, but fava beans are also a source of minerals, B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, and K.

    Preparing Fava Beans

    Fava Beans Salad

    You can simply add fresh fava beans to any salad. In particular, fava beans would pair well with a typical Italian spring salad, which includes cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and a little hot pepper. Besides salads, fava beans can be enjoyed in many ways including the recipes below.

    Fava Bean Purée

    Ingredients:

    • 3 pounds fresh fava beans or about 2 cups of shelled beans
    • 2 large cloves of garlic
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
    • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
    • ½ teaspoon of red chili flakes (optional)
    • ½ cup of olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Preparation:

    1. First, blanch the fava beans and then peel them to extract the kernels. Set aside ½ cup of unshelled fava beans, and roughly chop them.
    2. The remaining beans go into a food processor, along with the garlic cloves, parsley, mint, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes, if using.
    3. Pulse to combine.
    4. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
    5. While the processor is still running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil and purée until the contents mix together well and acquire a smooth consistency.
    6. Transfer the paste out of the processor into a bowl and garnish it with the roughly chopped beans that had been saved.
    7. Use the fava bean purée as a toast spread or as a dip with raw vegetables. You can even eat it by spooning the paste onto fresh mozzarella or burrata.
    8. Refrigerate the purée so it can last you up to five days.

    Fava Beans and English Pea Panzanella

    Ingredients:

    • 1 loaf of your favorite variety of bread, preferably a day old
    • 1 cup of olive oil, set aside half of which to be used for dressing
    • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 1 cup arugula
    • ½ cup English peas, which have been shelled and blanched
    • ½ cup of shelled, blanched and peeled fava beans
    • ½ a bunch of green onions, sliced
    • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
    • ½ a bunch of basil, chiffonade
    • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Preparation:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
    2. Break the bread loaf into bite-size pieces and soak them in ½ cup of olive oil.
    3. Sprinkle the chopped garlic on top of the chunks, and then toast them in the oven for 10 minutes.
    4. Put all the veggies-the favas, arugula, peas, tomatoes, onions, and basil – in a bowl and give them a gentle mix.
    5. Add the toasted pieces of bread to the vegetable bowl.
    6. Use balsamic vinegar and the remaining ½ cup of olive oil as dressing
    7. Finish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper over the top of the dish, according to your taste.

    Risk Factors and Precautions with Fava Beans

    • People suffering from a rare genetic disorder of favism are advised against consuming fava beans as it can cause potentially toxic side effects. One of the most commonly reported threats is acute hemolytic anemia, which essentially involves the destruction of your red blood cells at such an accelerated rate that your body can’t easily replace them. The sustained loss of oxygen-carrying red blood cells eventually paves the way for anemia. People grappling with this disease have insufficient amounts of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) enzyme in their body.
    • Infants and young children may not tolerate high doses of fava beans due to the high fiber content. Incorporate fava beans in small doses and as part of a balanced diet.
    • Eating fava beans as part of a mixed meal may lower risk for any discomfort from bloating or flatulence from fava bean’s high fiber amount.
    • People on monoamine oxidase (MAOI) inhibitors are advised against consuming fava beans due to its rich tyramine content.
    • Fava beans contain significant amounts of levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical that can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize vitamin B6. Thus, people who are already running low on this vital nutrient should stay off fava beans as it can worsen their condition.

    Why are Fava Beans Good for You?

    Here are 10 benefits of fava beans for health.

    1. Promotes Heart Health and Reduces Cholesterol

    Fava beans are celebrated by health enthusiasts as a rich source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Besides keeping your digestive system working smoothly, the fibrous nature of this mighty legume can benefit your cardiovascular health.

    There is enough research-based evidence that would suggest that the soluble fiber in foods, such as in fava beans, binds to low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol) in the bloodstream and facilitates its elimination from the body.

    This effect was observed in both healthy adults and people with high cholesterol and can go a long way in keeping your heart healthy.

    One animal study that lends support to these claims was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Researchers fed a diet containing fava bean seeds or their protein isolate to hypercholesterolemic rat subjects, which led to a significant decrease in cholesterol levels without any effect on the high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or good cholesterol).

    2. May Reduce Parkinson’s Symptoms

    Parkinson’s disease is a progressively degenerative neurological disorder that compromises the motor system. This disease is associated with the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, which leads to difficulty in initiating, coordinating, and controlling movement.

    The conventional treatment for Parkinson’s rests primarily on drugs containing L-dopa, an amino acid that aids in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.

    Given that fava beans boast a bountiful supply of L-dopa, eating fava beans may help supplement this chemical in the blood and thereby relieve some symptoms of Parkinson’s in the early stages. It could also be beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease.

    The potential efficacy of fava beans as a natural alternative to the synthetic drugs used for treating Parkinson’s has been corroborated to a certain extent by evidential research; however, further studies are warranted.

    One such study found that the inclusion of fava beans in the diet of patients with Parkinson’s can significantly improve their motor performance by increasing the levels of L-dopa and C-dopa in their blood, without engendering any harmful side effects.

    Another study found that fava beans may help manage Parkinsonian motor oscillations in patients with Parkinson’s disease similar to L-dopa drugs.

    3. May Help Prevent Birth Defects

    The primordial importance of a wholesome and nutrient-rich diet to ensure a healthy pregnancy is not news to anybody. While all of us need a steady supply of folate and vitamin B12 for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and red blood cells, expecting mothers are recommended additional supplementation of these critical nutrients.

    Adequate folate intake around conception and during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly in the newborn baby.

    For this reason alone, pregnant women are advised to eat a variety of folate-rich foods such as fava beans. Just 1 cup of cooked beans can make up for 44 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of folate for an adult man or woman. One hundred grams of fresh fava beans provides 106 percent RDA folate.

    4. May Help with Weight Management

    Fava beans are a weight-watcher’s delight in more ways than one. Not only do they help promote feelings of satiety, but these healthful legumes can also pave the way for weight loss.

    Fava beans have all the characteristics in order to be part of a nutrient-dense low-calorie diet. They have both soluble and insoluble fiber as well as plenty of proteins. Fiber and protein together help keep you full for a very long period of time, thereby staving off overeating or unnecessary snacking.

    If you want to indulge in a light snack between meals, just nibble on some smash-boiled fava beans without the guilt of calorie overload.

    Eating more of fava beans is an easy way to meet your energy needs without piling on the extra calories and the extra weight. Such fibrous and protein-rich intake works better than the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet model, as far as total fat loss is concerned.

    Moreover, people who regularly consume fava beans might even benefit from their cholesterol-lowering effects.

    A study published in Advances in Nutrition supported the claim that legumes such as fava beans may help increase satiety, at least in the short term. The study also highlights the positive impact of pulse consumption on weight loss when coupled with energy restriction, but not without energy restriction.

    However, additional, longer-term (≥1 y), randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the optimal amount of pulses to consume for weight control.

    Another 2018 study published in Nutrients compared the effects of meals based on animal and vegetable proteins on appetite sensations and ad libitum energy intake. The findings showed that the fava bean and split pea meal led to higher satiety and fullness ratings and lower prospective food intake and hunger ratings compared with the veal and pork meal.

    Furthermore, participants had a lower energy intake after the fava bean and split pea meal compared with the veal and pork meal at the ad libitum (as desired or needed) lunch served three hours after the test meal.

    5. Source of Antioxidants and Immune Booster

    Fava beans are replete with antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, copper, iron, and zinc, all of which enhance the functioning of the immune system in their respective ways.

    A substantial part of its antioxidant effects can also be attributed to the high contents of L-dopa, and various compounds called kaempferol glycosides found in fava bean sprouts.

    In general terms, these antioxidants help counter free radical activity that is at the crux of cellular aging and damage. Moreover, they play an important protective role by bolstering the body’s natural defenses against infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

    6. May Help Combat Depression and Anxiety

    Fava beans can also qualify as a feel-good food, all thanks to the concentrated amounts of L-dopa as well as B vitamins present in them. The former is a chemical agent that acts as a precursor of certain neurochemicals in the brain such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.

    All these neurotransmitters play important roles in the facilitation of good mood and stress relief.

    Similarly, the high levels of B vitamins in fava beans may also contribute to positive mental health. A 2012 study concluded that a low intake of B vitamins in adolescents is associated with depressive feelings.

    Therefore, eating more fava beans may be one way to a better mood.

    7. May Work as a Diabetic-Friendly Food

    Beans are a godsend for people with problematic blood sugar levels as they check all the boxes for a diabetic-friendly food. They are considered low on the glycemic index, which means they release a slow, steady source of glucose rather than the instant sugar high associated with the consumption of simple carbohydrates.

    The high fibrous content only adds to the glycemic-control prowess of these mighty greens. Moreover, fava beans also boast impressive amounts of polyphenols, which may protect against the development of type 2 diabetes through their antioxidant effects.

    In a 2012 study, diabetic subjects were asked to increase their legume intake by at least 1 cup/day. Their glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) values decreased by 0.5 percent. These results were more significant than those obtained by supplementing wheat fiber to the subjects, which recorded a decrease of 0.3 percent in their glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) values.

    8. Helps Improve High Blood Pressure

    Broad beans are one of the best plant sources of potassium, an essential electrolyte that performs a number of vital functions within the body.

    Not only does potassium ensure the proper functioning of cells, nerves, and muscles, but it is also tasked with the responsibility of keeping our blood pressure in check by countering the effects of sodium. This balancing act is, in turn, is conducive to maintaining optimum kidney and heart functions.

    Moreover, fava beans also provide magnesium and fiber, both of which further help in the management of hypertension.

    Fava beans are considered to be a good source of L-dopa, a chemical that gets converted into the neurotransmitter dopamine once it reaches the brain. This natriuretic agent can be potentially helpful in controlling hypertension, according to a 1991 study with young patients with hypertension.

    Ways to add more fava beans to your diet include:

    • A homemade sandwich spread using broad beans (like the fava bean puree) can be an easy way to increase your fava bean intake.
    • Simply blend equal amounts of boiled broad beans and yogurt, following which add salt and spices to the mix according to your taste. This can be used as a sauce for meat, veggie, or grain dishes.
    • Instead of using your regular sandwich spread, cheese, jam, or butter, smear your breakfast toast with this wholesome paste.
    • Peel, boil, and store fava beans in the refrigerator. Add a handful of fava beans to your salads.

    9. Helps Preserve Bone Health

    Fava beans may be a surprising source of bone-building nutrients, including copper and manganese.

    Inadequate intake of manganese and copper has been associated with reduced bone mass and increased calcium excretion.

    Eating more fava beans can supplement your body with manganese and copper, which can increase bone matrix strength, and collagen, which is needed to make bone cells.

    10. Helps Combat Anemia

    Fava beans are a source of iron, which is an essential prerequisite for hemoglobin synthesis. Hemoglobin is a protein that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body and to the cells. Thus, it is essential for you to maintain an adequate intake of iron to keep your cells and body sufficiently energized and active.

    On the contrary, if your diet runs insufficiently low on iron, you run the risk of developing anemia, which is characterized by constant sluggishness, fatigue, faint-headedness, and shortness of breath.

    Needless to say, eating more iron-rich foods such as this legume can help safeguard you from the potential threat of hemoglobin deficiency or anemia.

    However, one must bear in mind that the iron found in fava beans is of the nonheme variant, which is not absorbed by the body as readily as the heme-form iron found in poultry, meat, and fish.

    In order to maximize its absorption, you are recommended to consume fava beans with meat or foods rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, peppers, citrus fruits, and berries.

    Another factor to make note of is that eating broad beans can be detrimental if you suffer from glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.

    Fava beans are said to contain considerable amounts of highly oxidative chemicals, namely, divicine, convicine, and isouramil, which can precipitate another form of a blood disorder called hemolytic anemia in people with a preexisting glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.

     

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  • 6 Foods to Boost Your Low Hemoglobin Level

    6 Foods to Boost Your Low Hemoglobin Level

    Hemoglobin (Hb), an iron-rich protein present in the red blood cells, is responsible for carrying the oxygen-infused blood throughout the body’s tissues and cells.

    Along with transporting oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body so that the cells can perform properly,hemoglobin also helps carry carbon dioxide away from the cells and transport it back to the lungs for reoxygenation. As is quite clear from its role, hemoglobin is quite crucial for life.

    Normal Values of Hemoglobin

    Hemoglobin level in body is expressed as grams of hemoglobin per 100 milliliters (or 1 deciliter) of whole blood.

    Normal hemoglobin levels in the blood are:

    • 14 to 18 g/dl for adult men
    • 12 to 16 g/dl for adult women

    These values may vary slightly among different laboratories due to the different methods and measurements used in each facility.

    Causes of Low Levels of Hemoglobin

    It is common for women to experience low hemoglobin levels during pregnancy or menstrual cycles. However, there can be many other reasons behind it as well.

    “Many different things can cause a low hemoglobin level-it can be from a bad diet, cancer, or low iron levels. It could be from bleeding after surgery, after giving birth, heavy periods, from a slowly bleeding ulcer in your stomach/GI tract, or even a blood disorder like sickle cell anemia.

    Kidney or spleen problems can also cause a low hemoglobin/low red blood cell count,” says Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, MD.

    The most common causes of low hemoglobin levels are nutritional deficiencies. For example, iron, folic acid, and vitamin C and B12 deficiencies.

    Low hemoglobin levels can also occur due to blood loss from surgery, trauma, medication side effects, frequent blood donations, bone marrow disorders, cancer, kidney problems, arthritis, diabetes, stomach ulcers, and other diseases of the digestive tract.

    Low hemoglobin is usually associated with conditions that cause or may contribute to fewer red blood cells in your body. Depending on the reason for the decrease in hemoglobin level, there are natural ways of restoring levels to within the normal limits.

    The length of time you’ll need to continue using these remedies depends on your hemoglobin level and how often your doctor orders tests to check for improvements.

    According to Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, MD, “the best way to increase hemoglobin levels is to increase amount of green leafy vegetables, B12/folate, eat meat, eggs, fish, green beans, broccoli, etc.

    Sometimes iron supplements are needed. And in severe situations sometimes blood transfusions are necessary. The first step is determining the cause of the low hemoglobin level to know how to properly treat it. i.e., you can eat all the green vegetables you want but it will not stop a bleeding ulcer.”

    Symptoms of Low levels of Hemoglobin

    Decreased level of hemoglobin in your body is indicated by fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, pale skin, pale nail beds and gums, spooning nails, rapid heartbeat, and poor appetite.

    “If you have low hemoglobin levels you can have low oxygen levels. This can make you feel weak, fatigued, no energy, tired, short of breath,” says Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, MD.

    A significant decline in the level of hemoglobin may result in a condition known as anemia. Symptoms of anemia are similar to the ones noticed in the case of low level of hemoglobin in your body, only more severe, like-pale complexion (pallor), pale nail beds and gums, heart arrhythmias, indentations in the fingernails (spooning), bright, red tongue (glossitis), and an enlarged liver or spleen.

    When to See a Doctor

    You need to visit your doctor from time to time in order to regularly measure your hemoglobin level.

    Further, you might need medical intervention if in case, you do not notice any improvement from these remedies in a month, or if your symptoms become worse or severe.

    Increase Your Hemoglobin Level Naturally

    Here are some foods to boost your hemogloobin level.

    1. Eat Iron-Rich Foods

    One of the most common causes of low hemoglobin levels is iron deficiency. One easy way to ensure that your body gets the required amount of iron regularly is by fortification of food products with iron.

    Some good iron-based foods include liver, red meat, shrimp, tofu, green leafy vegetables, nuts, dates, lentils, fortified breakfast cereals, oysters, and asparagus. You can also take an iron supplement, but please consult your doctor for the correct dosage as high doses of iron can be harmful.

    2. Increase Vitamin C Intake

    Low hemoglobin levels due to a deficiency of vitamin C can be corrected by eating foods rich in vitamin C. The body cannot fully absorb iron without the help of vitamin C. Foods that are rich in vitamin C are papaya, oranges, lemon, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, grapefruit, tomatoes, and spinach.

    You can also take vitamin C supplements, but again, you must consult with your health care provider for proper dosage before implementing.

    3. Take Folic Acid

    Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin, which is required to make the red blood cells. Therefore, if you have a folic acid deficiency, you are also at a higher risk of having a low hemoglobin level.

    Food sources rich in folic acid, that you can include in your diet are green leafy vegetables, liver, rice, sprouts, dried beans, wheat germ, fortified cereals, peanuts, bananas, and broccoli. You can also take 200-400 milligrams of a folate supplement daily after consulting your health care provider.

    4. Beetroots

    Beetroot is highly recommended to increase the hemoglobin levels. Beetroot is high in iron, folic acid, fiber, and potassium. Its nutritional value helps increase the body’s red blood cell count.

    • Cook 1-2 beetroots along with their peels in a microwave or roast them on the stove. Allow them to cool and then peel them before eating.
    • Alternatively, make a healthy juice with one medium-sized beetroot, three carrots, and ½ of a sweet potato and drink it once daily.

    5. Blackstrap Molasses

    A folk remedy used to fight anemia and increase your hemoglobin level is blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses contains iron, folate and many B vitamins that can help increase the production of red blood cells in your body.

    1. Take 1 cup of water.
    2. Mix 2 teaspoons each of blackstrap molasses and raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to it.
    3. Optionally add honey to taste.
    4. Drink once daily.

    6. Pomegranate

    Pomegranate contains iron and calcium as well as protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. Its nutritional value can help increase hemoglobin in the blood and promote healthy blood flow.

    • Try eating a medium-sized pomegranate or drink a glass of pomegranate juice daily.
    • Another option is to take two teaspoons of dried pomegranate seed powder mixed with a glass of warm milk. Drink once daily.

    7. Avoid Iron Blockers

    If you have a low hemoglobin level, familiarize yourself with foods that you need to avoid, i.e., the food that can block your body’s ability to absorb iron. Some examples of iron-blocking foods are:

    • Coffee
    • Tea
    • Soda
    • Wine
    • Beer
    • Over-the-counter antacids
    • Calcium-rich foods like dairy products and calcium supplements

    Additional Tips

    • Avoid foods containing gluten.
    • If you are a vegetarian, eat more cereals, beans, tofu, dried fruits, and spinach.
    • Consume more iron-rich food after your menstrual period and during pregnancy.
    • Avoid taking over-the-counter stimulants if your energy levels are low.
    • You can also include some type of exercise in your daily routine, after consulting your doctor, because when you exercise, the body produces more hemoglobin to meet the body’s increased demand of the of the oxygen.

     

     

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  • DIY Hibiscus Hair Masks for Beautiful and Silky Hair

    DIY Hibiscus Hair Masks for Beautiful and Silky Hair

    Dry hair seems to have become the order of the day for most of us. Everything from pollution to poor eating habits affects you skin and hair health.

    Also, engaging in relentless styling and coloring of your hair to keep up with fashion trends is fairly common among both women and men. As a repercussion, your hair is stripped of a lot of its natural oils and nutrients, leaving your locks dry and frizzy.

    Although prevention is the best cure still you can take some steps to help repair your dry and damaged hair, the best one being applying homemade deep conditioning hair packs.

    Hibiscus hair masks, for instance, are great for maintaining healthy and shiny hair.

    Being rich in vitamins A and C as well as amino acids, hibiscus can combat hair loss and induce hair growth. Plus, its lathery and mucilaginous nature helps mildly condition the hair and keep it bouncier.

    Both the flowers and leaves of the hibiscus plant can be used to make deep-conditioning hair masks at home. Any type of hibiscus flower is good for the hair.

    When preparing the hair masks, also add other hair-friendly ingredients like fenugreek seeds and yogurt.

    Fenugreek, also called methi, has conditioning properties and helps thicken your hair. It also helps fight hair problems like dandruff and hair fall. Yogurt adds a lustrous sheen to your hair and also fights dandruff.

    Here are 2 hibiscus hair mask recipes to help condition your hair.

    Recipe #1: Hibiscus and Yogurt Hair Mask
    Recipe #2: Hibiscus and Fenugreek Hair Mask

    A- DIY Hibiscus and Yogurt Hair Mask

    Things you’ll need:

    • Fresh hibiscus flowers –8 to 10
    • Yogurt –3 to 4 tablespoons
    • Honey –1 tablespoon
    • Rosemary essential oil – a few drops (optional)

    Steps

    1. Remove the stalk as well as the sepal (the green part at the base of the flower) from thoroughly washed hibiscus flowers.

    2. Put the flowers in a grinder.

    3. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt to the grinder. Grind the contents until you get the consistency of a smooth paste. You can also add a little water to improve the consistency.

    4. Transfer the paste into a bowl.

    5. Add 1 tablespoon of honey to it and mix well.

    6. You can also add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to it (optional). Rosemary oil promotes hair growth.

    Your hydrating hair mask is ready for use.

    B- DIY Hibiscus and Fenugreek Hair Mask

    Things you’ll need:

    • Fresh hibiscus leaves – a handful
    • Soaked fenugreek seeds – 1 to 2 tablespoons (Soak the leaves in a cup of water overnight)

    Steps

    1. Wash fresh hibiscus leaves with water to remove any dirt.

    2. Remove the stalk of the leaves.

    3. Put a handful of leaves in a grinder and make a fine paste. You can add a few hibiscus flowers as well. If needed, pour in a little water to help the leaves grind smoothly.

    4. Transfer the paste into a bowl.

    5. Next, grind 1 to 2 tablespoons of the soaked fenugreek seeds.

    6. Transfer the fenugreek seed paste into another bowl.

    7. Mix both the pastes together.

    Your hair mask is ready.

    How to Apply the Hair Mask

    First, rinse your hair and allow it to somewhat air-dry. When your hair is still slightly damp, you can apply either of these homemade hair masks.

    1. Using your fingers or a hair brush, apply the hair mask from the roots to tips, covering each and every strand.
    2. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let the hair mask sit for about 30 minutes.
    3. Rinse your hair with water to remove all the particles of the mask.
    4. Shampoo your hair as usual, but skip the conditioner if you normally use one.
    5. After your hair is dry, the difference will be quite easy to see and feel.

    If you have dry and damaged hair, use either of these masks once a week. Those who have normal hair can use the masks once every two weeks.

    Additional Tips

    • Simply grinding a handful of hibiscus leaves and flowers along with a little water and applying the paste on your hair will also benefit your hair.
    • Be sure to wash the leaves and flowers to remove dust or any other impurities before using them in your mask.
    • Whenever possible, use fresh as well as healthy hibiscus leaves and flowers for these hair masks. Do not use leaves from a diseased or pest-infested plant.
    • A handful of leaves will grind smoothly in a smaller jar. If you only have a bigger jar, increase the quantity of leaves to be ground.
    • For grinding the leaves, you may also have to add a little water.
    • You can even use a pestle and mortar to make these wonderful hair masks.
    • You can use fresh aloe vera gel extracted from an aloe leaf as a substitute for soaked fenugreek seeds.
    • If you suffer from dandruff or an itchy scalp, you can add a little lemon juice to the mask.
    • Hibiscus powder is available in the market, which you can also use to make these masks.

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  • Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Women

    Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Women

    Apple cider vinegar is used in a whole gamut of home remedies that offer something for everyone. Along with curing acne and easing arthritis pain, this stinky, tangy, sour-tasting liquid can also treat several health issues that are unique to women.

    To reap its many powerful benefits, always look for a raw, unfiltered (preferably organic) apple cider vinegar that contains the “mother”. Because of its unpasteurized state, good bacteria and enzymes are still present and boost its healthy properties.

    This type of vinegar is made in a two-step process. First, crushed apples are exposed to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol. In the next step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which helps ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid.

    Acetic acid is one of the main active compounds in apple cider vinegar.

    It also has gallic acid, catechin, ephicatechin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ferulic acid. Health benefits come from its antioxidative, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-obesity, antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering properties.

    All these properties and nutrients make apple cider vinegar highly beneficial for women.

    Here are the top 10 apple cider vinegar benefits for women.

    1. Cures Acne

    Acne is a common problem in women.

    According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 50 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 29, and more than 25 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 49, suffer from acne.

    Apple cider vinegar can help you say goodbye to acne. Alpha hydroxy acids in apple cider vinegar help remove dead skin cells clogging the pores. Keeping the skin pores free from bacteria, oil and other particles is the secret behind acne-free skin.

    In addition, it helps restore and balance your skin’s pH, which is essential to prevent breakouts.

    • For topical use: Mix equal parts of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water. Add a little honey. Apply it on the affected skin. Leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing it off. Do this once daily.
    • For consumption: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Drink it once or twice daily to improve your skin as well as overall health.

    2. Eases Arthritis Pain

    Arthritis is a joint disorder in which one or more joints become inflamed. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis) than men, especially after age 50.

    To deal with arthritis-related symptoms like pain, stiffness, inflammation, swelling and redness on the affected joints, apple cider vinegar is very effective.

    It has anti-inflammatory and alkaline-forming properties that help provide comfort by reducing pain and stiffness in the joints.

    • For consumption: Mix 1 tablespoon each of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and raw honey into a glass of lukewarm water. Add a pinch of cinnamon. Drink it once or twice a day as needed.
    • For topical use: Dilute raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of warm water. Dip a clean cloth in it and apply it on the painful joint. Secure it with an ACE bandage and leave it on for a few hours. Do it 2 or 3 times a day as needed.

    3. Assists Weight Loss

    Obesity is a big problem among women.

    According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 percent of women in urban Latin America and Caribbean are overweight (BMI ≥ 25) or obese (BMI ≥ 30), while in Africa and Asia-Pacific the likelihood of being overweight or obesity rises with wealth levels in urban areas.

    It’s well-known that being overweight can take a toll on your health.

    A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that being overweight or obese increases the relative risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease in women. Women who are obese also have a higher risk of low back pain and knee osteoarthritis.

    To help keep your weight under control, you can use apple cider vinegar. The acetic acid in it prevents the accumulation of body fat. Also, it may activate certain genes involved in breaking down fats, especially belly fat.

    A 2009 study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass and serum triglyceride levels in obese people. In conclusion, daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.

    A 2014 study published in Nature Communications suggests that acetic acid helps suppress centers in the brain that control appetite, which can lead to reduced food intake.

    1. Mix 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water.
    2. Drink it twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening.

    4. Treats Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most commonly occurring hormonal disorder in young girls and women of reproductive age, especially those between the ages of 18 and 44.

    According to the CDC, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, affecting 6 to 12 percent (as many as 5 million) of U.S. women of reproductive age.

    To deal with PCOS, apple cider vinegar is very effective. It helps control blood sugar and keeps your body from producing too much insulin. Less insulin means less testosterone, which is important for managing PCOS symptoms.

    Plus, it will help you lose weight and improve your overall health.

    A 2013 study published in the Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests the possibility of vinegar to restore ovulatory function through improving insulin sensitivity in PCOS patients, thus avoiding pharmacological treatment. Intake of vinegar might reduce medical costs and treatment time for insulin resistance, anovulation and infertility in patients with PCOS.

    1. Mix 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water.
    2. Drink it daily in the morning and before meals.
    3. Continue for several weeks or until you see improvement.

    You can gradually increase the dosage of apple cider vinegar up to 2 tablespoons per glass, 2 or 3 times a day.

    5. Reduces Bad Cholesterol

    Anyone can have high cholesterol, however women after menopause are at a higher risk. It is due to their increasing age as well as the hormonal changes associated with menopause. Menopause also increases the risk for heart disease among women.

    A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states that the LDL (low-density lipoproteins or ‘bad’ cholesterol) level increases rapidly after menopause.

    Keeping a check on your cholesterol level is important, as the CDC reports that high levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and a stroke.

    To control your LDL level, you can use apple cider vinegar.

    Apple cider vinegar helps lower your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels due to its acetic acid content. A 2006 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition reports that dietary acetic acid reduced serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet.

    1. Mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water.
    2. Drink this 2 or 3 times a day at least for 1 month.

    You can gradually increase the amount of apple cider vinegar to 2 tablespoons per glass.

    6. Controls Blood Sugar Levels

    Women who have a history of gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

    A 2017 study published in PLOS ONE reports that women diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy had a 10-fold higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.

    Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. Apple cider vinegar can help keep your blood sugar level under control. Its antiglycemic effects help improve insulin sensitivity.

    A 2004 study published in Diabetes Care indicates that vinegar can significantly improve postprandial insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant subjects. Acetic acid has been shown to suppress disaccharidase activity and raise glucose-6-phosphate concentrations in skeletal muscle.

    Another study published in Diabetes Care in 2007 reports that 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4 percent.

    Again, a 2017 study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice suggests that vinegar can be effective in reducing postprandial glucose and insulin levels, indicating it could be considered as an adjunctive tool for improving glycemic control.

    People who have diabetes should have a dose of apple cider vinegar with each meal. Mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of filtered water.

    7. Eases Menopause Symptoms

    Menopause is an important change in a woman’s life, transitioning from a reproductive to a non-reproductive stage.

    For many women, menopause can be a difficult phase. It leads to symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, urinary tract infections, frequent headaches and painful or stiff joints. You can deal with many of these symptoms with apple cider vinegar.

    Apple cider vinegar helps regulate toxins that the body is trying to eliminate through perspiration. This in turn reduces the incidence and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.

    It also alkalinizes the body, which may help with headaches and other symptoms of menopause. Also, the potassium in it helps ease painful or stiff joints.

    1. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of lukewarm water.
    2. Add a little honey and mix well.
    3. Drink it twice daily to help manage symptoms.

    8. Soothes Vaginal Itching

    Women of all ages suffer from vaginal itching from time to time. The causes range from infection, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), menopause to chemical irritants.

    Itching, burning or irritation in the vaginal area can be very uncomfortable, but you can deal with this kind of problem with apple cider vinegar.

    Due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, it helps fight the infection that causes the itching. Also, it helps restore the natural pH balance of your vagina.

    Additionally, it is known to boost immunity and promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut and vagina, which helps in preventing as well as treating vaginal itching.

    For external use:

    • Add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water. Use this solution to wash your vagina twice daily for a few days.
    • Another option is to fill your bathtub with warm water. Add 2 cups of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to it. Sit in the bath with your knees folded toward your body and allow your vagina to soak in this bath for 15 minutes. Enjoy this soothing bath once a day only.

    For consumption:

    • Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of raw honey to a glass of warm water. Drink it twice daily.

    9. Reduces PMS Symptoms

    Almost 75 percent of women experience at least one symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) every month.

    PMS is associated with a wide variety of symptoms, such as bloating, water retention, headaches, cramps, mood swings, irritability, food cravings, upset stomach, constipation, acne, breast tenderness and fatigue.

    Apple cider vinegar is helpful in treating a variety of PMS symptoms like bloating, water retention, cramping, headaches, irritability and fatigue.

    1. Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water.
    2. Add a little raw, organic honey.
    3. Drink this solution once or twice daily.

    10. Keeps Hair Shiny and Healthy

    For women, long and shiny hair is a sign of beauty as well as confidence. For healthy hair, apple cider vinegar is very beneficial.

    It has clarifying properties that help remove buildup left on your hair and scalp from styling products and shampoos.

    It also helps restore the natural pH level of the scalp, which is important for preventing hair friction, breakage and dryness.

    Its antimicrobial power keeps scalp problems related to fungi or bacteria at bay, thereby preventing an itchy scalp and dandruff.

    1. Prepare a hair rinse by mixing ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water.
    2. After shampooing, pour this solution onto your hair.
    3. Massage it into your scalp and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before rinsing it out.
    4. Use this home treatment only once a week.

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  • 9 Health Benefits of Okra (Lady’s Finger)

    9 Health Benefits of Okra (Lady’s Finger)

    Okra, also known as lady’s finger, bhindi, bamia, or gumbo, belongs to the mallow family. This string of alternative names only goes to show that okra is well loved all over the world.

    The plant, however, is mainly grown in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate regions, but its acclaim has traveled far and wide. And why wouldn’t it; after all, it’s a good low-calorie, fat-free, nutrient-dense addition to any diet.

    Fresh, unripe okra pods and okra leaves are used in a variety of cuisines as a vegetable and can be enjoyed fried, boiled, or pickled.

    The seeds are pressed to make the edible greenish-yellow okra oil, which is not only easy on the palette but also gives off a pleasant odor. It only helps that the oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, such as linoleic acid, which are valued for their health benefits.

    Enriched with a truckload of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that account for okra’s numerous health benefits, this vegetable can fix a variety of your nutritional deficiencies.

    Nutritional Content of Okra

    Okra is rich in fiber, vitamin C and K, folate, as well as calcium and potassium. It also contains niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, beta-carotene, and lutein. Given this nutritionally dense profile along with its potent antioxidant properties, okra can very well qualify as a superfood.

    Note:

    • As okra pods may have residue from insecticide or pesticide sprays, wash them thoroughly in water before using them.
    • Okra is readily available everywhere, but choose the organically grown varieties to enjoy maximum health benefits.

      Advantages of Including Okra in Your Diet

      Here are some health benefits of okra.

    1. Reduces Blood Sugar Levels

    Okra contains insulin-like properties that help reduce blood sugar levels. It also has a low glycemic index of about 20, making it a good choice for people with diabetes.

    A 2011 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences confirmed the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) peel and seed powder in diabetic rats.

    Another 2016 study published in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences found that okra extract has a hypoglycemic effect that helps decrease blood glucose levels and inhibits cholesterol absorption, which subsequently decreases the level of lipid and fat in the blood.

    • Cut off the ends of 4 or 5 okra and prick the body using a fork. Instead of pricking, you can also slit halfway.
    • Soak the pricked okra in a glass of water overnight.
    • The next morning, remove the okra and drink the water on an empty stomach.
    • Do this daily to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

     

    2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol

    Okra may also help lower cholesterol levels.

    A 2014 study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journalexpounded upon the hypolipidemic activity of okra skin extract and its cholesterol-lowering benefits.

    Okra inhibits pancreatic cholesterol esterase activity, reduces the efficacy of cholesterol micellization, and binds to bile acids, which in turn delay cholesterol absorption and increase its excretion through feces.

    In addition, it contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease and other health problems caused by cholesterol in the blood.

    Include okra in your diet to lower your bad cholesterol level. You can even take okra extract, after consulting your doctor.

    3. Treats Leukorrhea

    According to folkloric practice, fresh tender okra pods are beneficial in treating leukorrhea, which causes whitish or yellowish vaginal discharge between menstruations.

    Its mucilaginous property helps remove mucus from your system, which in turn reduces vaginal discharge. In addition, it boosts your immune system to help fight the problem.

    • Wash 1 cup of fresh okra and cut them into small pieces.
    • Boil the pieces in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes or until the water is reduced by half.
    • Strain, divide it into 3 parts, and add drink it 3 times a day until you notice an improvement in your condition.

     

    4. Promotes a Healthy Pregnancy

    Okra is highly recommended for pregnant women. The important B vitamins in it help ensure the healthy growth of the baby in the womb and prevent birth defects like spina bifida.

    In addition, it is rich in folic acid that aids in producing and maintaining new cells, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. Folate also prevents miscarriage. The vitamin C in okra also plays a key role in fetal development.

    Furthermore, the high fiber content of okra helps stave off constipation, which is a common problem during pregnancy.

    Include okra in your diet during pregnancy, especially during the 4th and 12th weeks when the neural tube develops in the fetus.

    5. Prevents Liver Disease

    Okra may help cleanse the liver and prevent liver disease. It contains substances that bind bile acids and cholesterol to detoxify the liver. It even prevents the accumulation of fats in the liver.

    In a 2012 study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, researchers concluded that the potent antioxidant property of okra extract has the ability to protect against chemically induced liver damage.

    To improve your liver health and prevent disease, include okra in your diet or take an okra supplement after consulting your doctor.

    6. Makes Your Hair Soft and Shiny

    The antioxidants and vitamins in okra can help you enjoy well-conditioned, shiny, and bouncy hair. It also contains other useful nutrients like copper, zinc, potassium, folate, and thiamine that are good for your hair.

    In addition, the transparent mucilage in okra works as a natural conditioner and adds life to dull hair.

    • Put 8 to 10 horizontally cut okra in a pot with 1 cup of water.
    • Allow it to simmer on low heat until you get a sticky texture.
    • Remove it from the heat, add a few drops of lavender or mint oil, and allow the concoction to cool.
    • Filter the mixture using a muslin cloth, and store the filtered content in a bottle.
    • After washing your hair, apply this homemade conditioner.
    • Wait for 5 minutes, and then rinse your hair thoroughly with water.

     

    7. Promotes Healthy Skin

    Several nutrients in okra can help keep your skin looking young and vibrant. The vitamin C aids the growth and repair of damaged tissues, which affects collagen formation and skin pigmentation. It also prevents acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.

    Being a rich source of dietary fiber, it also promotes smooth digestion, which is another important factor for healthy skin.

    • Boil 2 cups of chopped okra in about 2 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside for 10 minutes.
    • Remove the okra pods, and mash them with a little jojoba oil or any carrier oil to make a paste.
    • Apply it to your face and neck.
    • Allow it to sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse it off with water.
    • Use this face mask once or twice a week.

    8. Improves Digestion

    Okra is a good source of dietary fiber, which is good for your digestive and colon health. Fiber facilitates the unobstructed movement of food through the digestive tract by adding bulk to the stool, thereby ensuring easier elimination of waste products from your body.

    This, in turn, ensures regular bowel movements, which helps prevent constipation and other gastrointestinal discomforts, such as bloating, cramping, and gas. In addition, the vitamin A content in okra helps the digestive tract function properly.

    To improve your digestive health, eat 1 to 2 cups of okra daily. You can use it to make soup or stir-fried dishes.

    9. Boosts Immunity

    Regular intake of okra can help strengthen your immune defenses. Its high vitamin C content helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are our body’s foot soldiers in the battle against foreign pathogens and harmful free radicals.

    Its powerful antioxidant nature also strengthens your immunity and reduces episodes of illness. Antioxidants also play a part in warding off heart disease, cancer, and premature aging.

     

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  • Tasty DIY Bitter Gourd Juice Recipes for Diabetics

    Tasty DIY Bitter Gourd Juice Recipes for Diabetics

    Lifestyle and other factors have led to surging numbers of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes.

    In the United States alone, around 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes in 2015. A very small percentage of them were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

    Diabetes is a health condition in which your body has elevated blood sugar levels. This can happen due to two things:

    • In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin.
    • In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond well to insulin.

    Common factors that contribute to Type 2 diabetes include unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, genes, belonging to certain ethnic background and age.

    When diagnosed with it, your whole life changes. There are several lifestyle changes that you may have to make to reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications like heart disease, blurred vision, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

    Depending on whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you may either require oral medication, insulin shots or both.

    With the right diet and enough exercise, diabetes can be prevented as well as controlled. When it comes to diet, one common ingredient that has always been in the news is bitter gourd.

    Bitter Gourd and Diabetes

    Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon or bitter squash, has an antidiabetic property.

    It contains three active compounds – polypeptide-p, vicine and charatin – that make it effective for managing blood sugar levels. These active compounds help the cells take up sugar molecules, increase insulin secretion, stimulate the liver and muscle glycogen synthesis, and reduce glucose absorption in the body.

    According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, bitter melon had a modest hypoglycemic effect and significantly reduced fructosamine levels among patients with Type 2 diabetes who received 2,000 mg per day. However, the effect was less than the decline seen in those taking 1,000 mg per day of metformin.

    A 2015 study published in the Egyptian Pharmaceutical Journal reports that bitter melon can be used as an effective oral adjunct hypoglycemic, with no reportable clinical side effects.

    Again, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine shows the significance of hypoglycemic effects of bitter gourd and Knol khol juices among Type 2 diabetic patients.

    Despite knowing that bitter gourd is beneficial for diabetes, many people find its bitter taste unpalatable. But you can still reap its benefits by mixing it with other ingredients.

    You can try some bitter gourd juice recipes, where the taste of bitter gourd can be made more tolerable with the flavors of other diabetic-friendly vegetables and fruits.

    For instance, we will be using cucumbers, green apples, lemon juice and turmeric powder in our juice recipes.

    Cucumbers have a glycemic index rating of 0, which means diabetic people can eat them freely without worrying about their blood sugar. This water-rich vegetable has a special hormone that the pancreas utilizes to produce insulin, which in turn helps the cells convert carbohydrates into energy.

    A 2016 study published in BioImpacts concluded that cucumber has protective effects against diabetes complications and can be considered a safe and suitable candidate for decreasing the oxidative stress and carbonyl stress that is typically observed in diabetes mellitus.

    Green apples are crunchy and juicy, and a healthy fruit that diabetic people can eat.

    Apples are high in soluble fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants that benefit the body in many ways. Also, they contain pectin that helps detoxify the body and remove harmful waste.

    Another ingredient we used is lemon juice, which is good for diabetic people due to the vitamin C and soluble fiber in it.

    A 2014 study published in Advances in Nutrition reports the positive effect of citrus flavonoids, naringin and naringenin on metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes insulin-resistant diabetes.

    Turmeric powder is also beneficial, due to its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin.

    Here are two different bitter gourd juice recipes for people who have diabetes.

    Note: You may pass the juice through a sieve or strainer if you cannot process high-fiber foods. Also, check your blood sugar level before and after drinking the juice to make sure it suits your body.

    #1 DIY Bitter Gourd and Cucumber Juice
    #2 DIY Bitter Gourd and Turmeric Juice

    1. DIY Bitter Gourd and Cucumber Juice

    This simple and easy-to-make juice is slightly sweet and bitter in taste.

    Things you’ll need:

    • 2 large bitter gourds
    • 1 medium cucumber
    • ½ of a lemon
    • 1 green apple
    • ½ teaspoon of salt (optional)

    Steps

    1. Wash the bitter gourds and peel off the skin.

    2. Slit the bitter gourds vertically, and remove the rind and seeds using a spoon or knife. Roughly chop the bitter gourds into smaller pieces.

    3. Soak the bitter gourd pieces in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Optionally, you can add ½ teaspoon of salt to the water.

    4. Peel a cucumber and cut it into pieces.

    5. Cut the green apple into small pieces.

    6. Put the bitter gourd, green apple and cucumber in a juicer to extract the juice.

    7. Add the juice of ½ of a lemon.

    Your diabetic-friendly bitter gourd and cucumber juice is ready. Drink it once daily on an empty stomach to help control your blood sugar level.

    2. DIY Bitter Gourd and Turmeric Juice

    This is another simple and quick way to make bitter gourd juice. This juice has a strong bitter taste, but at the same time you cannot ignore the flavor of turmeric in it.

    Things you’ll need:

    • 2 bitter gourds
    • ½ of a lemon
    • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
    • A pinch of Himalayan salt
    • ½ teaspoon of salt (optional)

    Steps

    1. Wash and peel the bitter gourds, then deseed and chop them into smaller pieces.2. Add ½ teaspoon of salt in a bowl of water and soak the chopped bitter gourd in it for 10 minutes.

    3. Toss the bitter gourd in a juicer and extract the juice.

    4. Add the lemon juice, turmeric powder and a pinch of Himalayan salt to the juice.

    Drink this juice once daily on an empty stomach to keep your blood sugar level under control.

    Additional Tips

    • You can keep the skin bitter gourd skin if it does not bother you, but make you rinse it thoroughly to remove all pesticide residue.
    • Eat more whole grains as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Avoid drinks that are rich in sugar, such as sodas, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweet tea.
    • Do not eat candy, pancakes, French fries, white bread, whole milk, bacon, cakes, pastries and pretzels. Also, avoid white rice, regular pasta, sugary breakfast cereal, and instant oatmeal.
    • Limit your consumption of red meat and processed meat.
    • Control your weight. Being overweight increases the risk of having diabetes and makes it more difficult to manage.
    • Do not sit on the couch. Instead, start exercising. Even a simple brisk walk 30 minutes a day lessens the chance of developing diabetes and helps better manage the disease.
    • Quit smoking, as it increases your chances of getting diabetes.
    • If you drink, do it in moderation.

     

     

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  • DIY Bentonite Clay Hair Mask to Give Life to Your Dull Hair

    DIY Bentonite Clay Hair Mask to Give Life to Your Dull Hair

    “A bad hair day is just a bad day.”

    We all want to style our hair in the perfect manner, as hair is an important part of one’s appearance and sets the tone for one’s entire look. Your unique way of styling your hair also reflects your personality.

    To help you take care of your hair, several hair care products are formulated to help nourish and prevent hair damage resulting from dryness, pollution and other factors. In fact, the market is flooded with products, from shampoos and conditioners to serums, colorants and sprays.

    When it comes to natural hair care products, one common ingredient is bentonite clay. This clay is formed from volcanic ash that has aged over time, weathering in the presence of water.

    The bentonite clay that you get in the market comes as a soft white powdery substance. The very fine, smooth and odorless powder is comprised of various nutrients and minerals.

    When used on hair, it helps clarify your hair and treats issues like dry scalp, damaged hair, frizzy hair and dull-looking hair.

    Additionally, bentonite clay is negatively charged, but when activated by liquid, attracts positively charged ions, impurities and toxins. It binds to them, so that the toxins get eliminated quickly.

    This property of bentonite clay also helps draw out excess dirt and oil from the scalp, which in turn reduces the risk of dandruff, scalp sores and other issues.

    When it comes to hair care and other external uses, sodium bentonite clay is more beneficial than calcium bentonite clay, as it absorbs 10 to 15 times its own weight in water.

    To prepare a bentonite clay hair mask, you need just 2 or 3 ingredients. Here, we used apple cider vinegar and water.

    Apple cider vinegar helps balance out the acidity in your hair, leading to a better shine and overall health.How to Make a DIY Bentonite Clay Hair Cleansing Mask

    Things you’ll need:

    • Bentonite clay – 1 cup
    • Water – 1 ½ cups
    • Apple cider vinegar – ½ cup
    • Non-metal container and spoon

    Steps

    1. Put 1 cup of bentonite clay in a non-metal container.

    2. Add 1½ cups of water to the clay.

    3. Using a non-metal spoon, mix the clay and water into a paste with a smooth consistency. If needed, add a little more water.

    4. Then add ½ cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

    5. Mix the ingredients again.

    6. Your DIY bentonite clay hair mask is ready for use.

     

    How to Use Your DIY Bentonite Clay Hair Mask

    1. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo to remove accumulated dirt and oil.
    2. While your hair is still damp, apply the prepared bentonite clay hair mask. Slowly work your way from the roots to the tips and ensure all the hair strands are coated properly.
    3. Wear a shower cap and allow the mask to sit on your hair for up to 20 minutes. Be sure that the mask does not dry, as it will be very difficult to remove.
    4. After 20 minutes, rinse your hair with warm water and make sure all the clay has been washed out.
    5. If you want, you can apply a conditioner.
    6. Allow your hair to air-dry, then style your hair as you want.
    7. Use this hair mask once or twice a month.

    Additional Tips

    • Along with apple cider vinegar, you can add aloe vera juice, honey, olive oil or a few drops of essential oil to this bentonite clay hair mask.
    • You can change the quantity of the ingredients, depending on the length of your hair.
    • It’s important to avoid the use of metal containers and utensils while using bentonite clay. Any kind of metal will contaminate the clay and lower its effectiveness.
    • Use only a wood, plastic or glass bowl and spoon.

     

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