Saturday, 13 April 2013

What We Can Learn from the Hunzas

The Hunzas are a race of people 30, 000 in number who live in a valley in north-east Pakistan surrounded by the Himalayas. The valley they live in is at 3000 meters (9000 feet) above sea level, and for centuries was cut off from the rest of civilization. The Hunzas  are said to be the healthiest people on the planet. They rarely get ill, and they have the highest number of centenarians amongst a group of people anywhere in the world; quite a few of them live to be 130, and some of them even live to be 145 years of age.

Because of their unique geographical location, the Hunzas were isolated from the rest of the world for a long time and consequently developed life practices peculiar to them which have had a big influence on their health and longevity. They pay particular attention to diet, exercise and meditation. Here is a list of the many things they do which have a bearing on their good health:
1.     They do not eat vast quantities of food; just two meals per day satisfies them.  They eat primarily for the establishment and maintenance of health rather than for pleasure.
2.     Hunza food is completely natural containing no additives or chemicals whatsoever.
3.     A large part of their diet is contained of grains in the form of barley, millet, buckwheat and wheat.
4.     Even though they are not vegetarians, they only eat meat once or twice per week. When they do eat meat, it is usually chicken.
5.     They eat fruits and vegetables which are organically grown in their own gardens. For the most part, these are consumed fresh and raw, though they do cook some vegetables for a short time.
6.     Milk and cheese are important sources of animal protein.
7.     Yogurt is also a staple part of the Hunza diet.
8.     Nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and beechnuts are also an important source of protein. Nuts when combined with vegetables sometimes constitute a whole meal.
9.     They eat a special bread called “chapatti”, which is eaten along with every meal.  The bread is made from wheat, millet, buckwheat or barley flour which is whole and is not refined in any way.
10.They fast one day a week in which their low intake of food is cut down to the minimum eating just a few nuts, drinking some milk and eating low-fat yogurt to sustain them.
11.  The men do strenuous work in the fields getting plenty of fresh mountain air and adequate daily exercise. The women mostly tend the vegetables and fruit trees in their gardens. Nearly all Hunzas go on a walk of 15 kilometers (10 miles) once a week.
12.  They find time several times a day to engage in some basic yoga relaxation techniques involving deep breathing which relaxes and removes tension from the whole body.  

Whilst we cannot replicate the unique geographical location occupied by the Hunzas in our own locations, we can learn the following from what they do:
·        Only eat cereals derived from whole grains, which have most of their nutrients and fibre intact.
·        Try and get a sizeable portion of the protein you require daily from organic vegetables and fruits.
·        Eat low-fat yogurt on a regular basis.
·        Make brown whole-grain bread a standard part of the diet.
·        Try and derive a certain amount of protein from nuts.
·        Cut down on protein from meat to no more than twice a week.
·        Get most of your animal protein from milk and cheese.
·        Fast for one day a week drinking only unsweetened fruit juices and eating low –fat yogurts.
·        Take regular exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming etc. for at least 40 minutes per day.
·        Engage in a relaxation technique, such as yoga, several times per day.
Whilst I cannot guarantee that you will live to be 145 if you employ the above  recommendations, you do stand a much better chance of beating the national average age for death in western countries if you adhere to them, while also enjoying a much better quality of life.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

How to Cope with Ulcers

An ulcer is an inflammatory condition in the lining of the stomach causing pain and burning while the stomach is empty, or while food is being digested. Ulcers have a tendency to bleed. Blood can be observed in the stool as being dark in colour. Ulcers can cause haemorrhaging to such an extent that a person could possibly bleed to death.  

Ulcers are caused in many ways, as follows: improper food combining; the overproduction of hydrochloric acid which may erode the stomach lining; the overproduction of the enzyme pepsin; the over-ingestion of alcohol and tobacco products; the taking of aspirin regularly; not chewing food properly thereby preventing saliva to mix with food to aid digestion.   

Conventional treatments for ulcers such as drugs, surgery, the provision of antacids do not work because they only address the symptoms and not the underlying cause of the problem. It is therefore best to look at diet, food supplements and what other measures can be taken to treat an ulcer, or to lessen the chances of developing one in the first instance.

Some doctors impose a bland diet on their patients suffering from ulcers which is counterproductive as they still need to get the daily nutrients they require from their food despite this condition. If you suffer from an ulcer, it is best to eat smaller meals at each sitting on a more regular basis than three large meals per day. Six meals per day at 2-3 hour intervals would be ideal. Avoid fasting if you suffer from an ulcer.

As poor food combining can cause an ulcer, avoid combining proteins and starches in the one meal. As food goes through the pyloric valve (the exit from the stomach) it becomes confused if partially digested proteins and carbohydrates are present at the same time. It is therefore not recommended that you eat meat or chicken with potatoes in the same meal, but they can be eaten separately.

The diet should be high in fibre which helps food to travel though the digestive system. Fibre is also necessary to encourage regular bowel movements. A patient with an ulcer should be encouraged to eat cooked vegetables several times a day. Sweet fruits, millet, buckwheat, coconut, almonds, avocado, sprouted grains and seeds are also recommended. Raw vegetables should be discouraged as they are difficult to digest. Both potato juice and cabbage juice are good for people with ulcers as they accelerate the healing process. Drinking distilled water can help reduce pain.

Herbs good for ulcer sufferers, for the reasons stated, are as follows: peppermint oil aids the healing of inflammatory conditions; licorice improves mucous in the digestive tract; cayenne red pepper aids digestion and stimulates blood flow; chickweed helps digest fatty substances and encourages the helpful production of stomach mucous; and golden seal alleviates internal bleeding.

Food supplements can also be used effectively to help with ulcers. Vitamin E, 1,000 IU once daily, slows down inflammatory conditions. Zinc Picolinate, 50mg twice daily, aids the healing of ulcers. Vitamin A in the form of fish liver oil, 25,000 IU once daily, helps repair tissue.

As ulcers arise from the over acidity of the body, the following foods and drinks should be avoided: dairy products, meats, flour products, chocolate, sweets, eggs, gains, fizzy drinks, and citrus fruits. All fried foods should be avoided. The more alkaline the overall food intake is the better.

Some other adjunctive measures you can take if you suffer with ulcers are as follows: if you are a smoker, it is best to give it up because it interferes with the body’s reaction to food; alcohol intake should be limited to two units per day; it is best to either avoid stress altogether, or take positive steps to limit its impact on your life.  

Sunday, 10 March 2013

How to Cope with Food Allergies

If food enters the body without being properly digested, your immune system will produce antibodies to attack that particular food as if it were a threat to the body, and thereby cause a reaction. Antibodies trigger the release of histamines, which in turn cause gastrointestinal, respiratory and skin problems.  Reactions to foods eaten can occur from a few minutes to a few hours after they have been consumed.

The most common food allergies are to eggs, milk, peanuts, wheat, potato, carrots, celery, chocolate, soft drinks, corn flakes, sugar and fish such as cod, trout and plaice. Symptoms of a food allergy can include the following: itching; redness; burning sensations; vomiting accompanied by diarrhoea; respiratory problems such as asthma; sudden drop in blood pressure; and suffocation. About 15% of the public suffer some form of food allergy.

Prescription drugs such as antihistamines, cortisone or decongestants in the treatment of food allergies are ineffective, and all have serious side effects. As an allergy is a digestive problem, it is important that your food is broken down into the smallest particles prior to consumption in order to facilitate proper digestion.

Consuming products containing simple sugars should be avoided if at all possible. Simple sugars cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate rapidly, and cause hyperglycemia temporarily in the body, necessitating the release of insulin to counter this condition. The release of insulin lowers blood sugar levels rapidly resulting in hypoglycemia, which heightens the craving for more sugar.  This vicious circle can be the cause of food allergies, resulting from the fermentation of excess sugars in the intestines.

Lots of modern processed foods have additives containing chemicals, while others are made up largely of synthetic substances. A person can easily develop an allergic reaction to these inputs into food. Therefore pay attention to food labelling in order to establish that the packaged food you are purchasing contains mainly natural food. Avoid any synthetic foods.

Eggs can be a problem if they are from hens that have been fed antibiotics and other medications in order to prevent disease. Farmed fish are also fed manufactured substances in order to prevent afflictions, such as lice, they would not normally suffer in the open ocean. It is wise therefore to pay attention to the source of the food you are consuming.  

In order to combat food allergies it is therefore best to make whole natural foods a major part of the diet. The majority of the nutrients that you required daily should be obtained from whole grains, leafy green vegetables, eggs from free-range hens, walnuts, black radish, tomatoes, plums, prunes  chicken, meat, low-fat yogurt and ocean- fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. If you buy processed foods, make sure you are purchasing ones that contain the largest amount of natural foods, and have received the least amount of processing by paying attention to the ingredients list which foods companies are legally obliged to put on packaging.

Manganese can help the body fight food allergies. The main food sources of manganese are whole grains, leafy green vegetables and nuts. It could also be taken as a food supplement requiring up to 10 milligrams per day. Pantothene is a food supplement that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce the body’s own cortisone. You will need to take 500mg. of it twice daily.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

How to Prevent High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major cause of stroke, heart attack and problems with eyesight. Blood pressure needs to be kept as near as possible to an ideal reading of 120/80. The higher value is called the systolic reading and occurs when the heart contracts and forces blood through the circulatory system. The bottom value is the diastolic reading and occurs when the heart fills in the expansion phase and the blood pressure is at its lowest, which it is 75% of the time. Both values can vary 10% from the normal without significant consequential health problems.

The main causes of high blood pressure are as follows: obesity; emotional factors; kidney problems; high sodium consumption; high sugar intake; arteriosclerosis- a hardening of the arteries which puts more pressure on the heart; atherosclerosis- a narrowing of the arteries which affects the heart’s ability to do its job; an imbalance of electrolytes; malfunctioning adrenal glands; high cholesterol; smoking which constricts all arteries and capillaries; and excess alcohol consumption which damages the liver.

Conventional medicine’s response to high blood pressure with diuretic drugs, or drugs in the blocker range, does not address the underlying cause of the problem and it therefore reoccurs. All of the types of drug prescribed for high blood pressure have serious side effects such as the forced excretion of essential minerals from the body, depression. fatigue and sexual problems. The best approach to stabilising blood pressure levels is to concentrate on diet, exercise, food supplements and other adjunctive measures.

Foods which stabilise blood pressure are cucumbers, onions, artichokes, eggplant, leeks, turnips, red peppers, olives, black currants, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, grapefruit , grapes, fresh fruit in general, rice, rye and low-fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt. Foods to be avoided are bacon, processed meats, parmesan cheese, caviar, fish in general, beets, spinach, fennel, bananas, coffee and salt.

The herb garlic is very useful in that it is an excellent diuretic, opens up blood vessels and thereby stabilises blood pressure. Other herbs that can be employed in this regard, for the reasons stated, are as follows: parsley is a natural diuretic; hawthorn strengthens the heart muscles; chervil purifies the blood; and marshmallow strengthens the kidneys.

If you cannot get sufficient amount of the foods you need in order to stabilise your blood pressure, as indicate above, then you could use foods supplements to make up for any deficiency. Vitamin C (100 0 mg), taken once daily, acts as a diuretic and helps clear arteries of plague. Fish oil (1000 mg), taken once daily, helps lower blood pressure. Niacin (250 mg) , taken twice daily, opens up arteries thereby alleviating high blood pressure and ensuring a more efficient blood flow. Vitamin E (200 IU) taken once a day also helps lower blood pressure.

Moderate daily exercise can do wonders for your circulation and body in general. All you need to do is engage in it for 30 to 45 minutes daily. Any form of exercise will do such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or dancing. You can split the time spend on it op into smaller time periods, if you so wish, such as three 15 minute sessions. It is best to do exercise outdoors if this is possible. Make sure you are well hydrated during any exercise session by drinking plenty of water.

If the cause of your high blood pressure is stress, then you will need to address this. If the stress arises from your circumstances, can you do anything about changing them? If the stress is arising from circumstances beyond your control, can you change you attitude to the cause? A person suffering from stress should endeavour to maintain an optimistic attitude at all times. It has been proven that optimism raises the immune system to such a high degree, that it can combat any abnormal occurrence in the body such as high blood pressure. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

How to Cope with Colds & Flu.

Colds and flu are caused by viruses. Colds can be transmitted easily between individuals. The main symptoms of colds are runny nose, sore throat, mild fever, mild headache, sneezing, coughing and congestion. Flu symptoms include many of the same as colds, but also high fever, severe aches and pains, chills and sweats, severe sore throat and fatigue. Fever, chills, fatigue and severe aches are the symptoms which most distinguish flu from other infections.    

Whilst there is no known cure for the common cold or flu, there are certain preventative actions a person can take in order to lessen the chances of getting either, as well as actions to curtail the duration of an infection. Antibiotics are useless in the case of a viral infection, and there isn’t much evidence to support the view that over-the-counter medications help in any way.

Sufficiency in both vitamins C and D is vital in the fight against colds and flu. Any deficiency in these critical vitamins will leave your body more susceptible to being invaded by a virus.  It is best to derive sufficiency in these vitamins from food, or other natural sources, in the first instance if at all possible. Garlic and ginger have also been known to be used effectively in the fight against colds and flu.

The best food sources of vitamin C are: fruits like gooseberries, kiwis, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons and grapefruit);  vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green peppers and potatoes; and the herb parsley also contains large amounts,  and can be sprinkled on meat or fish dishes to enhance them.

Failing to get enough vitamin C from food sources, then a food supplement should be taken as a precaution against a deficiency. Adults require about 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, and children require half that amount. If you are getting some of this vitamin from food sources but not enough, then you should work out the strength and frequency of the supplement you need to take.

There are not many food sources of vitamin D, so it is easy to have a deficiency. The food sources available are: fish oil; some fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon and herring; and eggs and milk but in in small amounts.  The main source of vitamin D is the action of direct sunlight on the skin; all that is needed is 15 minutes of sunlight a day on at least a third of the body.

In countries that have long winters without much sunshine, it may be prudent to supplement the diet with vitamin D supplements. An adult requires 2, 000 IU of vitamin D per day, and a child half that amount. Alternatively, you could acquire your daily requirement by using sunbeds in a safe manner in lieu of sunshine.      

Whilst sufficiency in these vitamins should help you prevent catching a virus in the first place, if you do catch one despite your best efforts, here are some things you can do to curtail its duration, as follows:
1.     Wrap up warm by putting on an extra layer of clothing if necessary.
2.     Get sufficient sleep.
3.     Avoid sugar-laden foods and soft drinks, as sugar depresses the immune system.
4.     Drink lots of hot drinks like hot water with a slice of lemon, green tea, lemon tea, ginger tea or coconut milk.
5.     Maintain the normal amount of food you take in a day, ensuring that you are getting enough vitamins C and D as outlined above.
6.     Maintain any daily exercise like walking or jogging that you were doing prior to the infection.
7.     After contact with a runny nose or eyes, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading the virus.

The British Government advises certain at-risk groups to avail of an anti-flu jab each year prior to onset of cold weather.  This may be a good idea, in countries where it is available, for the elderly, pregnant women, people with diabetes or any chronic organ infection. Anti-flu vaccinations are said to have a more than 80% success rate, but need to be renewed annually as the viruses causing flu keep changing.  

If you have got a home-made remedy for the common cold or flu that worked well in the past, I would be pleased to hear about it via the comments box below.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

How to Prevent Cataracts

A cataract in this context means a loss of transparency of the lens of the eye, a condition which either impairs or destroys vision. There are several different types of cataracts, as follows: the traumatic type occurs from physical injury; the irradiation type occurs from exposure to rays; the complicated type occurs from ocular disease; and the congenital type occurs due to improper formation during fetal life.    

Cataracts, other than ones present at birth, are caused by injury, aging, heavy metal poisoning, X-rays, exposure to ultraviolet light, eye infections, the use of certain drugs such as steroids, arising as a consequence of diabetes or nutritional deficiencies in the diet. In diabetics, excess sugar in the blood migrates to the eyes causing them to swell resulting in damage.
If you engage in combative sports where there is physical contact like boxing or rugby union football, you are running the risk of sustaining an eye injury. However, the organisers of these sports do have trained medical staff in attendance at all times. The eyes should be protected by goggles if you are employed as welder, or in certain metal processes, likely to damage the eyes. If you are engaged in any of these activities, all the necessary precautions should be taken at all times to protect the eyes from any possible injury.
X-rays, beta rays and other radiation sources in sufficient doses can cause ocular injury. However, when these are used by professionals in the diagnosis of health problems, every possible safety precaution is taken. Ultraviolet radiation can damage the corneal epithelium. This is mainly the result of exposure to the sun at high altitude. Wear sunglasses if you are exposed to the sun when it is strongest, and don’t use sunbeds for tanning purposes without eye protection.
A small or underdeveloped optic nerve is known as optic nerve hypoplasia, and is one of the leading causes of vision problems or blindness in children. It occurs at the early stages of fetal development when the eyes are forming. If you suspect that your infant has vision problems, have your doctor carry out a CT or MRI scan to look for brain defects. There is no known treatment or cure for optic nerve hypoplasia at the present time.
If you are a type 1 diabetic, you need to take insulin shots as outlined by your doctor in order to ensure that your blood sugar levels do not fluctuate rapidly and thereby damage the eyes. If you are a type 2 diabetic, you can make sure your blood sugar levels move on an even keel by adhering to the diet, exercise and food supplement suggestions in my December 2012 post titled    “ How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes “.  If you are on drugs containing steroids for an ailment, such as gout for example, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce the risk of such treatment affecting your eyesight.
Cataracts arising as a consequence of aging or a nutritional deficiency can be prevented by adhering to a sensible diet. Apples, blueberries, coconuts, olives and pineapple are fruits that strengthen weak eyes.  Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, turnips, lettuce and watercress are vegetables that aid the eyes. Yeast, liver, kidney, cheese, oily fish, egg yolk and whole grains are foods that make sure you are not deficient in vitamin B2 or the mineral selenium. If you cannot get enough of these from food sources, then take supplements to make sure there isn’t a deficiency.

Herbs which can be taken to help the eyes in the ways indicated, are as follows: chaparral acts as an antioxidant, rebuilds tissue and is high in potassium; eyebright stimulates the liver to cleanse the blood with a beneficial knock –on effect on the eyes; and bilberry has a relaxing effect on the eyes. 

If you are interested in further information on eyesight, then a book I would recommend is titled The Eyes Have It by Earlyne Chaney. This is a self-help manual for better eyesight, and you should be able to pick up the paperback version from Amazon for less than $10.  

Saturday, 12 January 2013

How to Cure Acne

Acne is an inflammatory disease of the skin arising from obstruction of the sebaceous glands. It usually affects the face but other parts of the body can also be disfigured by it on a temporary basis. It most frequently occurs among teenagers following puberty. If severe occurrences of it are not treated, then scar tissue can form in the area of the outbreak.

Acne is caused by an overproduction of sebum, a fatty secretion produced by small glands under the skin, causing clogging of the pores leading to a bacterial infection. The overproduction of sebum can be caused by the following: an intake of foods high in saturated fats or sugars which become saturated fat in the blood; a vitamin A or zinc deficiency; an allergic reaction to a polluted environment, certain foods or to cosmetics.

An overabundance of toxins in the body overwhelms normal channels of secretion, such as the bowls, urinary tract and the lungs. When this happens, the excess toxins are excreted through the skin, which combine with surface bacteria, causing the infection.

Conventional treatments for acne in the form of antibiotics, drying agents or creams do not work because they do not address the underlying cause of the problem. What is causing the body to react in such a way as to excrete toxins through the skin needs to be identified as soon as possible. An unbalanced diet containing too many saturated fats or sugars is the answer in the majority of cases.

If you are currently suffering from an outbreak of acne, avoid anything interfering with the kidney’s ability to do its job, which includes an intake of  refined sugars, saturated fats, processed meats, fried foods, alcohol and coffee.  Cut down on anything containing a high carbohydrate content, and get enough daily protein from a combination of vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, wholegrain cereals, wholegrain bread and non-fat yogurt.      

If the symptoms persist after your change of diet, it may be prudent to check with your doctor about testing for an allergic reaction to certain foods. If you regularly apply cosmetics to your skin, stop for a while to see if an outbreak of acne will subside. If you are a smoker, it is best to stop and try to avoid all secondary smoke as far as possible. Try to avoid working or being in places that brings you into contact with chemicals.  

In order to ensure there isn’t a deficiency of vitamin A or zinc in the diet, the food sources of these are beef liver, egg yolk, fish, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, leafy green vegetables, melon, apricots, oranges and wholegrain bread. If you fail to get enough of these from food sources, then food supplements can be taken instead.

The following herbs can also help with acne in the ways indicated: horsetail tones the skin; red clover is a blood purifier and cleanser; dandelion root is a liver cleanser; silymarin (milk thistle) aids the regeneration of liver cells needed to detoxify the body of poisons; it also helps prevent the liver cells from damage.

Some things you can do to an affected area of the skin are: keep the skin clean by just washing with water without soap; apply aloe vera gel three times a day; rub the inside of a banana peel over the affected area prior to going to bed.

If you want to comment on this post, or ask a question on it, use the comments box below for that purpose.