Oats

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How is it going?

Today’s post is about oats but then, everybody knows about oats! The question is how much do you know? I have recently realized that many of us use oats in cooking often but still are unaware that there are different types.

One of my clients is a big oats fan and I am often amazed at how many things she makes out of oats, for her meals. I am definitely not complaining, oats is good for her and it helps me tremendously that she likes it already. The hardest part of my job is to convince people to make changes…and to keep them motivated and informed enough to stick to it, for good…for life!

Back to oats! Oats is a pretty versatile grain. It is used in making yummy oatmeal, in baking, in pet foods, in livestock feed etc. One can have it any time of the day, in any form…on its own or mixed up with other grains/flours.

Oats & Nutrition

Rich in fibre, low in fat, high in protein as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants…oats is one of the healthiest food for us. Oats have numerous health benefits:

  • Rich in soluble fibre beta-glucan which is good for cholesterol management, digestion and satiety (feeling of fullness, after a meal)
  • Helps in weight management
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels and prevents insulin spikes
  • Aids in regular bowel movement
  • Beneficial to the gut bacteria
  • Gluten free so a great choice for people with gluten-sensitivity

Did you know that there are various types of oats?

There are. And it all starts with oat groats. The whole oat kernel has a tough outer shell which protects the seed of the oat plant. Once this outer shell is removed, we get the oat groat. This oat groat is then further processed in a few different ways to increase shelf-life, as well as to make them fit for human consumption.

  • Steel-cut oats – The whole groats are cut into 2-3 pieces, by using large sharp steel blades. These are still considered unprocessed oats. These are also called as Irish oatmeal. Steel-cut oats are bigger in size, chewier with a coarse kind of texture. They take a longer time to cook however soaking them before cooking reduces the cooking time to a great extent
  • Rolled oats – The whole groats are steamed and pressed flat with steel rollers. This process lessens the cooking time. Slightly milder flavored than steel-cut, these oats are soft in texture and take less time to cook as they are already steamed during the making process
  • Instant oats – These are rolled oats which are further cut into many smaller pieces for even faster cooking. They are steamed and more flattened during the making process and they have a mild, soft texture
  • Quick oats – These are very similar to Instant oats though they might contain additional flavors, sugar etc

Which oats are the best?

Nutrition wise, the difference is not much, to be honest. However, steel-cut oats are found slightly higher in terms of protein and fibre. They are also the least processed. They also have the lowest glycemic index of all three types and help with stable blood sugar levels.

In the end

Though steel cut oats are my personal favorite but then, I don’t cook with them as much as many others do. If it is convenient for you to use instant oats variety in your cooking to save up on time and energy, it is good enough. As simple as that.

So, while stocking up on oats, make sure to buy whichever type suits you better. No point buying steel-cut version when you find them time-consuming and end up not using them altogether! Just try to stick to unsweetened ones.

Use this highly nutritious grain in your cooking, in your baking, in your smoothies, salads and soups etc.

I hope that you found this post useful. Do join me on Instagram for more regular stories on health, fitness, nutrition among some other random stuff that moves and motivates me. If you like my weekly posts, you would love my stories too 😊

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Diets That Won’t Work

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How is it going? All good I am sure.

Let me ask you something. We keep talking about one diet or other when we talk about weight loss. We use a word called “fad diet”. Do you know what the term “fad” means? Can you feel the negative connotations behind the word “fad”?

A fad is something trendy, fast and fashionable but it goes away as quickly. Why do you think a lot of people are very much inclined to follow a “fad diet” when they finally decide to lose weight? And hopefully not just lose it but lose it in a healthy way! If you fall severely sick, you would lose a lot of weight but would it be healthy? Is there even a point in losing weight and doing yourself more harm than good in the process….and getting it all back sooner than later?

I am sure everyone knows the answer but many of us, rather than changing our lifestyle and adopting healthy habits, choose to go easier way by gladly suffering through “fad” diets and useless supplements/products that come with it. Though slightly better than people who want to do nothing about their unhealthy lifestyle!

Today all I want to do is talk about such diets in general and not really get into details of one particular one.

What Is A Fad Diet?

There isn’t any fixed definition of a fad diet. There are so many diets out there – with different approaches, different set of rules, different outcomes! But, they all have a few things in common:

  • a fad diet is the “in” health trend currently
  • it promises a quick fix
  • implies a quick, huge weight loss if you follow it
  • is silent about most of the repercussions or long-term effects
  • but, would warn you against another product or diet
  • is almost always controversial….with experts divided on its pros and cons
  • almost too good to be true but a logic behind it – that sounds very scientific
  • eliminates one or more of the five food groups
  • many a times promotes a certain ‘miracle’ food or way

Some examples of fad diets are – Atkins diets, Keto diet, Paleo diet, South Beach diet, Intermittent Fasting (works if put in use, correctly), Macrobiotic diet, Blood Group diet, Detox diet, Cabbage Soup diet, Bollywood diet and even a Feeding Tube diet! Then there are Raw Food diet, HMR diet, Werewolf diet…it gets even crazier if you want the whole list.

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

To be honest, most of them DO work. Initially. That’s how they become popular! However, unless there is a medical reason involved, most of the diets don’t work over a long period of time. Why?

  • The no#1 reason is that they mostly are not sustainable. They need a lot of attention and focus hence, over a long period of time they become boring or unsustainable
  • Another reason is that most of the fad diets promote a way that is not natural for our human bodies. Many of them simulate a certain process or reaction in our bodies to work and generally, it’s not the natural way
  • They are nutritionally flawed since most of them eliminate one food group or the other
  • Overdoing on one part of nutrition and focusing on excess of another, can lead to other health complications in long run
  • Diets need to be personalized as per your physical needs and should take care of your lifestyle in consideration. Everybody is different and their needs are different. Just because it worked for someone somewhere, there is no guarantee it would work for you too

Nothing beats the combination of good lifestyle habits, some physical routine and a good balanced diet. There is no easy way. Even if you lose tons of weight on a fad diet initially (which motivates most of us in the beginning)…there never would be any guarantee that it won’t come back (and more of it!) once you stop.

It’s always better to listen to your body and stop looking for a miracle cure or diet. Food can be super-simple and food can be super-complicated, if misused. A healthy, balanced one is the best diet!

Adding a physical routine would boost up your metabolism, would be beneficial for your bones and joint. Would give you the strength. Lifestyle changes would keep you healthy forever and food could be your best friend – fun and caring both! Give it a try!

Join me on Instagram for food/workout ideas and lots of trivia on Health & Nutrition on the link below.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 2: All About Gluten

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How has the New Year been, so far? I know it has just been a week but did you make any New Year resolutions and have you managed to stick to them? I didn’t make any this time around. New Year is a great day to make new resolutions, with a fresh slate and all…for a better and healthier life no doubt. But, any day is good enough…as long as we keep at it!

Last Friday’s post was the part 1 on Gluten and let’s carry the discussion forward.

Today, going vegan and going gluten-free are one of the biggest health trends. Though I am neither at present, I DO see the point to some extent. I don’t prefer extreme diets and moderation is perfect for me when it comes to food. An ovo-lacto-vegetarian by choice, I don’t believe in food group-restrictive diets for me and my clients, unless there is a medical concern.

There is a lot of confusion on both the topics but for today, let’s stick with gluten. Some people ‘must’ avoid gluten to avoid certain health complications as we read last week. This could be due to gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease.

Many products today proudly claim on packaging that they are gluten-free. Many people world-over believe that going gluten-free would change their life, aid in weight loss and make them healthier automatically.

However, while trying to have a “healthier diet” especially if you are not gluten-intolerant, I would like to not fall into such marketing traps and consume processed “gluten-free” products just for the sake of it. Just because it’s gluten-free, it doesn’t automatically becomes healthier! These foods could be high in sugar, sodium and other refined flours too.

Why Blame Gluten?

Gluten is not one single compound but a family of proteins found in wheat, spelt, rye and barley etc. These glue-like proteins are what make our breads and cakes fluffy.

Gluten is quite resistant to digestive enzymes in our digestive tracts and this might lead to intestinal damage, malnutrition and digestive disorders. The undigested protein molecules also pass through the intestinal wall into our body. This can lead to triggering to immune-response in our bodies such as inflammation, rashes etc – as happens in the case of celiac disease. The question is, does this happen to everyone? It doesn’t.

Then?

Many experts feel that people who don’t have a gluten-sensitivity but still report feeling better with a gluten-free diet, do so due to many other reasons such as:

  • wheat and gluten both have gotten a bad name today because most of the processed food/fast food/bakery products that we eat today, is wheat-based (and such…) and it’s not the wheat that is bad. The processing and refining makes it bad e.g. the bread in itself is not a bad food…it’s the white-soft version we buy at shop – to be blamed as it is made of refined wheat flour, is full of preservatives, is bleached and all
  • all these processed and fast foods are high in carbs, sugar, unhealthy fats and empty calories as well, by default
  • avoiding gluten means avoiding all these foods and might result in better lifestyle and eating habits, resulting in less fatigue, mood swings and healthy weight loss etc

Unless you really are gluten-sensitive, avoiding processed foods, sugary cereals etc would make you feel just the same, won’t it?

So Gluten Or No Gluten?

It makes sense to avoid processed foods and foods made from refined flour. And to avoid junk food and foods high in sugar, trans fats, sodium and empty calories. To Avoid sugary drinks too.

And

Add a variety to your diet, don’t exclude any foods or foods-groups unless you have medical concerns because of them.

Add whole-grains, whole fresh fruits and vegetables too. Don’t exclude wholegrain wheat from your diet, moderate it. Just add millets, pulses and other whole grains to your diet such as oats, amaranth, jowar (sorghum), barley, ragi (finger millet), buckwheat (kuttu), Bengal gram etc…along with some wholegrain wheat.

Gluten Free Options

If you decide to adopt a ‘gluten-free’ diet or a ‘less-gluten’ diet, make sure to choose foods which are naturally free from gluten rather than buying processed gluten-free foods as they might be high in other refined grains and sugars while low on nutrition. The natural options are:

  • Rice, buckwheat (kuttu), amaranth (rajgira), millets, jowar (sorghum)
  • Oats, quinoa
  • Flax
  • Tapioca
  • Meat, fish and seafood
  • Eggs, oils and butter
  • Dairy products
  • Fruits, vegetables
  • Legumes and nuts

Personally, I prefer my wholegrain-multigrain rotis (wheat is an important part of the blend, too) over rice any day. They keep me fuller for long and are way more nutritious than the de-starched rice! Whole-wheat blended with millets etc that I use is quite healthy and provides necessary fibre, vitamin Bs, magnesium and iron etc. If I go gluten-free, I will have to make up for all these in some other way. Too complicated and unnecessary for me without any real need, as of today.

But then, I am not ‘wheat/gluten intolerant’! I am just ‘junk food-intolerant’! 🙂

{{“The gluten-free food industry has grown 136% from 2013 to 2015 with almost $12 billion in sales in 2015. Interestingly, studies show that people who do not have celiac disease are the biggest purchasers of gluten-free products. Consumer surveys show that the top three reasons people select gluten-free foods are for “no reason,” because they are a “healthier option,” and for “digestive health.” For those who are not gluten-intolerant, there is no data to show a specific benefit in following a gluten-free diet, particularly if processed gluten-free products become the mainstay of the diet. In fact, research following patients with celiac disease who change to a gluten-free diet shows an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome. This could be partly due to improved intestinal absorption, but speculation has also focused on the low nutritional quality of processed gluten-free foods that may contain refined sugars and saturated fats and have a higher glycemic index.”}} *Source and credit: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 1: All About Gluten

Hi Friends, happy Friday and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021!!!

Wish you lots of happiness, health and peace this year…and always! We are thankfully done with 2020 and now with 2021, let’s hope for new beginnings, new horizons and new opportunities!! A better version of humanity and us!!

Though, the year 2020 hasn’t been a complete waste for most of us. We have managed to survive, even evolve despite all the losses, roadblocks and hardships. Many of us have found time to finally stop…and figure out what makes us happy. We know our priorities better today, don’t we?

Now, I know you are also busy spending time with family (and on phone, calling and texting) celebrating New Year so, will keep the post today small. It is the part 1 of gluten series. Next week would be part 2.

Gluten is a confusing, controversial topic today. Some experts believe in completely eliminating gluten from our diets no matter what and many others believe that unless one has Celiac Disease or a gluten-sensitivity, gluten is completely safe and even beneficial for us.

I have never come across a person with a severe gluten-intolerance though Kia, our pet was diagnosed with gluten-intolerance. It caused her to itch her ear badly and since we stopped giving her our rotis (it has some wheat, yes), she has been fine on that front!

Maybe, there are a few of us who don’t even know they are gluten-sensitive while there definitely are many who blame gluten for their discomfort while the real reason lies somewhere else.

First, What Is Gluten?

Gluten word is derived from the word “glue” – gluten being responsible for ‘glue-like’ sticky property of wet dough. This sticky consistency makes for yummy rotis, fluffy bread etc and provides a chewy, satiating flavour to the food.

Gluten refers to a family of protein found in grains e.g. wheat, rye, spelt, barley etc. Two main proteins in this family are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is the one considered responsible for gluten-related concerns.

What Is Gluten Intolerance?

Most of us have no adverse effects of gluten and we are free to enjoy it. If you are not gluten intolerant, there is no need for you to avoid it. However, today “gluten-free” is almost considered a healthier way of life and there is no major harm in it either – if you can stick to the naturally gluten-free whole grains and whole foods. Plenty of options too! However, not harmful = healthier….not necessarily!

In general, most packaged/processed products are wheat-based and so are most bakery goods these days. If you decide to avoid gluten and avoid all these as a result, good for you, isn’t it? Gluten or no gluten!

A few among us, with certain health concerns like Celiac disease, gluten allergy/sensitivity etc are advised to completely lay off wheat and other gluten-containing foods.

Celiac disease, also called the Coeliac disease is the severe form of gluten intolerance and could be genetic in nature. It’s not a food allergy but an autoimmune disorder where our own immune system attacks the gut-lining causing damage, inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, anaemia and serious digestive issues.

This disease can easily be confirmed by a blood test or a gut-tissue biopsy.

Some people, though confirmed negative for celiac still show gluten intolerance and this condition is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The symptoms of gluten intolerance (upon gluten-consumption) include:

  • Bloating, gas
  • Exhaustion, even depression
  • Diarrhoea, constipation or both
  • Stomach pain/cramps

Experts believe that a lot of people think they are gluten intolerant while the real reason for their discomfort lies somewhere else.

If you feel that gluten or wheat causes you discomfort, you should rule out celiac disease (through a medical expert) and if found negative, eliminate all wheat/gluten products from diet for 2-3 week and see if the symptoms improve. Slowly re-introduce wheat/gluten to the diet and see if the symptoms return. This way, one could find out if they really are gluten sensitive or if it’s something else!

Foods High In Gluten

One needs to read labels carefully if gluten is to be completely avoided as most processed foods contain wheat. Do check for the clear gluten-free mention, just ‘wheat-free’ might not help.

  • Wheat, spelt, rye, barley
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Beer
  • Cereals
  • Cakes, cookies, most bakery products etc

Now that we know what exactly is gluten, what is gluten-intolerance and which foods are high in gluten…let’s come back to main questions:

  • How do I know if I should avoid gluten?
  • Is gluten always bad?
  • Does ‘gluten-free’ mean healthier automatically?
  • What is the downside of avoiding gluten?

For these answers and much more, don’t miss the sequel next Friday. Also, though many people are gluten-intolerant, I have never come across one somehow. If you are, please do let me know. I would like to know a little about your experiences. Thank you.

Till next Friday!

Love, Health & Peace

SRT: Test Your Longevity

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all?

Am so happy to be back this Friday! A big hug to all those who wished me good luck for my exam last Saturday and even offered help! I cleared the ‘foundation level’ exam and have moved on the next, more advanced level of my “Specialization in Health & Nutrition”.

I am doing this specialization because I am really, really convinced about the importance of fitness and nutrition, in all the areas of our life…including mental health and genetics. It makes me happy when you appreciate it too and take necessary steps yourself, towards a better quality of life, age/gender no bar!

The test that I am sharing with you today was designed in 1990s by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araújo, MD and is supposed to be a quick indicator of mortality risk among middle-aged and older individuals.

In a study between 2000 subjects of age 51-80, the low-scorers (0-3 points) were found 5-6 times more likely to die within the next 6 years than those with the high scores (8-10). The results which included constant follow-ups with the participants, suggested that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality

Process

For a demo video (i.e. me taking the same test), please go to my Instagram page on the link below:

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

  1. Wear comfortable clothes and take the test in your bare feet, with some space around
  2. Part 1: Cross your legs at ankles, sit down on floor. Try not to use your hands, forearms or knees (or any body part), for any assistance
  3. Part 2: Stand back again from the seated position. Again, no hands, forearms or knees (or any body part) for any assistance
  4. Don’t worry about the speed, take your time
  5. Calculate your score:
  6. Remember, there are 5 points for sitting down part and another 5 for standing up part
  7. If you had to use your hands, forearm or knee – cut a point for every support you needed, in each part of the process
  8. If you lost balance, cut another point
  9. If you partially lost balance or swayed, cut 0.5 points for every unsteady movement
  10. Calculate your score

If you managed the whole process without any sort of assistance from any body-part, you are a 10 and good to go. Congratulations!

If you scored somewhere mid-way, there is still time to start on a physical routine accompanied by a healthy, well-balanced diet.

If you score low, get up immediately, get your complete blood work/BMI done, see your doctor and buy that membership for gym/yoga class/pilates class (or whatever interests you as long as you are regular with it), meet a good nutritionist…and start like there is no tomorrow. Because I am sure you have plans for beyond the next 6 years!!

How Does The Test Work

The logic is simple. A person’s physical fitness and longevity depends on:

  • her/his muscular strength
  • muscular composition
  • flexibility
  • balance

This test gauges all four and is a very quick, simple exercise. With a lack in any of the above vital factors, the risk for injuries or losing balance become higher, the quality of life and movements suffer due to poor muscular structure.

In Dr. Araújo’s words –

“It is well-known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy”.

To be honest, quality of life is as important as the longevity of it. However, they go hand-in-hand! With one comes the other. Today’s test is a good indicator for both.

So, now that we are done reading the post today, go check my Instagram post, take the test and determine your longevity score. Do share with people who you think should take this test too…and do try it with all your family members.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

She is 84!

Kidney Stones: Part 1

Hi friends, happy Friday! How was your week that went by?

It was a little unsettling for me as my mom has been diagnosed with kidney stones and she might require a surgery to remove those. The pain and discomfort that she went through, bothers me a lot. As of today, she has visited the doctor, gotten all her tests done as well as has received her medicines but still, it bothers me because I feel that in her case, it could have been prevented to a lot of extent. I still have hope that she passes the stones without a surgery!

My parents eat healthy and stay active physically so thankfully, I rest easy on their health front but this kidney-stone episode tells me that despite being healthy and active, many of us overlook small things that could have saved us a lot of pain/discomfort in long run e.g. most of us don’t take drinking water seriously. In case of older people, the problem of frequent urination keeps them wary of drinking plenty of water.

Kidney stones is probably one of the most painful diseases and one that can be prevented to a lot of extent.

First, what are kidney stones?

Kidney stones (also called nephrolithiasis) are hard deposits of minerals (or salts) that form in the kidneys. These hard formations can affect any part of the urinary tract, be it the bladder, ureters, urethra or the kidneys. Passing these stones is quite painful and they can cause permanent damage if left untreated for long. Some stones are so small and easily pass with urine that we might never know it even happened!

Technically, not all kidney stones are the same. There are four main types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium stones – a majority of the kidney stones are calcium stones in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is made in our body by our liver or absorbed from our diets. Calcium or oxalate levels in blood can also rise from high doses of vitamin D, bypass surgeries, metabolic disorder (e.g. calcium phosphate stone in renal tubular acidosis). Some medications for migraines are also found associated with these stones. However, this isn’t as simple as – ‘avoid calcium to avoid stones’. On the contrary, a lack of calcium can also increase your risk of kidney stones. More on oxalates, their relationship with calcium etc in the next post!
  • Struvite stones – formed as a result of urinary infections, these stones grow fairly large, quickly and often with no/few symptoms
  • Uric acid stones – could be genetic but can also develop in people who tend to lose a lot of fluid due to chronic diarrhea/absorption issues etc, as well as people with high protein diets
  • Cystine stones – due to a rare hereditary disorder called cystinuria, this stone develops due to an amino acid that leaks from the kidneys and gets into the urine

Did you know?

Your weight has a lot to do with the stones in your urine. It might seem unlikely but many researches have proved that being overweight can up the odds significantly!

Symptoms

Generally, intense pain in itself is a symptom. One should immediately see a doctor if:

  • the pain is a sharp-severe pain in the side and back, just below the ribs. My mom mistook this pain as gas-pain and had to suffer for many days before she decided to get some tests done. If she were able to identify the pain earlier, it would have been easier for her
  • the pain spreads to lower abdomen and to the groin area
  • the pain fluctuates or moves around
  • there is a burning sensation while urinating (similar to an UTI)
  • one has fever along with pain/burning which would indicate an infection (just like an UTI)
  • the urine is cloudy and bad-smelling
  • there is blood in urine (i.e. urine is red, pink or brown in colour)
  • there is nausea and vomiting along with pain
  • frequent urination is there and/or one is urinating small amounts frequently
  • one has fever along with pain/burning which would indicate an infection (just like an UTI)

Why do stones happen?

There is no one reason that one can avoid and stay assured of never having a kidney stone. However, taking care of a few things can greatly reduce our risk of having one. Kidney stones may happen primarily reasons such as:

  • Low intake of water – When the urine becomes concentrated, the minerals present in it can crystalize and stick together. Having not enough water everyday can increase the risk greatly
  • Diet – High-protein diets and diets high in salt/sugar may increase the risk to a lot of extent
  • Excess body weight – High BMI individuals and over-weight people are more prone to kidney stones
  • Personal history – Someone who has had a kidney stone in past, is always at a higher risk of having another stone. Same with someone with a family history of kidney stones
  • Medical conditions – Chronic UTIs, Celiac, Crohn’s, hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria etc increases the risk of developing kidney stones
  • Certain supplements/medications – Having high dosages of vitamin C supplements and laxatives, calcium-based antacids etc as well as certain migraine or depression medications can increase the risk significantly

There isn’t a guarantee of never having a kidney stone, for anyone. What we can do is to take necessary precautions and keep our diet and lifestyle in such a way that it is at an optimum level for our body. This way, we do not have to worry about a lot of illnesses or diseases, all separately. A good, well-balanced diet coupled with an active lifestyle can prevent us from most diseases in life.

In the next post, a sequel to today’s part 1, let’s discuss oxalates and a few things/foods that might help us in preventing the kidney stones and God forbid, if we still get a stone formed – how to get rid of it (of course, after the mandatory visit to a medical specialist).

For a lot of stories with life/health/nutrition-hacks, motivation and kinds, join me on Instagram if you haven’t already – on the link below.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 2: Phytoestrogens

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all?

First of all, a big thank you for your overwhelming response and feedback to my last post on menopause. It is indeed a difficult phase when the mood swings, headaches, anxiety and hot flashes etc kick in but with a few lifestyle changes and diet modifications, we should be able to navigate it a lot better.

The first step would be to see our gynaecologist and discuss our symptoms as well as concerns with her/him.  The doctor might suggest some tests or prescribe certain supplements/medications, if needed.

Do get the necessary blood-work/bone-density tests done, as advised by the doc or your health consultant. Start on any supplements that are prescribed. While most of us would be alright without medications, some with severe symptoms would require hormone-therapy, in form of pills or patches.

Once all that is done, it is time for us to sit down and figure out a health-oriented lifestyle for us, if we haven’t started already. No better time than now to start some strength-training with some meditation on the side. In your 40s and 50s, if you still can’t find time for your own health then you better be brave, very brave…to face it all…with a weak body (and weak bones!) and a weaker mind!

In case you missed on my last post on the basics of menopause covering various types, its symptoms and other detailed info, do read it here first.

The rest of luckier ones with mild to moderate symptoms, should benefit significantly with some regular physical activity and some diet inclusions. These diet inclusions would be helpful only if your diet is a balanced one, rich in whole-grains, whole foods and includes lot of fresh fruits/ vegetables.

With that out of the way, let’s move to phytoestrogens now.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are natural plant-compounds which have similar chemical structure to that of estrogen hormone. The good thing about these compounds is that they mimic animal estrogens and our human body responds well to them.

Estrogen is a hormone that promotes sexual and reproductive development and in women especially, this hormone plays a vital role in regulating the monthly menstrual cycles and breast-development.

These are more commonly found than we probably know. People having a balanced diet especially from plant sources easily get phytoestrogens through their diets.

However, this efficacy is limited. Someone having severe symptoms might not benefit solely from them. If your symptoms are mild-moderate, adding dietary phytoestrogens is always a good idea.

Sources

Many plant-based foods contain phytoestrogens, some more than the others. Some even have anti-estrogen effects. Anyways, significant sources of phytoestrogens for menopausal relief, are:

  • Soybeans and edamame – Tofu (highest of all soy products), tempeh (fermented soy product and a great probiotic too), miso, soymilk, whole edamame or even edamame pasta/noodles, have your fix. Edamame is green, immature soybeans, commonly sold frozen or unshelled in their pods. They are not only rich in protein but are unprocessed – full of many vitamins and minerals. They are all rich in isoflavones (a phytoestrogen)
  • Flax seeds – Rich in lignans, a chemical compound that works as phytoestrogens and plays an important role in decreasing the risks of breast cancer in postmenopausal women
  • Dried fruits – A rich source of phytoestrogens- dates, prunes and dried apricots make for easy, fibrous snacks too
  • Sesame seeds (Til seeds) – Packed with fibre and a cholesterol-improver, try 50 gms of sesame powder daily for 5 weeks and see if it helps. Don’t forget to give me your feedback if it works for you!
  • Garlic – With multiple health benefits, garlic oil supplements might also help with bone-loss related to estrogen deficiency
  • Black cohosh – A native-American plant and medicine, black cohosh is primarily used for women’s menopausal health and relieving associated symptoms. Make sure you have no liver issues before you consider black cohosh though! It is available as solo-supplements and as blends as well. Do not take it for than 6 months at one go 🙂
  • Veggies – like cauliflowers, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprout and carrots are rich in phytoestrogens
  • Peaches – rich in lignans, a phytoestrogen that decreases the risk of breast cancer, might help
  • Angelica Sinensis or Dong quai – Root from this plant has some effects on estrogen and it may affect other hormones in the body, relieving menopausal symptoms. Dong quai also contain coumarins, which give it blood thinning effects in the body – so make sure it does not contradict any medications that you take
  • Legumes – such as peas, beans and peanuts
  • Berries – loaded with vitamin, minerals, fibre and phytoestrogens, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries are rich sources of everything good
  • Wheat bran – Rich in lignans, wheat bran is a concentrated rich source
  • Other than above, evening primrose, red clover, licorice root also are said to be good sources of phytoestrogens

Benefits Of Phytoestrogens

Perimeopause/Menopause can bring on many uncomfortable symptoms, usually in late 40s. These symptoms might include hot flashes, mood-swings, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, depression, headaches etc. Many researches have suggested that phytoestrogen greatly reduce these symptoms and:

  • help prevent bone-loss in aging women, just like natural estrogen hormone in our bodies
  • relieve menstrual symptoms or irregular cycles
  • decrease cholesterol levels

In The End

Do remember that phytoestrogens can indeed provide benefits and relief but they can be as unsafe as synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones can increase the risk for obesity, reproductive disorders, hormonal imbalance, uterine disorders, cancers and birth-disorders/miscarriage in pregnant women…and the same risks apply to phytoestrogens.

Dietary intake of phytoestrogen-rich foods is generally safe in moderation however, be careful with the high-dosage supplements. Avoid taking high doses of phytoestrogens and for long durations, to be on the safer side. Also, do let your doctor know if you want to add a high-dosage phytoestrogen supplement. Make sure your supplements are from a reputed brand/source.

As a soon-to-be health consultant myself, I would highly appreciate you giving your feedbacks to me on any supplements (for menopausal relief) that you start and benefit from (or not!). A big, warm hug to all those who already give me feedbacks 🙂

For more and regular health, fitness and nutrition related tips, recipes and information, do join me on

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 1: Understanding Menopause

Hi Friends

Happy Friday! How are you all?

Today’s post is something that I have recently researched a lot on. One of my close friends is undergoing a ‘surgical menopause‘ (due to ovarian cyst) and the sudden stopping of hormone supply in her body has left her very disturbed: physically and mentally. The symptoms associated with menopause is what makes the word itself scary, to me and I am sure, to everyone else.

I am a strict follower of the notion that most of our life-problems can be cured/reversed/prevented/managed/maintained through suitable nutrition combined with some lifestyle changes (which invariably includes physical fitness). This belief led me to read and research more on menopause and related things – which I now want to share with you.

I am sure it is important for women to know what to expect so as to cope better when menopause happens. And it is equally important for men too , in order to be supportive when it happens.

First, What Is Menopause?

Menopause is the final period for a woman which occurs when ovaries stop producing the governing hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. It is considered confirmed when no periods happen for 12 consecutive months.  It is not a reversible process.

I have seen many friends and family members including my mom, go through it and experiencing a lot of discomfort, due to it all.

Did You Know?

Like the start of periods, to predict someone’s menopausal age, it is often said to look at the mother. The daughter is more likely to get both – periods and menopause, at the same age as her mother. So, genetics works yes. Do you also know that ‘genetics’ can be changed by nutrition and physical fitness? But more on that, some other day!

Types/Causes of Menopause

  • Naturally Occurring – Most common form, natural menopause happens between the age of 40 to 58. It happens gradually over a period of years – ranging from 4 to 10 years
  • Premature Menopause – Happens before the age of 40, premature menopause is considered abnormal and is often associated with autoimmune disorders as well as increased risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Induced Menopause – Happens when ovaries get injured in some way or with chemotherapy, radiation or a surgery. Induced or surgical menopause is sudden and the symptoms could be intense, as you are left unprepared

Other Associated Terms

  • Perimenopause – starts happening in 40s commonly. Might induce weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods etc. Since menopause doesn’t happen overnight normally, the ovaries gradually decrease the production of hormones. This gradual process can take several years and is often referred to as menopausal transition, average being 4 years. Some months, the hormone production could be normal, in some not so normal. However, many women do not get any symptoms till actual menopause
  • Premenopause – no changes or symptoms per say, just a gradual shift in the body/hormones
  • Postmenopause – means the period after menopause

Menopausal Symptoms – Different for every woman and ranging from mild to severe, menopausal (or perimenopausal) symptoms include:

  • Lighter and irregular periods in general
  • Hot flashes/flushes – ranging from moderate to severe, these could also bring anxiety or heart palpitations/racing heart issues. Lasting for 1-5 minutes and can occur once every day….to many per day!
  • Vaginal dryness – due to a lack of oestrogen, the walls lose moisture as well as volume and become dry, getting easily irritated
  • Dry skin, mouth and eyes
  • Disturbed sleep, insomnia, night sweating etc
  • Emotional symptoms – anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • Weight gain – especially in waist region, this type of weight gain is quite unhealthy and increases the risk of heart concerns
  • Memory or concentration issues
  • Tender breasts
  • UTIs and urinary-inconsistency
  • Headaches
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Hair thinning/loss on head
  • Joint pains

The first thing to do when one start experiencing menopausal or premenopausal symptoms, is to see a good gynaecologist. When I say good, I mean someone who would be patient enough to explain everything and answer all our queries. It is a taxing time for women – physically and mentally, both. A difficult or ‘too busy’ doctor would be the last thing we would want, right?

There are various tests to confirm the menopause process which the doctor might suggest. Also, you already might be on certain medications or might require additional investigation for let’s say, thyroid etc.

In The End

Menopause is simply a part of the process of getting older, not a disease. The good news is that in naturally occurring menopause, most women do not require any medical treatment. One can always discuss hormone-replacement therapies and other medication (for severe symptoms) as well as supplements (calcium/D3 etc) with their gynaecologist, if needed.

One would also benefit greatly with certain lifestyle changes such as a good, balanced diet, meditation and some sort of physical activities. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol-intake helps too. Some strength-training would be great as we start losing muscles as well as have weaker bones now. Make sure to talk to a mental health expert in case you face any sort of stress that you feel unable to cope with, on your own.

This was all for today’s post on the basics of menopause. In the next post, let’s discuss various things/changes and foods (including phytoestrogens) that might help with the menopausal/perimenopausal symptoms once you are through with your preliminary visit to the gynaecologist in this regard.

Meanwhile if you are interested in understanding olive oil and various facts/myths associated with it, do keep checking my Instagram stories.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Part 2: How To Fix Gut-Health

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all?

Today’s post is going to be a small one for two reasons – one, I have a test due in the next couple of days. If you remember, I am currently pursuing an advance course in nutrition from a renowned American institute which once completed in next 5 months, would enable me to work professionally as a “Health Consultant“. I very much look forward to work with my clients on their overall health, strength, fitness & nutrition! And if you want a flat belly or even abs…at whatever age, gender and even after multiple pregnancies, we can work on it too! As long as you are ready to put some work in it 🙂


a little shady shot from last month

Second, my last post on Part 1: gut-health, covered most of what I wanted to say on this certain topic. If you missed it, do read it first here. It would talk about why is taking care of gut-health important…some facts that would convince you to do so if you are not doing it already…how to know if your gut is healthy (or unhealthy)…what causes the imbalance etc

The good news is that it does not require a lot of effort on your part to take care of gut-health. It generally takes care of itself if you are taking care of your diet and health in general which we should any which way. If you are physically active and follow a good, balanced diet…your body is self-equipped to take care of its gut-health, on its own.

However, if you smoke or have been on antibiotics a lot…or feel your diet isn’t good enough…or going through some sort of stress…. or already have some symptoms of unhealthy gut (refer last post for these), worry not. If you are willing to make a change, it is easy and takes only a 2-4 weeks to get your gut-health back to good, to a lot of extent!

What Can I Do To Fix My Gut?

Before you read further, do know that it is not a choice or ‘pick a few’. We need to follow most of the below-mentioned points, to the best of our capabilities:

  • Eat well – Eat whole grains, whole fresh fruits and veggies (with peel/skin whenever possible), nuts, beans etc. Fermented foods are good for gut-health too e.g. kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, plain yogurt or even our own curd! And foods rich in polyphenols (micronutrients from plant-based foods) such as cocoa, broccoli, green tea, almonds, blueberries etc. Eating food slowly and chewing it well, helps too
  • Limit sugar and processed foods – Not only are these bad for our health in general, these also cause gut-imbalance. Even artificial sweeteners! Keep your diet high in fibre for friendly bacteria to thrive
  • Maintain good dental hygiene – There is a direct link between good dental hygiene and our gut health. So, apart from daily brush/floss, it is important to get regular dental check-ups done. Bacteria from our mouth can get into our stomach and cause harm
  • Stay physically active – One way or the other, you gotta do it!
  • Avoid smoking – not just our lungs and heart, smoking is injurious to our gut-flora also
  • Drink alcohol moderately  
  • Stay hydrated – Drink around 3 litres of water a day as it helps intestinal mucosal lining. Check my previous post on hydration, if you want
  • Sleep adequate– Get enough sleep, not less than 6-7 hours a day. One can always seek medical advice if sleep still evades
  • Bust stress – Easy said than done but let’s try our best! Getting proper sleep, going slow on caffeine, staying active physically, a healthy diet and meditation etc help generally. Spending more time with family, friends and pets or doing what one loves is helpful too
  • Take a probiotic and a prebiotic – Other than foods already mentioned in point 1 and 2, one can take probiotic and prebiotic supplements, if needed. In case you wish to know more about probiotics and prebiotics, do read the previous posts at the hyperlinks. For natural sources of prebiotics, add bananas, onions, garlic, chicory, peas, beans, legumes and whole grains to the diet
  • Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics – We do tend to take antibiotics at the smallest ailment, don’t we? Thankfully, most doctors today too, advise and prescribe non-antibiotic treatments

Hope you liked today’s post. See you next Friday! Do join me on Instagram on the link below for more such health/nutrition related stories and trivia.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Love, Health & Peace

Part 1: Gut Health Is Super Important

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all? What is your gut feeling about the covid-19 vaccination? Soon or not so soon?

Ever wondered why we say gut feeling? Gut here means our intestine, colon or large intestine more specifically. Since when our intestines feel or say anything, leave alone predicting anything? Ever wondered? Actually, it has something to do with our gut-health. In this first part today, let us know more about the importance of a healthy gut.

Why Is A Healthy Gut Important?

Do you know that our gut-microbiome is made up of around 100 trillion microorganisms of 300-500 species, consisting of bacteria, viruses or fungi? Almost like a vital organ in itself, it would be very difficult for us to survive without these micro-organisms. These start affecting us as a newborn baby and eventually, we become more bacteria than human! Am not exaggerating! We have around 30 trillion human-cells in our body and 40 trillion bacteria cells.

For ages, it was believed that our intestine is a simple organ that just helps in bowel-management and digestion of food. However, it is much, much beyond that. It is also complex eco-system of micro-organisms and there is so much happening in our guts with so many little bacteria living inside and doing so much of chemical actions and reactions…all the time! It impacts:

  • Digestion including effective digestion of breast milk in newborns
  • Prevents stomach aches, bowel disorders, bloating and cramps etc
  • Digestion of fibre which in turn controls weight loss, diabetes, blood pressure etc
  • Protection of Gastro-Intestinal barrier i.e. intestinal-lining, thereby preventing ‘leaky gut’. Leaky gut syndrome, in short, can be held responsible for breast cancer, obesity, chronic fatigue and depression etc
  • Immunity – by protecting us from infections from foreign bacteria, fungi and virus. In fact these gut-bacteria make up for more than 75% of our immune system! The better your gut-health is, the better your immunity would be!
  • Weight management and metabolism regulation
  • Blood sugar management
  • Heart health
  • Cholestrol management
  • Brain and nervous system health – Gut-bacteria produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate moods, memory and other learnings
  • Hormones
  • Sleep
  • Prevents some cancers and auto-immune diseases
  • Destroying of harmful bacteria
  • Production of vitamin K, folate and short-chain fatty acids

Did You Know?

Our friendly bacteria in the gut, make 95% of our body’s supply of serotonin. Serotonin is also called ‘Happy Hormone’ as it makes us feel well and happy. Happiness in the gut, really?

Our brain and intestine are deeply interlinked. If one is in trouble, the other gets affected. Our gastro-intestinal tract is sensitive to all our emotions. Have you ever noticed that you feel nervous, feel like throwing up or have ‘butterflies in stomach’ before a big presentation or performance? Or when you are stressed out, you get a heartburn?

How Do I Know If My gut Is Healthy?

If you suffer from one or many of the below, you might want to take better care of your gut-health:

  • Frequent or chronic stomach-upsets such as diarrhea, bloating, constipation etc
  • Frequent heartburns or stomach aches or nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Sleep issues
  • Frequent colds and low immunity in general
  • Skin conditions such as eczema etc

How Does It Get Imbalanced?

Our gut health gets negatively affected by our diet and lifestyle such as;

  • A high-sugar diet
  • A limited diet which does not have much of whole foods and whole grains. The diversity in food is important to have a healthy gut-flora. The diverse we eat, the diverse the bacteria grow
  • A lack of probiotics in diet
  • Eating too much processed food
  • Due to use of antibiotics – Antibiotics do not differentiate between good and bad bacteria. While they kill bad bacteria, good bacteria are lost too. The effects could last for a couple of weeks…to two years!
  • Too much alcohol consumption
  • Lack of physical activity – People who are physically fit and active have more butyrate (a short-chained fatty acid) produced in body which is important for gut health
  • Smoking
  • Lack of good sleep
  • Stress

In my next week’s post, we shall discuss how we can take care of our gut-health, now that we know how important it is.

The good news is that it is not that hard to take care of our gut health. A little effort on our part can have a tremendous impact on our gut-health and our overall health. It is just that we were never taught to take care of our gut-health in particular, the way we are told to take care of our cardiac health or diabetes or even weight loss.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace