Archived Articles - April 2014

Nutrient-rich barley grass offers numerous health benefits

One of the first major grains to be domesticated by man - barely - is now the fourth most widely cultivated grain worldwide. Matured barley is widely used as animal fodder and to make beer. However, tender barley shoots are solely consumed in the form of a health food. Findings of scientific studies indicate that the shoots, also called barley grass, are gluten-free and usually consumed in powdered or juice form. They enclose loads of nutrients, which are gone during the reproductive cycle of the shoots.

Why we love barley grass

Lowers cholesterol: Findings of a research carried in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine (2008 edition) revealed that compared to subjects in the control group, people who ate barley grass during the 21-day dietary program had significantly lower levels of LDL and total cholesterol. These findings were corroborated by a study undertaken in 2010 and carried in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, wherein scientists discovered that consumption of foods containing whole barley grains and juice of barley grass lowered LDL cholesterol - the harmful cholesterol that builds-up in the blood vessel walls and, if unchecked, may be responsible for heart diseases. Hence, extra consumption of barley grass and similar foods is beneficial for the health of our cardiovascular system.

Digestive health enhancer: Several vital digestive enzymes, for instance amylase, lipase, cytochrome oxidase and protease are present in barley grass. "12 Natural Super foods to Transform Your Health" author Dr. Gillian McKeith says that these digestive enzymes contribute to barley grass' effectiveness in treating indigestion, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and Crohn's disease, in addition to an array of problems related to digestion. Moreover, barley grass contains roughly 6% fiber, which helps to eliminate toxins from the colon and improves the environment of the colon, thereby promoting good health.

Chlorophyll-rich super food: Barley grass is often compared to another super green food -  wheatgrass. In fact, barley grass is among the best chlorophyll sources in the world. Chlorophyll is a powerful builder and blood purifier. This super food also works to augment hemoglobin levels, enabling the red blood cells to supply more oxygen to the cells. As presence of oxygen makes survival of harmful bacteria difficult, barley grass has the potential to protect us from various grave ailments, including cancer. Barley grass also contains many antioxidants, counting the extremely powerful antioxidant called superoxide dismutase, which can combat diseases effectively.

Nutrient-rich food: Barley grass is loaded with nutrients - much more than artificial mineral and vitamin supplements, and this is perhaps its major appeal. According to a spectral study by "Better Way2Health," barley grass encloses the entire vitamins, barring vitamin D, and is especially loaded with vitamins A and C. Small amounts of B12 are also found in barley grass. In addition, this super food contains various essential minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium and phosphorus. Last, but not the least, it encloses roughly 45% protein - two times the amount present in wheat germ. This protein is of superior quality and includes eight amino acids. This is the reason why numerous bodybuilders, particularly those who are vegetarian, include barley grass powder in smoothies they take after their work-outs.

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Consume foods rich in tryptophan to cure insomnia

Here is some good news for people suffering from sleeplessness. The American Psychiatric Association has said that many people are incapable of getting adequate amount of sleep and this affects their physical as well as mental health. In effect, according to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia or sleeplessness is a very widespread sleep disorder, which affects nearly 60% of people in the United States.

Absence of or insufficient sleep may have an adverse effect on the health of an individual, as it may augment drowsiness at his/ her workplace or leading to accidents while driving. In addition, sleeplessness may also cause obesity and depression. In a number of instances, inability to get adequate sleep continuously may even cause these health problems to become chronic.

The hormone serotonin is at the core of these problems. Serotonin is related to tranquilly and drowsy feelings and is vital for obtaining a sound sleep during the night. Often, absence of serotonin is the main factor for people being able to fall asleep or sleep properly.

The significance of tryptophan

In order to improve your quality of sleep, it is essential to consume foods that are rich in tryptophan content. Basically, tryptophan is an amino acid, which is not made by our body. Therefore, it is necessary to eat food containing high amounts of this amino acid. After consumption, tryptophan reaches the brain and facilitates it to produce serotonin.

The main thing is that serotonin controls our moods as well as sleep cycles and in order to achieve this, it is essential that the process includes tryptophan. In addition, melatonin, which governs the sleep cycle of our body, is also necessary.

Key foods for promoting sleep

There are a number of foods that help to promote sleep. Some of the top foods are mentioned below in brief.

Nuts: Consumption of many different types of nuts helps to induce sleep, especially almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts.

Legumes: The most important legumes for promoting sleep include black beans, split peas and kidney beans.

Bananas: The important thing about bananas is that our body digests them gradually; denoting that consumption of this fruit helps serotonin secretion during the later part of the sleep cycle. This is the main reason why consumption of bananas not only promotes deep sleep, but also helps us to sleep soundly for a longer period.

While it is beneficial to consume these sleep-promoting foods, it is also important that you take them along with foods that have rich carbohydrate content, such as beans with rice or whole grain toast. When you combine these foods with carbohydrate-rich foods, it helps to balance the insulin in the body and tryptophan, ensuring the optimal functioning of the brain.

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Consuming citrus fruits may diminish stroke risk in women

We all are aware that consumption of fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruits offers us a variety of health benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol levels to enhancing moods. Many of these vegetables and fruits are also useful in diminishing the chances of having strokes, as they enclose chemicals that make blood circulation better.

Findings of new studies reveal that especially consumption of citrus fruits can decrease the risks of stroke in women. Some studies published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered that women who consume specific citrus fruits have less chances of developing ischemic stroke. In a particular study, women subjects were fed oranges and grapefruit and at the end of the research it was found that they faced 19 percent less risks of having a stroke compared to those who did not eat citrus fruits.

These findings are founded on a research in which scientists accumulated follow-up data over 14 years from nearly 70,000 female nurses. After examining the food choices of these nurses, scientists discovered that those who consumed citrus foods like oranges and grapefruit had the minimum risks of having a stroke.

How citrus fruits help to combat stroke risk

So how do these citrus fruits help in preventing stroke in women? The ability of particular citrus fruits in minimizing stroke risks is attributed to the presence of flavanones - a flavonoid sub-group.

For long, flavonoids have been reputed to possess healthy antioxidant attributes. However, the recently published study found that a particular sub-group of flavonoids called flavanones is most effective in providing protection from stroke. According to Aedin Cassidy, a study researcher, who is also a professor of nutrition in the British University of East Anglia, flavanones may diminish stroke risks by various means, including enhancing the health of blood vessels and combating inflammation.

Besides protecting women from stroke and containing flavanones, citrus fruits like oranges as well as grapefruits also enclose vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium. These vital nutrients not only help in protecting the heart, but also provide people with augmented levels of energy.

Details available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that on average at least one American succumbs to stroke in every four minutes. Roughly an additional 55,000 men and women suffer from stroke in America each year, but many of them are not even aware of the symptoms related to this condition. The most common symptoms of stroke include sudden headaches, impaired vision, and deadness on only one part of the body and / or confusion.