Detox diet – An ayurvedic way to remove toxins

detox diet - ayurvedic

Daily exposure to chemicals, pollution, unhealthy food habits, metabolic waste,drug use, stress and a myriad of other problems leads to toxins in the body. More often than not, these toxins are responsible for sluggishness, skin problems, poor digestion, headaches, body aches and lack of concentration. It is a great idea to opt for an ayurvedic diet regime once in a while to bounce back into optimum health. This article focuses on a detox diet – the ayurvedic way.

What is detoxification?
It is a resting/recovering  phase, where your body is cleansed, nourished and rejuvenated. It stimulates the liver to function well, eliminates toxins from the body, boosting your immune system and protecting you from disease.  The best time to detox is between winter and spring. Follow a seven day detox diet plan to bring your body back on track.

Ayurvedic diet for detox

Following an ayurvedic diet is a safe way to detox your body, as it involves naturally grown herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. It  does not ask you to resort to extreme fasting measures. An ayurvedic diet requires a few simple changes in your daily food intake. Take a look at the list of recommended food and food that is to be avoided.

Recommended food for an ayurvedic detox diet

  • Vegetables: Have plenty of cooked leafy green veggies. Use spices to flavor your vegetables.
  • Prepare khichdi for lunch – a simple meal of rice and moong dal(split green gram) with a spoon of ghee,cumin,curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida. Ghee lubricates the digestive tract, eases constipation,  asafoetida stimulates digestive juices and moong provides nourishment in the form of  protein.
  • Fruits: Sweet, juicy fruits are excellent body cleansers. Have fruit for breakfast and to satisfy in-between hunger pangs.
  • Grains: Whole grains as Oats, quinoa, rice, barley, amaranth and rice are good. Include flat breads or rotis made of whole wheat flour in your diet. Fiber rich grains like Oats cleanse the digestive system and eliminate constipation. Use  ghee(clarified butter) while kneading the dough for rotis or flat bread.
  • Spices: Use ginger, coriander, cumin, fenugreek and fennel in whole or powdered form liberally while cooking vegetables, soups and dals. These spices assist in proper digestion and flush out the toxins from the body through liver, skin, urinary tract and colon.
  • Include vegetable or moong dal(split green gram) soup in your detox diet.

Foods to be avoided

  • Canned and frozen food, meat,refined sugar, fermented food, dry bread, food made out of refined flour(maida), cheese, yoghurt and food that contains yeast.
  • Avoid tea and coffee. Take lemon juice with honey instead.
  • Avoid pickles and foods containing vinegar.

Other tips

  • Begin your day with a glass of warm water with freshly squeezed juice of a lemon and some honey. This will clear your bowels and clean your digestive system.
  • Cook simple meals which are easier to digest.
  • Avoid heavy food like fried food and desserts.
  • People with poor digestion / constipation can include Triphala churna in their daily intake. It is an ayurvedic churna made of three fruits – bibhitaki, amalaki and haritaki). Triphala has anti oxidant and laxative properties .

Note:
Initially the body may show some caffeine withdrawal symptoms, if you suddenly stop the consumption of tea and coffee. But it is vital to finish the detox diet process once you have started it. Keep some fruit juice or lemonade handy. You can sip this whenever you feel the urge to have tea or coffee.

After  the seven day detox diet, you will feel fresh, rejuvenated and healthy.

 

Hypnotherapy

What is hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy can be defined as a combination of clinical  hypnosis and therapeutic intervention.

How does hypnotherapy work?
The hypnotherapist puts the person who is suffering from mental disorders / imbalances into deep hypnotic relaxation. When the person (patient) is in a state of heightened suggestibility, the hypnotherapist gives appropriate ‘word’ suggestions aimed at removing or curtailing the impact of the causative stimuli that produced the malady. As a result, hypnotherapy restores normalcy, peace, tranquility and health in the person.

Application of hypnotherapy
Through proven therapeutic procedures, hypnosis can effectively be applied to:

Remove old emotional wounds that persistently haunt persons
Control chronic pains
Correct dysfunctional behaviors like self-destructive habits and thoughts
Anxiety disorders
Side effects of certain medical treatments
Addictive influences
Sleep disorders
Fears
Lack of concentration and withering attention
Depression
Relationship problems
Stress management and anger management
Other psycho-somatic disturbances.

Qualities of a good and proven hypnotherapist

He must be physically fit with normal health and must not have any pomp and show.
He should have keen interest in the welfare of people and must be honest in thoughts and deeds.
He must be well-versed in physiology of human nervous system.
He should possess thorough knowledge to analyze situations and contexts and determine the causes of afflictions of the patient.
He must be able to induct hypnosis in patients using the most effective methods as the situation demands, using methods that suit patients
He should possess expertise for counseling and hypno-analysis.
He should prepare clients (patients) to enter hypnotic state by explaining what the client will experience and convincing them to undergo hypnosis.

Client’s Role in hypnotherapy
There is a moral responsibility on patients who opt for hypnotherapy. Before people  subject themselves to hypnotherapy they must learn as much about clinical hypnosis and  the competence of the hypnotherapist as is necessary for comfort, trust and rapport which are key ingredients. For this the therapists should be open and free to answer queries about qualifications, expertise, and methods used. A qualified hypnotherapist shall not undertake the use of hypnosis without interacting with the patients to know their level of understanding of the process. Such interactions, give patients opportunity to have their questions answered and to develop rapport with the therapist. It also helps the therapist to understand patient’s expectations. These will enhance the possibility of successful treatment.

Precautions
Inadequate competence in hypnotherapy can be of risk to patients. Inadequately trained therapists can cause harm and distort the normally pleasant experience of hypnotherapy. An unscrupulous practitioner who may be inadequately trained and may have some hidden agenda can also create havoc. Here lies the importance of carefully choosing
a competent therapist by the patients.

Legal protection
The hypnotherapist should ensure that the patient is accompanied by a witness. The witness can be a relative of the patient, a well wisher/intimate friend etc of the patient. They must be aware of the problems of the patient and must be interested to help the patient through and by hypnosis. The hypnotherapist, after preliminary examination of the
patient and after confirming that the patient needs hypnotherapy, should get a written declaration in prescribed format that includes a statement by the patient that she/he undergoes the hypnotic state with her/his will and decision. It should include the name, date of birth, address, phone numbers, date of attendance, name and address of witness,
patient’s relation with witness etc. The declaration should have authenticated signatures of patient and the witness. It should be specifically stated in the declaration that the therapist is only to help the patient to come back to normalcy and that the therapist shall not be responsible if the suggestive therapy did not succeed in totally curing the malady.

After care
Two or three follow-ups may be advisable. When trying to eradicate unwanted habits, it is a good practice to revisit the therapist, after taking a prior appointment to report progress and if necessary, to reinforce progress through hypno-suggestions.

Visit Hypnotherapy directory – UK  for support and general advice on hypnotherapy.
The purpose of the above mentioned site is to provide the UK with a huge hypnotherapy support network, enabling those in distress to find a hypnotherapist close to them and appropriate for their needs.

 

Relaxation techniques for stress

When totally stressed out, depressed or lacking interest in activities, you can practice a variety of relaxation techniques.Relaxation techniques are methods that assist a person to achieve a calm and stress free existence.  Relaxation techniques eliminate stress,depression and motivate you to perform your day to day tasks even better. You can achieve miraculous results at home and work, by practicing these techniques daily. There are many DVDs,VCDs and online videos that demonstrate the benefits of using relaxation techniques.

Relaxation techniques for stress relief

Meditation

  • Meditation is a holistic way of mental exercise.
  • It benefits the body, the mind and the nervous system.
  • It eliminates stress and lowers high blood pressure  to a great extent.
  • It enables you to be energetic.
  • It gives relief from migraines, any tension related pains and insomnia.

How to meditate

  • Find a quiet place to meditate. Sit in any comfortable posture. Close your eyes.
  • Breath in and breath out, slowly and deeply.
  • Initially, your attention may start drifting away, thinking of many issues. Every time this happens, remind yourself of breathing process that you are engaged in.
  • Think of how nice it feels to breathe slowly.
  • You could turn on some soothing music that you love to hear. Listen to it while breathing slowly and steadily.
  • Practise this daily at least for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Do not get disappointed or dejected if of other issues crop in while meditating. Daily practice will help you to think about breathing and not anything else.
  • Make it a daily practise. You will learn to face and handle difficult situations in life with ease and in a stress free manner.

Video on How to meditate

Deep breathing exercises for stress

  • Deep breathing is done by abdomen expansion as against shallow breathing which shows chest expansion.
  • Lie down comfortably and let your body muscles be loose. Place your hands sideways.
  • Inhale deeply – Exhale deeply. Repeat this for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • You will feel relaxed and free of worries and tensions.
  • Do breathing exercises before meals but never immediately after meals.

Video on Deep Breathing for Relaxation by Stress management expert Jordan Freidman

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • This is a method of alternating tensing and relaxing body muscles.This is used to treat stress related maladies.
  • Lie down comfortably in a quiet room. Starting with your feet, contract muscles of each part way above to your head and face, one at a time.
  • Then slowly release each tensed muscle one at a time from head to toe.
  • Repeat this three times.
  • This technique is very useful to treat insomnia and stress.

Visualisation techniques for relaxation

  • This involves closing your eyes and seeing a mental picture of a serene and beautiful place or a scene where you feel protected and relaxed. Maybe a beach, with your dear friends or sprawled on the side of a grassy hill.
  • Imagine a cool breeze blowing and you lazily making letters on the beach sand with your toes. Imagine you have dabbed some favorite perfume and think of the fragrance.
  • Do this for 10 minutes in a quiet place in a relaxed position. After you finish visualising, breathe slowly and open your eyes slowly.
  • You can also visualise yourself winning a competition. This can build confidence and make you more relaxed.

Video on Visualization Technique for relaxing and being stress free.

Practicing any or all these relaxation techniques will definitely help you be calm and at peace with yourself. Remember, a calm and peaceful mind will keep you free from stress and more focused.

Stress Management-Positive Thinking

What is Stress Management?
Stress is the physical and emotional tension caused by our response to several factors whether actual or imagined like:

  • Relationship demands
  • Long office hours/ workplace stress
  • Medical problems
  • Money (It is always less no matter how much you have)
  • Responsibilities
  • Kids : diet, homework, finding time for them etc.
  • Trying to be a perfectionist

Stress management focuses on handling stress the right way rather than attempting to eliminate it entirely. You come across stress on a daily basis, but dealing with it the right way will make life much more simpler. The first step towards effective stress management is positive thinking.

Dealing with Stress
Positive thinking tips –  Some factors are under our control and some are not. Here are a few tips to deal with factors that can be controlled.

  • Be realistic and easy on yourself before setting schedules and goals. Its easy to get disappointed if you are not able to stick to the schedule. Break big tasks into smaller tasks which can be easily achieved.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand. Stop thinking about how many tasks are yet to be done. Focus on the present.
  • Ensure a clutter free home. Assign a day in a week, preferably weekend mornings to sort, file and discard letters,publications,notices and the like. Keep a proper place assigned for books,toys,clothes etc. Ask kids to help out by keeping their rooms neat and tidy. Reward them with something reasonable like their favorite snacks, videos or spending time with them doing what they enjoy. A clutter free home saves unnecessary time spent on finding things, thereby reducing stress.
  • If you are working, use domestic help to do the initial meal preparation like cutting vegetables,fruits etc. and the basic things  so that you can prepare meals easily after coming home from work. If appointing domestic help is not feasible, chop vegetables and fruits for the next day in advance and refrigerate. Promote healthy eating habits. When you come back, you can save time on meal preparation. Saving time here enables you to retire early and have more hours of sleep.
  • Love yourself. Treat your body well. Eat well. Sleep well. Live well.
  • Listen to your favorite music. It helps a lot to calm frayed nerves.
  • Play with pets.
  • Read good books and motivational stories.
  • Make new friends, maintain contact with old friends. Friends listen and sometimes you just need somebody who listens.They also provide valuable advice when you need it.
  • Laugh often.Change your desktop wallpaper to something humorous. Watch comedy programmes on tv.
  • Help someone in need. You will get immense satisfaction after helping someone.
  • Practise relaxation techniques


For factors beyond our control here are a few tips:

  • You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can control your reaction to their behavior. If you are having issues with a difficult boss, in-laws, someone in your area, remember you have to be calm and confident in your approach to such people. Do not react to their comments and be an easy target for additional attacks. Practice this and you will be able to ignore such comments in due course. Once you start ignoring, such people will stop verbal attacks as it won’t have any effect on you.
  • You cannot control certain situations like natural disasters, rush hour traffic, unexpected guests, illnesses.They will take place when they have to.There is no point worrying about such situations. Instead when such thoughts trouble you, do something which motivates you, like reading motivational stories,listening to music,talking to someone who encourages you etc.
  • Stop worrying about the future.You must think of the future when it comes to savings. But live in present moment. Reduce the number of ‘What Ifs’ to zero.
  • Look at the bigger picture.You may not have as many cars as your neighbor, but then there are many in this world who don’t even have food to eat.
  • Avoid company of selfish and negative people. They transmit negativity.

A few self-motivational quotes for effective stress management

  • I cried my heart out because I did not have shoes till I saw a man without any feet.
  • People often say Motivation doesn’t last.Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
  • ‘Stressed’ spelt backwards is ‘Desserts’.
  • When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us. – Helen Keller

In addition, adequate physical exercise and yoga will help you in your stress management initiatives.

 

Depression

What is depression?
Depression is a mental state characterized by negativity, self-pity, sadness, lack of interest in day to day activities etc. Depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Your relationships, lifestyle and coping skills matter a lot. Depression occurs in different forms. It may be mild, severe, seasonal, or in extreme cases, people may contemplate committing suicide, in which case, expert advice and treatment is a must.

Causes of depression

  • Divorce, relationship problems.
  • Loss of job.
  • Chronic or terminal illnesses.
  • Loss of a loved one.
  • Fear of losing a loved one to chronic or terminal illness.
  • In-laws/relatives with a negative attitude towards you.
  • Post-partum depression
  • Hormonal changes during PMS, miscarriage, pregnancy, menopause in women.
  • Financial problems
  • Issues like divorce, loss of a loved one, relationship problems

The people involved have to face a range of emotions: anger, sorrow, frustration, bitterness, insecurity about the future and a question “Why Me?” . Feeling of low self-esteem, betrayal and reluctance to mingle with people persist after a divorce, loss of job, loss of a loved one etc. This is when depression creeps in, as the same thoughts keep recurring in your mind.

How to cope:

  • First and foremost, release pent up emotions. Its absolutely okay to cry, scream, speak to someone about your feelings and emotions.
  • Take long walks outside, mingle with friends and like minded people who can empathize.
  • If possible, speak with someone who has faced a similar situation and has overcome depression.
  • Its okay to speak with a professional counselor. A counselor will not judge your character.
  • Join support groups. Many churches and social service NGOs offer support.
  • Finding help lets you move past your problems.
  • Taking initiative to find help is a sign of strength.

Financial problems
Debt, low income, being compelled to live frugally etc. trigger anxiety and depression. Turn in to friends, senior persons in the family or a financial counselor/advisor for proper money management tips. Decide your financial priorities. Worrying will not solve your problems. You can even chat with online financial counselors of repute.

Mother-in-law issues
A mother who brings up her son lovingly feels insecure when a new woman enters his life. She feels that she may no longer be important to her son. This may cause her to find faults in her daughter-in-law to degrade her in front of her son and relatives. Any relation needs time to grow strong. Being a daughter-in-law treat your mother-in-law well, not in a subdued manner, but confidently. Showing fear enables anybody to control you. Listen to her. In certain areas, she is more experienced than you. Acknowledge this fact and take tips from her for issues like planning your monthly budget, caring for babies etc. That way, she feels important and won’t try to subdue you by finding faults.

In case of persistent nagging, ignore comments by going away to some other room. Continually ignoring comments will put an end to nagging, as the person will feel that her motive is not being achieved. The most common mistake is to retaliate and shout back as the argument will never end. Don’t think, “why should I ignore and keep quiet” Do it as it is a sure shot remedy for nagging. At the same time, do not show any kind of disrespect in any way. Just IGNORE COMMENTS.
Treat her as you would like her to treat you.

Never complain to your husband. Show him that you care for your mother-in-law. Do not expect him to correct his mother as husbands prefer to stay out of this even if they don’t say so. Assure him, all will be well soon.

Share this problem with friends. If your own parents are not very sensitive and overly protective of you, you can share it with them, else they may worry and make matters worse.

Daughter-in-law issues
A daughter-in-law may have had wrong notions about her mother-in-law before marriage, possibly triggered by her own mother, out of concern, or by some friends/neighbors who have had bad experiences. So she misbehaves with her mother-in-law to show her authority and prevent any form of harassment in future.Being a mother-in-law, treat your daughter-in-law well and gain her confidence and trust. Donot force your views on her. Wait for some time before giving advice unless she asks for it. Treat her like you would like her to treat you.

Dos and Don’ts
This is a very delicate relationship and needs time to mature. A confident smile, listening attitude, taking care when ill and lots of patience will help in the long run.

Avoid arguments and counter accusations. Take deep breaths and count till 100.Do not stop till you have finished counting.That will calm you down for the moment. Then go to some other place in the house.

Do not hesitate to seek legal advice or help from a counselor if there are issues of physical harassment. Remember you have just one life and it is a sin to keep quiet and suffer for the whole of this life.

Terminal illness and depression
In terminally ill patients, depression is treated by a combination of psycho therapeutic intervention, cognitive approaches, and behavioral interventions. Friends and family play a great role in providing emotional support. Counseling helps these patients to realize coping strategies. Counselors can be family members, friends, social workers, clergy etc. The best person to speak about handling depression in terminally ill would be their physician, health care provider or psychiatrist.

Hormonal changes in women

  • Post partum depression : New moms face this kind of depression. Researchers feel this happens due to hormonal changes before and after pregnancy. New moms feel restless, anxious, fatigued and worthless. Some get nightmares and feel no one loves and understands them. Fights with husbands are commonplace. Some worry they will hurt themselves or their babies. The best person to confide in is your health care provider. Medicine and talk therapy can help you get well. Eat well, listen to your favorite music. Ask close friends to visit you, esp. those who have had babies.Postpartum depression takes some time to go away completely. So don’t feel irritated if your symptoms come and go. Just keep doing what is suggested above.
  • Premenstrual syndrome and Menopause: Research shows that low serotonin levels trigger mood swings and depression during during PMS and Menopause. For this, changes in diet, mild forms of exercise, relaxation techniques and breathing help combat depression.

Seeking professional and medical help
If depression is chronic, you are getting suicidal thoughts and physical problems like migraine, increased heart beats etc.
seek immediate help from a medical practitioner/psychiatrist. Appropriate treatment by good medical practitioners can get you out of depression completely. For depression treatment centers in Indian cities like Mumbai, visit justdial.com

General rule of the thumb
When you are depressed stay away from anything that will make you even more depressed like crime news,
negative people who gossip, junk food, carbonated drinks, tea, coffee etc.

You can spend your entire life blaming a host of things/people for your depression or you can choose to live and learn
from this experience and create a new beginning. The choice is in your hands.

What is Pica – Causes and Treatment

What is Pica syndrome?
Pica
is an obsessive eating disorder where a person feels like eating inedible substances like mud, chalk, soap, paper, ice, paint, burnt match stick heads, cigarette butts etc. In some cases, the person may be inclined to eat large quantities of raw rice, cornstarch, salt etc. Pica is named after the bird ‘Magpie’ which is known to eat almost anything. Pica syndrome may also occur due to other factors like mental disorders, celiac disease or stress. But if these factors have been ruled out and a person is anemic, then the cause of Pica is mineral deficiency, largely iron and zinc. A person suffering from Pica syndrome loves to inhale smells like those of Petrol fumes, turpentine, paint, naphthalene balls and may give in to the urge of consuming these things as well! That is the point when it gets dangerous. Eating stuff like paint may cause lead poisoning,  inhaling petrol fumes and smelling naphthalene can affect your lungs. Pica eventually makes a person less hungry and dull. In many cases, a hardened mass is formed in the stomach from all the non-digestible substances that a person consumes.

pica - obsessive eating disorder

Causes of Pica syndrome
Anemia resulting from iron-deficiency is a major cause of concern among women, all over the world. In women, anemia is largely due to pregnancy, breast feeding and menstruation that render the body devoid of essential minerals like iron and zinc. Anemia is characterized by fatigue, weakness, pallor i.e. pale hands, eyes and nails in addition to hair loss. The problem here is that anemia often goes unnoticed till the symptoms get more severe. When a person is very anemic with low hemoglobin levels, Pica syndrome  sets in.

Pica Treatment
Do not hesitate to consult  your family doctor or general physician if you crave eating inedible substances listed above. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There are many women who suffer from this problem.

Your doctor will conduct blood tests to determine the cause of Pica. X-rays may be done to check the presence of foreign substances in your digestive system and chest.

If you are anemic with sever malnutrition, iron and zinc supplements in addition to other nutritional supplements will be prescribed. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe hemoglobin injections which bring back blood hemoglobin levels to normal, faster than iron supplements or tablets.

Pica syndrome may also result from other factors other like mental retardation or Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. In such cases, it is best to consult a psychiatrist.
People suffering from pica due to developmental disorders can avail of  psychological and psychiatric treatment that will help to rectify the disorder.  It is best to consult a mental health care provider for the same, if required.

In addition to iron supplements, women need to take proper care of their daily diet. Fresh fruits, green vegetables, fish, nuts, iron rich foods – in short, a proper balanced diet is very important. Eliminate stress and depression  by practicing relaxation techniques and physical exercises like yoga.

Pica resulting on account anemia and nutritional deficiency, disappears completely with a nutritious diet, health supplements and counseling.

Women need not be disheartened if they suffer from Pica syndrome. You can absolutely get rid of this eating disorder.

Photo Credits:Hunnnterrr

Indian spices – health benefits – Part2

Coming back to health benefits of  more Indian Spices, their English and Hindi names and  health benefits.

Tej Patta: Bay Leaf
Indian spices - bayleaf tej patta

Bay Leaves or Tej Patta have nutritional and therapeutic benefits. Dried Bay leaves are generally used in Indian cooking. They lend a strong aroma and unique flavor to food and are added to food by tempering in hot cooking oil.

Health benefits of Bay Leaves

  • Bay leaves are a good source of Vitamin C, Folic acid and minerals.
  • Bay leaves have anti-oxidant and diuretic properties.
  • Essential oils of bay leaves have insect repellent properties.
  • Rubbing essential oils of bay leaves on to the affected area helps reduce swelling and pain due to sprains, arthritis, headaches and migraines.
  • Bay leaf tea is an excellent remedy for respiratory problems, colds and aids digestion and removes flatulence.

Dalchini: Cinnamon
Indian spices - cinnamon

Cinnamon or Dalchini is both a culinary spice and  a medicinal herb. It isnormally used whole for flavoring rice dishes like Pilafs and Biryanis. Cinnamon is also used as a powder for flavoring  desserts like cinnamon rolls.

Health benefits of Cinnamon

  • Cinnamon is good for controlling blood cholesterol  levels.
  • Cinnamon lowers high blood sugar levels and controls diabetes.
  • Cinnamon inhibits bacterial growth and is a kind of natural food preservative.
  • Cinnamon tea is used to treat nausea and diarrhea.

Jaiphal:  Nutmeg

Indian spices - nutmeg - jaiphal

Nutmeg or Jaiphal is used  in desserts as well as savories. Nutmeg is used in powdered form.

Health benefits of Nutmeg

  • Nutmeg has anti-inflammatory properties and can provide relief from joint and muscle pain.
  • A large pinch of nutmeg powder taken with milk at night induces restful sleep.
  • Nutmeg when taken internally helps soften and dissolving kidney stones.
  • Nutmeg powdered and taken internally with some warm water provides relief from menstrual cramps.

 Hing: Asafoetida

Indian spices - Asafoetida hing

Asafoetida or Hing is used in powdered form mainly for tempering. It is used extensively in curries, gravies and pickles. If used without tempering in hot cooking oil, it will lend a bitter taste to the food. Hing is also used as part of other powdered spice mixes like sambhar masala powder, chaat masala powder and curry powder. Asafoetida lends a unique fragrance to food.

Health benefits of Asafoetida

  • Hing is used for providing relief from indigestion, colic and flatulence.
  • It is used as an expectorant for dry cough.
  • Hing is used for relief from menstrual cramps and menstrual disturbances.
  • Hing is effective against cough, cold and sinusitis.

Elaichi: Cardamom

Indian spices - cardamom elaichi

Cardamom or Elaichi is used to flavor food, desserts, payasam or kheer. In India Elaichi is often used to flavor tea.It is also used as part of different masala powders like Garam Masala. Elaichi imparts a uniquely strong flavor and has a beautiful aroma that stimulates taste buds.

Health benefits of Cardamom

  • Cardamom is a very good breath freshener.
  • Cardamom is an excellent diuretic.
  • Cardamom provides relief from indigestion.
  • Cardamom when taken with milk in powdered form, is a good remedy for impotence.
  • Regular use of cardamom flavored tea alleviates  depression.

Read the Part 1 of this article here  Indian Spices – Health Benefits – Part 1.

Indian spices – health benefits – Part 1

We come across a whole lot of spices in Indian cooking. These traditional Indian spices lend a  delectable and unique flavor to food.  These popular Indian spices have many health benefits in addition to being excellent immunity boosters. An Indian curry is a gravy made from traditional Indian spices in addition to stock, vegetables and meat(optional). Let us check out the benefits of some commonly used Indian spices.

       Methi: Fenugreek
Indian spices - fenugreek methi seeds

Fenugreek seeds aka methi seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, curry powders and in tempering (tadka in hindi). Fenugreek seeds are bitter and so must be used in small amounts while cooking. They impart a wonderful aroma to the food when used for tempering.

Health benefits of Methi

  • Methi seeds are an excellent source of  amino-acid 4-hydroxy isoleucine which supports healthy blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. Fiber present in Methi seeds reduces rate of glucose absorption in the intestines thereby controlling blood sugar levels. Boil a glass of water with a tablespoon of methi seeds. Allow this to cool down till warm and drink. Blood sugar levels can be controlled with regular use of methi seeds.
  • It is a good remedy for sore throat, cough and mouth ulcers. Boil 2 glasses of water with 1 tsp of methi seeds. Let this water cool till it is suitable for gargling. Gargling with methi boiled water provides relief from mouth ulcers, sore throat and cough.
  • Regular use of methi seeds in cooking improves appetite and aids digestion.
  • Use of Methi seeds increases milk production in nursing mothers and addresses the problem of insufficient lactation.

Zeera: Cumin seeds
Indian spices - cumin seeds

Cumin  seeds  or Zeera are used as whole for tempering and in powdered form to lend a unique flavor to curries, snacks, dals, dips, raitas etc.

Health benefits:

  • Cumin is excellent for flatulence,indigestion and morning sickness.
  • It is rich in iron and is good for people with anemia.
  • Cumin helps build immunity against common colds and flu.
  • Cumin has anti fungal and disinfectant properties. Cumin paste is used as treatment for skin disorders.

Dhania:Coriander

Indian spices - coriander seeds

Coriander – dhania is mostly coarsely ground or finely powdered before use, depending on the texture you desire!

Health benefits:

  • Coriander seeds lower blood sugar and bad cholestrol(LDL) levels.
  • Coriander seeds are a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium and iron.
  • Coriander is aids digestion and eliminates flatulence.
  • Coriander juice, mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder cures  blackheads  and pimples.

Laung: Clove

Indian spices - cloves

 Cloves – laung are used whole in several curries, pilafs and biryanis. Cloves are used in powdered form in combination with other spices for different types of masalas like Garam Masala. Ideally cloves must not be powdered and used alone, as clove powder loses aroma over time.

Health benefits:

  • Clove oil has analgesic or pain relieving properties. It provides relief from sore gums and tooth ache.
  • Clove oil  is  antiseptic in nature. It is used for relief from  cuts, wounds,fungal infections and bruises.
  • Cloves have digestive properties. Cloves provide relief from flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

More on Indian spices coming up in Part 2.

pms symptoms

How to deal with PMS – Symptoms And Remedies

Worried sick on how to deal with PMS? Do you dread that particular time of the month when you develop PMS symptoms?

how to deal with pms
Facts Of PMS Symptoms

PMS also known as pre-menstrual syndrome is a condition caused by hormonal imbalances characterized by physical and emotional symptoms pertaining to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms are seen anytime during the ten days immediately before the start of menses. Physical PMS symptoms include fatigue, bloating, breast discomfort, headache, leg ache, muscle ache, acne and appetite changes. Emotional PMS symptoms include stress,depression and increased irritability. A normally calm, soft spoken  and well mannered woman may become angry and quarrelsome during these days. Women may suffer from all or any of these symptoms. Women already suffering from severe depression must consult a doctor for PMS.

How to deal with PMS

Exercise and lifestyle changes can provide relief from PMS symptoms. Exercise includes brisk walking for 4-5 times a week, abdominal exercises, jogging, swimming and cycling. Research has proved that Yoga is an excellent way to beat PMS blues.

 

Diet For PMS

Food habits  must be changed during these few days. Avoid oily, fried foods. Avoid intake of caffeine and alcohol. Due to hormonal imbalances, you will be tempted to drink tea,coffee etc. and gorge on fried snacks and chocolates. But do not give in to these tendencies. Have fruit juice instead. You must eat foods high in fibers, fresh vegetables, fruits and food grains. Avoid red meat. Eat fish, which is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin A,B and E. Whatever you eat or drink, make sure it is warm. Take bath with warm water. Constipation during this period is a major culprit. Drink plenty of water and include fiber in your diet to eliminate constipation. Avoid starchy vegetables like potato and vegetables that cause flatulence. Include ginger and garlic in your diet to avoid gas formation.

PMS Mood Boosters

Avoid company of pessimists and people who gossip. Listen to music. Music has soothing powers. It freshens the mind and soul.

Above all, a woman must think of this – The modern woman is strong, she has made many achievements. She works at office, manages home and family and is the key to happiness in a family. She plays multiple roles successfully! She is a mother, wife, colleague, daughter and is at par with men. So something as small as PMS must not be able to defeat the  strong woman in you!

PMS Tips For Husbands

Men in the family must understand that this is just a passing phase caused by hormonal imbalances and that nothing is being said or done intentionally to hurt anybody. They must be caring and compassionate towards their wives during this phase and must be ready to forgive and forget temper tantrums.

types of cooking oil

Cooking Oil – Different types and uses of cooking oil

People often wonder about the right type of cooking oil to be used. Its not a hard and  fast rule that you use a particular cooking oil just because your mom used the same. There are a variety of cooking oils available with different tastes and other properties. Let us take a look at each of them.

types of cooking oil                                            Photo Credits yasmapaz

Types Of Cooking Oil

Groundnut Oil

This cooking oil is extracted from groundnuts, has a mild taste and is used liberally in cooking and for frying. It has many health benefits. Since it is a mono saturated fat, it lowers your overall cholesterol level, lowers the level of bad cholesterol in your blood(LDL – Low density lipoprotein) without affecting the level of  good cholesterol(High Density Lipoprotein). It lowers your blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. It assists in weight loss. Refined groundnut oil is the best. It is clean and free from suspended particles and odor.

Popular brands of groundnut oil
Guinea Double Filtered Pure Groundnut Oil, Marico’s Sweekar groundnut oil, Postman.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is commonly used for cooking as a frying oil. Sunflower oil is produced from oil type sunflower seeds. It is light in taste and is a very good source of  high vitamin E. It has both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels. It helps in lowering bad cholestrol levels. Phytonutrients like phenolic acid and choline eliminate the risk of heart diseases.In addition, it has vitamin E, vitamin B, folic acid and Omega-6 fatty acids which are highly beneficial to the human body. Sunflower oil can be used in high temperatures and hence is an ideal cooking oil for frying. Food cooked with sunflower oil stays fresh for a long time.

Popular brands of sunflower oil
Ruchi sunflower oil, Godrej sunflower oil, Sweekar sunflower oil, Sundrop sunflower oil,Vista brand.

Olive Oil

Olive oil was once restricted to mediterranean diet, but now it is widely used in cuisines all over the world. It is now considered as the healthiest of all edible oils. Olive oil is high in monosaturated fats and polyphenols which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are very beneficial because they help the body get rid of free radicals thereby prolonging the ageing process of the body. Olive oil keeps the heart healthy.

Grades Of Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil

This is the highest grade of Olive Oil. It is produced by mechanical extraction methods with no chemical treatment. It results from the first pressing of the olive fruit within 24 hours of harvesting. Acidity level is an important factor that determines the grade of olive oil. Oil of the highest grade must have the lowest level of acidity. Extra virgin olive oil has  an  acidity level of less than one percent. It also has perfect aroma, color and flavor. It cannot be used for frying and cooking at high temperatures as it loses its original chemical composition and flavor. Extra virgin olive oil can be used in salad dressings, flavorings and dips etc.

Pure Olive Oil

“Pure” olive oil is made by adding a little extra virgin olive oil to refined olive oil. This oil is of intermediate grade with  medium flavour and aroma. This is used for meditarranean and continental cooking, in pastries and doughs and also for mild frying.

Olive Pomace Oil

This is a cooking oil that is suitable for Indian cuisine. It has neutral taste and flavor. It does not change taste and texture even in high temperatures. It is ideal for deep frying and cooking at high temperatures. It is also less expensive that the other varieties of olive oil.

Olive oil must be kept away from heat and light. It must be stored in a dark and cool place, tightly closed in an air tight bottle or container. Constant exposure to light and heat may make the oil putrid and foul smelling.

Popular brands of Olive Oil – Bertolli olive oil, Leonardo Olive Oil

Rice Bran Oil

This cooking oil is extracted from the inner husk of the rice kernel. It is rich in vitamin E and oryzanol. Rice bran oil is widely used as an edible oil in  Japan, Korea, China, India, Taiwan and Thailand. It reduces cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Rice bran oil is ideal for people with food allergies. It also provides relief from menopause symptoms.
Popular brands of rice bran oil – Ricela, Tithi brand refined rice bran oil.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an edible cooking oil extracted from the fully dried kernel of a matured coconut. It is suitable for frying at high temperatures. Coconut oil boosts immunity of the body. Since it contains saturated fats, it is widely believed that coconut oil is harmful for the body. But like other vegetable oils, saturated fats in coconut oil do not increase bad cholesterol levels. It  prevents high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure due to the presence of 50% lauric acid. It helps in proper functioning of the thyroid and aids digestion; helps people suffering from acid reflux.
Popular cooking grade coconut oil brands in India – Kera, Shudhi

Mustard Oil

Mustard oil is a cooking oil  obtained from black and white mustard seeds. Mustard oil has a strong spicy odor and a strong flavor. This is mostly used in north and north east India for cooking. It is considered fit for external use only, in some countries. Mustard oil has many benefits – It is good for the digestive and circulatory system. It is used in body massages as it gives warmth. It can cure you from cold and cough.
Popular Indian brands of mustard oil– Sunrise, Mustraj manufactured by Raj Oil Mills

Canola Oil

This cooking oil is extracted by crushing the canola seed. It contains very low levels of saturated fatty acids and has high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids. This reduces blood cholesterol levels. It is good source of vitamin E.

Popular brands are Hudson Canola Oil.

Sesame Oil (Til Oil)

Sesame oil also known as til oil or gingelly oil is extracted from Sesame seeds. It is used as a cooking oil and a flavor enhancer in south Asian cuisine. It is rich in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E. It lowers cholestrol and blood pressure.

Popular brands are Til Raj by Raj Oil Mills, India and Kadoya sesame oil from Japan

Of these, coconut oil and mustard oil have a particular aroma and taste, which may not be relished by everyone. Sunflower and Groundnut oil have a neutral taste.You may try out different types of cooking oil and see which suits your style of cooking the best. Points to consider include nutritional attributes, health benefits, shelf-life and cost of each type of cooking oil.

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