Monday, October 31, 2011

12 Nutritious Vegetables, Part 1

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), through Director Mario V. Capanzana, Ph.D., has graciously allowed us to feature its study on 12 vegetables popular among Filipinos.

In the report, Dr. Capanzana underscores the importance of vegetables in the daily diet:

"Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that maintain health and prevent diseases. They are also indispensable sources of fiber, which help regulate bowel movement.
This in turn prevents constipation, which is a common problem among elderly and pregnant women. Soluble fiber can also lower blood cholesterol levels and slow down the absorption of
sugar, thereby beneficial to persons with hypertension and diabetes."

Here's the list of vegetables for your eating delight:

  • Malunggay (Moringa). All of its parts are edible, but the leaves are the most popular. It is a good source of calcium, iron and zinc as well as beta-carotene needed by lactating mothers. In areas where malnutrition is a major concern, moringa is recommended for consumption because it contains various vitamins, minerals and high protein.
  • Mongo (Mung Bean). Packed with nutrients, it is rich in protein for growth and maintenance. It has iron that promotes healthy blood. As a good source of calcium and phosphorus, mung bean helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Finally, mung bean supplies vitamin B to the body to keep the nerves in shape.
  • Patola (Loofah). Loofah is eaten as a vegetable, particularly in Asia and Africa. Hence, it is included in viands such as sauteed miswa or chopsuey. It is a good source of dietary fiber that regulates bowel movement and prevents obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer.
  • Sitaw (String Beans). This vegetable is a good source of protein that builds and repairs body tissues for growth and maintenance. It contains calcium that promotes strong bones and teeth; is rich in vitamins - A for good eyesight, B for increased body energy, and C for resistance to infection.
  • Kalabasa (Squash). Squash is a vegetable used in making soups, pies and breads. It has pro-vitamin A that promotes normal eyesight, healthy hair, smooth and clear skin, and overall growth. It contains calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth; iron that aids in building healthy red blood cells, and has been used recently as an alternative to wheat flour.

(Part 2 of this week's article will be posted in our blog on November 7, 2011--J.P.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Exercise After Waking Up, Part 2

Churning. Crampton considers this exercise as difficult, so he suggests to do the exercise in front of a mirror. Sit upright at the edge of the bed, keep head and hips stationary.

To acquaint yourself with the movements, first move the trunk as far forward as possible, then as far back as possible, then to the right, and then to the left. Head and hips are to remain in line.
Push your trunk out front, then swivel to the right side, then out in back, and finally to the left.
Your shoulders will dip for the side positions, but not for the front or back positions.

To begin with, stop at each of the four positions for a second or two. After the movements have been mastered, swing slowly in a circle without stopping. Repeat about ten times in the beginning adding more circles each week until you are doing about 25.

Second only to headaches, backaches are our most common complaint. And most organic back problems are either caused or made worse by weak stomach muscles. The next exercise will strengthen the abdominal muscles as it limbers up and strengthens the back (stiff back muscles also cause back pain).

Compass. Named after the four points of the compass, this exercise has you standing, with feet about 24 inches apart and hands on hips. Bend to the right as far as possible, then to the left as far as possible, then back to the center. Bend forward as far as possible, then back all the way, then forward to the center.

Go easy in the beginning as you'll be stretching muscles that have grown stiff--and muscles may become strained or sore if overdone.

The Star Gazer. Crampton calls this exercise the star gazer (as you'll be looking at the ceiling). Most exercise programs, particularly those that are as brief as this one, overlook the neck. In fact, few people give their neck a thought, unless it becomes stiff. Although there are vertebrae between the shoulders and the skull, it is the muscle that keeps the head upright. Crampton's star gazer both strengthens the neck muscles and prevents tension and stiffness. Here's how it's done:

Stand erect, feet comfortably spread apart. Clasp hands behind the neck and look down for a count of 1. Raise your head and look straight ahead for the count of 2. Raise your head still further to a 45 degree angle for the count of 3--still clasping your hands behind the base of your skull. Now lift your head back parallel with the floor and look directly up to the ceiling for the count of 4, to the left for the count of 5, back to the center for the 6th count, over to the right for the 7th count, and back to the center for the final count of 8. Repeat this exercise several times.

In the beginning, you'll be performing these exercises at a fairly slow pace. After you become familiar with the movements and your stamina has increased, you'll be able to do more repetitions within the allotted 10 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Exercise After Waking Up, Part 1

How many of us exercise in bed upon waking up in the morning?

The rejuvenation of our mind and body takes place during sleep. So we should be filled with vitality to face the day. More often the opposite is true--we stagger to our feet unnerved, not energized. We rush to the bathroom, to the breakfast table, and then on to work.

But the daily morning rush needn't be. A prescription was written a few years ago by C. Ward Crampton, M.D., a former director of the Department of Education and Hygiene of the New York Board of Education.

Dr. Crampton offers instruction on how to start the day with exercise. But what is unique--if not surprising--Crampton is against bouncing off the mattress to do calisthenics. He warns that such a procedure is doomed to failure in that not one in a hundred individuals will continue the program. It would give them another reason to stay in bed, perhaps to sleep a little longer. No, you don't climb to exercise--you do it in bed.

The Crampton method of waking up is gradual. It takes ten minutes and 7 exercises. You remain in bed, graduate to a sitting position, and finish on your feet wide awake and alert. Here it is, step by step:

When you wake up in the morning (use an alarm clock if you wish), just lie and don't do anything for a minute. Then reach back with one hand and toss your pillow aside. Bring both hands up to the shoulders and take a deep breath. Push your hand back to fill the void formerly occupied by the pillow and stretch out your toes with stiff legs. Still holding your breath, bend your body to the right as you stretch the left arm up and the right arm out. Exhale as you return the arms to the starting position and straighten out your body. Repeat the whole sequence, this time bending the body to the left with the right arm up. All movements described above may be accompanied by a yawn.

Stretching while lying in bed gently massages the muscles and stimulates circulation. Your body is now ready for more oxygen to convert fat and carbohydrates to energy. In contrast, the sedentary person uses only about one-seventh of his lung capacity because of shallow breathing.

Complete breathing involves filling up the lower area of the lungs, not just the upper chest area. First exhale. Although it is impossible to completely empty the lungs, you can remove much of the stale air by pulling in your stomach muscles. Slowly suck in air through your nose as your abdomen swells, filling the bottom of the lungs. Continue to slowly draw in air by expanding your chest and rib cage. Finish the process by raising your collar bones and shoulders. The last movement is called clavicular breathing. It further expands the lung's capacity to hold air.

Complete the exercise by slowly exhaling. As you lower your shoulders, contract the chest and draw in your abdomen. Repeat the deep breathing exercise three or four times.

(More Crampton exercise routines will be posted on our blog next Monday, October 24, 2011)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Waist Reduction For Better Health

More than physical attraction, a trim waistline is good for your health. A pot belly, however, is not just unsightly--it is downright unhealthy.

A bulging tummy can be a strain on the heart as it causes organs to distend and weaken, ultimately leading to poor posture and back problems.

Overeating is a common cause of the potbelly, but not necessarily the main cause, according to studies. And when fat is the problem, it usually includes the buttocks and thighs.

The first step to strengthen the stomach is to cut down calorie consumption; the second step is to follow a regular exercise program with a special accent on waist reduction and strengthening.

Although our muscles grow in size and strength as we mature, most adults fail to subject the abdominal muscles to exercise to maintain toughness. The practice of sitting many hours doing computer work or watching television has principally contributed to a potbelly.

The abdomen is one of the most difficult areas of the body to trim down. To get the best results, you have to concentrate on feeling your abs compress, not just doing the exercise.

The following are three good exercises to firm up the waistline:
  • Rowing Curl. Lie flat on your back with arms extended overhead. Curl the head and the upper body forward. At the same time bringing the arms forward and then the knees. This exercise is good for the abdominal muscles.
  • Curl Up, Knees Bent. Lie on your back, knees bent with the feet flat on the floor. Your hands behind your head. Raise the head and shoulders off the floor just enough to see through the knees to the feet. Return to the starting position. As you sit up make sure that you tense the abdominal muscles. This exercise helps to firm the waistline. Build up until you are able to do 2o of these.
  • Side Double Leg Raises. Lie on your right side, legs extended, head supported by the right arm. Raise both legs together as high as possible, and lower to the starting position. Do 10 times on this side and then repeat on the opposite. This exercise helps to firm the lateral muscles of the trunk and hips.

Waistline Pointers. In addition to regular abs exercises, maintaining good posture while sitting, standing or walking, can contribute to a flat tummy. Research shows that slouching can lead to poor posture, causing the abdominal muscles to droop and weaken; it may even cause internal organs to sag due to weight or pressure, making it difficult to stand up straight.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sobering Thoughts About Social Drinking, Part 2

Exercise and Alcohol. What about alcohol's influence on physical exercise? Does drinking offset the benefits of exercise and, if so, can exercise still reverse it? Yes. Here are medical findings explaining how exercise can overcome the bad effects of alcohol:

Blood, with its nutrients and oxygen, is pumped by the heart through its network of arteries and capillaries. Aorta is the largest artery, measuring an inch in diameter. The smallest capillary, in contrast, is so narrow that only one blood cell can pass through it at a time. Five million red blood cells fill one cubic millimeter--about the size of a pinhead.

In order for the oxygen and nutrients to reach the tissues, they must be released by these tiny capillaries. If the capillaries are blocked by alcohol, the surrounding tissues will die from suffocation.

The muscles, including the heart, require more oxygen during physical exertion than when resting. And when blood flow is hindered by alcohol, glucose and oxygen, reaching the muscles is restricted--causing fatigue.

Another factor relating alcohol to fatigue is that alcohol increases the body's supply of lactic acid, which has long been associated with muscle fatigue. However, there is still some discussion as to whether fatigue is the cause or result of this natural chemical.

Alcohol affects the body, weakening the immune system, as disease does. A fit person can resist the effects of alcohol the way he resists disease. While it is not possible to restore brain cells destroyed by alcohol, exercise is helpful in minimizing arterial clogging.

Nutrition and Alcohol. It is an accepted premise that alcoholism leads to malnutrition, but the renowned biochemist, Roger J. Williams, Ph.D., says that "malnutrition is the cause, not the result of one who follows good nutritional practices will ever become an alcoholic."

Although all who imbibe will realize physiological damages, according to their thirst, it is only those drinkers "whose appetite mechanisms are deranged (that) become alcoholics," Dr. Williams says.

"When we consume calories in the form of alcohol, we eventually crowd out of our diet about the same number of calories we would be getting from wholesome food. There can be no doubt that a prealcoholic--as he passes down the road toward alcoholism--becomes progressively worse off nutritionally month by month. As he consumes more alcohol, he not only gets less good food, but he also gets increased effects of alcohol poisoning," concludes Dr. Williams.

If you drink, bear in mind that no safe level of alcohol has been established. Even moderate amounts will crowd out nutritional calories with empty calories, destroy brain and organ cells, and plug capillaries.