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Breakfast: The most important meal of the day

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“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” is an old saying, but I first learned about this way of eating from a friend from Peru who claimed this has always been the way for Peruvians and some South Americans.  It was during the 70s in New York when he told me about this.  I thought it odd at first, but as time went, TV news magazines started talking about the benefits of this manner of eating.

However, stuffing ourselves with doughnuts, sweet pastries, and sugary cereals — as we dash off to work or school — just to say we had breakfast will not do the trick. To start the day off right, experts recommend that our breakfast is complete with whole grains, protein, and fiber.

Now, here are some of the benefits of eating a complete breakfast:

It enhances our immune system. A study in the Netherlands showed that eating a substantial breakfast boosts our body’s interferon-gamma, a natural antiviral that directly activates immune cells. Skipping breakfast caused a 17 percent drop in interferon-gamma.

It improves our skin. Eggs, regardless of the way they are prepared, are fantastic for our skin. That is due to lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant found in eggs, which helps preserve the skin’s elasticity and protects skin cells from free radical damage. Just one egg a day can boost our lutein levels by 26 percent.

Helps keeps us slim. Regularly eating a healthy breakfast will not magically shed the pounds, but experts claim it may help our emotional relationship with food, which in turn, affects our weight. Prolonged fasting can increase our body’s insulin response that can increase fat storage and weight gain. On the other hand, regularly eating a well-balanced breakfast helps our body to prevent overeating and stave off our craving for quick carbohydrate fixes, or late morning snacks of doughnuts and pastries.

Moreover, experts assert that eating later in the day only ruins our body’s chances of burning off unnecessary fat, consequently putting ourselves at risk for obesity and heart disease. It really is that serious.  Therefore, skipping breakfast not only completely ignores our body’s needs, but it also deprives it of so many positive benefits.

And finally, eating a complete breakfast stabilizes our energy levels.  A balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber is the key to any healthy breakfast, and eating foods with these components will increase our energy levels. Breakfast replenishes our glycogen, which supply muscles with immediate energy. Breakfast was found to supply around 25 percent of our body’s daily energy expenditure; thus, leading to a high-functioning day.

So, there you go.  What more do we need to convince ourselves that eating a well-balanced breakfast is the best way to start off our day?

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Dragon Fruit

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Also known as pitaya, the Dragon Fruit’s taste is slightly similar to kiwi or melon.  The dragon plant is a vine, believed to be native of Central and Southern America that has been brought to Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Dragon plant has fleshy stems that grow up to 20 feet when matured. It may grow from the ground or climb onto trees using aerial roots, and it has spines that grow up to 1 kilogram in weight.   It bears flowers that only bloom at night. The flowers are ornate and beautiful with fragrant scent.

Pitaya plants can have up to 4-6 fruiting cycles per year.  The fruit’s skin may be yellowish to dark red in color with edible flesh that maybe white or red depending on the variety. It has a lot of black small seeds that is also edible.

Dragon fruit is also known to have some health benefits such as:

– boosts immune system. Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C and fibers that help provide an overall healthy body.

– helps in digestion because of its rich fiber content.

– helps to lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes.

– prevents formation of cancer causing free radicals.

– as anti-oxidant, the presence of high level of vitamin C, minerals and pythoalbumin is regarded as relevant in fighting free radicals and possess anti-oxidant properties.

– helps to control cholesterol level. Dragon fruit is also rich in flavonoids that are known to have favorable effects against cardio related disease.

– promotes healing of wounds and cuts.

– improves appetite.

– improves eye sight.

– aids in weight reduction.

– improves memory.

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Tibicos

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The tibicos are known by many names such as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals, California Bees and Tibetan mushrooms. They are a culture of bacteria and yeast held in a polysaccharide matrix created by the bacteria.  The microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas which carbonates the drink.

Tibicos are found around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Typical tibicos have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida, Kloeckera and possibly others. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide (dextran) that forms the grains.

Tibicos are also sometimes referred to as Mother Theresa’s miraculous free enzyme drink.  Supposedly, Mother Theresa of Calcutta travelled to the Himalayas and obtained some of these tibicos from the Tibetan monks so she could distribute them amongst India’s indigent folks — to improve their health or cure their illnesses. However, there was a condition: it must never be sold to anyone.  It was to be shared for free instead.  When Mother Theresa visited the Philippines, she brought along with her some tibicos as a gift for the Filipinos. Nevertheless, tibicos are not exclusively for the “poor and needy.” Anyone can drink it and benefit from its miraculous healing power.  Most people obtain tibicos from their friends and relatives, while others from their parish church.

Some of the preventive and curative properties of this enzyme drink are:

– It cures migraine and headache.

– It strengthens bronchial tubes and the lungs. It cures asthma, reduces phlegm and removes cough.

– It improves the function of the liver, pancreas, bile ducts. It cures diarrhea, it helps in the process of digestion and helps to avoid gastritis and ulcers.

– It controls cholesterol, softens hardened arteries and veins, lower sugar levels, controls arterial blood pressure, and corrects hemorrhoids.

– It helps in the prevention of gall stone formation, or if they are present, tibicos dissolve it little by little. It also cures different illnesses of the bladder, and helps one to urinate regularly and well.

– It cures insomnia and dizziness. Removes pain produced by the nerves.

– It burns fat. And for those who are thin, tibicos help them remain in good health (it is recommended that one should take 3 glasses of tibicos before breakfast.

– It avoids pain associated with aging. It reduces the effect of hormonal changes.

– It cures herpes, cataracts in the eyes, acne, and other skin problems.

Read more here.

Eggs

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The egg has been getting a bum rap despite the new research indicating that moderate consumption of which do not produce a negative impact on cholesterol.

In addition, regular consumption of two eggs per day may, in fact, improve a person’s lipid profile instead of affect it adversely. It is saturated fat, researchers assert, that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol.

Some of the health benefits of eggs are:

1. They are great for the eyes. According to one study, an egg a day may prevent macular degeneration due to the carotenoid content, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. Both nutrients are more readily available to our bodies from eggs than from other sources.

2. Researchers of another study found that people who eat eggs every day lower their risk of developing cataracts, also because of the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs.

3. One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids.

4. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health proves there is no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.

5. Eggs are a good source of choline. One egg yolk has about 300 micrograms of choline. Choline is an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.

6. Eggs contain the right kind of fat. One egg contains just 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated fat.

7. Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulphur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals. Many people find their hair growing faster after adding eggs to their diet, especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulphur or B12.

Come to think of it, coconuts, avocados and peanuts, not too long ago, wore a big scarlet “F” for too much fat. Nonetheless, this Manila Bulletin Bulletin article may shed more light on this matter.

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Red Apples

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If apples are red, experts claim, it’s because of their anthocyanins, which are largely restricted to the skin. When an apple is more uniformly red in color, or when its red color is deeper in hue, it’s because there are more anthocyanins. In terms of catechin polyphenols, epicatechin is the primary nutrient found in apples. The flavonoid phloridzin accounts for 98% of the flavonoids found in the apple seeds.

 The total polyphenol contents of apples range from about 1-7 grams/kilogram of fresh pulp, but this ratio gets much higher in the skin, underscoring the special value of apple skins for deriving optimal polyphenol benefits from this fruit. In fact, in animal studies, there is a very commonly used standardized apple extract called standardized apple peel polyphenol extract, or APPE.

Since most of the polyphenols in apples function as antioxidants, it’s not surprising to see so many health benefit studies focusing on the antioxidant benefits from apple.

Particularly strong is the ability of apples to decrease oxidation of cell membrane fats. This benefit is especially important in our cardiovascular system since oxidation of fat (called lipid peroxidation) in the membranes of cells that line our blood vessels is a primary risk factor for clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and other cardiovascular problems.

Apples’ strong antioxidant benefits are also related to their ability to lower risk of asthma in numerous studies, and their ability to lower risk of lung cancer. In addition to their unusual polyphenol composition, apples also provides us with about 8 milligrams of vitamin C. While that amount is not a lot, it’s still important, especially since the recycling of vitamin C in our body depends on the presence of flavonoids and apples do an amazing job of providing us with those flavonoids.

Although some preliminary results show apple benefits for several different cancer types (especially colon cancer and breast cancer), it’s the area of lung cancer benefits that stand out in the apple research. There are numerous studies involving vegetable/fruit intake and risk of lung cancer. The number of subjects in these studies numbers into the high hundreds of thousands.

Although many research studies show an impressive ability of overall fruit and/or vegetable intake to lower lung cancer risk, very few individual fruits show up as protective against lung cancer. Except apples! It’s really quite remarkable how apples have been one of the few fruits to demonstrate this unique relationship with lung cancer risk reduction. (Interestingly, this same phenomenon has to some extent also been present in research on asthma).

Researchers aren’t certain why apples are so closely associated with reduction of lung cancer risk. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are definitely involved here, but they don’t fully explain why apples are such a standout in this health benefit area. We look forward to future research that will help shed light on this unique capacity in apples.

This may be good news for heavy smokers unable to kick the habit.  Perhaps, eating a red apple a day may prevent them from developing serious diseases caused by smoking.  I smoked for many years and able to quit for good about 20 years ago.  I’d like to believe that regularly eating red apples helped rehabilitate my lungs.

Read more on other health benefits of apples here.

 

Coconut Water

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As for the health benefits of coconut water, Dr. Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician, and considered the world’s leading authority on the health aspects of coconut and related products, asserts the following:

“Coconut water has a normalizing effect and gives the body a boost of energy so that it can overcome a number of health-related conditions. It is effective in relieving dehydration, fatigue, constipation, and other digestive disturbances, kidney and bladder disorders, and vision problems such as glaucoma and cataract. It is reported to turn back time, so to speak, by reversing or slowing down the aging process. Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to counteract or balance the effects of acidifying foods which are so common in our diets. Research shows that coconut water can improve blood circulation, lower elevated blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes. Studies have been so impressive that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has approved coconut water to carry the claim that it may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”