Thursday, May 26, 2011

Benefits of Bitter Melon or Gourd or “Ampalaya”

“99 ABC’s of Wellness” Article Credit: The original article 99 ABC’s of Wellness is by Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, which has appeared on the Philippine Star on January 12, 1999.

Principle #5: Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon or “Ampalaya”

"Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon or “Ampalaya” is a good herbal therapy for mild, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and fertility regulation." (excerpt from the original article)

Contrary to popular belief, Bitter Gourd or Ampalaya is a fruit and not a vegetable. Although, people prepare and eat it like a vegetable.

Ampalaya or Bitter Meleon
The medicinal value of Bitter Gourd is not only famous in traditional Oriental medicine but also even in African traditional medicine. Its bioactive substances can help cure dyspepsia and constipation although, there is a suspicion that it can cause ulcer but such negative effect may be limited because it also a demulcent- (an agent that forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane). In Africa, it used to cure gastrointestinal diseases particularly against intestinal worm.

It also has anti-malarial and anti-viral property. In Togo, people use it to help cure chicken pox, measles and herpes. Experts are looking into the possibility of using compounds present in bitter gourd to cure HIV infection in the future. Experts are exploring its potential to improve the immune cell function, its cardio-protective effect and anti-cancer property.

M. M. Lolitkar and M. R. Rajarama Rao from the University of Bombay, India have discovered In 1962 a substance in bitter melon, which contain hypoglycemic effect. They call it “charantin”.

In 2007, the Philippine Department of Health has made a clinical finding that a daily dose of 100 mg per kilogram of body weight is comparable to 2.5 mg/kg of the anti-diabetes drug “glibenclamide” taken twice per day. Tea and tablets of bitter melon extract are available in the market.

We normally dislike the bitter taste of “ampalaya” but with the above-mentioned benefits we can get from bitter melon or “ampalaya”, maybe we can start putting it in our diet.

Image and info courtesy of:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ill Effects of Alcoholic Drinks

“99 ABC’s of Wellness” Article Credit: The original article 99 ABC’s of Wellness is by Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, which has appeared on the Philippine Star on January 12, 1999.

Principle #4: Alcoholic Drinks

"Alcoholic drinks dehydrate and increase your risk of high blood pressure, liver problems and other illnesses."  (excerpt from the original article)
Image courtesy of BBC News/Health
In proper amounts, there are positive effects of drinking low-level alcohol. There are studies that reveal reduction in the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes (Anderson P, Baumberg B. Alcohol in Europe: a public health perspective. London: Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2006)

However, we need to face the fact that excessive drinking of alcohol can develop in an individual from the first taste of it. It is good for those who can discipline themselves in this area but sad to say, we know that it is not always the same with many people.

What are the ill effects of alcohol?

 The World Health Organization estimates 140 million all over the world suffer from alcohol dependence. Why add yourself to that number? You can do yourself a favor if you can stay away from it.

A number of American celebrities have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in the past years. They might not be alcoholics but the law aims to prevent accidents associated with drunk driving.

Alcohol affects the central nervous system that controls the function of the body organs. It disturbs the brain's ability to process information thus distorting the sense of distance and height, speech, vision and sensation. It makes the liver work harder and causes it to dispel more urine, which causes dehydration. These effects can cause alcohol-related death.

Excessive alcohol intake can cause:

  • Mental and behavioural disorders
  • Degeneration of the nervous system
  • Alcoholic polyneuropathy
  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • Alcoholic gastritis
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis and cirrhosis of liver
  • Alcohol induced chronic pancreatitis
  • Accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol
  • Intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to alcohol
  • Poisoning by and exposure to alcohol, undetermined intent

United Kingdom statistical bodies report that "There were 8,724 alcohol-related deaths in 2007 (Wikipedia). For a healthy mind and body, it would be best to avoid excessive alcohol before it's too late.

Image and some information courtesy of:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Healthy Ageing

Image by Chalmers Butterfield
“99 ABC’s of Wellness” Article Credit: The original article 99 ABC’s of Wellness is by Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, which has appeared on the Philippine Star on January 12, 1999.

Principle #3: Age

"Age is a risk factor. Just like an old car, people need more maintenance and when we miss regular check-ups, we just get surprising breakdowns in various systems or parts." (excerpt from the original article)

For the longest time, diabetes and osteoporosis have been linked to aging. There may have been cases that seem to say that you will surely get those diseases when you grow old however, there is also such thing as successful aging.

According to experts, successful ageing consists of three components:

  • Low probability of disease or disability;
  • High cognitive and physical function capacity;
  • Active engagement with life.

Successful aging includes psychological and sociological factors. The idea is:

  • No physical disability over the age of 75 as rated by a physician;
  • Good subjective health assessment (i.e. good self-ratings of one's health);
  • Length of undisabled life;
  • Good mental health;
  • Objective social support;
  • Self-rated life satisfaction in eight domains, namely marriage, income-related work, children, friendship and social contacts, hobbies, community service activities, religion and recreation/sports

There is no such thing as a perfect life but we can enjoy the natural aging process by taking care of our health early in life and having a good social life. We cannot escape getting old but we can enjoy the process of aging. Those of us who are young can help make the remaining years of our elderly pleasant and livable by sharing our time and love unwaveringly.

Image and data courtesy of:

Friday, May 20, 2011

What Is Aromatherapy?

“99 ABC’s of Wellness” Article Credit: The original article 99 ABC’s of Wellness is by Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, which has appeared on the Philippine Star on January 12, 1999.

Principle #2: Aromatherapy

"Aromatherapy is a natural and relaxing way when applied with shiatsu or pressure point to relieve tension, uplift the spirit and soothe the nerves." (excerpt from the original article)

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses essential oils, and other aromatic compounds to stimulate a person's mind, mood, and cognitive function relative to health.

Tea tree is an example of essential that shown anti-microbial effects although its effectiveness against bacterial, fungal and viral infections still lack adequate clinical evidence due to lack of meticulous medical study. However, there are pieces of evidence that shows therapeutic potential of essential oils.

In fact, Pedanius Dioscorides (circa 40—90 AD), a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, and author of a 5-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances (a pharmacopeia), has described in his books the medicinal value of essential oils (wikipedia).

Lately, Spas have gained fame among men and women who want to unwind and relax after long hours or days of exhausting work.

Some Spas are expensive but it does not have to be. People can do this even at home, in fact, it could be a great activity for a husband and wife even occasionally.

Image above courtesy of:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The 99 ABC’s of Wellness

Article Credit: The original article 99 ABC’s of Wellness is by Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, which has appeared on the Philippine Star on January 12, 1999.

Again, I have stumbled upon more of my Dad’s old news clippings. He is fond of collecting news clippings about health and wellness before when he is still alive. I think I would like to share some of it here.

Dr. Andrew Well, a famous doctor in America, has successfully incorporated alternative with traditional medicine. He says that, “Good health is all about good balance”. He teaches that the three most important principles to follow in order to keep the body’s healing system up are “Walking more, paying attention to breathing, and eating more fruits and vegetables. These are practices well within everyone’s reach”.

We always look for ways to keep our body in good shape. We try every new diet plan that we hear, increase physical activity, quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol intake and many others but we fail to keep it up.

An old management dictum says that, “One should know where he is coming from, where he wants to go, and how to get there.” Along that line, it would be good if we first assess our present health condition. A medical check up would be best if we can afford it because that can give us a professional and scientific analysis of our body’s condition in that way we can have a realistic, relevant and measurable goal if we ought to make a lifestyle change.

A lifestyle change is difficult when it is drastic but if we can try to assimilate theses 99 principles into our daily practices slowly, then our lifestyle change would be more manageable. Wellness is not necessarily the absence of illness. “Wellness encompasses your total lifestyle and ideologies, what you do to your body to be in the peak of health”. People who live with unhealthy lifestyles may feel OK but in due time the excesses and abuses will manifest. I guess, they only have themselves to blame.

Principle #1: Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is important for cardiovascular endurance and fat loss. The key is to reach your target heart rate. Repetitive action of large muscle groups is required such as in aerobic dancing, swimming, walking, biking, rowing, running and skating.

If aerobic exercise is not for you, there are other exercise programs; muscle-building exercises that can help you keep the body moving. Exercise is not leisure. It is an integral part of an effective health regimen.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should We Be Cautious of Sugar?

Perhaps, you have seen the TV ad of actress, Ms. Judy Ann Santos for a brand of milk formula. She speaks of the sugar content of the milk brand and explains why she feels at peace as a mom with her brand.

I have been wondering why we should be cautious about sugar levels because I believe that sugar is a very important part of the diet especially in children. Should we be cautious of sugar?

Magnification of grains of Sucrose
I have learned that sugar is a form of carbohydrate, which is the primary source of energy. I guess, that explains why soldiers have chocolates as part of their combat ration. Sugar increases our body’s energy. We cannot work without energy.

However, when I have found out the adverse effects of sugar to the body, I think there is ample reason to be cautious with sugar levels. Excessive sugar can suppress the body’s immune system. It can reduce up to 50% the ability of the white blood cells to overcome bacteria.

Over dose of sugar also deteriorates children’s (even adults) behavior, attention and learning ability. Studies show that it can cause abnormal behavior especially with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

I guess, it is logical that parents should consider sugar levels in the food that their children take to avoid any health related complications later in life.

Image above courtesy of:

Children have such "sweet tooth". It is hard to keep them from eating sweets so maybe we can have healthy alternatives without sacrificing little pleasures. This is is not a paid post by the way. I'm just citing a possible ill effect of too much sugar and an example of an alternative product.

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