Stay healthy. Stay beautiful….one health tip at a time.

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Plump Your Bone Density With Plums?

Think prunes are for the old and constipated?  Think again!  Prunes are ripe dried versions of plums–particularly the ruddy egg-shaped kind that are juicy and sweet at their peak.  Specifically, we’re talking Prunus domestica.  What if I say that prune and its younger version, plum can beef up your bone density?

According to  Bahram Arjmandi, PhD., a researcher at Florida State University,  Tallahassee, dried plums not only prevented bone loss but can also reverse it.  Preliminary results showed plums are particularly beneficial for premenopausal women–they are asked to eat 8 to 10 dried prunes a day and showed promising bone benefits.  How?  Prunes contain high amounts of  super antioxidants, polyphenols, which can restore bone mass and structure, thereby beefing up bone mineral density. Another study showed that prune’s polyphenols also enhance osteoblast (bone formation) activity.

But that’s not all.  Plums are storehouses of beneficial minerals and vitamins–high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2, B6, potassium, vitamin K, boron and dietary fiber.  Boron is known to prevent osteoporosis.

So, let’s snack on prunes and include plums in our fruit selection or toss them in our food–a natural sweet way to stay strong and bone-happy.

Plums are plentiful in the summer and make cool summer treats.  If you like to experiment with plums in food, try this plum salsa.

salsaPlum Salsa

  • 3 plums
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • few springs of cilantro

1.  Chopped all the above ingredients and put them in a large mixing bowl.

2.  Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 small lime.

3.  Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil (optional)

4.  Add garlic salt or regular salt (if you don’t like garlic :P) to taste.

5.  Toss everything together and chill before serving.

You can serve plum salsa with grilled meat or  with some good crunchy tortilla chips.  Good with satay and kebobs too.

If You’re Playing Catch With Sleep….

Insomnia strikes

Insomnia strikes

Does insomnia stalk you in the night?  The darkness envelops you and you find yourself chasing after the elusive “shuteye” teaser? Catch me, if you can?  Well, if you are , you’re not alone.  According to the National Institute of Health, around 60 million Americans experience chronic insomnia.

So what’s  insomnia? Health experts say it’s the lack of ability to fall asleep or stay asleep on a regular basis.  If you think you have insomnia, consult your doctor and make sure it’s not an indication of other medical problems such as depression, heart disease, sleep apnea, lung disease, menopause or diabetes.

If you don’t have any major health problems, you may want to examine your lifestyle, your emotional stress level or eating habits for any sleep inhibitors.  Sometimes, the sleep problem can be dissolved by tweaking the factors that constitute your life or lifestyle.

Here’s some ways to encourage sleep:

1.  Let’s start with the obvious. Quit drinking caffeinated drink hours before you go to sleep–caffeine is the antithesis of sleep. While we’re at it, ditch  sugary snacks before zzz..time too.

2.  Are you stress?  With work? With life?  Ask yourself what good will your worrying in bed do?  Nothing! Rather than allow stress to activate your brain and keep you awake, leave them outside your bedroom.  Mentally cut them off and tell them to bug off. You’re your own bedtime psychiatrist, so there!

3.  Relax and Unwind with sleep-inducing food or drink.  This is one that works for me and I have made a ritual out of it.  An hour or so before you go to sleep, indulge yourself with some sleep-inducing foods.  For drinks–choose calming tea like Chamomile or warm milk.  Snack on foods rich in Tryptophan, an amino acid that is the precursor to serotonin, which is a necessary neurotransmitter for inducing sleep and tranquility.  Carbohydrates, certain proteins and dairy products are high in tryptophan.  Specific examples include milk, cheese, soy products, whole grains, seafood, turkey, beans and lentils.  Remember–it’s like bedtime snack, so think small portion.


  • Cheese on whole wheat crackers and a cup of hot tea
  • Lean turkey on pita with a heap of hummus.
  • Air-popped chips with bean dip.

4.  Reduce tension.  Tense muscles can keep you awake.  Relax your muscles and ease your body into bedtime sleep with muscle relaxation exercises.

5.  Relaxation Techniques.  Sleep experts say that relaxation techniques is one of the most effective ways to increase sleep time, fall asleep faster, and feel more rested in the morning.  See this video.

6.  Exercise

Exercises tire your body and induces the feel-good hormone, endorphins.  Regular exercises (just don’t do any strenuous exercises before bedtime) help your body to sleep better.  Yoga is especially effective with its combination of deep breathing, meditation and stretching.

Scent Your Room with Tranquilizing Aromas

Scent Your Room with Tranquilizing Aromas

7.  Create a Sleep-friendly Environment.  Close shades to set the mood.  Put on some gentle, soothing music to lull you to slumber land.  If you like aromatherapy, use a diffuser to infuse air with your favorite scent.  Some people prefer to put sachets of lavender,  Chamomile or ylang ylang under their pillows or tucked inside. You know what soothes you–well–welcome them into your bedroom and allow them to put you in a sweet mood.

If you’ve done all that, and you’re still playing catch–see  a doctor.  And good luck with this sleeping malady.  Put it to sleep!

Neti Pot, Anyone?

A watering can for your nose?  Eeeks! Whoever came up the idea must be drunk or highly tormented.  Maybe, highly tormented with dripping nostrils, watery eyes and sneezing?  There is no relief and even prescription drugs cannot fully address the problem. In desperation, the water can idea was born, perhaps?

So, it was, someone came up with the idea of a Neti pot to ease nasal complications.  You can thank the Indians for this ingenious invention.  The word Neti actually comes from traditional medical term, jala neti, which means nasal cleansing.

If you’re an allergy or sinus sufferer, you may be acquainted with the Neti pot.  It works like a watering can, looks like a cross between Aladdin’s lamp and a teapot and many holistic practitioners may recommend you try one.

Neti pots works as a vessel by which you irrigate your nasal passages and in the process flush out the allergens that are causing all the classic symptoms of allergy.  Allergens in the forms of pollen, mold, pet dander, even smoke can irritate the mast cells lining the nasal passages and cause them to produce antihistamines to protect the body. Naturally, you want to get rid of these allergens and prevent them from triggering the release of antihistamines.  That where the Neti pot comes in–use it to flush out allergens, bacteria and mucous.

How do you use it?  The steps are simple and once you get used to it, it’s as easy and natural as brushing your teeth.  Here’s how:

Using a Neti Pot is Easy

Using a Neti Pot is Easy

1.  Use a quarter to half a teaspoon of noniodized salt to 8 ounces of warn water.  Mix them thoroughly in the Neti pot.

2.  Stand over a sink, incline your head at 45 degrees and put spout in one nostril and allow the water to drain through the other nostril.

3.  Repeat with the other nostril.

4.  Gently blow to clear nasal passages completely.

Use Neti pots about twice a day during allergy season, especially in the morning and after spending time outdoors.  An Italian study published in the International Archives of Allergy found that nasal flushing is a mild and effective way of treating seasonal allergies and can markedly reduce the use of antihistamines.

You can purchase a Neti pot from most health and drug stores and online.  They are relatively inexpensive and maybe a viable option to treating allergies without taking medication.


A Crazy Good Thing: Nuts About Nuts

I’m nuts about nuts.  My husband can tell you that.  In fact, I fell into his trap with his constant supply of Macademias.  We were involved in a long distance relationship (he’s from America and I live in Singapore, then) and every time, he came to visit, he would tote bags of macademias.

Like the sultan who couldn’t kill the storyteller (One Thousand and One Night story?)–she was smart enough to end the story on a cliff-hanger, whatever that means.  My husband would entice with his salty crunchy treats and I would be helpless.

If you ransack my pantry, you will find an assortment of them.  Now, I don’t’ snack them with  guilt–yes, they have high fat content but there are too many reasons to lay them off.  According to a recent study of more than 64,000 Chinese women, those who had peanuts every day cut their risk of developing diabetes by 21 percent.

Not a peanut person?–I’m not either–researchers assure that other nuts are just as effective.  Take your pick–walnuts, almonds, cashews and yes, macademias.  An ounce a day would not pack on pounds, they added.

Nut fame is not limited to diabetes control–it has high levels of monunsaturated fats that are actually twice as good for your heart as a low-fat diet. Nuts have other nutrients too–Vitamin E, magnesium, copper and phytochemicals that are linked to heart health.

But that’s not all.  Nuts like walnuts are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids that can help lower cholesterol.  Pistachios have phytosterols, Vitamin E and L, arginine and monounsaturated fat that can lower the bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol.

So, what do you say– join me in my nutfest?  Snack on them–you can make your own trail mix with your favorite nuts and dried fruits.  Just buy an assortment of your favorite nuts  (preferably unsalted) and toss them together with some dried fruits.  Put them in an air-tight jar so they last longer.  Bag them and  take them with you to work, to school or whenever you feel a food attack.

Nuts are versatile.  You can toss them in your stir-fry, in your deserts, and  cereals for texture and crunch.  You can also chopped them finely to coat your meat to provide crunch and flavor.