Category Archives: Health

Tough Exterior and a Soft Interior

My uncle is a pretty tough guy. He has been in the military for so many years that he’s been in longer than he’s been out. He’s gone through constant training and has even seen some combat over the years. You would think that something like back pain would be nothing for him, but it turned him into a big baby. He injured his back and had to go to a San Jose chiropractor, and the entire time he was crying about how bad the pain was for him. I had never seen him look so vulnerable.

If any of my uncle’s army buddies found out how he was crying about the back pain, they would probably never let him live it down. They usually pick on each other for various reasons, and something like this would last forever.

Disgusting Food

How would you feel if you find out that some of the foods you like contain unsavory ingredients that are beyond the stretch of your imagination? Disgusted? Rightly so! Some of the ingredients printed on the label are perplexing and unpronounceable. Moreover if they are derived from ‘bizarre’ sources, would you feel like having them? Their inclusion may not mar the taste of the final product but that does not make them fit for consumption. These ‘secret’ ingredients that we ingest unknowingly may seem harmless, but are a cause for concern.
What’s more surprising is that to masquerade the identity of such an ingredient, it is categorized as natural. To simply put, the food label does not give a clear idea about the ingredients that actually may be used to make the product. As though the addition of excess salt and sugar was not enough, now we bear the presence of these disgusting ingredients in processed foods. Check out these ‘outrageous’ ingredients found in foods that you love to eat to your heart’s content.
Unsavory Ingredients in Food
vanilla ice cream containing castoreum

Seeing a cup of vanilla ice cream or raspberry candies can make you go weak in your knees. However, this feeling may soon go down to the dumps when you come to know that these mouth-watering delicacies contain an animal-derived ingredient. Castoreum is a flavoring agent that is reportedly used in these food products. This flavoring agent is a yellowish secretion obtained from the castor sacs that are next to anal glands of beaver (rodent). Also referred to as beaver anal gland juice, this food additive acts as a flavor enhancer and is supposedly mixed with hard candy, fruit flavored drinks such as strawberry syrup and raspberry flavored products. Surprisingly, the nutrition column on the label of many products, names castoreum as a natural flavor enhancer. It is altogether a different matter that FEMA (Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association) of United States has outright rejected any reports of castoreum usage for flavoring vanilla ice cream. However, FEMA does consider castoreum as a safe food additive.

Not all food companies use castoreum as a flavor enhancer. Vanilla extract, that consists of vanilla beans, sugar and ethyl alcohol, is also used as a flavoring agent. Thus, there are alternatives to castoreum that are not made from unsavory components as well as impart a good flavor to ice creams.

HEALTHY Late-night Snacks

Most of us are in the habit of staying up late, either working, reading, watching T.V., or busy with some or the other activity. Whatever the reason may be, very often you can hear your stomach growling in the midst of those late nights. It is true that most of our late night food cravings stem from boredom or the mere desire to take a break from the activity we are engaged in, or to add to it. Sometimes though, they are genuine and may occur because of early dinner, dehydration, low salt levels, or low sugar levels, or lack of proteins. In any case, our hunger needs to be satisfied. So why not opt for some healthy late-night snacks and save on those calories which collect easily and quickly late at night?
Healthy Snack Ideas for Late Nights
You can choose your late-night snacks depending upon your mood, like refreshing or comforting, quick or sweet, munchy or satisfying. Just remember to consume them in small portions (say 1 roll or 1 bowl). This is because no matter how healthy you may perceive these snacks to be at that hour, they are still likely to make you feel very heavy at night if consumed in larger portions.
Protein-rich Snacks
Sandwich with cottage cheese, radish, black pepper and cucumber
➠ Mix together some chopped tomatoes and red onions with zucchini and low-fat cottage cheese. Add the final touch with a little salsa.

➠ In some low-fat hummus, add some diced cooked chicken, and with some shredded lettuce, stuff it into whole-grain pita bread.

➠ Toss together some diced cucumber, radish, and low-fat cottage cheese topped with some olive oil and seasoned with some herbs like oregano.

Comforting Snacks
Healthy breakfast. Fresh granola, muesli with berries, honey and milk
➠ Add some honey and walnuts to a bowl of oats with milk to enjoy a warm, comforting snack.

➠ Indulge in a savory bean wrap by mashing some beans with salsa. Spread it on a whole-wheat tortilla and sprinkle with some low-fat cheese. Wrap it up and heat until the cheese melts.

➠ Add some dark chocolate mix to a glass of steaming hot skimmed milk and revel in its warmth.

➠ Spread some olive paste on a whole-wheat tortilla, and add some shredded chicken and lettuce to it. Make it a yummy wrap!

Refreshing Snacks
Bunch of sliced watermelons
➠ Indulge in some chilled watermelon wedges seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

➠ Add to a club soda any unsweetened juice of your choice and top it with some crushed ice for the ultimate cool and refreshing drink.

➠ Create your own granita with some freshly squeezed juice.

➠ Add to a glass of tomato juice, some salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon to give it the perfect flavor.

Vital Precautionary Measures

For those of you who are wondering, what is malic acid, let’s clear that doubt first. Malic acid is chemically a organic compound which has a formula of HO2CCH2CHOHCO2H. Being the main ingredient in apples, malic acid was first isolated from apple juice in 1785, and then further research about its importance in biochemistry was carried out. The IUPAC name of malic acid is ‘2-hydroxybutanedioic acid’, and it also has many other conformations like the L-Malic acid, D-Malic acid, etc. Malic acid is found in many sour fruits like green apples, grapes, and in wine, however, the amount of malic acid reduces, when these fruits ripen. There are a number of malic acid benefits.

What is Malic Acid Good For

➺ It plays an important role in the production of energy.

➺ It reduces toxic effects of certain metals.

➺ It helps alleviate pain.

➺ It protects muscles from exhaustion.

➺ When present in skin care products, it exhibits exfoliating properties. It can penetrate deep into the skin, and can improve the smoothness of your skin. It helps reduce pigmentation and offers you glowing, smooth skin.

➺ It helps relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia (pain in muscle, ligaments, and tendons, leading to muscle exhaustion, lack of energy), when consumed in combination with magnesium. It also helps reduce the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

➺ It exhibits antiseptic properties, and helps keep the mouth cavity free of germs. It stimulates saliva production, which in turn helps kill bacteria in the mouth.

But malic acid also has some negative effects, if consumed in excess, like any other compound.

Side Effects

Malic acid is used as a dietary supplement. It is a chemical component of a number of medicines, mouthwashes, toothpastes, and cosmetics. Usually, excessive consumption of supplements and medicines leads to malic acid side effects. It is a common component of facial creams and peels that help balance a skin tone and even the pH of the skin. Those who have malic acid allergy may suffer from a mild or severe allergic reaction after using these cosmetics, supplements, or medicines. The acid is also present in various popular food products like potato chips and candies. So one should read the labels carefully.

✦ Common Side Effects
As malic acid is used as a medication to clean and prepare the surface of teeth before any dental treatment, it has to be used in proportion and limit. Likewise it is also used in facial therapies, and to treat muscle and bone pain. It should be used in advised amounts.

Health Drink

In a world of gymnasiums, bulging biceps and toned bodies, health is the focus! We preach about healthy bodies and healthy foods, but has anyone stopped to think of those countless cups of coffee we drink just to get through the day? Or the chocolate shakes we consume, which are nothing but packed with calories and zero nutritional content.
Green Tea

The world can’t seem to stop talking about green tea. From Oprah to health experts, everyone is talking about this green wonder. But what is so great about green tea? Green tea is a great antioxidant and is known to prevent and fight diseases; no wonder the Chinese have been drinking it for centuries, and we all know how long the Chinese live! Drinking green tea helps in preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases, strokes and other infections. It also helps fight cavities and increases the metabolism rate, which helps lose weight faster. Green tea comes in so many flavors as well, from honey, apricot, coco mint and even ginseng. If one wants decaffeinated green tea, it is available as well.

How to Brew a Cup of Green Tea?

This recipe will help you brew a perfect cup of green tea. Here is the method.

~ You will need one tea bag for every cup of tea you desire.

~ In a kettle, pour one and a half cup of water and let it boil.

~ Let this boiled water stand for a while.

~ In a cup, place the tea bag and pour the hot water over it.

~ Let this to stand for 3 minutes and then remove the tea bag.

~ Add sugar or honey if desired.

~ Add a lemon wedge for extra flavor.
Fruit Smoothies

We all love milkshakes, especially those chocolate filled ones. But those on a path to lose weight will groan every time they see someone indulging in one, as they can’t really afford all those calories. Fruit smoothies are a great way to indulge instead; they are delicious, packed with fruits and nutrients.
Apricot Pineapple Smoothie

Pineapple, crushed – ¼ cup
Apricot, diced -1
Strawberries – 6
Banana – ½
Water – 1 ½ cup
Low fat yogurt – 1 cup
Ice, crushed – ¼ cup

Take the crushed pineapple, dried apricots, strawberries, bananas and mix them together in a blender. After all the fruits are properly crushed, add water. Now blend again till all the fruits and water are properly mixed. Your delicious apricot pineapple smoothie is ready. Keep it in the refrigerator and serve it chilled.

Theory of Aging

Aging is the natural process of maturing, or growing, and after a certain period of time, it leads to the death of the person. As time passes, we all age, and eventually die. That is the cycle of life. But why do we age? What causes our health to deteriorate? There are various theories that revolve with the psychology of aging.

Due to the efflux of time and wear and tear, the value of any asset decreases. However, can the same principle be applied to the human body? Does our human body suffer, too and age due to wear and tear? According to this theory, it is due to the external factors that our body is subjected to damage and degradation, hence, our health depreciates. After the wear and tear causes too much damage to our body to sustain, death occurs. With age, the body also loses its ability to damage repairs and combat diseases. Our body is subject to abuse by external elements and also by usage.
There are various theories of aging, out of which, the ‘Wear and Tear’ theory of aging suggests that, human beings are simply like assets, and the cells of our bodies are subject to wear and tear. There are various external agents, such as chemicals, ultra-violet rays, harsh climate, etc., that damage our body cells. In addendum, there can be various other reasons, such as smoking and over consumption of alcohol, that can add to the damage done to the body. Lifestyle and over usage may accelerate the frequency of damage to the body.

In short, this theory suggests that aging in humans is due to the degradation which the body is subject to. Let’s see some examples to elaborate this biological theory of aging.

The skin is the most delicate and exposed part of the human body. Apart from weather, sunlight, bruises, pregnancy marks, etc., all are the result of wear and tear the skin is being subjected to. With age, there is thinning of the epidermis, and it appears more wrinkled.

Bones undergo degradation too, and with age, there are many who complain of osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) and osteoarthritis (pain and stiffness in the joints). With efflux of time, our muscles tend to contract, thereby losing mass. Further, we suffer from joint pains due to increase in tensions. Of course, these issues can be combated with regular exercise.
With age, we may tend to suffer from loss of vision to some extent, or fall prey to diseases like cataracts. Our eyes lose the natural ability to develop tears, and that leads to dry eyes. The occurrence of ‘presbyopia’ becomes common, which makes it difficult for the patient to read fine print. These symptoms are usually observed after the age of forty.

Choose Individual Health Insurance Plans

Shopping around for health insurance is not a simple exercise with the wide range of options to choose from, ranging from HMOs to PPOs and other plans. A well chosen health insurance plan can save you a lot of money in the long term. Ergo, it’s essential that you research health insurance products in microscopic details before choosing one.

How to Select the Best Individual Health Insurance Plan

Considering the exorbitant bills medical practitioners and hospitals charge for treatment, it’s essential that one has an individual health insurance plan that can effectively cover for a substantial part of these expenses. There are a range of individual health insurance products varying in the facilities and degree of coverage they offer. Here are some tips on how choosing individual health insurance plans, tailor made to your own requirements.

Assess Your Health Risk
Firstly, you need to assess your own health risk. What are the individual health care expenses that you normally pay for? What are the kind of health risks that you are prone to, in the near future? Analyzing your own health risk can give you an idea about what kind of health insurance will be well suited for you.

Choosing the Right Type of Plan – HMO, PPO or HDHP?
There are many types of individual health insurance plans that you can choose from. Two of the prime types, which fall under the title of ‘Managed Care Plans’ are HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) and PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations). HMOs offer health care through a closed network of medical practitioners and hospitals. More flexible than HMOs, PPOs also offer their own network of specialists, with the additional facility of consulting doctors outside the preferred network.

The prime difference lies in the fact that PPOs, unlike HMOs, do not require that you have a primary physician from their network. You can choose any doctor to be your primary physician. PPOs tend to cost more than HMOs, but offer a wider range of consulting medical faculty, compared to HMOs.

A third option is to go for a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and qualify for an HSA (Health Savings Account). HDHPs offer comparatively low monthly premiums, compared to other health insurance plans and enable individuals pay for their own medical expenses through tax deferred savings in health savings accounts. Consider all the details and the pros and cons of HDHPs, PPOs and HMOs, before choosing one.

What is the Monthly Premium?
Though health insurance plans differ in the nature of managed care offered, they all have some common features as insurance products, according to which you can compare them. The most important feature is the health insurance monthly premium charged to the insured. Depending on the amount of coverage offered, the monthly premium will vary. PPOs have a high premium compared to HMOs and HDHPs.

The regular Diet coke offers no nutrition and contains ingredients

Did You Know?
Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that stimulate the production of insulin, a hormone known to promote storage of fats. As such, drinking diet sodas on a regularly basis can also lead to weight gain.
When it comes to carbonated beverages, Diet Coke has always be the first choice among health-conscious consumers. The sugar content in Diet Coke is nil, making it a better alternative to regular Coke. Its lower calorie count too appears to make it a wiser pick. However, replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame has not gone down well with some health experts. The inclusion of chemical preservatives like phosphoric acid and potassium benzoate is also a cause for concern. No wonder the beverage is often referred to as a ‘chemical cocktail’. Let’s put all assumptions to rest, and check out the ingredients of Diet Coke, along with its nutrition and calorie content.

Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar is not added to elicit a ‘sweet’ flavor. The sweet taste of Diet Coke comes from aspartame, an artificial sweetener. Aspartame is so sweet (200 times sweeter than sugar) that infinitesimally tiny amounts is added to emulate the sweetness of sugar. However, it is this addition of aspartame that has courted lot of criticism among health experts. Although approved by the FDA, studies have linked long-term use of aspartame to increased risk of a wide range of medical conditions, including seizures, birth defects, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems.


A 330 ml serving of Diet Coke provides around 42 mg of caffeine. The increased alertness after drinking Diet Coke is due to the presence of this caffeine. This is slightly higher when compared to other beverage brands that are available in the same size. For instance, 354 ml Diet Pepsi contains around 32 mg of caffeine. However, in case you are sensitive to caffeine intake, you can always choose the caffeine-free formulation of Diet Coke.


Preservatives are added to protect the beverages from deterioration caused by micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi. In the case of Diet Coke, the preservatives that keep the beverage safe from microbial effects are phosphoric acid, citric acid, and potassium benzoate. However, this phosphoric acid can be damaging to bone health, as it draws out calcium from the bones, eventually making them weak and brittle.

Caramel Color

Upon closely observing the beverage, you would notice that it appears darker and visually appealing. This is due to the addition of caramel color that enhances the color of naturally occurring ingredients as well as the flavor and taste. It is this caramel color that makes the beverage more desirable.

Handle Male Menopause

Menopause marks the decline in their levels in human body. In women, menopause occurs with noticeable changes that end their menstrual cycle. However, in men, these changes are perceived as signs of old age. This is, however, true because sex hormones are the highest during youth and naturally decline towards old age, thus, affecting sexual health. Did you know? At 60 to 70 years of age, the testosterone levels in your body are about half of what you had when you were 25 years old.

Dealing with Male Menopause
Man-opause or andropause is the mechanism of the fall in the levels of testosterone, also known as androgen, in a man on the horizon of old age. The body produces lesser and lesser quantities of this hormone, which mainly helps provide the masculine pitch to the voice during puberty, extra growth of hair on face and body as well as the development of the male reproductive system. The symptoms of male menopause are the same as exhibited during old age. Hence, it is not recognized by all doctors as menopause since women cannot reproduce post-menopause but a man as old as 100 years can father a child. As legend has it, Thomas Parr, born in 1483 and the oldest man documented to have lived, fathered a child even after he crossed the 130 years age mark. In fact, in the year 2010, a 94-year old Indian laborer had a boy with his wife. The decline in the production of testosterone in men occurs at a much slower pace as compared to the female menopause. These changes are felt by men in late forties and early fifties. They become prominent by the age of 70.

Symptoms of Andropause
The symptoms are very similar to those experienced by women going through menopause. But, these symptoms reportedly disappeared once testosterone was artificially administered to the male, which does support the existence of the male sexual disorder. The drop in the level of testosterone in the male body leads to the following changes:

• Muscle weakness• Loss of bone weight• Memory loss• Poor concentration power• Frequent mood swings• Osteoporosis• Exhaustion• Loss of stamina• Depression• Loss of libido• Increase in fat percentage of the body• Erectile dysfunction• Testicular dysfunction• Low sperm count• Premature ejaculation• Decreased frequency of morning erection

Treatment Options
If a man is suffering from andropause, he is examined by a doctor to rule out any diseases, because type 2 diabetes and hardening of arteries also trigger the andropause symptoms. A series of blood tests are required to be carried out to ascertain the testosterone level in the body. If the levels are low, a man does not have to worry as there is treatment available. A lot of men have favorably responded to hormonal replacement therapies that were administered to them to increase their testosterone levels. Since 1999, there has been about a 400{888835dbb9aa60734a17db58cdc250799d3a05c46cb6f2a418d5aab059bfa796} rise in the demand for testosterone therapy. But, you must note that these treatments may have some potential side effects on the body. If you are a prostate cancer patient, have undergone treatment for it, or have a tendency of prostate cancer in your family history, it is advised that you do not take such testosterone-increasing therapies as they may instigate or worsen the cancer. Other side effects include prostate enlargement, acne, thinning or loss of hair, sleep apnea and infertility. Other treatments include, making healthy lifestyle changes, adopting a nourishing diet to increase energy levels and a good exercise regime that is appropriate for the man’s age. You may also take psychiatric treatment to cure mood swings or depression. However, it is best to stay away from medications that may further disrupt the chemical changes in the body.

Work Fast for Teenage Girls

There is no doubt that in order to be healthy, a person needs to eat a balanced diet and exercise everyday. The same rule applies to teenage girls as well. And more so, as during one’s teens, the body is still growing and hence needs the right amount of nutrition. On an average, the daily calorie requirements of a teenage girl lie anywhere between 1800-2100 calories. It is very important that she derives majority of these calories from healthy diet foods rather than junk foods such as pizzas, burgers, soft drinks etc. which are a very popular food choice among teenagers these days. As junk food has led to widespread obesity among teens, it is up to the parents to help the teens understand the benefits of making healthy food choices.
Healthy Diet for Teenage Girls
Diets for teenagers should include some good protein foods such as lean meats, fish, boiled eggs, beans, broccoli, cheese and spinach. Proteins provide the body with amino acids which are considered the building blocks and hence are very important for a growing teenager.
Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates such as those found in whole grain breads, brown rice, muesli, and bran take much more time than simple carbohydrates to break down into glucose and thus, provide a teenager’s body with gradual flow of energy for the entire day. Diets that work fast for girls should include complex carbohydrates, especially at breakfast, as they help her remain energetic throughout the day.

A healthy diet will be incomplete if calcium rich foods such as low fat milk, yogurt and cheese are not included in it. Calcium helps in building healthy bones and teeth and can be very beneficial if included in the diet of a teenager. Drinking milk everyday helps in maintaining the normal eyesight as milk is a rich source of vitamin A and B12.
It is often seen that over weight teenage girls resort to crash diets to lose weight fast, which is not at all a healthy option. Crash diets mostly recommend eliminating a particular food group from the diet, thus depriving a teenager’s growing body of a number of essential vitamins and minerals. Instead of going on a crash weight loss diet, one should include lots of fiber rich foods such as apple, blackberries, prunes, papaya, baked beans, broccoli, lentils and zucchini in her diet. Fiber not only aids in proper digestion of food but also makes a person feel full, thereby reducing his overall food intake. Fiber foods contain indigestible carbohydrates, which when leaving the body, carry the unwanted wastes and fats along, thus aiding in weight loss.