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Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Healing Powers of Shea Butter

Origin & Overview
I could say even up until a decade ago only local folks in Nigeria actually made use of shea butter with the serious hope of achieving therapeutic solutions. Those who made use of shea butter in the urban centres then only did so out of economic reasons except for a few ardent believers in so called native medicine. This is because shea butter as you may wish to know is actually native to Africa, and Nigeria; the economy is still developing, and cosmetologists and manufacturers had yet to come to grasp with the full potentials of this natural plant product. And so, shea butter remained very cheap and not highly valued then. But reasonably, shea butter is still cheap in Nigeria today, but the awareness concerning the many medicinal benefits of shea butter has recently soared.

Raw Shea Butter

Nature and History of Shea Butter
Botanically known as butyrospermum parkii, shea butter is now almost widely used both in the rural and urban city centres. It naturally has a creamy or ivory white colour appearance with a mild nutty aroma; it comes as a fatty substance that is expelled from the nut of the Karite tree. Thus shea butter is used mostly in its raw state to achieve a great number of therapeutic as well as cosmetic purposes by a growing number of people among the populace. 

Traditionally shea butter has been used for centuries in Africa especially for healing and cosmetic purposes even as far back as in the days of Cleopatra, the beautiful and charismatic queen of Egypt, around (69-30 BC). It has been very useful as a balm for the treatment of anything pertaining to bone injuries such as – fractures, sprains, dislocation as well as swellings, stings and boils. Today in addition to all of these, people have also found local uses for this soothing, non-abrasive native balm. It is now used freely as body and hair cream especially by the ladies.

Healing Properties
Cosmetologists in recent years having discovered the inherent advantages in shea butter have begun to incorporate it in the manufacture of soaps, body creams, and the rest. Shea butter contains oleic acid and stearic acid, some measure of saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats as well as some monounsaturated fats. This product is today widely used in so many other preparations including - lotions, moisturisers, cocoa butter creams, essential oils, aromatherapy preparations, and massage oils, etc.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Health benefits of Oatmeal

For many people around the world, both children and adults alike, oatmeal has nothing to fascinate them, except of course for those who really know. My cousin happens to be one of those who literally abhor the presence of this otherwise wholesome rich breakfast cereal. But like I usually say to people like these – what is most important is not what your taste buds prefer but rather, what your stomach requires. This is the story of good old oats.

Unknown to so many, oatmeal is one of the most important and nutritious breakfast cereals that are available to us. It is the same issue that everybody has with whole wheat bread for instance. Oatmeal might not be very tasty on its own, but it can be garnished or ‘enriched’ when you complement it with other food sources or condiments like fruits, honey, brown sugar, ‘skimmed’ milk, etc. 

Oats Cereal

The followings however are the well known health benefits of consuming oatmeal which you should never neglect:

A Rich Source of Fibre: The fact is that eating a delicious meal of oats in the morning is one of the best ways to say ‘good morning to your stomach’. This is because oats is one of the richest sources of fibre and breakfast cereal nutrients in preparation for a proper and healthy digestive system. It is a typical example of the highly needed whole grain foods that your body deserves.

Prevention of Obesity and Weight Gain: Oatmeal will help you maintain a reasonable body weight and help you lose unwanted weight because it is rich in natural fibre. What this does is that this food will enable you get really full quickly and for a good length of time thereby reducing hunger or in between meals such as snacks; also, because of its high fibre content, oats will help you to have a very healthy bowel movement because of the presence of bulk.

Oats Lowers Cholesterol: Oatmeal is one of the meals you need to take if you want to lower your cholesterol numbers; oats is capable of lowering your cholesterol i.e. the ‘bad cholesterol’ or LDL. This is because this food contains a good amount of soluble fibre - the type we find in apples, pears, prunes, and barley.

It Builds Immune System: Oatmeal contains antioxidants, which means that it is able to help ward off serious infections by dealing with the free radicals that cause debilitating bodily harms. This is in addition to its ability to stave off or fight against heart disease because oats contain a very important fibre called beta-glucan fibre.

Reduction of Blood Sugar: Because oats contain a good amount of natural fibre being a whole grain, it is able to reduce your risk of contracting diabetes. In addition it contains vital minerals such as magnesium and chromium, iron and the B Vitamins that are very important for regulating and maintaining a balanced blood sugar. 

It diminishes the risk of High Blood Pressure: Oats is a healthy diet that is naturally equipped to stabilise and regulate blood pressure. As a result it is able to protect you from the possibility of contracting any of the cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, and even cancer.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

CANCER – Causes, Prevention and Treatment

In attempting to understand and deal with the stubborn issue of this subject, let me first of all try to answer the question of – ‘What is Cancer’? I will also attempt to answer it by this dictionary meaning so that we can fully understand what we are dealing with here: Cancer is any malignant growth or tumour that is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division; cancer may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood stream.

Breast cancer tumour
Causes of Cancer
Cancer however manifests in numerous ways and in different organs of the body depending on what is causing it. Also, we should not forget the fact that cancer most of the time is listed in the category of lifestyle (influenced) diseases. This suggests therefore that we must be extremely careful about what we take in regarding our dietary behaviours, what we expose ourselves to, the kind of environment that we live in - referring to pollution and radiation, etc. We can therefore do something to help ourselves. Sometimes too, certain cancers have been traceable to genetic factors too, just like obesity, infections, and the lack of physical activities or exercise.

Other known culprits are such as – over-exposure to the sun, X-rays, mobile telephones; cosmetics like certain hair dyes, hair shampoos, creams, soaps, and antiperspirants, etc. All of these, among the dangerous ones that is, have traces of carcinogenic elements that have been found in them.

Types of cancer: First of all let me touch on the four major types of cancer. These are:

1.    Leukemia (blood cancer): Malignant neoplasm of blood-forming tissues; characterized by abnormal proliferation of leukocytes.
2.    Lymphoma: A neoplasm of lymph tissue that is usually malignant.
3.    Sarcoma: A usually malignant tumour arising from connective tissue (bone or muscle etc.).
4.    Carcinoma: Any malignant tumour derived from epithelial tissue.

The other forms or types of cancer, and you will be surprised they are so many, and they include – lung cancer, skin cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, brain cancer, buccal (oral) cancer, ovarian cancer, colon/rectum cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, adrenal cancer, anal cancer, bile duct cancer, bladder cancer, bone cancer, endometrial cancer, castleman disease, esophagus cancer, eye cancer, gastrointestinal carcinoid tumours, gallbladder cancer, stomach cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, vulva cancer, vaginal cancer, thymus cancer, small intestine cancer, retinoblastoma, salivary gland cancer, pituitary tumours, penile cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc. 

This is to say there are a few more cancers I have not mentioned here. And so you can see that virtually any part of the human body is prone to cancerous afflictions as long as the predisposing factors have set in towards that part of the body.
As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. And so I always love to advocate preventive measures first in any situation before thinking of the cure if we can help it, that is. I will talk about two major ways to this issue which is by avoiding the avoidable, and by the application of natural/dietary approach.

What to avoid in order to prevent Cancer

  • Do not drink ice cold water or other drinks immediately after the consumption of hot meals. If you do this you will be altering the normal process of digestion in the way your food and the fats react with the sudden contact with freezing cold liquid.
  • Avoid dangerous cosmetics including certain hair shampoos and antiperspirants, etc.
  • Bleaching creams and soaps can cause (skin) cancer. This is obviously because these harmful agents are designed to eliminate the (dark pigmented) melanin which is the protective skin covering of your body. When this happens your skin is then exposed to all manner of harsh conditions. Do not use these items.
  • Avoid excessive intake of foods with additives, artificial flavours, preservatives, seasoning, colourants; they can also cause cancer. This is in addition to too much of alcoholic beverage consumption, and tobacco smoking. You must avoid these behaviours.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods – they have been denatured. They can also cause cancer. This is also in addition to too much of red (processed) meat such as beef; please reduce your intake of these as well.
  • Contact with (hazardous) industrial wastes should be avoided, e.g. fumes from factories, vehicles, power generators, and effluents; they can equally cause cancer because some of the particles emitted are carcinogenic when inhaled or taken into the system.
  • Stay away from radio-active equipments or minimize your exposure to them.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Magnesium and The New Iron Deficiency

New researches have been revealing hidden formulas and even secrets surrounding the reason for your unexpected behaviours and reactions to activities, things and people around you. I have earlier dealt almost exhaustively with chromium as regards how it affects your health in relation to diabetes and the all importance of whole (grains) foods. Just like chromium, magnesium is a vital mineral; it is an all important trace element that is also accessible mainly through the consumption of whole foods, especially grains.

Sheaves of (Whole Grains) - rich source of Magnesium

This new revelation also underscores the need for you to be fully at home with your whole meal diets and even nuts as well. Now, I ask you – do you sometimes feel exhausted, irritable, and just somewhat - uninterested about everything? For sure the symptoms easily match those of iron deficiency, that is to say you may be lacking in blood supply. But the news is that it could be something else; perhaps your system may be crying out for magnesium. It is called the silent deficiency.

Green leafy vegetables

Doctors and nutritionists have discovered that inadequate supply of magnesium easily manifests the symptoms highlighted above. So what do you do? Load your system with enough of whole foods, especially whole grain diet and also, do not miss out on your nuts such as – groundnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, coconuts, etc; they are equally rich sources of magnesium. Whole foods easily connote unprocessed foods especially in the areas of grains, like brown rice, Abakaliki and Ofada rice, whole wheat, maize, millet, guinea corn, oats, etc. 

All of these foods are naturally equipped with a rich supply of magnesium in their natural state. Also, load yourself with lots of fruits and vegetables and you will be glad. But magnesium is better absorbed into the body in the presence, or with the aid of calcium. So make sure you eat up all you have that contains calcium – calcium rich foods will help you make adequate use of the magnesium you get from your meals. Especially for ladies, these nutritional procedures are very important as you are more prone to these basic system reactions. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Benefits of Drinking Tea

Numerous researches have proven that tea – whether black, green or white, is a rich and potent source of antioxidants that fight (germs) or free radicals in your body. Free radicals are responsible for oxidation which leads to so many debilitating diseases including lifestyle induced dangerous illnesses such as – cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer, etc.

A hot cup of tea

Drinking tea thus helps reduce the risk of cancer; medical research has found that for instance, women who drink at least a cup of tea daily have been able to reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer by as much as 10 percent more than those who do not take tea. Tea has also been found to stave off heart disease, the risk of diabetes type2 (by as much as 25 per cent), stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Tea also helps to improve dental health and thereby preventing cavity by fighting the usually stubborn oral bacteria or germs that cause tooth decay.

Also, tea apart from boosting your immunity helps to improve or increase your bone density. Tea helps in aiding digestion, lowers stroke rate and fights mouth bacteria called streptococcus mutans. But one thing is very needful if you must take advantage of the full benefits of tea.  

Monday, 12 January 2015

Natural Secrets to Getting a Good Sleep or Dealing with Insomnia

Experts have long emphasised the importance of sleep and ‘rest’ to the human system. It is agreed that the human system requires about eight hours of sleep within a whole day in order to maintain a healthy body and a balanced mental state of well being.  It is a proven fact that inadequate sleep contributes in no small measure towards many forms of health debility or malfunction. Some of the health problems that can be caused by lack of good sleep or insomnia are such as – reduced immune system, rapid or premature ageing, headaches, high blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease.

On the other hand, adequate sleep that ensures  a well rested body and mind condition will enable the following specific health benefits: You will have a normal blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, a happier you, and radiating youthfulness. Adequate sleep also helps you to maintain a reasonable stress level as well as an immune system boost and mental alertness, etc.

A pleasant sleep

Luckily too nature is richly endowed with ways through which you can get back your health by the enablement of proper and adequate sleep routine. Also, there are life style behaviours that are absolutely necessary to achieving these same results.
1.    You should take lots of bananas: bananas contain lots of potassium and Vitamin B6 which is needed to produce melatonin - a sleep inducing hormone that is triggered by darkness.

2.    Yoghourt which is sometimes referred to as curd, is very helpful in your bid to try and get enough good sleep. Curd can also be massaged into the head at the same time – it will help induce sleep and take care of your insomnia. Sounds strange, isn’t it?

3.    Fish is also very good for you if you are trying to get good sleep. The reason is that most fish, especially salmon, tuna, halibut, etc, also contain a good quantity of Vitamin B6 which induces sleep. This B vitamin is that which is essential for the metabolism of amino acids and starch.

4.    Make a night cap of a glass of warm milk; milk like order dairy foods contain tryptophan, a substance which promotes sleep in the individual.

5.    Honey can have a somewhat hypnotic effect on you; you should take honey to treat insomnia by mixing two teaspoonfuls in a full glass of water - preferably warm, before bed time.

6.    Take light snacks of carbohydrate-rich foods such as crackers (biscuits) and the like including cereals, just before you go to bed. This has a way of inducing sleep. But I will emphasise, – do not abuse the privilege as heavy meals will always go to disrupt your sleep due to digestive problems. 

In addition to the above helpful tips that will enable you to attract sleep, there are also other behavioural patterns you need to adopt by way of avoidance, for the encouragement of healthy sleep: 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Importance of Healthy Kids-Parents Nutrition, and Physical Activities in Children

It is becoming more and more imperative that we pay more attention to the physical (health) and nutritional needs of our children. This increasing awareness is too important these days due to the very fact that social behaviours have rapidly changed and have continued to change in recent decades. Thus with the onslaught of fast foods and fast food joints especially  on the highly impressionable growing population, we must begin to seriously express more concern in respect of the way children are tending to develop these days.

A balanced diet
The concern is on the need for parents to be educated so they can properly guide their children on proper nutrition as well as the need for regular physical activities or exercise even in the lives of their children. The problem is such a big one in that both the developed and the underdeveloped societies have come under the burden of the resultant effect of unhealthy eating habits which have seen many children manifesting a dangerous trend that is likely to devastate the world population in the very near decades to come if left unchecked.

Children need to be guided aright
 It is a fact to note that a healthy dietary pattern coupled with the required physical activities among growing children is what is needed for a healthy growth and the maintenance of a good body weight so that they may grow into equally healthy adults. A good eating habit or behaviour will enable children to grow up with a good immune system which will strengthen their resistance against sicknesses and diseases. 
 The education that both parent and child require is that which enlightens them on the need to adopt specific nutritional behaviours such as the importance of consuming less fat and sodium; they also ought to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Also, parents and care givers need to be aware of the importance of nutritious foods, especially at the early stage of child development. You also need to know that the best first meal of your child immediately after delivery is the mother’s breast milk and not any form of infant formula as the modern generations especially of the developing world, are wont to prefer.

As a parent you should know that a balanced diet should consist of all the six classes of nutrients namely – Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat & oil, Vitamins, Mineral salts, and Water. When you fail to inculcate these attitudes in your children, and implement this course of action, what we see is a generation growing up on unwholesome diets including junk foods. As a result children easily fall sick; they are malnourished, low in intelligence which also manifests in poor academic performance. These children may also manifest stunted growth and of course a low immune system, and even obesity, etc.

In our local communities however, and all around us, it is not difficult to identify all of the foods that are nourishing enough to meet up with the nutritional demands of a healthy population especially in children. These food items need not be expensive to make a balanced meal, but only a careful and informed selection is all we need. You have all you will need in the available local staples in cassava, yam, sweet potatoes, rice, millet, guinea corn, soya beans, beans, cocoyam, fish, crayfish, meat, domestic birds, variety of fruits and vegetables, palm oil, groundnuts, etc.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Using the Moringa Plant to Achieve Nutritional Health and Cures

I can tell you that I have always seen this plant all around me, but I had always seen it as just any other plant until recently when its popularity suddenly grew beyond imagination. The recent discovery of Moringa Oleifera species was just as this plant never existed; at least that is how it seems among Nigerians. It came like a wild fire as everywhere I go in town and even in the rural hinterlands, the story is the same. The sudden wave of the Moringa magic – the super healing and nutritious potency it has, I would say, has struck and stuck with everyone like a bug.

The Moringa Tree
The fact is that the Moringa issue is not really a myth because the use of Moringa (Oleifera) plant can be traced back to many centuries when traditional folks have used it to achieve all manner of treatments for all manner of ailments as well. Dating back to as early as 2000 BC, the Egyptians,Greeks and Romans had been used to this miracle plant as some natives referred to it. But here in Nigeria, I have discovered that even the use of Moringa plant has been well known amongst the northerners who have always made use of it both as medicine and food in their cooking.

Documented facts of Moringa plant and all that can be done with it date back to 150 AD; these documents of ancient writings buttress the fact that every part of this plant such as the seed, root, leaves, bark, and even the flower are highly medicinal as well as useful in cooking. Thus I recall seeing these malams (Hausa traders) coming around my neighbourhood to buy off the leaves from the nearby farms and bushes.

The Moringa fame has continued to soar in recent times just because there has been a new awakening; Moringa has just been re-discovered I think. An interesting fact about this ‘miracle’ plant is that almost every part of it is useful either for one thing or the other. 

Moringa Seeds

The Moringa plant is rich in anti-oxidants that are able to fight off free radicals that are responsible for all manner of health debilities resulting from lifestyle related disorders including cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. Therefore, this findings according to experts, implies that the Moringa plant can be used to boost immunity, fight malnourishment, cure headache and arthritis. Hence the Moringa products are now widely available in packed tea bags, seeds, powdered seeds and leaves. Also, the bark of the tree is used to render cures. But I will advise that you consult carefully before going out of your way to use Moringa products because for instance, the roots have been seen to be somewhat poisonous if not properly, or misguidedly consumed in whatever form.