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Aloe VeraAloe vera is a well-known medicinal plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years. Aloe vera, also known as Aloe barbadensis, is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves, according to Joe Leech of Medical News Today. This plant belongs to the Aloe genus and is a succulent plant. It thrives in tropical settings and has been used as a medicinal plant for generations. It is most recognized for healing skin injuries, but it also has several other applications that may be beneficial to one's health.

Aloe vera cannot be found in meals, according to WebMD, thus it must be taken as a supplement or gel. Some types of aloe vera are safer to consume than others, and long-term use is not recommended. At least for certain situations, research backs up the ancient usage of topical aloe vera as skin therapy. Psoriasis, seborrhea, dandruff, minor burns, skin abrasions, skin harmed by radiation, herpes sores, acne, and anal fissures are just a few of the skin ailments that aloe gel has been shown to help within studies.

Aloe vera is widely used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries, and according to research by Olwen M. Grace and colleagues, the plant has a global market value of $13 billion. The leaves are thick because they possess a slimy membrane that holds water in each leaf. The "gel" that people associate with aloe vera products is this water-filled tissue. Most of the plant's important bioactive elements, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, are found in the gel.

Aloe vera gel contains potent antioxidants belonging to a vast family of chemicals known as polyphenols, according to a study by Fatemeh Nejatzadeh-Barandozi. These polyphenols, along with several other substances found in aloe vera, aid in the inhibition of the growth of bacteria that can cause illnesses in humans. The antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic effects of aloe vera are well-known. This is one of the reasons why it may aid in the healing of wounds and the treatment of skin conditions.

Aloe vera is most commonly used as a topical medicine, which means it is applied to the skin rather than consumed. It's been used for a long time to cure wounds and burns, including sunburn. Aloe vera products were first listed in the United States Pharmacopeia in 1810–1820 as skin protectants. It appears to be a good topical treatment for first and second-degree burns, according to studies. According to a study of experiments conducted, aloe vera can shorten the time it takes for burns to recover by about 9 days when compared to conventional medicine. It also aims to alleviate infection, redness, and inflammation.

Constipation may also be alleviated by aloe vera. The latex, not the gel, is the source of the benefits this time. The latex is a sticky yellow residue found immediately beneath the leaf's epidermis. According to a study conducted by Bahare Salehi and colleagues, the primary chemical responsible for this effect is aloin, or barbaloin, which has well-established laxative effects.  People, on the other hand, have expressed worries about the safety of repeated use. Other digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, do not appear to be helped by aloe vera, contrary to popular assumption.

Aloe vera is a natural medicine that has few adverse effects. Topical usage, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), is probably safe. However, the laxative effects of aloe vera may produce stomach pains or diarrhea when taken orally. Long-term aloe vera supplement consumption has also been linked to liver damage in some cases. Moreover, the NCCIH stated that non-decolorized whole leaf aloe vera extract appears to be linked to cancer risk in rats. Aloe vera is used as a skin and gum ointment and has a wide range of medicinal benefits and it can be purchased in bottles or extracted directly from aloe plant leaves. Just remember, Aloe vera juice is not the same as aloe vera gel in terms of its applications.

PNFP-ZDS Marie Claire A. Gaas

 

References:

Leech, J., & Butler, N. (2020). What are the benefits of aloe vera? Retrieved November 16, 2021, from the Medical News Today website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318591 [Last updated: May 14, 2020]

Cassoobhoy, A. (2020).  Aloe Vera. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from the Web MD website: https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-aloe-vera#1 [Last updated: July 15, 2020]

Grace OM, Buerki S, Symonds MR, Forest F, van Wyk AE, Smith GF, Klopper RR, Bjorå CS, Neale S, Demissew S, Simmonds MS, Rønsted N. Evolutionary history and leaf succulence as explanations for medicinal use in aloes and the global popularity of Aloe vera. BMC Evol Biol. 2015 Feb 26;15:29. doi: 10.1186/s12862-015-0291-7. PMID: 25879886; PMCID: PMC4342203.

Nejatzadeh-Barandozi F. Antibacterial activities and antioxidant capacity of Aloe vera. Org Med Chem Lett. 2013 Jul 19;3(1):5. doi: 10.1186/2191-2858-3-5. PMID: 23870710; PMCID: PMC3729540.

GardeningKeeping fit and healthy is very important, but during this COVID-19 pandemic, these are critical, and these can be achieved with having a moment with nature which is also proven to be beneficial to mental health. When you have a garden or a small outdoor space or even just garden pots, this is more than enough to maintain your positive well-being as a means of diverting your attention from stressful experiences or situations.

Gardening has been around for as long as people have been growing food. Through the centuries, gardens have served not as they were as places to grow plants but as spaces for individuals to unwind, relax, focus, and connect with nature and each other especially during this time of COVID-19 pandemic where people are locked up in their home.

If you garden and compost, you know there are many physical benefits. Digging, hand tilling, and turning compost piles can all increase your heart rate, offering a boon to your cardiovascular system. Weeding and planting maintain and improve hand strength. All that time spent outdoors harvesting and tying up the branches of your plants increases your vitamin D levels, which helps keep bones healthy and the immune system working optimally.

But did you know that gardening and time spent outdoors offer lots of health benefits too? Here is some of it:

Breathing in the earthy scent of good soil has antidepressant effects. That's because of a soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, which gardeners naturally (and harmlessly) inhale while working in their raised beds and compost piles. M. vaccae's antidepressant effects were discovered accidentally, when a London oncology researcher inoculated cancer patients with the organism, hoping that it would strengthen their immune systems. She noticed another effect: The patients who received the bacteria reported feeling happier and experiencing less pain than those who didn't. Further studies showed that once it enters the body, M. vaccae boosts levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin improves mood and boosts a general overall sense of well-being; norepinephrine increases alertness and energy.

Connecting with nature. Nature has been shown to be restorative to our minds, cognitively and emotionally. Spending time in nature helps improve our attention. According to researchers, nature restores our minds by attracting our attention without effort.

Evidence also shows that even just living near green spaces – such as parks, gardens, or forests – is linked to benefits, such as:

  • Reduced mental fatigue
  • Lower stress
  • Better protection against illness
  • The overall feeling of better health

Increasing physical activity. Increased physical activity has been shown to improve physical and mental health. Sure, you could get a gym membership, but with gardening, you’re exercising in the sun. Physical activity while in the sun decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases endorphins, which make us feel good (You should still protect yourself with sunblock, light clothing, and a hat). If you want to really be active, double-digging a new garden bed provides a strenuous workout. Plus, you’re likely to linger outside, which leads to the next way gardening impacts mental health – by fostering community.

Improving nutrition. Many gardeners grow their own fresh fruits or vegetables, and people who eat diets high in whole foods like fruits and vegetables are up to 35% less likely to develop depression than people who eat less of these foods, according to Mental Health America. Not only can the quality of your food improve when you’re growing it yourself, but it can also be a money saver.

Gardening at home or in the community can ameliorate both your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. When you’re stressed or tired, being outside tending to your plants may be the best medicine. 

“It’s a wonderful time to be a home gardener, because you’re home”.

AA VI Angelyn P. Intal, RND

References:

  • Breathing in the earthy scent of good soil has antidepressant effects.

https://www.solanacenter.org/news/blog-posts/mental-wellness-and-gardening?fbclid=IwAR1vftrb-zOiR-PqsOdm1qTpw6tSVxAnfhHpRd1JE04INnwbknEL4s1irYU

  • Health Benefits of Gardening.

https://healthymindsphilly.org/blog/impact-of-gardening-on-mental-health/

Bell PeppersBell peppers, scientifically known as “Capsicum annuum”, are fruits that belong to the nightshade family. They are the same as chili peppers, tomatoes, and breadfruit believed to be native to Central and South America. Considered a good source of vitamin C, half a cup of raw bell peppers especially the red pepper provides 95 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which accounts for 106% of the recommended Daily Value (%DV) for adults and kids aged 4 and over. Bell peppers are also called capsicums that can be eaten raw or cooked. Other than it being a good source of vitamin C that's needed for wound healing and iron absorption, they're also low in calories and loaded with nutrients and other antioxidants, making them a good addition to your healthy diet.

A one-cup serving of chopped bell pepper contains:

  • Calories: 30
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Fiber: 2.5 grams
  • Sugar: 3.5 grams

Bell peppers are a wonderful fruit with wonderful health benefits, and here are some of them.

  • Lower blood pressure. Bell peppers play an important role in controlling low blood pressure and experts believe that diets high in Vitamin C act as a diuretic, which means that they help remove excess body fluid. And getting rid of the excess body fluid helps reduce the risk of heart conditions for it lowers the pressure within your blood vessel. 
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. In addition to helping control blood pressure, bell peppers also contain an anticoagulant that may help you prevent the blood clots responsible for heart attacks.
  • Good for digestive health. Bell peppers only have 30 calories in every one-cup serving, but raw bell peppers contain 2.5 grams of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps promote a healthy digestive system by adding bulk to your stools. This makes them easier to pass. A diet high in fiber like oats, green leafy veggies, and fruits may also reduce the risk of having hemorrhoids and constipation. 
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes. High-fiber and vitamin C foods rich foods, such as bell peppers, slow down sugar absorption into your bloodstream. The vitamin C rich in bell peppers may also help prevent and reduce elevated blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. It lowers your chance of having the condition and protects you from other lifestyle diseases. 

Bell peppers also contain not only Vitamin C, but many other nutrients needed for a healthy life. It contains vitamin B6 which is the most common B-vitamins. Vitamin B6 helps in the prevention and treatment of anemia, it promotes brain health and relieves stress and depression. Vitamin K1 is a form of vitamin K that plays in blood coagulation and bone health. Potassium helps prevent and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases. Folate is a crucial vitamin needed during pregnancy to prevent birth defects in newborn babies. Vitamin E is known as a strong antioxidant and is crucial for healthy nerves and muscles that can be found in nuts, seeds, oils, fruit, and vegetables like bell peppers. And it also contains the very famous eye vitamin, which is Vitamin A that aids and prevents eye conditions like night blindness, and other eye diseases. Truly, bell peppers are packed not just with vitamin C but other nutrients as well.

NO I Zamubec Alomar C. Adlawan, RND

 

References:

Sissons, B. (2021). Everything to know about bell peppers. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from the Medical News Today website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/bell-peppers#vitamin-a [Last updated: March 12, 2021] 

Arnarson, A. (2019). Vitamins and minerals. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from the Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/bell-peppers# [Last updated: March 27, 2019]

Brennan, D. (2020). Health Benefits of Bell Peppers. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from the Web MD website:  https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-bell-peppers#1 [Last updated: August 20, 2020]

Sodium PotassiumThere are a number of us who are aware of our consumption of sodium and we are very cautious about it. But we also need to know that it has an inverse counterpart mineral known as Potassium that is usually affected by the level of sodium and it possesses importance in cardiovascular conditions together with sodium. Potassium and sodium are minerals that work as electrolytes in your body. Electrolytes are particles, or charged particles, that can carry an electric current over cells to bolster a variety of physiological forms. Potassium and sodium work together within the tissues of your body, and in keeping up the correct balance -- generally, three times more potassium than sodium in your calories count is needed for ideal health.

Sodium and potassium are electrolytes that are required for human survival — having the correct balance of these and other electrolytes makes a difference in how your body maintains normal capacities. In case you've got an imbalance of electrolytes, issues can result in how your body works. According to Mayo Clinic, in case sodium levels plunge, hyponatremia happens which causes serious side effects from vomiting to seizures and can be life-threatening. Hyponatremia is uncommon, but when the switch happens — and sodium levels are too high— it leads to hypernatremia. This is usually a result of being dehydrated, which can happen due to heaving, loose bowels, sweating, or taking diuretics. As with deviation from the normal levels of sodium, potassium levels can also end up imbalanced. A potassium insufficiency, which is known as hypokalemia, can be caused by taking diuretics or laxatives, excessively drinking liquor, loose bowels, intemperate sweating, and other variables.  Hypokalemia can lead to shortcomings and weaknesses. High levels of potassium (hyperkalemia) lead to kidney conditions and heart conditions. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most individuals consume too much sodium (which is ever-present in packaged and processed foods), and too small potassium can lead to heart issues and other conditions such as metabolic conditions. Balanced potassium relaxes the blood vessel walls which in turn, brings down blood pressure, making a difference to avoid heart illness and stroke. Having more potassium has another advantage: Potassium expels sodium from your body bringing the lower risk for heart conditions.

Fruits and vegetables contain a significant amount of potassium that can meet your dietary requirements of 4.7 grams per day. A medium heated potato with the skin, 1/2 container of prunes, 1/2 container of raisins, or 6 ounces of prune juice each supply more than 10 percent of your day-by-day potassium prerequisite. Bananas, tomato juice, lima beans, spinach, and oak seed squash offer great levels of potassium. Sodium, on the other hand, is rare in fruits and vegetables but plentiful in processed foods. Most dietary sodium came from sodium chloride or table salt which can be sourced out either from food processing or cooking. For adults, satisfactory sodium consumption ranges from 1.2 to 1.5 grams per day including the natural inherent sodium from the natural food sources.

Consuming a balanced and healthy food diet that is rich in sodium and potassium is essential for individuals having heart conditions. Ask your attending physician if you have concerns related to renal functionality as to how much sodium and potassium you need to take in per day. A balanced diet together with exercise is still the best way to stay healthy. So let us all be mindful of our diet and overall health.

NO II Joanna Marie E. Baltazar

References:

Annigan, J. (2018). What Is the Right Balance of Sodium & Potassium? Retrieved November 24, 2021, from the SFGATE website: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/right-balance-sodium-potassium-6341.html [Last updated: December 27, 2018]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Role of Potassium and Sodium in Your Diet. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/salt/potassium.htm [Last updated: April 12, 2021]

Carr, R. (2013). Ask the experts: The sodium-potassium balancing act. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from the Health Food website: https://www.healthyfood.com/ask-the-experts/the-sodium-potassium-balancing-act/ [Last updated: July 2013]

Burry, M. (2021). Why the Relationship Between Potassium and Sodium Matters. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from the Livestrong website: https://www.livestrong.com/article/507014-the-relationship-between-potassium-and-sodium/ [Last updated: July 12, 2021]

SaladHave you finished your salad for the day? Experts claim that eating salad almost every day is one of the healthiest eating habits you can develop — yet also one of the simplest. Based on the Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid, Filipino adults should consume at least three servings of vegetables a day. Salads are quick and easy to make and be added to our daily diet according to Elaine Magee. Green salads can also be found on practically every restaurant's menu.         

Salad greens vary in nutritional content. Nutrients and vitamins are often higher in those with red or darker green leaves. Vitamin A has a key function in eye health, cell development, immunity, growth, and reproduction, and is rich in some salads. Vitamin A consumption of 2,330 to 3,000 IU per day is advised (700 to 900 micrograms). A 100-gram serving of romaine or red and green leaf lettuce provides more than twice the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A.

It's hard to think that something we can't even digest is so beneficial to our health! A high-fiber diet can aid in the reduction of cholesterol and the prevention of constipation. Not only that, but according to Barbara Rolls, PhD, creator of The Volumetrics Consuming Plan, eating more fiber might make you feel fuller, allowing you to eat less and lose weight.  In an email conversation, David Jacobs, PhD, professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, says there is plenty of evidence that nutrient-rich plant diets help with general health.

If you eat green salads frequently, your blood levels of a variety of potent antioxidants will likely be greater, especially if your salad includes raw veggies. Antioxidants are molecules that help protect the body from damage produced by free radicals, which are destructive molecules. Researchers have known for years that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of numerous diseases, especially cancer. According to a recent study from the National Cancer Institute, persons who eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables may have a lower chance of acquiring head and neck cancers.

If you want to lose weight, you should start each meal with a green salad. According to studies, eating a low-calorie first course, such as a 150-calorie green salad, increases satiety (feelings of fullness) and lowers the overall number of calories consumed during the meal. "Bigger is better" as long as the salad is larger in volume rather than calories, which means more vegetables and less dressing and other fatty add-ons.

How do you make your salad bowl? Make sure that all fresh ingredients are washed thoroughly. Incorporating lean protein in your diet will help you feel satiated for longer. Toss in some fish, an egg, or skinless chicken to your salad. Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans can also be included. Almonds and walnuts are high in protein and include healthful fats. Adding whole grains to your salad will help to bulk it up. Try it with quinoa, couscous made from whole wheat, or wild rice. Dressing can add extra calories and fat to a salad, no matter how healthy it is. Adding fat to your salad can aid your body's absorption of nutrients. However, no more than 2 tablespoons of dressing should be added. Instead of a creamy dressing, use a vinaigrette.

A bowl of salad, armed with a bag of pre-washed salad greens, sprinkled with a few strips of carrots or other veggies, and a bottle of light salad dressing, may provide a lot of health advantages in less than ten minutes at home.  Salads are also refreshing, crisp, and enjoyable to eat (lots of textures, colors, and flavors). Salads are popular among most individuals, even children. You may make them your own by using whichever fruits and veggies you like, as well as whatever you have at home. Happy eating!

PNFP-ZDS Marie Claire A. Gaas

References:

Magee, E. (2008). 4 Healthy Reasons to Eat a Salad Today. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from the Web MD website: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/4-healthy-reasons-eat-salad-today [Last updated: June 17, 2008]

FNRI. Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid for Adults. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute website: https://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph/index.php/tools-and-standard/nutritional-guide-pyramid#adults-20-39yrs-old

Brennan, D. (2021). Health Benefits of Salad Greens. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from the Web MD website: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-of-salad-greens#1 [Last updated: May 13, 2021]

Simbang GabiWhat else do you need to prepare for these coming holidays? During yuletide seasons, “bibingka” and “puto bumbong” are tasty treats that have become a symbolism to our much-awaited season of the year which is “Christmas”. These two of the most popular Pinoy kakanin in the Philippines are associated with Simbang Gabi. Food booths are set up outside the churches with snacks to warm worshippers specifically bibingka and puto bumbong.

Bibingka is made with galapong, a glutinous rice soaked in water and ground with the water to make either a batter or dough. The bibingka is cooked outdoors and it needs to be carefully timed or the sugar on top will burn. The bibingka ends up being slightly sweet and is served with itlog na maalat (sliced salted duck eggs), kesong puti (white cheese), and occasionally a slice of ham. The newly cooked bibingka is slathered in butter, sprinkled with brown sugar, and served with niyog (grated coconut). The banana leaf in which the bibingka is baked gives off an aroma that the cake absorbs to add another element of flavor. The cake is semi-sweet, but there is a sugary crunch from the caramelized sugar, and the salted ducks eggs, cheese, and grated coconut provide lots of pleasant texture.

Meanwhile, Puto bumbong is a sticky, violet-colored rice cake that is steamed in a bamboo tube. Puto is originally a Chinese dish (rice balls) that is served for breakfast or merienda (Filipino equivalent to afternoon tea or brunch). A regular puto is white, but bumbong is purple because it’s made with pirurutung glutinous rice. Puto bumbong has a slightly sweet, although bland, flavor. The rice used is soaked overnight and then “ground dry,” meaning it is drained of water and then ground into a flour. The rice flour mixture is poured into bamboo tubes, which are only filled up about halfway, wrapped in clothes (so they will not burn hands when handled), and placed on a special steamer.

Typical accompaniment of these kakanin are hot ginger tea, or salabat, and hot chocolate. Bibingka and puto bumbong are not just for holiday seasons, behind these food delicacies are story of resilience, faith, and creativity of Filipinos.


NO I Zhalimar A. Jakaria-Patulada, RND

Do you miss Bibingka, Puto Bumbong, and other Christmas food? Try these simple recipes to make your own!

https://thelookout.com.ph/article/do-you-miss-bibingka-puto-bumbong-and-other-christmas-food-try-these-simple-recipes-to-make-your-own

Day 23 : Bibingka & Puto Bumbong

https://whydyoueatthat.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/day-23-babingka-puto-bumbong/