Archive for October, 2010
Friday, October 29th, 2010
Yes, it’s that time of the year again – fancy costumes, trick-or-treating, apple bobbing and pumpkins aplenty!
Hallowe’en is believed to have originated in Ireland as the pagan harvest festival. It is widely celebrated in much of the western world on the 31st October; including Canada, America, New Zealand, Australia and of course the UK.
Many people celebrate Hallowe’en with a pumpkin lantern, which is often carved into a variety of faces. But once the pumpkin is carved, what do we do with the pumpkin flesh and seeds? Well, don’t discard them – they are delicious, and great for health too!
Pumpkin is a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body can use to make vitamin A. It also contains calcium, iron, folate and vitamin C. Pumpkin is naturally low in salt and fat and can help you towards reaching your 5-a-day fruit & veg target.
Pumpkin can be used in a lot of savoury and sweet dishes so why not have a look for some recipes and get experimenting? And if you’re peckish for a Hallowe’en snack, nibble on some pumpkin seeds – they contain zinc and iron, so they’re a better choice than chocolate or crisps!
Image courtesy of FreeFoto.com
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
MYTH: “Tongues can be mapped into different taste areas”
Scientists no longer demarcate the tongue’s surface into areas detecting a particular taste—sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Five basic tastes have been identified so far, each individual taste bud has between 50 and 100 receptors for each taste, so the entire surface of the tongue can sense all of these tastes. The fifth taste, is called “umami” from the Japanese meaning savoury.
MYTH: “Constipation can poison the body”
Constipation might well make you feel sluggish and bloated, but there’s no evidence that bugs or any toxins leak from your bowel into any other part of the body. Similarly, there’s no evidence that long-term constipation increases your chances of getting bowel cancer.
MYTH: “Stress causes stomach ulcers”
Ulcers in the stomach and duodenum happen when naturally occurring acids break through natural defence systems and eat into the lining tissues. This can be caused by an infection from the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, or damage from non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen which, if over-used, can attack the stomach lining.
Friday, October 15th, 2010
The digestive system is quite incredible – 24 feet in length, with various intricate elements working in constant harmony. So it’s not surprising that the odd myth has sprung up surrounding this very complex organ. This week and next, we take a look at a few of the most common…
MYTH: “The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body”
The most powerful muscle for its size is the nearby masseter, or jaw muscle, which has a mechanical advantage because of the way the muscles attach to the jaw to form a lever.
MYTH: “It goes right through me!”
The time taken for food to travel all the way through the gut is generally in the region of two days. After a meal, it takes 4 to 5 hours for the stomach to empty fully, and about as long again for food to pass through the small intestine. Finally, passage through the large intestine takes 30 to 40 hours.
MYTH: “Bad breath is caused by stomach problems”
Up to a quarter of adults regularly have smelly breath but in virtually all cases it comes from their mouth and results from bacteria breaking down proteins, from food or injured tissue. Tooth decay, gum disease, food particles stagnating between the teeth, or simply dry mouth are key problems.
Thursday, October 7th, 2010
Well, there can be no doubt that the weather is turning colder and winter is setting in – but at this time of year, there’s nothing better or more comforting than tucking into your favourite ‘winter warming’ foods. Serving a bowl of steaming soup with a side of crusty wholemeal bread will thaw out the whole family.
Soups are really versatile; they’re great for using up leftovers and turning a few simple ingredients into a delicious meal – and from home-made chicken soup to spiced sweet potato, there are hundreds of varieties to explore.
They’re also a great way of getting your 5-a-day! Fruits and vegetables are a great source of a range of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre, which is important for a healthy digestive system. Remember one portion of fruits or vegetables is roughly 80g, so when cooked this is equivalent to three heaped table spoons of carrots, green beans or tomatoes for example. Visit www.5aday.nhs.uk for more information about what counts towards your 5-a-day.
Try adding some pulses such as pearl barley, puy lentils or kidney beans to your next batch of soup, as not only do they add texture and flavour but they’re also a great source of fibre and protein. Wholemeal pasta is another great inclusion, it adds fibre and texture – and can keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Take a look at the Good Gut Food page for more information on how diet can help to keep your digestive system healthy.
Friday, October 1st, 2010
For good digestive health, it is important to eat a healthy balanced diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.
Fibre is an important factor that contributes to our digestive health. It is indigestible plant material, which is found in fruits, vegetables, wholegrain and pulses and which can help to keep our bowels healthy.
Fibre provides the bulk to our food, which helps it pass easily through the gut. However, many of us do not eat enough fibre so our gut has to work extra hard to get the waste through our gut, increasing the possibility of constipation. Good sources of fibre include:
Vegetables and fruits – eat raw with skin on for extra fibre and aim to eat five portions a day. Frozen vegetables and dried fruits count too – as do juices, although remember juice only counts as one portion, no matter how much you consume.
Grains and cereals – this includes foods such as rice, oats, pasta, bread, cous cous and breakfast cereals. Try to choose the wholegrain varieties (such as wholegrain pasta and wholegrain bread) where possible as they contain more fibre.
Pulses – lentils, chickpeas and beans are very tasty and filling. A jacket potato with baked beans and salad would be a delicious and nutritious lunchtime meal.