HEALTH BENEFITS OF PANCHAMRIT

Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food- Hippocrates

 Panchamrit

Panchamrit is a Sanskrit term made by combining two words- Panch (means five) and Amrit (means divine nectar of Gods, immortality). In some regions, it is also known as Charanamrit (nectar from the feet of Gods). Panchamrit is made by mixing these five ingredients -milk, curd, honey, mishri and ghee.

Religious Significance:

In Hindu religion, Panchamrit is considered very sacred and is used as an offering to God during pooja and also used for Abhishek (religious bath of the divine).After the pooja, it is distributed as Prasad to the devotees. The usage of “Panchamrit” in Hindu rituals is considered as the oldest synbiotic food (a combination of both pre-biotic and pro-biotic) in the history of mankind. It is a concoction of five ingredients – Raw Cow’s Milk, Curd, Honey, Mishri (rock Sugar), and Ghee. Other than these key ingredients, cardamom and basil are also added. According to Mahabharata, Panchamrit was one of the valuable ingredients that emerged during the Samudra Manthan or Ksheera Sagar Manthan (churning the ocean of milk). Each one of the ingredients has a symbolic meaning to it. Milk symbolizes purity and piousness, honey stands for sweet speech and unity (as it is produced with absolute dedication and cooperation), sugar represents sweetness and bliss, curd indicates prosperity and ghee represents strength and victory.

Health benefits of Panchamrit:

  • Natural skin cleanser and helps to nourish skin cells and promotes natural glow
  • Enhances memory, grasping power, creative ability and brain development
  • Boosts health of mother and foetus during pregnancy
  • Keeps hairs healthy
  • Improves digestion
  • Strengthens bones
  • Builds immunity

Significance of each Ingredient:

Milk: Raw cow’s milk carries super efficient antioxidants-Vitamin K and Beta Carotene which counter the free radicals (What are they?) in the body. It is the next best thing after mother’s milk. Cow’s milk is rich source of calcium, proteins, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Curd: Curd is a provider of both bacteria (pro-biotic) as well as the food for the bacteria (pre-biotic). Curd has a cooling effect on body. Amino acids and enzymes in it help in digestion. It also provides protein and calcium.

Ghee: Ghee carries antioxidants – vitamin K and beta-carotene which counter the free radicals in the body. It is the most treasured food which has healing properties.

Honey: Honey carries the enzymes required to break down the food and aid absorption of minerals and vitamins in the body. It contains anti-oxidants, anti- bacterial and anti- microbial properties which helps in digestion, aids infections, clear complexion and makes skin smooth

Mishri (rock sugar): It provides energy, helps in keeping the immunity high and aids digestion.  It also enhances other ingredients.

Basil and cardamom: Basil is an anti-inflammatory food which aids in digestion by balancing the acid in   the body. It is an eixir that helps detoxify the liver and a super source of iron too. Cardamom is quite an all rounder with powerful antioxidants.

However, there may be certain regional variations in ingredients. Most South Indians add raw bananas to the Panchamrit. Raw banana is a great source of good bacteria for the gut (pre-biotic).

In a nutshell, a simple sweet concoction is not just super tasty but also prepares our body to consume all sorts of fried food and sweets in large quantities. The free radical damage and disturbed digestion from eating and overeating heavy, oily and sweet food is countered by the intake of pre-biotic, pro-biotic, antioxidants and enzymes.

Panchamrit is a perfect example of how our traditional foods are backed by science to provide us maximum health benefits.

Happy Festivals and Cheers to Panchamrit!

Recipe for Panchamrit

  • Raw Cow’s Milk (why?)
  • Curd
  • Manuka Honey
  • Mishri (rock sugar)
  • Ghee made with bilona method (why?)
  • Cardamom
  • Basil

Ingredients don’t have to be warm. Room temp or cooler. Mix all these together completely. Serve!

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IRON DEFICIENCY IN CHILDREN

Iron is an important dietary mineral which is essential for the growth and development of kids- both physical and mental growth. Iron helps form haemoglobin that is found in the blood cells of the body. It has a red colour pigment which give the blood cells its colour, commonly known as red blood cells. These red blood cells have haemoglobin which is responsible to carry oxygen from lungs to different parts of body. Hemoglobin is formed of iron containing part known as heme and protein part as globin. Without hemoglobin, the body stops producing healthy red blood cells and often show weaker coloured cells.

The first step towards raising hemoglobin level in your kid’s body is to start including iron rich food in his/her diet. Lack of iron in children’s body can affect them badly as without enough iron, child’s muscles, tissues and cell won’t get the oxygen they need. This condition of iron deficiency is most commonly known as anemia.

Newborns on breast feed can easily get required iron intake from mother’s milk for the first 6 months. But, after you switch infants to solid food, they might be not able to get enough iron, which can put them at risk of having iron deficiency. Our body doesn’t produce iron, so the only way to get iron is through food sources.  There are many causes responsible for iron deficiency in kids. Premature born babies with low birth weight, children with chronic infections, overweight or obese kids are at high risk of iron deficiency. Teenage girls also suffer from this deficiency as their body looses iron during menstruation.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Poor appetite
  • Craving for strange things like ice, dirt and paint
  • Slower growth and development
  • Behavioural issues
  • Frequent infection

If you notice these symptoms in your kid, you must consult a doctor. Iron supplements can only be taken under doctor’s supervision, as excess iron accumulation can cause other complications. The best way to consume any nutrient, is to take it through food. That results in lesser chances of over consumption also.

The recommended amount of iron intake depends upon the age of the kid. When a baby is born, he/ she has iron stored in their bodies after that they get iron from mother’s milk or milk supplements. Once they start eating solids, they require more iron. As per studies the recommended amount of iron in kids is:

AgeDosage
Birth to 6 months0.27 mg (adequate)
7- 12 m11mg/ day
1-3 years7 mg/ day
4-8 years10mg/ day
9-13 years8 mg/ day
14-18 years11mg/ day (boy) 15mg/ day(girl)
Source: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

Encouraging your child for a nutritious iron rich diet is the first step to deal with the problem of iron deficiency. Vitamin C rich food can also help, as it helps your body to absorb more iron. Cooking your food in iron cookware is a smart hack to increase iron content in the food preparations (How much iron does iron cookware add to food?)

Food for Iron Deficiency

Green vegetable: Green leafy vegetables are the best source of iron. Spinach, Kale, Fenugreek, collard greens provide approximately 2.5-5 mg of iron per cooked cup. Apart from iron, they also contain sodium and potassium in high quantities which are equally essential for body. Some other iron rich veggies include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, which contain 1-2 mg per cooked cup. (How to cook green veggies to not loose their nutrition?)

Dried fruits: Dried fruits are delicious source of minerals, protein, fiber and vitamins. Dried fruits like raisin, prunes and apricot are good source of iron. 100 gm of prune contain 0.93 mg of iron, while raisin contains 2.6 gm and apricot 6.3 mg. Raisin are also rich in potassium and magnesium, which helps in bone health, improves blood circulation and digestion. Apricots being high in antioxidants and vitamin A aids in visual health. Consuming these dry fruits daily help to combat iron deficiency. (What are other foods for healthy eyesight?)

Fruits: Fruits like apple, pear and pomegranate are rich source of iron, vitamins, protein, carbs and fiber which helps regulate blood count in the body. Apart from this, fruits rich in vitamin C such as orange, lime, blueberries and grapefruit also help body to enhance iron absorption. By including these fruits in kid’s diet you can also help them to build up a strong immune system. (What are the best fruits teenagers?)

Legumes: Legumes are powerhouse of nutrients. Most common type of legumes are beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans. They are a great source of iron which helps your child to meet their daily need of iron intake and save them from iron deficiency. Chickpeas and black eyed peas are the highest source of iron and can provide up to 6 mg per cooked cup. Legumes also contain B vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber and zinc which means they keep you energetic throughout the day. (Why should lentils or legumes be soaked?)

Seeds: Pumpkin, sesame, hemp and flaxseeds are seeds richest in iron and help your child to fight iron deficiency. They contain iron around 1.2mg to 4.2 mg per two tablespoons. These seeds also contain good amount of protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, antioxidants and are great source of fatty acids too, which helps in overall kid’s growth. (What is the easiest source of selenium that is good for brain?)

Recipe for Noodle Meal

  • Vegetable broth
  • carrot slices
  • mushrooms
  • pring onion chopped small
  • greens (lettuce etc)
  • tofu cubes or lightly fried tofu cubes
  • sprouts
  • noodles
  • Pok Choy
  • Roasted seeds (sunflower, pumpkin or other)
  • sea weed cut in strips (optional)

Saute all the veggies (except greens and sprouts) in some oil. Add spices like coriander, cumin, red pepper etc. Add veg broth and boil for 10 minutes on low flame. Add tofu and sprouts. Add boiled noodles. Add greens on top. Serve hot.

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VITAMIN D, CALCIUM AND KIDS: ARE THEY BUILDING STRONG BONES?

One of the most important minerals in our body is CALCIUM. Bones are 70% calcium and it is only calcium which gives bones their hardness for protection and support. Bones also serve as the calcium bank of the body. Sometimes people get confused between vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D helps body to absorb calcium and works with it to build strong bones. It moves calcium from the intestine to the bloodstream and into the bones. If you are thinking that your child is getting enough amount of vitamin D only by drinking milk, then you may be partially correct. Recent study shows that most of the children are not getting essential vitamin and minerals, and especially vitamin D. Some children with low vitamin D complain of pain in the legs and body. Very low vitamin D can lead to soft bones, causing rickets, a bone softening disease and also increase the risk of bone fracture in children. From age 9 – 18 children need more calcium to meet the daily recommended intake. Interestingly, it is only till mid-20s that kids can improve their bones which will last them a lifetime. Sunshine is considered as the natural source of vitamin D in body. Every cell of our body has vitamin D receptors. So, if your child is in the sunlight three times a week for about 15-20 minutes he/she will get enough UV rays to produce vitamin D. Not just bones and teeth, vitamin D builds immunity in the body and fights off attacking viruses and bacterias.

THE BEST FOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN-D AND CALCIUM:

Cow’s milk and its products: It is the most commonly consumed type of milk and naturally a good source of many nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus and Vitamin B2. In several countries, it is fortified with vitamin D because milk doesn’t naturally contain vitamin D, but is a great source of calcium. These two work together to keep bones strong. There are some options of dairy products made of cow’s milk like cheese, yogurt which too are a source of vitamin D (How is it used in the rest of the world?)

Cereals: In comparison to other natural resources, fortified cornflakes and oat meals or granola mixes may provide less vitamin D, but still they can be a good way to boost the vitamin D levels. These cereals can be consumed together with milk or yogurt to achieve both calcium and vitamin D for the body. The most important check to make here is the sugar levels in the cereal. Added sugar intake can adversely impact calcium and vitamin D levels. (how does sugar impact bones?)

Egg yolk: Eggs are one of the highest natural sources of vitamin D. Just one whole large egg provides 50% of vitamin D required for the day. It helps to maintain strong bones and teeth. Those who can, can opt for fish (salmon, sardines) also as a source of vitamin D.

Banana: The yummy bananas are a great source of magnesium, which plays an important role in activating vitamin D in the body. Journal of the American osteopathic Association, suggest that- it is essential to consume the recommended amount of magnesium to obtain the optimal benefits of vitamin D. So while banana doesn’t have vitamin D directly, it enables absotion. In addition, banana is also a great source of quick energy (simple carbs) and prebiotic fibre (for digestion) for kids. Win-win!

Moringa: Moringa is a superfood. It has 3 times more calcium than milk which makes it an excellent food to treat weak or damaged bones. Some studies also indicate that moringa can heal damaged bones. Dried moringa leaf powder has 17 times more vitamin D than fortified milk. In addition to this, its a fix for digestion troubles, immunity and iron. (Some easy ways to moringa)

Ragi: It is said that no other plant source provides calcium the way ragi can. It also has vitamin D and along with calcium, it can help in improving bone strength. It is a whole grain that is gluten free also and can be used in baking cakes and cookies.(Easy nutritious ragi recipe)

Mushroom: Mushroom is a rich ‘plant’ source of vitamin D. Researchers have found that we can increase levels of vitamin D even more by exposing mushrooms to sun for 10-15 minutes. Mushrooms can be consumed either directly or also in the form of dried mushroom powder, which can be used throughout the year, even when the season of mushroom has passed. For kids who are picky and don’t particularly enjoy eating mushroom, using the powder is an easy option. it can hide in any batter or dough to make pancakes, wraps, bread, paratha, pizza. (Easy pizza recipe to hide mushroom powder)

Recipe for Ragi Dough:

  • 1 cup ragi
  • 1 cup whole wheat or sorghum
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese or cottage cheese or paneer
  • Salt as per taste
  • ½ Beetroot puree (optional)
  • Water for kneading

Mix all together into a soft dough. Roll out flat breads/ parathas. Eat directly with yogurt or fill it up like a wrap with some spread and veggies.

(Recipe for easy and healthy spreads)

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HOW TO PREVENT CHILDREN FROM LIVER DISEASE?

Human body depends upon major internal body organs to survive and reproduce. These body parts are responsible for performing vital functions. The brain, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs are the main five organs essential for survival. Every organ has its own functions and they work together to make you feel fit and fine, so that you can perform your daily activities without any hassle. Liver is one of the most important body organ which performs hundreds of chemical actions that a body needs to survive. Liver’s main task is to process the nutrients broken down from food in the small intestine and pass them as necessary to the rest of the body where they are required. Liver is instrumental (the only organ) in breaking down fat into energy and sending remaining to the body fat reserves to be stored for later use. It also produces bile, a fluid essential for digestion of fats and nutrients that are part of the food. An unhealthy liver can directly impact digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body and restrict breakdown of fats.

 Factors responsible for liver problems in kids:

There are many childhood liver conditions and problems. The most common cause of liver disease in children between 2- 19 years is fatty liver. 40% of obese children have fatty liver. According to American Liver Foundation, the number of children affected by fatty liver disease is on rise, having more than doubled in the last 20 years. It is caused when too much fat builds up in kid’s liver and can develop in children of 10 years and even younger. There are two main factors responsible for fatty liver in kids. First is an unhealthy food choice. Drinks full of sugary content with processed and packaged foods which are high in saturated and trans fat, badly affects a child’s liver. The second factor is the lack of physical activities in kids. Regular exercise is key to have healthy liver. It decreases stress on the liver of storing excess food as fat in the fat reserves. 

A viral infection (causes hepatitis, an inflammatory condition of the liver), genetic disorders, cholestasis (a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver stops or slows) are some the other reasons that can affect your child’s liver. Jaundice is the most common liver disease among kids. It often affects new born babies and goes away on its own. It happens because, babies liver aren’t fully developed enough to break down and excrete bilirubin (yellowish substance in blood which forms after red blood cells breakdown). 

It is extremely important to keep the liver healthy and free of fatty layer for the body organs to function and be active. Liver performance can directly impact the growth and health of the child.

Sign or symptoms of liver disease:

  • Skin and eyes appear yellow
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dark urine colour and pale stool
  • Swelling in legs and ankle

Healthy liver food sources:

Grapefruit: It contains antioxidants (naringenin and naringin) that protect the liver from injuries by reducing inflammation and protecting the liver cells. The compound also reduces fat build up in liver by increasing enzymes that burn fat. (What are some good fats to eat for the body?)

Beetroot: Beetroot helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation. It Increases liver’s natural detoxification enzymes. It works effectively to prevent deposition of fat in the liver. Betaine in beetroot breaks down fatty acids in the liver and helps to treat fatty liver disease. (Easy beetroot recipe)

Avocados: Avocados help to protect liver as they are high in healthy fats. Research suggests that it contains chemical that helps to slow down liver damage. They are also rich in fiber which attaches to bile and helps in digestion and excretion of waste, leading to a healthy weight. (How does avocado help with dryness in skin?)

Sugarcane: Sugarcane juice is a perfect tonic for people with liver disease. It helps strengthen the liver functioning. As it is alkaline in nature, sugarcane juice helps in maintaining acid levels in the stomach. (What are some natural sugar to use during cooking?)

Radish: Radish is rich source of antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. Radish act as real panacea for liver and stomach health. They are exceptionally useful for jaundice treatment because they remove the bilirubin and maintain its production. It is also good source of natural nitrates that improves blood flow. If the blood flow is not proper, toxins and waste in the blood can keep floating in the body, causing harm. Liver helps to remove these toxins and cleanse the blood before sending off the nutrients to the body cells where required. (What are some other foods rich in calcium and good for bones?)

Papaya: Papaya is rich in antioxidants, including carotenoids (Vitamin A).  It can balance free radicals (what are they?). Taking one teaspoon of papaya seeds regularly can protect your liver from disease. It can help to detox liver from unhealthy substances.

Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the best natural resources of probiotics (good bacterias) which helps in maintaining lower fat levels in the liver.  Micro organisms (good bacterias) in our intestinal track are crucial for liver cells functioning. Yogurt helps to maintain healthy gut and hence, contributes in liver health too. (How do probiotics help with sneezing and allergy?)

Recipe: Twix bars (no sugar)

Base:

½ cup Almond flour
½ cup Coconut flour Or oat flour
⅓ cup Coconut oil (melted)
4-5 dates (soaked in water and grinded to make soft paste)
Mix all together. Set the first layer on baking sheet in the baking tray. Bake on 175 Celsius for 10-12 min till light golden brown.

Second layer:

½ cup peanut butter (or any seed or nut butter)
Pinch of salt
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp Vanilla essence (optional)
¼ cup honey or maple syrup (depending on your sweetness levels)
Mix all in a pan. It is optional to add some roasted peanut chunks to this mixture too. Spread on the crust evenly and freeze for 1-2 hours.

Top layer:

Melt dark chocolate in a microwave and add 1 spoon coconut oil. Mix well. Take out the baking pan from the refrigerator and spread chocolate sauce on the bar. Keep in refrigerator again for 10-20 minutes till it hardens.

Cut the bar. Eat. Keep refrigerated for future use.

The same bar can be made with any nut butter in place of peanut.

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HEALTHY EATING FOR CHILDREN

Kid’s meal in a day

How much food is enough for my kid? This is one question that every parent faces in day to day life. Providing all the basic nutrients to their kids in the right quantity is what every parent is thriving for. With a rising childhood obesity rate, parents are often worried that they are over feeding their kid. On the other hand, being underweight is also a major concern for parents. Kids of different ages need different amount of calories in a day depending on their existing weight and activity levels. 

What is a healthy meal?

Choosing the right amount of calories, fulfilling children’s daily nutritional requirements and planning their meals to make it tasty yet healthy is a herculean task for parents. A healthy or balanced meal is one comprising all the three food groups: proteins, carbohydrates and fats along with micro nutrients such as vitamins (vitamin A, B, C, D, E,K), minerals (calcium, zinc, iodine), fiber and water in the right quantity. It has been found that children who eat a balanced diet are healthy, lead an active lifestyle and have lower chances of developing any health issues at a later age.

Why do kids need nutritionally adequate food?

Nutrients that we obtain from food have significant effects on our kid’s physical and mental growth and development, maintenance of normal body function, physical activity and overall health. Requirements of essential nutrients vary with age, gender, physiological status and activity. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are macro-nutrients which are needed in larger quantities whereas vitamins and minerals are needed in smaller amounts. Children, in particular, need healthy meals to complement their growing bodies.

What problems the kid might face due to lack of proper nutrition in their diet?

Nutritional deficiency is a major factor contributing to various diseases like obesity, iron deficiency, weak vision, hairfall, dry skin etc. In school-children, proper nutrition becomes more important to prevent them from falling sick regularly which affects their learning capabilities. Few nutritional problems faced by school going children are obesity, eating disorders, low immunity, dental problems and anemia.

How to plan your Kid’s meal?

With all the information about the importance of a balanced and healthy diet, the next question that comes to a parent’s mind is how can they provide all these nutrients to their children, how many meals should they have and what all to include in their meal so that it is appealing to kids and healthy at the same time. A child’s daily calorie intake depends on the kid’s age, current weight & activity levels. Four meals a day with a gap of three hours is advisable for kids as well as adults.

Depending on their recommended daily calorie intake, parents can plan each meal with a proper amount of nutrients and calories. For example, if a kid’s daily calorie need is fifteen hundred calories, then he/she can have four meals, each meal approximately comprising three hundred calories. Some important points to remember while preparing your kid’s meal are: choose a variety of foods depending on their age, gender, physiological status and physical activities combining whole grains, beans/ lentils and greens in appropriate amounts, prefer fresh & locally available fruits and vegetables and encourage mindful eating for kids, which means that they understand what they are eating and for which purpose. This understanding in kids at a young age goes a long way in making better food choices for themselves.

What are the food sources for various food groups?

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are also known as energy giving foods. It means, they are one of the three main ways from which the body obtains energy or calories. Foods rich in carbohydrates are important part of healthy diet. It provide glucose, which is converted to energy and further used in body functioning and physical activities. Carbohydrates are found as both simple and complex carbs. Food sources such as fruits, milk and milk products are quick sources of energy called simple carbs. This can also include refined or processed sugar or syrups or soft drinks or other processed and packed foods. Vegetables, whole grains are types of complex carbs which take longer to digest and breakdown into energy. They keep the body full for longer and are often loaded with fiber, also supporting a healthy weight. (What are some healthy weight gain foods?)

Proteins: Protein acts as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. It is made up of chemical called amino acids. Amino acids are necessary to make protein in the body. Consuming variety of food results in higher chances of eating all 20 amino acids required to build proteins. If there is a shortage of amino acids required, the body stops making protein. The bulk of food consumed is then stored as fat in the body causing weight gain. Proteins are necessary to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. Protein group includes all meat, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, eggs, soy products, nuts and seeds. (What are some easy protein sources?)

Fats: Fats are a concentrated source of energy and are made of fatty acids in different proportions. Fats also promote the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, K. Nuts & seeds, vegetable and nut oils, ghee, butter are sources of fats. Liver helps to breakdown fat in the body. Excess fat intake can put extra pressure on the liver resulting in likely damage. Also, any additional fat not used in the body is stored in the cells for later use at specific fat reserves (hips, thighs, upper arms, tummy) in the body. Body needs fat for energy, producing hormones, keeping body warm and protecting it against infection. Fat is extremely important for the brain also. Fats can be saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and found mostly in dairy products, animal products and processed/ packaged foods in high quantity. Unsaturated fat is the good fat found in plant sources (except also in fish) like avocado, olive, nuts & seeds, fish (sardines, salmon). This fat is mostly liquid at room temp. While choosing a food, it is advised to keep the saturated fat as low as possible. (Which fat is good for the body?)

Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals are called protective foods as they help to remove deficiencies, build bones, heal wounds, fight diseases and build strong immune system.

Vitamins are important for various processes and maintenance of the structure of skin, bone, nerves, eye, brain, blood. Vitamins are water-soluble or fat-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E and K ) are found in leafy vegetables, animal products, nuts & seeds, vegetable oils, dairy foods. Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C, the B vitamins) are commonly found in nuts & seeds, fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and dairy foods. (What foods have which vitamins?)

Minerals include calcium, iron, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride and sulphur are found in nuts, seeds, shellfish, chicken, eggs, beans, cocoa, avocados, berries, yogurt and cheese. (What are some vitamins and minerals for bones?)

Recipe: Oats Cake

  • 1 cup oats flour (grind oats to make flour)
  • ½ cup milk (or nut milk)
  • 2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 eggs beaten or flax-egg (2 tbsp flax seed powder mixed with 12 tbsp warm water. Leave for 5 minutes to make lumpy paste)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup jaggery or coconut sugar (as per taste)
  • ½ tsp vanila essence (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt (epsom salt preferred)

Mix all with hand and pour in a lined pan. Preheat at 200 celsius for 5 min. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool outside. Serve.

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A GUIDELINE TO CHILDREN’S EYE HEALTH

Year 2020 (corona pandemic) has shown us many ups and downs. More or less we adjusted our self according to the situation and learned to survive. The worst hit emotionally and physically from this situation are the kids. From not being able to attend school to sitting at home without friends, screen came to their complete rescue. With a sharp drop in physical movement (outdoor activities), and increased screen time due to online classes and pleasure viewing, led to many health related concerns. One organ being way more stressed than others is the Eye. Just like any other part of the body, eyes also need ample rest and care. Eyes continue to grow and development as a child ages and the eye muscles become stronger. For most of the children, as they grow, they have a good eyesight and do not need to wear glasses. However, if a child has some problem and it is not diagnosed at an early age, it may lead to reduced vision in one or both eyes.

Common eye disorders in kids:

Amblyopia (lazy eyes): It is a kind of poor vision that happens in one eye. It develops when there is a breakdown in how the brain and eye work together. Common cause of this condition is an imbalance in the muscles. It prevents both eyes from working together. Over a period of time brain relies on the stronger eye and vision in weaker eye gets worse.

Strabismus (crossed eyes): It is a condition in which both eyes do not line up in the same direction. The eyes are unable to look at the same place at the same time. It causes when the brain receives different visual message from each eyes and ignore signals coming from weaker one.

Chalazion (sty): Stye is a small, red lump occurs at the base of the eyelash of your kid, usually on lower lid. It can cause swelling around eyelid and can be quite painful. Child can have many styes on their eyelid at one time and can happen in both eyes. It is caused by an infection of oil glands in the eyelid.

Conjunctivitis: It is commonly known as “pink eyes”. Conjunctivitis is an infection in the outer membrane of your eyeball. It can be caused by allergies or a bacterial or viral infection. It is extremely contagious and can spread by coming in contact with an infected person.

Dry eyes: Some factors that can cause dry eyes in kids are dry weather, smoke, or pollution. Allergies or contact lenses are also responsible for irritation and dryness in eyes. It can affect kids to perform well in school. Burning, itching, constantly blinking are some of the symptoms.

Symptoms to be taken seriously:

  • Child is constantly rubbing his/her eyes
  • Poor focusing
  • Abnormal movement of eyes (after 6 months of age)
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Tearing of eyes
  • Tilting head and covering one eye
  • Sitting too close to television or keeping book too close while reading
  • Complaining of headaches or eye pain

Essential nutrients for eye health:

Vitamin A: Vitamin A plays a crucial role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea, which is outer covering of your eye. Rhodopsin, a protein present in eyes that helps to see in low light is component of vitamin A. Orange- coloured fruits and vegetables like carrots, mangoes, apricot, sweet potatoes are high in bête-carotene, a form of vitamin A that helps your eyes to adjust them in darkness and improves night vision. (How to cook vitamin A food to retain nutrition?)

B vitamins: A 2009 study suggests that daily supplementation of vitamins B6, B9, B12 may help to reduce risk of AMD (degenerative eye disease that affects the vision). Vitamin B6 comes in protein rich foods like beans, potatoes, spinach, and enriched cereal grains. Dark green leafy vegetables, sprouts, broccoli, fresh fruits, peanuts are some sources of vitamin B9. Milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, fish are high in vitamin B12. (More B vitamin foods)

Vitamin C: It is a powerful antioxidant that protects eyes against damaging free radicals. It produces collagen which is important for eyes. Connective tissues in eyes are maintained by collagen. It holds them together and protects them. Citrus fruits like oranges, guava, lemon and vegetables like tomatoes are the major contributors of vitamin C. Broccoli, sprouts, and capsicum are some other rich natural sources of vitamin C. (Easiest food source of meeting 100% Vitamin C requirement)

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant which protects certain parts of the eye. It has been known to lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract, two age-related conditions. Including almonds, pistachio and walnuts in the chlid’s diet can preserve his/her eyesight. Studies also show that eating nuts daily is effective home remedy to control myopia (condition in which far object don’t appear clear). (Some easy food sources of vitamin E)

Zinc: Eye contains high level of zinc. It is also involved in the formation of visual pigments in retina. Zinc deficiency can result in night blindness. Chick pea, beans, nuts are some food sources of zinc. (How does zinc help in treating mouth ulcers?)

Antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin: It helps to protect eyes from harmful bright light waves like ultraviolet rays in sunlight by absorbing excess light. Studies suggest that high level of both in eye tissue can give better vision in dim light. These work to protect eyes from free radicals (What are they?). Natural food sources of these two are green or yellow vegetables like spinach, carrot. Non vegetarian source include egg yolks. (Which nut has these antioxidants?)

Recipe of Spinach Tofu dish- Great for Eyes

  • Spinach (wash, steamed, retain water)
  • 200gm firm tofu (cut small)
  • 2 tbsp Ghee or olive oil or other
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic pieces
  • 1 inch ginger
  • ½ lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Puree spinach and ginger. Heat oil. Add chopped onion and garlic. Once brownish pink, add tofu pieces. Once bit roasted, add spinach puree. Add salt, pepper seasoning (or curry masala). Cook for 2-3 minutes and take off heat. Add cumin powder (optional). Add lemon juice. Stir and serve.

Fill inside a wrap or tortilla or serve with rice or paratha. A great side dish with rolls/ bun or add on top of pizza.

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HOW TO TREAT AND WHEN TO SEEK HELP FOR BOILS

Boil is a painful, pus filled lump under the skin caused by an infection in an oil gland or hair follicle. As kids have sensitive skin and their immune system are still developing, this makes them more prone to infection. It is our responsibility to keep the kid’s surrounding hygienic, infection free and kid’s skin cool to save them from boils.

The infection that causes boils commonly occurs because of bacteria called staphylococcus (STAPH) that can invade our skin. When we get a cut or bite, the bacteria makes its way into the body through small cracks on the skin or from hair folic. Usually boils are not a serious problem. But, if infection spreads your child may feel sick or get fever. This is the time you should take your child to the doctor. Boil start as red lumps and gradually the lump becomes tender and filled with pus and then turns white. The formation of pus can make the boil quite painful. It can appear anywhere on the body but, they are most common on the face, neck, armpit, thighs, shoulders and buttocks, around the ear and nose and sweaty areas. Kids also tend to get some on the knee.

Boils can be observed in any healthy kid, but children with low immunity, existing skin infection and those who suffer from frequent insect bites are at a higher risk.

CAUSES OF BOILS

  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor food intake or poor nutrition
  • Weaker immune system
  • Exposure to harsh chemical
  • Hair folic infection caused by a staph bacteria
  • Iron deficiency
  • Friction from tight clothes
  • Eczema (home remedies to dryness)

WHEN TO WORRY

  • Boil lasts for two weeks or more
  • When boil become very large
  • When they are painful
  • When your baby suffer from fever or feel unwell
  • Reoccurrence of boil
  • Boil appearing on the face or spine
  • Spread of Redness around skin of boil

Nutritious diet is the solution of every health problem. Zinc is an important mineral for boosting immunity and is essential in the treatment of boils. Introducing Iron rich food in your kid’s diet can also help them in fighting against boils. Food rich in Iron are: beans, spinach, dry fruits, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli and fish etc. (Iron rich food recipe)

HOME REMEDIES FOR BOIL

Warm compress – This is one of the most effective home remedy for boil. Keeping warm, wet cloth on the boil for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day can help to get relief as the heat and moisture can help the boil to open and drain. Water can be mixed with baking soda too for quick results.

Turmeric – It has proven medicinal properties. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in it help to reduce the inflammation of the boil. You can choose to ingest turmeric powder. Add turmeric powder in milk or water and boil it and then let it cool. Taking this milk or water thrice a day can help to get rid of heat boils. You can also apply turmeric paste over boil to heal it quickly. (How can turmeric treat cold?)

Garlic– Garlic with its antiviral and antibacterial properties helps boost your immunity. You can extract juice from fresh garlic cloves and apply on the head of the boil for 10- 30 minutes twice a day. It will help to soften the point from where it can be drained off. (How to use garlic in reducing leg pain?)

Apple cider vinegar– Apple cider vinegar cleanses the boils and disinfects it.it has anti- inflammatory properties which help in reducing the redness and pain of the boils. You can apply few drops of apple cider vinegar directly on boils and repeat this several time in a day for fast relief. (How does ACV work for hair?)

Onion– Onion have active compounds and anti inflammatory properties that can ease the pain of a boil. Its antifungal and anti-septic properties helps and prevent them to develop again. Cut a slice of onion, place it over boil and cover with clean cloth. Do this couple of times a day. This should generate heat and draw pus out. (How to use onion for curing cough?)

Cumin seeds– commonly found in Asian/ Indian kitchen, it has many health and beauty benefits. Cumin seeds contain thymoquinone, which reduces inflammation and also helps in reducing pain and stiffness of the boils. It is a primary source of antioxidant, which can kill harmful strains of bacteria. Take some cumin seed and crush them, now add few drops of water to make a thick paste. Apply this on affected area, wash it off after dried out. (Nutritious recipe using cumin seeds)

Neem– Neem is used to treat many ailments. It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help to treat skin infections including boils.. It can be used to sooth the skin too. Grind few leaves of neem with water to make a paste, mow apply this on boils and cover it with a clean cloth, this will help you to get rid of the boil. (How to use neem for face and body skin?)

Recipe for Sweet Potato fries

  • 3 sweet potato (purple or white or orange)
  • 3 red skinned potato (optional)

Scrub and wash the sweet potato and red skinned potato. Leave skin on (skin is loaded with antioxidants and fibre). Cut sweet potato or red skinned potato In wedges form. Rub and toss them in 1 tsp oil (or more) Sprinkle some salt. Good to use Epsom salt (why?) Spread them out on baking sheet on tray. Place on middle rack. Preheat oven for 5 min at 200 Celsius and Bake for 25-30 min. Sprinkle roasted cumin seeds powder seasoning or onion and garlic powder seasoning or any other on top and serve.

KIDS LOVE IT! so always make extra 🙂

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THESE BEAUTY FOODS WILL GIVE YOU THE BEST SKIN AND HAIRS OF YOUR LIFE

You are what you eat!

Your personality is mirror of your diet. Kids having healthy and nutritious diet not only feel energetic throughout the day but also look great in terms of their skin, hair and overall appearance.

Taking care of your kid’s skin and hair is as important as their health. Kids are more prone to skin and hair problem as they are exposed to the sun and dirt more as compared to adults, primarily because of school activities and other sports and social activities. Dry skin, itchy and red skin, fizzy hair, grey hair, hair loss and dandruff can be possible because of sun and dirt. By giving balanced and nutritious diet you can help your child best skin and hair that lasts a lifetime. (some food and tips to tackle dryness?)

Nutrients for glowing skin and hair growth:

Healthy fat– This includes both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which are kinds of unsaturated fats. For healthy skin and hairs we need a balance of both types of fats. They can help to get glowing skin and shiny hair, lack of these healthy fats in your diet may result in dry skin and itchy scalp. (Is fat good or bad for body?)

Protein– Protein like Keratin, collagen and elastin is important for the structure of the skin and hair. Collagen and elastin provides smoothness and elasticity to your skin while keratin is structural substance for healthy hair. It forms rigidity of your skin and hairs and helps with the barrier protection that your skin offers to fight against dust and pollution. (List of some easy protein sources)

Vitamin A– All cells need vitamin A for growth and protection against damage. It prevents skin and hair from sun damage. Vitamin A helps skin glands to make oily substance sebum which moisturises scalp and keep hairs healthy. (how does this help with acne?)

B- vitamins-All the 8 B- vitamins(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) are essential for proper functioning of body, for cells growth and development and offers numerous benefits to skin and hair. Inadequate amount of these vitamins can lead to dry and flaky skin and scalp. (what are some food options for this?)

Vitamin C, E– Vitamin C is essential to make collagen which is key to healthy skin. Both these vitamins act as antioxidants to reduce free radicals (what are these?) and protect skin from UV rays. Vitamin C and E work together to strengthen cell walls.

Zinc– Zinc plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair. It helps to keep oil glands around follicles work properly. Zinc helps your skin to heal after an injury. It forms a protection layer on the cells and safeguards from UV damage and any invading infection. Lack of zinc may result in eczema too.

Selenium– This mineral has powerful antioxidants properties to protect your skin from UV rays. It promotes skin healing and reduces acne. Selenium has many benefits for hair too. It helps in preventing dandruff-causing fungus and regulates hair growth. (what is an easy food source for this?)

Food for healthy skin and strong hair:

Along with these following foods, water plays a lead role in keeping your skin and hair healthy. When you drink enough water, not only your skin gets hydrated, it also flushes out the impurities and toxins from the body.

Chia Seeds– Loaded with omega 3, copper, phosphorous and zinc, it soothes inflammation, reduces acne and helps to keep skin radiant and healthy. Consumption of chia seeds also results in strong hairs. It is a high source of phosphorous, which is popular to encourage hair growth. Chia seeds contains all the 9 essential amino acids related to stronger hairs, skin and nails.

Tomato– This zesty vegetable is proved to have tremendous effects on your overall health. Tomato contains high amount of lycopene that makes skin less sensitive to UV rays. High in vitamin C, tomato treats oily skin and helps in achieving even skin tones. Packed with vitamin A, B, C and E, it also prevents hair loss, gives shine and treats scalp odour and dandruff. Eat it or apply it, its works both ways! (How to protect the vitamin in tomato from reducing?)

Quinoa– Quinoa seeds are gluten free and are high in protein, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. 9 amino acids in it act as natural strengthener and protect the hair shaft and also help in repairing damaged hairs. It is rich in vitamin E which helps to fight free radicals, provides collagen and repairs deeper pores in the skin damaged from sun and pollution.(A super tasty quinoa recipe)

Beans– Beans are excellent source of protein, fiber, potassium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and are sodium free, fat free. It helps in collagen production and gives your skin a healthy glow and elasticity. It contains amino acid which is building blocks of protein, which body uses to make new tissues for bones, hairs, skin and blood. They also provide many other hair-healthy nutrients, including iron, B7 and B9. (Some B9 foods that help with brain of a child?)

Almond– Almond is rich in protein, magnesium, fiber, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid, vitamin E, copper, zinc and calcium. It helps to reduce rashes, burns or any inflammation caused due to various reasons. Copper in it plays an important role in skin and hair pigmentation. Fatty acids in it promote healthy and required blood flow that promotes hair growth and makes hair shiny, strong and soft. (what are 6 other benefits of almond for kids?)

Citrus fruits– Citrus fruits like orange, lime, grapefruit are commonly known for their high vitamin C contents. A medium orange give you 130% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Other nutrients in citrus fruits include B9, lycopene, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and B1. These nutrients provide a wide range of health, skin and hair benefits. The citrus acid present in these foods kills bacteria and make your skin feel fresh, strengthen hair and fight dandruff.

Bell pepper– Bell pepper are excellent source of beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A. It helps in preventing hair and skin from sun damage. Being high in vitamin C, dietary fiber and vitamin B6, it aids in flawless skin.

Dark Chocolate– Kid’s favourite dark chocolate is rich in anti-oxidants, fatty acids and flavanols that results in glowing skin. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can help reduce roughness in your skin and protect it against sun damage. Dark chocolate is rich in cocoa loaded with zinc, iron, copper, and vitamins like A, B12 and K, which also relaxes arteries and increases blood circulation that leads to healthier skin. (Recipe of a quick sugar free dark chocolate treat)

Kids approve!

Recipe for Cauliflower and Sprouted Bean dough:

Puree cauliflower and beans and add to wholewheat flour along with chia seed powder and salt. Make firm dough. Take a small portion and Roll a disc shape and cook for a wrap or tortilla or paratha/ Indian flatbread.

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IS IT GROWING (LEG) PAIN OR SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS?

Is it ever happened with your child, that he/she seems perfectly fine in the morning, and in late afternoon or by evening complains of leg pain? It must be a sign of growing pain in your child. Growing pains are cramping, muscles pains that can be occur in preschoolers or in preteens (what are some best fruits for teens?). It usually caused by overuse of muscles. This can be because of childhood activities, such as running around or playing games, or dancing in birthday party for too long. Adults may also experience this pain due to some muscle soreness following by workouts. In some kids these pains get accompanied by stomach pain and headaches. It might be related to stress and anxiety.

What is growing pain?

Growing pain is an ache or throb in the legs usually in the front of the thighs, the calves or behind the knees. It affects both the legs and occurs at night, and may disturb the child’s sleep. Data suggests that almost two out of five children get growing pains just around the time of their growth spurts. A specific cause for growing pains is unknown. Kids are growing rapidly and their muscles, tendons and ligaments are also growing. One theory suggests that the body parts might not be growing at the same rate as the body, thereby causing a protest and leading to pain or ache.

Other common reasons for leg pain in kids can be running, jumping and playing throughout the day, or psychological issues, or vitamin D deficiency, or restless leg syndrome or arthritis.

How can you help your child?

You can comfort your child from the pain by using simple procedures as massaging gently, applying heating pads, making him/her do some stretching exercises, giving warm bath before bed time and pain- relief medicines if it becomes necessary.

Diet rich in vitamin D, calcium, magnesium (some easy food sources), phosphorous and protein will in general take care of bone and muscle health. (What are some common vitamin D and calcium food sources?)

How to know if it is something more serious?

Keep a close watch on your kid and if you see any other symptoms mentioned below, then it might be a cause for concern.

  • Pain continues for a longer period of time
  • Ache in the joints
  • Fever
  • Unusual rashes
  • Limp
  • Less active than usual

Arthritis and Kids:

Arthritis is mostly associated with older people but kids also might be suffering from it. Kids arthritis is called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Arthritis is commonly confused with growing pains in kids and that is why it is important to understand the difference between the two conditions.

Arthritis is a disease that causes swelling, stiffness and pain in a person’s joints thereby affecting the proper working of joints and causing pain in the joints like knees, hips, ankle, shoulders, elbows and knuckles etc.
Cause for juvenile idiopathic arthritis is not known but it is mostly associated with genes which are passed on from parents to their children having a family history of arthritis.

Nutrients and Food sources that will help:

Protein: Getting enough protein is important for holding on to muscle mass and function. Chickpea, lentils, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, Quinoa, nuts and seeds have high amount of protein which helps in building the muscles of the body. (Is whey protein good for kids?)

Calcium: Calcium is the mineral everyone needs throughout his/her life to maintain bone health. Bone formation and repair are at its peak during early years. This is the time kids need calcium the most. Other antioxidants like vitamin A,C and K , which protect cells from free radical damage (what are they?) and are high in bone preserving calcium.

Fatty acids:-: Studies suggest that intake of omega 3 fatty acids results pain reduction and functional improvement in patients with growing pain. Fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts are some sources which can help to get required amount of omega-3 a body needs. It can soothe muscle soreness, stiff muscles, and can improve range of motion. (Is consuming fat good for the body?)

Garlic: Garlic is rich in both sulfur and selenium, which can help to relieve joint and muscle pain. It contains an anti inflammatory compound called diallyl disulfide, which helps to fight inflammation and even prevent cartilage damage caused from arthritis. (Easy immunity building foods for kids)

Ginger: Results showed that raw ginger reduces muscle pain by 25%. It has muscle relaxant properties that can help relieve cramps and have relaxing effect in muscle pain. Less than.1 teaspoon of ginger consumption a day can help with this ailment. (What is the ginger remedy for cold and cough?)

Olive Oil: Olive oil seems particularly beneficial when consumed since it relieves swelling. When combined with fish oil (source of omega 3 fatty acid), the result can be even better. In one study, this combination significantly improved joint pain, muscle pain, swelling and morning stiffness in people with arthritis issue. (How does this help with acne?)

Moringa: Moringa contains essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin K which help to maintain healthy bones and heal bone problems. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce swelling and pain in the muscles. (What are other benefits of Moringa and how to use it?)

Recipe for Veggies Rice

Remedy for body pain

  • Mix of small cut capsicum, cauliflower, onion, chopped garlic
  • Soy chunks or firm tofu
  • Cumin seeds (optional)
  • other veggies (optional)
  • semi brown rice or any other
  • Olive oil

Heat olive oil briefly, add cumin seeds and all the veggies to sauté. Once done for 5 min, add rice and Sauté for two more minutes. Add double water and cover the lid to cook. I cooked extra for my kids to enjoy soft broccoli and cauliflower. I saved this dish with mushroom and peas gravy for additional nutrition.

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