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The Health Benefits of Fasting During Ramadan

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[quote_box_left]Even though fasting has long been more associated with religious duties, there are people who fast for health reasons. However, you should change your dietary routine when fasting and fill your plates with the right foods to obtain the health benefits of fasting and proper daily nutrition[/quote_box_left]

Detox regimens have been recommended to purify the body from harmful toxins for various reasons throughout centuries. For instance, Hippocrates recommended fasting in order to foster a healthier body while various religions incorporate fasting for spiritual cleansing. Although fasting has been more closely associated with religious values throughout history, today things have changed and the number of people fasting independent from a religion have increased. Although more and more people are fasting for health reasons these days, fasting continues to be a renowned practice of Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Before I continue, I’d like to start by wishing Ramadan Kareem to all who fast during this holy month.

While fasting, the order of our dietary plan changes and the nutritional values vary as well. Especially if you are fasting during the long summer days and are limited to only two meals, you should fill your plates with the right foods. By doing so, you can take maximum advantage of the benefits of fasting without getting hungry as well.

Simple carbohydrates and all “simple” starchy foods will result in early satiety but also sudden hunger afterwards. In order to maintain a good balance in addition to long-term feeling of satiety during Ramadan, a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and protein is very important. Fiber is an all-star for overall health as well and is a must for both Ramadan fasting and year-round health. After adding plenty of fiber-rich foods to your meals, the next is to add dairy products as long as you don’t have an allergy. Milk and milk products, meat and other protein-rich foods should be added to your diet. For vegetarians,’ things are not complicated as your protein comes from legumes, and you should certainly incorporate them into every meal for longer satiety. However, there is more nitrogen found in protein-rich foods, which is harmful to the kidneys. So, people who fast should add more water to their diet to adequately wash the nitrogen out of the body. In general, we advise people to drink an average of two liters of water per day, but during Ramadan I advise you to drink more if you are taller. Tall people have a greater body surface area, so they lose more water throughout the day while fasting. Average water consumption is based on a 170-centimeter-tall person, so you should calculate the average water intake for your height. Although you have very limited time to eat or drink between fasting episodes, we do ask you to spread out your liquid intake during this period instead of drinking in boluses. This basically means that drinking a liter of water right before beginning your daily fast is not enough and not good for your body. In this case, the excess water will directly turn into urine and your daily water reserve will not be filled properly and cause dehydration during the day.
Yogurt programs the body for fasting by preventing dehydration.
Yogurt programs the body for fasting by preventing dehydration.
My personal recommendation for all seasons is the magnificent yogurt. I call it the magnificent because of its historical trademark. When Süleyman the Magnificent heard about his ally Francis I suffering from severe diarrhea that no one could treat, he sent his own physician to him who apparently cured Francis with yogurt. After this incident, due to his gratitude, the French king spread the word about the food that cured him. And, in recent history, there are quotes from German scientists that say, “The Turks don’t have to discover anything else in the field of medicine since they are the ones that discovered yogurt.” Indeed, it is very important, especially during fasting when your gastrointestinal system goes to sleep all day. Fasting long hours affects your intestines just like it does to your entire body. One full serving of yogurt eaten at both iftar (break-fast meal) and sahur (pre-dawn meal) will protect your gastrointestinal health.

Dairy products relax your digestive system, keep you satiated and will make you less thirsty. Yogurt has been scientifically proven to reduce around 500 calories of daily caloric intake as well, and yogurt also programs your body for fasting by preventing dehydration and allowing your digestive system to be healthier. Long-term fasting causes a slowdown or stoppage in the flow of stool movement in the intestines, the bacterial load increases and this bacteria can cause illness. This is why one of the most-balanced foods during Ramadan is Turkish-style yogurt.

For iftar, a bowl of yogurt, a small bowl of soup, maybe with some milk should be enough to momentarily satisfy you before you go for the main meal about 30 minutes later. As long as your food choices are right for you, you won’t feel hungry during the day nor the discomfort of eating quickly in a short period of time during iftar. You must stay away from salty, spicy and fried foods, especially if you suffer from acid reflux. These foods will lead to excessive thirst, which is something I’m sure you don’t want.
Stay away from salty, spicy and fried foods, especially if you suffer from acid reflux.
Stay away from salty, spicy and fried foods, especially if you suffer from acid reflux.
Foods to avoid during iftar and sahur aside from spicy foods include pre-prepared-industrial foods, deli meats and other salty products. All packaged foods contain various chemicals and these chemicals will lock out your satiety hormone leptin, preventing insulin released by your body from working properly and literally turning off your metabolism. This won’t result in early hunger, but will interfere with your bodily systems working in a streamline fashion and could harm your body during fasting.

Of course, I should state once again that fasting during Ramadan is for those people who are healthy. Many research studies conducted on healthy individuals advocate the health benefits of fasting. Some scientists even mention that limiting smoking when fasting has positive health effects as well. According to the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Science, fasting was found to have beneficial effects on heart health as well. It is thought that fasting causes our bodies to metabolize cholesterol and glucose in a better fashion while fasting. It was also shown that the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol would decrease and the level of HDL (good) cholesterol would increase while fasting. Additionally, it has been shown that our bodies have a higher number of circulating blood cells after fasting; thus, it is hypothesized that fasting increases healthier blood cells as well.

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False Facts About Catching a Cold, Flu

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Everyone catches a cold once or twice in the winter and mid-seasons. Although we take precautions to prevent catching a cold, the false facts that we believe to be true misdirect us. To be able to protect ourselves from the disease, it is important to know facts about the disease in the first place

Even though it is getting warmer, changes in temperature have the potential to lead to different diseases. Some of us have already started to feel tired, get the sniffles or become sneezy. Amid the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we do not have time to rest and look after ourselves to fight our sicknesses. One should not forget that the most important point in the fight against a cold is to take precautionary measures.

Well, what do you know about illnesses, such as the cold, which affects the quality of our lives immensely? How accurate is the advice that our elders or neighbors give us? One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the source of sickness (for influenza) is not cold weather, but it is microorganisms and viruses. Here are several points about colds that are actually false.

Does going out with wet hair make us sick?

Cold or flu develops after a virus called “rhinovirus” enters the human body. Regardless of the temperature, weather or environmental conditions, once this virus enters into your body through your nose, mouth or other organs, then you will get sick. Otherwise, this virus will not affect you even though it exists in the same place where you are.

In this case, if we go out with wet hair, are we more likely to catch this virus? Well, wet hair only leads you to feel the cold more intensely. That is why this ongoing belief is still popular among people.

A group of American scientists studied the influence of going out with wet hair in cold weather on catching cold or flu. They first asked a group of participants if they believe this factor increases the risk of getting a cold. Some 41 percent of them responded “yes” to this question.

Then they prepared two different settings where the flu virus existed. In one of these settings, there were cold temperature conditions while the other had normal weather conditions. Some of the participants had wet hair and some had dry hair when they entered their own settings.

The result turned out to be very interesting. According to the study, in the same conditions (cold temperature), no difference was observed between the participants with wet hair and those with dry hair regarding their chances of getting cold. The only difference between the two groups turned out to be that the participants with wet hair felt colder than the participants with dry hair.

There are more studies that point out the same results. Thus, it has been scientifically proven that wet hair in cold weather does not increase the chances of getting a cold. Well, you’d better tell your mother about this fact because it is very likely she will resist changing this strong belief about catching a cold.

Do wool caps protect us from getting cold?

I am sure there are thousands of people who spent their childhood wearing woolen caps like I did, thus you became like a pea in a pod with your cap on until the weather gets better. The common belief that woolen caps protect us from getting cold stems from the belief that the fastest and biggest heat loss in the human body occurs from the head when the body starts to lose heat in cold weather, a belief that dates back 50 years.

The U.S. Army Forces conducted various experiments to increase their chances of survival in the perishing cold, to which the soldiers were likely to be exposed. A pretty cold environment was prepared for the experiment guided by scientists. Some volunteer soldiers started to wait in a cold room without wool caps and scientists measured the head temperatures of soldiers at certain intervals. Results show that soldiers lost up to 50 percent of their body heat from the head.

One of the most important reasons why this belief is still popular is the trust in the results of the scientific research. But, does the fact that we lose heat from our head quickly and in large amounts mean that it is the only part of our body that loses heat? Of course, not. If that was the case, only wearing a woolen cap would be enough to protect us from risk of freezing.

Grounding his research in this argument, Dr. Daniel Sessler, president of Cleveland Clinic Research Center, conducted similar a similar study – in cooperation with the U.S. army again – including participants who wore swimsuits in the same conditions. This study showed that almost every part of the human body experiences heat loss at the same level when the body is not protected in cold weather.

Thus, even if we can’t say that wearing a wool cap does not make any difference in cold weather, we can easily say that protecting only the head does not protect us from getting cold.

To sum up, always remember it is microorganisms and viruses that make us sick, not the cold weather itself. We must be especially careful about keeping our hands clean as we are frequently in crowded places and in contact with people who have a cold or the flu. Hands are in constant contact with the mouth and nose, which serve as an entrance point for microorganisms. We must make a habit out of washing our hands especially while it is still cold.

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Depression: A Hidden Heart Disease Risk Factor For Women

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Depression is almost twice as likely to affect women than men. Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and fatigue are the most common symptoms, but another lesser-known risk is a higher chance of heart attack

If we have not seen for ourselves a person who has had a heart attack before, the first image that comes to our minds in such a situation is similar to those in movie scenes. In most cases, a man holding his chest suddenly collapses, and the diagnosis is a heart attack. There is a strong public belief that a heart attack is seen in men more than women. This partially true data does not necessarily mean that women are at a lower risk.

The human body generally gives signals about what is happening. The important thing is to interpret these messages correctly and in a timely manner. The male and female bodies are two different systems that process things in different ways. This is why the same disease can show up with different signals in the two sexes. A heart attack is one of them.

If you have problems such as fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, sudden dizziness and lack of quality sleep, it may be a sign that you are at risk of a heart attack. Many women can relate these symptoms to busy work life, stress and city life. These are true, yet your lifestyle may assist in developing such symptoms, which can lead to worse health problems.

Do you constantly feel tired?

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in our lives. Insomnia, the flu or the side effects of medications can easily cause tiredness, but being able to associate your fatigue with these causes does not mean that the actual cause of your complaints is one of them.

The results of a survey on women who have had a heart attack are quite interesting. More than 70 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they had a feeling of fatigue that did not go away in the pre-heart attack period.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

There can be many different reasons for lack of sleep, and the vast majority requires regular treatment. If you cannot sleep immediately when you get into bed at night or if it takes too much time, you should be careful. A scientific study on women suffering from a heart attack calls attention to women’s sleep disorders. Almost half of the women who had a heart attack reported that they had suffered from lack of sleep that lasted for a while.

Do you suffer from shortness of breath?

If you are having difficulty doing routine activities during the day and the most obvious change that is bothering you is shortness of breath, never ignore this. Studies have shown that unexpected shortness of breath, which cannot be attributed to a known illness, may be a symptom of a heart attack for women. If you suffer from a cough as well as shortness of breath, this can be a signal you need to take seriously.

Do you suffer from heartburn and indigestion?

Eating habits and existing stomach disorders may cause you to develop heartburn. What should be noted here is whether you have a known illness that can explain your stomach problem. If you have not developed heartburn or indigestion complaints before, do not ignore it.

Another scientific study on women who had a heart attack draws attention to the finding that women who suffer from (unexpected) heartburn and indigestion should be careful. According to the study, almost 40 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they suffered from heartburn or indigestion before the heart attack occurred.

Apart from heartburn, nausea and vomiting that occur without reason are among the heart attack symptoms for women. A study examining pre-heart attack symptoms showed that women had twice as many stomach and intestinal system diseases as men. In this case, women who have complaints such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting that develop without cause should pay twice as much attention as men.

Do you have serious anxiety problems?

Depression, angst and anxiety are frequently experienced among many people. Panic attacks, which have seriously increased in prevalence, are one of the psychological disorders that go along with a heart attack. As I mentioned before, if there is no known cause of the situation you are experiencing, you should take it seriously.

A study on women who had heart attacks call attention to the fact that women suffering from anxiety and angst should be careful. According to the survey, most of the women who had a heart attack said that they suffered from unexpected anxiety and angst in the pre-heart attack period.

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English Articles

A Heart-Friendly Grocery List For Your Next Shopping Trip

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While walking along a supermarket’s aisles, the temptation to buy a variety of food items sets in, not aware that your basket is already full. For a healthy diet especially for the heart, you need a smart grocery list

Having a well-thought grocery list does not only save you time but helps you stick to a healthy diet. The items on your grocery list show how much you prioritize your health without being fooled by the marking hype.

The same thing goes when it comes to your heart health. Avoiding unhealthy food is as crucial as consuming foods rich in nutrients, fiber and healthy fats to prevent heart attacks. We have put together a shopping list for a heart-healthy diet.

The following foods that have been proven to be healthy for your heart should be included on your shopping list.

Beet greens

Are you throwing beet greens in the trash? Don’t! Beet greens is the top item on our list to protect yourself against heart diseases. Studies have revealed many advantages of beet greens for health. Fibers found in beet greens are known to decrease cholesterol absorption. Particularly those who have high cholesterol should definitely take advantage of the health benefits of beet greens. The heart-friendly product also helps stabilize your blood pressure thanks to its potassium content.

Canola oil

Marketed as heart-healthy oil, canola oil, which used to be widely available in local markets is currently a rarity. Made from crushed canola seeds, it has less saturated fat than any of the other oil kinds. It is higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Studies show that sterols found in the canola plant lowers bad cholesterol levels. Canola oil is also very rich in antioxidants and (thanks to antioxidants) it reduces inflammation in the body. You need to consume one table spoon of canola oil to get the expected benefits.

Bitter chocolate

There are enough studies to make any chocolate lover happy. Findings show that bitter chocolate speeds metabolism and aids weight loss, putting a smile on women’s faces in particular. However, in order to accelerate your metabolism, you need to make sure that your choice of bitter chocolate contains no less than 70 percent cacao.In addition to boosting metabolism, bitter chocolate is also good for your heart. Flavanols found in cacao help your vessels to flex and your blood to dilute, thus, reducing your blood pressure. Flexing your blood vessels is an important factor helping you reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, do not forget that bitter chocolate must contain at least 70 percent cacao in order to protect your health.

Garlic

A staple of traditional Turkish cuisine, garlic is usually an indispensable item in the preparation of dishes. Researchers say consuming one clove of garlic – or if you are taking it in powder form, 1 teaspoon – will also provide protection against cardiac diseases. Garlic flexes your muscles and prevents plate formation in vessels and high cholesterol.

Apples

The struggle to lose weight has been one of the most popular subjects in the last few years. A number of scientific studies spotlight the fiber content of apples. There is about 5 milligrams of fiber in an apple – enough to meet (+/-) three-quarters of our daily intake need. Those trying to lose weight must definitely include apples in their diet. There are some other studies revealing that eating an apple a day helps you protect against heart diseases. Apple ranks fifth on our list of heart-healthy products. Scientists say that the high fiber flavonoid content of apples reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes and lowers cholesterol levels! Consuming an apple a day is crucial for your health.

Olive oil

Used frequently in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is deemed as one of the miracles of nature. Very rich in antioxidants, olive oil helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels without affecting HDL (good cholesterol). Therefore, it ranks sixth on this list. In order to benefit from olive oil, you need to consume about 2 tablespoons per day. It is advised to consume it raw by adding it to salads. There are a myriad of olive oil varieties available at supermarkets, which perplexes shoppers. It is very normal that you might not be able to decide which one to buy. The packaging and labels are sometimes confusing. My personal advice is to go for the “natural extra virgin olive oil.”

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