Did you ever wonder why we consider tomatoes a vegetable even though it’s a fruit? The story dates back to 1887 when the United States imposed a tariff of 10 percent to vegetables but did not impose the tariff to fruits. The U.S. government at the time said that since tomatoes were either eaten cooked or raw, just like all other vegetables, it should be classified as a vegetable. However, botanically speaking, tomatoes are the ripened ovaries of a flower that bears seeds just like all other fruits.
The color red in fruits and vegetables mostly comes from the antioxidant lycopene, which has many health benefits. Today, I will focus on the two major sources of lycopene, tomatoes and pomegranates, which also contain other health benefits. Did you know that as recently as 200 years ago, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous in some cultures? Let’s explore the interesting history of the now ubiquitous tomato before we dive into its health benefits.
Tomatoes are prominent in the Mediterranean diet and are closely associated with Italian cuisine. However, tomatoes are actually native to the southern hemisphere, specifically South America. Countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Bolivia are thought to be where the tomato originated. Although we often see tomatoes the size of apple today, historically cherry tomatoes were the first cultivated varieties. The name tomato is believed to have originated from the Aztec word “tomatl,” which means swelling fruit. After the 1500s, the Spanish introduced tomatoes to Europe. The Italians called it the golden apple, whereas the French called it the love apple. Its seeds were thought to be an aphrodisiac, and that – in addition to its color – is perhaps why the French named it after love.
Tomatoes were first believed to be a dangerous food because of its botanical relatives. Botanically, tomatoes are a part of the Solanaceae plant family and are closely related to the deadly nightshade plant. Historically, there are a great number of anecdotes about tomatoes that we consider funny now. For instance, in 1830, a colonel named Robert Gibbon Johnson prepared a basket of tomatoes and took them along with him to the local courthouse. He sat on the stairs outside the courthouse and began eating all the tomatoes in the basket. Eventually, a large crowd surrounded him as they thought he would die. Everyone was waiting for him to foam at the mouth and twitch until he finally died, but nothing happened. After this incident, tomatoes were accepted as edible, but people were still weary of eating it raw.
Fortunately, we have come a long way since then, and science has taught us that tomatoes provide many health benefits, whether you cook them or not. A medium sized tomato, which is about 120 grams, will provide only 22 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates and no fat. So, when you take a look at the nutritional breakdown, you may not think that it has much to offer. On the other hand, though, it has much to offer when we take a closer look at its chemistry. From vitamin A and vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid and lycopene to choline and lutein, tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial antioxidants. Due to its rich, beneficial makeup, the tomato is referred to as a functional food.
Many of you have probably heard about the anti-aging antioxidant alpha lipoic acid, which helps the body convert glucose into energy. Because it facilitates this process, it aids in regulating the concentration of glucose in the blood, which is why tomatoes help to boost your metabolism if eaten at the end of meals. Scientific evidence also demonstrates that it dilates your blood vessels, which eases hypertension, protects against retinopathy in diabetics and even helps to preserve nerve tissue, protecting your brain.
Lycopene gives the rich red color to tomatoes. It is found in almost every other type of red fruit but tomatoes account for almost 80 percent of all lycopene we consume. Moreover, lycopene is thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all carotenoids. Its powerful antioxidant effect helps to maintain the strength, thickness, and flexibility of cell membranes. Maintaining a healthy cellular membrane will slow aging and also protect our cells from toxins. There are many studies supporting the health benefits of lycopene that also highlight how it is not just the guardian of our cell membranes. Lycopene is shown to stop LDL oxidation by free radicals so that they cannot be deposited in atherosclerotic plaque. It helps to prevent of diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, aging of the skin, osteoporosis and infertility. Moreover, research suggests that it may also aid in the treatment of infertility in men by boosting their sperm count. The best news is that, currently, there are no reported side effects from eating foods that are rich in lycopene.
There are also other surprising health effects of tomatoes concerning cancer prevention. Researchers have documented that tomatoes and broccoli have a synergistic effect when taken together that may aid in reducing the risk of prostate cancers. According to a Canadian study, a diet rich in tomatoes and lycopene was linked in a 31 percent reduction in developing prostate cancer.
Aside from all of the aforementioned benefits, tomatoes may also be good food supplement to battle depression. The folic acid content in tomatoes has been shown to reduce the levels of homocysteine in your blood, which interferes with the hormones that regulate mood including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These hormones not only regulate mood, but also your sleep and appetite. So, maintaining a healthier balance of these by increasing folic acid through your diet will regulate your daily routine. Another important nutrient in tomatoes, choline, will also help with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.
Tomatoes are very important in the Mediterranean diet and a study shows why. Researchers demonstrated that if tomatoes are eaten along with healthier fats, like olive oil, the absorption of the carotenoid phytochemicals in tomatoes increases by two to 15 times. However, the Environmental Working Group prepares an annual list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues and cherry tomatoes are unfortunately high in the list. So, it is advised that you should go for the organic ones to minimize pesticide exposure. But it is not a huge problem according to other studies, which state that the nutritional benefits gained from eating non-organic tomatoes far outweighs the risk of not eating them at all.
Protect your heart at all costs: How to have a healthy heart
Studies show that heart attacks are one of the main diseases leading to death for both men and women. In its simplest definition, a heart attack can be explained as plaques formed in the blood vessels for various reasons preventing blood and oxygen from reaching the heart and thus stopping the system. Due to the vital importance of cardiovascular diseases, whose reasons have been investigated numerous times, it is important to know the most important prevention measures and adapt them to our lives in a timely manner. Protect your heart at all costs: How to have a healthy heart.
Sleep 7-8 hours every day
Research points out that regular and adequate sleep is one of the most important steps to protect heart health. A study that included people who sleep less than six hours a day and others who sleep between seven to eight hours revealed the relationship between adequate sleep and heart attacks. Accordingly, those who sleep less than six hours a day are twice as much at risk than those who sleep seven to eight hours a day.
Sleep helps regulate the level of insulin in the blood. When you do not sleep well enough, your cells become resistant to insulin, which causes your blood sugar to rise, weight gain, and you can develop long-term cardiovascular diseases. Regular and adequate sleep, which we do not pay enough attention to, is important enough to cause long-term cardiovascular diseases.
Your weight is an important clue to your health. The increasing rate of obesity in recent years has led scientists to examine health problems associated with obesity. According to studies, being overweight invites many vital diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. Some of the recent studies stress that your waist circumference is as important as your height-to-weight ratio. The likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases increases in direct proportion to your waist circumference. According to scientists, a woman’s waist circumference of over 89 centimeters (35 inches) and a man’s waist circumference of over 102 centimeters increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
According to scientifically proven data, losing 5-10 percent of your total weight is enough to significantly reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
Regular exercise is a miracle-like wish for those who are lost in a busy working tempo and city life. However, we must not forget that health is acquired through discipline. Studies have shown that doing aerobics three days a week for 30 to 60 minutes regulates cholesterol levels, controls high blood pressure and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. If you follow a healthy diet program along with regular exercise, you can reach these results much more effectively and quickly.
Laughing is the best medicine ever discovered. Studies have shown that laughter is extremely beneficial for vascular health. When you laugh, a serious decrease in the level of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, occurs. Decrease in stress and cortisol levels regulates blood pressure, strengthens our immune system and makes us feel happier. Scientists studying the effects of human psychology on diseases state that stress increases the risk of heart attacks.
Plaque emerging in the blood vessels for various reasons prevents blood flow, leading to a heart attack. Aspirin naturally distributes blood clots. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack near you, one of the first things you should do is to make them chew aspirin (not swallow). Thanks to this intervention, the clot that is causing congestion in the blood vessels will dissipate in a short time.
Learn about your genetic history
Your chances of getting cardiovascular disease are closely related to your genetic heritage. In particular, if there is history of cardiovascular disease among your close relatives get regular checkups. Early diagnosis is of vital importance in cardiovascular diseases as in many other diseases.
Beware if you snore
Studies show that snoring is an important sign of heart disease. If you are snoring, you may need to contact a specialist. Being overweight causes various diseases in a linked manner. One of them is sleep apnea that stops you from breathing during sleep. Studies have revealed that sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of heart attack.
Cut down on salt intake
Salt’s harms have long been discussed. In particular, the claim that cardiovascular disease is closely related to high salt intake is a subject everyone is aware of. According to studies, cutting down on your daily salt intake even by a single teaspoon is enough to reduce the pressure on your heart.
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Psoriasis: Symptoms and Treatments
Psoriasis, which is mostly chronic, is a common dermatological disease with different appearances in different people. The disease is not an infectious one and it can occur in people of all ages, even if it is generally seen in people 15 to 30 years old. Although the reason for its emergence is not completely known, it is thought that it occurs as a result of an interaction of the immune system, genetics and environmental factors. Psoriasis: Symptoms and Treatments
A frequently asked question is, “How do you understand whether a skin rash is actually psoriasis or not?” This article examines the description of psoriasis, its types and treatment alternatives.
The disease takes its name from some of the most common symptoms which are white, bright and dry dandruff on a red skin eruption. It can appear with the hardening of the soles of the feet and palms, and cracks in the skin. It can occur with a rash-like appearance in the folding parts of the body, such as the armpits or belly button. In patients with psoriasis, small pits on nails, yellow-red stains like oil drops, hollow and thickening nails, bleeding under nails and disorder on the surface of nails can be observed. The disease can occur on the skin with hair, knees and elbows, sacrum and hips. Sometimes, it can be mistaken for eczema or allergic skin diseases.
Types and symptoms
Plaque psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis, the most common one, is red lesions covered by blotchy, inflammatory, white and nacred flakes. These plaques, which can be itchy and painful, can be seen anywhere in the body. However, the most common areas are the elbows, knees, waist and scalp. Eighty percent of patients with psoriasis have this type.
Guttate Psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis is the second most common disease after plaque psoriasis and mostly appears in childhood or young adulthood. Its frequency among all psoriasis types is 10 percent. It is seen on the skin of the chest, arms, legs and other parts of the body as small, red, separate spots. These spots are generally not as thick as plaque lesions.
Pustular psoriasis: Pustular is a rare type of psoriasis seen mostly in adults. It is usually observed on a small area on the hands and feet as white blisters filled with non-inflammatory liquid but it can spread to other areas.
Inverse Psoriasis: This is seen on the armpits, groin, inframammary fold, backs of the knees, sexual organs and other skinfolds on the hips. This type appears as nacred, smooth, bright and red inflammatory lesions.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This is an inflammatory type of psoriasis which is seen frequently. This disease is the most severe as it covers a great part of the body, more than 75 percent, with itching and redness on the skin and painful, exanthematous flaking.
Psoriatic arthritis: Along with typical psoriasis symptoms on the skin, there can be rheumatic problems. Swelling, pain, redness and mobility restriction can be seen among its symptoms that affect the joints. In many patients, effects such as heel spur, elbow pain, waist and back pain, can also be observed. In some cases, psoriasis negatively affects the fingernails and toenails. Nails generally thicken and the disease causes some effects such as dents on the nails and nail separation from their bed.
As psoriasis can be mistaken for other skin diseases, consulting your doctor can help with getting a proper diagnosis and the best treatment plan for you.
The treatment of psoriasis should be planned, considering the general health, age and lifestyle of the patient and the type of psoriasis. The first thing that should be done while struggling against the illness is to prefer soaps that do not dry the skin, and moisturizing creams and lotions should be applied in order to clear up the dryness and to stop the flaking. The itch should be taken under control in this way as well.
Psoriasis is treated with various methods, such as steroid medicines, light therapy and edible medicine.
Topical medicines that are among the treatment methods that are applied to the skin directly, i.e., creams and sprays. Some of them contain a steroid, some have an analog of vitamin D, some have both a steroid and vitamin D and some contain retinoid.
More naturally, honey is applied to the skin and is accepted as a treatment option.
If topical medicines don’t provide adequate relief, your dermatologist can prescribe oral medicines that you take two times a week or a day. One of the recommended medicines that is generally prescribed is Apremilast. For some people, Acitretin, which is a derivative of vitamin A, is also recommended as an alternative, but you should inform your doctor about any medicine, like vitamins, food supplements and et cetera, which you use. You should also let him/her know about any allergies, health problems that you have or had, like pregnancy and surgery, before using this medicine.
If you use another medicine, the effects of Acitretin can change. This situation can both increase side effect risks and also prevent the medicine from working the way it should. Acitretin cannot be taken with some chemotherapy medicines, like Methotrexate and Tetracyclines. As a result, serious side effects can be observed. The treatment can be practiced by natural (solar) rays and artificial UV rays. In this practice, treatment can be done together with other medicines.
UVB phototherapy: UVB phototherapy can increase the symptoms of light and moderate psoriasis while it can treat spots, common psoriasis and problems that are resistant against the topical treatments. Its side effects can be itching, redness and skin dehydration.
Psoralen plus UVA: UVA rays can penetrate into deeper regions than UVB rays. Its short-term side effects are nausea, headache, burning and itching while long-term effects can be dry skin, increased sun sensitivity and skin cancer risk.
Atomic laser: This is used for light and moderate illnesses and applied to only the problematic skin area.
Injections: You can bid farewell to psoriasis with biological treatment – the success rate of which is between 80 and 90 percent – which is a much safer alternative that has fewer side effects. Injections are given every other week or once every three months to treat the illness.
However, medicines are expensive so be sure to consult with your doctor before deciding on a treatment plan.
If you’re suffering from this disease, you should definitely see a dermatologist instead of thinking that there is no cure.
Triggering factors for psoriasis
Mechanic trauma, such as sunburn, bath-glove or wax, that cause skin injury
Smoking and alcohol
Vitamin D deficiency
Stress, emotional trauma
Strong painkillers, some heart and malaria medicines
Infection and hormonal changes like pregnancy and menopause
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How to Protect Children From Diseases
Schools are undoubtedly ideal teaching spaces for children’s education. However, schoolchildren face the risk of catching diseases in schools as there are many children using shared spaces. Especially during mid-seasons, the immune system tends to weaken, which makes schoolchildren vulnerable to various diseases. As I stated in my previous articles, diseases spread faster in indoor areas whereas the lack of personal hygiene is the root of many diseases. So, parents are required to pay more attention to children’s hygiene as crowded places play an active role in the spread of diseases. Showing care in personal hygiene is important for the health of your child and their schoolmates. You cannot prevent your child’s exposure to infections and germs in school, but you can reduce the child’s risk of catching diseases by teaching them personal hygiene habits. How to Protect Children From Diseases
Why hygiene matters?
After your child catches an illness, germs can spread quickly to the rest of your family. Diseases such as colds and enteric infections, which are frequently seen in children, can be transmitted to families. Therefore, helping your children understand the importance of hygiene will enable them and the rest of your family to stay healthy.
1. Make sure they acquire the habit of hand washing
Disinfecting your hands frequently is indispensable for personal hygiene. Especially in places with many shared spaces like schools, doorknobs, tables, desks, boards, chalks and toilets pose a serious infection risk. Consequently, washing hands is the most effective way to prevent infections that can be transmitted in school. At this point, you are responsible for teaching your children how often and how they should wash their hands. Start with telling them about shared spaces and items. And explain that they should wash their hands for an average of 20 seconds by rubbing their hands together and that they should wash their hands in the following cases:
After using the bathroom
After playing outdoors
After touching a dirty item
After coughing, sneezing or touching their noses
After petting animals
If their hands look dirty
2. Don’t skip breakfast, make sure they eat healthy
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Keep in mind that by letting your children sleep 5 minutes more, you cause them to skip breakfast. The variety in a child’s diet must be ensured as children grow in height; thus, they must often consume starchy carbs and fiber-rich foods and get sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals, while consuming fat and sugar must be limited. Schoolchildren are in a process of slow yet constant growth. To grow up healthily, they must consume the foods they need. Do not fret over what I write; you do not need to make a special diet plan for these needs. It is enough to make sure that your child eats six meals a day, three main meals and three side meals and cook the meals at home. A child grows in height the fastest between the ages of 7 and 14. This age group needs more calcium compared to the others. So, foods like milk, yoghurt, cheese and ayran must be included in their daily diet.
3. Cafeterias and canteens are important
I am sure you have other criteria you prioritize while choosing a school for your child, but you must also pay heed to the meal alternatives provided in schools for your child’s success. In most private schools, a fixed menu is served. In these cases, you must certainly check up on where the meals come from and in which conditions they are prepared. The situation is more dangerous in schools that do not serve meals. If your child is obliged to eat in the school canteen, which only has fast-food menus, you have to prepare a lunch box for them. Do not forget that children do what they see rather than what they hear.
4. Encourage drinking more water
Teach your child that he/she should not wait to get thirsty to drink water. It is no exaggeration to say that water is the most vital component of the human body and ecological balance. I am sure you have already heard that 3/4 of the human body consists of water. The human body undergoes dehydration during the day to exercise vital functions. The body needs 2-6 liters of water on a daily basis to function properly. Also, water protects the immune system against diseases.
5. Follow your child’s vaccination chart
Schoolchildren are generally exposed to infections and flu viruses that could cause diarrhea. Such infections can spread quickly if your child touches dirty surfaces. Also, your child’s contact with other children might transmit the infection to others. Pay attention that infection is not transferred through touching. Sneezing and coughing can also transmit infections.
As of the first month your child is born, a vaccination chart is formed against possible infections. Following the Hepatitis A vaccination during the first month after the birth, the child must get other vaccinations, including measles, chickenpox, diphtheria and tetanus. Other vaccinations are made during the first and eighth years in elementary school. Most of these vaccines do not provide life-long protection. Consequently, additional vaccine doses are needed at certain time periods. The vaccinations for your child must be completed before starting school. Do not forget that your school-age child can infect your baby. Also, children having active infections should not go to school until fully recovering since they can transmit infections to others.
6. Make a menu according to allergic diseases
Allergic diseases can also cause a disruption in education. Allergic diseases can affect both adults and children. Therefore, before your child starts school, you should take her/him to a doctor’s office and get information about his/her allergies. Also, if the school is away from your house, take a look at the hospitals in the vicinity of the school in case of possible allergic reactions.
If your child is allergic to certain foods, you can prepare a menu before leaving home. This menu should include snacks, fruits and other foods that the child is not allergic to. And make sure that the child’s medications are with her/him in case of possible allergic reactions.
7. Pay attention to hand and foot hygiene
Nails are a breeding ground for bacteria. Germs living under children’s nails can easily infect their eyes, noses or mouths. Therefore, their nails must be clipped once a week, and hands must be disinfected thoroughly after clipping the nails. Foot hygiene is also important for schoolchildren. Foot perspiration can cause fungal infections. To allow their feet to breathe, children must wear cotton socks instead of synthetic ones and wear leather or canvas shoes.
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