Better nutrition benefits epilepsy sufferers

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people all over the world, including more than two million in the US alone. Types of epilepsy, once called the “ailment of royalty” range from mild “Peti-Mal” seizures which are usually a momentary lapse of concentration, to severe or “Grand-Mal” seizures such as the type suffered by Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, in which the sufferer looses all bodily control, including control of urination and defecation.

There have been recent studies made concerning the effect of diet on epilepsy, including following special diets which are low in sugars and other carbohydrates, especially what are known as “junk foods”. While these diets have not been proven to be completely effective to relieve the severity of epileptic seizures or prevent them altogether, studies concerning nutrition and its effects on epilepsy are showing that it is possible to relieve the severity of these seizures by changing one’s nutrition.

Nutritional recommendations for epilepsy suffers include eating and drinking the juice from raw, green leafy vegetables, beets, carrots, and other vegetables with high vitamin content (see our Natural Diet section). Add raw milk and cheese products, raw seeds and nuts, plus soy protein to your diet, plus bio-type sour milk yogurts, especially organic yogurts. Switch to using olive oil instead of other vegetable oils, including taking at least two tablespoons of high quality virgin olive oil a day. Instead of eating large meals three times a day, it’s better to eat several smaller meals and never large amounts of food at night. It’s also recommended not to drink large amounts of liquids at once, especially at meals, as this can bring on seizures.

Certain items such as coffee and tea containing caffeine, refined sugar, alcoholic beverages, fried foods and excessive animal protein should be substantially avoided; as well as using artificial sweeteners, especially Aspartame.

A number of beneficial vitamins and minerals should also be taken by epilepsy sufferers, including Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B-3 (niacin), magnesium, Folic and Pantothenic Acid, calcium and zinc.

It is also very important to engage in a moderate exercise program to improve blood circulation, especially to the brain. And most important, stress must be avoided as much as possible.

Epilepsy sufferers usually take a number of medications which, if taken together with other drugs, such as birth control pills and medications to control conditions such as hypertension and asthma may interact with epilepsy medications. By following the above diet recommendations, it may be possible to reduce the amount of epilepsy medications required as well as the frequency and severity of the seizures.


Herbs within your reach

Natural HerbsPhoto: Culinary Herb Guide

One of the true benefits of spring is the abundance of fresh herbs. While many herbs such as Basil, Oregano, Parsley and Thyme are available at your favorite grocer or whole foods store, many herbs can be found growing wild, or even in your neighborhood. There is simply nothing more lovely as a food taste enhancer than freshly picked herbs. Basil gives a special taste addition to a variety of foods, ranging from spaghetti and other pasta, to salads, meat dishes, and soups. Along with basil, oregano is a “must have” herb for Italian cookery; and fresh oregano is much more taste enhancing than the dried variety.

Herbs such as Rosemary and Sage are actually perennial plants which can often be found in the wild as well as in private and municipal gardens. Both of these zesty herbs go well will numerous dishes, including potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken and fish. Chives and Mustard (either domestic or wild) are also common in the spring and add zest and flavor to numerous dishes. Though not actually an herb, Garlic (a cousin to the onion) is a must for cooking and is also grown in organic gardens to help keep insect pests away. Garlic Chives are chive-like perennial plants that resemble chives but also have a special garlic-like flavor. They are often grown in organic gardens for reasons similar to garlic.

Herbs which have a special use include varieties of Mint, Fennel, and Dill. Mint is common in many gardens and besides its use in teas and other beverages has many uses as a flavor enhancer for meat dishes, especially lamb. Fennel is both an herb and a succulent vegetable whose flowering tops are used for flavor enhancers for food and sweets, especially licorice. Fennel’s bulb-like stalks resemble celery and can be cooked into many delicious vegetable and meat dishes. Dill is a common pickling herb as well as a taste enhancer in breads such as rye bread.

People who live near wooded or marshy areas can find many of these herbs growing wild during the spring and summer months. By picking them wild and consuming them immediately, you gain the benefit of using truly organic herbs. The alternative to picking them wild is growing them in you own organic garden, which can even be on your apartment balcony if you are a city dweller. Plant and garden nurseries provide special trough-like planters for growing herbs as well as special soil and other needed materials. You can also buy fresh organic herbs at whole food centers and other similar establishments, including public markets.

Green Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning often means having to use harsh, toxic cleaning compounds that are not only damaging to our environment but physically hazardous as well. As a result of more attention being given to organic and environmentally friendly household products, more and more people are preferring to use cleaning compound that are made without toxic chemicals. Nowadays, a growing number of these products are available and are not only being offered in whole foods and organic products stores, but in well known supermarket chains as well, including Krogers, Safeway, and even WalMart Super Stores.

For cleaning dishes, companies like Clean Environment Company are offering products such as ones which do not contain any petroleum based or carcinogen type chemicals and are completely bio-degradable. These products are made for both automatic dishwashers as well as for hand dishwashing, and are chlorine and phosphate free. They are designed to not only get the cleaning job done, but will not contaminate our ecological and water systems once they are flushed down the drain.

For the laundry, phosphate free liquid and powdered detergents are available that not only thoroughly clean your laundry but will not “suds up” in streams and lakes afterwards. Some of the ingredients in these detergents are linear alkyl sulfonate and alcohol ethoxylate (completely bio-degradable) and natural, citric acid based compounds. Since ordinary laundry detergents have been claimed to be leading contributor to environmental pollution, natural “bio-compounds” are much more friendly to our environment

For floor, furniture and appliance cleaning, environmental friendly cleaning products are available to take care of virtually any kind of cleaning job, including removal of lime scale and grease. Even oven cleaners are available which do not contain petroleum distillates, ammonia, or formaldehyde. All of these products, including ones like oven cleaners for “heavy” cleaning jobs are bio-degradable and do not contain previously mentioned toxic compounds

When throwing away trash, special “bio bags” are available which are biodegradable and won’t contaminate landfills and garbage dumps (that’s done enough already with ordinary polyethylene plastic bags). Pet owners should consider using environmentally friendly pet shampoos and litter bags.

Although these products cost more than ordinary cleaning products (between 20 – 50%) the fact that using them helps our environment is reason enough to “go green” when doing household cleaning chores.

Where is the Rice?

Rice Farmer in VietnamWorld food prices appear to be on the rise, almost to the point where people the world over are beginning to see for themselves the consequences of global warming. With populations booming in most Asian countries, particularly heavily populated ones like China, Japan, India and Indonesia, find that these rising food prices are affecting one of the worlds’ most basic yet stable food commodities – rice.

The old saying that bread (largely made from wheat and similar grains) is “the staff of life” no longer appears to be the case, as rice, Asia’s most commonly eaten food, is gaining in popularity. This fact is not really surprising as some of Asia’s most heavily populated countries depend heavily on the starchy grain which contains not only a good percentage of needed carbohydrates but essential vitamins as well. Rice has been a food staple in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years; and out of the world’s 6.5 billion inhabitants, rice is a vital food grain for at least 3 billion human beings.

Rice is relatively easy to grow and can be cultivated in marshy or swampy regions where other food grains are scarce. An average grain of brown rice (rice which still has the rice germ and bran hull) contains 78% carbohydrates, Vitamins B and E, proteins, and minerals such as potassium. Although people living in North America and Europe tend to eat the bleached white rice, which has less food value, more and more people are opting out for whole grain rice, found in better quality supermarkets and whole food stores. A 200 gram serving of cooked, brown rice contains 282 calories, 1.6 gm of dietary fiber, 1 mg of iron, 220 mg of magnesium, 198 mg of potassium, 0.3 mg of vitamin B1, 0.4 mg of vitamin B2, and 1.4 mg of zinc.

The most popular types of rice are long grain, Persian style, Basmati (popular in countries like India) and round, which is the basis for most Sushi recipes. Recent world weather fluctuations has resulted in severe damage to many Asian rice crops which is causing chromic to severe rice shortages in countries where inhabitants depend heavily on successful annual rice crops to ward off starvation. Rice shortages in Asian countries are also finding their way their way to Western countries, where rice has also become an important part of many peoples daily diet due to its easy digestibility and nutritional benefits.

Much emphasis has recently been placed on foods having a high GI or Glycemix Index. Foods with high GI indexes put weight on people faster and are high in glucose. White rice has a high GI or Glycemic Index and is therefore less healthier than brown varieties which have a much lower GI index.

Blueberries for your mind

Blueberries For Your BrainBlueberries are more than just a wonderful tasting fruit. They help improve our memory and delay the effects of aging. The beneficial properties of the berries of this plant, known by it’s Latin term of Cyanococcus vaccininum, has been evident for centuries. The plant has many varieties, and is found in both North America and Europe.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants which help deter aging. They are an excellent source of flavonoids which have positive attributes to keep the brain from losing its memory function, even in old age. Scientific studies of the effects of flavonoids on the brain have found that they help brain cells by enhancing existing neuronal or brain cell connections. Parts of the brain dealing with learning and memory are especially benefited by eating blueberries. Blueberries are also said to help improve eyesight, which was related by British air force pilots during the Second World War, who ate blueberry pie or jam prior to going on flying missions.

Prominent neurologists have found that the high level of flavonoids found in blueberries are very helpful to older people and helps slow down memory loss and even more pronounced memory loss conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. While all blueberries are high in antioxidants and flavonoids, wild blueberries or bilberries as they are often called in Europe, have even higher levels of these anti-aging and memory retentive compounds.

Besides the benefits previously noted, blueberries have also been found to be good in treating various forms of cancers as ingredients such as anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols and tannins are effective in keeping cancer cells from developing. The berries are also effective in preventing strokes in both humans and animals. Other healthful ingredients in blueberries include vitamins C and E, dietary fiber, and the mineral manganese.

Because of their healthful benefits, blueberries are very popular in organic and whole foods stores, where their healthful ingredients are very much appreciated.

So, next time you decide to make some pancakes or muffins for breakfast, consider adding some fresh or frozen blueberries to the batter, as well as using a spread made from blueberry jam. The benefits received will be more than just good taste.

Organic food benefits noted by The Organic Center

The Organic Center, based in Denver Colorado, released in March, 2008, a special report of its findings in which it was estimated that a much as 97% of the dangers from pesticides would be eliminated if America’s 8 million acres of land used for growing farm produce would be converted to organic farming.

Dr. Charles Benbrook, Chief research scientist for the Center, summarized in the report that the fundamental way to stop the dangers to food caused by pesticides is to “choose the organic option”. To back up this claim, comparison examples were made between farm produce grown organically to that grown by conventional methods, which included use of pesticides. According to Dr. Benbrook’s findings, American families are exposed to as much as 13 kinds of pesticide residues daily. Some of the larger amounts are found in spinach (9 residues), raisons (11 residues), peaches ( 5 or more residues) and bell peppers (as much as 12 residues).

To add to these findings, it was also noted in the report that other agricultural products, including dairy and meat products, were found to contain multiple pesticide residue. This is perfectly understandable, as the fodder fed to dairy and meat producing cattle comes largely from hay and alfalfa that had been sprayed with pesticides.

In regards to the production of fruits and vegetables, it was pointed out that only 3 per cent of agricultural land is utilized for growing these kinds of produce, with the remainder used for growing cereal grains and similar crops.

Dr. Benbrook added that although it will take years to changed current farming methods to growing crops by organic methods, at least 10 per cent of all crops are currently being grown by organic methods. As more and more consumers begin purchasing organic produce, the risks from pesticides will be reduced as well. The Organic Center included a list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide risk index. Some of these include: cranberries (178) bell peppers (132) and green beans (330). Imported produce has even higher pesticide indexes with “summer fruits” such as pears, grapes, peaches, and nectarines having indexes of 266 to 282, and vegetables like lettuce and cucumbers having indexes of between 316 and 326. Bell peppers, apparently “havens” pesticide residues, had indexes of over 700!

Taking these findings into consideration, it’s easy to see why it is worthwhile to purchase only organically grown produce.

Choline a vital nutrient for good health

Choline is an organic compound that was first discovered in 1864. It is classified as being part of the B-vitamin group and is found mostly in eggs, soy products, and cooked meats. Although this compound is considered as very important to maintaining good health, very few people are familiar with it. It is found in cell membranes and is considered as vital for maintaining healthy human cell growth. Scientific studies have concluded that choline intake in humans should be between 425 and 550 milligrams per day. As eggs are one of the commonest and least expensive sources of choline, eating one egg per day supplies a good portion of an average person’s need.

Choline is especially vital in women. Recent studies conducted by laboratories of the U.S. National Institute of Health have found that by consuming adequate amounts of choline daily, women have less chance of having breast cancer. Carried out among 3,000 adult women, the studies found that by consuming at least 450 milligrams of choline daily, women had 25% less chance of developing breast cancer than those who consumed lesser amounts. The studies concluded that choline is a very important nutrient for all persons, no matter what age or sex. Women of child bearing age need adequate amounts of this nutrient; especially pregnant women. One egg has around 125 mg of choline, or about a quarter of normal daily requirement. High amounts of choline are also found in liver, soy beans, cauliflower, and wheat germ (found in health and natural foods stores).

In addition to being effective against breast cancer, choline is also good for maintaining memory functions and against heart disease.

Choline can have an unpleasant side affect, however, as many people are not able to cope with high levels of choline in their bodies; which results in a disorder known as trimethylaminuria or “fish odor syndrome” in which their bodies begin to emit a strong, unpleasant order that smells like fish. People suffering form this condition are advised to consume less foods high in choline, especially liver (all kinds) and other organ meats.

Despite this problem, the benefits of this essential nutrient far outweigh any possible detriments, and people are advised to make sure they consume adequate amounts of choline in their daily diets.

Ridding yourself of excess stomach fat

Many people living in Western countries, especially North America and the U.K., have problems with excess fat around the midriff or stomach. While this common problem is often referred to humorously as having a “love hold” or a “spare tire”, too much body fat pushing on your heart can be dangerous and even fatal in the long run. Some people go the extreme to solve this problem by expensive (and dangerous) surgical procedures, such as “tummy tucks” and liposuction. There are much easier and safer ways to lose excess belly fat; and a proper, healthy diet is one of the best. As many people consume too much food high in unhealthy ingredients, try changing your daily diet by following these simple eating tips:

A. Eat a daily diet of whole grains and fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, lettuce and cabbage, carrots, whole wheat and rice, and tomatoes. It is preferable to eat organic vegetables, if available, but non-organic ones are all right if washed thoroughly to remove impurities and pesticides.

B. Avoid excess carbohydrates, which add plenty of pounds and are often found in “junk foods” like potato chips or fries, pizza, etc. Avoid commercial “white” breads which are high in additives and gluten. Eat only whole grain breads in limited quantities.

C. Eat fish (which is high in proteins and low in cholesterol) and poultry instead of beef and other “red” meats. When eating poultry, choose naturally grown “free-running” poultry over commercial cage raised ones, as natural poultry have little or no added vitamins and growth stimulants, or antibiotics.

D. Exercise is the best weight loss method, as simply changing one’s diet won’t help if a conscientious exercise program is not done. You don’t have to join an expensive gym or health club as exercising can be done at home and in your neighborhood. A brisk 30 minute walk every day will do wonders to remove belly fat; and exercise burns off body fat and calories. Don’t eat a meal loaded with carbohydrates after a workout, as this will negate any benefits gained by the workout.

All of the above tips will help considerably in removing unwanted belly and other body fats and will make a big difference to your figure in the long run.

Include Bananas in Your Health Food Diet

Although the advice of eating bananas has often been noted in information dealing with health and nutrition topics, there is a lot more to eating this fruit than many people are aware of .The advantages of eating bananas has been known since ancient times, and was considered an excellent food for armies such as the Roman Legions, due to its nutritional content and easy portability.

Include Bananas in Your Health Food DietBananas have been found to be not only be high in proteins and carbohydrates, but also contain many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, B6, calcium, iron, potassium and manganese. Organic versions of this fruit have a higher vitamin and mineral content; although the fruit tends to be smaller and more prone to insect infestation. Being low in sodium, bananas are an excellent choice for people on a low or salt free diet. Their high fiber content makes bananas a smart choice for those suffering from constipation, and they are also very beneficial for those suffering from stomach problems such as ulcers.

A number of ailments and physical problems have been found to be relieved and even cured by eating bananas. These include:

Stress: potassium in bananas help regulate heartbeat and send oxygen to the brain

Depression: a protein substance called Tryptophen produces a substance called Serotonin which induces relaxation and improves a person’s mental outlook.

Anemia: due to the fruit’s high iron content bananas are good for persons suffering from anemia.

Heartburn: bananas are a natural antacid

Morning sickness: bananas help keep blood sugar levels up in pregnant women, helping to prevent morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: rubbing the inside of banana skins on a bite will help reduce itching and swelling.

Strokes: eating bananas has been found to help prevent strokes due to their mineral content that is helpful in reducing cholesterol levels.

Wart control: This benefit really works, and involves putting a piece of banana skin, inside up, on a plaster and then applying it to the wart. This is especially effective for warts of the sole of the foot, otherwise known as “planter’s warts”.

One word of advice is to never put bananas into a refrigerator, as this lessens the fruit’s nutritional value. Bananas are also excellent for people trying to lose weight as it satisfies the craving for sugar while supplying needed nutrients. Many nutritionists claim that bananas are an almost perfect fruit. And don’t be so quick to throw that banana peel away, for in addition to curing warts and relieving mosquito bites, the inside part of the peel is also excellent for shining shoes. Try it sometime!

Boutique Hotels The Cut Above

Tired of spending your hard earned money and quality vacation time at a plastic hotel “mega hotel” in Vegas or in Cancun? Then try something different on your next holiday outing; a boutique hotel or holiday resort. Boutique or “concept” hotels are small hotels specializing in giving more personal service as well as special food menus and are often based on a certain type of theme or concept, hence the term concept hotels. Formerly known as Bed and Breakfast hotels, these charming places usually have anywhere from 10 to 100 rooms depending on the hotel’s location and what type of theme or concept it is trying to offer their guests. Since many of these hotels are truly works of art, and are set in some of the most captivating natural beauty spots in the world, more and more people are being drawn to stay in them in order to have a quieter, more natural type of holiday.

Boutique HotelsMany of these establishments serve menus tailored for those seeking natural or organic types of food, including those who request strict vegetarian (vegan) menus. Others have menus to conform to religious doctrines, such as Halal (for Muslims) or Strictly Kosher for Orthodox Jews.

Though the idea is not new by any means, the concept of offering a differing kind of hotel experience and holiday resort began to take shape in the 1960’s when many people became tired of staying a the large “Hilton” and “Holiday Inn” type of hotels where décor and amenities became standardized and personal service a thing of the past.

Some locations, including England and European countries also had quaint inns and small “B & B” hotels which could quickly be turned into boutique hotels. This also held true for tropical locations such as Thailand and Mexico; and as a result, one can find boutique hotels are now found in many countries around the world, and in some of the most popular tourist destinations. Whether one desires a picturesque lake shore location, a secluded beach front or tropical isle, or a desert of jungle surrounding, by accessing web sites dealing with such places, or simply inquiring at your favorite travel office, it is easy to pick out the most suitable boutique hotel to suit both your vacation aspirations and your pocketbook.

When entering such an establishment, the first thing usually noticed is the lovely and quaint combination of furnishing and decor. From the outset, one can see that this is no ordinary hotel, and this is usually followed up by a personal type of service that most people only have known about by seeing old motion picture films from the 1930’s and ’40s.

Those looking for a particular type of vacation “package” and readily find it at one of these hotels or resorts. Whether it be a vacation involving golf, tennis, boating and yachting, fishing, or just plain relaxing and beach combing, the right combination is readily obtainable. And some of these hotels may even be within an hour’s drive from where you live.