Teen: Nutrition

Growth and development are in high-speed during teenage years and the demands for calories during this period in early adolescence is more than at any other time of life.  A number of physiological, physical and behavioral changes occurs and these changes requires an increase in the amount of nutrients.  The taller kids and those who involve in sports activity will still need increased amounts of energy into late adolescence.

Though it is obvious that adolescents need sufficient energy and nutrients for their growth and development, some are inactive and eat more than they need and become overweight. If they don’t show interest to reduce their weight by controlling their intake, obesity will take over them.  Lifestyle changes will improve their weight in the long-term.

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Protein is an essential micro nutrient for growth, and tissue repair. An athlete performance depends on muscle strength and these muscles are made of protein. It is not just the protein consumed in one sitting aid in muscle strength.  Regular exercise along with high biological value proteins that is spread all throughout the day will help build up muscles. Young people should do regular exercise at least for 60 mins of moderate intensity activity (walking, cycling, dancing) every day.  Protein recommendation per day for 11-13yrs is 34g and 14-18yrs is 46g. Athletes require a higher amount of protein than recommended, which is calculated by a sports physiologist/nutritionist, based on the intensity of the activity.

Teens needs carbohydrates that is vital to their health for various reasons. Carbohydrates are main source of energy. They help fuel the brain, kidneys, heart, muscles and central nervous system. It is the main fuel source of energy. But not all carbohydrates are equal.  Eating breakfast made with “slow-release” of carbohydrates, like oatmeal 3 hours before exercise will help burn more fat efficiently.

  • Whole grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates that takes longer time to digest and are high in fiber, selenium, magnesium and potassium than refined grains and products.
  • Whole fruits and vegetables add water, fiber and bulk that are packed with fewer calories and at the same time it helps to feel fuller.

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In order to maximize the amount of nutrients you take in, consume nutrient dense foods that is naturally  lean and low in solid fats, sugars, refined starches and sodium.  Beverages account for almost 40-50% percentage of added sugars consumed by teenagers. Desserts like cakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, ice cream, frozen desserts and puddings, candies, syrups makes more than 75% of intake of all added sugars. Shift to reduce sugars consumption to less than 10 percent of calories per day. Choose beverages with no added sugars in place of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Mixed dishes (made of cheese, meat or both and sodium) like burgers, sandwiches, pizza, tacos, rice, pasta are major source of saturated fats. Shift to reduce saturated fats intake less than 10 percent of calories per day. Shift from high saturated fats to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Read the food labels and choose lower fat forms of foods. Best option is to change ingredients of the mixed dishes to healthier choices like vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat cheese, in place of fatty meat and cheese.

Most sodium consumed by teens comes from salts added during commercial food processing and preparation. Commercially processed or prepared mixed dishes and soups account for almost half of their sodium consumption.  Reading food labels to compare sodium content of the product will help choose the product with less sodium. Limiting sauces, mixes and instant products like flavored rice, instant-noodles, ready to eat pasta will help reduce the sodium consumption.  Garnishing the food with herbs and spices is another better option that curbs the salty desire.  High sodium intake will increase blood pressure and cause calcium losses that leads to bone demineralization that increases the risk of osteoporosis causing fragility and breakages even in young people.

Calcium rich foods like low-fat dairy products, green vegetables like watercress, broccoli, almonds, fish with bones will help to increase the bone mass in young people.  A combination of protein, calcium and vitamin C together help form collagen. So, balancing the meal is the key.

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Iron requirements increase during adolescence to help with growth and muscle development. Girls need more iron to replace their menstrual losses.  So, teens should focus more on iron rich foods. Iron from meat sources are readily absorbed by the human body. Though meat is a good source of iron, teens should go for lean protein that is low in saturated fat.  Nuts, wholegrains, dark green leafy vegetables, figs are also loaded with iron. Iron in egg and vegetarian sources are not easily absorbed by the body. Vitamin C from fruits will help absorb the iron from these sources. So, it is wise to take fruits rich in vitamin C along with these foods. For example spinach and egg salad garnished with orange slices and lemon & mint dressing is a good, colorful and natural shot of iron. In addition it is also loaded with vitamins & minerals and fibers.

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Adolescents should focus on fiber too. Fiber is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion and keeps cholesterol in control. Fiber latches onto your food and chauffeurs it through your body. Fiber is a natural laxative that promotes the movement of material through the digestive system and benefits those struggles with constipation.  Teens should aim to have 25-30g of fiber every day.

Eating disorders are seen in many teen girls, particularly those aged between 12-18yrs. During middle and late adolescence, girls eat roughly 20-30% fewer calories per day than boys. Anorexia nervosa is an illness where girls tend to keep their body weight low either by consuming less,  Some vomit after eating and some refuse to eat!  Some girls use laxatives or overdo the exercise to keep their body weight low. Bulimia nervosa is another illness where the sufferers are obsessed with the fear of gaining weight. They lack self-control and have a recurring pattern of eating large food, followed by self-induced vomiting. Some have emotional overeating like eating large quantities of food in response to negative emotions. Few teenagers are binge eaters where they eat large quantities of food in faster pace than normal.

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They are more likely to have vitamins & minerals in a scant amount. Lesser the amount of food consumed than recommended, lower the availability of vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and folate in some girls. Unless a doctor evaluation states a specific deficiency, it’s preferable to obtain nutrients from food instead from dietary supplements. Some teen boys too have eating disorders!

Awareness of food & exercise will help teens to avoid mistaken attitudes about food, weight and body shape. “A balanced meal” is the key to prevent eating disorders and regular exercise will help improve their moods!

References

https://www.nutrition.org.uk

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015

http://www.mayoclinic.org/

https://www.nal.usda.gov

https://www.healthychildren.org/

 

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Slow cook: Benefit beyond nutrients!

Egg, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, beans are good sources of proteins.

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As we all know, proteins are large molecules with various amino acids linked together. The protein vibrates while cooking, therefore causing a denaturation of the protein molecules that has a substantial changes in the texture of the protein food. For example, when an egg is cooked, denaturation and rearrangement of the key protein molecules occurs. These rearrangement process will change the runny fluid texture to a rigid, firm texture. A wonderful network of protein!

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When it comes to meat-cooking, low and slow is definitely the way to go.  To reap the real benefits of high protein foods you should cook them slow.

Meat is different from egg. Raw meat is rich in collagen, a tight protein.  Collagen, a major component of the meat has tough and chewy texture. When done properly, this stiff & tough collagen will become a mouth-watering gelatin.  An amazing cooking process!

During slow cooking at 160º F /70º C, the connective tissue collagen protein begins to react with water molecules to form gelatin.  Gelatin is a nutrient that helps improve and support the liver & joint function, digestion, skin and muscle recovery! Gelatin is also a major ingredient for hair & nail growth!

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The slow cooking process will tenderize the meat without using additional fats that gives a soft and more palatable texture. The heat inside the crock pot builds up slowly and when the steam is not allowed to escape, the food will naturally retain the moisture. This slow cooking process will also help to pull out the nutrients from the bone. When cooked for longer hours, the tougher meats will slide down from the bone very easily. The taste, really great!

Slow cooking the meat at a lower temperature in a liquid, will help reduce the number of cell-damaging compounds called AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products) when compared to food cooked in high temperature.  Methods of High cooking temperature like frying, grilling, roasting or broiling may produce these dangerous compounds that damage DNA.

Thaw the frozen meat, poultry, and trim the visible fat before adding to the slow cooker.  Slow-cookers require less energy than other traditional cooking methods.

Pre-soaking process will help to reap the protein benefit of the beans.  Soaking softens the beans. The beans can either be soaked overnight or you can bring the beans to boil for 1 minute and let stay soaked for an hour. Soaking in warm water encourage the production of various beneficial enzymes.  During the soaking process, the difficult-to- digest proteins are partially broken so that the body can digest and absorb the proteins easily.

It is important to drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Soaking allows the beans to release the in-digestible sugars and other toxic compounds that are naturally found in the dried seeds.

Slow cooking process will help vegetables to retain more flavor and makes the dish more appealing too. The broth along with the vegetables are rich in nutrients. The foods cooked slow and in lower temperature will help to preserve the vitamins and minerals. The firm vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, turnips will do well in slow cooker.  Do not add the canned beans or vegetables to the slow cooker, for they are already cooked.

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You can add the lemon and herbs at the end of the cooking process. Cooking beans with honey, sugar, lemon, or tomatoes will only harden the beans!

Slow cooker is more convenient and safe to prepare meals while being away from home. It comes in several sizes like 1-quart model to 12-quart models. You will not be tempted to grab the fast foods once you know that a healthy meal is waiting for you at home!

Recipe

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org

Baked chicken and wild rice with onion tarragon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups whole pearl onions
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Cut chicken breasts into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. Combine the chicken, celery, pearl onions and tarragon plus 1 cup of the unsalted chicken broth in a nonstick frying pan. Cook on medium heat until the chicken and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a baking dish, combine the wine, remaining 1 cup chicken broth, and rice. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken and vegetables to the baking dish. Cover and bake for 60 minutes. Check periodically and add more broth if the rice is too dry. Serve immediately.

Nutritional analysis per serving

Serving size: About 2 cups

  • Total carbohydrate 37 g
  • Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Sodium 180 mg
  • Saturated fat 1 g
  • Total fat 3 g
  • Trans fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 73 mg
  • Protein 21 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 1 g
  • Calories 330
  • Sugars 0 g

References

www.webmd.com

http://www.cancer.gov/

Charles Alais and Guy Linden, Food Biochemistry, 1991

http://www.mayoclinic.org

 

Understanding Protein

Muscle tissue is often the first bodily structure that strikes your mind when considering protein existence in the body. Indeed, the majority of the body’s protein exists in the form of skeletal, bone, and organ tissues! Proteins are also part of enzymes, antibodies, lipoproteins, hormones, hemoglobin, albumin and are profoundly powerful.

Meat, poultry, seafood, beans & peas, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds are considered best sources of protein foods.

Wonder what makes almonds a high-quality protein and egg & meat considered, a complete protein food?

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Protein in the human body is composed of 20 amino acids. More than half of these (called non-essential amino acids) can be synthesized by the human body. Nine of them (called essential amino acids) should be obtained through the diet, for the body cannot manufacture them!

Animal protein and egg are considered High-quality, high biological value and complete protein foods, for they contain all the essential amino acids.

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Histine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are the 9 essential amino acids. They have vital role in – regulating your mood & sleep, muscle metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, the production of sulphur, regulating blood sugar, aiding the production of collagen, antibody formation, and regulating the central and peripheral nervous system.

Proteins’ functions are really wonderful and amazing!

For example, Tryptophan helps maintain your body’s serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters levels that plays vital role in the regulation of mood and sleep. Isn’t it obvious that low levels of tryptophan can lead to depression and insomnia? Chocolate, mangoes, dairy products, oats, eggs, fish, chickpeas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are good sources of tryptophan. Drinking milk before bed, makes sense!

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Leucine, another essential amino acid,  increases the muscle mass and helps muscle recovery after exercise. Dairy products, meat, soy protein, nuts & seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) are listed as good sources of leucine

Beans & peas are good sources of plant protein and are considered vegetable alternatives for meat. In addition, they also provide iron and zinc. Though they are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution to protein, plant proteins are referred as incomplete protein, for they are difficient in one or more of the essential amino acids. Grains tend to be low in lysine and beans are low in methionine and cysteine.

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Of the plant proteins soy, quinoa are considered complete and high-quality protein! Almonds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins & minerals and need no fortification!

Get a good mix of protein

Vegan should consider the quality of protein while planning their meal. It is important to consume a variety of plant protein foods to get all the essential amino acids over the course of the day. It is very easy to meet the recommendations for protein, through varied diet throughout the day. The key is to consume a variety and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs. 

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Combining plant proteins, generally referred as “Complementary proteins,” is the best way to achieve all the essential amino acids.

Beans and rice, beans and corn, beans and wheat, white cheddar with whole wheat pasta, yogurt with flax seeds, green salad with nuts & seeds, mango & quinoa salad, whole wheat or rye bread and peanut butter are few of the examples of combined complementary proteins.

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Avocado fruit, widely considered as vegetable, mixed with beans and corn is an excellent combined complementary proteins salad! Avocado contains a generous amount of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids, too!

Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids and is gluten free!

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Quinoa-mango salad – colourful and highly nutritious!

Tender beans & peas are also considered part of the vegetable groups, for they are good sources of fibers and potassium. Beans and  peas are recommended, for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians because of their high nutrient content.

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You need to pay attention to the package of the protein, too!

For example, in beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains, protein comes in a package with healthful fiber and micronutrients. When you consider meat or whole milk, it is just the contrary! The protein comes packaged with unhealthy fat!

Though animal proteins are considered as, “High – quality, high biological value and complete protein food, they are also high in saturated fats!” Diets high in animal fats will not give a reduced risk of heart disease. So, go lean with protein:

  • Round steaks top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder are the leanest beef cuts.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.

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  • Choose boiling, broiling, grilling, roasting or poaching cooking methods instead of frying. Avoid breading or battering the meat, poultry or fish. Breading adds calories, battering absorbs more oil there by increasing the calories!

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  • Opt for low-fat dairy products.

For recommended daily amounts of protein, click: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/printpages/MyPlateFoodGroups/ProteinFoods/food-groups.protein-foods-amount.pdf

Protein supplement is the spot light these days! There are many advertisements too, for protein supplements like whey protein, casein, soy protein, protein-energy bars & cookies, testosterone-fueled protein products. Are they truly necessary for you?  Many nutritional experts say “No…….,” to supplements.  

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and lean meats & sea foods will give you all the essential nutrients your body requires for optimal health.

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There are many articles touting high protein diet. These high-protein diets, are gaining more popularity among those who want to drop pounds and build muscles. A total misguidance. These plans restrict carbs and the major source of protein is the red meat and full-fat dairy products, rich in saturated fats that raises the risk of cardiac disease! So, protein alone, as a tool for weight loss or weight maintenance, should not be encouraged.

Recently, I had a conversation with a taxi driver, a very beautiful lady, on “Health & Nutrition!” She did mention that there was no time for her to concentrate on physical activity and doesn’t like to take fruits. Also said that she is taking supplements especially, the protein and much more interested to go for vitamins & mineral supplements! I am not very comfortable with her, taking a protein supplement, which she really doesn’t need! She was not convinced when I said no to supplements. So, with much caution and care, I did explain that protein supplements are designed for the professional athletes who are involved with intense training and for patients with muscle wasting. I discouraged her, who hardly does exercise, from having these protein supplements. I  encouraged her to do exercise minimum 30mins/day (10-minute increment) and take more fruits and vegetables for vitamins & minerals with whole grains, beans and lean meat! When we reached the destination, with a broad smile, she did agree to take a balanced diet and will try to do physical activities, in future!

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Protein supplements, even for athletes is only upon consultation with doctors and sports dietitian based on their training load, daily energy requirements, and their general dietary intake. Many protein-amino acid supplementation are linked to dehydration, hypercalciuria, weight gain, and stress on liver & kidneys! So, in general, athletes are encouraged to opt for small, frequent servings of high-quality protein rich foods that will not only provide adequate protein but also other nutrients that the body requires!

Why supplements when you can get good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals from the balanced food you eat everyday?

I would like to conclude that, “ A balanced diet rich in vegetables & fruits, dairy products, nuts & seeds, beans, lean meats, and whole grains will give the body adequate calorie, protien, vitamins & minerals required for optimal health.” Well balanced meals with regular physical activities, everyday, help manage your weight easily!

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References

Vitamin C for bone healing!

Fractured your bone? Don’t worry…. you still can improve the strength of your bone.

When you break a bone, your body takes immediate action to repair the damage. The healing is a continuous & energy intensive process. So, good nutrition is necessary to ensure perfect and speedy recovery. You may have to work harder to build bones regardless of your current bone status. Healing requires good blood circulation and adequate nutrition through variety of food.

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When you think of bone health, milk is the first food that comes to your mind. Of course, it is an excellent and easy source of calcium, for a glass of milk (240ml/80z) will provide 300mg of calcium.  Calcium recommendation for an adult is 1000mg/day. Calcium is an essential mineral for the bone, muscle and heart activity.

Other dairy products like cheese and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Salmon, sardines, anchovies are among sea foods, rich in calcium. Spinach, collards and swiss chards are good vegetable sources of calcium. Broccoli, turnip leaves, asparagus, and mustard greens also contain fair amount of calcium. White beans, kidney beans, calcium fortified soy products & cereals, contains moderate amount of calcium. A teaspoon of sesame seeds over cooked greens and a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds to green salad, will enrich the dish with calcium.

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Excess salt, soda and caffeine consumption will decrease the calcium absorption. For bone health, it is best not to drink too many soft drinks or cups of coffee or tea, everyday.

It is not just the calcium that is essential for the formation of bone. You also need good amount of protein, vitamin D, vitamin K, and vitamin C for bone formation and quick healing. 

Protein plays important role in enhancing the integrity of your bones. Bone is a connective tissue composed of an organic protein, collagen that gives strength & flexibility to the bone and muscles. By volume, half of bone is comprised of protein. Poor protein status will take longer time to heal.

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Intake of protein and calcium should be adequate for bone repair.  A constant stream of amino acids, building blocks of protein, is required through regular balanced diet. For elderly, the protein intake is little higher than the recommended intakes. Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and soy foods are considered high biological value protein foods.

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Edamame (fresh green soybean) and calcium fortified tofu, tempeh, and soy beverages are excellent sources of bone-building protein. Soy milk contains plant estrogen that increases the absorption of calcium.

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Among nuts almonds, pistachios, sunflower, and walnuts seeds have the highest amount of protein but high in calories, too!  So, just a handful of any plain or baked nuts a day, is sufficient.  Control intake of pecan and macadamia, for they are lower in protein and high in fat content.

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential for the dietary calcium to get absorbed by the intestine.  You could drink milk all day, but the calcium in it would not do much good to your bone unless it is accompanied by vitamin D. Mushroom, egg yolk, oyster, sardines, tuna, herrings, are good sources of Vitamin D. Milk also contains some amount of vitamin D.

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Expose yourself to sunlight, everyday (before 9:00am and after 4:00pm) for vitamin D. Sunlight exposure is truly one of the powerful healing therapy. Yes, skin produces vitamin D when hit by ultraviolet light from the sun.  An UV advantage!   But this healing rays cannot penetrate glass. So, by just sitting inside a car or a glass room, you cannot generate vitamin D. You need to step out of the door and enjoy the sunlight!

Kidney beans are a good source of calcium and also rich in vitamin K that activate proteins during the bone formation. Other vitamain K rich foods are lettuce, spinach, turnip leaves, broccoli, and liver.

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Vitamin C promotes the formation of new connective tissue, the collagen, that holds our body together. Collagen is the most abundant protein when compared to other proteins in our body. No heart or other organs and blood vessels could perform its function without the collagen, protein. Vitamin C is essential in every steps that involved in the manufacturing of collagen! Fruits are good sources of vitamin C. Include variety of fruits to every meal, every day.

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Good blood circulation and consumption of high biological value protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin K  rich food will speed up the healing process of bone, and also help reduce the chance of getting fracture in future.

References

  • Rober P Heaney and Donald K Layman: “Amount and type of protein influences bone health,” Am J clin Nutr May 2008 vol.87 no. 5 15675-1570S
  • H E Theobald: “Dietary calcium and health,” 2005 British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin, 30, 237-277
  • Bess Dawson – Hughes: “ Calcium and Vitamin D Nutritional Needs of Elderly Women,” J. Nutr. April 1996 126: 1165S-1167S
  • Jean Philippe Bonjour, Valerie Benoit, Brigitte Rousseau, and Jean-Claude Souberbielle: Consumption of Vitamin D and Calcium Fortified soft white cheese lowers the biochemical marker of bone resorption TRAP 5b in Postmenopausal women at moderat risk of osteoporosis fracture,” J. Nutr. April 1 2012 vol. 142 no. 4 698-703
  • www.nof.org
  • www.mayoclinic.com
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov