The power of fiber

Constipation the most common digestive complaint, that makes one feel bloated, irritated and make life miserable. Generally, constipation is defined as infrequent or fewer than three bowel movements per week. Less than one bowel movement per week is considered severe constipation.



Poor bowel habits, lack of fiber intake, high intake of meat and processed products, no physical activity, insufficient water intake are main reasons for constipation. Constipation could also results due to bowel obstructions, rectal cancer, hormonal disorders.

The symptoms are lower abdominal discomfort, straining and rectal bleeding, hemorrhoids, physiological distress and obsession with having bowel movements.

Foods high in fiber helps prevent constipation. Fruits, vegetables, spinach and other greens, beans, lentils, peas, whole grains, nuts, prunes and seeds are good sources of fiber.

Most whole food contains soluble and insoluble fibers. Both types of fiber help promote regular bowel movements.

Soluble fiber absorbs more water, making the waste softer, larger and easier to pass through the intestines.  Oats, nuts, beans, soft parts of fruits, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots  are good sources of soluble fiber

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, adds bulk to the waste material that hastens its passage through the gut and prevents from hard feeling.  Peels of fruits, like apple, berries, grapes, pears, whole grains are good sources of insoluble fibers

Tips for increasing fiber intake:

  1. Consume whole fruits instead of fruit juices
  2. Replace half of white rice with brown
  3. Enjoy whole meal sandwich.
  4. Snack on raw vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot sticks, plain popcorns, vegetable soups.
  5. Substitute beans for meat three times per week
  6. Balance each meal with cereals, meat/beans, nuts, fruits & vegetables.
  7. Stay active and do regular exercise.
  8. Drink enough water. Drinking water is the most important factor in relieving constipation

Prunes are Plums

Prune is the dried version of any type of plum.   There are many types of plums. The dried version of the European plum (Prunus domestica), is the one that is commonly found in stores. There are other versions of plums like Prunus Americana and Prunus Salicina.

Prunes are concentrated source of:



Vitamin A, B, K









There is 7g of fiber per 100 of fruit.  A serving is 3-4 fruits that gives roughly 3g of fiber which is about 12% of daily value.  Dried plums retain both soluble and insoluble fiber and sorbitol. Soluble fiber helps slow down the absorption of glucose that stabilizes blood glucose level.  80% of the fiber in prunes is soluble fiber. Prunes have about 15% sorbitol when other fruits contains less than 5% of the same. The sorbitol, like fiber, absorbs more water and also increases the intestinal microorganisms that improves the guts’ health.

Prunes are rich sources of Glucose, fructose, sorbitol and sucrose. But prunes do not spike blood sugar because it is compact with natural fibers. So, consumption of prunes should be not more than 3-4 prunes.

Fresh plums are filled with water and so packed with water soluble vitamin C, too.  Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that help prevent the formation of free radicals in the body. But we should also keep in mind that plum fruits, during the process of drying will lose its water and vitamin C and ends as a source of concentrated sugar with other nutrients and fiber.  It is the high sugar content that helps dry this fruit without fermentation.  So, 3-4 prunes can be taken, twice or thrice a week but not every day.

It also sounds good that prunes have lower GI when compared to other common dry fruits like raisins, figs and dates.  This low GI number is because of the fiber it is packed with. Fiber keeps you full for longer and helps relieve constipation, too!

Prunes are rich in antioxidants (polyphenols), lutein, cryptoxanthin, chlorogenic acid, coumaric acid that prevents cell mutation and reduce cancer cell formation.

Potassium, an essential mineral found in prunes helps maintain a healthy blood pressure level.

Vitamin A promotes strong vision and prevents macular degeneration and cataracts.

Small children’s digestive system in not fully developed and their requirements are much lesser than adults. Seek doctor’s advice before adding prunes to your child’s favorite food because excess amount will show the symptoms of diarrhea.

It is easy to incorporate prunes to our daily meal. Prunes can be added to oats cereal, porridge that requires no extra added sugar. Prunes are very sweet and can be taken alone or with mixed nuts or salads. Oats porridge with prunes, a delicious and colorful breakfast!

Regular exercise and right portion of meals, every day, will help maintain your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol.



Cold pressed: Healthier?

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Fruit juice that is considered healthy by most people is almost as bad as soft drinks. Greater intake of fruit juices are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Wonder why fruit juices are such culprits?  That is because they are loaded with sugars and have very less amount of fibre that do more harm than good.

There is no doubt that fruits are colourful, flavourful, refreshing and are rich in vitamins & minerals. People who eat minimum 3 servings of fruits are likely to have reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, some types of cancers, hypertension and heart diseases when compared to those who don’t take fruits every day.  Even if you are diabetic, you should still take at least 2 servings of fruits every day.  It is a fact that fruits contain sugar but they are nutritious and low in calories.  Berries, peaches and apricots are low in glycemic loads even when they are fully ripe.


Now the questioned is whether juice extraction or eating whole fruits is beneficial.

Juicing fruit is an easy way to squeeze more nutrients into your busy schedule but they are loaded with natural sugars as well!

A 250ml glass of unsweetened orange juice contains around 100 calories, compared to an orange that is packed with fibres contains only 60 calories!

Fresh juice is abundant in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.  But they lack fibre! Fruit juice that’s been robbed of its fibre is basically just a concentrated source of sugar.

Higher amount of sugar in the juice can quickly cause a rise in blood sugar levels.  If you are not careful, these extra calories can lead to weight gain!

Cold-press is another craze which some follow with a belief that these colourful juices can help cleanse their body. Some people take only cold-pressed juices as their main form to take fruits.  Do you think drinking only cold – pressed juices help detox your body.  Of course not.   Drinking just the cold-pressed juice doesn’t provide the body with all the essential nutrients to stay healthy. You need protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to proceed with the cleansing process in your body. In addition you also need to be physically active everyday, minimum 30 mins, to enhance the detoxing process.

Cold – pressed juice always comes with a higher price-tag!


Fruits glycemic index (a measure of how rapidly carbohydrates in a food elevates blood sugar) is not significantly associated with type 2 diabetes risk when compared to the high glycemic index fruit juice, which roll through the digestive system in a high speed than fibre loaded whole fruit, that is significantly associated with type 2 diabetes risk.

You can always blunt the blood sugar-raising effects by taking advantage of the fibres in the fruits and vegetables.

The main benefit of eating whole fruit is that the nutrients are intact and in addition you get both the soluble and insoluble types of fibres.  These two fibres along with other nutrients have a synergistic action in reducing the cholesterol levels, reducing the blood pressure, improving the insulin sensitivity, keeping you full for longer period that naturally will decrease the risk of obesity and heart diseases.

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Eating whole fruits was significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, for they are rich in fibre that makes your body absorb the natural sugars more slowly.  So, by grabbing a whole fruit you are less likely to experience a spike in your blood sugar.  Enjoy a crispy pear or a vibrant kiwi with your lunch!

To control the insulin spike, try to consume fruits with meals.  Combining fibre rich fruits with protein and fat foods will slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates that curtails the overall effect of the meal on your blood sugar levels.

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Having a salad with your meal will ensure that you get enough fibre that blocks the sugar absorption.

Betalains: The body armor

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Like carotenoids and porphyrins pigments, betalains too is a signalling molecule in nature. These powerful nutrients, help support the body’s ability to fight inflammation at the cellular level. Betalains contain a powerful anti oxidant and anti inflammatory characteristics. Betalains strengthens the cells and make them resistant to toxins and harmful bacteria. They are water soluble and are found only in very few plants in the world. Nopal fruit, Dragon fruit, Beets and Swiss chard are few foods, loaded with betalains. It is the betalains pigment that gives the beet its rich red color and the nopal fruit and dragon fruit the vibrant magenta color!

Radical scavenging activity

Betalains, are the most powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants scavenge the damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, which damage the cell membrane and tamper with DNA. It is critical that we consume natural foods rich in antioxidant properties. So, choose betalains rich foods to shore up the protective layer of the body.

Betalains protect againts premature aging

Betalains helps us to make our skin look young, help resist infections from harmful bacterias and viruses. Our skin gets damaged due to pollutants, toxins, and radiation that leads to thinning, sagging, and withered skin. Betalains fill in the gaps of the cells and gives them a firm, roburst, glowing nature at any age. They stimulate cell production & repair that keep your skin firm and youthful. Betalains, the  wonderful & powerful antioxidants, protect the skin from premature aging and wrinkles. No wonder they are the real body armor around the cells!

Improves blood sugar levels

Betalains contains soluble fiber that controls blood sugar and reduces LDL cholesterol. Dragaon/nopal fruit consumed before meals keeps full for a longer time that prevents food craving, later. The soluble fiber in the fruit that helps attract water and form a gel, will slow down the digestion. It also delays the emptying of the stomach that makes you feel full. Slower stomach emptying affects the blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity.

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The soluble fiber interferes with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Bio-available betalains from these foods are involved with the reduction of LDL cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

The redox potential

Betalains protect cells from toxins, especially those in the brain. Betalains neutralizes toxins by increasing the liver detoxification enzymes that help eliminate the toxins from the body. This redox potential helps protect the brain, liver and kidneys!

Good health is everything. So opt for complex carbohydrates with high biological value proteins, vegetables & fruits and of course aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity, every day.


Pietrzkowski Z, Argumedo R, Shu C, Nemzer B, Wybraniec S, Reyes-Izquierdo T, Betalain-rich red beet concentrate improves reduced knee discomfort and joint function: a double blind, placebo-controlled pilot clinical study, Nutrition and Dietary Supplements 2014:6

Luisa Tesoriere, Mario Allegra, Daniela Butera, and Maria A Livrea Absorption, excretion, and distribution of dietary antioxidant betalains in LDLs: potential health effects of betalains in humans Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:941–5. Printed in USA 2004 American Society for Clinical Nutrition

Nurliyana, R., Syed Zahir, Mustapha Suleiman, K., Aisyah, M.R. and Kamarul Rahim, K. Antioxidant study of pulps and peels of dragon fruits: a comparative study International Food Research Journal 17: 367-375 (2010)

Flashy fruits & vegetables: To strike out cancer!

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If you are concerned about lowering the risk of cancer, take comfort in the fact that “Some simple lifestyle changes can make big difference.” Yes, the primary prevention of cancer is through better lifestyles like  healthy eating, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, UV-exposure reduction and screen to precancerous lesions.

Maintain a healthy weight

A BMI of 25 or less is optimal. Waist size should also be considered, for higher the amount of body fat deposited in and around the waist signifies higher risk of cancer. Having too much belly fat is linked with an increased risk of colorectal, prostate pancreas, edometrium( linging of the uterus) and breast cancer ( in women past menopause). Higher intake of dietary fat & alcohol and low level of exercise is the leading cause of colorectal and prostate cancer in men. Men tend to accumulate more fats than women!! It is obvious that all men should lose the belly fat to reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  In women, though estrogen levels dip during the menopause, far more women experiences the symptoms of estrogen dominance-the increase in hunger and  the decrease in metabolism,  that leads to fat gain around the waist! Gaining weight after menopause will increase the risk of breast cancer in women. So, after 40 years, women should focus on small-frequent -healthy meals with regular physical activity to maintain their weight. 

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If you are overweight or obese, no worries…………. Just work to lose the weight! Excess body fat can be reduced by lowering the number of calories you consume (lowering the portion size), choosing a low-fat diet, and increasing the physical activity!

Regular physical activity will help reduce your risk of cancer and recurrence through several powerful and synergistic mechanism. Strive for at least 30 mins of moderate aerobic exercise. Combining aerobic and resistance exercise will have a wonderful effect on glycemic control in individual with type 2 diabetes. Enjoy performing some light stretching exercises often.


Eat healthy food

Healthy selections at the grocery stores and at mealtime will help reduce your cancer risk.

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  • Fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses are generally low in calories and fat. They are considered the good food choices that help you control your weight and reduce your cancer risk. They are also rich in vitamins & minerals that strengthen the immune system. Dark colored beans, vegetables & fruits are high in antioxidants which prevent the cell damage that leads to cancer. The fibers, linked to reduce the cancer risk! Scientists at Cancer Prevention Institute of California have found that a diet high in fruits & vegetables may significantly reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Eating lots of vegetables, especially cooked tomato-based foods, rich in lycopene, can lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Watermelon, grapefruit, red & pink guava are also good sources of lycopene. Aviary Photo_130279416386388766
  • Berries are high in antioxidant properties. Blueberries rank number one in terms of their antioxidant power. Antioxidants neutralizes the free radicals, an unstable compounds that damage the cells and lead to diseases including cancer.  Aviary Photo_130298342051170378Grab the blue berries!  
  • Eating a diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Dietary fibers protect against breast cancer through inhibition of the intestinal reabsorption of estrogen.
    • Soluble fiber has been shown to be more effective in controlling the blood glucose, insulin, which have been positively related to the risk of breast cancer.
    • Insoluble fiber are more effective in binding and excreting estrogen. 

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  • Nut eaters are less likely to die of cancer! The unsaturated fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients from heart-healthy peanuts, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios are not only cardio protective, also anti-carcinogenic, and with antioxidant properties, that aid in lowering the cholesterol, inflammation and reducing the risk of cancer. Nuts are goods sources of selenium, that helps destroy cancer cells and aid cells repair their DNA. Enjoy a handful of nuts with fresh green salads rich in fibers, vitamins & minerals and antioxidants.

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  • Choose wholegrain, for refined foods are high in GI, the glycemic index. Research has shown that women even with BMI < 25, had an increased risk of breast cancer with an increasing amount of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates!!!
  • Limit eating processed meat like – smoked, cured, salted, added preservatives, for the diet high in processed meat is linked to bowel cancer!
  • Controlling the intake of foods high in calories, fats and sugar will help reduce the risk of bowel and breast cancers!
  • Culinary herbs like garlic, mint, basil, oregano, cilantro (coriander leaves), chives, parsley not only add flavor and color to meals, they also help to prevent and manage heart disease, cancer and diabetes!Aviary Photo_130298358633601086IMG_7098
  • Choose baking, boiling, steaming or stir frying as healthy cooking options, for they limit the use of fat and reduce the risk of being overweight! Broccoli is a good source of cancer-protective flavonoids. Micorwaving destroys 90% of its flavonoids. So, it is wise to steam it, or stir fry this vegetable to hold the cancer preventing flavonoids.

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Go moderate on alcohol.

Alcohol is a known cause of mouth, throat, liver, colon and rectum cancers. People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than a drink per day.

Protect yourself from the sun

Many skin cancers are caused by excess exposure to UV rays from the sun or other sources. Stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun rays are strongest. Avoid tanning beds, for these are just as damaging as UV rays.

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Don’t use tobacco

Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. It has been linked to various types of cancer, including the cancer of lung, bladder, cervix and kidney. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women.

Good, if you don’t smoke. But exposure to second hand and sidestream smoke might increase the risk of lung cancer! So, provide a safe, enjoyable and accessible environments for yourself and your family.

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You have the power, to reduce your cancer risk, by having a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.Aviary Photo_130298303425323766


  • Yikyung Park, Louise A Brinton, Amy F Subar, Albert Hollenbeck, and Arthur Schatzkin. Dietary fiber intake and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women: the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr September 2009 vol. 90 no. 3 664-671
  • Wanqing Wen, Xiao Ou Shu, Honglan Li, Gong Yang, Bu-Tian Ji, Hui Cai, Yu-Tang Gao, and Wei Zheng. Dietary carbohydrates, fiber, and breast cancer risk in Chinese women. Am J Clin Nutr January 2009 vol. 89no. 1 283-289
  • Martin Lajous, Marie-Christine Bourton-Ruault, Alban Fabre, Francoise Clavel-Chapelon, and Isabelle Romieu. Carbohydrate intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer in a prospective study of French women. Am J Clin Nutr May 2008 vol. 87 no. 5 1384-1391
  • Ernest H Rosenbaum, M.D. David Spiegel, M.D. Patricia Fobair, L.C.S.W., M.P.H. Hollyl Gautier, R.N. With Louise Maffitt, B.F.A. Everynone’s Guide to Cancer Survivorship; A Road Map for Bette Health. 2007