Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Amazing Cucumber

This information was in The New York Times as part of their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!Pass this along to everybody you know who is looking for better and safer ways to solve life's everyday problems

Friday, October 23, 2009

Breast Cancer

What is breast cancer?

Our breasts are made up of fat and gland tissue. All glandular tissue in the breast is made up of individual cells that reproduce under the control of hormones. When the process goes out of control and an abnormal cell develops, this is the start of cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Singaporean women, with 1 out of 20 women contracting breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • There are two broad types of breast cancer - pre-invasive and invasive breast cancer.
Pre-invasive Breast Cancer
  • Cancer cells are confined to the breast's ducts or lobules and unable to spread.
  • Classified as stage 0 breast cancer.
  • If diagnosed at this stage, treatment is usually effective and chemotherapy or other adjuvant therapy are not required.
Invasive Breast Cancer
  • Cancer cells spread outside the milk ducts or the lobules, to the surrounding breast tissues.
  • Breast cancer cells then move into the lymph nodes or blood stream, travellng to other parts of the body usually bones, liver and lungs.
  • Classified into 4 stages (stage 1 to 4 according to severity).
  • The smaller the size of the cancer at diagnosis, the better the chances of survival for the patient upon treatment.
*It is important to diagnose a cancer early, especially when in its pre-invasive form, as a cure is possible with treatment at this early stage.

Who is at risk?

Women aged 40 and above are more prone to breast cancer.
  • Age - risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.
  • Personal history of breast cancer.
  • Family history of breast cancer in first degree relatives such as mother, sister or daughter.
  • Genetic predisposition - about 5-10% of breast cancers are inherited.
  • Radiation exposure to chest in childhood or adolescence.
  • Early onset of menses and late menopause.
  • Hormone replacement therapy with a combination of estrogen and progesterone for four or more years.
  • Birth control pills - use of pills for four years or more is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol intake.
  • Women who have never been pregnant also have a high risk of breast cancer. Getting pregnant for the first time after the age of 30 also increases the risk.
How can you prevent it?
  • Know the symptoms of breast cancer and conduct self-check regularly.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Maintain a healthy weight -> clear link between obesity and breast cancer.
  • Avoid long-term hormone therapy.
  • Be physically active.
  • Eat foods high in fibre such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Consume more olive oil as oleic acid, the main component of olive oil, appears to suppress the action of some cancer related genes in breast cancer.
  • See a doctor immediately when you notice changes in your breasts.
How can you detect changes in your breasts?

Breast changes can be detected via:
• mammography (breast X-ray)
• clinical breast examination
• breast self-examination (do BSE one week after your period, when the breasts are less tender and lumpy. If you
no longer have your period, choose a day that you will remember each month.)

Age 20-39
Age 40-49
Age 50 and above

(once a year)

(once every 2 years)
Clinical breast examination
Self-check once a month

Do you have it?

According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
  • swelling of all or part of the breast
  • skin irritation or dimpling
  • breast pain
  • nipple pain or nipple turning inward
  • redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • a lump in the underarm area
*You may not feel any pain for any of these changes. Most lumps and changes are not cancerous. However, you should still see a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.


Saturday, October 03, 2009


Food you should avoid:
  • Fats to avoid: food high in saturated and trans fats such as animal products (fatty meat, cheese, butter), vegetable fats (cocoa butter, coconut oil, palm oil), fast food, processed food (pastries, cakes, biscuits, potato chips)
  • Beneficial fats (should still be eaten in moderation): food high in polyunsaturated (omega 3 & 6 fatty acids) and monounsaturated fats such as nuts (almonds, cashew, hazelnuts), grains, seeds (sunflower seed, sesame), vegetable oil (corn, soybean, sunflower), oily fish (sardine, salmon, tuna, codfish), avocados, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sesame oil
  • A diet high in sodium increases risk of hypertension, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Not only found in salt (also contained in soy sauce, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, oyster sauce etc.), but also in monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda and baking powder.
  • Drinking in moderation protects your heart, but too much increases risk of cardiovascular disease.
Beneficial food:
Fruits and vegetables
  • A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables protects your heart.
Wholegrain cereals
  • Whole grains contain folic acid, B vitamins and fibre, all of which are important protectors against heart disease. Processed grains like that used to make white bread and pasta do not have the same benefits as wholegrain cereals.
  • In countries where fish consumption is high there is a reduced risk of death from all causes as well as cardiovascular mortality.
  • Eating nuts regularly is associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
  • In a study of people without any heart disease, eating 47g of soy protein a day led to a 9% drop in total cholesterol and a 13% reduction in LDL cholesterol.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fruits and Veggie Chart

The above is for reading information. Read it with a pinch of salt.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What is pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcal disease caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. The bacteria can invade the lungs, bloodstream and tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord resulting in a number of different illnesses including pneumonia and meningitis.

How is disease transmitted?
Pneumococcal disease can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or contact with respiratory secretions of an infected person.

Who is at risk of pneumococcal disease?
1) Children below 2 years of age
2) Persons who are compromised due to medical conditions such as cancer or AIDS.
3) Persons who have long-term medical conditions such as diabetes heart diseases, kidney diseases or liver diseases.
4)Elderly above 65 years of age

What are the symptoms of pneumococcal disease?
The symptoms of pneumococcal disease vary depending on the site of infection. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms of meningitis include fever, disorientation, stiff neck and photophobia.

Can pneumococcal disease be prevented?
Pneumococcal disease can be prevented through immunization. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine:

1) polysaccharide vaccine
2) conjugate vaccine

The polysaccharide vaccine is used in adults and while the conjugate vaccine is used in children.

Source : HPB, Singapre

Friday, August 07, 2009

The four treasures of food that shouldn't be wasted when eat

When eating certain food, there are certain parts which seemingly are useless and should be thrown away. In reality, their nutritional value could be higher than the food itself. Check if you have unknowingly wasted these.

Fish Eyes

Fish eyes, especially mackerel family, contains rich quantity of DHA and EPA which are very rare unsaturated fatty acid. The most beneficial property of these natural substances is their ability to stimulate human brain cells, improve memory and thinking power, and also very helpful in preventing memory decline, high cholesterol and hypertension diseases. The common notion suggested is that eating certain animal parts would strengthen similar body parts of ours, and this has been proven correct by clinical experiments where fish eyes are concerned: they can help to reduce the deterioration of eyesight.

Fibres of orange or grapefruit peels

When eating oranges or grapefruits, after removing the peel, do not remove all the fibres that cover the fruits. In fact, the fibres contained a vitamin which helps to maintain the elasticity and density of the artery wall, which in turn reduces the danger of bleeding especially in the fine arteries. Hypertension patients usually have problem of brain haemorrage while diabetic patients have retina haemorrage. For people with tendency to bleed, especially old people with tendency of artery hardening, eating fibres of oranges and grapefruit peels is particularly helpful.

The nutritional value of bones are higher than that of the meat. Comparing the nutritional values of Pork bones and pork, the bones contain far more protein, iron, sodium and calories than meat. Bones contain 23% more protein than milk powder, 61% more than beef, three times as much as pork and more than double that of eggs. It has abundance of essential minerals that humans require, like vitamins A, B1 and B2 that are useful for slowing aging. The best part is, when boiled in soup, these nutritions become more readily absorbed by human body than plant-based food.

Chili leaves

Chili leaves contains complete range of amino acid almost 4 times compared to the chili fruits. It also contains more than double what chili fruits have of which are anti-cancerous substance. On top of that, chili leaves are rich in calcium, beta carotene, various vitamins and other nutrients. Eating a suitable quantity of chili leaves enhances secretion of digestive juices, improves appetite and are good for indigestions, gastric and stomach discomfort. Regular intake of chili leaves also help in warming body, strengthen liver, improve eyesight, reduce weight and improve beauty. Chili leaves is tasty and can either be cooked alone, frying with meat or making soup.

Monday, March 02, 2009

FOODS TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL - 15 foods that can save your heart

Over the years, the definition of a Heart-Healthy Diet has changed

Cutting saturated fats to lower cholesterol used to be the focus, but now we know that if that is all you are doing, you are missing other dietary chances to further protect your heart. Additional risk factors like hypertension and inflammation can also be tamed by a healthy diet. The following 15 foods will help you tackle heart disease from every angle.

Head OFF High Blood Pressure
Hypertension (blood pressure that is 140/90 or higher) is the most common risk factor for heart disease. When blood pressure is elevated, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. To maintain a healthy blood pressure (120/80 or lower), eat these foods regularly:

1.Swiss Chard
A potassium powerhouse, this vegetable supplies nearly 1,000mg of the mineral per cup, cooked. Studies show that you need about 4,000mg of potassium (found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and yogurt) a day to keep blood pressure low.

2. Fresh Herbs
They are a healthy substitute for salt, which contains almost 2,400mg of sodium per teaspoon - exceeding the HPB's recommended daily intake of not more than 2,000mg. As an added bonus, herbs are rich in antioxidants that protect your cells against the kind of damage that can lead to heart disease.

3. Low-fat and Non-fat Yogurt
Have yogurt for breakfast and as a snack. It has about 50 per cent more blood pressure-lowering calcium and potassium than low-fat milk. If you are not a yogurt fan, drink low-fat or non-fat milk instead, or use it as an ingredient in everyday cooking.

Curb Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels
LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, accumulates on artery walls, hardening into plaque1 that can block blood flow. To keep plaque at bay, you want to lower LDL and raise HDL, "good" cholesterol. These food foods will help:

This tasty bulb has a mild cholesterol-lowering effect and keeps LDL from building up in the arteries and contributing to plaque. You need to consume several cloves a day to get the protective benefits.

2.Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which can lower LDL, when they replace saturated fats in your diet. Try replacing saturated fat-rich foods with olive oils, as well as avacado, nuts and other sources of monounsaturated fats. Extra-virgin olive oil has an advantage over other types: it packs extra polyphenols - compounds that keep LDL cholesterol from sticking to artery walls.

Include 28g of these nuts a day as part of a healthy diet, the LDL levels can drop 13 to 20 per cent - the amount comparable to the reduction that occurs with some medications. Almonds are particularly heart-friendly because of the presence of vitamin E. This antioxidant protects cells against the kind of damage that can lead to atherosclerosis (a disease in which plaque builds up on the insides of your arteries). They are also a good source of calcium.

Beat High Blood Sugar

Studies have shown that lifestyle modifications - namely, a healthy diet and exercise - at the stage of pre-diabetes, can prevent the future development of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a powerful risk factor for heart disease, particularly in women. It can damage the nerves and blood vessels that lead to the heart and quadruple your chances of having a heart attack.
To keep your blood sugar levels in check, add these foods to your diet:

It is the grain least likely to produce spikes in your blood sugar; keeping sugar levels under control. The reason may be that the grain has high levels of a soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which is digested very slowly and helps to lower cholesterol levels.

2.Chilli Pepper
Sprinkling this spice on your food helps prevent a big spike in blood sugar after a meal. When adults polished off a chilli peppered seasoned burger with a sugary beverage, their blood sugar was much lower than when they finished the drink and burger sans spices.

3. Carrots
Crunching on half a cup of dark yellow vegetables (e.g. carrots) each day, cuts the risk of diabetes. To enhance the absorption of antioxidants from carrots (or any colourful veggie), serve them with a little fat, such as olive oil.

Scale Back Your Weight

Simply carrying a few extra kilos raises your risk of developing chest pains or having a heart attack by 17 per cent. Excess kilos also raises your odds of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, diabetes and other conditions that increase heart disease. To maintain a healthy weight, incorporate these foods into your meals:

While it is true that all veggies are low-cal, broccoli is one of the biggest diet bargains: A half cup of cooked florets has a mere 27 calories, about the amount in just a tiny bite of lasagna. You will also get 3g of fibre, which helps fill you up.

2. Oranges
Oranges deliver that sweet taste you crave for just 65 calories a piece. In addition, oranges contain a type of fibre called pectin that not only keeps you full, but also controls cholesterol.

3.Lean Pork
Adults who have a high-protein meal burn twice as many calories afterwards as those who eat a high-carb one. With just 122 calories per 85g, pork tenderloin is one of the leanest sources of protein, supplying as much as prime rib for one-third to one-eighth of the fat.

Fight Inflammation

Most heart attacks happen when plaque that has built up in the artery burst, forming a blood clot that blocks blood flow. High levels of C-reactive protein (or CRP, a measurement of inflammation) is a more reliable predictor of heart trouble than high cholesterol. To fight inflammation, rely on the following foods:

This fish is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids which helps to ease inflammation. It boasts of three to six times the amount found in other types of popular seafood like, shrimp and flounder.

2.Black Beans
Few foods supply as much magnesium as black beans, and adults who do not get enough of the mineral in their diets are about twice as likely to have high levels of CRP.

They are loaded with anthocyanins, an antioxidant which help neutralise the enzymes that cause plaque to break apart. Not keen on cranberries? Try fresh or dried cherries instead.

Source: SHAPE March 2008 edition