Bananas get a bad rap but deserve respect

Even though grocery stores sell more bananas than any other fruit, (my son told me that when working in the produce department of Loblaws years ago) the jury is out on whether they are good for you or not.  Some believe their high starch and (natural) sugar (fructose) content should be avoided when watching your weight.  Others believe their high potassium and fiber levels as well as good protein content are all good for our muscles and energy levels before and after a workout.  The potassium also helps regulate blood pressure levels. So, who is right?  Both, it just depends on your goals.

For example, if I am trying to lose a few pounds I avoid bananas, relying on healthy food choices with less starch and sugar levels. That’s because this sugar and starch causes a rise in insulin levels which in turn results in fat storage.  Not good if you are battling those dreaded love handles or sporting a not so flat stomach.  My diet motto however is “moderation is key.”  I believe if you totally restrict things you like, you will tend to crave them more.

Bananas are very convenient for providing a quick energy boost and light snack.  They do not require refrigeration and transport easily.  In fact, I resort to one often when working in my gardens because I can easily peel one without touching the edible portion with my not so clean fingers.  They also provide creaminess in my morning smoothies and make an excellent substitution for unhealthy fats in baked goods.  I also found them effective at reducing morning sickness way back when. But only if almost green, the over ripe ones made me gag.

Bananas are also particularly effective after a bout of the intestinal spasms and diarrhea experienced when I eat something I am sensitive to.  That is because bananas represent the B in the BRAT diet (with rice, apple sauce and toast) I learned about when my kids were young.  All bland foods, these four staples were recommended to get their system back to normal after flu symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.  For the same reason, bananas are reportedly good for curing hangovers.

In my humble opinion, bananas get a bad rap, with the pros far outweighing the cons.  For that reason, there is always a bunch of bananas on my kitchen counter.  Not to mention my grandchildren love them.

bananas

Advertisements

Keep an eye on your poop

Although the title of this post is silly, it got your attention, so read on to learn what your bowel movements are trying to tell you.  In a previous post, I told you how when my sons were small and came to me complaining of a tummy ache, the first thing I would ask them was “have you had a good poop today?”  If they said no, I would cut up some apples, sprinkle them with cinnamon and serve up this healthy, nutritious, full of fiber snack with a large glass of water. This trick worked every time (except when one son actually had appendicitis, but that’s another story). More often than not, within an hour or two, they would have a good poop and would then feel much better…

Now that my sons are grown up and rarely tell me about their stomach (or other) ailments, I use the information for myself.  If you look at the chart below that categorizes poop with pictures, you will see shapes and consistency from one extreme (constipation) to the opposite (diarrhea) Stage three or four is ideal; your bowel movements should not cause pain, the poop should come out easily, without straining, and in the shape and firmness of a sausage (their words, not mine) or a snake. Regularity is the key, one of these bowel movements a day or every second day is normal.

If you do not fit into the “normal” category indicated in the chart, try increasing your daily intake of water by the glassful or from eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Taking a pill or other forms of medication (laxatives) to soften your stools or increase their frequency is only a band-aid fix that can land you in more trouble by causing serious side effects and dependency on the medication. The same thing applies to diarrhea; medication should be a last resort, especially if you suspect the diarrhea is caused by something you have eaten or taken.

2216483_f520

 

Constipation can and does happen to anyone and everyone, young and old, but some people more readily than others. Too much sugar, too little water, too much fat, too much protein, and too little fiber all can cause problems or irregularity with your bowel movements. Medications, allergies and food sensitivities can also wreak havoc on your body, causing constipation or diarrhea. Constipation and diarrhea are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and a warning that you should change your habits. Of course, if either condition lasts longer than a day or too, you should see your doctor as it could be a sign of more serious problems.

 

If your children automatically look for a snack as soon as they come in the door, consider having cut up fresh fruit or vegetables readily available, with or without a dip. Fresh fruit and vegetables are loaded with fiber and contain a large amount of water, both great for keeping their bowel movements in the healthy zone. Another trick I used when my children were young was to add water to their juice cups. (half and half) They would probably tell you now that it tasted awful, but it worked.  Years later, I still encourage them to drink more water and eat more fiber to maintain their health.

Although I usually eat fairly well, I like everyone else, do like to indulge in things that are not so good for me.  It does not take long for my body to react to things like junk food, excess alcohol, and lack of exercise.  Adding fiber and water back into my diet works wonders in getting me back to the right category of the chart.

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

courtesy of Wikimedia commons

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but do you believe it?  I do.   Apples are in incredibly easy, inexpensive and delicious way to add fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your diet.

Apples have been around forever, since the days of Adam and Eve…

images5P8UXJ14
courtesy of Wikimedia commons

 

Apples are fat-free, cholesterol free, gluten-free, low in sodium, and full of fiber (with the peel on), pectin, vitamins, flavonoids, minerals and antioxidants. One apple contains approximately five grams of fiber and just eighty calories.

Doctors have suspected for years that constipation, caused by insufficient fiber in the diet, is at the root of many illnesses. Conditions such as appendicitis, varicose veins, diverticulitis, hernias and hemorrhoids are all thought to be caused by strained bowel movements. Most people know that fiber can alleviate these strained bowel movements. An apple a day can go a long way to keeping your body regular and free from constipation. My children can attest to the fact that anytime they complained of a stomach ache, I would always ask them when the last time they had a good poop, then prepare them a large bowl of sliced apples (with the peel still on) sprinkled with cinnamon. See a previous post

Pectin is a carbohydrate found in apples that helps our intestines when diarrhea is a problem.  This is because pectin causes food to congeal, just as it does when you use it to make jam or jelly.  Most mothers are familiar with the BRAT diet of bananas, rice, unsweetened applesauce and toast when their children have been ill with diarrhea.  Most of these ingredients are bland and easy on the stomach.  The applesauce (apples without the fiber of the peel) is primarily included in this diet because of the pectin.

Apples are full of magnesium and potassium which help control your blood pressure.   Quercetin is a flavonoid found in apples that protects your artery walls as well as your lungs.  Boron, a trace mineral that is absorbed from the soil, is also found in apples and has been shown to be beneficial for your joints.  Antioxidants are helpful to prevent disease and even to stop the growth of cancer cells once they are present in your system.

Now that you know just how good apples are for you, be sure to eat an apple a day to stay healthy or get healthier, starting today!

imagesc
courtesy of Wikimedia commons

 

 

copyscape picture

The Poop says it All!

I realize the title sounds gross, but you can tell a lot from your bowel movements! When my sons were small and came to me complaining of a tummy ache, the first thing I would ask them was “have you had a good poop today?” If they said no, I would cut up some apples, sprinkle them with cinnamon and serve them up this healthy, nutritious, full of fiber snack with a large glass of water. This trick worked every time (except when one son actually had appendicitis, but that’s another story). More often than not, within an hour or two they would have a good poop and would then feel much better…

Constipation can happen to anyone, some people more readily than others. Too much sugar, too little water, too much fat, too much protein, and too little fiber all can cause problems with your bowel movements. Medications, allergies and food sensitivities can also wreak havoc on your body, causing constipation or diarrhea. Constipation and diarrhea are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and a warning that you should change your habits. Of course, if either condition lasts longer than a day or too, you should see your doctor as it could be a sign of more serious problems.

If you look at the chart below that categorizes poop with pictures, you will see shapes and consistency from one extreme (constipation) to the opposite (diarrhea) Stage three or four is ideal; your bowel movements should not cause pain, the poop should come out easily, without straining, and in the shape and firmness of a sausage (their words, not mine) or a snake. Regularity is the key, one of these bowel movements a day or every second day is normal.

If you do not fit into the “normal” category indicated in the chart, try increasing your daily intake of water by the glassful or from eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Taking a pill or other forms of medication (laxatives) to soften your stools or increase their frequency is only a band-aid fix that can land you in more trouble by causing serious side effects and dependency on the medication. The same thing applies to diarrhea; medication should be a last resort, especially if you suspect the diarrhea is caused by something you have eaten or taken.

If your children automatically look for a snack as soon as they come in the door, consider having cut up fresh fruit or vegetables readily available, with or without a dip. Fresh fruit and vegetables are loaded with fiber and contain a large amount of water, both great for keeping their bowel movements in the healthy zone. Another trick I used when my children were young was to add water to their juice cups. (half and half) They would probably tell you now that it tasted awful, not nearly as sweet as the large glasses of juice, albeit 100% juice with no sugar added, that they consume these days now that they serve themselves…

Image