Saturday, June 17, 2017

Herbs and Spices

In almost all households we use herbs and spices everyday in preparing our food or even for medicinal purposes.

Ever though about what the difference is between herbs and spices?

 It’s simple really.

Herbs come from the leaves of plants while spices come from the stems, seeds, roots, and bark. Interesting, some plants are used as both herbs and spices, for instance, the leaves of the coriander plant are used as a herb and the seeds as a spice.

According to a research done by the California University of Ayurveda, coriander seeds are quite effective in curing different skin ailments like eczema, itchy skin, rashes and inflammation as they have antiseptic properties. They are known to cure mouth ulcers and sores as well. The seeds contain linoleic acid that also has pain relieving properties to diminish irritation.

Whether the recipe calls for herbs or spices;  use these palate-pleasing plants in your everyday cooking!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How small things can make a big difference to your day

It is the small things that matter, that can change the world. Here are 20 random small things that that can make the difference to your day:

1. Treat yourself with breakfast in bed. Make it yourself and then curl back into bed and enjoy it!

2. Cuddle someone in bed in the morning. The best is to cuddle someone you love but your pillow will do when you are alone. Sometimes it just feels good to hold someone or something in your arms.

3. Give a smile to a stranger; and you may get one back.

4. Watching children playing carefree and laughing is a reminder to be playful and joyful. Pass a park or a playground on the way home.

5. Watch out for a small gesture of kindness from someone who loves you. The cup of tea made by your husband — now that is love!

6. Blast your soul with soothing music, when you want it. 

7. Have a picnic unexpectedly. Nothing invigorates a day like the feeling of sunlight on your face.

8. Five minutes of deep breathing.

9. Give someone an uncomfortably long hug today!

10. A small victory. Can you change that light bulb on your own?

11. A small change to your routine to make your day feel exciting.

12. Create an opportunity to be creative. Start a journal or a scrapbook, or get creative on a routine task at work to make it more exciting.
13. The moment after the rain stops. Everything smells clean, fresh, and revitalized.

14. A deep stretch. The benefits of loosening your muscles exceed enhanced relaxation. 

15. A beautiful sunset or sunrise. Nothing is more inspirational that tuning into nature’s majesty.

16. Playing a game you loved as a child. Play hide-and-seek with a friend during teatime at work.

17. An extra half-hour of sleep. Hit the sack a little earlier one night and see how this changes your day.

18. A thoughtful question from a friend. When she asks, “What’s your favourite childhood memory?” she is trying to learn what makes you happy. How beautiful that she cares to know.

19. Fresh, organic food. Organic food has higher nutrient levels and lower pesticide residues—and it often tastes better than non-organic food.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tips to Avoid or Dealing with a Hijacking Situation

In South Africa, one hijacking occurs roughly every 32 minutes. Over 12 000 vehicles were hijacked in SA between April and December 2016 – 14.9% more in 9 months than in the previous financial year.

This means it can happen to anyone but unfortunately, women, especially driving alone, ,are easy targets’.

But what can one do? The best is to avoid hijacking hotspots as regularly announced by the SAPS in the media and to prepare oneself whenever you are in such a situation but also take some precautionary measures.

Here are some good tips and advice from DialDirect Insurance:

  • Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target. Inform someone at your destination about your estimated time of arrival.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.
  • Limit distractions, such as checking or talking on your cell phone when walking to or from your car.
  • Avoid driving with windows open, keep the doors locked and lock valuables out of sight.
  • Install smash-and-grab window protection if possible.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
  • Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
  • Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night – this prevents you coming to a complete stop and reduces your risk of becoming a target.
  • Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
  • If you sense you are in danger, use the panic button on your tracking device or contact your armed response company.
  • Check the back seat before getting into the car, even if you left it locked.
  • A well-maintained car is less likely to break down – keep your car in good condition. If you do break down then pull over, turn the hazard lights on and call for emergency assistance.
  • Avoid distractions while driving. 
What to do if confronted by a hijacker:
  • Remain calm
  • Do not argue
  • Do not make sudden gestures
  • Avoid eye contact but try to remember what the carjacker looked like by identifying and remembering special features.
  • Comply with the hijacker’s directions – within reason
  • Try and get away from the area as quickly as possible
  • Don’t be a hero – your life is worth more than your car

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is when you have high blood pressure and protein in your urine during pregnancy. It can happen at any point after the 20th week of pregnancy, though in some cases it occurs earlier. You may also have low clotting factors (platelets) in your blood or indicators of kidney or liver trouble. This condition is also called toxaemia or pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). Eclampsia is a severe complication of preeclampsia. Eclampsia includes high blood pressure resulting in seizures during pregnancy.

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of all pregnant women get preeclampsia.

What causes preeclampsia?

Doctors cannot yet identify one single cause of preeclampsia, but some potential causes are being explored. These include:

•genetic factors
•blood vessel problems
•autoimmune disorders

There are also risk factors that can increase your chances of developing preeclampsia. These include:

•being pregnant with multiple foetuses
•being over the age of 35
•being in your early teens
•being pregnant for the first time
•being obese
•having a history of high blood pressure
•having a history of diabetes
•having a history of a kidney disorder

Nothing can definitively prevent this condition. Early and consistent prenatal care can help your doctor diagnose it sooner and avoid complications. Having a diagnosis will allow your doctor to provide you with proper monitoring until your delivery date.

Symptoms of preeclampsia

It’s important to remember that you might not notice any symptoms of preeclampsia. If you do develop symptoms, some common ones include:

•persistent headache
•abnormal swelling in your hands and face
•sudden weight gain
•changes in your vision

During a physical exam, your doctor may find that your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher. 
Urine and blood tests can also show protein in your urine, abnormal liver enzymes, and platelet levels.

At that point, your doctor may do a nonstress test in their office to make sure the foetus is moving normally. A nonstress test is a simple exam that measures how the foetal heart rate changes as the foetus moves. An ultrasound may also be done to check your fluid levels and the health of the foetus.

What is the treatment for preeclampsia?

Delivery of your baby is the only cure for preeclampsia.

During pregnancy, your doctor will monitor and manage your condition to ensure you and your baby stay healthy. If you’re at week 37 or later, your doctor may induce labor. At this point, the baby has developed enough and is only minimally premature.

If your preeclampsia is mild, your doctor may recommend:

•getting bed rest
•reducing your salt intake
•drinking more water
•making regular visits to the doctor

In some cases, you may be given medications to help lower your blood pressure.

If your condition is serious, your doctor may want to admit you to the hospital for more thorough monitoring. You might be given intravenous (IV) medications to lower your blood pressure or steroid injections to help your baby’s lungs develop quicker.

Delivery might be the only safe option if the preeclampsia is severe enough to endanger the health of you or the foetus. This can be the case even if your baby will be delivered prematurely. The signs of severe preeclampsia include:

•changes in the foetal heart rate that indicate distress
•abdominal pain
•impaired kidney function
•fluid in the lungs
You should see your doctor if you notice any abnormal signs or symptoms during your pregnancy. Your main concern should be your health and the health of your baby.

What are the complications of preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia can be fatal for both mother and child if it’s left untreated. Other complications can include:

•bleeding problems
•breaking away of the placenta from the uterine wall
•damage to the liver

Complications for the baby can also occur if they’re born too early.

During pregnancy, it’s important to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. This includes eating a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid, and going for regular prenatal care check-ups. But even with proper care, unavoidable conditions like preeclampsia can sometimes occur. This can be dangerous for both you and your baby.

Talk with your doctor about things you can do to reduce your risk of preeclampsia and about the warning signs. If necessary, they may refer you to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist for additional care.

Monday, May 29, 2017

History of the fiery hot chilli

The origin of the fiery hot chilli is South American and as such was entirely unknown in most of the world before the first contact with the Americas by Europeans around 1500.

Chilli was first domesticated in Mexico about 8000 years ago, one of the first self-pollinating crops developed in the Americas. Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to consume one, and thought they were a pepper.

There are several stories of scientists, monks and cooks in Europe having unfortunately fiery experiences experimenting with the extraordinary spice brought back to the Old World.

In 1510, Portugal, then a major world power, established one of the first European permanent settlements in India at Goa and soon after, brought the chilli to India. Almost immediately, the remarkably fiery spice spread throughout India, which became the world’s largest producer and consumer of chilli.

Prior to the introduction of chilli, Indian cuisines were heavily flavoured with black pepper, and Indian food appears to have been very spicy even then. In fact, linguistic evidence shows that Indians, like Columbus, drew few distinctions between the two spices with a number of languages using variants around the word “mirch,” which usually denotes chilli now, for both spices.

After this, chilli began to spread throughout Asia, deep into the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as China and Indochina, becoming a major aspect of most Asian cuisines.

The arrival of migrant communities in Europe and North and South America completed the rise of the chilli in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Weight control and your risk for a stroke

There is a lot you can do to lower your chances of having a stroke. Even if you've already had a stroke you can take steps to prevent another.

Controlling your weight is an important way to lower stroke risk. Excess pounds strain the entire circulatory system and can lead to other health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obstructive sleep apnea. But losing as little as 5% to 10% of your starting weight can lower your blood pressure and other stroke risk factors.

But then you'll need to keep the weight off for good, not just while you're on a diet.

Here tips than can help you control your weight:

Move more. Exercise is one obvious way to burn off calories. But another approach is to increase your everyday activity wherever you can — walking, fidgeting, pacing while on the phone, taking stairs instead of the elevator.

Skip the sipped calories. Sodas, lattes, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even fruit juices are packed with unnecessary calories. Worse, your body doesn't account for them the way it registers solid calories, so you can keep chugging them before your internal "fullness" mechanism tells you to stop. Instead, try unsweetened coffee or tea, or flavor your own sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime, a sprig of fresh mint, or a few raspberries.

Eat more whole foods. If you eat more unprocessed foods — such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — you'll fill yourself up on meals that take a long time to digest. Plus, whole foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and tend to be lower in salt — which is better for your blood pressure, too.

Find healthier snacks. Snack time is many people's downfall — but you don't have to skip it as long as you snack wisely. Try carrot sticks as a sweet, crunchy alternative to crackers or potato chips, or air-popped popcorn (provided you skip the butter and salt and season it with your favorite spices instead). For a satisfying blend of carbs and protein, try a dollop of sunflower seed butter on apple slices.

Source: Harvard Medical School