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The zero-calorie "miracle noodles"

Health

Shirataki noodles are a unique food that’s very filling yet low in calories. These noodles also contain a type of fiber that has impressive health benefits. This fiber has been shown to cause weight loss in numerous studies.

What are Shirataki Noodles?

They are often called 'miracle noodles' or 'konjac noodles'. They’re made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant, which grows in Japan, China and Southeast Asia. It contains very few digestible carbs, but most of its carbs come from glucomannan fiber. “Shirataki” is Japanese for “white waterfall,” which describes the noodles’ translucent appearance. Shirataki noodles contain a lot of water. In fact, they are about 97% water and 3% glucomannan fiber. They’re also very low in calories and contain no digestible carbs. There is also a variation of shirataki noodles known as tofu shirataki noodles.

 Bottom Line: Shirataki noodles are a low-calorie food made from glucomannan, a type of fiber found in the Asian konjac plant.

 

Shirataki Noodles Are High in Viscous Fiber

 

Glucomannan is a highly viscous fiber, which is a type of soluble fiber, and one of its main characteristics is the ability to absorb water and form a gel. It can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, as reflected in shirataki noodles’ extremely high water content. These noodles move through the digestive system very slowly, which helps you feel full and delays nutrient absorption into the bloodstream. In addition, viscous fiber functions as a prebiotic. It nourishes the bacteria living in your colon, also known as the gut flora or microbiome. In your colon, bacteria ferment fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which can fight inflammation, boost immune function and provide other health benefits. Since a typical serving of shirataki noodles contains about 1–3 grams of glucomannan, it’s essentially a calorie-free, carb-free food.

 

Bottom Line: Glucomannan is a viscous fiber that can hold onto water and slow down digestion. In the colon, it’s fermented into short-chain fatty acids that may provide several health benefits.

 

Shirataki Noodles Can Help You Lose Weight

 

Shirataki noodles can be a powerful weight loss tool. Their viscous fiber delays stomach emptying, so you stay full longer and end up eating less. In addition, fermenting fiber into short-chain fatty acids can stimulate the release of a gut hormone known as PYY, which increases feelings of fullness. What’s more, taking glucomannan before a high-carb load appears to reduce levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin. It was also shown to reduce fasting ghrelin levels when taken daily for 4 weeks.

 

Bottom Line: Glucomannan promotes feelings of fullness that may cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake and lead to weight loss.

Shirataki Noodles Can Reduce Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

 Blood Glucose Meter and StripsGlucomannan has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and insulin resistance. Because viscous fiber delays stomach emptying, blood sugar and insulin levels rise more gradually as nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

 Bottom Line: Shirataki noodles can delay stomach emptying, which may help prevent blood sugar spikes after meals.

 

Shirataki Noodles May Lower Cholesterol

Several studies also suggest that taking glucomannan may help lower cholesterol levels. Researchers have reported that glucomannan increases the amount of cholesterol excreted in the stool, so less is reabsorbed into the bloodstream. A review of 14 studies found that glucomannan lowered LDL cholesterol by an average of 16 mg/dL and triglycerides by an average of 11 mg/dl.

Bottom Line: Studies show that glucomannan may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

 

Shirataki Noodles May Relieve Constipation

 Many people have chronic constipation or infrequent bowel movements that are difficult to pass. Glucomannan has been shown to be an effective treatment for constipation in both children and adults.

 

Bottom Line: Glucomannan may effectively treat constipation in children and adults, due to its laxative effects and benefits for gut health.

 

 

Potential Side Effects of Shirataki Noodles

 For some, glucomannan may cause mild digestive issues such as loose stools, bloating and flatulence. Glucomannan has been found to be safe at all dosages tested in studies; nevertheless, as is the case with all fiber, it’s best to introduce glucomannan into your diet gradually.

In addition, glucomannan may reduce the absorption of certain medications taken by mouth, including some diabetes medications. To prevent this, make sure to take medication at least one hour before or four hours after eating shirataki noodles.

 Bottom Line: Shirataki noodles are safe to consume, but may cause digestive issues for some. They may also reduce the absorption of certain medications.

 

How to Cook with Shirataki Noodles

 

Shirataki noodles can seem a bit daunting to prepare at first. They’re packaged in fishy-smelling liquid, which is actually plain water that has absorbed the odor of the konjac root. Therefore, it’s important to rinse them very well for a few minutes under fresh, running water. This should remove most of the odor. You should also heat the noodles in a skillet for several minutes with no added fat. This step removes any excess water and allows the noodles to take on a more noodle-like texture. If too much water remains, they will be mushy.

 

Easy shirataki noodle recipe containing only a few ingredients:

 

Shirataki Macaroni and Cheese

 (Serves 1–2)

 Note: For this recipe, it’s best to use shorter types of shirataki noodles like ziti or rice.

 

Ingredients:

 1 package (200 grams/7 oz) of shirataki noodles or shirataki rice.

Olive oil or butter for greasing the ramekin.

3 ounces (85 grams) of grated cheddar cheese.

1 Tablespoon butter.

A half teaspoon sea salt.

 

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Rinse the noodles under running water for at least 2 minutes.

Transfer the noodles to a skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the noodles are cooking, grease a 2-cup ramekin with olive oil or butter.

Transfer the cooked noodles to the ramekin, add remaining ingredients and stir well. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and serve.

 

Shirataki noodles can be used in place of pasta or rice in any dish. However, they tend to work best in Asian recipes. The noodles have no flavor but will absorb the flavors of sauces and seasonings very well.

 

Shirataki noodles are a great substitute for traditional noodles. In addition to being extremely low in calories, they help you feel full and may be beneficial for weight loss. Not only that, but they also have benefits for blood sugar levels, cholesterol and digestive health.

Garlic! The guardian of health

Health

Garlic has been used for centuries as both a food ingredient and a medicine. Eating garlic provides a wide variety of health benefits, which include reducing risk of heart disease, improving mental health and enhancing immune function.

 Garlic Can Boost Immune Function

Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin that helps the immune system fight germs. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin (with a c). Allicin contains sulfur- the source of garlic’s distinctive smell and taste. It’s also unstable; it quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds giving garlic its medicinal properties. These compounds facilitate some types of white blood cells ward off diseases in the body when they encounter viruses, such as those that cause the common cold or flu.

 

Bottom Line: Garlic can be crushed, chewed or sliced to produce allicin, which is thought to give garlic its immune-boosting properties.

 

Can Garlic Help Prevent Colds and The Flu?

Garlic has shown promise as a treatment for preventing colds and the flu. Studies have shown that garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick in the first place and shortens the span of sickness. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms.

 

Garlic Cloves With Garlic Press

A study converted the power of garlic into statistics: over a period of 3 months, people who took garlic supplements experienced a lower risk of getting a cold by 63% and a shorter period of sickness by 70%. Another study found that subjects taking 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day recovered from sickness faster by 61%, compared to a placebo group.However, it’s still unknown if you need to take garlic constantly, or if it also works as a short-term treatment when you start getting sick.

 

Bottom Line: Regularly eating garlic may help prevent the common cold or the flu. If you do get sick, eating garlic can reduce the severity of your symptoms and help you recover faster.

 

 How to Maximize the Benefits of Garlic

 The way garlic is processed or prepared can change its health benefits. The enzyme alliinase, which converts alliin into the beneficial allicin, only works under certain conditions. In addition, it can be deactivated by heat. As little as 60 seconds in the microwave or 45 minutes in the oven can deactivate alliinase.  However, it was noted that crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking can help prevent the loss of its medicinal properties. The researchers also stated that the loss of health benefits due to cooking could be compensated for by increasing the amount of garlic used.

 

Here are a few ways to maximize the health benefits of garlic:

 -Crush or slice garlic before you eat it. This increases the allicin content.

- Before you cook with your crushed garlic, let it stand for 10 minutes.

- Use a lot of garlic — more than one clove per meal, if you can.

Bottom Line: Ensure whole garlic is crushed, chewed or sliced before it’s eaten. Let crushed garlic stand for 10 minutes before you cook it.

 

Garlic Supplements

 Another easy way to increase your garlic intake is by taking a supplement. It is suggested, however, that it be taken with caution, as there are no regulated standards for garlic supplement. The allicin content and quality can vary, and so can the health benefits.

 

Powdered Garlic  Powdered garlic is made from fresh garlic that has been sliced and dried. It does not contain allicin, but is said to have allicin potential. Powdered garlic is processed at a low temperature, and then put inside capsules, which helps the enzyme alliinase survive the harsh environment of the stomach so that it can convert alliin to the beneficial allicin in the intestine. Nevertheless it is unclear how much allicin can be derived from powdered garlic supplements. This varies greatly depending on the brand and preparation.

 

Aged Garlic Extract  When raw garlic is sliced and stored in 15–20% ethanol for over 1.5 years, it becomes aged garlic extract. This type of supplement does not contain allicin, but it does retain the medical properties of garlic. Many of the studies showing benefits against colds and the flu used aged garlic extract.

 

Garlic Oil  Garlic oil is also an effective supplement, and is made by infusing raw garlic into cooking oils. You can add it directly to your meals, or take it in capsules. However, it’s worth noting that animal studies have shown that garlic oil can be toxic to rats at higher doses and in certain conditions. Homemade garlic oil has also been linked with several cases of botulism, so if you’re going to make your own, make sure to use proper preservation methods.

 

Bottom Line: Common types of garlic supplements include powdered garlic, aged garlic extract and garlic oil. Aged garlic extract may be the best type.

 

How Much Garlic Should You Eat Per Day?

 The minimum effective dose for raw garlic is one segment eaten two to three times per day. You can also take an aged garlic supplement. In that case, a normal dose is 600 to 1,200 mg per day. High intake of garlic supplements can be toxic, so don’t exceed the dosage recommendations.

 

Bottom Line: You can get a benefit from garlic by eating 2-3 garlic cloves per day. Supplement doses range from 600 to 1,200 mg per day.

 

Other Tips to Boost Immune Function

 Here are 5 more ways to boost immune function and help you avoid colds and flu:

 

Take a probiotic: it keeps the gut healthy, enhances the immunity and reduces risk of infection.

Keep a healthy and balanced diet: keeping a balance of important nutrients will make sure your immune system stays in good shape.

Don’t smoke: cigarette can weaken your immune system and increase chance of infection.

Avoid excess alcohol: Excess alcohol is thought to damage your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections.

Take a zinc supplement: Take zinc lozenges or syrup within 24 hours of the start of a cold, as this may reduce the duration of the cold.

 

Bottom Line: A healthy diet and lifestyle are essential for keeping your immune system in good shape.

 

Take Home Message:

 Studies show that garlic can help fight colds and the flu. It can reduce your chances of catching an illness, and help you recover faster. To maximize these benefits, it is best to consume raw garlic or aged garlic extract. At the end of the day, garlic is both tasty and super healthy. Then there are many other great reasons to include it in your diet.

Are You a Silent Sufferer of Pelvic Pain?

Health

UK based charity Pain concern is helping abolish the stigma attached to pelvic pain

An estimated 1 in 7 women will suffer genitourinary or pelvic pain at some point during their lifetime. The type and severity of pain varies from woman to woman but the general definition of pelvic pain is anything ‘...below the belly-button and above the legs.’. There are many common causes of pelvic pain (including endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and irritable bowel syndrome) as well as less common causes like vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis. Pain caused by these conditions is considered ‘chronic’ when persistent for 6 months or longer.

Chronic sufferers often find that severe pain interrupts sleep, affects work life and lowers living quality. A 2010 analysis by endwomenspain.org reviewed several studies addressing chronic pelvic pain and found that patients suffering interstitial cystitis reported significant sleep dysfunction, depression, stress and anxiety compared to non-sufferers. Sufferers of vulvodynia experienced increased psychological impairment as well as decreased life quality and feelings of lowered control over their lives’ and bodies.

Despite its prevalence, for many sufferers chronic pelvic pain remains a relatively under-discussed 'taboo'; the same analysis by endwomenspain.org reported that women suffering vulvodynia also experienced ‘social isolation’ and ‘stigma’. The lack of discussion around genital disorders currently happening in society has left individuals feeling unable to seek social support. Less than 25 percent of women reported that they felt comfortable disclosing they suffer vulvodynia to their closest friends, and many who suffered interstitial cystitis reported having perceived lower levels of social support compared to non-sufferers.  

Not seeking social support for fear of being stigmatised has limited the understanding, discussion and visibility given to pelvic pain in society. A 2016 study by Julie Aste cites pelvic pain’s ‘invisibility’ in society as a main factor leading to undiagnosed sufferers being unable to recognise, believe or understand their pain and seek treatment. Unfortunately, for those who do get a diagnoses, the perceived stigma prevents women from seeking additional medical care that would help alleviate symptoms and offer guidance and support

UK based charity Pain Concern is helping to abolish this stigma attached to pelvic pain. By engaging in frank discussions about chronic pain, Pain Concern's radio show Airing Pain provides transparent information and support to sufferers. The podcasts contain interviews with healthcare specialists and people living with chronic conditions, who share their patient journeys from diagnosis to the present day and offer advice on pain management.

Two of Airing Pain's podcast's focus on vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis ( 'painful bladder syndrome'). And you can listen to them FOR FREE at painconcern.org.uk/airing pain.  

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