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Indian Women’s Health Supplements – Everything you need to know about

Women go through constant changes in their bodies throughout their lifetime. Their physiology is under the influence of various hormones that control body processes such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. All of these stages necessitate different nutritional strategies.

Hormones regulate most of the processed in our body and are themselves are influenced by a variety of factors such as nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins.

Often, these nutrients that are essential to our body do not get adequately absorbed into our bodies or need to be increased in their amounts at times for specific reasons. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a daily recommended intake (DRI) – a stipulated amount of nutrients to be taken every day that meets the requirements of a healthy body.

During pregnancy, a mother requires some vitamins and minerals in increased amounts and these can be administered in the form of prenatal vitamins. She also requires 400 micrograms a day of folic acid from fortified foods or supplements.

Also, due to age and approaching menopause, a condition arises in females which is known as osteoporosis. This condition is of two types, women often suffer from the one that arises due to calcium dissolution from their bones as their estrogen levels drop. This causes the bones to lose mass and strength. 

Those who follow a strict vegetarian diet require additional Vitamin B12, and vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, who do not consume any dairy products might risk being deficient of Vitamin A, B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). 

Older women who may avoid sunlight can be deficient in Vitamin D.

Some indicators of deficiencies include fatigue, muscle pains, spasms or cramps, weakness, dizziness, poor night vision, headaches, etc.

To combat such deficiencies and prevent the eventual onset of unwanted conditions that typically arise from them, women need to obtain these nutrients in the form of supplements. 

It is always recommended to confer with a professional before starting the consumption of any dietary supplements. It is also important to keep in mind that supplements are not intended to replace or substitute whole foods.

Be sure to ask about possible side effects and interactions with any such supplements. 

Sometimes, combining prescription pills and supplements may yield an undesirable outcome. 

Taking more than the DRI may cause toxicity and increase the risk of side effects. 

Those who consume foods through a well-balanced diet that comprises of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish, nuts and seeds usually don’t require supplements. 

Calcium:
Calcium typically constitutes around 1% of a woman’s body weight. Calcium ions facilitate muscle contraction and are essential for regular cell functioning. The mineral can be found in dairy products and fortified foods. Women are four times more prone to osteoporosis than men, which is why premenopausal women must continue to obtain their required intake through supplements. 
Dosage: Can vary anywhere from between 500-1,000 milligrams, depending upon factors such as age.

Fish Oil:
Fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon, are a rich source of omega-3s, namely EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Due to reasons such as fear of heavy metal toxicity, a lot of women refrain from consuming seafood. This results in nutrient deficiency. Omega-3 fatty acids help in maintaining heart and blood vessel health along with the reduction of circulation of triglycerides which cause heart diseases. 
Dosage: One gram each of EPA and DHA daily is an adequate amount for women. Those who have elevated triglyceride levels can consider taking 2-3 grams, under a physician’s guidance. Pregnant women often take 1 gram of DHA for the development of their baby’s brain. 

B Vitamins:
Primary B Vitamins comprise B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin). These are water-soluble vitamins that get flushed out of the body with urine and thus need to be replaced daily. All adult women who exercise and burn calories have a higher requirement of these vitamins. Women older than 50 need these vitamins in the form of supplements as their bodies find it hard to directly absorb them from food.
Dosage: A multivitamin supplement, besides a well-balanced diet comprising of lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, should be enough to provide around 50 – 100% of the daily value of these B Vitamins. 

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, whose goodness is best derived when consumed with healthy fats. The vitamin helps us absorb calcium and plays a role in the development and maintenance of strong and healthy bones. A lot of women are not exposed adequately to sunlight for various reasons such as rashes, sunburn and skin tan. Vitamin D supplements containing calcitriol are recommended in such cases.
Dosage: Pre-menopausal women should take around 12.5 micrograms of this vitamin every day and post-menopausal and elderly women should increase their dosage to around 25 micrograms per day. 

Bhookha Haathi products are naturally fortified with many of these vitamins and minerals. Bhookha Haathi’s Natural Dry Fruit Booster contains many vitamins such as A, E, C and additionally, aids in the absorption of the vitamin B complex. It is rich in dietary fiber, gluten-free and lowers bad cholesterol. It provides high amounts of energy and can be substituted for regular store-bought protein powders. Moreover, all the ingredients are locally sourced, organic and contain no harmful additives, preservatives or artificial colouring. 

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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12 Indian foods that Boost the Immune System

immunity booster food in india

India is well known for its preparations made with natural, nutrient-rich and immunity-boosting substances. 

Our grandmothers and even their grandmothers have passed down the value and importance of the food we consume to all the generations after them.

To boost our immunity, we need to look no further than our own kitchen – in a battle where disease wages its war upon us, we only need strong immunity as our ammunition! 

Here are a few of the many foods that we can consume to boost our health as a precaution to combat such adverse conditions.

  1. Haldi (Turmeric) 

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing properties. It contains an aromatic compound called curcumin, which imparts said properties to it. Turmeric is often used as a colouring agent in many Indian dishes such as curries and daal. It is also believed to prevent the flu and some diseases of the heart. 

The best way to consume it is by combining some ground turmeric, pepper, and honey into some warm water and drinking it all at once. Apart from soothing the throat, this also acts as a “flu shot” of sorts.

  1. Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Considered as nature’s best antibiotic by Ayurveda, the tulsi plant has an added benefit of being able to easily grow in household pots. Its antiviral and antibiotic properties provide relief to cold, cough, headaches and fevers. You can chew down on these leaves (after washing them, of course) or soak them in some warm water and sip that.

  1. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)

Amla contains large amounts of Vitamin C and helps increase the body’s natural foreign substance fighting agents – white blood cells. It also helps prevent viral infections like the flu and increases the amount of Calcium in our bodies, eases the throat from cough and balances the secretions of acid in the stomach. Have this fruit dried, powdered, and sprinkled into your morning smoothies or just chopped up with some salt.

  1. Dalcheeni (Cinnamon)

An important component of the widely used garam masala, cinnamon is filled with antioxidants and possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It is a strong immunity booster due to the antifungal and antibacterial substances it contains. Thus, consuming it regularly reduces the risk of infections and diseases. Cinnamon can be added to enhance the flavour of many sweet dishes, into your bowl of oats or cup of tea.

  1. Neem (Azadirachta Indica)

Neem has been continually used by our ancestors for the many properties it possesses – antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, immune upregulation, and anti-snake venom activities. Apart from keeping infections at bay, it also purifies the blood and rids it of all its toxins.

It can be consumed crushed in a glass of water.

  1. Jamun (Black Plum)

Although this fruit has an unexpectedly bold flavour that is not appreciated by many, it contains blood pressure and blood sugar regulators. It also reduces the occurrence of cough, cold and fever. Combine the pulp of this fruit with some honey, and stir this mixture into a glass full of water.

  1. Citrus fruits 

Many different varieties of citrus fruits such as Nagpur oranges, Mausambi, Kinnow, etc. are available during different times of the year throughout India. These citrus fruits are a stronghold of Vitamin C, which increases the white blood cell count in our body, thereby strengthening the immunity. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in our body, but instead, gets washed out with urine. To keep the Vitamin C levels in our body constant, we should incorporate a little bit of these citrus fruits into our diets regularly.

  1. Lehsun (Garlic)

Garlic is an important aromatic component added to dishes of almost every cuisine worldwide. Its immunity-boosting properties come from “allicin”, which is a sulfur-containing compound. Other than commonly being found in its cooked form, the benefits of garlic can also be derived from garlic capsules or pills.

  1. Palak (Spinach)

Apart from Vitamin C, spinach leaves are considered a superfood because they also contain antioxidants and beta-carotene. All of these substances increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. It is healthiest when eaten raw (to preserve all its components from breaking down) or lightly tossed in some olive oil.

  1. Dahi (Yoghurt)

Most variants of yoghurt contain live and active bacterial cultures that help improve the immune system’s ability to fight diseases. Some yoghurts can also be fortified with Vitamin D, which also boosts the body’s natural defence mechanism. When opting to buy yoghurt, look for plain ones and avoid those loaded with artificial sweeteners.

  1. Adrak (Ginger)

A lot of people turn to ginger to relieve the unwanted symptoms of cold, such as a sore throat. Apart from boosting our immunity, it also contains properties to decrease inflammation in our bodies. Grate it, combine the juice with some honey and take a spoonful of it to relieve congestion and irritation from cough and cold.

  1. Badam (Almonds)

       Almonds contain Vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is also the key to a strong immune system. They are packed with antioxidants and healthy fats. Almonds   

can be had soaked in some water, peeled or with some honey                         

Bhookha Haathi’s 100% natural products based on dried fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, seeds, grains & honey are a great source of immunity-boosting substances that our regular diets otherwise are deficient of. Sourced directly from farmers & producers Bhookha Haathi Replace range of proprietary health food products celebrate pure, powerful, healing and health-promoting ingredients that are without any preservatives, added colours or artificial flavours. 

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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Health & Dietary Supplements – Are They Good or Bad?

Health & dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. It is an umbrella term that includes everything from Vitamins and minerals to botanicals and biosimilar products. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate or cure diseases. The FDA is the federal agency that oversees both supplements and medicines, but the FDA regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Medicines must be approved by the FDA before they can be sold or marketed. Supplements do not require this approval. Supplement companies are responsible for having evidence that their products are safe, and the label claims are truthful and not misleading.

Health supplements: A significant role in high-risk groups

Supplements can play an important role for some high-risk groups. For instance, adults diagnosed with osteoporosis may require extra Vitamin D and calcium beyond what they get from their regular diet. Supplements also can help people with Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, conditions that make it difficult to absorb certain nutrients. People with Vitamin B12 deficiency almost always need a supplement. Supplements prescribed by a doctor are helpful for people with certain medical conditions. Otherwise, it’s best to get your Vitamins and minerals from food and not a pill or any other chemical based supplement. A healthy body only absorbs the required amount of nutrients from natural food sources and rest is excreted, therefore, there is no risk of toxicity unless the food is contaminated.

Possible health risks of Vitamin supplements:

  • High doses of beta carotene have been linked to a greater risk of lung cancer in smokers.
  • Extra calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin C may increase the risk of kidney stones.
  • High doses of Vitamin E may lead to stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.
  • Vitamin K can interfere with the anti-clotting effects of blood thinners.
  • Taking high amounts of Vitamin B6 for a year or longer has been associated with nerve damage that can impair body movements and the symptoms often go away after the supplements are stopped.
  • High doses of any health supplement in pill/chemical form can also cause toxicity in the body and can lead to various side effects. They can also interfere with many other health conditions already present in the body and make them even worse. For example high doses of Vitamin A can lead to even lower bone density in osteoporosis patients.

Which Vitamin supplements are worth taking?

Vitamin D: We cannot get our daily requirement of Vitamin D from plant or food sources as they don’t contain enough amount for optimum health. There are only two ways to get the required amount: 1) From the Sun 2) from Supplements. If we get 15-30 minutes daily exposure to sun, then we may not need it from any other supplement. Vitamin D is essential for Calcium absorption in our body and deficiency can lead to weaker bones or a condition called osteoporosis.

Vitamin B12: The only other Vitamin that is not produced from plant sources is Vitamin B 12. In fact, it is not made by animal sources either. Vitamin B12 is made by microbes or bacteria that blanket the earth and these bacteria also grow in the guts of some of the animals people eat. Those eating plant-based diet, don’t get enough B 12 to fulfil their daily requirements, therefore, need to be supplemented with B12.  Vitamin B 12 deficiency can lead to cognitive decline or depression.

How good or bad are protein powders?

Protein powders are dietary supplements in powdered forms of protein that come from plants like soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, hemp, eggs or milk (casein or whey protein). These powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavouring, thickeners, Vitamins and minerals.

We may think adding protein powder to a glass of milk or a smoothie is a simple way to boost our health, building & maintaining muscle, bone strength, and numerous body functions; but be aware of the health risks involved.

Milk based protein powders may cause digestive distress and gastrointestinal discomfort in people with dairy allergies. They may be high in added sugars and calories and wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories resulting in weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar.

According to a report released by a non-profit group called the Clean Label Project, about toxins in protein powders, researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, bisphenol-A (BPA), pesticides or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. One protein powder contained 25 times the allowed limit of BPA which is quite alarming. The manufacturing processes and the presence of toxins in soil were found to be major causes of contamination.

How does Bhookha Haathi fit in?

Dry fruits are a great source of proteins, Vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and our popular range of proprietary dry fruit and nut-based health boosters are a great alternative to unnatural protein, Vitamin and other supplements commonly available in the market. So, if you are looking to supplement your diet, you can go for Bhookha Haathi’s 100% Natural Dry-Fruit Health Booster- Starter Pack which is enriched with Vitamins, Minerals, Electrolytes and Phyto-Nutrients to boost energy. Alternatively, you can opt for a subscription-based personalised nutraceutical plan that is crafted specially for you to fulfil all your individual nutrition needs.