Nutritional Immunology

Health Benefits of Cactus

When it comes to nutritious plant foods, cactus is top of my favourites. In traditional Chinese medicine, cactus is considered to be “cold” in nature, and can promote the flow of qi and blood circulation. It is used to help reduce swelling and relieve pain with its cooling and detoxifying properties. It is believed to be able to strengthen the spleen and stop diarrhoea. Due to its many benefits, it is used both internally and externally for many diseases.

The Health Benefits of Cactus

Modern research lends support to the many beneficial uses o cactus. A cactus may try to keep us away with its spines, but we will want to get close and benefit from the phytochemicals and polysaccharides contained within a cactus.

Cactus contains a wide variety of phytochemicals, and these give great benefits to health. Phytochemicals are a type of phytonutrient that help plants defend against damage from ultraviolet light, pests, and the environment. More than 5,000 phytochemicals have been identified, but only about 150 have been studied in depth. For humans, phytochemicals can help prevent steps leading to the development of cancer. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research states that phytochemicals have the potential to:

  • Block some of the actions of carcinogens
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Prevent DNA damage and enhance DNA repair
  • Slow growth rate of cancer cells
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce oxidative damage
  • Help regulate hormones

Phytochemicals are plentiful inside cactus. Multiple studies and research have shown that phytochemicals inside cactus can do much good for our bodies, such as inhibiting cancer cell growth, suppressing tumour growth, and increasing the number of cells undergoing self-destruction as a protection against abnormalities. The phytochemicals in cactus have some anti diabetic activity through hypoglycaemic activity, as well as the potential to lower blood glucose levels.

Studies have shown that cactus also contains many antioxidants, as well as possessing many other healthful properties. Cactus demonstrates some antiviral properties through the inhibition and replication of several viruses; it can even inhabit the action of viruses that have yet to invade a cell. Substances in cactus can help lower cholesterol levels and potentially modify the composition of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, commonly called “bad” cholesterol).

Some flavonoids in cactus may be potent neuroprotectors while other components of cactus have potent anti-inflammatory actions.

I’m a fan of cactus-based products, using them as nutrition supplements and skin care. I’ve been taking cactus nutrition drink from E.Excel International for the last 19 years and I strongly encourage others to use cactus for their well being too. You may want to explore the product I’m using here….

Cheers to good health!

Almonds boost the elimination of bad cholesterol

Researchers at at Pennsylvania State University recently confirmed the anti-cholesterol benefits of almonds. Regular intake of a handful of almonds increased levels of mature HDL or “good cholesterol” particles, which are associated with cardiovascular health, by 19 percent.

According to a study published on Friday, August 11 in the Journal of Nutrition, almonds may not only increase blood levels of HDL (good cholesterol), but also boost the transport of bad blood cholesterol to the liver.

Previous studies have already shown that the small oleaginous fruit — which is not a true nut — has the capacity to reduce blood levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), which is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

Over a period of six weeks, researchers at Pennsylvania State University monitored two groups of patients with high levels of bad cholesterol. The first group of patients consumed 43 grams of almonds per day, the equivalent of a generous handful, whereas the members of the second group were given a banana muffin.

At the end of the end of each study period, the researchers measured the levels and functioning of HDL cholesterol in each participant, and compared these results with blood counts established at the outset of the experiment.

“HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation,” study author Dr Kris-Etherton said. “It’s like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down.” On this journey, HDL particles grow bigger until they become mature.

The study highlighted a 19 percent increase in mature HDL particles in members of the group taking almonds. At the same time, participants whose weight was within normal ranges found their bodies’ ability to transport excess cholesterol to the liver improved by 6.4 percent.

Rich in magnesium (anti-spasmodic) and potassium (anti-fluid retention), almonds are a healthy and filling snack rich in fiber and protein. A handful of ten almonds has approximately 100 calories.

The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Nutrition.

What you eat affects your Immune System

Learn what it means when we say ‘balance diet’ for our health by world renown scientist, Nutritional Immunologist Dr Jau Fei Chen..

8:29 mins

Liver Cancer

The liver is one of the major organs responsible for removing toxins from the human body. Liver Cancer is common in Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. In Singapore, it is the fourth most common cancer among men. In its early stages, most patients may not experience any specific symptoms.

Warning signs:

  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling or pain
  • lump in the abdomen
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)

Who are at risk?

  • Chronic carriers of Hepatitis B virus and Hepatitis C virus
  • Those with liver cirrhosis
  • Diabetics
  • Family history of liver cancer
  • Bile duct disease call primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Alcohol abuse can lead to liver cirrhosis and hence increases the risk of liver cancer

What can you do?

  • Ultrasound scan every 6 months
  • Blood test (alphafeto protein) every 6 months
  • Get vaccinated with Hepatitis B vaccine to reduce risk of infection
  • Prevent Hepatitis C by not engaging in unprotected sex, avoid body piercing and tattooing,  not abusing drugs or share intravenous drug needles
  • Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day or avoid completely

Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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    Lung Cancer

    Lung Cancer happens when the cells lining the airways grow and divide uncontrollably, leading to the formation of an abnormal mass. It is a cancer that can develop over months to years and patients may not see the warning signs until much later. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in males and third most common cancer in females in Singapore.

    Warning signs:

    • Persistent cough
    • Coughing up blood
    • Recurring chest infection
    • Hoarseness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • New onset of wheezing
    • Fever without known reason

    Who are at risk?

    • Smokers
    • Exposure to second hand smoke
    • Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals such as arsenic, chromium, nickel, etc..

    What can you do?

    • Maintain a diet high in fruits and vegetables
    • Avoid alcoholic drinks
    • Exercise regularly

    Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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      Cancer and You
      Colorectal Cancer
      Breast Cancer
      Cervical Cancer
      Liver Cancer
      Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

      Cervical Cancer

      Cervical Cancer is cancer of the neck of the womb which is called the cervix and is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive organs. The incidence of cervical cancer has reduced considerably in the last few years due to screening with PAP smears.

      Warning signs:

      • Vaginal bleeding following intercourse of in-between menstrual period or after menopause
      • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and has a foul smell
      • Lower abdominal pain or pain during intercourse

      Who are at risk?

      • Early sexual activity
      • Multiple sex partners
      • Human Papilloma Virus (wart) infection
      • Immunosuppressed women

      What can you do?

      • Healthy lifestyle to strengthen own immune system
      • Have regular pap smear once sexually active (age 25 and above)
      • Undergo HPV DNA test to determine if you are infected with any of the 13 types of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer
      • Using condoms during intercourse reduces the risk of contracting HPV
      • Have fewer sex partners
      • Avoid smoking
      • Vaccination for girls before they become sexually active

      Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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        Colorectal Cancer
        Breast Cancer
        Lung Cancer
        Liver Cancer
        Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

        Breast Cancer

        Breast Cancer is a leading cause of death among women internationally. Its incidence in Asia is rapidly rising with Singapore having one of the highest incidences. It is well established that early detection and early treatment lead to improved survival.

        Warning signs:

        • Lumps in the breast
        • Bloody or unusual nipple discharge
        • Recent history of nipple retraction
        • Dimpling or puckering of skin overlying the breast
        • Itchy rash of the nipple
        • Breast pain

        Who are at risk?

        • Risk increases with age
        • Family history of breast cancer
        • Family history of ovarian cancer
        • Early onset of menstruation and late menopause
        • Those on hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
        • Those on birth control pills
        • Alcohol abuse

        What can you do?

        • Breast self-examination (monthly)
        • Screening mammograms (age 40 and above)
        • Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day or avoid completely
        • Maintain a healthy weight
        • Avoid ling-term hormone therapy
        • A balanced diet with plenty phytochemicals, antioxidants and polysaccharides

        Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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          Colorectal Cancer
          Cervical Cancer
          Lung Cancer
          Liver Cancer
          Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

          Colorectal Cancer

          Colorectal Cancer is a collective term encompassing cancer of the colon and rectum. The first is cancer of the large intestine, which is the lower part of the digestive system. The second is cancer of the last 15cm of the colon. It is the top killer cancer in Singapore, affecting more than 1,000 cases each year. Worse of all, the number of people afflicted every year is on the rise.

          Warning signs:

          • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
          • A change in bowel habit
          • Persistent abdominal discomfort such as cramps, gas or pain
          • Incomplete emptying of the bowel
          • Unexplained weight loss
          • Weakness or fatigue

          Who are at risk?

          • Common amongst those age above 50
          • Family history of colon cancer
          • Previous history of colon polyps
          • Persons with inflammatory bowel disease
          • A Diet low in fibre and high in fat and calories
          • Sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity and smoking

          What can you do?

          • Maintain a diet high in fruits, vegetables and grains
          • Exercise regularly
          •  Drink enough water
          • Undergo stool blood test (Faecal Occult Blood Test)
          • Undergo colonoscopy screening every 10 years (age 50 years and above)

          Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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            Cancer and You
            Breast Cancer
            Cervical Cancer
            Lung Cancer
            Liver Cancer
            Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

            Cancer and You

            Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells within the body. Left untreated, these cells will invade tissues and spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

            Cancer is the number one killer in Singapore, responsible for one quarter of all deaths. It can affect anyone, young or old, male or female, people of any race or nationality.

            Most people dread the mention of the word “cancer”. However, avoiding the subject may actually do more harm than good. If cancer is detected earlier and treated appropriately, it increases the chances of cure and long term survival.

            Cancer often has no specific symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms do appear, however, they will likely vary, depending on the type of cancer, the stage or extent of the disease, size, location and the overall health of the person, among other factors.

            By learning more about cancer, you might be able to help yourself and your family members. In Singapore, the top 5 cancers in men and women are… Colorectal Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Lung Cancer and Liver Cancer, which we’ll talk more about each of them in subsequent posts.

            Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

            Related Posts:

            Colorectal Cancer
            Breast Cancer
            Cervical Cancer
            Lung Cancer
            Liver Cancer
            Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

            Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant-Based Diet

            Prostate cancer, which in recent years has grown to almost epidemic proportions, especially in developed countries. It is now the world’s fourth most common form of malignancy (cancerous tumor) among men, with some 400,000 new cases being diagnosed annually.

            Recent scientific evidence suggests that diet plays a major role in the development, progression and deadliness of prostate cancer, with increased risk being linked to the consumption of meat, dairy products and fat. Now let’s hear what the experts have to say about reducing the risk and even reversing the development of prostate cancer through a plant-based diet.

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