Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Figure 1: Areca nut

The habit of chewing areca is a habit of great antiquity. Areca is mainly used as food, medicine, social and religious purposes. It is the fourth most commonly used social drug, ranking after nicotine, ethanol and caffeine. Areca preparations and specific ingredients differ by cultural group and individual user.

Be CAUTIONS? Areca nut taken along with tobacco is known to have a deleterious effect of the oral cavity to the extent of causing oral cancer.

But Areca is BENEFICIAL in Some extent. However, not much is documented regarding the advantages of chewing areca nut. Arecoline, the principal alkaloid in areca nut, acts as an agonist primarily at muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. It stimulates the central and autonomic nervous system. This leads to subjective effects of increased well-being, alertness and stamina. In addition to that, it is known to improve concentration and relaxation, with other reported effects including lifting of mood, a sense of well-being, heightened alertness, staving off hunger, aphrodisiac properties and as postprandial digesting. It has also been shown to have cariostatic property. Areca was touted as a folk medicine for digestive and dental health. Areca nut also exerts a direct antimicrobial effect against bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivarius and various other microorganisms in the oral cavity. It was used to facilitate bowel movements and reduce intestinal worms (as used in Ayurvedic medicine).

Figure 2: Areca nut tree



In conclusion, the use of areca nut chewing has been of centuries old. The general effects of chewing areca nut have much impact not just on the oral cavity but also on the general health of an individual. However, many a times, the deleterious effects can outweigh the general effects to a large extent when it becomes a habit. Unfortunately, the habit is becoming prominent among the younger individuals. This is the key problem in food industry because they need to hire employees who do not chew areca nut on order to concern about food hygiene. In such cases, it is very difficult to restrict the usage, and it becomes mandatory to curb the habit as “habits die hard”.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The obesity represents sever social problem as well as a huge economic burden to the country. Multiple factors contribute to establishment of the obesity that can depend is from hereditary factors that psychological and economic acclimatize them. It is spoken about obesity when the BMI exceeds the value of 30. Obesity has direct link with other metabolic syndromes such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hirsutism, amenorrhoea in the women, reduction or expectant loss of the self-esteem, anxious syndromes, disturbs of the sleep.


Figure 1: Garcinia cambogia
A wide variety of weight management strategies are presently available, and some involve the use of dietary supplements marketed as slimming aids. Garcinia extract, (-)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA) can be considered as one such aid. HCA is a derivative of citric acid and can be extracted in plant species native to South Asia such as Garcinia cambogia, Garcinia indica, and Garcinia atroviridis. It is usually marketed as a weight loss supplement either alone or in combination with other supplements.
Garcinia cambogia Desr, known also like “tamarindo malabar”, is a plant pertaining to the family of the Guttifereae. The yellow-orange fruit color has the shape of pumpkin with thin skin and deep vertical sections that form lobes and commonly used like spice or conserving above all of the fish. In the traditional medicine the fruit of the Garcinia finds is used for the stomachache and it is like oral antiseptic in the mouthwashes.

Some researchers have suggested that HCA causes weight reduction by competitively inhibiting the enzyme adenosine triphosphatase-citrate-lyase. In addition to that, HCA can increase the release or availability of serotonin in the brain, thereby leading to appetite suppression. Other suggested mechanisms include inhibition of pancreatic alpha amylase and intestinal alpha glucosidase, thereby leading to a reduction in carbohydrate metabolism.

The most important fact is Animal studies have suggested that HCA causes weight loss, and human trials involving the use of HCA as a weight loss supplement have been carried out and identified that that Garcinia extracts/HCA can cause short term weight loss.


Based on this information, we can suggest that, it is better to incorporate garcenia to your daily diet. But avoid overconsumption. Also don’t cook garcenia added foods in Aluminium pots. Furthermore, further research need to be focused on the effect of other fruits (Garcenia family) extracts on weight reduction. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

According to the Brazilian Research group’s long-term study has pointed to a link between breastfeeding and intelligence or baby’s IQ level. The research in Brazil used 3,500 babies and found those who had been breastfed for longer went on to score higher on IQ tests as adults. According to WHO guidelines babies should be exclusively breastfed for six months of period and after that is should be continued along with complementary foods. Brest milk can be considered as a complete diet for new born and it protect child from infectious diseases. Also breast milk can make a strong emotional and physical bond between mother and child due to its eye-to-eye, chest-to-chest and skin-to-skin connected feeding nature. On the other hand breast feeding helps mother to re-gain her body shape and protect her from breast cancers. Breast feeding is the most economical way to fed your baby in the first six months because it is completely free compare to expensive child formula. 


Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Thal (Palmyra) and kithul or tail palm varities are popular trees among the rural community in Sri Lanka. This trees is botanically recognized as Caryota urens which belongs to the Palmae family. Under favourable conditions, the both trees can cultivate to a height of 40 - 50 feet and a circumference of 4-6 feet. The circumference of the lower part of some trees is less than that of the middle part which is not common among the other tree species. 

The rural people find a number of economically vital products from the Thal palm. Flour from the Thal palm derived from Sri Lanka’s dry zone has been an elixir that has been known and used for a healthy life for centuries. This flour can be kept for a long time. The flour is used for different preparations. "Thal thalapa" is one such preparation. In addition thal fruit is also used for jam production and cordial production. 

The kithul flour is in the pith of the trunk. In the extraction process of flour, first a kithul tree is cut down. Then, the pieces of pith are removed from the trunk. After that, the pith is cut into small pieces and powdered using the mortar and pestle. Next, a pot is filled with water and a clean cloth is tied to its mouth. Then the crushed pith is mixed with water and allowed to strain through the cloth to the pot. After sometime, the flour settles down in the pot. It is sun dried to make Kithul flour. This flour can be kept for a long time. The flour is used for different preparations. "Kithul thalapa" is one such preparation.

Both kithul and Thal can be used to produce toddy, treacle and vinegar.


Monday, December 22, 2014


Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the human body that presents a risk to health by World Health Oraganization. Obesity can be measured using the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. However, these standards varying from ethnicity to ethnicity. 

Obesity is a major part of metabolic syndrome which is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. 

"Once considered a problem only in high income countries, overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings" - WHO

Recent research has been found that Higher rates of obesity and ill-health can be observed in shift workers than the general population (By James Gallagher - Health editor, BBC News website)

Why? There are many reasons associated with this Fact. 

Erratic working schedules lead to consume food away from home mainly in cheap fast food restaurants. They are rich is calorie, sugar, fat (Saturated fat, Trans fat, cholesterol), salt and low in micro nutrients and fiber. Also massive portion size tend to accumulate these unhealthy food inside your body more and more. 

Erratic workers do not eat in a regular pattern and they skip their main meals such as breakfast and lunch. As a result they tend to eat more calorie rich food in night and stomach do not have adequate time for digestion because soon after eat, they go to sleep. This lead to increase abdominal fat which carrying increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. 

Furthermore, these people tend to consume more alcohol and cigarettes in order to prevent loneliness or to obtain a fun. For examples, if group of male employees go around the country for marketing definitely most of the nights they organize party with alcohols.  

On the other hand, they do not have time to engage in physical activities and increased level of stress can also lead to obesity and hypertension. 

"Shift work is becoming increasingly common and it's causing a lot of problems to a lot of people and in particular the link with cancer is becoming stronger (By James Gallagher - Health editor, BBC News website)"

Therefore to alleviate this problem nutrition intervention strategies should mainly target for these set of people as well out of the main set of general population. 



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Resent European research has found that consumption of 250 ml of beetroot per day can diminish blood pressure by 10mmHg.

The reason is beetroot contain nitrite which converted into nitric oxide in the body and this gas can widen the blood vessels. As a result blood pressure will significantly drop.

Beetroot consumption lead to red urine. Because red pigment in beetroot known as betanin is not digested inside the body and excreted via urine or stool. As a result temporally urine and fecal matter become a reddish color and this is known as beeturia. However, this is not harmful to your body.

Beetroot can be incorporate into our diet as juices, salads, as a curry etc. Tap the full potentials of this lovely vegetable help to cure your hypertension.


Figure: Beetroot Juice

Saturday, December 20, 2014


What is CVD?
  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and hypertension are the two most common disorders of the cardiovascular systems.
  • CHD; Ischemia Heart Disease (IHD) or Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) are synonymous terms for a group of syndromes arising from failure of coronary arteries to supply sufficient blood to the myocardium (heart muscle)
  • These syndromes are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening of the artery due to deposition of fat) of the coronary arteries 
  • Myocardial infraction, angina pectoris and sudden death can occur due to atherosclerosis
Myocardial infraction?

  • This is necrosis or destruction of part of the heart muscle due to failure of the blood supply (Ischemia)
  • It may lead to sudden death/ heal leaving a scar
Patients with healed lesions may be severely disable OR
May be able to return to their normal life with little/no restriction of their physical activities,
  • But they carry an increased risk of a second infraction
  • The infraction is usually due to a thrombus forming in an atherosclerotic artery and blocking the lumen

Monday, May 19, 2014


Botanical Name:  Curcuma longa
Sinhala: Kaha    
English: Tumeric

Believed to reduce uric acid levels in the blood, reducing gout symptoms. It is the main constituent of alternative-medicine treatments for Gout, arthritis. Anti-cancer effects have been claimed.

8 Ways to use Tumeric Everyday!



Health Benefits of Tumeric






Thursday, May 15, 2014


Botanical Name: Erythrina variegeta
Sinhala: Erabadu
English: Coral tree

Its medicinal purposes are found to be many. The bark is a remedy against biliousness, and is useful in eye diseases. The inner part of the bark, coated with ghee, and held over a flam, forms affine soot, used for watery eyes. The juice of the leaf is injected into the ear, and it gives relief in cases of ear ache. The fresh juice of the leaves, with a little bees honey is an efficacious remedy for tape worm, thread worm, and round worm. The tender leaves are cooked with coconut milk as a vegetable for children who are one year old. This prevents worm complaints. As an agent that promotes secretion and flow of milk, either the juice of the fresh leaves cook in coconut milk can be given to mothers during the period of lactation. The juice of the leaves is applied to the guns to relieve tooth ache. A poultice of the leaves can be used over rheumatic joints. Indigenous physicians use to treat fractures and cattle diseases. 


Erabadu


Desmodium triflorum 

Botanical Name: Desmodium triflorum 
Sinhala: Heen undupialli 

Three types of Undupiyaliya .There are Maha Undupiyaliya , Eth Undupialiya and Heen Undipialiya. All three types are used to produce Ayurveda medicine. Out of these most important is Heen Undupiyaliya. Some people grow it in order to add beauty to landscapes. It is said that walking on the groves of Undupiyaliya is healthy for eyes. It's said that their leaves contain vitamin B. Villagers of Sri Lanka used to prepare Undupiyaliya as Kanjee. It used to prepare ointments that used to cure diseases related to head. Medicines  prepared from it are used to cure diseases of Infants, Fracture of bones and to stimulate the production of milk of breast feeding mothers. It said that Undupiyaliya leaves can be dried and turned in to powder and can be consumed as a beverage similar to tea which is good for diabetes.
Neem
Botanical Name: Azadirachat indica
English: Neem
Sinhala: Kohomba 

The neem tree is used a great deal in indigenous medicine.  Kohamba trees were always planted in front of the house. It helps to purify the air. According to the old text on indigenous medicine, the presence of the tree is an insect repellent. The twigs are used to clean teeth. The fresh of the leaves with salt and bees honey is given for intestinal worms. The juice is prescribed for jaundice and skin diseases. Externally, the leaves are applied for skin diseases as an antiseptic. They are also used for boils, chronic ulcers, eruption due to small pox, glandular swelling, and wound. The seeds are also used as an insecticide and as a detergent for washing the hair. The flowers are dried and are used as a tonic for fever. A very effective food for diabetes is made out of neem flower.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Wel-penela

Botanical Name: Cardiosprmum halicacabum
Sinhala:  Wel-penela

Wel-penela is an annual herb which is very common in the low country and throughout the tropics.  A decoction of the Wel-penela roots is given in half tablespoonful doses twice a day for bleeding piles. It is used to allay pains due to sprains and contusions about the joints. The leaves are used for rheumatism, nervous diseases, hemorrhoids and chronic bronchitis. The juice of the leaves is put into the ear for ear-ache and also used for the abnormal suppression of menses. Wel-penela is a cooling drink when prepared as a canjee. They are coated with castor oil and are applied on swellings and tumours. Welpenela is used for infants when they find it difficult to breath through the nose.

Botanical Name:  Coscinium fenestratum
English:  Cailumba wood
Sinhala:  Wenivael gaeta 

Its chief use is a remedy against tetanus. It is the stem of this creeper used in Ayurvedic medicine. In Malaria it is as valuable remedy as quinine. It is used as an infusion. It is also used in the treatment of diarrhoea. The bitter alkaloid in Weniwal is used in the treatment of bleeding piles and in cases of excessive menstruation. It is a blood purifier.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Botanical Name: Azadirachat indica
English: Neem
Sinhala: Kohomba 

The neem tree is used a great deal in indigenous medicine in Sri Lanka.  Kohamba trees were always planted in front of the house. It helps to purify the air. According to the old text on indigenous medicine, the presence of the tree is an insect repellent. The twigs are used to clean teeth. The fresh of the leaves with salt and bees honey is given for intestinal worms. The juice is prescribed for jaundice and skin diseases. Externally, the leaves are applied for skin diseases as an antiseptic. They are also used for boils, chronic ulcers, eruption due to small pox, glandular swelling, and wound. The seeds are also used as an insecticide and as a detergent for washing the hair. The flowers are dried and are used as a tonic for fever. A very effective food for diabetes is made out of neem flower. 

Neem


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bitter gourd

Botanical Name:  Mmordica charantia 
English: Bitter gourd
Sinhala: Kariwila
Family: Cucurbitaceae

Bitter gourd cultivation in Sri Lanka

Bitter gourd is unknown, but it is widely spread throughout the tropical countries.  In Sri Lanka Bitter gourd is eaten as a vegetable. It can be successfully grown on elevation from sea level to about 1200m. It can be cultivated in low country and mid country during both seasons. The identified districts for Bitter gourd production are Kurunegala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura , Puttalam, and Amparai districts. The identified districts of Kurunagala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kandy. and Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Amparai will be the major Bitter gourd cultivating areas in Sri Lanka.The recommended varieties are Thinnavely white and mc43. Although the other two genotypes are similar to Thinnaveli white and mc43 but dark green in colour are popular among the farmers.

Nutritional Value

The fruit is a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B.  Nutritional composition (values are per 100g of edible portion is given below)

Source: Tables of Food Composition .Medical Research Institute, Colombo

Therapeutic Values

Bitter gourd has been used in the Auruwedha and traditional medicinal system in Asian countries for a longer period of time. The fruits and leaves are used as a vermifuge, and for piles, leprosy and jaundice. The leaves are used in the treatment of colic. The root is an ingredient in aphrodisiacal preparations and used externally for hemorrhoids. The fruit is useful for rheumatism, gout and diseases of the spleen and liver. In large doses it is a drastic purgative and is considered antiabortion. 

It is also used for diabetes, kidney stones, fever, a skin condition called psoriasis, and liver disease; to start menstruation; and as supportive treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels.

Karavila is also a very effective beauty aids. The leaves are crushed and the juice is massaged into the skull. It encourages the growth of hair. Loss of hair is a common worry for many people.

References

  • Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Saturday, April 26, 2014


The world’s most expensive coffee is known as kopi luwak or literally, “civet coffee” with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogramme. The price of farmed (considered low-grade by connoisseurs) kopi luwak in large Indonesian supermarkets is from US$100 per kilogramme (five times the price of a high quality local arabica coffee). A pound of kopi luwak can cost anywhere from $100 to $3,000, and a single cup may cost as much as $80.

File:Luwak-Katze in Kepahiang.jpg
Asian palm civet feeding on coffee beans 

It is brewed from coffee beans that have been eaten and partially digested by the Asian palm civet, a catlike wild animal. Producers of the coffee beans claim that the process may increase coffee quality through selection and digestion. Selection happens if the civets choose to eat coffee berries containing better beans. Digestive may increase the flavor profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet consumes the berries for the beans' fleshy pulp, and then in the digestive tract, fermentation happens. The civet's proteolytic enzymes secrete into the beans, creation shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet's intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.

Traditionally, the coffee was so rare because harvesters had to scour the rainforest floor looking for civet droppings that contained coffee beans. In recent years, some people have started caging wild civets and feeding them the beans directly.

Defecated coffee 

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