Okra: The nutritional supplier (Part 3)

Updated 02 February 2016

Okra: The nutritional supplier (Part 3)

Last week, I started exploring the nutrients in okra as well as the health gains coming from this unusual looking and tasty plant, which is relished in Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, the Indian subcontinent, and the Caribbean Islands. However in Japan, it is so appreciated and often consumed for its nutritional value and tasteful flavor that one rural region by the name of Kami in Kochi is dedicated to growing it in abundance. Dr. Junji Takano, the well-known scientist and health expert, explained that in consequence of consuming okura (okra) regularly, Kami inhabitants seem to enjoy excellent health due to the plant’s many benefits.
Now I shall continue analyzing the nutrients of the okra for you.
I was so surprised by the analysis of Takano and Dr. Sylvia Zook that I felt it my duty to reveal the goodness of okra, since it is a national vegetable that is seen on almost every Middle Eastern table. Despite the difficult process of peeling it, Arab women take pride in preparing it and have it on their menu regularly. Peeling the bottom part of the bamia, okra, is not very simple, as cutting too deep into it could expose the seeds and make the viscous substance leak easily. You need a certain expertise to trim the base of each okra. There is even a special word for trimming bamia in Arabic. The good news is that the vegetable is always available and very fresh in most supermarkets and open markets.
Let me now resume my analysis and benefits of this medicinal plant, much appreciated in tropical regions.
Okra is an ideal vegetable for mothers-to-be, who require plenty of folates (folic acid) for the normal neurological development (fetal neural tube) of their foetuses, in order to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. The many other nutrients in the veggie are also needed for both mother and fetus.
Okra’s abundance in macro and micro nutrients, iron, and folic acid in particular, protects against excessive menstrual bleeding in women; replenishes blood deficiencies caused by heavy bleeding or malnutrition; and prevents anemia in women in their reproductive years. It fortifies the blood by increasing red blood cells and plasma. For this reason, it is recommended to consume okra during menstrual, gestation, and postnatal bleeding periods. Not only folic acid and iron in the veggie help enrich haemoglobin in red blood cells, vitamin K prevents excessive bleeding by promoting the coagulation of blood plates, thus preventing the risk of fatal haemorrhage during childbirth and injury.
The combination of vitamin K and C, magnesium, and calcium in the plant helps in building and strengthening the bones, regaining bone thickness, and preventing bone loss and osteoporosis, which come with aging. Growing children should consume it to build strong healthy bone structure.
It is also recommended to keep venereal diseases (syphilis, gonorrhea) and other sexually transmittable diseases at bay. Due to its characteristic of improving the blood flow, it also enhances sexual potency.
Okra’s richness in nutrients, especially vitamin C and antioxidants, helps decrease the acuteness of asthma attacks and relieve and reduce the frequency of the symptoms through the potency of its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. The infusion of the leaves and blooms of the okra helps in healing bronchial spasms and infections, lung inflammation, pneumonia, common colds, and influenza.
Okra’s vitamins C and A (through its richness in carotenoids) nourish the eyes on the cellular level. By providing antioxidants such as lutein and xanthine, it prevents vision loss caused by glaucoma, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Such antioxidants also cleanse the body systems and organs to regenerate body cells and neurons; fight free radicals; protect against bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms; give energy; boost the immune defenses; and restore health and wellness.
By detoxifying and feeding the blood, okra’s nutrients (vitamin A, B and C) and antioxidants repair and build body tissues, collagen, muscles, and skin; heal eczema and psoriasis; clear the complexion from pimples, blackheads, skin blemishes, and acne; help purify the skin; and prevent sunspots and other undesirable skin conditions. The cleansing property of okra helps clear skin pigmentation caused by hormonal imbalance and age.
Regular consumption of the veggie also reduces risk of acne, eczema, and psoriasis and improves the quality of the skin. Okra cleanses the skin through its vitamin C and soluble fiber, which repair and renew skin and scar tissue and eliminate toxins. The richness of the plant in vitamin C strengthens the skin, vascular system, and blood vessel walls.
As a hair conditioner, the mucilage of okra relieves scalp irritation, gets rid of dandruff, and gives brilliance to the hair. When soaked in water overnight, the viscous solution acts as a conditioner for dry and curly hair; moisturizes dry and itchy scalp; acts against dandruff; gets rid of lice, gives the hair a shine; and makes it more manageable.
Okra’s soluble fiber, pectin, coats the stomach lining, neutralizes acid reflux, and heals stomach ulcers and intestinal inflammation. Along with the insoluble fiber, it speeds the transition of food, increases stool bulk, and eliminates waste from the digestive tract. The viscous substance prevents and treats peptic ulcers and intestinal inflammation by coating the stomach lining. Enzymes and soluble fiber improve the functions of the digestive system and enhance the microflora, which help the absorption and synthesis of nutrients in the gut.
The soluble and insoluble fiber along with vitamin C helps cleanse the system from toxic waste, excess hormones, and chemicals (plastics, pesticides, food additives…) found in food and environment, which could lead to allergies and hormone related cancers like breast, prostate, and lymph node cancers.
Because of its multiple nutrients (vitamins, minerals), soluble and insoluble fiber, and antioxidants, the vegetable fights free radicals that weaken the immune defenses and cause bacterial and viral infections, hence bolstering immunity.
Okra’s abundance in soluble and insoluble fiber, proteins, B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12), and vitamins A, C, and K raises its importance, making it stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most nutritious foods. It should be a must-have veggie. Its interesting mix of necessary minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, selenium, and fluoride are essential for building and strengthening bone mass and structure, joints, and cartilage as well as general health in the young and the old. It is one of the few foods that contain choline, which boosts the memory and brain functions and also prevents babies being born with learning disabilities, when it is consumed during pregnancy.
Next week, I shall wrap up this series of articles on okra and examine betaine in the plant more closely. This amino acid, which derives from choline, offers a wealth of benefits.
• Health Benefits of Okra by Junji Takano
• Benefit of eating Okra (Lady’s Finger) by Sylvia W. Zook, Ph.D. nutritionist
http://draxe.com/okra-nutrition/, Okra Nutrition: Improve Heart Health, Eyesight & Cholesterol Levels
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/24..., Nutrition Facts of Okra

Individuals with medical conditions or on medication should consult their physicians when they decide to introduce anything new in their diet even if it is natural.
The previous Health Solutions articles are located at www. arabnews.com

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Saudi doctor warns of e-cigarette risks after US ban over vaping-related deaths

In the US, some individuals were placed in induced comas after smoking home-made vaping devices. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2019

Saudi doctor warns of e-cigarette risks after US ban over vaping-related deaths

  • E-cigarette flavor can damage cells lining blood vessels and in turn damage the heart, say scientists

RIYADH: A Saudi doctor has warned of the dangers of smoking e-cigarettes after the US moved to ban the devices following a spate of vaping-related deaths. Dr. Shaikh Abdullah, a pediatric and adolescent specialist at King Abdul Aziz Medical City, in Riyadh, said vaping posed serious health risks including slow brain development in teenagers, lung and heart disease.
US President Donald Trump this week announced that his administration would ban flavored e-cigarettes in the wake of six deaths and 450 reported cases of lung illness tied to vaping across 33 American states. He said e-smoking was a “new problem,” especially among young people.
Although the sale and import of vaping products has been banned in Saudi Arabia since September 2015, some users in the Kingdom still reportedly manage to obtain the devices.

Heart disease
Abdullah, who works on National Guard health affairs at the medical center, said: “Smoking harms almost all organs in the body including the heart. Nearly one-third of deaths from heart disease are the result of passive smoking.
“One might be tempted to turn to e-cigarettes as a way to ease the transition from traditional cigarettes to not smoking at all. But smoking e-cigarettes is not advisable either.
“Vapor causes deposition of nicotine into the body, it is highly addictive and can raise blood pressure and spikes adrenaline which increases the heart rate and chances of heart attack,” he added.
Abdullah said that vaping could also cause slow brain development in teens and affect memory, concentration, learning, self-control and mood. In addition, e-cigarettes irritated the lungs and could lead to serious lung damage and even death, he added.

Smoking harms almost all organs in the body including the heart. Nearly one-third of deaths from heart disease are the result of passive smoking.

Dr. Shaikh Abdullah, Pediatric and adolescent specialist at King Abdul Aziz Medical City

In a statement, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said: “Both the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working tirelessly to investigate the distressing incidents of severe respiratory illness associated with use of vaping products.
“The FDA and the CDC are working closely with state and local health officials to investigate these incidents as quickly as possible, and we are committed to taking appropriate actions as a clearer picture of the facts emerges.”
Arab News’ Rawan M. Radwan, who gave up smoking for vaping, said: “I feel that vaping is more recreational than an addictive habit. I do understand the dangers of e-cigarettes, but it’s still the preferred choice.”
Conventional smoking increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, COPD (lung diseases), asthma, diabetes, and most cancers. E-cigarettes are often considered to be effective in helping conventional smokers to quit.
However, the results of a 2013 clinical trial published in the Lancet, recommended more research was urgently needed to establish the overall benefits and dangers of e-cigarettes both on users and nonusers.
Vaping is the inhaling of vapor created by an electronic cigarette, a battery-operated smoking device with cartridges filled with liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings and chemicals.
Although there are more than 1,000 toxic chemicals found in cigarettes, the contents of vape juices are still widely unknown.
Radwan said: “Though I am not sure about its legality in Saudi Arabia, vape juice and devices are obtainable through sellers on the internet. Some stores provide vape salts and juices on customer request. I think vaping is popular because cigarettes and shishas are out.” She added that shisha tobacco cost SR100 ($27) or more per kilo, making e-cigarettes the more affordable choice. In the US, some individuals were placed in induced comas after smoking home-made vaping devices.
Trump met with top health officials at the White House to discuss ways to keep the products away from teenagers.
“We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected,” the New York Times quoted the president as saying.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, in May this year, found that e-cigarette flavor can damage cells lining blood vessels and in turn damage the heart.

What does vaping-related illness look like?

The following is a look at the illness and how US doctors are treating it.

PATIENT PROFILE: Most of the US cases so far have involved young men under the age of 20 who were otherwise healthy. All reported vaping within 90 days prior to developing symptoms, and many had vaped within a week of feeling sick.
Patients experienced symptoms for several days to several weeks before being admitted to the hospital.

SYMPTOMS: Nearly all patients involved in the outbreak so far have reported respiratory issues, including a dry, or unproductive, cough that does not bring up mucus, shortness of breath and chest pain that worsened with deep breathing.
About 80 percent had gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Those symptoms often appeared before patients started having trouble breathing.
Most also had general symptoms of illness, including fever, chills, weight loss and fatigue.
Chest X-rays and CT scans revealed shadows or abnormalities in both lungs in all of the patients, which has become a defining characteristic of the illness.
An analysis of lung cells from five patients in North Carolina turned up pockets of oily deposits within immune system cells called macrophages.
Experts have not yet determined whether these are an artifact of the immune system’s attempt at removing vaping oils — a foreign substance — from the lungs, or if they are central to the disease process itself.

TREATMENT: Many of the patients had sought treatment before going to a hospital. Nearly half were initially treated with antibiotics either before going to the hospital or after being hospitalized, but patients failed to respond.
Ultimately, nearly all of the patients were hospitalized, with more than half admitted to an intensive care unit suffering from respiratory failure.
Most patients recovered after six days of treatment. Many responded to steroids, which reduced inflammation in the lungs. Doctors also believe time in the hospital that patients spent on a ventilator and not vaping helped the lungs heal.
Because no infectious cause has been found, the CDC believes the illnesses are the result of chemical injury to the lungs. It is not yet clear whether patients will have any lasting damage.

SOURCES: The New England Journal of Medicine and the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report