Sauerkraut - A traditional Fermented Food

Fermented foods dates back to pre-historic times. Preservation of cabbage (Brassicca oleracea, var. capitata) with salt in earthen vessel was first described in first century A.D. by Plinius the Elder. Captain James Cook was awarded The Great Copley Medal for his observations and conclusions about sauerkraut as an effective food for the prevention of scurvy (most common form of death at sea) [1]. Process of fermentation originated in Indian sub-continent and knowledge of fermentation mentioned in the ancient Indian scriptures four Vedas, though skills of food preservation also mentioned in cultures such as Middle East, Central America and sub-Saharan Africa along with South Asia [2].

Cabbage has been used for general cure for illness in both Greek and Roman Gardens. Sauerkraut is a German term meaning ‘sauer – sour, kraut – cabbage’[3]. Sauerkraut is prepared by fermenting shredded cabbage in salt. Though Saurekraut is popularly known as a German fermented food but studies mentioned that it was originated 2300 years ago in ancient China and was brought to Germany in 1200s by the invading army of Genghis Khan. Germans loved the taste and the fact that pickling cabbage prevented it from spoilage [4].

Sauerkraut is digestible and appetiser thus often eaten as an adjunct to other foods and high in vitamin C. Fermented vegetables are good source of phyto-nutrients, fibers, flavonoids and probiotics. Fermentation is due to microbes in cabbage mainly by species Leuconostoc mesenteroitles, Leuconostoc citreum, Lactobacillus curvatus, Lactobacillus brevis and Lactobacillus plantarum [5]. Sauerkraut is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, beneficial bacteria, digestive enzymes, lactic acid and sulphur [6] and also, glucosinolates present in cabbage are transformed into ascorbigen during fermentation. Ascorbigen has anti-carcinogenic properties [7].

Cabbage is rich in amino acid glutamine, which is particularly good anti-inflammatory, but cooking reduces the amount of glutamine, thus sauerkraut is a great way to get this anti-inflammatory and immune booster glutamine. This is a gut-healing amino acid helps in maintaining the intestinal integrity, particularly helpful for people with ulcers, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastro esophageal reflux disorder (GERD) [8]. The sulfur containing compound sulforaphane has a good antioxidant property thus helps in ageing, prevents cancer, detoxification and reduces risk of cardiovascular disorders [9].

Time to relish the traditional delicacy…………


  1. Dolce J (2020) Cook’s Quadrant: Captain James Cook and The Pacific. Quadrant Magazine 64: 94-100.
  2. Farnworth ERT (2008) Handbook of fermented functional foods. London, New York: CRC press.
  3. Yadav M, Mandeep, Shukla P (2020) Probiotics of Diverse Origin and Their Therapeutic Applications: A Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 39: 469-479.
  4. Sheen B (2011) Foods of Germany: Greenhaven Publishing LLC.
  5. Pedebson CS (1961) Sauerkraut. Advances in Food Research: Academic Press. pp. 233-291.
  6. Marco ML, Heeney D, Binda S, et al. (2017) Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 44: 94-102.
  7. Majcherczyk J, Surówka K (2019) Effects of onion or caraway on the formation of biogenic amines during sauerkraut fermentation and refrigerated storage. Food Chemistry 298: 125083.
  8. Nick GL (2002) Impact of Glutamine-Rich Foods on Immune Function.(Medicinal Properties in Whole Foods). Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients: 148-155.
  9. Hallmann E, Kazimierczak R, Marszałek K, et al. (2017) The Nutritive Value of Organic and Conventional White Cabbage (Brassica Oleracea L. Var. Capitata) and Anti-Apoptotic Activity in Gastric Adenocarcinoma Cells of Sauerkraut Juice Produced Therof. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 65: 8171-8183.

Importance of Namaste in Corona Kaal/time



Namaste: the traditional Indian way of greeting gone global during pandemic

Greeting is essential for communication and it is a kind of spiritual care we show for each other (Smith, 2020).

We all remember as a child, we learnt to greet each other and especially our elders by saying ‘Namaste’ with a slight bow of head. This way of greeting existed since ancient Vedic times but lost its importance since we started to adapt and projecting ourselves as one in the modern society and started the culture of saying hi, hello and doing handshakes. Though handshakes are good too, as the touch is important to achieve a sense of emotional and psychological wellbeing (Smith, 2020).

Namaste is an expression of goodwill and welcome to each other. The other person too, responds in a same manner.

The term ‘Namaste’ is a Sanskrit word and means “I bow to the divine in you” (Cotton, 2011; Zayats & Triput, 2012). It is a combination of ‘Namah – to bow’ and ‘te – to you’, blending of matter with spirit. It is a way to unite two persons spiritually (Singh, Singh, & Singh, 2020).

The proper way of doing ‘Namaste’ is as given below:

Press hands together

Thumbs to heart

Say namaste meaning ‘I honour the spirit in you’

Many versions have been described in different texts “be well”, “my light greets your light”, “the divine in me greets the divine in you” (Beaman, 2016). Namaste is also a pose in yoga, it is also a way of praying in many cultures (Raub, 2002). In Western countries, ‘Namaste’ is often used and said at the conclusion of yoga classes (Oxhandler, 2017).

In this time of pandemic, we should adopt this noble gesture and balance the energy between both the hands as well as both the individuals (Bhattacharya & Singh, 2019).

A touchless, safe, hygienic practice of greeting each other.


  1. Beaman, L. G. (2016). Namaste: The Perilous Journey of ‘Real’ Yoga. In L. G. Beaman & S. Sikka (Eds.), Constructions of Self and Other in Yoga, Travel, and Tourism: A Journey to Elsewhere (pp. 101-110). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  2. Bhattacharya, S., & Singh, A. (2019). Namastey!! Greet the Indian way: Reduce the chance of infections in the hospitals and community. CHRISMED Journal of Health and Research, 6(1), 77.
  3. Cotton, C. (2011). Namaste: A spiritual approach to grading. English Journal, 100(6), 108.
  4. Oxhandler, H. K. (2017). Namaste theory: A quantitative grounded theory on religion and spirituality in mental health treatment. Religions, 8(9), 168.
  5. Raub, J. A. (2002). Psychophysiologic effects of Hatha Yoga on musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary function: a literature review. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 8(6), 797-812.
  6. Singh, R., Singh, G., & Singh, V. (2020). Namaste: The traditional indian way of greeting goes global during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Journal of the Anatomical Society of India, 69(2), 65-66. doi:10.4103/jasi.Jasi_76_20
  7. Smith, A. P. B. (2020). Russell and the Handshake: Greeting in Spiritual Care. Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, 74(1), 33-41. doi:10.1177/1542305019898476
  8. Zayats, Y., & Triput, A. (2012). GREETING CUSTOMS AROUND THE WORLD.

Green Potatoes/Steroidal Glycoalkaloids (SGAs)

Green potatoes, creeping eyes – is something wrong with my potatoes?

Have you ever wondered if they are safe to eat?

We see few foods on special buys, and we tend to save money. Nothing wrong in that, after all, it is our hard-earned money. But, if we will not store certain foods properly, they can become toxic.

One such food is potato.

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) are eaten widely as staple food across the globe [1]. Potatoes can be consumed after baking, boiling, steaming and frying. Potatoes are good source of carbohydrates, fibre (if consumed with the skin) and also, contain some essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols such as chlorogenic acid [2].

Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) are found generally in low levels in potatoes and are beneficial. These are produced as a defence mechanism to protect the potato tubers from pathogens [3]. Mechanical damage and microbial infections also induce the synthesis of SGAs [4].

Potatoes turn green or start sprouting on prolonged exposure of natural or any source of light. The light induces the chlorophyll and steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs mainly alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine) biosynthesis and thus the skin of potato become green in colour [5].

Chlorophyll is not a health concern, but greening or sprouting is the sign that SGAs content is also increased along with chlorophyll. Solanine and chaconine become toxic at high doses [6]. SGAs at high doses adversely affect central nervous system, cause liver damage, disrupt cell membranes in the gut and can adversely affect metabolism [7]. Severe poisoning may even lead to respiratory issues, paralysis, cardiac failure and coma [8]. Unfortunately heating also does not reduce the levels of SGAs however, frying may reduce little amount [7]. But discarding the sprouts, green skin and bruised parts may be the safest thing to do.

So next time you buy a bag of potatoes, store them in a cool dark place, in your cupboard or drawers covered with a cotton cloth.

Be wise, be safe!


  1. Camire ME, Kubow S, Donnelly DJ (2009) Potatoes and Human Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 49: 823-840.
  2. Singh J, Kaur L (2016) Advances in potato chemistry and technology: Academic press.
  3. Dao L, Friedman M (1994) Chlorophyll, chlorogenic acid, glycoalkaloid, and protease inhibitor content of fresh and green potatoes. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 42: 633-639.
  4. Osman SF (1983) Glycoalkaloids in potatoes. Food Chemistry 11: 235-247.
  5. AD P (2016) G1437 green potatoes: The problems and the solution.
  6. Knuthsen P, Jensen U, Schmidt B, et al. (2009) Glycoalkaloids in potatoes: Content of glycoalkaloids in potatoes for consumption. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 22: 577-581.
  7. Smith DB, Roddick JG, Jones JL (1996) Potato glycoalkaloids: Some unanswered questions. Trends in Food Science & Technology 7: 126-131.
  8. Mensinga TT, Sips AJAM, Rompelberg CJM, et al. (2005) Potato glycoalkaloids and adverse effects in humans: an ascending dose study. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 41: 66-72.

Clay Pots

Use of Clay Pots since history………….

Sometimes it is the cooking process, or it is the recipe passed on to us from our mother or grandmother, or it is just a pot that reminds us of a beautiful time with our family.

Today, for me it is the clay pot that reminds me of my beautiful childhood. My mother loved to cook specific daals (lentils) in a clay pot. When I was a teenager, time changed, and the cooking pots made of aluminium and non-stick were readily available in the market. But my mother still preferred to use the natural pots made up of clay.

And wait, I still remember that taste, so natural. The flavours of earthen ware can not be beaten by any other kind of utensil. The clay pots if used on wood fire stoves add the aroma of wood in the food. Also, it is a slow cooking process which enhances all the flavours of spices used in Indian cooking.

This style of cooking is mostly known as grand-mother style cooking.

Throughout the history cooks clay cooking pots on coal, wood or charcoal. The Neolithic homemakers learnt to make pottery vessels to cook their foods[1]. Clay adds natural earthen elements into the foods, needs less energy, does not dissipate heat, therefore, foods stores well and stays warm for longer duration [2]. The added benefit is nutritional value of food is enhanced such as minerals, vitamins and proteins when food is cooked in clay pots [3].

Even diffusion of heat creates great alchemy in the kitchen. Some cooks describe cooking in clay pots keep the memory of the love while cook prepares a dish. The uniform and slow heating in clay pots increases the digestibility of foods [4].

The only thing one should be cautious about is the source, if the soil is contaminated with heavy metals then those contaminants can be leached into the foods too [5,6], therefore, it is best to buy the certified organic clay pots.

Time to go back to the nature, and to be deeply rooted to the soil.


  1. Staubach S (2013) Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind’s Relationship with Earth’s Most Primal Element: UPNE.
  2. Hansen S (2018) Clay: Qualities, Benefits, and Therapeutic Applications A Literature Review.
  3. Khan D, Banerjee S (2020) Revitalizing ancient Indian clay utensils and its impact on health. International Journal of All Research Education and Scientific Methods 8: 357-360.
  4. Skibo J, Schiffer M (1995) The Clay Cooking Pot: An Exploration of Women’s Technology. James Skibo, William Walker, and Axel Nielsen: 80-91.
  5. Nsengimana H, Munyentwali A, Muhayimana P, et al. (2012) Assessment of heavy metals leachability from traditional clay pots “inkono” and “ibibindi” used as food contact materials. Rwanda Journal 25: 52-65.
  6. Chagas MP, Teixeira LSG, Santana RC, et al. (2020) Determination and Evaluation of Lead Migration for Foods Prepared in Clay Pots. Food Analytical Methods 13: 268-274.

Kanji - An ethnic north-Indian fermented beverage

Since early history, traditional fermented foods have been popularly consumed. Kanjika or Kanji is a well-known ayurvedic lactic acid based fermented drink. Sandhana Kalpana is the term used in Ayurveda for the process of fermentation [1]. Fermentation is one of the oldest and economical method to preserve food. Apart from prevention of spoilage  or from preventing food spoilage, it also adds benefits such as enhances flavour, improves digestibility, improves nutritional benefits of foods and increase pharmacological value of the food [2].

Kanji is prepared from black carrots (Daucus carota), salt, crushed mustard seeds, red chilli or cayenne pepper powder and water.

Fermentation takes place by microorganisms and enzymes which convert food sugars into lactic acid. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) play an essential role in the preservation and production of wholesome fermented foods [3]. Seventeen lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strains have been reported in Kanji for probiotic properties and showed acid tolerance, bile salt tolerance with anti-microbial activity and cholesterol assimilation. Isolates of  Lactobacillus coryniformis and Lactobacillus curvatus showed significant inhibition against Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica [1]. Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Lactobacillus strains mentioned above have been reported for probiotic potential. Lactobacillus plantarum isolated from ayurvedic medicinal food Kanji or Kanjika is a potential source of Vitamin B12 [4].


Nutritional benefits of Kanjika or Kanji [1,2,4]

  • Improves digestion.
  • Act as appetizer.
  • Protects liver from oxidative stress.
  • Improves the secretion of enzymes.
  • Good source of vitamin B12.
  • Good probiotic thus protects from pathogenic gut bacteria.
  • Helps in cholesterol assimilation.
  • Maintains the population of good bacteria in gut.
  • High antioxidant activity thus helps building good immune strength.
  • Good anti-inflammatory effect.

Time to enjoy the traditional drinks with health benefits instead of expensive ones in the market.


Choose traditional over modern!



  1. Reddy KBPK, Raghavendra P, Kumar BG, et al. (2007) Screening of probiotic properties of lactic acid bacteria isolated from Kanjika, an ayruvedic lactic acid fermented product: An in-vitro evaluation. The Journal of General and Applied Microbiology 53: 207-213.
  2. Lamba J, Goomer S, Saxena SK (2019) Study the lactic acid bacteria content in traditional fermented Indian drink: Kanji. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science 16: 100143.
  3. Panghal A, Janghu S, Virkar K, et al. (2018) Potential non-dairy probiotic products – A healthy approach. Food Bioscience 21: 80-89.
  4. Madhu AN, Giribhattanavar P, Narayan MS, et al. (2010) Probiotic lactic acid bacterium from kanjika as a potential source of vitamin B12: evidence from LC-MS, immunological and microbiological techniques. Biotechnology Letters 32: 503-506.



Lectins are toxic proteins that bind with sugars, thus considered anti-nutrients. 

Lectins are produced by plants as a defensive mechanism against insects, moulds, and fungi.

We do not have enzymes to digest lectins; therefore, they easily enter blood circulation and can cause health issues in some people.

Lectins affect our health by disrupting the digestion, by damaging the delicate lining of intestine, by causing auto-immune disorders, by causing leaky gut. Lectins trigger the inflammation and activate immune response, thus can cause allergic issues, gut dysbiosis,
rheumatoid arthritis and hypersensitivity in some people [1] . Foods high in lectins are nightshade family vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers), legumes, beans, peanuts, corn, grains, produce from grain fed animals.

Among heat processing such as soaking, boiling, cooking, sprouting, fermenting, autoclaving or extrusion cooking, autoclaving (based on high temperature and under pressure which is equivalent to pressure cooker in domestic kitchens) are some methods to remove lectins. 

Autoclaving/pressure cooking is found to be the most effective in removing lectins and other anti-nutrients [2] .

Soaking and pressure cooking makes beans softer and other nutrients become more bioavailable which means body can absorb the nutrients properly and can make use of them efficiently [3] . Fermentation is another way to effectively remove toxins and anti-nutrients from foods [4,5] .

Seeds in bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplants can be removed if one is allergic to those foods.


  1. Vojdani A (2015) Lectins, agglutinins, and their roles in autoimmune reactivities. ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES 2: 142.
  2. Revilla I (2015) Chapter 40 – Impact of Thermal Processing on Faba Bean (Vicia faba) Composition. In: Preedy V, editor. Processing and Impact on Active Components in Food. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 337-343.
  3. Preet K, Punia D (2000) Antinutrients and Digestibility (in vitro) of Soaked, Dehulled and Germinated Cowpeas. Nutrition and Health 14: 109-117.
  5. Thompson HJ (2019) Improving human dietary choices through understanding of the tolerance and toxicity of pulse crop constituents. Current Opinion in Food Science



Lycopene is a red pigment from red tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) [1]. It is a carotenoid, located deeply inside the chromoplast of tomatoes and attached to the membranes. Cooking dissociates the food matrix and lycopene is released [2].

Raw tomato contains 0.8 to 3.7 mg/100gm of lycopene

Whereas, cooked tomato paste contain 32 to 94mg/100gm of lycopene [2].

When tomatoes are consumed raw, lycopene is poorly absorbed. But, when the tomatoes are cooked and consumed with little amount of fat such as extra virgin olive oil, the bioavailability of lycopene is greatly improved [3], antioxidant effect, Z-isomer (which is the active lycopene), total carotenoids, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene levels are increased by cooking tomatoes with oil [4] .

Raw onion puree with extra virgin olive oil when mixed with tomatoes and cooked increased the Z-isomer of lycopene [5,6]. This might be the reason, Mediterranean and Indian cooking uses onion, garlic and tomato puree with some fat substance such as olive oil or ghee [7].

Tomato skin also contains high amount of lycopene and therefore, peeling of tomato skin causes loss of lycopene [8]. Tomato puree also improves heat stability of edible oils [9].

Several health benefits of lycopene:

  • Antioxidant [8]
  • Anti-inflammatory [10]
  • Anti-cancer [8]
  • Anti-ageing [9]
  • Anti-obesity [1]
  • Anti-diabetic [1]
  • Heart health [9]
  • Reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol [6]
  • Also good for bone health, gingivitis, sunburn and mental health [9].


  1. Perveen R, Suleria HAR, Anjum FM, et al. (2015) Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Carotenoids and Lycopenes Chemistry; Metabolism, Absorption, Nutrition, and Allied Health Claims—A Comprehensive Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 55: 919-929.
  2. Lowe GM, Graham DL, Young AJ (2018) Lycopene: Chemistry, Metabolism, and Bioavailability. Lycopene and Tomatoes in Human Nutrition and Health: CRC Press. pp. 1-20.
  3. de Alvarenga JFR, Lozano-Castellón J, Martínez-Huélamo M, et al. (2018) Cooking Practice and the Matrix Effect on the Health Properties of Mediterranean Diet: A Study in Tomato Sauce. Advances in Plant Phenolics: From Chemistry to Human Health: American Chemical Society. pp. 305-314.
  4. Vallverdú-Queralt A, Regueiro J, De Alvarenga JFR, et al. (2015) Carotenoid Profile of Tomato Sauces: Effect of Cooking Time and Content of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16: 9588-9599.
  5. Yu J, Gleize B, Zhang L, et al. (2019) Heating tomato puree in the presence of lipids and onion: The impact of onion on lycopene isomerization. Food Chemistry 296: 9-16.
  6. Arranz S, Martínez-Huélamo M, Vallverdu-Queralt A, et al. (2015) Influence of olive oil on carotenoid absorption from tomato juice and effects on postprandial lipemia. Food Chemistry 168: 203-210.
  7. Rinaldi de Alvarenga JF, Tran C, Hurtado-Barroso S, et al. (2017) Home cooking and ingredient synergism improve lycopene isomer production in Sofrito. Food Research International 99: 851-861.
  8. Martínez-Hernández GB, Boluda-Aguilar M, Taboada-Rodríguez A, et al. (2016) Processing, Packaging, and Storage of Tomato Products: Influence on the Lycopene Content. Food Engineering Reviews 8: 52-75.
  9. Kaur G, Sandal A, Dhillon NS (2017) Lycopene and human health-A review. Agricultural Reviews 38: 282-289.
  10. Landrier J-F, Tourniaire F, Fenni S, et al. (2017) Tomatoes and lycopene : inflammatory modulator effects. Tomatoes and lycopene in human nutrition and health, preventing chronic diseases: CRC Press, Boca Raton. Florida (USA). pp. np.




A way to remove anti-nutrients and promote health benefit properties.

Sprouting is a natural process by which seeds are germinated. Sprouting is another good way to remove anti-nutrients from our lentils and beans [1]. There are additional benefits of consuming sprouts, the vitamin and mineral content becomes more bioavailable which means body can utilize these nutrient more efficiently through sprouts.

  1. Good source of proteins and fibre so beneficial in weight loss and diabetes [2].
  2. High content of vitamins and minerals so promote health [3].
  3.  Increase in GABA which reduces anxiety [4].
  4.  Polyphenols are increased so have high antioxidant activity [5].
  5.  Melatonin levels are increased which regulate circadian rhythm [4].
  6. Anti-nutrients such as phytates, oxalates, protease inhibitors and lectins are decreased by soaking and sprouting and therefore, body can absorb more nutrients present in beans [6].
  7. Sprouted beans are very good prebiotics and therefore, promote growth of good bacteria in gut, improves immune system and reduce cholesterol [5].
  8.   Inositol, which is anti-diabetic has been found in sprouted mung beans [6] .
  9.  Carotenoids found to be increased in sprouted mung beans [3] .
  10.  Hydrolytic enzymes are activated and therefore, better digestibility [7].


Sprouting is an easy process. I use the traditional method, soaking of the beans overnight (you can use any beans such as mung beans, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas). Draining, tying the beans in a muslin cloth. Keeping in dark under room tempreature. It may take 2 to 3 days to get the sprouts depending on the temperature. Precautions need to be taken as there is risk of bacterial contamination if hygeine is not maintained, if moisture or temperature is too high.

Sprouted beans can be enjoyed as raw in salads or can be cooked with onion, tomatoes and spices.


  1. Erba D, Angelino D, Marti A, et al. (2019) Effect of sprouting on nutritional quality of pulses. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 70: 30-40.
  2. Gan R-Y, Lui W-Y, Wu K, et al. (2017) Bioactive compounds and bioactivities of germinated edible seeds and sprouts: An updated review. Trends in Food Science & Technology 59: 1-14.
  3. Ebert AW, Chang C-H, Yan M-R, et al. (2017) Nutritional composition of mungbean and soybean sprouts compared to their adult growth stage. Food chemistry 237: 15-22.
  4. Gan R-Y, Chan C-L, Yang Q-Q, et al. (2019) 9 – Bioactive compounds and beneficial functions of sprouted grains. In: Feng H, Nemzer B, DeVries JW, editors. Sprouted Grains: AACC International Press. pp. 191-246.
  5. Williams R (2016) New horizons: The rise of gut health and sprouting. Food Australia Vol. 68: 30-31.
  6. López-Martínez LX, Leyva-López N, Gutiérrez-Grijalva EP, et al. (2017) Effect of cooking and germination on bioactive compounds in pulses and their health benefits. Journal of Functional Foods 38: 624-634.
  7. Ghani M, Kulkarni KP, Song JT, et al. (2016) Soybean Sprouts: A Review of Nutrient Composition, Health Benefits and Genetic Variation. Plant Breeding and Biotechnology 4: 398-412.




Oxalates are anti-nutrients found in green leafy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables provide various health benefits as they contain vitamins, minerals, fibres and phyto-nutrients. Few green leafy vegetables such as spinach, leaves of rhubarb, leaves of beetroot have high levels of oxalates [1].

Spinach is rich source of iron but due to presence of oxalates, the iron absorption is reduced. Oxalates bind with minerals and body can’t make any use of minerals. We do have a bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes in our gastrointestinal system which can convert oxalic acid into formate and carbon-dioxide[2]. The presence or absence of this bacteria is influenced by environmental and genetic factors and thus, some people are more prone to kidney stone formation [3].

Oxalates when bind with calcium, form calcium oxalate crystals which can accumulate in kidneys and can form kidney stone formation. Hence, people with kidney disorders and stone (lithiasis) issues should avoid consumption of raw spinach.

Cooking and boiling reduces the amount of oxalates but the oxalates are leached into cooking water and the nutrients are also lost. Among all the methods of cooking spinach, blanching of spinach and other green leafy vegetables, for 10 to 15 minutes have been found to be effective in removal of oxalates [4]. Blanching means immerse the leaves in hot water, the oxalates will leach into water, therefore discard the water and use the blanched leaves [5].



  1. Natesh H, Abbey L, Asiedu S (2017) An overview of nutritional and antinutritional factors in green leafy vegetables. Horticult Int J 1: 00011.
  2.  Holmes RP, Knight J, Assimos DG (2016) Lowering urinary oxalate excretion to decrease calcium oxalate stone disease. Urolithiasis 44: 27-32.
  3. Das SG, Savage G (2013) Oxalate content of Indian spinach dishes cooked in a wok. Journal of food composition and analysis 30: 125-129.
  4. Yadav SK, Sehgal S (2003) Effect of domestic processing and cooking on selected antinutrient contents of some green leafy vegetables. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 58: 1-11.
  5. Dagostin JLA (2017) Use of Blanching to Reduce Antinutrients, Pesticides, and Microorganisms. In: Richter Reis F, editor. New Perspectives on Food Blanching. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 61-94.

Corn – a staple food of Mexico and Central America



Just a carbohydrate or more?

Corn is a staple diet of Mexico. It is highly consumed in America and Europe too [1]. Corn is a good source of carbohydrates and fibre [2]. It also contains vitamins C and B, magnesium and carotenoids [3].

Traditionally corn was soaked in lime water (calcium hydroxide had been added with water) which is alkaline in nature for 8 to 16 hours. This process is called Nixtamalization [4].

Corn contain significant amount of vitamin B3 (Niacin), but this B3 is bound with carbohydrates and known as Niacytin [5].  Body cannot utilize or absorb this vitamin B3.

When corn is treated with alkali or lime water, hull is eliminated and hemicellulose is dissolved, this releases niacin which was bound with starch. Nixtamalization doubles the amount of vitamin B3 in corn and body can easily absorb this B3. Therefore, Mexicans never got deficiency of vitamin B3 (Pellagra). Whereas, Europeans who disregarded the alkali treatment of corn faced the issue of pellagra [4,6].


  1. Nadal A (2006) Mexico’s Corn-Producing Sector: A Commentary. Agriculture and Human Values 23: 33-36.
  2. Kumar D, Jhariya AN (2013) Nutritional, medicinal and economical importance of corn: A mini review. Res J Pharm Sci 2319: 555X.
  3. Lind D, Barham E (2004) The social life of the tortilla: Food, cultural politics, and contested commodification. Agriculture and Human Values 21: 47-60.
  4. D’Ulivo L (2019) Solution to vitamin B3 mystery challenge. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 411: 3-3.
  6. Dunn ML, Jain V, Klein BP (2014) Stability of key micronutrients added to fortified maize flours and corn meal. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1312: 15-25.

Benefits of Using Whey

Never throw whey (a by-product) after making Paneer (An Indian cottage cheese).

Whey is a yellow/greenish liquid which is formed when we coagulate the milk by using some acid such as lemon juice, orange juice or vinegar to make paneer. It is also produced while making shrikhand, channa and yoghurt.

Whey is an excellent source of protein and also contains vitamins, minerals and lactose and therefore, it is highly nutritious [1].

The nutritional benefits are as below:

  1. Rich in essential amino acids, infact whey is considered to be the better source of EAA (essential amino acids) than eggs, meat and soy protein [2,3].
  2. Whey contains large proportion of branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) needed for muscles and metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats [4].
  3. When compared to other dietary sources of proteins, whey proteins have highest score of Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acids Score (PDCAAS) which means the digestibility is great [5].
  4. Good source of sulphur containing amino acids such as cysteine and methionine needed for protein structure, protein folding and antioxidant synthesis [5].
  5. Good source of vitamins such as vitamin B2, B3, B1, B5 and B12 [6] .
  6. Good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and trace amounts of zinc [6].
  7. Good source of lactose which helps in absorption of magnesium and stimulates peristaltic movement in intestine [1].
  8. Due to heat treatment certain amount of lactose is converted into lactulose which promotes bifidobacteria in gut [7].
  9. Good source of immunoglobulins [8].
  10. Good source of energy [2].

In 460BC, Father of Medicine, Hippocrates prescribed whey for gastro-intestinal and various skin infections [5]. Whey was used internally as well as for topical applications.

In mid 16th century, ‘Whey House’ was opened in London and had on their menu whey borse (soup), whey butter, whey cheese, whey porridge, whey whig (herbal tea) [9]. In 19th century, sweet whey became popular at spa centres due to skin healing properties [9].

Unfortunately, in 20th century, whey was considered as waste product by dairy manufacturers. But, the ancient wisdom has transformed the whey from waste into a valuable dairy raw material. Today, whey is used as a functional food and many beverages and supplements are made using whey.

This can be your golden liquid………..just like golden milk.

You can use whey at home:

  1. Knead the dough using whey instead of water, enjoy the soft rotis.
  2. Instead of using water in your curry, use whey.
  3. Make vegetable soup using whey.
  4. Boil lentils in whey instead of water.
  5. Cook rice in whey instead of water.
  6. Use whey in your smoothies.


  1. Nagar S, Nagal S (2013) Whey: composition, role in human health and its utilization in preparation of value added products. International Journal of Food and Fermentation Technology 3: 93.
  2. Ghanshyambhai MR, Balakrishnan S, Aparnathi KD (2015) Standardization of the method for utilization of paneer whey in cultured buttermilk. Journal of Food Science and Technology 52: 2788-2796.
  3. Baba WN, Din S, Punoo HA, et al. (2016) Comparison of cheese and paneer whey for production of a functional pineapple beverage: Nutraceutical properties and Shelf life. Journal of Food Science and Technology 53: 2558-2568.
  4. Ha E, Zemel MB (2003) Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review). The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 14: 251-258.
  5. Smithers GW (2015) Whey-ing up the options – Yesterday, today and tomorrow. International Dairy Journal 48: 2-14.
  6. Macwan SR, Dabhi BK, Parmar S, et al. (2016) Whey and its utilization. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences 5: 134-155.
  7. Patel S (2015) Functional food relevance of whey protein: A review of recent findings and scopes ahead. Journal of Functional Foods 19: 308-319.
  8. McIntosh GH, Royle PJ, Le Leu RK, et al. (1998) Whey Proteins as Functional Food Ingredients? International Dairy Journal 8: 425-434.
  9. Panghal A, Patidar R, Jaglan S, et al. (2018) Whey valorization: current options and future scenario – a critical review. Nutrition & Food Science 48: 520-535

Daatun & Oral Health​

Can we imagine any morning without a toothbrush……………no really not, brushing our teeth is like a ritual?

Oh, then how did people used to clean their teeth in earlier days before the toothbrushes were invented? Something to really to ponder on………………

Oral hygiene has always been an important part of our life, it is essential to prevent dental caries and oral disorders. In earlier days also people used to clean their teeth but not with the plastic toothbrush but with herbal stick which is called datun or herbal stick or a chewing stick.

Datun is a fresh stem of specific plants and in some places of India still used for cleaning teeth, gums and mucosa. In other words, we can also say that datun is a herbal toothbrush which has been mentioned in Ayurveda 5000 years ago in India. The dental and oral problems were cured by chewing the stems of Neem (Azadirachta indica), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), miswak (Salvadora persica) and orange (Citrus sinensis) were used by many societies and cultures across the globe for cleaning teeth.These sticks used to be soaked in water few hours before use to make it soft and chewable.  

These stems contain natural anti-microbial agents such as essential oils, tannic acid, sulphur and sterols which are anti-septic, astringent, bactericidal and have anti-carious effect, which help reducing plaque formation and prevent dental caries. It also removes bad odour and improves taste sensation. Therefore, datun has better cleansing effect along with many additional benefits such as increases saliva production, stimulates enzymes, improves taste, improves digestion and kill the bacterial growth. Therefore, this is a very effective tool for oral hygiene and of course economical and environmental friendly.

Now-a-days, apart from the simple plastic toothbrushes, we also have fancy toothbrushes such as battery operated toothbrushes, ultrasonic toothbrushes and titanium toothbrushes.

Table 1: Approximate amount of plastic generated from toothbrush in selected countries.    


Amount of plastic generated from toothbrush in tons

United States of America


United Kingdom






We are already struggling to manage the plastic waste. If we look at the above table, we are generating total 31 thousand tons of plastic from toothbrush just from the countries such as USA, UK, Canada and Australia. So, just imagine, if we do a complete analysis of toothbrushes used across the world it would end up in millions of tons of plastic being generated just from toothbrush.

And, when we are already struggling to manage the plastic waste then why not adopt an age-old tradition. Let’s support the environment, our pocket and get more benefits.


  1. Wu C.D, Chewing sticks: timeless natural toothbrushes for oral cleansing. Journal of Periodontal Research 2001, 36: 275-284.
  2. Bhardwaj V.K, Ayurveda and holistic approach in oro-dental care: An overview. SRM journal of research in dental sciences 2015, 6: 181-186.
  3. Al-Otaibi M, Sub-gingival plaque microbiota in Saudi Arabians after use of miswak and chewing stick and toothbrush. Journal of clinical periodontology 2004, 31: 1048-1053.
  4. Saha S, Efficiency of traditional chewing stick as an oral hygiene aid among Muslim school children in Lucknow: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research 2012, 2: 176-180.
  5. Malik S, Comparative effectiveness of chewing stick and toothbrush: a randomized controlled trial. North American Journal of Medical Sciences 2014, 6(7): 333-337.

Religious Fasting


There are so many things in our culture that have a significant impact on our life. One such tradition is religious fasting. I have been practising religious fasting for so many years, started when I was only fifteen years old.

In India, we give a lot of importance to religious practices and traditions and many times we just follow things due to our faith and not necessarily know the reason behind those traditions. We fast during Navratri’s (9 days continuously, twice a year). We get up early and offer special prayers after bath, sow wheat grains in a pot. Sowing grains is an appreciation to demanding work of the farmers. The fasting diet comprises of only fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Fasting is like a celebration. Fasts are also performed on special occasions such as anniversaries and birthdays of Gods. Each day in the week signifies a specific God, therefore, people fast on specific day during the week for their favourite God. Fasting purifies both mind and body, it removes impurities through abstinence of food and through mental discipline. 

Several religions and cultures have been practising fasting. Jains do eight-day festival of Paryusan. Hinduism, Budhism, Judaism, Seventh-Day-Adventism and Orthodox Christianity, Islamics voluntarily abstain from some specific food for a specific timeframe. Religious fasting is considered a time of great spiritual growth. It has also proven its healthcare benefits and associated positively with improvement in several diseases and longevity. God has been considered an inspiration for the physician’s knowledge and healing resources since ancient times. Fasting is mentioned in Ayurveda to maintain health and longevity and it makes one feel lighter.

Muslims fast every year during the holy month of Ramadan for 28 to 30 days, eating and drinking are forbidden from sunrise also known as Sahur to sunset also known as Iftar. There is fasting and feasting period in Ramadan. Scientific data is available and clinical studies demonstrated reduction in lipid levels, weight loss and depression after Ramadan fasting.

Greek Orthodox Christians consume only fruits, vegetables, nuts and seafoods during fasting. There is restriction of eggs, fish, meat and milk for 180 to 200 days each year. They practised three fasting periods, 40 days during the Nativity fast, 48 days during Lent, and 15 days during Assumption and fasting days are all Wednesday and Friday. Scientific data reported reduction in blood pressure and ageing process.

Apart from religion also, our ancestors faced feast and famine periods, when food used to be plenty they used to be feasting and during the scarcity they practised fasting. Therefore, our body is designed to handle the fasting and feasting rather than feasting all the time.

In my upcoming blog, I will be talking about the ways of fasting and the scientific research carried out on fasting. Please stay connected.


Ayurvedic Perspective of Fasting


Diet or ahara is important to nourish our body and provide energy. The rest should be given to digestive system through fasting. Fasting is the convenient method to cleanse the body and for optimum detoxification process. According to Ayurveda, when the digestive fire (Jatharagni) is weak then food consumed should be light in nature and in Ayurveda it is known as Langhana therapy. Due to seasonal variability, the digestive fire also differs and differs in different health states. When a person is sick, one should consume light food otherwise one should be feeding sick cells and tissues. Spring is the best time for fasting as per Ayurveda.

As per modern science too the body stores good quantity of nutrients to be utilized during the rest fasting period. The fasting is very important for repair mechanism of our body. Many clinical studies have been done to investigate several types of fasting methods such as intermittent fasting which can go from 16 to 48 hours which further includes caloric restriction (reduction of 20 – 40 % kilocalorie intake), alternate day fasting (alternating 24-hour periods of fasting and feasting) and dietary restriction (restriction of one or more food components).

“Chikitsatam vyadhikaram pathyam sadharanam aushadam prayshitam prakritisthapanprashanam itaman”

The quote or shloka in ayurveda is to eliminate things which are not complete for re-establishment and re-building of prakriti for wellbeing of the person. Fasting helps in balancing doshas. Ayuveda emphasizes more on light foods during fasting or freshly squeezed juices.

There is so much of evidence that fasting not only benefits the body but also the brain. When we don’t eat for some specific period, our body adapts in a better way to stress and utilizes the stored glucose and fats in form of fatty acids which provide energy to body and help not only in weight loss but also in detoxification, repair, learning, memory and regulates metabolism.



Oil Pulling/ Kavaala - Gandusha


The holistic medicine of India, Ayurveda recommends ‘gandusha’ for oral hygiene. Gandusha means keeping or holding the oil in mouth and Kavaala means rotating the oil in mouth.

Gandusha is an oil pulling or oil swishing therapy to remove dental plaques, microorganisms and to promote good health. Sesame oil is used for oil swishing. A teaspoon of oil is to be sipped and swished around and pulled in and out of the teeth for 10 minutes. The oil after swishing is spitted out. Oil when mixed with saliva draws the toxins out from the mucosa.

The chemistry behind this is, an oil is a fat when mixed with salivary alkali, it saponifies and emulsifies. Therefore, this oil dispersed with water pulls the toxins and bacteria out. Oil pulling exercise also helps in regeneration of tissues.

One should be gentle with this exercise and therefore, one should start with a teaspoon of oil and should be done for five minutes initially. Gently oil should be swished and pulled in and out of teeth only for five minutes and gradually swishing time can be increased.

The oil should never be swallowed as it contains bacteria and toxins therefore, can cause the harm if swallowed. If not followed properly can lead to problems. Head should not be tilted and oil should only be swished and not gargled in throat.

Since, it draws toxins out and therefore, considered not only good for oral health but also good for overall health.

The oils which can be used for oil swishing are sesame oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and mustard oil but sesame oil is considered as the best oil. Sesame oil contains good amount of polyunsaturated (good fats), vitamin E and antioxidants.

 Oil swishing or Gandusha is very cost effective compared to expensive mouth rinses. This should be practiced once in a day empty stomach. Gandusha removes bad odour, reduces dental plaque, dental caries, strengthens teeth, gums and oral mucosa.



  1. Sarvannan D, Ramkumar S, Vineetha K, Effect of oil pulling with sesame oil on plaque induced gingivitis: A microbiological study. Journal of Orofacial Research 2013, 3(3): 175-180.
  2. Sharma P, Quadruplet on the healthy: Sutrasthana. Charaka Samhita 2014, 39-40.
  3. Singh A, Purohit B, Toothbrushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 2011, 2 (2): 64-68.
  4. Yadav P, Oil pulling: An ayurvedic remedy. Archives of Dental and Medical Research 2016, 2(2): 31-33.

Traditional Supplementation of Iron

Our previous generations were never dependent on supplementation of pills/tablets or powders for various deficiencies. Then, how did they get their nutrients, isn’t it surprising? Life was very simple and easy in earlier times, but we made it complex. The natural way to get essential nutrients was to get them from nature. Vitamins and minerals were provided by fruits, vegetables, water and soil. Due to industrialization, the agricultural, manufacturing and dietary practices have been changed and lifestyle is also more demanding thus, more stressful. Therefore, just diet may not fulfil the requirements of few key nutrients such as iron. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. Nearly 2 billion people may be anaemic globally and it is most common in developing countries.

According to Ayurveda (a holistic system of medicine in India), the utensils in which we cook our food play a very important role on our health. It is recommended in Ayurveda that foods should be cooked in iron pots to get iron naturally. Iron is leached from the cooking pots and it is bioavailable. Therefore, iron utensils or iron pots effectively boosts intake of iron. Many other countries and cultures had been using iron cooking pots traditionally. Vegetarians are more prone to iron deficiency anaemia. This traditional way of cooking has been studied by many researchers and found it to be an easy, cheap and convenient way to add iron in diet. Ayurveda also recommends the use of jaggery instead of sugar as jaggery is a good source of iron. Traditional Indian sweets or Ayurvedic recipes and herbal formulations contain jaggery. Jaggery is a concentrated sugar cane juice, an unrefined or unprocessed sweetener used to be traditionally consumed in India. Indian spices are also good source of iron such as fenugreek seeds are rich in iron.

Acidic foods absorb more iron therefore, iron rich foods spinach, green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans or meats should be cooked with acidic foods such as tomatoes, capsicum and broccoli. That way, iron will be absorbed better and foods will have more iron content.

Many studies have been conducted in lab, on animals and in humans have shown that cooking food in iron pots can increase the iron content and can be a good strategy to correct iron deficiency.

Effects of cooking utensils was investigated by Kumari et al (2004). Researchers evaluated bioavailable iron content of some green leafy vegetables cooked in aluminium, stainless steel and iron cooking utensils until they become soft. Results showed that total and bioavailable iron was increased in iron cooking utensils as compared to aluminium and stainless-steel  utensils. 

Recently, a study published by Armstrong et al. (2017) suggested the use of ‘lucky iron fish’ to treat iron deficiency anaemia in Cambodian women. The lucky fish weighs approximately 175 gms and is primarily made up of ferrous iron with less than 17% non-ferrous iron, when added during the cooking process and it was found that iron was released into the food. Another human study by Arcanjo et al (2018), conducted in Brazil pre-schoolers between 4 to 5 years old showed that pre-schoolers who consumed meals cooked in iron pots had increase in haemoglobin.

Thus, ancient and traditional habit of cooking food in an iron cooking pot can correct iron deficiency anaemia and would be a great strategy.