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Monday, 20 January 2014

Cranberries - small berries with big benefits !

Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 2 metres (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. 
 The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.

Cranberries are small berries but with big health benefits. They are not grown in India but are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces. In India, they are available in dried form or as cranberry juice.

About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining are sold fresh to consumers.

Whether you use fresh cranberries or dried, both provide flavonoid antioxidants that have many health benefits. One cup fresh or ½ cup of dried cranberries equals a fruit serving and they’re a good source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Thus, they are often referred to as "Super Food". Not to mention, half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories.

Some of the benefits of Cranberries:

1. Berries are Nutrient and Antioxidant-Rich

Colorful berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries are considered some of the most nutrient-rich foods.  They provide nutrients like vitamin C and fiber, but they are excellent when it comes to their antioxidant capacity.  Since antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, which damage our cells and DNA, they can help prevent certain chronic diseases and may help mitigate some of the effects that naturally occur as we age.
2. Cranberries Provide Unique Urinary Tract Benefits

Hundreds of studies show that regular consumption of cranberry juice or cranberry products is associated with a reduction in risk for urinary tract infections. This is thought to be due to the type of polyphenols in cranberries that prevent E. coli bacteria for sticking to the surface of the cells in the urinary tract. The specific polyphenols in cranberries are structurally different than those found in other foods, which is why cranberries are essential. Drinking a cup of cranberry juice or having a serving of dried cranberries daily is sufficient to help reduce your risk.

3. Cranberries are a Tasty Complement to Your Dishes

Dried cranberries are a great addition to your recipes—from appetizers to desserts. They’re easily added to oatmeal or yogurt; go great with grain side dishes, casseroles, on top of salads, in wraps, or baked goods.

4. Cranberries are Good for Your Mouth and Stomach

This may be surprising, but there are several scientific papers on the role of cranberries and oral health. Studies show that the unique anti-bacterial properties that help prevent against UTIs, also help prevent bacterial adherence in your mouth and stomach.  This may help protect against cavities, periodontal disease and stomach ulcers. 
5. Cranberries are Heart-Smart

Cranberries also provide the same heart-smart flavonoids that are commonly found in red wine and grapes. These bio-active natural plant compounds help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce inflammation and inhibiting low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation and boosting the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Cranberries also help relax blood vessels to improve blood pressure.
 6. Cranberries are Fiber-rich

Due to high fiber in them, cranberries are associated with significantly lower risks for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

7. Cranberries protect from some form of cancers

Research has shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.

Cranberries can also be enjoyed dried or in a can, but watch out for added sugars. Check the ingredient label and make sure that the product contains cranberries only. If you choose to drink cranberry juice, it is often mixed with other fruits and added sweeteners. Look for juice with cranberries as the first ingredient.

More tips for enjoying cranberries:
  • Make a homemade trail mix with unsalted nuts, seeds and dried cranberries.

  • Include a small handful of frozen cranberries in a fruit smoothie. 

  • Add dried cranberries to your oatmeal or whole grain cereal. 

  • Toss dried or fresh cranberries into your favorite muffins or cookie recipe.


A high intake of cranberry or it's juice should not be taken by those on the blood-thinning drug 'warfarin', also known as 'coumadin'. There has been conflicting evidence on the potential for cranberries to enhance the drug's effect on the body. Several cases of increased bleeding due to suspected interactions with cranberry juice and warfarin have been reported.

Cranberry products may increase urine oxalate excretion, which could promote the formation of kidney stones. Individuals with a history of kidney stones should talk to their healthcare provider before including any forms of cranberries in their diet.

       Cranberry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, 13 January 2014

Caring For The Patient With Cancer At Home (Symptom- Diarrhea)

Diarrhea is the passage of loose or watery stools three or more times a day with or without discomfort. It happens when the water in the intestine is not being absorbed back into the body for some reason.

Sometimes diarrhea can be caused by an overflow of intestinal liquids around stool that is lodged in the intestine (impaction). Other causes can include infections, surgery, anxiety, side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy to the abdomen, or medicines, supplemental feedings containing large amounts of vitamins, minerals, sugar and electrolytes and tumor growth. Diarrhea caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy may last for up to three weeks after treatment ends.


    What the Patient Can Do?
  • Try a clear liquid diet like plain water, clear soups, strained kanjis, twirls (apple), strained wheat cracks (dalia) water, plain gelatin etc. as soon as diarrhea starts or when you feel that it's going to start. Avoid acidic drinks such as tomato juice, citrus juices and fizzy soft drinks.

                                                Plain water

                                                                Clear Soup

                                            Citrus Juices
                                                        Fizzy Soft Drinks

  • Eat frequent small meals. Do not eat foods that are very hot or spicy.
  • Avoid greasy foods, bran, raw fruits and vegetables, and caffeine.

  • Avoid pastries, candies, rich desserts,jellies, preserves, and nuts.

  • Do not drink alcohol or use tobacco.

  • Avoid milk or milk products if they seem to make your diarrhea worse.
  • Be sure your diet includes foods that are high in potassium (bananas, potatoes, apricots, and coconut water). Potassium is an important mineral that you may lose if you have diarrhea.

  • Monitor the amount and frequency of your bowel movements.
  • Clean your anal area with a mild soap after each bowel movement, rinse well with warm water and pat dry.
  • Take your medicines for diarrhea as prescribed by your doctor.
  • When the diarrhea starts to improve, try eating small amounts of foods that are easy to digest, such as rice, bananas,peeled apples or stewed apples, yogurt or plain curd, mashed potatoes, low-fat cottage cheese and dry toast for a day or two. If diarrhea keeps getting better, start small, regular feeds.

        What Caregivers Can Do :

  •  See that the patient drinks about three quarts of fluids each day.

  •  Keep a record of the patient's bowel movements to help decide when the doctor should be called.
  • Check with the doctor before using any over-the-counter diarrhea medicine. Many of these contain compounds that are like aspirin, which can worsen bleeding problems. It may be better to use a prescription medicine. 
  • Check the anal area for red, scaly, broken skin. Report this to your doctor.
  • Protect the bed and chairs from being soiled by putting pads with plastic backing under the buttocks where the patient will lie down or sit.

      Call The Doctor if the Patient:
  • Has six or more loose bowel movements per day with no improvement in two days.
  • Has blood in or around anal area or in stool.
  • Loses five pounds or more after the diarrhea starts.
  • Has new abdominal pain or cramps for two days or more.

  • Does not urinate for 12 hours or more.
  • Does not drink liquids for 48 hours or more.
  • Has a fever of 100.5F or higher, taken by mouth.

  • Gets a puffy or swollen belly.
  • Has been constipated for several days and then begins to have small amounts of diarrhea or oozing of liquid stool, which could suggest an impaction (severe constipation).

Reference: Caring for the Patient with Cancer at Home - a Guide for Patients and Families   

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Caring For The Patient With Cancer At Home (Symptom- Constipation)

Constipation is one of the symptoms a patient with cancer can have. It is defined as the infrequent or difficult passage of hard feces (stools), which often causes pain and discomfort.

It could be caused due to any of the following reasons :
  • poor food and fluid intake
  • not enough movement in the bowel
  • lack of activity
  • weakness
  • ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • intake of certain medicines

What To Look For :
  • small, hard bowel movements
  • leakage of soft stool that looks like diarrhea
  • stomach ache or cramps
  • passing a lot of gas or frequent belching
  • belly appears blown up or puffy.
  • no regular bowel movement within the past three days.
  • vomiting or nausea.
  • feeling of fullness or discomfort.

What The Patient Can Do :
  • Drink more fluids. Fresh fruit juices and warm or hot fluids in the morning are especially helpful. 
  • Increase the amount of fiber in the daily diet by eating foods like whole grain breads and cereals, fresh raw fruits with skins and seeds, fresh raw vegetables, fruit juices, dates, apricots, raisins, prunes, prune juice and nuts.

  • Avoid foods and drinks that cause gas such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and carbonated drinks.

  • Try to avoid any foods that cause you to be constipated such as cheese, eggs, products made of refined flour such as white bread, biscuits, naans, roomali roti etc

  • Get as much light exercise as you can.

  • Do not use enemas or suppositories. Use stool softeners or laxatives only after talking with your doctor or nurse.

  • Go to the bathroom as soon as you have the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Keep a record of your bowel movements so that problems can be noticed quickly.

What Caregivers Can Do :
  • Offer the patient prune juice, hot lemon water, or tea to help stimulate bowel movements.

  • Encourage the patient to drink extra fluids.

  • Help keep a record of the patient's bowel movements.
  • Offer high fiber foods such as whole grains breads and cereals, dried and fresh fruits, vegetables, and bran.

  • Consult the doctor before giving the patient laxatives.

Call the doctor if the patient :
  • Has not had a bowel movement in 48 hours.
  • Has blood in or around anal area or in stool.
  • Cannot move bowels within one or two days after taking a laxative.
  • Has cramps or vomiting that won't stop.

Reference: Caring for the Patient with Cancer at Home - a Guide for Patients and Families   

Friday, 27 September 2013

Caring For The Patient With Cancer At Home (Symptom- Poor Appetite)

Today more people with cancer are being cared for at home. Caregivers or family members are taking on roles that, just a short time ago, were carried out by trained health professionals.

This article lists some common problems that a patient with cancer can have, warning signs to help spot these problems early and how to take care of the patient with those problems.

Some of the common problems a patient with cancer can have are : Poor appetite, anxiety & fear, confusion, constipation, depression, diarrhea, difficulty in moving, fatigue, fever, fluids & dehydration, blood in urine or stool, itching, leg cramps, mouth bleeding or dryness or sores, nausea and vomiting, pain, skin dryness, sleep problems, swallowing problems,etc

Poor Appetite

A person with a poor or no appetite may eat much less than he or she normally does, or may not eat at all. Poor appetite can have a number of causes, such as swallowing problems, anxiety, depression, pain, or nausea and vomiting. It can also be due to a changed sense of taste or smell, feeling full, tumor growth, dehydration, or side effects of chemotherapy or radiation. Poor appetite is most often a short- term problem.

     What to look for:
  • Lack of interest in food
  • Refusing to eat favorite foods
  • Weight loss

  What the Patient can do:
  • Ask your doctor what may be causing your poor appetite.
  • Eat as much as you want to, but don't force yourself to eat.
  • Think of food as a necessary part of treatment.

  • Start the day with breakfast.
  • Eat small, frequent meals of your favorite foods.
  • Try foods high in calories that are easy to eat (like pudding, gelatin, icecream, sherbet, yogurt and milk shakes)

  • Add tasty, high-calorie sauces and gravies to your food, and cut meat into small pieces to make it easier to swallow.
  • Use butter, oils, syrups, and milk in foods to raise calories. Avoid low-fat foods unless fats cause heartburn or other problems.
  • Try strong flavorings or spices.
  • Plan meals that include your favorite foods.
  • Create pleasant settings for meals. Soft music, conversation and other distractions may help you eat more comfortably.
  • Eat with other family members.

  • Drink liquids between meals instead of with meals. (Liquids at mealtime can lead to early fullness.)
  • Try light exercise one hour before meals.
  • Hard candies, mint tea, black tea with lime, lemon barley or ginger ale may help get rid of strange tastes in the mouth.
  • With your doctor's approval, enjoy a glass of beer or wine before eating.
  • Eat a snack at bedtime.
  • When you don't feel like eating, liquid nutritional supplements like Ensure, Resource etc could be taken. Using a straw may help.

      What Caregivers/ family members Can Do:

  • Try giving the patient six to eight small meals and snacks each day.
  • Offer starchy foods (like bread, pasta and potatoes) with high protein foods (like fish, chicken, meats, turkey, eggs, cheeses, milk, tofu, nuts, peanut butter, yogurt, peas and beans)
  • Keep cool drinks and juices within patient's reach.

  • If the smell of food bothers the patient, offer bland foods cold or at room temperature.
  • Create pleasant settings for meals and eat with the patient.
  • Offer fruit smoothies, milk shakes, or liquid meals when the patient doesn't want to eat.

  • Try plastic forks and knives instead of metal if the patient is bothered by bitter or metallic tastes.
  • Don't be upset or impatient when the patient refuses food or can't eat.
  • If the patient can't eat, you could offer to read to them, sit with them or give them a back or foot massage.

    Call the Doctor if the patient:
  • Feels nauseated and cannot eat for a day or more.
  • Loses five pounds or more.
  • Feels pain when he or she eats.
  • Does not urinate for an entire day or does not move bowels for two days or more.
  • Does not urinate often or, when he or she does, the urine comes out in small amounts, smells strong, or is dark colored.
  • Vomits for more than 24 hours.
  • Is unable to drink or keep down liquids.
  • Has pain that is not controlled.     

Reference: Caring for the Patient with Cancer at Home - a Guide for Patients and Families