Turning the tables: Capsaicin for people with heartburn

 

 

For many of us dealing with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), spicy food is a thing of the past for most of us because it triggers the acid and burping. There are exceptions of course, which I’m grateful from an extra pinch of ground pepper to some wasabi paste, but nothing quite beats the heat chili peppers bring.

However, a 2016 study titled “Influence of capsaicin infusion on secondary peristalsis in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.” by Yi et. al., shows that repeated intake of capsaicin / chili peppers may help reverse the effect of heartburn, as far as people who have triggers with chili peppers are concerned.

According to the said study, people who ate a meal with chili peppers makes the symptoms flare up at the first instance, but repeated exposure to capsaicin may reverse the effects of heartburn. Yet despite these findings, there are still a number of people who complain that consuming chili in any form makes their reflux symptoms flare up. When it comes to GERD, there’s no really telling what sets one’s symptoms without a little carefully thought out trial-and-error.

 

Before one hits the pickled jalapeños, one has to keep in mind that mild chili peppers are the ones best suited for consumption for most people, with or without reflux. In fact some of the hottest peppers can even give chefs and cooks slight burns just from touch.. Tasting and handling aside, the best way to check a pepper’s heat level is with the Scoville Heat Scale. The higher a chili pepper is on the heat scale score, the hotter the pepper is.

 

 

 

Scoville Heat Units Chilli Pepper
1,569,300 – 2,200,000 Carolina Reaper Pepper (PuckerButt Pepper Company, Fort Mill, South Carolina).
350,000 – 577,000 Red Savina habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)
100,000 – 350,000 Habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)
100,000 – 225,000 Birds Eye pepper
50,000 – 100,000 Thai pepper (Capsicum annuum)
30,000 – 50,000 Cayenne pepper (Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum frutescens )
30,000 – 50,000 Tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens)
5,000 – 10,000 Chipotle, a Jalapeño pepper that has been smoked.
2,500 – 5,000 Jalapeño (Capsicum annuum)
100 – 500 Pepperoncini, pepper (also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, and golden Greek peppers.
100 – 500 Pimento
0 Sweet Bell pepper

Unfortunately with heartburn, nothing is completely certain since different people have different reactions to their own set of personal triggers, so on one hand, there is hope that repeated attempts to eat chili peppers will increase resistance effects in the long run. On the other hand, it could also give one a pain in the neck after trying something out and the acid shoots up crazier than before.

Personally, I think it’s worth a shot at least once, not because YOLO, but the long term benefits helps one with heartburn live a step nearer to normalcy. Think of it as someone trying to adapt by increasing resistances to an allergy like seafood. But as a precaution, keep heartburn medication on hand in case it doesn’t pan out. Good luck and we hope this helps you out.

References:

http://www.refluxmd.com/turn-heat-turn-heartburn/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28018112

https://www.chilliworld.com/factfile/scoville-scale

 

Knackering for a crunchy snack: Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar

It’s no secret that Kat and I love learning new things about science, and it sure was a treat seeing advances, advocacies, and innovations during our adventure in this year’s National Science and Technology Week by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

To our surprise and delight, the said event also gave us more than mental stimulation; it also helped us to find food we can actually eat due to our respective conditions. In the same place we discovered RiMo Curls, we found the Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar, a locally produced and healthier equivalent to the rice krispies snack.

IMG_4549Compared to regular rice, brown rice is a good source of dietary fiber, and also includes vitamins and minerals like B6, magnesium, niacin, thiamine, and manganese. Typically, it has a more chewy texture, which is something Filipinos are not quite used to compared to white rice. Given this particular problem (even if it’s the healthier option), how to get Filipinos and especially kids to eat more brown rice?

 

NutriDense Corp, along with technologies by the DOST – Food and Nutrition Research Institute, came up with Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar. It’s made out of brown rice crispies, honey, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, soy protein, and iodized salt.

My first bite reminded me of the Kelogg’s rice krispies cereal, but with contrasting flavors which improved it all together. The dried fruits added a touch of sweet and sour to the overall texture, while the sesame seeds and nuts gave another layer of crunch. Thankfully it was only mildly sweet because the makers used honey instead of refined white sugar. However, the nuts and soy ingredients pose a concern to those who have allergies to these ingredients.

We also have the energy bar’s nutritional facts in the image below. Given this, we think it’s a good step in the right direction since most of our locally-made snack bar selections are not on the healthy side of things.

IMG_4564

Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar is manufactured and distributed by Nutri Dense Food Manufacturing Corporation. For more information, please contact the company at:

2/F UP-ISSI Bldg. E. Virata Hall, E. Jacinto St., UP Diliman Compound, Quezon City, Philippines

TeleFax No: (075) 600 8251

Mobile No/s: +63 999 729 0234 / +63 916 641 8611 / +63 923 703 2198

Email: nutridensefmc@yahoo.com.ph

RiMo Curls: A creatively healthy snack

For just a moment, imagine being in the shoes of a kid in a candy shop with a sizable amount of cash to buy anything and everything from the place. However, there is a catch; one can only select from the lesser types of sweets one doesn’t care much for.

In a way, this is the experience of how we at Team Glasses Food Blog haven’t had chips / crisps / curl snacks in a long while now, because of our respective health concerns. We honestly thought we couldn’t have anymore of those types of snacks anymore. But in a stroke of good luck (and a lot of science), we found ourselves eating those words after finding out about RiMo Curls.

IMG_4544

During the last day of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s National Science and Technology Week, Kat and I were roaming around to satiate the craving for science, innovation, and of course, food. A poster caught my attention of rice and monggo beans (mung beans) being turned into a crunchy and ready-to-open snack, aptly named RiMo Curls. We soon out that this is made possible by the technology applied from the DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute

Now, one may think, ‘Well, there are plenty of healthy snacks right there, why is this one any special?’ However, RiMo Curls is a snack worth trying among the plethora of ‘healthy’ snack foods on the market. Many older versions of healthy snacks have much to be desired in terms of texture or taste, but with this snack, there’s a different and longer lasting crunch after the pack has been opened.

The rice and monggo flour blend is an interesting choice of ingredients since I normally only see these two during meals with one on top of the other. The cheese flavor is thankfully, only lightly applied and not overwhelming in terms of flavor.

 

Here are some more reasons to enjoy RiMo curls:

  1. It’s protein and energy rich!
    • It contains 120 kcal of energy (8.5% of recommended daily energy needs for children 4 to 6 years old)
    • It also contains 3 grams of protein (7.9% of recommended daily protein intake for children 4 to 6 years old)
  2. It’s iron and zinc fortified
  3. Low salt content (and it really is since each bite wasn’t coated with thick amounts of cheese powder or other seasonings)
  4. And it’s gluten free too

We hope to see this snack, and others of its caliber, becomes more readily available throughout the country. We definitely enjoyed it and hopefully those with our conditions can too in the future.

RiMo Curls is manufactured and distributed by Nutri Dense Food Manufacturing Corporation. For more information, please contact the company at:

2/F UP-ISSI Bldg. E. Virata Hall, E. Jacinto St., UP Diliman Compound, Quezon City, Philippines

TeleFax No: (075) 600 8251

Mobile No/s: +63 999 729 0234 / +63 916 641 8611 / +63 923 703 2198

Email: nutridensefmc@yahoo.com.ph

The Good Bugs

Most of us grew up with an (acquired) aversion to bacteria and germs. We were always told that having these little entities in our guts would make us sick. However, not all bacteria cause stomach upsets; in fact, there are some kinds of bacteria which promote better digestion and health overall. These microorganisms are better known nowadays as probiotics. These special bacteria can resist the extremely acidic and enzyme-filled environment of the human gut, and thus can reside there for a relatively longer period of time.

So why eat or drink these kinds of bacteria? In recent years, probiotics have been studied for their beneficial effects in managing digestive problems such as gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and even irritable bowel syndrome. They are also helpful for children suffering from colic. They may be beneficial in managing allergies, atopic dermatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease; however, more studies are needed to show the effectiveness of probiotics for patients with these disorders. Probiotics may also have an antioxidant effect by reducing the ‘oxidative stress’ and damage caused by harmful bacteria in the gut.

Various strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are among the more well-known probiotics. These bacteria may be found in special preparations marketed for therapeutic purposes, but they are also found in some commercially available foods such as yogurt and some dairy preparations. Other foods containing beneficial bacteria include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha (fermented tea). Like all things, these foods and other probiotic preparations must be taken in moderation. In fact, probiotics are not recommended for some critically ill persons, or those with severely weakened immune systems.

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Kombucha tea (Source: statickflickr.com)

 

In our anecdotal experience, regularly taking probiotics in addition to making necessary dietary and lifestyle changes has been helpful in preventing attacks of GERD, or at least in limiting their severity. We’ve also realized that drinking probiotics help us recover more quickly from our relatively rare stomach upsets and food poisoning misadventures. We hope that as more research is done about probiotics, that we can better incorporate these into our recommendations for healthy eating.

 

Sources:

Connor, E. (2017). 6 Probiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet. Retrieved from: http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/probiotic-foods#kombucha6

 

Sanders, M. E, Guarner, F., Guerrant, R., Holt, P.R., Quigley, E.M., Sartor, R.B…Mayer. E.A. (2013). “An update on the use and investigation of probiotics in health and disease.” Gut, 62, 787-796. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-302504

 

Wang, Y., Wu, Y., Wang, Y., Xu, H., Mei, X., Yu, D….Li, W. (2017). “Antioxidant Properties of Probiotic Bacteria”. Nutrients, 9, 521. doi:10.3390/nu9050521

Food in the Time of Conflict: The Marawi Siege Crisis, and How We Can Help

ph_locator_lanao_del_sur_marawi

© Mike Gonzalez, 2005.

Photo By Mike Gonzalez (TheCoffee) (English Wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Bullets and bombs are the most well-known, but not necessarily the most widespread of weapons during times of war and conflict.  Displacement, disease, and hunger affect both combatants and civilians, with the latter often winding up as refugees forced to make perilous journeys to safety away from the ‘Ground Zero’ of war zones, places that had once been home to them. In different parts of the world, refugees from all parts of the world are forced to make do in crowded temporary housing, camps, and evacuation centers. In these places, they often face shortages in basic necessities such as food, potable water, clothing, and medication.

One such ongoing crisis is the siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Philippines. Marawi was a beautiful city, the provincial capital with a rich history because of the heritage of its Muslim and Christian inhabitants. On May 23, 2017, a group of extremists known as the Maute group attacked Marawi City, leading to clashes with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Most of Marawi’s 220,000 residents were forced to flee to neighboring cities and municipalities such as Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City to escape the continuous firefights and airstrikes between government forces and the extremists.

At present, more than 55,000 refugees are staying in Iligan City and neighboring municipalities. The Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as other agencies involved in the relief and evacuation efforts have to stretch limited supplies of food and other relief goods to meet the needs of refugees already being housed in 37 schools, multi-purpose halls and other buildings converted to evacuation centers, as well as newcomers who have just been rescued from or escaped the conflict zones in Marawi City.

One of the most immediate needs of the refugees is food, whether ready-made or in prepackaged forms. What makes this food crisis more challenging is that food donations for refugees from Marawi must be halal or prepared according to Islamic dietary laws. Halal foods are free from pork or pig by-products, therefore even vegetables and other foods fried in pork lard or fat are not permissible for consumption. Halal foods must also be free from blood, alcohol, and also involves a specific means of humanely butchering animals to be used for food.  

Apart from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, other groups involved in the relief efforts for the refugees from Marawi include the Red Cross, Alagang Kapatid foundation, Save the Children, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, and the Office of the Vice President. Universities such as the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Naga, De La Salle University, and La Salle Academy in Iligan are also accepting and coordinating donations for the refugees. One group directly involved in preparing and distributing halal food to the refugees is the Art Relief Mobile Kitchen. The Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) at present prepares 10,000 to 12,000 meals each day for the evacuees in Iligan City.

Art Relief Mobile Kitchen is no stranger to feeding refugees from calamities after all. Starting all the way back from the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) in 2013, ARMK set up a mobile kitchen near the area where refugees landed from Leyte and other typhoon-hit areas, with the efforts from volunteers and donations either in cash or in kind helped feed the multitude coming to Manila for safety.

Now the same case is happening in the evacuation centers in Illigan and Cotabato City almost a month in with the fighting in Marawi, where there are still reports of people in need of assistance and relief. Let’s not sit back and allow hunger to become a weapon of terror, help out in anyway you can, especially with addressing Art Relief Mobile Kitchen’s herculean task of feeding of our brothers and sisters in Marawi during Ramadan.

To learn more about Art Relief Mobile Kitchen and how to donate, one can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Saying Goodbye to My ‘Best Friend’—Getting Rid of My Caffeine Addiction

There was a time when coffee and I were inseparable. Friends caricatured me always holding a cup of the brown brew, and stops to a coffee shop were mandatory during any outing. At one point, I was clocking in about five cups a day—all in the name of staying awake during lengthy lectures or late nights finishing up papers. If I could not get coffee, I almost always resorted to chugging down cans of soda.  Inevitably this nasty habit caught up with me, resulting in trembling hands, jittery speech, and two seizures that were enough to send me to the emergency room. I soon realized that caffeine—or at least excess amounts of it—was a factor in my seizures. It was time for the coffee and the soda to go.

Now a caveat: Caffeine in small doses can be a good thing. It has been touted as a way to manage some kinds of headaches. Coffee is in itself said to be an antioxidant. However, caffeine in excess is another thing altogether, whether from coffee, soda, or other sources. Also, there is no nutritional benefit in ingesting soda, which is full of additives such as food colors and acids.

So how does one get rid of a caffeine habit? Many people trying to get rid of a caffeine addiction choose to cut back on their caffeine intake, by gradually reducing three cups of coffee a day to two, then one. Another strategy for cutting back is to reduce the size of one’s caffeinated drinks by a fourth to a half of a cup each day. Using low-caffeine substitutes such as ‘herbal coffees’ is also said to help get rid of a caffeine habit, but the use of such caffeine substitutes must be done carefully especially with persons who may have adverse reactions to some herbal preparations.

Other people choose to go ‘cold turkey’, as I did. The first three or four days without a drop of coffee or soda were nothing short of trying. I was cranky and felt as if my eyes were half-closed as I walked through glue. I wanted to just lie down and sleep off the hours, but I had to will myself to stay awake; at that time I was reviewing for a licensure exam and there was much ground to cover. Fortunately, within a week, my body finally found some equilibrium—or I had simply learned to adjust to a less frenetic pace once more.

What was also just as challenging was finding foods, as well as restructuring my habits, to fill up the role that caffeine once played.  I had relied on that substance to keep me alert and awake especially during lull hours. Now I had to literally find other ways to keep my eyes open.

One thing I made sure NOT to do was to switch out caffeine for sugar in the form of sweets, pastries, or other quick fixes. I also eschewed other non-caffeinated energy drinks as well as other stimulants. Instead I used these strategies:

-Eating smaller meals a day instead of 3 large ones: This was to prevent that dreaded post-lunchtime sleepiness. Also, breaking down 3 large meals into 5 small ones helps ensure a steadier blood sugar level, preventing ‘crashes’ that may actually be dangerous to one’s health.

-Hydration: I cannot stress this enough. That 8 glasses a day piece of advice is the bare minimum. Drinking more water not only helps keep one awake, but also does wonders for skin, hair, breath, and just overall health.

-Power naps: Instead of forcing myself to stay awake to the point of non-productivity, I learned the benefits of snoozing for just five minutes, in order to relieve eye strain as well as give my brain a break.

It’s been nearly a year since that last cup of coffee. To this day I still miss the taste of a hot, deep and dark brew, but I’ve learned that the health benefits of limiting caffeine far outweigh the jolt and exhilaration. I consider this change as kicking ‘my best friend’, caffeine, to the curb, in favor of taking care of my other best friend: my body. And that is something always worthwhile.

Heartburn: A change in lifestyle

the_definition_of_heartburn

Photo by Christopher Dart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/darty53/8686152556/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Before working abroad in Doha, I already had the problem of acid reflux and normal remedies prescribed by the doctor worked out well for me. A bit of portion eating there and a less chili, no coffee, booze, or softdrinks for a period of time, and drink your medicine. After those two weeks, I’d feel better and be back to eating anything I liked without a care in the world. A matter of wash, rinse, and repeat. Easy peasy, I’m mostly healthy after all. I was unfortunately mistaken.

After the wear and tear of shifting schedules from my many tech support jobs, and the six day work week in Doha, perhaps my body finally called up to take its dues. A month or so after coming back to Manila, I began burping and having the taste of stomach acid line my mouth. Didn’t mind it much, drink some water or some milk, good to go. I only took notice when I kept regurgitating foam after a single bottle of beer, my walk home punctuated by spitting out the foam that came up from my throat.

The gastroenterologist pretty much confirmed my worst fears, I had heartburn a few months before I turned 28th. I bet you’d ask, “So what? Just drink medicine and go.” or “It’s not like (insert here disorder / disease / ailment), you have it much better.”

One would normally dismiss such thoughts, until Kat reminded me what an untreated and ignored gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) / heartburn can do to someone.

According to this article from cancer.org, one of the risk factors for having esophageal cancer or Barrett’s esophagus is GERD. While it does not happen to everyone with heartburn, I most certainly do not want to ever encounter them in my life if I can help it. After all, everything that we eat and drink goes through the esophagus, so it’s imperative that we take care of it, along with everything else in our body.

I can safely say that I’m a foodie, having both an interest in having a meal and making one, something I share with Kat. I didn’t want to give up on that and live in the spectre of being defined as another foodie who had to stop because he couldn’t each much anymore. And with a few changes here and there, I can say I’ve done rather well with a good deal of help from Kat and a couple of friends’ suggestions here and there, along with our Team Glasses Food Blog.

But there are times where heartburn catches up to me, no matter how I try to take care of myself. After the string of many food adventures, I had to get myself checked up again. As per my latest gastro check up, I was told that it’s a recurring thing, so I guess I’ll have to deal with this the best way I can.

On my part and your part, if you’re dealing with heartburn but still love eating great food, here are some things to remember:

  1. Follow your gastroenterologist’s advice and don’t cut corners. Maintaining your health matters more, no matter how the medicines costs initially.
  2. Remember your trigger foods and stay away from these or at the very least, do your best to put these on the side if possible. Also skip the alcohol, deep fried food, and tobacco—even if you don’t have GERD.
  3. Find what works for you, in terms of food portioning and the meals you can actually eat.

As what I’ve learned here while writing with Kat about our different food adventures here in Team Glasses Food Blog, life doesn’t really end if you’re living with medical conditions here and there. One can still find great food places in Metro Manila, without sacrificing your health. And this is the reason why we continue to write our foodie reviews, thoughts, and adventures. We really hope that we help you out in our own way.