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1. I was always told by my grandmother to use garlic in my cooking. I have heard that it is good for you, but how much do you need and how does it help you?
Garlic’s healing powers are legendary. Fondly called the "stinking rose" garlic has been used to treat everything from heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure to infections including the common cold and athlete’s foot. The compounds in garlic attributed to some of these benefits are called allyl sulfur compounds. They are all water-soluble and sulfur-containing. The Greeks, Romans, and Chinese have all used garlic as a treatment for disease and for maintaining health.

There continues to be vigorous debate about garlic’s role in helping to reduce cancer and diabetes. It has, however, been well established that garlic prevents blood clotting which may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Additional research is needed to further identify garlic’s health benefits and determine how specific compounds in garlic interact with each other and with food.

Researchers differ on how much garlic should be eaten on a regular basis to be beneficial. However, some recommend that at least one clove and up to five or even ten cloves are needed each day for any of the health benefits mentioned above. Please be aware that eating too much fresh garlic can cause gastrointestinal difficulties including heartburn and gas. Also, it can do a number on your breath and body odor. To prevent post surgical bleeding, it is recommended that you forgo garlic for at least one to two weeks before surgery. Most importantly, do remember that the overall benefit of any food depends on a person’s entire diet. By the way, roasting and microwave heating can reduce or destroy garlic’s cancer-fighting, allyl sulfur-compounds.

2. I love to eat salad with iceberg lettuce, but I have heard that iceberg lettuce doesn't have very many nutrients in it. What kind of lettuce should I eat to get more nutrients?
Congratulations on eating vegetable salads. You will be pleased to know that almost all green-colored vegetables can be used to make a healthy salad. Do know that darker the vegetable, the richer they are in beta-carotene. This goes for Romaine lettuce as well in comparison to the pale iceberg. Overall, eating more fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers as well. You should be aware however, that not all salads are healthful, especially those swimming in fat-laden salad dressings.

Compared to many dark green vegetables including Romaine, iceberg lettuce is almost bereft of nutrition. It contains minuscule amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, and fiber. You can boost these nutrients in your salad made with iceberg lettuce by tossing in other preferred vegetables. Consider spinach, romaine, Swiss chard, the outer darker leaves of cabbage, chicory, and other vegetable varieties to help pack a punch in your salad. Eating a variety of vegetables is key, especially since they are packed with a variety of cancer-fighting plant chemicals such as carotenoids and phytochemicals.

Choose fat-free or reduced fat dressings and use bacon bits, croutons, and cheese sparingly in your salad since too much can ruin an otherwise healthful salad. Don’t count on green salads for much fiber though. By the way, ounce for ounce Romaine has about eight times more vitamin A, and six times more vitamin C than iceberg.

3. When I have PMS I get uncontrollable cravings and I gain weight. What can I do to stop these cravings?
Scientists have agreed that cravings are real. However, what triggers them continues to be vigorously debated. Unfortunately, most of us do not have carvings for skim milk, steamed broccoli, spinach or other such nutrient-laden foods. Instead, we want ice-cream, chips, or the all time favorite – chocolate and other such calorie-laden items. Adam Drewnowski, PhD at the University of Washington reports that cravings have much to do with emotion and desire. Foods we crave to satisfy the emotional component usually contain fat, sugar, or both. These foods taste good and so we feel gratified when we eat them. Some people believe that cravings indicate a nutrient deficiency. However, such a theory has been debunked partly because research shows cravings are mostly for pleasure than for anything else. What is known however, is that dietary restrictions definitely make cravings worse.

Your one common denominator is PMS thus, the real possibility that for you, hormonal relationship comes into play. The best suggestion for women like you whose cravings intensify premenstrually is to plan for that monthly indulgence. Enjoy just a small portion of the food you crave such as the "fun size" candy bar instead of the regular or king size ones. Also, keep tempting foods out of reach to help make it easier for you to resist cravings. Cravings usually last twenty to thirty minutes. During that time, if you can indulge in on other activities such as reading, gardening, talking to a friend, or better still some physical activity that you enjoy, you will have a double bonus.

Do remember that healthful eating helps keep cravings at bay. An added bonus to healthful eating is that you are able to make room in your diet for reasonable portions of your favorites, like ice-cream and chocolate when you occasionally crave them.

4. I get major heartburn almost every day. What foods should I avoid?
Believe it or not, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart but with the esophagus. The esophagus is that long tube that connects the throat to the stomach. There is a valve between the esophagus and the stomach which serves a gatekeeper when you eat to allow food to pass through. This valve is called the lower esophageal sphincter. Chronic heartburn, (gastro-esophagus reflux disease – GERD) however, is a serious matter. In the presence of GERD, the valve is weakened and often relaxes at the wrong time. This allows acidic stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. Consequently, the sensitive lining of the esophagus becomes irritated and results in that all familiar burn sensation.

Almost everyone gets heartburn, otherwise called acid reflux once in a while. Although occasional reflux is not a serious problem, if left untreated, GERD can wear away at the lining of the esophagus and result in inflammation, bleeding, ulcers, scarring, and even increase the risk for cancer.

Here are some quick suggestions:
-Eat small frequent meals instead of large ones. Over eating can increase pressure on the esophageal sphincter and increase the likelihood of reflux.
Naturalize stomach acid by chewing gum to stimulate saliva. Since combining liquids with food can increase the likelihood of reflux, drink fluids between meals and not with them.
-Pass up peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, coffee (both decaf and regular), fatty or fried foods since they all allow reflux by relaxing the esophageal sphincter.
-Try to remain upright for two to three hours after eating. This helps to keep stomach contents down.
-Go easy on foods you find bothersome. Some common ones include alcohol, carbonated beverages, acidic foods such as citrus and tomato juices, and strong teas.
-Sleeping on your side may offer much-needed relief from the tell tale burning pain in your chest or that uncomfortable lump in your throat. Lying on your side may help to reduce signs and symptoms and give your esophagus time to heal from the damage caused by the reflux.
-Lose weight if you are overweight and pass up tight-fitting clothes that press on the abdomen.

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