Thursday, January 15, 2015

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. In his book, Frames of Mind, Gardner described seven distinct types of intelligences-logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. In the next edition of this book he added two more types of intelligences – naturalistic and existential intelligence.
According to MI theory everyone possesses all of the eight intelligences. However the extent to which each is developed in an individual varies from person to person. Each person has a unique intelligence profile. Gardner claims that intelligence is not fixed, but continually expands and changes throughout one’s life. Gardner regards these intelligences not as skills but as “biological potentials” which are realized to a greater or lesser extent depending upon opportunities and motivation (Gardner 2004). According to Gardner’s theory, one form of intelligence is not better than another; they are equally valuable and viable (Gardner 1983). Multiple intelligence theory challenged the dominant definition of intelligence as limited to linguistic and mathematical abilities (verbal and computational intelligences). G-theory defines intelligence as an innate general capacity to learn that varies in amount from person to person, but which is relatively stable over the life span.
                        

Gardner’s definition of intelligence

According to Gardner, intelligence is, “the talent to solve problems or produce products that are considered valuable in one or several cultures.” He stated that intelligence can be described as the combination of psychological and biological characteristics that enable individuals to solve problems or create products that are valued in one or more cultures (Gardner 1999). Gardner further suggests that thinking, problem solving and creating are valued differently depending on the family and community in which individuals live, learn and work.

Domains of multiple intelligence

Gardner proposed that there were eight relatively autonomous but interconnected intelligences:
Verbal/linguistic intelligence (word smart / book smart) - refers to the ability to use language masterfully to express oneself rhetorically or poetically e.g. the writer, orator.
Logical/ mathematical intelligence (number smart/logic smart) - refers to the ability to concentrate on mathematical problems, hypotheses and think logically e.g. the scientist, philosopher.
Visual/spatial intelligence (picture smart/art smart) – refers to the ability to manipulate and create mental images in order to solve problems e.g. the architect, engineer, sculptor.
Bodily/kinaesthetic intelligence (body smart/ movement smart) – refers to the ability to use one’s mind to control one’s bodily movement e.g. the athlete, dancer, actor, surgeon.
Musical/ rhythmic intelligence (music smart/ sound smart) – refers to the ability to read, understand, and compose musical pitches, tones and rhythms e.g. the entertainer, musician.
Interpersonal intelligence (people smart/ group smart) – refers to the ability to apprehend the feelings and intention of others e.g. the counsellor, minister, teacher.
Intrapersonal intelligence (self smart/ introspection smart) – refers to the ability to understand one’s own feelings and motivations e.g. the poet, efficiency expert.
Naturalist intelligence (nature smart) – refers to the ability to relate to the natural world with clarity and sensitivity e.g. biologist, environmentalist.
Existential intelligence – refers to the ability to explore complex philosophical questions.

Bases of multiple intelligence theory

According to Gardner, there are biological and cultural bases for multiple intelligences. The neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of the modifications in the synaptic connections between brain cells. The various types of learning result in synaptic connections in different areas of brain. Since different cultures value different types of intelligences, one’s cultural context plays large roles in the formation of intelligence. There is extensive anthropological evidence indicates that certain intelligences (or abilities) exist in highly evolved levels in certain cultures.

Claims of multiple intelligence theory

The first claim is that all human beings possess all of the eight intelligences. Of course the eight intelligences function together in ways unique to each person. The second claim is that just as we all look different and have different personalities and temperaments, we also exhibit different profiles of intelligences. Gardner suggests that virtually everyone has the capacity to develop all eight intelligences to a reasonably high level of performance, if given the appropriate encouragement, enrichment and instruction. Gardner suggests that intelligence usually work together in complex ways. Gardner argues that most tasks require more than one intelligences working together. Gardner further suggests that there are many ways to be intelligent within each category. There is no set of attributes that one must have to be considered intelligent in a specific area. Multiple intelligence theory emphasizes the rich diversity of ways in which people show their gifts within intelligences as well as between intelligences. Gardner has based his claims for the existence of at least eight intelligences on psychological, neuropsychological, neurobiological, historical and evolutionary evidences as well as on findings from psychological experimental tasks.

Messages of multiple intelligence model

1.       We are born with a unique mix of all eight intelligences.
2.       Intelligences combine in complex ways.
3.       There are many ways to be intelligent within each category.
4.       Most people can develop each intelligence to an adequate level of competency.
5.       Each multiple intelligence begins as a biological potential that is shaped exponentially as the individual develops.

Applications of multiple intelligence theory

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences provides a theoretical foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students. Gardner states that students learn in different ways and need a variety of experiences to develop all their ways of learning. Multiple intelligence theory can be used for curriculum development, planning instruction, selection of course activities and related assessment strategies. Using multiple intelligences in classrooms engages different styles of learning in order to maximize educational success, intellectual growth and enthusiasm among diverse learners.
Application of multiple intelligences enhances one’s self-awareness and increase self-esteem.
Managers who have multiple intelligences can understand the challenges face with employees. The highest performing managers and leaders have significantly more ‘multiple intelligence competencies’ than other managers.
Businesses can use multiple intelligence theory to structure workshops and training sessions for employees which will enhance teamwork, develop human potential and foster creativity.
     Multiple intelligence theory has applications to education

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Daniel Goleman's theory of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional competencies are more important in contributing to work excellence than pure intellect and expertise (EQ beats IQ). Emotional intelligence describes the ability, capacity, skill, to identify, assess and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others and of groups. Emotional intelligence is  a critical part of social intelligence.  Emotional intelligence can be abbreviated to EI and can also be referred to as emotional quotient (EQ). Some research shows that intelligence quotient, IQ contributes only about 20% to success in life. The rest of 80% success depends on one’s EQ. The concept of Emotional intelligence was formally introduced by Professors Peter Salovey of Yale University and John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire in 1990.  Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and science journalist popularized the term emotional intelligence in 1995 in the title of his bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Emotional intelligence is more important for a happy and productive life. People who are positive have been shown to live longer. Leaders high in emotional intelligence are more productive. Emotional intelligence determines ‘one’s ultimate niche in a society.’ Research shows that “emotion makes thinking more intelligent.”


Concept of emotional intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence includes two component terms, intelligence and emotion. Intelligence belongs to cognitive sphere of mental functioning whereas emotions belong to affective sphere of mental functioning. Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The word emotion comes from the Latin word ‘emoveo’ which means ‘to move from.’ According to Webster’s 1928 Dictionary emotion is ‘a moving of the mind or soul.’ There are six essentially universal emotions- anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust and surprise – with most other emotions included within these six categories (Robbins and Judge 2009).  Every one experiences and relates to feelings and emotions. Emotions contain valuable information on relationships, behaviour and practically every aspect of the human world around us.

Definitions

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, express, understand and regulate emotions.
Salovey and Mayer (1997) defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to perceive emotions, integrate emotions to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth.”
Goleman (1998) defined Emotional intelligence as ‘the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”  
Reuven Bar-on (1997) described EQ as “an array of personal, emotional and social abilities and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures”.

Principles of emotional intelligence

There are two basic principles associated with emotional intelligence. First emotional intelligence is about  being aware of emotions –identifying and understanding emotions-both of your own and other people’s emotions. Second emotional intelligence is about using and managing emotions of our own and other people’s.

Models of emotional intelligence

1. Ability EI model – the mental ability model focuses on emotions themselves and their interactions with thought (Mayer and Salovey 1997). This model proposes four main types of emotional abilities:
Emotional perception refers to the ability to recognize and decipher emotions in oneself and others as well as other stimuli including faces, pictures, stories and music.
Emotional use refers to the ability to apply emotions to cognitive activities such as thinking, reasoning, problem solving and decision making.
Emotional understanding refers to the ability to understand emotional information and the causes of emotions and how emotions combine, progress and change from one to another.
Emotional management refers to the ability to be open to feelings and employ effective strategies to promote personal understanding and growth.
2. Trait EI model – this model was published in 2009 by Petrides and colleagues. Trait EI model is a constellation of emotion – related self-perceptions located at the lower levels of personality.  Trait EI model refers to an individual’s own perceptions of their emotional abilities, as opposed to the ability –based model which refers to actual abilities.
3. Mixed models of EI- this model is introduced by Daniel Goleman that defines EI as a wide range of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. There are four tenets to this model:
Self awareness is the ability to understand your emotions, recognize their impact and use them to inform decisions.
Self-management involves controlling your emotions and impulses and adapting to circumstances.
Social awareness is the ability to sense, understand and react to the emotions of others within social situations.
Relationship management is the ability to inspire, influence and connect with others and to manage conflict.

Origin of emotional intelligence

The emotional brain (EB) is that part of the human brain that generates emotions. The amygdala –the part of the limbic brain –is considered to be the emotional centre of our brain and performs a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions. Amygdala is an almond shaped brain structure in the limbic system. The emotional response is relatively less influenced by genetic factors and more by the limbic system of the brain. People seem to develop greater emotional intelligence not in the early childhood but in the adult years. Emotional intelligence seems to be largely a learned response. We continue to develop EI as we go through life and learn from our experiences.

Characteristics of emotional skills

There are five key characteristics that distinguish an emotionally intelligent person.
Self-awareness- having a realistic assessment of his abilities.
Self-regulation – ability to control emotions and impulses.
Motivation – deepest preference to achieve our goals.
Empathy –is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs and viewpoints of other people.
Social skills – People with good social skills can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships. People with good social skills can persuade and lead, negotiate and settle disputes for cooperation and team work.

Components of emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman (1995) suggests that emotional intelligence consists of five major components:
1.       Knowing our own emotions.
2.       Managing one’s emotions.
3.       Motivating our emotions.
4.       Recognizing the emotions of others and
5.       Handling relationships.

 Benefits of emotional intelligence at work

·         Emotionally intelligent people manage stress better at work.
·         They improve their relationships with co-workers.
·         They deal more effectively with their supervisors.
·         They are more productive and effectively manage their work priorities.
·         They become better team player, managers or leaders.
In general emotional intelligence has been proven to:
¨       Increase workplace productivity.
¨       Reduce stress.
¨       Moderate conflict.
¨       Promote understanding and relationships.
¨       Foster stability and continuity.
¨       Heighten self awareness.

Advantages of emotional intelligence

1.       Emotional intelligence is primarily about managing oneself well and enhancing one’s relationship with others in order to be happier, healthier and more successful.
2.       According to research at the University of Toronto, positive, happy emotions and moods may open one’s mind and increase creative thinking.
3.       Positive emotions enhance problem-solving skills so that positive people find better solutions to problems (Isen 2001).
4.       Emotionally intelligent people can help manage stressful situations and improve negotiation and conflict resolution.
5.       Multiple studies have shown that the most successful leaders in organizations have higher levels of emotional intelligence than others. Emotional intelligence has been shown to be more important in rising to the top of an organization than cognitive competencies. Companies have realized that IQ alone cannot predict an individual’s performance or success.
6.       Emotional intelligence is the most significant for successful project outcomes. Project managers must be emotionally intelligent.
7.       Research indicates that social and emotional skills are associated with successes in effective teaching, student learning, quality student-teacher relationships and academic performance.
8.       Physicians who are better at recognizing emotions of patients are more successful at treating them than their less sensitive counterparts.
9.       Executives who ‘derail’ are often seen as lacking emotional strength.
          Emotional intelligence influences job performance

Monday, December 29, 2014

How to improve your digestive health

A healthy digestive system is fundamental to a healthy body. Optimal digestion is the foundation of optimal energy. Digestion allows the body to get the nutrients and energy it needs from the food.  The digestive system is basically a tube of 25 and 30 feet long running through the body from mouth to anus. The digestive tract and the accessory organs of digestion make up the digestive system. The organs of the digestive system include the oral cavity (mouth), oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, rectum and anus. The accessory organs of digestion include the salivary glands, teeth, liver, gall bladder and pancreas. Over a lifetime no less than 100 tons of food passes along the digestive tract and 300,000 litres of digestive juices are produced by the body to break it down. Digestive juices flow from the walls of the stomach and small intestines, pancreas and gall bladder. Enzymes, bile and bacteria break down the food.
Digestion is a function of an organ system which involves a series of processes.  There are 5 processes that are involved with digestion: eating, breaking down food into simpler chemical compounds, absorption, assimilation and elimination of waste. Digestive organs can become disturbed for a multiplicity of reasons: poor diet, irregular eating habits, physical and mental strain, viral or bacterial or fungal or parasitic infections, allergies, toxicity and drugs. Digestive discomfort can express in many forms: stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and foul smelling gas.
More than 80 million Americans live with and suffer from chronic digestive problems. It is estimated that 4 million Americans have constipation and 60 million Americans have acid reflux. Approximately 12 million people in the United States suffer from food allergy. One-third to one –half of all populations have digestive illness. It is estimated that 25 to 50% of all digestion- related ailments can be prevented and / or modified by proper eating, exercise, natural medicines and lifestyle modifications.


Definitions

The digestive system comprises a group of organs that break down food and absorb the nutrients used by the body for fuel. The digestive system begins with the mouth and extends through the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine, ending with the rectum and anus. The most important roles of digestive system include ingestion, propulsion, mechanical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption and defecation. Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine concerned with the function and disorders of the digestive system.
Digestion refers to the breakdown of food into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and assimilated by the body. The process of digestion occurs as the food you eat travels through the digestive tract. The food is kept moving by muscular action called peristalis. The main work of our digestive system is processing the food we eat to obtain energy and nutrients.
Good digestive health is the ability to break down, absorb and use nutrients and to eliminate waste products from foods and beverages in a way that optimizes one’s health and vitality.

Importance of the digestive system

The digestive system represents not only the physical ‘engine’ of the body, but also the center of emotions and the seat of subconscious.  Two-thirds of our immune system is located in and around our digestive system. According to Dr. Michael Gershon in his book The second Brain (1998), all of the neurotransmitters that are found in the brain are also found in the digestive system –hence the term ‘second brain.’ The digestive system actually has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and over 95% of serotonin is made in the gut (Gershon 1998). The enteric nervous system functions without the direction from the brain. The activity of the digestive system is regulated by the rich network of nerves found in the enteric nervous system (ENS).

Factors in good digestion

The factors that promote good digestion include timing, manner or eating, quantity of food, condition of the food, quality of the food and appropriateness of the food to your body.
·         Timing – when you eat;
·         Manner – how you eat;
·         Quantity – how much you eat;
·         Condition of the food –raw, cooked, warm or cold;
·         Quality of the food – fresh, clean and pure;
·         Appropriateness of the food – whether the food is compatible with your digestive capacity and relevant to your nutritional requirements.

Four R's gut healing program

Digestive problems are part and parcel of our life. There is a 4-R’s program with the following steps: Remove, Replace, Re-introduce and repair. In the first step, remove the things that are causing the problem such as bacteria, parasite, Candida or yeast overgrowth and potential food allergens and toxins. Then replace the diet with healthy food, dietary fiber and pure water for regular elimination. In the third step, re-introduce the gut with dietary probiotics or supplementary enzymes. Lastly repair the gut lining, so food and germs do not get through to the blood stream and cause a bad reaction called ‘leaky gut syndrome.’  It is reported that leaky gut syndrome is thought to cause all kinds of problems from food allergies to irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.

Herbal and nutritional healing of digestive disorders

Traditional Chinese medications use concoctions of kiwifruit as  a tonic to find relief from indigestion. Kiwifruits have substantial amounts of prebiotics, phenolics, dietary fibers and vegetarian digestive enzymes. Chamomile is an all –around stomach soother. Bitter herbs like dandelion can help improve digestion. Bitter herbs are great helpers for optimal digestion. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice root may reduce heartburn, acid reflux and gastritis. Licorice protects the mucous membranes that line the digestive tract against the damaging effects of stomach acid. This effect can be very helpful for those with heartburn. Slippery elm is another herb that acts as a barrier against stomach acid which again is important for those with heartburn. Aloe vera reduces mucosal inflammation, prevents acid reflex and improves gut healing. The herb milk thistle may be a useful supplement in the case of constipation caused by a lethargic liver. Digestive enzymes found in tropical fruits such as bromelain from pineapple (which reduces tissue irritation) and papain from papayas (which soothes the stomach) can provide help in digesting proteins as well. Tomatoes keep the digestive system healthy by preventing both constipation and diarrhea. A healthy complement of intestinal flora (the digestive bacteria acidophilus, bifidus and lactobacillus) is essential to good digestive health. Dietary fibers help promote regular defecation and prevent constipation. Fiber –rich foods include berries, greens, beans, apples, pears, oats and flaxseeds. The daily recommended intake of dietary fibers is 20 to 35 grams per day.  Lubricant foods and herbs help the stool move through the digestive tract called demulcents. The demulcents include okra, flaxseed, oats, kelp, cactus, natto, toasted seasame oil,olive oil, acacia and chia seeds.

Digestive level of foods

Some foods are harder to digest than others. Proteins are the hardest to digest. Protein digestion requires an acid medium (hydrochloric acid) and the enzyme pepsin for its digestion. Starch digestion requires an alkaline medium and the enzyme ptyalin for its digestion. Starchy foods are easier to digest. The non-starchy vegetables are very easy to digest. The easiest food of all to digest is fruits.

Food combining for better digestion

Do not combine protein foods with acidic foods or fats or starch foods or sugars. Do not combine two concentrated protein foods at the same meal. Do not combine starches with sugars or starch foods with acidic foods. Eat one concentrated starch food at a meal. Do not eat acid fruits with proteins. Do not combine sweet fruits with proteins, starches or acid fruits. Acid fruits may be used with sub-acid fruits and sub-acid fruits may be used with sweet fruits. Combine fruits only with lettuce and celery. Salads combine very well with proteins or starches. Do not consume melons with any other foods.

Foods for healthy digestion

A healthy diet consists of a good balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), prebiotics and probiotics, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.  A healthy diet is one that helps to maintain or improve health by providing appropriate amounts of nutrients. Super foods for healthy digestion include yogurt, high fiber whole grain bread, rice, whole grain cereals, tofu, miso, tempeh, dandelion green, sunflower seeds, sea vegetables, flaxseed oil, papayas, garlic and sage leaves. Our food choices play a significant role in the quality of our digestion.

Tips to improve your digestive health

1. Eat a balanced and varied diet with fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Eat four to six light meals per day. Eat more foods containing complex carbohydrates and fiber. Avoid over eating, only eat as much as you need.
2. Take small bites; Eat slowly and mindfully. Don’t eat before bed and walk after each meal.
3. Eat right type of fats and eat foods containing complete proteins, but in moderation.
4. Get enough fluids.
5. Give up caffeine; eliminate alcohol and nicotine.
6. Exercise is crucial to good bowel health.
7. Reduce depression and anxiety.
8. Listen to your body; be cautious about constipation, gas or upset stomach – it’s a sign you need to make changes in your dietary habits.
                           The digestive impulse is the life of your stomach

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Health benefits of edible seaweeds

Oceans cover approximately 71 percent of the earth’s surface (362 million square km) and contain 95 percent of the habitat space on the planet. The ocean is the richest reservoir of both living and non-living resources. The marine environment comprises approximately half of the total global biodiversity. Seaweeds are one of the constituents of natural resources globally used for human welfare. Seaweed is the common term used to refer large marine algae growing in the shallow waters along the ocean shores. There are about 8000 species of seaweeds along the world’s coastal lines. In general seaweeds inhabit about 2% of the sea floor. Ecologically seaweed account for food and shelter for marine life.
Seaweeds are used as human food, livestock feed and fertilizer for land crops in many countries. More than 160 species of sea vegetables commonly known as seaweeds are consumed throughout the world.  Seaweeds can be consumed directly as raw, dried or cooked. Seaweeds are eaten for their food value, flavours, colours and textures and are typically combined with other types of food. Edible seaweeds include Porphyra (Nori), Rodymenia (Dulse), Laminaria(Kombu), undaria (Wakame) and Ulva (sea lettuce). Edible seaweeds have been shown to be high in essential pigments, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, proteins and phytochemicals as well as healthy dietary fibers and fats.


Worldwide consumption of seaweeds

Seaweed is consumed in many traditional European societies, in Iceland and western Norway, the Atlantic coast of France, northern and western Ireland, Wales and some coastal parts of South West England as well as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Traditionally, sea vegetables have been more commonly eaten in Asian cultures. In many countries in Asia notably in China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia, seaweed products are important dietary resources, which constitute a substantial part of the total food intake (staple food). In  Philippines, Burma and Vietnam several species of seaweeds are eaten as a salad or in one form or another. The most commonly consumed seaweeds which grow in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are alaria, arame, hijiiki, nori, dulse and several kinds of kelp. Porphyra sp. which is commercially known as nori or laver is most widely consumed among edible red seaweed worldwide (Watanable  et al 1999). Nori is commonly eaten by the Japanese. The brown seaweed Sargassum (Gulfweed, sea holly) is used in soups and soy sauce. 

Definition of seaweeds

Edible seaweeds are algae that can be eaten and used in the preparation of food. It Typically contains high amounts of fiber  and they contain a complete protein. They may belong to one of several groups of multicellular algae: the red algae, green algae and brown algae (ref: en.wickipedia.org).

Kinds of seaweeds

Seaweeds are plants, though less complex ones than land plants. Without roots or intricate tissues, seaweed must absorb nutrients from the sea water. To survive, they form root-like parts to attach themselves to rocks or other stable items. Seaweeds are mainly classified into 3 major classes based on their pigmentation namely brown, red and green algae which are referred to as phaeophyceae, Rhodophyceae and Chlorophyceae respectively (Khan et al. 2010). Three basic classes of pigments found in marine algae are chlorophylls, carotenoids and phycoerythrin.  Green seaweeds such as sea lettuce mainly contain chlorophyll. Red seaweeds which include dulse, laver,nori, agar and Irish moss have red pigment, phycoerythrin. Brown seaweeds such as kelp, kombu, alaria, arame, wakame , seapalm and hiijiki depend on brown pigments from other carotenoid

Proximate composition of seaweeds

Seaweeds are high in ash (37-46%) and dietary fibers (25-40%) and low in lipid content (0.29-1.11%) on dry weight basis. The protein content of many seaweeds ranges between 4 and 25% of the dry weight. Generally the protein content of brown algae is low (3-15% of dry weight) compared with that of green (10-26% of dry weight) and red algae (35-47% of dry weight) (Fitzgerald et al. 2011). The lipids present in seaweeds are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in particular EPA and to a lesser extent DHA, which are important to human health. Seaweeds contain 33-62% total fibers on a dry weight basis. The sulphated polysaccharides present in red and brown algae act as dietary fibers. The major seaweed colloids include agar, algin, carrageenan, and related colloids. These phycocolloids are materials such as gelatine, pectin and starch that have the property of forming gels. Algin is produced from brown seaweeds, while agar and carrageenan are from red algae. The phycocolloids are used as thickeners, humectants, coagulants, bulking agents, flocculation agents and in the preparation of antibiotic carriers. Agar finds much use in bakery products, confectionary making and in puddings, creams and jellied products. Seaweed powders generally contain 10 to 30% minerals, 20 to 45% proteins and up to 40% soluble fibers.

Popular edible seaweeds

The red seaweed, Nori is rich in iodine and iron and quite high in protein. It is also a good source of vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium and riboflavin (B2) and it is low in fat. Another red seaweed, Dulse is highly nutritious containing protein (10 to 20%), magnesium, iron and B-carotene. Carrageenan and agar are extracted routinely from red algae. Irish moss is rich in retinol and minerals. It is widely used in all sorts of food products because it has emulsifying and jelling properties. The green seaweed, Wakame contains fucoxanthin, calcium, iron, natural sodium and vitamin C.  The brown seaweeds include such familiar forms as rock seaweeds, kelps and sargassum. The brown seaweeds are major sources of iodine. In addition to iodine, the brown seaweed kelp (Kombu) also provides iron, magnesium and  folate (vitamin B9). Kelp is used to be the main source for preventing goitre and treating thyroid conditions.  Sea lettuce and sugar kelp are the two seaweeds popularly eaten by humans. Seaweeds represent one of the most nutritious plant foods. In Asian culture, seaweeds have always been of particular interest as food sources. Seaweeds are ones that can be used in a whole range of ways: as salads, in soups, for sushi, in deserts, in bread, as snacks and in candy or as herbs and flavour enhancers. Seaweeds are most commonly used in soups, as salad garnishes and as a seasoning (in flake forms). Seaweeds are available in health food stores in dried, powder, flake and granular forms.

Health benefits of seaweeds

Edible seaweeds are ideal sources of chemical compounds for improving health and well-being of humans.  Several bioactive substances with antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities have reported from seaweeds. Tumour reductions, inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, free radical scavenging and significant antioxidant activity have been exhibited by red and brown seaweeds. The sulphated polysaccharides found in some of the brown seaweeds are being explored as antiviral agents and as aids in preventing blood clots. Sodium alginate found in brown seaweeds has the ability to protect the surface membranes of stomach and intestine. It acts as a haemostatic agent and has tried in the treatment of esophagitis and urolithiasis.  Fucoidan, a polysaccharide found in brown algae has shown promising antiviral, immunomodulating and antibacterial activities. Fucoidan also inhibits the angiogenesis and proliferation of human cancer cells. Phlorotannins (polyphenols) from brown algae have been shown to possess multiple physiological activities such as antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiallergic properties. Taurine is an amino acid present in high concentration in red algae. Taurine acts as an antioxidant and reduces serum lipids thereby prevents atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Calcium phosphate in seaweeds helps to reduce osteoporosis by nourishing the bones.  The high content of potassium in seaweed is good for the heart and kidneys. Seaweed nourishes the membranes, making it good for nervous disorders, skin conditions, colds and constipation. The chromium content in seaweeds helps to control blood sugar levels. In general seaweed intake may strengthen the immune system, reduce cholesterol and improve metabolism and digestion. Consumption of seaweed is helpful in combating fatigue caused by slow thyroid activity. Seaweed intake support thyroid function. Dietary intake of brown algae is effective for curing goitre because of their iodine content.
                    Seaweeds are excellent sources of  minerals.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Health benefits of dietary glyconutrients

Glyconutrients are plant carbohydrates. These glyconutrients combine with other molecules, proteins and lipids to form glycoforms or glycoconjugates which coat cell surfaces. There are over 200 carbohydrates or sugars found in natural resources, but only 8 are essential to bodily functions (essential saccharides/sugars). Glyconutrients come from plant roots, mushrooms and other foods and can be taken as dietary supplements.  They enhance cell-to-cell communication, modulate immune function and increase the body’s own production of stem cells. Glyconutrients have been described as “the rising star in the world of alternative medicine.”  Glyconutrients help your body heal, repair, regenerate, regulate and protect itself. Most healthy people can generate every other essential saccharide from glucose.
Glyconutrient compounds were abundant in most primitive diets but they are virtually absent from modern western diets rich in refined foods. Only two of the essential sugars, glucose and galactose are common in our diets. The 8 saccharides (sugars) serve as the building blocks for the manufacture of large molecules made of sugars in combination with proteins or lipids. Glycoproteins are molecules made of sugars and proteins; glycolipids are made of sugars and fats. It is common to refer to the sugars of glycoproteins and glycolipids as glycans. Both glycoproteins and glycolipids are found at the extracellular surface of the plasma membrane. In Greek, glycol means ‘sweet’; glyconutrient literally means ‘sweet nutrient.’ Strangely glyconutrients are not sweet, sometimes they are bitter and some are virtually tasteless.

Definition

Glycobiology is defined as the study of the structure, biosynthesis and biology of saccharides (sugar chains or glycans) that are widely distributed in nature. Sugars are known chemically as saccharides. Glycans   constitute a major portion of a glycoconjugate. The surfaces of most types of cells are effectively covered with a dense coating of sugars giving rise to the so-called glycocalyx (tiny antennae). These tiny antennae allow the cells to interact and to be able to absorb and process nutrients, hormones and other chemicals.

Essential sugars

There are eight essential saccharides our body needs. They are: glucose, galactose, mannose, fucose, xylose, N-acetyl glucosamine, N-acetyl galactosamine and N-acetyl neuroaminic acid (a sialic acid).
Glucose – is the primary source of energy for all plants and animals and is quickly absorbed into the blood stream. It has been shown to enhance memory, stimulate calcium absorption and enhance cell-to-cell communication.
Galactose – is found in dairy products and human breast milk. Galactose enhances wound healing, cell-to-cell communication and calcium absorption. People who are lactose intolerant may be lacking this essential sugar.
Mannose –is most important of all essential sugars. It forms an integral part of the immune system. Its deficiency can lead to inflammation and disease. The mannose sugar can reduce inflammation even in rheumatoid arthritis. 
Fucose –studies have shown that it may help long term memory, prevent respiratory infections and inhibit tumour growth. The glycoconjugates of fucose are essential to controlling inflammation and enhancing immunity.
Xylose – is important for cell-to-cell communication and also acts as an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent.
N-acetyl glucosamine – is an immune modulator and has anti-viral properties.
N-acetyl galactosamine – it helps in cell-to-cell communication.
N-acetyl neuraminic acid (sialic acid) – is important for brain function particularly for development and learning.N-acetyl neuraminic acid is helpful for clearing brain fog. It is found in breast milk, organic hen’s eggs and whey proteins.

Food sources

Glucose – nearly all ripe fruits and vegetables, honey, grapes, bananas, mangos, cherries, strawberries, cocoa, aloe vera, licorice, garlic, Echinacea, hawthorn and kelp (seaweed).
Galactose – dairy products, fenugreek, kelp(seaweed), apple, apricots, bananas, cherries, berries, peach, pear, kiwi, mangoes, avocado,  broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, carrot, cauliflower, celery, potato, eggplant, peas, pumpkin, and spinach.
Mannose – Aloe vera, kelp(seaweed), shiitake mushroom, fenugreek, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, turnips, and gooseberries.
Fucose – kelp, sea weed,and brewer’s yeast.
Xylose- kelp, guava, pears, black berries, logan berries, rasp berries, aloe vera, Echinacea, boswelia, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, peas, green beans, cabbage and corn.
N-acetyl glucosamine – shiitake mushroom, shark cartilage, beef cartilage and red algae.
N-acetyl galactosamine – beef cartilage, shark cartilage and red algae.

Herbal sources

Aloe vera – There are more than 240 species of aloe which grows in Africa, the Near East, Asia, Europe, the southern Mediterranean and the Americas. The gel of the Aloe vera leaves contains about 200 health promoting compounds including 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins. The nutrient gel provides your body with 3 glyconutrients such as glucose, mannose and xylose.The Aloe vera gel reduces inflammation, itching, and pain when topically applied on the skin. The Aloe vera juice which is loaded with phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins and amino acids works as an anti-inflammatory agent in the digestive tract and is often used to ease heart burn and constipation.
Mushrooms – edible mushrooms are the richest source of glyconutrients. The health benefits of mushrooms have been known for more than 5000 years. Several varieties of mushrooms offer immunomodulatory, lipid –lowering, anti-tumour and other beneficial or therapeutic health effects without any significant toxicity. Shiitake mushroom is among the foods and herbal medicines in Chinese diet for its ‘anti-aging properties.’ In oriental folk medicine, shiitake mushroom is a food that activates the blood. It is used in the treatments of colds, measles in children, smallpox, bronchial inflammation, stomach-ache, headache, faintness and dropsy (fluid accumulation in tissues).
Shells of crustaceans – one of the essential sugars N-acetyl glucosamine is found in the shell of crustaceans including shrimps, crabs and krill.

Functional role of glycoproteins

Glycoproteins increase natural killer-cell function. These activated killer cells protect the healthy individuals from the effects of toxins and free radicals, which could cause infections and cancer formation. Moreover glycoproteins increase T –cell function and decrease abnormally elevated apoptosis without disturbing the normal balance in the body.


Health benefits

The essential sugars have potent antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic and antitumor effects. They increase the body’s immunity to viruses including those that cause the common colds, influenza, herpes and hepatitis. Glyconutrients seem to play an important role in immune and hormonal function. Glyconutrients are essential in cellular communication and are important for pregnant and lactating women. Several studies have linked a deficiency of glyconutrients to diseases such as diabetes, ADHD, lupus, infertility and cancer. Glyconutrients have a role in lowering triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins or LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoproteins or HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol). Glyconutrients have been quite effective in treating disorders associated with an over-active immune system such as allergies and asthma. Glyconutrients may help relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.  Glyconutrients have produced positive effects in children suffering from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Glyconutrients may even inhibit cancerous tumour growth and tumour cell metastasis.
      Intake of glyconutrients  offer healthy functioning of your immune system

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Health benefits of acid-alkaline food balance

pH balance is one of the most important factors in maintaining health and life. A normal body pH balance is the first line of defense against aging and disease. All body tissues and organs normally maintain pH within narrow range by carefully balancing acidic and alkaline elements. All disease is caused by autotoxication (self-poisoning) due to acid accumulation in the body. Changes in pH alter virtually all body functions. Prolonged acid-alkali imbalance could lead to degenerative diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and rapid aging among others. Alkaline substances such as potassium, calcium and magnesium are needed to neutralize the harmful acids and encourage acid excretion. Nutritionally speaking, the alkaline foods provide greater amounts of alkaline substances such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. It is generally accepted that diet is an important source of the alkali and acids one’s body needs. Balance body pH will give you more natural vitality, better metabolism and less internal and external signs of aging.


The acid-alkaline theory of disease

In his book A new Health Era, Dr. William Howard Hay (1933) stated that all disease is caused by acid accumulation in the body. This acid-alkaline theory of disease is an over-simplification. In his book My Journey to the Fountain of Youth, Azahara Carter stated that there are two principles underlying the concept of acid-alkaline balance: first those factors such as diet, age, lifestyle habits and emotional state contribute to an overly acidic system and second that an overly acidic system is a breeding ground for disease. It is probable that the acid –alkaline imbalance can be a large factor in the onset of serious health issues such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, arthritis, kidney problems, chronic fatigue and many other health challenges.

Acid-forming and alkaline- forming foods

Depending on the chemical composition of the metabolized foods (known as ‘ash’), the foods are categorized in to acid-forming and alkaline forming foods.
Acid-forming foods – these foods are not acidic themselves, but form acids in the body during the metabolic process and digestion e.g. animal fats, fork, poultry, beef, bacon and dairy products.
Acidic foods – these foods are acidic, but can have either an acid-forming or an alkaline forming effect in the body e.g. berries, citrus fruits, pulses and sour milk.
Alkaline foods and alkali-forming foods – The strength of the alkali in alkaline foods does not reflect their alkali forming qualities in the body. Alkali-forming foods are not alkaline themselves, but they possess good alkali- forming and de-acidifying qualities e.g. most fresh vegetables, leafy greens, potato, bananas, spinach, celery and melon.

Health effects of acid/ alkaline imbalance

The acid / alkaline balance in the body is central to good health. The normal waste products of cellular metabolism are acid. The body needs alkaline to balance the acid out and the only source of alkaline is from the food we consume or the correct supplements we take. A healthy diet should consist of approximately 75% alkaline ash-forming foods and 25% acid ash-forming foods. Usually the proportion of acid forming food we consume is much higher than that of alkaline food.
Acidic waste can seriously damage body cells and vital organs. An acidic environment results in lack of energy, chronic fatigue and susceptibility to disease. A build up of acidity decreases the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients; decrease energy production in cells; decrease the body’s ability to repair damaged cells and decrease its ability to detoxify heavy metals. Most cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment.  Inflammatory disease, arthritis, respiratory conditions and cardiovascular diseases are more prevalent in acidic environment. A build up of acidity prevents body organs from functioning properly, thickens the blood and starts to dissolve the linings of the arteries.
On the other hand an alkaline environment helps to heal the body, slower aging process, and relives suffering from colds, headaches and the flu.

Symptoms of body pH imbalance

The symptoms of excess body acidity include fluctuating energy levels, mental fatigue and dullness, depression, headaches, lower back pain, decreased vitality, irritability and sinus-related problems. The symptoms of excessive alkalinity include tension, nervousness, muscle tension or spasms, slow recovery from injuries and travelling muscle pain.

Nutritional balance

Right combination of green raw foods, whole foods, vegetables, juices, herbs and water will reduce the build up of acid, toxins and free radicals from oxidation and promote a healing body environment.
60/40: To maintain health, the diet should consist of 60% alkaline –forming foods and 40% acid-forming foods.
80/20: To restore health, the diet should consist of 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods.
Dr. Robert Young heralds that a diet that is made up of 80% alkaline producing foods and 20% acid producing foods will allow people to achieve their healthier bodies and healthier lives.
Generally alkaline –forming foods include most fruits, green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, spices, herbs and seasonings, seeds and nuts. Generally acid – forming foods include meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, grains and legumes. Processed, micro-waved, refined and fried foods, soft drinks, alcohol and coffee produce acids.


Concluding remarks

Human body is slightly alkaline and therefore it is better for your health to eat a diet composed of alkaline foods. Disease begins when our bodies turn acidic. In his book How to get well (1984), Paavo Airola, a naturopath said that, “acidosis or over-acidity in the body tissues, is one of the basic causes of disease, especially the arthritic and rheumatic diseases.” Another author Michael Colgan in his book The New Nutrition (1996) mentioned that, “acidosis destroys bones because the body has to steal alkalizing minerals from them to keep the blood pH from dropping into the acid range.” Dr. Otto Heinrich Warburg won the 1931 Nobel Prize in Physiology for proving that cancer can’t survive in an alkaline, oxygen- rich environment, but thrives in an acidic, low-oxygen environment. Our health is directly related to the condition of our internal body fluids. The condition of our internal bodily fluids is directly influenced by the foods we eat and by our daily activities. Eat a diet that helps your body maintain the correct acid-alkaline balance.
              Eat more alkaline foods and less acidic foods
                     Balance your pH for better health.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Edward de Bono's Lateral Thinking

The term ‘lateral thinking’ was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono, a Maltese psychologist, physician, and writer. Two of his most well known concepts are lateral thinking (de Bono 1977) and the six thinking hats (de Bono 1999).  ‘Lateral’ comes from the Latin word laterus meaning ‘a side.’ The process of lateral thinking – generation of novel solutions to problems- literally means sideways thinking.  According to de Bono (1990), information patterns are stable cognitive entities such as concepts, ideas, thoughts and images, which exist in our minds and which provide a perspective that directs information processing/thinking/problem solving in a particular way. The concept of lateral thinking is insight restructuring and this is brought about through the rearrangement of information. Rearrangement is the basis of lateral thinking and rearrangement means escape from the rigid patterns established by experience. Lateral thinking is the type of thinking that aims to broaden the knowledge base through the generation of new possibilities.  Lateral thinking systematically forces thinking towards insight, creativity and innovation. Lateral thinking is both an attitude and a method of using information.

Hypothesis of lateral thinking
Lateral thinking is based on the hypothesis that the human brain is a self-organizing information processor in which the output depends upon both internal and external environment and on previous experience. Thinking laterally deliberately disrupts the established cognitive patterns and the information is processed differently. The outcome is the generation of   a novel perspective which is often referred to as an ‘aha’ moment.

Definition

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines lateral thinking as ‘seeking to solve problems by unorthodox or apparently illogical methods’. Lateral thinking, according to de Bono, “tries to restructure information patterns by putting things together in a different way.” Lateral thinking is ‘out-of –the-box ‘non-linear thinking to be differentiated from logical, extrapolative thinking. Lateral thinking is moving sideways and looking at problems from multiple angles and perspectives.

Principle of lateral thinking

To get a different perspective on a problem, try breaking the elements up and recombining them in a different way (perhaps randomly).

Vertical and lateral thinking

Dr.de Bono divides thinking into two methods: vertical thinking and lateral thinking. Vertical thinking involves the implementation and utilization of already existent ideas (“digging the same hole deeper”) whereas lateral thinking involves developing new ideas (“digging a hole somewhere else”). According to de Bono, two processes necessary to stimulate lateral thinking are ‘escape’ and ‘provocation.’ Escape consists of rejecting assumptions and pre-formed concepts by shifting perspectives and provocation consists primarily suspending judgement (Murray 1992). The formal ways to set up provocations include escape, reversal, exaggeration, distortion and wishful thinking.
De Bono contrasted vertical to lateral thinking in the following ways: vertical thinking focuses on continuity; lateral thinking focuses on discontinuity. Vertical thinking chooses, lateral thinking changes; Vertical thinking is concerned with stability, lateral thinking is concerned with instability; Vertical thinking searches for what is right, lateral thinking searches for what is different; Vertical thinking is analytical, lateral thinking is provocative; vertical thinking is concerned with where an idea came from, lateral thinking is concerned with where the idea is going; vertical thinking moves in the most likely directions, lateral thinking moves in the least likely directions; vertical thinking develops an idea, lateral thinking discovers the idea.

Lateral thinking methods

Alternatives – using concepts as a breeding ground for new ideas.
Focus – targeting thinking.
Challenge – breaking free from the limits of current assumptions.
Random entry – inserting unconnected input to open up new lines of thinking.
Provocation and movement – generating illogical statements and using them as stepping stones to usable new ideas.
Harvesting – capturing creative output.
Treatment of ideas – developing ideas and shaping them to fit an organization or situation.

Lateral thinking techniques

The reversing technique involves examining a problem by turning it completely around inside out, or upside down.
The analogy technique involves developing a statement about similarities among objects, persons and situations.
The cross-fertilization technique involves asking experts from other fields to view the problem and suggest methods for solving it from their own areas of expertise.
The mixing metaphors involves using a metaphor to bring a new look to a situation or problem.
The random juxtaposition involves introducing a completely new notion to allow more ideas to be generated.

Critical factors related to lateral thinking

1.  Focus on dominant ideas that come to mind that polarize perception of a problem.
2. Look at the multiple perspectives of the problem.
3. Relax the logical thinking process.
4. Allow ‘outside of the box’ ideas to come to mind and be considered even though they do not fit into the logical, scientific thinking pattern.

Steps in lateral thinking process

1.  Escape from clichés and fixed patterns
2. Challenges assumptions
3. Generate alternatives
4. Jump to new ideas and then see what happens.
5. Find new entry points from which to move forward.

Technique of six thinking hats (STH)

This method uses six different ‘natures’ of thought, each represented by a different coloured ‘hat’(real or imaginary). The hats are designed to foster ‘parallel thinking’ during group problem –solving efforts. The same hat or way of thinking is adopted by all group members, thus creating a shared focus. De Bono (1999) considered the hats as ‘direction labels for thinking.’
1. White hat thinking – information –based thinking – calls for facts and figures.
2. Red hat thinking – emotional thinking – clarifies emotional reactions to issues.
3. Black hat thinking – critical thinking – assesses the risk.
4. Yellow hat thinking – positive or optimistic thinking – looks at the benefits.
5. Green hat thinking – imaginative thinking – focuses on creative thinking.
6. Blue hat thinking – thinking about thinking – manages thinking process.

Benefits of lateral thinking

1.  Lateral thinking is essentially a problem-solving technique or useful habit of mind. Lateral thinking is searching for side entrances rather than using a front –door approach to resolving a problem. Lateral thinking causes a shift in thinking or perception; it completely breaks from previous thoughts or paradigms.
2. Lateral thinking leads to innovation, which in turn, leads to realistic solutions. Think laterally helps to increase the range of options or more alternate ideas available and can often help to overcome tricky problems. Lateral thinking even turns problems into opportunities.
3. Lateral thinking enhances the effectiveness of vertical thinking by challenging the arrogance and the cliché-pattern of thinking associated with logic.
4. Lateral thinking develops an awareness of current ideas and practices; also aids in the development of new ideas.

Final thoughts

Lateral thinking is not generally a natural phenomenon. It is a skill that can be developed through regular practice and with a willingness to try something different. Vertical thinking is concerned with digging the same hole deeper. Lateral thinking is concerned with digging the hole somewhere else (Edward de Bono 1977). Lateral thinking generates ideas and vertical thinking develops them (De Bono 1968). We are educated to be analytical logical thinkers. Most of our thinking is analytical, convergent, critical and left-brain thinking. There are many other ways of thinking or methods for exploring multiple possibilities and approaches instead of pursuing a single approach.
                             Think laterally and turn problems into opportunities