Okinawa Vegetable: Moui (Red Gourd)


Unexceptionally, we are spending very hot summer days.  Because of these consecutive hot days and nights, many people tend to lose appetite.  Also, it is so likely that we prefer to choose cold food and drink unintentionally.  However, to avoid suffering from summer fatigue, it is very important to eat nutritious food to keep our stamina.  

Today, I would like to introduce one of the typical Okinawan summer vegetable, red gourds.  The red gourds are said to be brought into Okinawa from China during the 15th century.  Literally, this type of gourd has a reddish brown skin.  In Okinawan dialect, it is called moui pronounced as “Mow We.”   

Moui is generally 30cm long and 10cm wide and costs around 100 yen.  We can find cheaper than 100 yen at the local farmer’s market.  It is very reasonable.


Moui does not look very attractive, to be honest.  But its flesh is so white, fresh, and juicy.  Moui consists mainly of water content, more than 95%.  But it is high in nutritional values.  It is rich in potassium and vitamins, both of which are inevitable during hot summer time.  The health benefits of moui are for preventing high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and arteriosclerosis.  

When you cut moui, it smells like cucumbers, but it tastes totally different.  It is more tasteless; in another words, moui can develop into many different dishes depending on the seasonings you choose.  


The texture of moui is very fresh.  You can enjoy its last-long crunchy texture.  Slice thinly, toss with your favorite dressing, and you have one simple but healthy salad for your meal.  Many Okinawan people like moui salad with a spoonful tuna flakes and soy sauce based vinegar. 

Besides eaten as a fresh salad, we like to make pickled moui, shimmered with soup stock, or just stir-fried with salt and pepper.




Health benefits of gourds

Posted on healthizen


Vegetables belonging to the gourd family are very beneficial from the health point of view. There are different varieties of gourds cultivated throughout the world. In India, the commonly consumed ones are bitter gourds, bottle gourds, ridge gourds, and snake gourds. Ridge gourd is also known as turai or luffa. It is a dark green, ridged vegetable having white pulp with white seeds embedded in its spongy flesh. It is very fibrous to eat.

Ridge gourd is very low in saturated fat and calories. It is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, riboflavin, zinc, thiamin, iron, and magnesium. It is known to contain insulin like peptides, alkaloids that help to reduce blood sugar levels. It helps to relieve constipation and prevent piles as it contains cellulose. This vegetable also purifies, rejuvenates, and nourishes the liver and tries to protect it against alcohol intoxication.

Snake gourd is a natural laxative, antibiotic, and expectorant. It has a cooling effect on the body and is useful in treating bilious fever. The heart is most benefitted by this vegetable as it can reduce the pain and palpitations of a stressed heart. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can stimulate the production of body fluids, thereby relieving symptoms caused due to dryness. Snake gourd is considered to be useful in treating diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. It is also known to keep the calorie count low for weight-watchers.

Bottle gourd, like ash gourd is very low in cholesterol and fat, whilst being high in iron, fiber, vitamin C, and minerals. It has a very important place in Ayurveda and Unani medicine as it is known to soothe the nervous system, besides being very useful for inducing weight loss. It helps the body to fight against gas, indigestion, acidity, and peptic ulcers. It also prevents premature graying of hair.

Although the bitter taste of the bitter gourd makes many of us grimace at the very thought of eating it, the fact still remains that it is one of the most potent vegetables offered by nature to us. It is a natural remedy for diabetes as it can effectively control the blood sugar levels by virtue of its insulin-like enzymes. It is loaded with beta carotene that improves eyesight. It is invaluable in the treatment of stomach disorders, gastrointestinal infections, and piles. Bitter gourd has blood cleansing properties, which can help to ward off a gamut of diseases.

See the original article where some more useful information about cell turnover.  

Original Article:  healthizen

Low Estrogen Symptoms in Younger Women

Posted on LIVESTRONG.COM on Aug 16, 2013 | By Kathleen Blanchard, R.N.

Being underweight may lead to low estrogen levels.
Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images 

Symptoms of low estrogen typically occur in women approaching and experiencing menopause. However, younger women can also experience low estrogen, but their symptoms (and causes) differ from menopausal women.

There are three types of estrogen: estriol, estradiol and estrone. Some women do not naturally produce enough of one or all forms. Abnormal levels could signal the presence of ovarian or adrenal cancer. Young women can experience low estrogen levels from a variety of causes, and the type of testing used to measure levels depends on symptoms, age, family history and physical exam.



The most common symptom of low estrogen in younger women is lack of menstruation and delayed development. Younger women, under age 40, with low estrogen can experience early menopause resulting in hot flashes and night sweats. Fatigue is a common complaint associated the condition. Women report forgetfulness, insomnia, lack of sexual desire and painful intercourse when estrogen levels are low or begin to decline. Irregular menstruation or lack of menstruation occurs. Bladder infections and headaches might occur. Mood changes that lead to crying, feelings of depression and irritability are also symptoms. Bone loss also occurs that leads to osteoporosis. Inability to become pregnant can signal low estrogen levels in younger women.



Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries. Some estrogen is produced by the adrenal glands. Signals for estrogen production come from the pituitary gland, and levels vary throughout life depending on the stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Estrogen is the hormone that provides female characteristics for women.



Genetic disease can result in low estrogen in younger women. Turner syndrome is an inherited disease that leads to short stature and lack of ovulation, normal female development and lack of menstruation. Chemotherapy or radiation can also interfere with estrogen production, along with thyroid disorders.


Other Causes

Other conditions that cause low estrogen levels in younger women include excessive exercise, eating disorders and too little body fat. Extreme exercise, just before and during puberty, such as gymnastics and dancing, can cause estrogen levels to be low, delaying normal female development. A symptom of low estrogen in younger women is delayed development and lack of menstruation (amenorrhea).


How To Know If Estrogen Is Low

Your doctor will determine which type of blood or urine test is needed to determine if you have low estrogen levels. Younger women may be tested for FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), an direct measurement of estrogen production. When estrogen levels are low, FSH levels also decline. Younger women suspected to have Turner syndrome might undergo chromosomal testing. The syndrome is the result of abnormality in X chromosomes.



Low estrogen level treatment is based on the underlying cause. Younger women going through menopause are not treated the same as older women with low estrogen levels. In all cases, the underlying cause determines the specific treatment.



Because symptoms of low estrogen levels can signal underlying health problems, especially in younger women, it is important to see your physician for testing. Younger women with symptoms of low estrogen levels should be evaluated for cause and treatment.

Original Article:  LIVESTRONG.COM

Fukushima’s legacy

Released on EurekAlert! On August 14, 2014

Biological effects of Fukushima radiation on plants, insects, and animals


Following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown, biological samples were obtained only after extensive delays, limiting the information that could be gained about the impacts of that historic disaster. Determined not to repeat the shortcomings of the Chernobyl studies, scientists began gathering biological information only a few months after the disastrous meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan in 2011. Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds.

A series of articles summarizing these studies has now been published in the Journal of Heredity. These describe widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage to responses by the repair mechanisms that help organisms cope with radiation exposure.

“A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” stated Dr. Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, lead author of one of the studies.

Most importantly, these studies supply a baseline for future research on the effects of ionizing radiation exposure to the environment.

Common to all of the published studies is the hypothesis that chronic (low-dose) exposure to ionizing radiation results in genetic damage and increased mutation rates in reproductive and non-reproductive cells.

One of the studies (Hayashi et al. 2014) documented the effects of radiation on rice by exposing healthy seedlings to low-level gamma radiation at a contaminated site in Fukushima Prefecture. After three days, a number of effects were observed, including activation of genes involved in self-defense, ranging from DNA replication and repair to stress responses to cell death.

“The experimental design employed in this work will provide a new way to test how the entire rice plant genome responds to ionizing radiation under field conditions,” explained Dr. Randeep Rakwal of the University of Tsukuba in Japan, one of the authors of the study.

Another team of researchers (Taira et al. 2014) examined the response of the pale grass blue butterfly, one of the most common butterfly species in Japan, to radiation exposure at the Fukushima site. They found size reduction, slowed growth, high mortality and morphological abnormality both at the Fukushima site and among laboratory-bred butterflies with parents collected from the contaminated site.

Multiple sources of exposure were included in the butterfly study. “Non-contaminated larvae fed leaves from contaminated host plants collected near the reactor showed high rates of abnormality and mortality,” explained Dr. Joji Otaki of the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan. Some of their results suggested the possible evolution of radiation resistance in Fukushima butterflies as well.

A review of genetic and ecological studies for a range of other species at both Chernobyl and Fukushima (Mousseau 2014) revealed significant consequences of radiation. Population censuses of birds, butterflies, and cicadas at Fukushima showed major declines attributable to radiation exposure. Morphological effects, such as aberrant feathers on barn swallows, were also observed. The authors suggest that long-term studies at Chernobyl could predict likely effects in the future at the Fukushima site.

All of these studies highlight the need for early and ongoing monitoring at sites of accidental radiation release. “Detailed analyses of genetic impacts to natural populations could provide the information needed to predict recovery times for wild communities at Fukushima as well as any sites of future nuclear accidents,” Mousseau said. “There is an urgent need for greater investment in basic scientific research of the wild animals and plants of Fukushima.”

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Rosemary and oregano contain diabetes-fighting compounds

Released on EurekAlert! On July 23, 2014


The popular culinary herbs oregano and rosemary are packed with healthful compounds, and now lab tests show they could work in much the same way as prescription anti-diabetic medication, scientists report. In their new study published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they found that how the herbs are grown makes a difference, and they also identified which compounds contribute the most to this promising trait.

Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia and colleagues point out that in 2012, type-2 diabetes affected more than 8 percent of Americans and cost the country $175 billion. Some people can manage the disease with exercise and changes to their diet, and others take medication. But not everyone can stick to a new lifestyle or afford the prescription drugs necessary to keep their blood-sugar level in check. Recent research has shown that herbs could provide a natural way to help lower glucose in blood. So Gonzalez de Mejia’s team decided to take a closer look.

They tested four different herbs, either greenhouse-grown or dried commercial versions, for their ability to interfere with a diabetes-related enzyme, which is also a target of a prescription drug for the disease.

They found that greenhouse herbs contained more polyphenols and flavonoids compared to the equivalent commercial herbs. But this didn’t affect the concentration required to inhibit the enzyme. Commercial extracts of Greek oregano, Mexican oregano and rosemary were better inhibitors of the enzyme, required to reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, than greenhouse-grown herbs. The researchers say more studies are needed to understand the role of these compounds in reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes in humans.

# # #

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, the ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals, and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Easy Ways To Boost Cell Turnover

Posted on NEWBEAUTY THE BEAUTY AUTHORITY on Friday, April 27, 2012 by NewBeauty Editors


Cell renewal is an important element in keeping your skin glowing. When the rate at which cells are used and renewed slows down, the result is older-looking skin, typically caused by inflammation or environmental stress. While aging also plays a part in slowing down your cell turnover, there are some things you can do to keep those skin cells happy and healthy. Here are a few places to start: 

Look for powerful ingredients
Because skin cell renewal is slowed with free radical and sun damage, vitamin C can be a strong ally to your cells. When applied to the skin, it can help fend off damage. In addition, alpha lipoic acid may also help protect the cells from inflammation. Retinoid is another powerful ingredient, and at prescription strength, can increase cell turnover and, after a few month’s use, can even help to clear age spots caused by sun damage. 

Make better food choices
What you eat directly affects the livelihood of your cells. Sugar will boost inflammation’s damaging effects, but eating good fats and oils, like tuna, salmon, soybeans, tofu, olive oil and avocado, help regulate cell metabolism, boost cellular repair and suppress inflammation. 

Take smart supplements
Vitamin E helps to prevent oxidative damage and protects cell membranes, which makes it an essential vitamin to include. Vitamins A, C, K and B are also vital to repairing, protecting and renewing skin cells. A good multivitamin with a variety of nutrients can be a good way to hit all the bases. 

See the original article where some more useful information about cell turnover.  

Riding and dining in style: Trains that offer local food, sights

Posted on The Japan Times by The Yomiuri Shimbun on August 12, 2014
Passengers eat lunch on Kitakinki Tango Railway’s Tango Kuromatsu train.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun“Gourmet sightseeing trains” that run on local lines across the nation are a hot trend, allowing passengers to go sightseeing while dining on authentic dishes using locally produced ingredients.

As many of them operate only on weekends or limited schedules, seats are sometimes very difficult to reserve. The concept of dining leisurely while enjoying the scenery seen from a train window, which has broad appeal, has contributed to a recovery in the declining number of riders on local trains.

Shikoku Railway Co. began operating the Iyonada Monogatari sightseeing train on July 26. On weekends and national holidays, the train travels mainly around the coastal area of Ehime Prefecture. The two-car train with a capacity of 50 passengers was remodeled at a cost of about ¥150 million.


Iyonada Monogatari train at JR Matsuyama Station 

On its inaugural day, family passengers boarded the train at Matsuyama Station.

“This line hasn’t been profitable, so I hope many people will ride the train and enjoy the splendid landscape along the railway track,” said JR Shikoku President Masafumi Izumi at the inauguration ceremony held at the station in the morning.

Dishes served on the train include a salad using locally grown lettuce and tomatoes, breaded fried uchiko pork featuring a local pork brand and red sea bream, which came from the nearby Seto Inland Sea, steamed in wine.

“I’m looking forward to trying the dishes made with local ingredients,” said Masako Yoneda, 50, a piano teacher of Yufu, Oita Prefecture. “I like the train’s old-fashioned decor, which uses plenty of wood.”

In May, Kitakinki Tango Railway Co. began operating the Tango Kuromatsu train, another gourmet sightseeing train that plies the 54-kilometer distance between Ama no Hashidate Station in Kyoto Prefecture and Toyooka Station in Hyogo Prefecture.

Passengers can dine on a salad of locally grown vegetables and roasted Kyoto beef, among other specialties. The ingredients are partially prepared at gourmet inns in the region and finished in the train’s on-board kitchen.

Yukiko Saiga, 73, a homemaker of Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture, took the train with three of her family members.

“I could tell that a lot of time and energy went into all the dishes. It’s like an upscale restaurant,” she said. “The scenery you see out a train window is usually nothing special, but it seems like a different world to me now.”

The Kuromatsu train comes in three types—trains that specialize in lunches, sweets or locally brewed sake, which are offered mainly on weekends. Although the cost runs from ¥4,000 to ¥10,000 per passenger, including train fare, it is so popular that getting a reservation can be difficult.

Sightseeing trains for enjoying local delicacies are also diverse in their offerings.

Shinano Railway, which operates in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, started operations of their Rokumon train in July, serving local specialty gourmet ham and wines made at wineries along the railway line.

Ohmi Railway Corp., which operates in eastern Shiga Prefecture, is running the Ohmi Biaden—Hoshizora Nama Biru Go (Ohmi beer train—starry sky draft beer) train until Aug. 30. Passengers are served frozen beer.

The Tsudoi train operated by Kintetsu Corp. is equipped with seats facing windows. Ise ebi lobster soup and other local dishes are served at the counter on board.

East Japan Railway Co.’s Tohoku Emotion train operates between Hachinohe Station in Aomori Prefecture and Kuji Station in Iwate Prefecture and provides a dessert buffet and a lunch menu featuring seafood caught off the Sanriku region.

Isumi Railway’s Restaurant Kiha train operating in Chiba Prefecture serves Italian dishes, curry and rice and sashimi.

Showa Retoro Biru de Densha (Showa retro beer and train), operated by Keihan Electric Railway Co., travels in Shiga Prefecture and serves a bottomless mug of beer.

A Ressha de Iko (Take the A train), operated by Kyushu Railway Co., runs in Kumamoto Prefecture. Passengers are served highballs using locally grown dekopon citrus fruit to the sounds of jazz music.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, of 91 companies operating local trains, including semiprivate companies, 69 were in the red in fiscal 2012. The poor results were attributed to a decrease of about 20 percent in ridership caused by a population decline outside of metropolitan areas compared to that of 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, Kitakinki Tango Railway attracted about 17,000 more passengers in fiscal 2013 by launching two types of sightseeing trains that have elaborately designed interiors.

“The total number of passengers last fiscal year fell slightly from the previous year,” said company president Kiyokazu Ueda. “So I hope it will increase this fiscal year with the popularity of gourmet sightseeing trains.”

Few trains operate on local railway lines, making it possible to run trains at slower speeds so passengers can enjoy leisurely dining. Many such routes are located in areas rich with nature, a boon for attracting tourists.

“Local railway lines have been shifting from a means of transportation to a sightseeing attraction,” said Yoko Hayano, a research fellow of Japan Tourism Marketing Co. “Gourmet sightseeing trains are a good way to get people interested in areas along the lines.”

Original Article:  The Japan Times by Yomiuri Shimbun
The Yomiuri Shimbun


Health Benefits of Miso Paste on Digestion

Posted on SFGate by Joanne Marie, Demand Media


Miso paste is a probiotic food that can help treat intestinal disorder

Miso paste is an Asian seasoning made by fermenting a mixture of soybeans, barley, brown rice and several other grains with a fungus, Aspergillus oryzae. The result of this fermentation is a smooth-textured paste with a strong, salty flavor. Often used in Asian cooking, miso is a healthy, probiotic food that helps support digestion by adding beneficial microorganisms to your digestive tract.


Intestinal Flora

Your large intestine contains about 100 trillion beneficial microorganisms from more than 500 different species. These microorganisms, called your normal flora, help you digest your food and process indigestible fiber, which you then eliminate in stool. They also protect you from pathogenic bacteria you ingest with food by maintaining a proper balance of bacterial colonies in your intestine. Mostly anaerobic bacteria that don’t require oxygen to live, your normal flora also produce vitamin K, an important clotting factor. If you contract a digestive illness or take antibiotics, some of these beneficial bacteria may die, potentially leading to diarrhea or other intestinal problems.


Probiotic Miso

Miso paste is a probiotic food that contains millions of microorganisms similar or identical to those beneficial bacteria that live in your large intestine. These microorganisms grow during the fermentation that produces miso, a process that typically takes anywhere from a few days to a year or more. The length of the fermentation process determines the flavor strength of the miso and also contributes to the number of probiotic organisms in the final paste. Nutritionally, miso paste provides mostly carbohydrate with some protein. It is also rich in several of the B-complex vitamins and contains several minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium.


Probiotic Benefits

Probiotic foods such as miso paste have a number of health benefits. In addition to contributing new bacteria to your existing intestinal colonies, miso can also help you overcome intestinal illness, including diarrhea. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, consuming probiotic foods can shorten the duration of infectious diarrhea, especially in infants and children. The Harvard website also summarizes strong evidence indicating that proobiotic foods can reduce the incidence of diarrhea caused by antibiotics by as much as 60 percent. In addition, the Mayo Clinic says that probiotic foods may also help treat irritable bowel syndrome and certain intestinal infections.



Miso paste is typically added to Japanese soup and other Asian dishes. To use miso in soup, dissolve a tablespoon of the paste in tepid water and add this to a pot of heated water containing tofu, seaweed or other ingredients of your preference. You might also spread a small amount of miso paste on crackers for a snack, keeping in mind that the paste is quite salty. Miso is also a flavorful condiment when spread on cooked corn on the cob in place of salt and butter, or as a spread on toast at breakfast. To preserve the living microorganisms in miso paste, avoid subjecting it to high heat. Instead, add the paste to dishes that have already been cooked or heated to serving temperature.

Original Article:  SFGate

Soy may help women’s hearts if they start early

Released on EurekAlert! On July 30, 2014

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Wednesday, July 30, 2014)—A diet rich in soy may help feminine hearts, but timing matters, finds a new study published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society. 


Lifelong soy consumption, similar to the diet of women in Asia, produces the least atherosclerosis. Switching to a Western diet after menopause, similar to Asian migrants to North America, leads to just as much atherosclerosis as a lifelong Western diet, and switching to soy from a Western diet after menopause helps only if there isn’t much atherosclerosis already.

Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, reached those conclusions based on their feeding study of cynomolgus monkeys before and after surgical menopause. They fed premenopausal monkeys a diet with protein derived mainly from animal sources or a diet with protein from high-isoflavone soybeans. After having their ovaries removed, mimicking human menopause, one group of monkeys continued to eat a soy diet, another switched from animal protein to soy, a third group stuck with animal protein, and a fourth switched from animal protein to soy.

After 34 months, cholesterol levels were good in the monkeys who ate soy before and after menopause. And for those that switched to a soy protein diet after menopause, similar to some North American women concerned about their heart health, cholesterol levels did improve significantly (with lower total, LDL, and VLDL and higher HDL). But when it came to how much plaque progressed in the arteries, there weren’t any statistically significant differences, despite trends favoring a lifelong soy diet and the switch to soy after menopause.

As far as the total amount of atherosclerosis was concerned, monkeys eating a lifelong soy diet showed a much lower proportion of complicated plaque in the arteries than the other monkeys.

There was a big advantage to a postmenopausal switch to soy for some of the monkeys, however. For those that had small plaques in the arteries at the time of menopause, the switch to soy after menopause markedly reduced the progression of plaque in the arteries.

These findings add to the similar ones from the Women’s Isoflavone Soy Health (WISH) clinical trial on atherosclerosis in women after menopause, but this animal study was able to model what the effects of a soy diet or soy supplements may be, based on women’s diets and heart health before menopause or very early after menopause, when artery plaques may still be small.

“This study underscores how important it is for women to get into the best cardiovascular shape they can before menopause. The healthy habits they start then will carry them through the years to come,” says NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD.


The article “Beneficial effects of soy supplementation on postmenopausal atherosclerosis are dependent on pretreatment stage of plaque progression,” will be published in the March 2015 print edition of Menopause.

Founded in 1989, The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is North America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging. Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field—including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education—makes NAMS uniquely qualified to serve as the definitive resource for health professionals and the public for accurate, unbiased information about menopause and healthy aging. To learn more about NAMS, visit

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