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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Okra Health Benefits



Okra: A-OK not only for diabetics

I have written how okra helped normalize my blood sugar levels May of last year, but since then, I have been receiving questions and feedbacks about the topic. I love okra and had I known its many benefits back then, I would have included it in my daily diet.
News about how it is helping a lot of people, such as myself, encourages me to write more about the topic of medicinal plants and herbs. One 46-year-old reader, Roland of Cavite, wrote, "I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus last January 8. Luckily, I kept a copy of your column 'How okra normalized my blood sugar.' My fasting blood sugar, when I was diagnosed, was 146. After two weeks of taking my medicine, diet, exercise, and okra water, my blood sugar, went down to 105. Should I still continue taking okra water?"
My answer is yes, by all means. I have been taking okra water in the morning after waking up for one year now! This is completely natural. With continuous use, chances are you can request your doctor to decrease the dose of your maintenance medication. 
Alfred, my husband's diabetic driver, was religiously preparing his okra water every night for consumption the following morning but he made a grave mistake, which I immediately corrected. He told me he places the covered okra water in the ref! That won't work. It is best to keep the okra water covered in room temperature (not even in an air-conditioned room). 
In fact, I noticed that during these cooler months, the slimy sap of the okra doesn't mix with the water as well as during the warmer months. My husband discovered that after drinking okra water, you can still drain all the slimy goodness of the okra by putting hot water over the soaked cut pieces.
For those reading this for the first time, okra water is prepared by cutting the ends of two okras, then soaking them in a glass of warm water, covered overnight. It is best to put a slit on the middle of the okra or cut it into pieces. The covered glass of water with soaked okra should be kept overnight in room temperature. The okra water should be taken in the morning on an empty stomach and preferably 30 minutes before breakfast. To celebrate my one year with okra, I am sharing more facts about this amazing vegetable.
Author and nutritionist Dr. Sylvia Zook of the University of Illinois published the following insights about okra:
• The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize blood sugar as it curbs the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
• Okra's mucilage (gummy or gelatinous substance) not only binds cholesterol but bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver. But it doesn't stop there.
• Many alternative health practitioners believe all disease begins in the colon. The okra fiber, absorbing water and ensuring bulk in stools, helps prevent and improve constipation. Fiber, in general, is helpful for this, but okra is one of the best, along with ground flax seed and psyllium. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra's mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic many people abhor. In other words, this incredibly valuable vegetable not only binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids), which cause numerous health problems if not evacuated, but also assures easy passage out of the body of same. Unlike some prescription and over-the-counter drugs for this, this veggie is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming (except for the many who greatly enjoy eating it), has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most.
• Further contributing to the health of the intestinal tract, okra fiber (as well as flax and psyllium) has no equal among fibers for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics).
• To retain most of okra's nutrients and self-digesting enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible, e.g. with low heat or lightly steamed. Some eat it raw. However, if one is going to fry it (and it is undeniably delicious prepared that way when rolled in cornmeal and salt), only extra virgin olive oil, or unrefined coconut butter is recommended (this is not the unhealthy partially hydrogenated product found in processed foods.) Organic ghee used by gourmet chefs has the oil and flavor of butter without the solids — excellent for frying okra (does not burn like butter), and may be obtained from the health food store.
 While generally known worldwide as okra, it's called bendi in Malaysia, okura in Japan, and qui kui in Taiwan. Okra is good for those feeling weak, exhausted, and depressed. It also helps neutralize acids being very alkaline, helps heal ulcers, and helps keep joints limber.
For acid reflux and constipation, adding six pieces of raw or lightly steamed okra in one's daily diet helps. Some make okra tea by putting okra pieces in a mug, then pouring hot water over it to extract the slimy juice.
Half a cup of cooked okra with 460 IU of vitamin A may lower the risk of cataracts, they said. In a research conducted by Dr. Zook, a study group with high low density lipid (bad cholesterol) was fed oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplants and showed the same reduction in LDL as those given medication.

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