The Wonderberry – Manathakkali


Did you know that Manathakkali has the phytochemical resveratrol , to which the health benefits of ‘Red Wine’ and ‘Dark Chocolate’ are attributed to?

In an era prior to video games and 24×7 TV,  one of the main pastime for children were to search for the ripe purple fruits of Solanum Nigrum/Solanum Americanum- manathakkali (aka kaagesoppu/kamanchi chettu/makoi/black nightshade  in other languages) and eat it.

It has amazing medicinal and nutritional values, which was known to and valued by our ancestors. Most things that are easily available wont be valued, and the same goes with manathakkali too.  Instead of consuming this whenever available, we have started buying varieties of exotic berries  sprayed with pesticides , imported from the world over.

This Wonder berry has anthocyanins and is a powerhouse of antioxidants and has anti cancer properties. It is also rich in Vitamin A, which will help improve eyesight and night blindness. It is used in traditional medicine to heal peptic and mouth ulcers,  improve gut health and digestion.

The ripe berries are either consumed directly or can be processed naturally at home. The ripe and unripe berries are mixed in spiced/yogurt/buttermilk and dried thoroughly in sun(to increase Vitamin D ). This mixture can then be stored and fried whenever required in oil/ghee.  This snack is generally given to expecting/ new/nursing mothers. The probiotics in the mixture, the Sun exposure and essential fat(Short Chain Fatty Acids) from frying in Ghee, put together ensures that this is a perfect recovery food for new mothers. It helps heal their internal wounds, strengthens their bones and improves their lactation and digestion.

The leaves of this plant are edible and are highly nutritious. They have high amounts of Vitamin K which is the miracle solution for the Vitamin D deficiency and low bone density. Instead of buying  Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to rectify your deficiency, include these leaves in your diet in any form that will suit your palette.

It’s time to move over the blue/black/goji/acai berries and find the wonder berry in your market or your backyard. Just because the spinach lady near your house doesn’t sell this with tags such as ‘heart-healthy’, ‘antioxidant-rich’, ‘organic’, ‘anti-aging’, ‘anti-cancer’ doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have all these properties. In fact it has all of this and one more, ‘ fresh’, as it grows close to you and not in a place you have seen/heard of only in a map.

Have you plucked this berry in your childhood? When was the last time you ate this? Pour in your thoughts via comments

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What Causes Hair Loss?

Is it weak hair or weak bones? Is it hair fall or hormone imbalance? Is it frizzy hair or dehydrated body?Is it a bad hair day or badly stressed day?

Most of us spend more money on supplements to stop hair , loss & improve hair growth, expensive cosmetics and hair care products, but lose out on the basic things that affect hair growth.

Our hair and skin in its natural state can talk a lot about our overall health and lifestyle. Hair is not a vital organ in our body (though we consider it vital for our looks), hence health and maintenance of hair won’t be a priority if the other vital organs are not well nourished or in a healthy state.

 Some of the most important things to prevent hair loss are small changes in your lifestyle, and can be done without emptying your wallet.

Digestive health and Nutrition: Ever felt you lose more hair on the days you feel bloated/constipated or when you eat food that cause heartburn? It’s true, that our digestive health directly affects our hair, and so does the nutritional status of our body.

Hairfall is also a sign of weak bone or calcium loss. Mineral deficiency in your body can easily be spotted by analysing your hair and its health.

Healthier our food, lustrous our hair. When we eat food that is devoid or fibre or any nutrient, it stays in our intestines longer, which impacts our hair growth too.

Tip : Eat fresh, healthy food and include good fat in diet. Avoid sodas, bottled/sugary juices and other junk food.


Hydration: The lustre of our hair is an indicator of hydration in our body. Sip water throughout the day, especially during dry/hot days. Drinking more water will reduce the bad hair days and wont make hair dry and frizzy. When we consume less water, the digestion is affected too. This in turn causes changes in the gut bacteria and reduces hair growth.

If the heater is on in your house/work place during harsh winter, try using a humidifier.

Tip: The colour of urine is the best indicator of hydration in human body, should be clear to mild yellow.

Stress: Long term stress and anxiety might cause diseases in hair follicles, causing hair to fall out sooner than normal, accelerate greying process, weaken the hair more etc. Stress also increases fat storage and causes hormone imbalance, which again affects hair growth.

Tip : Stress can easily be avoided by keeping our mind calm, reducing unwanted stress, practicing meditation for a few minutes every day and avoiding things that will increase negativity in life. Learn 10 tips to reduce stress in daily life.

Sleep: Loss of sleep, reduction in sleep quality, erratic sleep routine, changes in body clock (circadian rhythm) affect the hormone balance, immunity, energy level and mental clarity. Our hair is very sensitive to all such changes inside our body. An average adult needs minimum of 7-8 hours of restful sleep. Restful sleep will help recover, nourish and remove toxins from our body.

Tip : Create and stick to a regular and healthy sleep routine. Learn how to sleep better

Inactivity: When we lead a sedentary life, the blood circulation in our body reduces. This also means that our hair and other organs in our body are not getting enough oxygen, blood supply and nutrients. If the circulation is less, even if we pop expensive supplements for hair growth, the nutrients won’t reach the hair roots. Strength training not only strengthens your muscle, but also your hair. Read about the benefits of strength training here.

Tip : Easiest way to increase blood circulation and hair growth is to start leading an active life, with an hour of work out a day. Learn how to move often and better with these tips.

How healthy is your lifestyle and hair? Let us know in comments.

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