Health benefits of grapes – Healthwise

Health benefits of grapes - Healthwise

Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie<

The word grape refers to two different types of fruit. One is a type of fruit that grows in clusters of from 15 individual members to as many as 300. The other type is a singular grapefruit that belongs to the group of oranges, tangerines and lemon. 

This is also the first time we shall be discussing a particular type of food on this page and it is absolutely important with respect to grapes because of its pride of place among the fruits that we consume in this country. And that is to say that once you are seen to be taking grapes, it connotes certain things: the first signal it demonstrates is that you are fairly well off.

The second fact is that it shows you as a person of taste. Ordinarily, it should not be a pointer to either of these facts because this is a type of fruit that is taken with liberty by people of all classes elsewhere in the world. It is affordable in those places, to start with, and there is no particular social designation attachment assigned to its consumption other than its nutritional value. 

However, it is important to our consideration here on this page today because of its considerable nutritional value and benefits to our health despite the controversies. 

In summary, therefore, it is a berry.

Grapes can be red, green, dark blue, black, yellow, orange or pink. The green grapes are actually known also as white grapes and constitute the main ingredient in the production of white wine. 

The fruit is not grown in our country and is usually imported, hence the prime cost of it and its restriction to the consumption by the middle class and above. It is made up of about 80 per cent water and 18 per cent carbohydrates. It has almost no fat and only one per cent protein. The raw fruit has a lot of fiber and as much as 14 per cent of the daily requirement of vitamin K in each 100 grams of the fruit. 

Grapes can be eaten in their fresh state as a table grape or employed in making various foods and drinks like jam, wine, grape juice and vinegar. It can also be dried and processed as raisins and currants. There are various species that may or may not have seeds. It is a plant generally regarded as originating in the Middle East and Western Asia, and it grows yeast naturally on its skin. That connection was greatly responsible for the early association between this fruit and the wine industry as the yeast readily fermented the grapes into alcoholic beverages.

Grapes form a near-constant presence on the dinner table of the people of the Mediterranean basin. It is a revered fruit among the many peoples who live in this huge area of the world. The longevity of some of the people in this region and their relatively better cardiovascular health, has led to a flurry of research about the constituents of this fruit. 

One compound, known as Resveratrol found in the skin and seeds of grapes, has been implicated in being able to fend off certain types of infections in injured plants but not in human beings. It is also believed to reduce blood sugar in people with diabetes and reduce blood pressure in those who have hypertension. 

The findings of various types of research are not conclusive enough but the oil produced from the seeds and skin of this fruit are widely used in skincare products due to their high content of vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids like linoleic acid. Through it all, researchers have found out that although the people of France tend to eat higher levels of animal fat in butter and cheese, the incidence of heart disease is actually low among the French people. This is thought to result from their near-universal consumption of red wine.

Red wine which is made from red grapes may have protective effects on the heart and blood vessels when it is taken in moderation and on a regular basis. 

This is considered a unique benefit because it is believed to be able to prevent unnecessary blood clots from forming within the blood vessels and also acts to expand those vessels in a phenomenon known as vasodilatation. Many health authorities are often loathe to recommend the consumption of alcohol in their respective jurisdictions but it is increasingly clear that its regular usage in moderate amounts may be beneficial. The primary source of this beverage is from the red grape.

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One glass a day is the recommendation for women and two for men. The white wine produced from green grapes and the yellow variant is not thought to confer these kinds of protective benefits because of their relative lack of similar content in their skin and seeds. However, the other basic nutritional features are the same across the entire spectrum including the seeds used in the cosmetics industry. It is these differences between the various species which account for the reasons why they have different levels of significance on the dinner table.

It is an entirely different scenario for the grapefruit which is believed to have arisen from accidental cross-pollination between a certain original plant and an orange. This explanation may account for its unique taste which ranges from sour to bitter-sweet depending on the species. It is found in the tropics and sub-tropics and is believed to have originated from Asia. 

The grapefruit is a citrus fruit that has a rind and is serrated into segments. It varies in colour from the pale yellow and green variants seen in the tropics to the near orange hues seen in the West Indies and Asia. These latter variants probably look like that because of their close physical resemblance to oranges. On the whole, this fruit is not as innocent to human health as grapes because both the fruit and its juice have been found to interact adversely with numerous drugs.

The grapefruit is known to have certain types of coumarins that actively disrupt the effectiveness of a particular enzyme in the body known as cytochrome P450 which is responsible for breaking down 90 per cent of all medications. By disrupting the action of that enzyme, many medications are rendered less effective than they ought to be, while others are implicated in causing a wide range of adverse side effects. Certain drugs are only effective after being broken down. This action is often prevented when grapefruit is taken.

The net effect of such interference in the body is two-fold; the metabolites of the drugs accumulate in the body and cause serious side effects while in some other cases, the inability of the medicines to reach their full potential in the system leads to treatment failures.

These important facts are important when we consider the fact that people take it for granted to consume grapefruits and similar fruits while taking antimalarials and common antibiotics only to find at the end that treatment has been unsuccessful. Indeed, as we grew up, we did have neighbours and family friends who often stated that grapefruits were medicinal on their own simply because they are bitter. The bitter, pale green or pale yellow grapefruit is the variant often seen in our environment and this characteristic was seen as a plus by that generation of Nigerians. There is no evidence that such an attitude has changed judging from the frequency with which this fruit, lime and lemons are cut up and added to herbal mixtures for sale in our villages, towns and cities in the pursuit of a cure for a battery of ailments. The conventional thinking among the users and producers of such concoctions is that the more bitter a drug is, the more effective it is. How very wrong they are!

Questions and answers<

Dear doctor, May God continue to bless the works of your hands. Please, I have recurrent pains in my knees and this is worse in the right knee. I was then placed on Diclofenac 100mg twice a day. Recently, about two weeks ago, I also observed that my feet were swollen. The swelling has refused to go down but one thing I noticed is that when I wake up in the morning and I look at them, there is no swelling. I am now 64 years old and I am on treatment for high blood pressure with Amlodipine 10mg daily and Esidrex 25 mg daily. It is well-controlled and does not go higher than 135/88mmHg. Recently, I also started to do physiotherapy on the advice of my doctor but I have not seen any changes. What more should I do? Thank you very much. 0809xxxxxxx<

Thank you for your prayers. There is some comfort in what you have narrated, namely that you have been seeing a doctor and that your blood pressure is well-controlled. However, certain other facts are important in determining the way forward in the treatment of a condition such as this and the first of these is your weight; the heavier you are the more difficult it is to treat this condition and weight loss should be your first condition towards restoring the health of your knees.

The second thing is that without some form of X-Rays being done, it is difficult to determine just how bad your knees are. Your history has been quite comprehensive and it is not likely that you forgot to mention if indeed you have had some X-rays done. So that is important. Lastly, the dose of Diclofenac you are taking may be too large and it would perhaps be better to use another pain-reliever in addition to a reduced dose of this drug. The effectiveness is likely to be better. When these steps are taken, physiotherapy can then be added to what you have done.

Dear doctor, I am a 34-year-old woman with genotype SS. I am presently on treatment for malaria, the Lonart-DS I was asked to use finished recently but I still feel weak, breathless and have headaches. What should I do please? 0803xxxxxxx<

Thank you very much for the question you asked. The first thing you need to do when you feel like this is to visit a hospital and get a doctor’s examination done. The blood tests ordered will determine whether you have malaria in the first place. If you did not do so before starting this treatment, then it is not too late to do so as this will help to establish what ails you indeed.

On the other hand, it should help determine whether some form of infection is responsible for how you feel and the headaches you have. Finally, it will help determine if your blood level is even safe enough for you to continue moving about. When there are suitable answers to all these, then the proper treatment can be obtained.

Dear doctor, my baby is just over seven months old and some days ago, we woke up to find that his right pinna was red and swollen. I touched it but there was no pain so my mother advised that I should apply Robb to it. I have done so faithfully every day for four days now and there is no change. What could be the cause of this and what should we do about it? 0902xxxxxxx         <

Thank you very much for your question. A painful red pinna would indicate that there is an infection in that ear. If that was the case, there would have been a lot of crying if anything were to come in contact with the ear.

However, your account suggests otherwise and it is possible your baby is reacting to something within the house or has been bitten by some type of insect. If it is the latter case, the pinna would be swollen and red but perhaps itchy. If it is itchy, you should be able to determine that and any of the common antipruritic creams available would suffice. But you should confirm these deductions from a doctor’s examination first before you proceed to apply any medication but I do not believe this to be a serious condition.

Dear doctor, I noticed over the last five days that my two legs are swollen. I am 31 years old and had a baby about 23 days ago. I had a normal delivery and was discharged home the following day to go back for a check-up when my baby is six weeks old. The swelling seems to be increasing every day and I am wondering what the problem could be. Please respond quickly because I am worried. Thank you. 0803xxxxxxx<

 The problem you highlighted above requires a speedy diagnosis (this woman went to a hospital at Agbor where a diagnosis of post-partum eclampsia was made and she was admitted). This kind of development is often seen in the last few weeks of pregnancy but in some women, it may go back several months before the due date. Various factors are responsible for this but when it happens soon after delivery, something sinister may be in the offing such as a rapidly rising blood pressure. You do need to return to the hospital where you delivered to lay your complaint and not wait until the six weeks you were given. In that way, whatever is going on now will be nipped in the bud before it becomes a crisis.

Dear doctor, I’m an avid reader of your column in Sunday PUNCH and I cannot thank you enough for your good work for humanity. I am a 76-year-old woman who retired from public service about six years ago. Recently, about 4-5 months ago, the pains I used to have in my hips and knees definitely became worse and I went to see a doctor about it. After having X-rays done for both my knees and the hips, he told me I have arthritis and placed me on some drugs. He gave me Felvin, a Calcium lactate supplement and Diclofenac gel. I have had high blood pressure for more than 20 years and was on Dispirin for the past 12 years or so. He asked me to stop. What is the connection between all these medicines, doctor, because I am not feeling the positive impact of the treatment? 0802xxxxxxx<

You need to have a second opinion about the treatment you are being offered. On the one hand, your doctor set about your care properly by doing basic radiographs. However, it is not clear why he chose a medication as prone to causing side effects as Felvin when there are better, less harmful pain relievers available.

Second, calcium supplementation could actually harm you further by making your arthritis worse in that more calcium deposition could now occur in the joints that now cause you so much pain. In that connection, diclofenac gel may be useful on the knees but hopeless as far as the pain in the hips is concerned. The use of Dispirin or Vasoprin in unsettled after the age of 70 years which is why he might have withdrawn it but he alone can offer you his rationale for doing so.

Dear doctor, Nigerian medical doctors are not allowed to treat gunshot victims. They would be arrested by the police. What of those treating machete victims? There was a machete fight one day in my area and many people were injured. 0806xxxxxxx<

This is actually not true. Doctors can treat gunshot victims according to the law but they must report such victims to the police and have their continued ability to treat such patients under that documented police cover. There are protocols for obtaining such a report. However, some policemen have been known in the past to harass doctors, particularly those in private practice even when they have obtained such reports. The same should apply to victims of machete injuries.

Dear doctor, I am grateful to you for the work you are doing in the public sphere. I am 62 years old and have diabetes with which I have struggled for the past 12 years. Recently, I observed that the vision in my right eye seemed as though it was covered with cotton wool and I kept rubbing it but it did not clear. I went to a hospital and the doctor there told me that I have cataracts and would need to have an operation so that my sight can return to normal. Is there a way to treat this without an operation? I am afraid to have my eye operated on. Please advise me, sir. 0807xxxxxxx<

There are various ways to understand what is wrong with your vision. A diagnosis has been made and it is clear what the cause is. The solution is to remove the cloudy lens and this is a short operation performed under a local anaesthetic that allows you to stay awake and talk even while the operation is underway, and you can return home on the same day. If you do not do it, the sight in that eye will be lost permanently. If you get the operation done, the sight will be restored. It is that straightforward and you should not be afraid of it.

Normally, this will be done with or without the insertion into the eye of an intraocular lens. This is actually a common problem in our part of the world and it is so rampant that it is usually a major focus of any free health campaign in many parts of the country.

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