By Richard Komakech
Bamboo (Family Poaceae) produces edible shoots which sprouts from beside the main bamboo plant. It is known not only to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world but also the largest and tallest in the grass family. Every part of the bamboo plant is of great use in the communities where they are distributed including for; construction, support for buildings, simple housing, furniture, musical instruments such as flutes and in paper production. Indeed, bamboo is one of the most utilized and versatile plants. Bamboo shoots are consumed in many parts of the world and possess so many benefits that they are referred to as nature’s “perfect food.” Packed with nutrients, bamboo shoots give a glowing health while keeping one’s weight in check.
In Uganda, the Bagisu of eastern Uganda are culturally distinguishable from the rest of the Bantu due to their unique food of bamboo shoots locally referred to as amalewa. In fact, amalewa remains one of the most unique heritages of the Bagisu people. The young bamboo shoot is harvested, fermented, dried, cut into fine pieces and can be eaten as vegetable side dish or fried with other types of protein foods such as chicken, pounded groundnuts or meat.
The bamboo shoot is highly nutritious and rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, protein, potassium, fiber, essential fatty acids, and other valuable nutrients. They are known for their various health benefits. Bamboo shoot contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can improve immune system function enabling your body to combat several diseases and disorders. Consuming bamboo shoots can help decrease the levels of Low-density lipoprotein (LDP) cholesterol in your body. The high fibre content of this sprout keeps the arteries clear while preventing the development of atherosclerosis. This is important for ease of blood flow to and from the heart, decreasing the pressure placed on your heart and preventing the onset of heart attacks and strokes.
All sorts of stomach problems can be treated by taking the bamboo leaves decoction. Studies have shown that they strengthen and reinforce the stomach muscles. In fact, the stimulative properties increase the bile production and hence promote efficient digestion. This explains why bamboo is served as an appetizer in a number of communities to enable easy digestion of a meal and is even taken as tea in some places.
In some communities, the juice of bamboo leaves is used in traditional medicine and taken regularly to correct menstrual irregularities. The shoots of bamboo are highly valued for its aphrodisiac properties. The shoots, when eaten regularly are known to strengthen libido and sexual stamina. The decoctions made of bamboo shoots can be taken to boost sexual virility. Additionally, bamboo leaves are used in traditional preparations as a natural inducer to encourage labour contractions. It is used to promote easy delivery of both the baby as well as the placenta and to prevent excessive bleeding following birth.
Bamboo shoots possess anti-inflammatory activities and can be used for topical application to reduce swelling, as well as for healing internal inflammations in all parts of the body, when taken internally. They contain analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, and is used to treat ulcers in the body, as well as swollen injuries. Furthermore, consuming bamboo shoot regularly can prevent inflammation that is caused by several agents such as bacteria, virus or other factors. In fact, the decoction from bamboo shoot can be mixed with honey and used as a cure for respiratory diseases including sore throat and cough. The large quantity of fibres in bamboo is a great natural remedy for constipation. The fibers in bamboo shoot add bulk to the stool and soften it to enhance ease of passage through the large intestine. The fibre also makes a perfect meal for people who are trying to lose weight. High fiber in bamboo shoot can add bulk in the stomach and make you feel full for longer time.
You want to keep healthy, keep in touch with Bamboo shoots!
NB: Information given in this article should not be used for self-medication purposes. Always consult a physician or herbalist before using any medicinal plant remedy for given health related conditions.
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