Glutathione - the Master Antioxidant

by Cindy Gray

Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in the body. Chemically, it is a very small molecule that is made within the body itself. It is considered to be an important antioxidant because it is located inside every cell in the body. In general, antioxidants, the most well-known of which are vitamins C and E, are important for health because they neutralize harmful free radicals which can build up in cells and cause damage. Along with its own antioxidant actions, glutathione recycles vitamin C and other antioxidants. It also helps the liver remove foreign chemicals such as drugs and toxins. It has widespread health benefits because it is present in immune cells and drives the functions of the immune system, whose job is to fight off disease and infections.Optimize Overall Health with Master Antioxidant Glutathione

Food sources that either contain glutathione or its precursors to help the body produce more include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, avocados, peaches, watermelon, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, tomatoes, peas, garlic, onions, red peppers as well as meat, fish and green leafy vegetables. Clearly, people who consume a varied, healthy diet get enough glutathione from their diet. On the other hand, those with poor diets may not get enough glutathione. Sufficient levels of selenium, a micronutrient found in meat, seafood, egg yolks and certain plants, and alpha-lipoic acid, another antioxidant, are both necessary to maintain glutathione levels. Glutathione production increases during exercise. However, strenuous exercise, alcohol, and drugs such as acetaminophen, deplete glutathione from the liver.

Glutathione performs many important roles in the body, including:

  • Managing cell growth and division

  • DNA synthesis and repair - protecting DNA when it’s being made and repairing damaged DNA

  • Protein function - helping to maintain proteins in their active, functional forms

  • Amino acid transport - moving many substances, including amino acids, in and out of cells as needed

  • Enzyme activation and catalysis - helping enzymes transform into their active state and increasing the efficiency with which they function

  • Detoxification - breaking down toxins in the liver. The enzyme glutathione S-transferase binds to toxins such as carcinogens, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides and makes them water-soluble, so that they can be removed from the body as bile, sweat and urine. Glutathione-related enzymes also detoxify cancer-causing chemicals so that they can be eliminated without damaging the cell or DNA.

Our body is constantly under attack from harmful chemicals called ‘free radicals’ created by a process known as ‘oxidative stress’. Some free radicals are generated externally, while others are made in the body itself. When they come in contact with DNA or other cellular components, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule and ‘steal’ its electron. A molecule that loses an electron then becomes a free radical itself and attacks the next nearest stable molecule, thus setting off a chain reaction that can potentially cascade through hundreds of molecules. Glutathione performs a vital role in repairing damaged DNA by replacing missing electrons.

Glutathione can exist either in so-called ‘reduced’ or ‘oxidized’ states. In healthy cells and tissue, more than 90% of total glutathione is in the reduced form. An increased ratio of the oxidized-to-reduced-forms is considered to be a significant marker of oxidative stress and is used to assess cellular toxicity. Oxidative stress in blood vessels is associated with many diseases. Glutathione manages the cell’s oxidative stress response.

People who have cancer, AIDS, cancer and other very serious diseases are almost invariably found to be depleted in glutathione. Although the reasons for this are not completely understood, it is clear that glutathione is extremely important for maintaining intracellular health. Laboratory studies have shown that glutathione has the potential to help fight almost any disease, particularly those associated with aging, since free radical damage is believed to be one of the major underlying causes of many of the diseases associated with old age. The body’s immune and detoxification systems cannot function without glutathione, which is an essential part of staying young, active and healthy. Within the immune system itself, glutathione enhances the activity of immune cells and also functions as an antioxidant within them. Some health experts believe that raising and maintaining glutathione levels can help minimize the risk of diseases.

There is extensive evidence that antioxidants play a protective role in cardiovascular disease, a chronic disease that is worsened by oxidative stress and inflammation. Long-term, large-scale, population-based studies have found that higher levels of glutathione, as well as vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids, are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, results from large clinical trials do not support long-term use of single antioxidant supplements for prevention of cardiovascular disease, due to their null or even adverse effects. Overall diet quality rather than single nutrients have been shown to have protective effects.

Glutathione has been shown to increase energy levels, strength and endurance. Our energy levels are a result of many factors, including the biochemical reactions taking place within cellular mitochondria. Glutathione ensures that mitochondria remain fully charged. Clinical trials have shown that lowered or depleted glutathione in the mitochondria leads to cell death, suggesting that proper glutathione levels are vital for cellular and overall health.

While there are many strong arguments in favor of a therapeutic use of glutathione, the actual amount of research on glutathione as a supplement is very limited. Health experts disagree on who should take glutathione or its precursors. Some say everyone should take it in order to optimize overall health. Others say it should be reserved for people with cancer, or those who eat poorly and are thus unlikely to be getting much glutathione or its precursors in their diet. However, everyone agrees that people with severe diseases known to be associated with low glutathione levels, such as AIDS, heart disease and cancer are likely to benefit from glutathione supplements.




Strawberry Consumption Lowers Cardiovascular Risk Markers

by Health News

Looking for a list of high blood pressure diet foods? Strawberries top that list! 

In an unusual new study, a team of volunteers ate half a kilo of strawberries daily for a month while researchers examined whether their blood parameters were affected in any way. At the end of the study, the volunteers’ levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides were significantly lower relative to before the start of the study.

In the past, several studies had already demonstrated the antioxidant capacity of strawberries. Now this new study from Italy and Spain has shown that strawberries can also help to reduce cardiovascular risk markers.

The research team added 500 grams of strawberries to the daily diets of 23 healthy volunteers for over a month. They took blood samples before and after this period to compare data.

Benefits of Strawberries – High Blood Pressure Diet Foods

The study results show that the total amount of cholesterol as well as levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides fell significantly in study subjects at the end of the study period. Interestingly, levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol remained unchanged.

Eating strawberries also improved other parameters such as the general plasma lipid profile, antioxidant biomarkers and platelet function. All parameters returned to their initial values 15 days after strawberry consumption was stopped.

This is the first study that shows a protective role for the bioactive compounds in strawberries in managing risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. And while there is no direct evidence as to which components of this fruit are responsible for their beneficial effects, all the signs point towards anthocyanins, the vegetable pigments that give strawberries their red colour.

Other studies have previously shown that eating strawberries protects against ultraviolet or UV radiation, reduces alcohol-induced damage to the gut lining, strengthens erythrocytes or red blood cells and improves the antioxidant capacity of blood.


Source: Strawberry Consumption Lowers Cardiovascular Risk Markers.


Five Reasons to Add Cranberries to Your Daily Diet

by Cindy Gray

Growing scientific evidence shows that it might be a good idea to add cranberry juice to your shopping cart the next time you see it in the supermarket.  Known for their bold, tart taste, cranberries have gained an enviable reputation for a growing list of healthful properties. From their exceptional taste to their multiple health benefits, these delicious natural foods are truly one of Mother Nature’s superfruits.Add Cranberries to Your Daily Diet for Improved Health

Here are five great reasons to consider adding cranberries to your daily diet:

  1. Urinary tract health - not only do cranberries taste good, they are also good for you, especially when it comes to promoting urinary tract health. Cranberries contain powerful natural compounds called proanthocyanidins (PACs) that keep harmful bacteria from attaching to your cells and flush them away instead, helping to cleanse and purify your body.

  2. Heart health - cranberries are good for the heart because of their rich polyphenol antioxidant content. A recent study shows that children and adults who regularly drink cranberry juice have improved heart health profiles.

  3. Immunity booster - according to a recent study, people who drink a glass of cranberry juice daily experience a boost in their immunity and have fewer cold and flu symptoms than those who do not drink cranberry juice.

  4. Taste - cranberries are known for their unique flavor, vibrant color and ability to mix with flavors from sweet to savory. Cranberry juice can be sipped on its own or added to smoothies, cocktails, breads and desserts.

Adding cranberries to your daily life can be simple. Here are some simple, practical tips:

  • Breakfast - an energizing cranberry banana smoothie can provide a refreshing and nutritious start to your day. If you need something fast in the morning because you’re on the move, pour yourself a serving of cranberry juice instead.

  • Mocktail - refresh and refuel at the end of a long day by adding a splash of sparkling water and a touch of lime to an iced, tall glass of cranberry juice.

  • Dessert - transform your everyday cake mix with a dose of delicious cranberry juice.

Given their powerful health benefits, why not add cranberries to your daily diet today?



Five Reasons To Add Cranberries To Your Daily Diet


Fibromyalgia: 10 Possible Underlying Causes

by Cindy Gray

Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Typical symptoms of this condition include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems and painful tender points, also known as trigger points. These symptoms can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management. Other symptoms include sleep problems, fatigue, anxiety and depression, along with brain fog or cognitive impairment. It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects nearly six million or one in 50 people in the U.S. Conventional medicine has yet to uncover the cause of fibromyalgia and only offers management of symptoms through pain medications and antidepressants. On the other hand, functional medicine looks to find the root cause of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, treating these health problems at the root level as a means to restore patients to health.10 Possible Underlying Causes of Fibromyalgia

According to health experts, these are the top ten likely root causes of fibromyalgia:

  1. Gluten Intolerance - symptoms of gluten intolerance are not only digestive in nature, but also neurological such as pain, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, behavioral issues, fatigue and depression.

  2. Candida overgrowth - candida is a fungus or yeast, and a very small amount lives in our intestines. However, when overproduced, candida can break down the intestinal wall and penetrate the bloodstream, releasing toxic byproducts that are known to cause a number of unpleasant symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, digestive issues and pain.

  3. Thyroid - more than half the people with thyroid issues have no idea they have a problem; 90% of these have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland. Up to six different blood markers must be assessed to measure thyroid gland function. Every individual needs to get their thyroid levels into the optimal range, rather than the standard reference range, in order to alleviate fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances and depression.

  4. Vitamin deficiencies - magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiency are the most common vitamin deficiencies seen people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Some physicians report that several patients completely reversed their fibromyalgia symptoms with magnesium alone. The best way to measure magnesium is a red blood cell (RBC) magnesium level test, which can be tested in any conventional lab.

  5. Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and leaky gut - there are more bacteria in our bodies than there are of our own cells. When harmful bacteria, normally kept in check, overgrow or otherwise get out of balance through use of antibiotics or a sugar-rich diet, we lose our ability to digest and absorb nutrients, particularly vitamin B12. Gluten can cause SIBO and leaky gut, while SIBO and leaky gut in turn can lead to gluten and other food intolerances. It's a vicious cycle. Most functional health experts recommend 'fixing the gut' first in anyone with fibromyalgia.

  6. Adrenal fatigue - is usually a result of chronic, uncontrolled stress, whether real or perceived. Chronic pain overstimulates the adrenal glands, though typically it is not the initial adrenal stressor. The initial stressor is usually something such as food intolerances, candida, mercury toxicity, vitamin deficiencies or mycotoxins. One goal can be to support the adrenal glands with adaptogenic herbs while searching for the root cause of stress and eliminating it.

  7. Mycotoxins - are very toxic substances produced by molds. Approximately 25% of the human population carries genes that make them susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins. Conventional environmental mold testing only tests for levels of mold spores whereas a urine test can help to determine the extent of exposure to toxic molds and mycotoxins.

  8. Mercury toxicity - nowadays everyone needs to have their mercury amalgam fillings removed. Mercury is toxic to our bodies and can be one piece of the puzzle for those with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and cancer.

  9. MTHFR mutations - can be identified by a genetic test carried out in most conventional labs. The more mutations in the MTHFR gene, the less able you are to methylate and detoxify toxins such as mercury and lead. Further, the more mutations, the higher your requirements for methyl-B6, methyl-B12 and folinic acid to keep your detoxification pathways working properly. (Note: Folinic acid is different from folic acid, or vitamin B9).

  10. Glutathione deficiency - glutathione is the most critical component of the body's detoxification system. It gets recycled in the body unless the toxic burden gets too high or there is a lack of the two enzymes needed to recycle and produce glutathione. Taking glutathione or its precursors such as N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and milk thistle as supplements have been shown to help fibromyalgia patients dramatically with their fatigue issues.

Many of these causes are interrelated. Often there is no one single root cause to fibromyalgia, which appears likely to be a combination of several or possibly all of the above causes. Because getting to the root cause can be complex, it is advisable to find a physician who practices functional medicine to help uncover the root causes and treat them, removing the need for unnecessary suffering or masking the symptoms with pain medication, antidepressants and other drugs.





6 Tips to Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

by Health News

Many people want to know “What is good for high blood pressure?” Here’s 6 tips on how to lower your blood pressure naturally.What is Good for High Blood Pressure: 6 Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

  1. Lose a few pounds. For every 2 pounds you lose, your blood pressure should drop at least one point in both systolic and diastolic readings.
  2. Exercise. Just a brisk half-hour walk 3 or 4 times a week can lower blood pressure from 3 to 15 points per month.
  3. Watch the salt. Cut down on snacks, prepared foods, and other dietary sources of salt. For many Americans, less salt means lower blood pressure.
  4. Get plenty of potassium by eating foods such as bananas, apples, avocados, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, peaches and apricots or adding a potassium mineral supplement to your daily routine.
  5. Take a magnesium vitamin supplment to help regulate how much water your cells hold. By supplementing your diet with magnesium you can significantly reduce blood pressure.
  6. Cut back on sugar. The insulin and adrenaline released when blood sugar spikes cause the body to retain sodium and water, which raises blood pressure.


Exercise Improves Long-Term Memory

by Cindy Gray

According to a recent study, an intense workout of 20 minutes can enhance long-term memory in healthy young adults, with respect to remembering previous events. While many studies have already shown that aerobic exercises such as running can improve memory, this study was different in that it had participants lift weights just once, two days before they were tested.  Also, participants were asked to study events just before the exercise rather than afterward. This is because extensive animal research had suggested that the period after learning is when the arousal or stress caused by exercise is most likely to benefit memory.Improve Long-Term Memory with Exercise

The study began with every participant looking at a series of 90 photos on a computer screen. The images were evenly split between positive, negative and neutral. Initially the participants were not asked to remember the photos. Every participant then sat at a leg extension resistance exercise machine. Half of them extended and contracted each leg at their personal maximum effort for a total of 50 repetitions. The control group simply sat in the chair and allowed the machine and the experimenter to move their legs.

Throughout the process, each participant's blood pressure (BP) and heart rate were monitored. Every person also contributed saliva samples to test for levels of neurotransmitter markers linked to stress. Study participants returned to the lab 48 hours later and saw a series of 180 pictures, in which the 90 originals were mixed in with 90 new photos. Interestingly, the non-exercising control group was able to recall about 50 percent of the photos from the first session. However, subjects in the exercise group remembered about 60 percent.

This study indicates that people don't have to dedicate a lot of time to give their brain a boost. And although this particular study used weight-related exercises, resistance activities such as squats or knee bends will also likely produce the same results. While all participants remembered the positive and negative images better than the neutral ones, this pattern was more pronounced in the exercise participants who showed the greatest physiological responses. This result was expected since existing research on memory indicates that people are more likely to remember emotional experiences, especially after acute, short-term stress.

The research team plans to expand the scope of this study in the future. They want to try to determine its applicability to other types of memories as well as the optimal type and amount of resistance exercise needed for older adults and individuals with memory impairment. These findings are consistent with another study suggesting that aerobic fitness affects long-term memory. Of 75 young, healthy adult college students tested during a two-day period, those who were fitter retained information significantly better.

Overall, the findings from these two studies suggest that the increasingly sedentary lifestyles in the U.S. and other Western cultures may have adverse effects on long-term memory.



Exercise Improves Long-Term Memory.


5 Lifestyle Factors That Can Reduce Risk for Heart Disease

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in every four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. That makes heart disease the leading cause of death in the U.S.—for both men and women.

Given this, researchers are naturally keen on treating and preventing this devastating disease. Fortunately, a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has found that there are five lifestyle factors that can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.

Reduce Risk for Heart Disease

Researchers used the MORGEN study—a prospective cohort study of 8,128 men and 9,759 women between the ages of 20 and 65 who did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. They noted five lifestyle factors that had been denoted through self-administered questionnaires that were taken between 1994 and 1997. There included:

  1. Physical activity (at least 3.5 hours a week of cycling or sports).
  2. Eating a healthy diet (ranking at least 5 on the Mediterranean Diet Score, which is based on the weekly consumption of nine food groups commonly associated with Mediterranean Diet, including whole grains, meats/poultry, full-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, and olives/olive oil.
  3. Moderate alcohol consumption (one or more drinks a month).
  4. No smoking.
  5. Sufficient sleep (at least seven hours a night).

Researchers also noted cardiovascular disease and death from heart disease in this population during the study period. In the 10 to 14 years of follow up, they found that 607 people had some sort of cardiovascular event, 129 of which were fatal.

In people who were physically active, ate a health diet, had moderate alcohol consumption, and didn’t smoke, there was a 57 percent reduced risk of having a cardiovascular event, and a 67 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease, as compared to those people who only practiced one or none of these lifestyle factors.

When researchers factored in sufficient sleep—along with the other four lifestyle factors—those numbers jumped to a 65 percent reduced risk of having a cardiovascular event, and an incredible 83 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease.

The moral of the story? Get moving, quit smoking, enjoy a glass of wine every now and then, and get on the Mediterranean bandwagon. And, more importantly, get your sleep!

If you need some help in this area, you can take the following steps. First, prepare your bedroom to be a place of sleep and sleep only. (Well, there can be one other use). The key is to remove the electronics, keep in on the cooler side by opening a window or using a fan, and blocking out external light.

Next, discontinue all mentally stimulating activities at least 30 minutes before sleep. That means no iPad, no TV, no intense reading. Instead, relax in a warm bath, meditate, or even flip through a magazine or easy-reading book.

Lastly, try two of the most commonly accepted nutrients for promoting healthy sleep. These include melatonin (6-12 mg) and 5-HTP (50-100 mg), taken about 30 minutes before bedtime.


Cannabis-Related Drugs May Provide Pain and Inflammation Relief to Osteoarthritis Sufferers

by Cindy Gray

According to recent research from the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, synthetic chemical compounds similar to those found in cannabis have the potential to reduce both the pain and joint inflammation seen in osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis affects eight million people in the UK. The cartilage at the ends of bones wears away, causing joint pain and stiffness, and is a major cause of pain and disability.Osteoarthritis Relief from Cannibis-Related Drugs

Current treatment is limited to pain relief, exercise, physiotherapy and joint replacement. There are no drugs or therapies that slow its progression. Clearly, more effective treatment is urgently needed.

Cannabis contains a number of natural chemicals called cannabinoids, to which our brain responds in various ways. Cannabis and synthetically manufactured cannabinoid compounds have previously been shown to relieve pain in animal models of arthritis, but so far their use has been limited because of undesirable psychological side effects.

This new study shows that selectively targeting one of the molecules involved in the body's natural pain-sensing pathways can reduce pain in animal models of osteoarthritis, partly through actions in the spinal cord and brain.  The compound used in this study is a synthetic cannabinoid molecule manufactured in a laboratory, not derived naturally from the cannabis plant.

Interestingly, this study showed for the first time that the amount of receptors for this synthetic molecule in the spinal cord was directly related to osteoarthritis severity, which means this drug target may have significant clinical relevance to osteoarthritis pain.

Cannabinoids are known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Indeed, this study shows that the synthetic molecule reduces inflammation in osteoarthritis. Thus, drugs targeted to this molecule’s receptor may have a dual beneficial effect for people with osteoarthritis by providing pain relief as well as reducing joint inflammation.

These findings are significant, as spinal and brain pain-signaling pathways are known to make a major contribution to pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Millions of people live daily with the severe pain caused by osteoarthritis, and better pain relief is urgently needed. This research suggests that there is potential to develop a synthetic drug to relieve both pain and inflammation in this condition by mimicking the behavior of cannabinoid receptors and without causing serious side effects.

If you regularly suffer from debilitating joint pain and inflammation, there are also natural supplements formulated with many powerful, proven pain and inflammation fighting ingredients to help improve joint flexibility and movement.



Drugs Related to Cannabis Provide Pain and Inflammation Relief in Osteoarthritis


Does Banaba have Anti-Diabetic Properties?

by Cindy Gray

Chances are you’ve never heard of Banabá - also known as Giant Crape-myrtle, Queen's Crape-myrtle and Pride of India - a plant found all over tropical South Asia.  The leaves and other parts of this potent medicinal plant are used widely in the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan for making tea. In fact, Banabá is one of 69 herbal plants promoted by the Philippine Department of Health.Are There Anti-Diabetic Properties in Banaba?

Much to the interest of health experts, corosolic acid (CRA) - a natural compound present in Banabá - was seen in a 2006 study to lower glucose levels in human subjects. In this study, 31 subjects were given corosolic acid five minutes before an oral glucose tolerance test. Of these, 19 subjects had diabetes, seven had impaired glucose tolerance, one had impaired fasting glucose, and four had normal glucose tolerance.

The oral glucose tolerance test is used to test for diabetes and insulin resistance. A fixed dose of glucose is given to a subject and blood samples taken afterward to determine how quickly it is cleared from the subject’s blood.  Subjects treated with corosolic acid had lower glucose levels from 60 to 120 minutes after the oral glucose challenge, showing for the first time that a natural compound in Banabá has an anti-hyperglycemic effect in humans.

Other studies have also shown that Banabá extracts trigger glucose transport similar to insulin in a laboratory setting, further confirming that Banabá may be useful for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.

You may want to consider this if you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels but you’re not sure what to do about it. 

Check out the available nutritional supplements designed to improve your insulin response and maintain normal blood sugar levels. Some contain no less than nine high-quality nutraceutical-grade botanical extracts including bitter melon, Shilajit, turmeric, fenugreek, Gymnema sylvestre - and of course Banabá. Each one of these natural therapies, used traditionally in Ayurveda, has been shown to stabilize blood sugar naturally with no known side effects.

So if you want to manage your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, why not check out Banabá today?



Does Banabá Have Antidiabetic Properties?  


Knock down bad cholesterol with these 4 foods

by Nancy Maneely

Improve your heart with these high blood pressure diet foods.It seems there are countless studies pointing to “heart-healthy” versus “non-heart-healthy” foods we should consider incorporating into our daily diet. Most of us understand that certain foods – fatty red meats, trans fats in processed foods, cured meats such as bacon – are not good for us. So what’s the point of this continuous stream of information?

The fact is that science is narrowing the field of information to the point where certain foods, in certain combinations, have been shown to have exponentially beneficial health effects. We can, if we choose, design our own daily eating plans in accordance with this information – using the results of well-designed, reputable studies as guidelines. In this way we can up the odds in our favor that we’ll ultimately enjoy longer, more active lives. Some people are even dubbing these food guidelines “The High Blood Pressure Diet.”

One such study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (Aug.24/31, 2011). Researchers found that subjects who followed a largely vegetarian diet that included “portfolio” of cholesterol-lowering foods did a better job of reducing low-density lipoprotein — the so-called “bad” cholesterol — than a low-saturated-fat vegetarian diet.

All participants in the study followed a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Basically, all were “eating healthy.” But those in the portfolio group were told to emphasize four specific types of cholesterol-lowering foods in their diets — soluble fiber, nuts, soy protein, and margarines enriched with plant sterols — while those in the other group were told to avoid these foods.

For someone eating 2,000 calories per day, this “portfolio diet” include the following amounts of these high blood pressure diet foods:

  • Soluble fiber: 18 grams per day of fiber from foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, barley, peas, beans, lentils, psyllium, and vegetables such as okra and eggplant
  • Nuts: 1 ounce, or about a handful, per day
  • Soy protein: 42.8 grams per day from soy-based foods such as soy milk, tofu, and soy meat substitutes (4 ounces of tofu contains 9.4 grams of soy protein; 8 ounces of regular soy milk contains 6 grams of soy protein)
  • Plant-sterol-enriched margarine: 1.8 grams per day (1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on the product)

After six months, LDL levels dropped an average of 13-14 percent in the “portfolio” group, compared with 3 percent in other group. Researchers reported that the portfolio group also had an 11 percent reduction in their calculated 10-year risk of having a heart attack (based on the Framingham Heart Study risk assessment tool). On the other hand, the control group had a mere 0.5 percent drop in calculated risk.

Each of the above foods has been the subject of past studies, and each has been touted as an important addition to a healthy diet. This study, however, gives a specific recommendation for a certain combination that could possibly save your life over the next 10 years.

Studies such as this will, over time, add to the accumulated body of knowledge as to the optimal human diet for healthy aging and longevity. Most of us may never actually follow that optimal diet, but with some tweaks and changes along the way we can come closer to the goal of enjoying a longer, more active life.


Do Collard Greens Prevent Cancer?

by Cindy Gray

You probably know of collard greens as a staple ingredient in any soul food restaurant menu, or as part of a typical Sunday dinner for thousands of Americans.  Well, the good news is that this common green food not only tastes good but it is also very beneficial for your health and wellbeing.  Collard greens are a dark green leafy vegetable, closely related to cabbage and broccoli, and are part of the family of the so-called cruciferous vegetables. They are bitter to taste when raw, so they need to seasoned correctly before cooking.Prevent Cancer with Collard Greens?

Based on a small number of studies looking specifically at collard greens, and a larger number of studies looking at cruciferous vegetables as a group, the main health benefit of collard greens appears to be cancer prevention.  Collard greens provide nutrient support for three of the body’s systems that are closely connected with cancer prevention - including the detox system, the antioxidant system and the anti-inflammatory system. Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase the risk of cancer. When imbalances in all three systems occur simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly. Intake of collard greens is believed to be associated with a lower risk of bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer.

What’s more, the thick leaves of collards are packed with cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, immune-boosting vitamin C, and the cancer fighting properties of sulforaphane and diindolylmethane. Sulforaphane also lowers blood glucose levels, which makes collard greens a healthy choice for people with diabetes.  As a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin E, collard greens provide us with four conventional yet powerful antioxidants.

Further, as an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), collard greens also provide us with two major anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K directly manages our inflammatory response, and ALA is the building block for several anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.

Sulforaphane, a natural compound found in collard greens, not only triggers anti-inflammatory activity in the cardiovascular system, it may also be able to help prevent, and possibly even help reverse blood vessel damage.

The soluble fiber in collard greens - over 5 grams in every cup - makes this cruciferous vegetable a natural choice for digestive system support, providing 85% of the daily allowance from only 200 calories worth.

Last but not least, research is currently underway to examine the potential benefits of collard greens in relationship to the risk of the following inflammation-related conditions: Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic syndrome, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis.

In other words, if you’re not already consuming this beneficial green food, why not add it to your diet today?



Do Collard Greens Prevent Cancer?


Curcumin - Heart Supplement Benefits

by Not in Use Not In Use

Looking for beneficial ingredients to add to your high blood pressure recipes? Look no further than turmeric.

high blood pressure recipes

Since ancient times, traditional Ayurvedic medicinal practitioners in India have known about the health benefits of tumeric - a plant with trumpet-shaped, yellow flowers, related to ginger, that flourishes in Southeast Asia. Its roots are bulbs that produce rhizomes, which then produce stems and roots for new plants. A common staple spice in Asia, tumeric was always praised for its healing properties as an anti-inflammatory, as well as for digestive and cardiovascular ailments.

In the 21st century, we now know that there are scientific explanations for the benefits from tumeric. Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid found in tumeric (and that which makes tumeric the color yellow), is a powerful antioxidant, a polyphenol, that combats the effects of free radicals in the body. And while curcumin has been linked with cancer prevention, detoxification, and countering inflammation, some of the most intriguing evidence revolves around its potential for heart health supplement.

Curcumin’s powerful antioxidant activity could be the cause for its ability to improve the circulatory system and thus cardiovascular health. It also can be effective in reducing cholesterol, a leading cause of heart attacks, and has been shown in studies to protect rats from adverse effects following a stroke. Other research shows curcumin’s effectiveness in countering heart enlargement and subsequent heart failure.

Turmeric, the main source of curcumin, can be taken as a delicious additive to your next meal. In fact, it is a principle ingredient in curry, those tasty dishes found in Indian restaurants. But if Indian food is not to your liking, they can be found in health supplements. Curcumin is further proof of the abundance of natural remedies found in common foods, known about for centuries.

Add turmeric to your high blood pressure recipes today to improve your overall heart health!


Dietary Cocoa Flavanols Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline

by Cindy Gray

According to a recent study, dietary cocoa flavanols - naturally occurring bioactive compounds found in cocoa - can reverse age-related memory decline in healthy older adults. This study provides the first evidence that a component of age-related memory decline is caused by changes in a specific brain region and that this type of memory decline can be improved by dietary intervention.

As people age, they typically show a loss in their cognitive abilities. For example, they may become slower at learning new things and poorer at remembering the names of new acquaintances or where they parked the car or placed their house keys.  This normal age-related memory decline starts in early adulthood, but usually does not have any noticeable impact on quality of life until people typically reach their fifties or sixties. It must be noted here that age-related memory decline is different from the devastating memory impairment seen in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline with Dietary Cocoa Flavanols

Previous research had shown that changes in a specific part of the brain, known as the dentate gyrus, are associated with age-related memory decline. To confirm this association, researchers tested whether compounds called cocoa flavanols can improve the function of the dentate gyrus and improve memory. Flavanols extracted from cocoa beans had previously been shown to improve neuronal connections in the dentate gyrus of mice.

A cocoa flavanol-containing test drink was prepared specifically for this study. Interestingly, most commercial methods of processing cocoa remove many of the flavanols found in the raw plant.  In this study, 37 healthy volunteers (aged 50-69 years) were given either a high- or low-flavanol diet for three months. Brain imaging and memory tests were administered to each participant before and after the study.

When the research subjects' brains were imaged after the study, researchers found noticeable improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those subjects who consumed the high-flavanol drink.

The high-flavanol group also performed significantly better on the memory test. If a participant in the high-flavanol group had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months on average that person had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old.

Flavonols are found naturally in tea leaves, wine and in certain fruits and vegetables along with cocoa. Interestingly, the precise formulation of cocoa flavonols used in this study has also been shown in previous research to improve cardiovascular health.



Dietary Cocoa Flavonols Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline


Natural Heart Health: Making Sense of Blood Pressure Readings

by Health News

Take regular blood pressure readings to figure out if you have a normal blood pressure.Many people want to ensure they have a normal blood pressure. Learn how to make sense of blood pressure readings in this article.

Blood pressure is one of the primary vital signs for health. It refers to the pressure applied to vessel walls by circulating blood in the body. Blood pressure measurements generally gauge total pressure at the brachial artery in an individual’s upper arm which is the major vessel that transports blood away from the heart. The actual blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure, for example, 120/80. The systolic number measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, and the diastolic number measures arterial pressure between heartbeats, when the heart muscle is at rest and filling with blood.

There are five basic categories of blood pressure readings that span from normal blood pressure to hypertensive crisis. The blood pressure measurement determines what type of treatment an individual may need to normalize blood pressure. For accuracy, it is important for a health care provider to take two measurements at two different times.

The American Heart Association suggests that an individual get screened once every two years starting at age 20 if blood pressure is in the normal range.

The following lifestyle changes are recommended for keeping blood pressure in check.

Lose extra weight and watch your waist measurement: According to studies, men should have a waist measurement below 40 inches, and women should take care to keep waist size below 35 inches.

Get regular exercise: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day can help to lower blood pressure.

Eat a healthy diet:  Consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, and skip foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Consider all-natural supplements to ensure adequate daily nutrients.

Reduce sodium consumption: Those who are 51 years of age or older should reduce sodium to 1500 mg per day or less.

Increase potassium:  Added potassium in the diet or through supplements can reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure.

Experts estimate that one in four American adults will get high blood pressure. This is a health problem that can raise risks for heart and kidney disease and stroke. Because high blood pressure typically exhibits no symptoms, it is important for adults to get checked regularly. Once it develops, high blood pressure generally lasts a lifetime but it can be prevented and controlled with a healthy lifestyle.




Diet and Exercise can Lower Colon Cancer Risk

by Cindy Gray

Research studies consistently show that the dietary and lifestyle choices you make every day can have a significant impact on your risk of developing many diseases, including colon cancer. Your choices add up over time and can gradually shift your risk for colon cancer either toward the higher or lower end of the spectrum.

Research shows that by managing factors within your control, you can lower your risk of developing colon cancer; for example, by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly while at the same time reducing your intake of red meat, high-fat and fried foods.Help Lower Colon Cancer Risk with Diet and Exercise

In fact, the general consensus from scientific literature is that 30-40% of all cancers can be prevented by getting regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight.

Diet and proper nutrition are critical aspects of the fight against colon cancer. In general, dietary recommendations include consuming less saturated fat and salt and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in nutrients, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Here are some general guidelines that can help you lower your risk of developing colon cancer:

  • Consuming plenty of fresh, lightly-cooked and pesticide-free brightly colored fruits and vegetables

  • Eating fresh fish 1 to 3 times per week

  • Limiting consumption of red meat

  • Avoiding excess salt and saturated fats

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping physically active

  • Limiting alcohol consumption

  • Avoiding tobacco in any form

Regular exercise can significantly lower your risk of developing colon cancer.

According to two recently published studies, walking 30 minutes every day significantly reduced the risk of recurrence in patients who had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. Higher levels of physical activity were seen to contribute to a lower risk of recurrence and mortality, when combined with standard therapies.

In one study, researchers found that patients diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer who walked for six or more hours per week had 50% lower rates of recurrences and death from the disease than inactive patients.

In another study, the same researchers observed 573 women with stages one to three colon cancer and reported that patients who increased their physical activity experienced a 50% reduction in mortality.

These and other studies strongly suggest that exercise has potentially life-saving benefits for cancer survivors, and may lower colon cancer risk in regular, healthy people as well.



Diet and Exercise Can Lower Colon Cancer Risk


Learn How Gratitude Benefits Your Health

by Health News

What is Good for High Blood Pressure? Gratitude

Many people want to know what is good for high blood pressure. The answer may surprise you. Learn how gratitude benefits your health, including your heart, in this article.

In the fast-paced and stressful world of today, practicing positive mental states has been scientifically shown to improve quality of life and promote longevity.

A 1995 study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that gratitude greatly benefits both the heart and immune system. In this study, participants were monitored while being asked to recall for five minutes any incident that triggered anger.

Next, they were told instead to focus on a particular memory that inspired gratitude. Immediately, their heart, pulse and respiration rates dramatically improved.

These results led study researchers to state that by cultivating gratefulness, stress is significantly reduced, boosting immune function and strengthening overall health, including heart health.

All emotions are intimately connected with the heart and body. The heart has a constant two-way dialog with the brain.

This study explains how our heart responds to our emotional reactions and why certain emotions stress our body and sap our energy. Feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity disturb our heart-rhythm patterns, making them erratic.

These erratic patterns signal emotional centers in the brain, which recognizes them as negative or stressful feelings. Not only that, but erratic heart rhythms block our ability to think clearly.

On the other hand, when we experience feelings of compassion, love and gratitude, our heart rhythm patterns become smooth and harmonious, indicating a balanced nervous and cardiovascular system.

In other words, when your heart is at ease, both your heart health and overall health are significantly enhanced.

Furthermore, those people who are grateful and appreciative often live longer.

In a long-term observational study described in the Graziadio Business Review, Catholic nuns who expressed gratitude, happiness and other positive emotions in their earlier years were found to live up to ten years longer than nuns who did not express gratitude.

Study researchers saw a significant inverse relationship between positive emotional content in handwritten autobiographies of 180 Catholic nuns (at the age of 22) and risk of death later in life, between ages 75 to 95.

In other words, an expression of gratefulness in early life was associated with a lifetime of longevity, even up to 60 years later.


Daily Ginger Consumption Eases Muscle and Joint Pain

by Cindy Gray

Did you know that for centuries, ginger root has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments such as colds and upset stomachs?   In the Indian and Chinese systems of medicine, ginger root is used to help cleanse the colon, reduce spasms and cramps and stimulate circulation. However, it is best known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Many studies show that ginger can improve morning stiffness, swelling and joint pain associated with arthritis.Ease Muscle and Joint Pain with Daily Ginger

And now in a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Georgia have shown that daily ginger consumption significantly reduces muscle pain caused by exercise.  While ginger had previously been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects in rodents, its effect on human muscle pain was not known before this study.  Since some people believe that heating ginger during cooking increases its pain-relieving effects, study authors carried out two studies to look at the effects of treatment with both raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on muscle pain.

The participants in these two studies, 34 and 40 volunteers, respectively, consumed capsules containing two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On the eighth day they performed 18 extensions of their elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain were all assessed before the study began and for three days after the exercise.

These studies show that daily ginger supplementation reduces exercise-induced muscle and joint pain by up to 25 percent. However, this effect was not enhanced by heating ginger beforehand.

Muscle and joint pain are very common types of pain. Specifically, exercise-induced muscle and joint pain are common injuries, especially related to sports and activities such as gardening and shoveling snow.

If you frequently suffer from these types of pain, ginger might just be the solution for you!  There are powerful formulas that contain many pain and inflammation fighting ingredients, such as ginger root extract, to help ease pain and improve joint flexibility and movement.

Imagine if your knees could bend more easily…your hips rotate more smoothly…your hands, wrists and fingers had better flexibility…and your back had renewed strength?  It’s possible to free up your joints and get much-needed pain relief, so why not give ginger or a ginger formula a try today?



Daily Ginger Consumption Eases Muscle and Joint Pain After Exercise


Top Three Heart-Healthy Nutrients

by Health News
Looking for some high blood pressure remedies? There’s no question that, when it comes to healthy aging, specifically lowering cholesterol, your first step should be to eat healthy and exercise. But when you want that extra boost, these three nutrients should be at the top of your list.High Blood Pressure Remedies: 3 Heart-Healthy Nutrients
CoQ10—Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble compound found in every plant and animal cell. Research has shown that CoQ10 also prevents the oxidation of LDL—the pivotal step in artery clogging—and, along with vitamin E, can help to lower cholesterol levels. Plus, many older adults are frequently prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs in the statins class which significantly deplete CoQ10 stores, so it is particularly critical that you use CoQ10 if you are taking a statin. Aim for 100 mg of CoQ10 (as ubiquinone) daily.
Essential Fatty Acids— Essential fatty acids (EFAs), the omega-3's EPA and DHA, are fats that your body does not produce and you must therefore obtain through diet or supplementation. They are important for the production of series 1 and 3 prostaglandins, potent hormone-like anti-inflammatory substances that help regulate blood pressure, the breakdown of fat or cholesterol in your blood, heart rate, blood clotting, and your immune system’s response to injury and infection. EFAs also help decrease inflammation. Aim for 200 mg of EPA and 100 mg of DHA every day.
Quercetin—Quercetin belongs to the bioflavonoid family—a subgroup of flavonoids known for their potent antioxidant and antiviral capabilities. It also helps to maintain the strength of small blood vessels and reduce vascular fragility. In addition to its ability to reduce bleeding and bruising, quercetin is beneficial in preventing “sticky” platelets and promoting relaxation of the entire cardiovascular system. It also helps to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Aim for 250 mg a day.

Could Going Vegan be the New Detox?

by Cindy Gray

Can a diet totally devoid of animal protein be healthy?   A new study seems to suggest that a stint of vegan eating benefits both heart health and weight loss, without imposing any restrictions on caloric intake. Rarely has a diet come under such criticism as the vegan diet. Not enough iron, zero vitamin B12, too little protein, lack of variety and no dairy.   Surely this can’t be a healthy way to live? Plenty of evidence suggests it may be.

For example, because of food rationing after World War I in Denmark, animal protein, fats and alcohol were severely restricted for some years, forcing the population to subsist mainly on potatoes, bread, barley and vegetables. During that period, the country recorded the lowest mortality rate from non-infectious chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, in its entire history.Could Vegan be the New Detox?

And now in November 2014, the Nutrition Journal published the results of a study attesting further to the powerful impact a restrictive diet can have on health.  This study involved 1,615 patients who took part in a 10-day residential dietary intervention program in California. An entirely vegan buffet was laid out for them at mealtimes, consisting of a selection of minimally processed plant-based foods, including wheat flour products, rice, oats, corn, barley, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruit.

No additional oils were provided, but small amounts of simple sugars, salt and spices were provided. Low-fat desserts containing some sugar were also served, while participants were free to add sugar to their morning cereal. Overall, the quantity of food intake was entirely unrestricted.

After seven days, a number of key biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk were measured including blood pressure (BP), blood lipids and blood sugar. Every biomarker showed significant improvements, especially in the most overweight study subjects. Last but by no means least, a median weight loss of 1.4 kg was also recorded.

The results of this study go against official healthy eating advice such as the Eatwell Plate advocated by the UK Food Standards Agency in which dairy products account for 15% of the plate depicting ‘optimum’ meal composition. Similarly, the USDA’s MyPlate arrangement is also based on the customary five food groups.

The vegan diet consumed by study subjects derived fewer than 10% of its calories from fat, around 80% from carbohydrates and the rest from protein. In contrast, the ideal U.S. macronutrient intake recommends 20-35% of total calories coming from fat, 45-65% from carbohydrates and 15-25% from protein.

At the start of the new year, most people typically crave lighter meals with fresh fruit and vegetables. The results of this study suggest that going vegan for a week or two after a prolonged period of overindulgence provides a significant health boost, including weight loss.

In fact, going vegan for a while could well be the new detox.



Could Going Vegan Be The New Detox?


Cognitive Health Benefits of the Ayurvedic Herb 'Brahmi'

by Cindy Gray

Did you know that ‘Brahmi’ (Bacopa monnieri), a traditional Indian Ayurvedic herbal medicine, has been used for centuries as a neurological tonic and memory enhancer?   The Brahmi plant typically grows in humid, marshy areas. The whole plant, plant extracts as well as isolated bioactive compounds known as bacosides have been traditionally used for their cognitive health benefits.Ayurvedic Herb 'Brahmi' and its Cognitive Health Benefits

In our modern era, these traditional beliefs are slowly but surely being tested through a handful of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. A systematic review carried out in 2012 examined the available scientific evidence to determine whether Brahmi can indeed enhance cognitive performance in humans.

The review looked at randomized controlled trials on adult humans without dementia and having no significant cognitive impairment, in which Brahmi was given as long-term supplementation. Multiple databases were systematically searched and relevant trials were objectively assessed for methodological quality.

Six studies met the inclusion standards and were included in the results of the review. Each of these trials was conducted over 12 weeks. Three different Brahmi extracts were used at dosages of 300-450 mg daily.

All the reviewed trials examined the effects of Brahmi on memory; however, other cognitive functions were not as well studied. Across all six studies, Brahmi was seen to improve performance on 9 of 17 tests in the domain of free recall.

Free recall is a simple memory assessment test in which participants first study a list of items and then have to recall the items in any order, hence the name ‘free’ recall. In the standard test, the recall period starts immediately after the final list item, known as Immediate Free Recall (IFR). In Delayed Free Recall (DFR), there is a short delay between the final list item and the start of the recall period.

In brief, the limited but consistent evidence available so far suggests that Brahmi supplementation can improve free recall. So far, research into the memory enhancing effects of Brahmi is in its early stages - but the outlook is very promising indeed.



The Ayurvedic herb ‘Brahmi’ improves performance in memory free recall