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Six Powerful Health Benefits Of Beets

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that beets are an ancient food that grew naturally along coastlines in North Africa, Asia and Europe? Six Powerful Health Benefits Of Beets

Originally, people consumed beet greens. The sweet red beetroot wasn't cultivated as a food in its own right until the era of ancient Rome.

By the 19th century, the natural sweetness of beets meant that they were being used as a source of sugar - for which they are still used today.

Beetroots have a sweet, earthy flavor - not to mention their powerhouse nutrients can significantly benefit your health. And although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, you can safely eat beetroots a few times a week, while enjoying their nutritious greens in unlimited quantities.

Here are six great reasons to include beets in your diet on a regular basis:

  1. Lower blood pressure (BP) - according to one study, drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic BP by an average of 4-5 points within a few hours. This is most likely because of the presence of naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide (NO) in the body. NO helps to relax and open up your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering BP.
  2. More stamina - according to research, those who drank beet juice before working out were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. This benefit is also thought to be related to nitrates turning into NO and reducing the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise, along with enhancing tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
  3. Fighting off inflammation - beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins and enzymes in your body from environmental stress. It's also known to fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance and help prevent numerous chronic diseases. Consumption of betaine has been associated with lower levels of inflammation, providing cardiovascular benefits along with health benefits for other systems in your body.
  4. Anti-cancer properties - the powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models. Also, beetroot extract is currently being studied for its effectiveness in treating human pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers.
  5. Valuable nutrients and fiber - beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber and essential minerals like potassium and manganese. Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which reduces the risk of birth defects.
  6. Detoxification - betalin pigments in beets support the detoxification process, in which broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body.

If you’re not getting enough beets in your daily diet, then we have just the solution for you!

Source: Six Powerful Health Benefits of Beets.   

Copyright: paulmaguire / 123RF Stock Photo

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The Many Health Benefits Of Nutrient-Rich Wakame

by Institute for Vibrant Living

People living by the coast of the world’s great seas and oceans have been eating seaweed for thousands of years. The Native Americans ate it, as did many prehistoric cultures - and it is common in Asian cuisine today.

The Health Benefits Of Wakame | Institute for Vibrant Living

Science has confirmed that seaweeds are a very healthy food, extremely nutrient rich and containing 10 times as much fiber and over twice as much protein as cabbage. At the same time, a 20 gram serving of kelp contains just nine calories.

More than that, brown algae seaweeds including kelp, wakame, and others have been shown to have tremendous medicinal properties especially because of their content of bioactive compounds called fucoidans.

Wakame, an edible brown seaweed or kelp common in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisines, has been shown to have beneficial effects on stroke, hypertension or high blood pressure (BP), viral infections, tumors, oxidation and inflammation while promoting a good immune system.

In fact, there are few foods in nature that are so chockfull of nutrients and health benefits. Wakame is a great source of the following minerals and vitamins:

  • Magnesium - known to be critical in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy and protein production.
  • Iodine - needed for the process of converting food into energy. It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Calcium - every 100 grams of raw wakame contains 150 milligrams of calcium, which is necessary for strong healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis.
  • Iron - essential for the production of red blood cells and prevention of anemia.
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and K - all important for skin health and repair, along with boosting the immune system.
  • Vitamin D - promotes absorption of calcium for healthy bones and enhances the nervous, muscle and immune systems.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) - is needed for proper use of nutrients in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods we eat. It is also necessary for red blood cell production. Riboflavin functions as an antioxidant and works in the body with other vitamins such as niacin, folate, and vitamin B6.
  • Folate - helps make new cells and is especially important for infant development.
  • Lignans - these natural chemicals are thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Source: The Many Health Benefits of Nutrient-Rich Wakame.

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The Health Benefits of Superfoods

by Health News

In the past few decades it has been determined that signs of aging like wrinkles and diminished skin elasticity are enhanced by oxidation, a process in which damaging free radicals begin to break down DNA.  Research is showing that we can slow the aging process with the consumption of antioxidant-rich foods.  Studies also show that the amount of antioxidants consumed is directly proportional to longevity.The Health Benefits of Superfoods | Institute for Vibrant Living

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but not all of these have the same effect.  The effects of antioxidants are measured by a food’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC).

Check out these ORAC-rich fruits and vegetables, and implement them into your daily diet to generate a youthful appearance. 

  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Red Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli

Here are a few other superfoods that have shown great potential for enhancing a youthful appearance. 

Acai Berries – These tiny, purple berries can be found in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.  In addition to boosting energy, this antioxidant-laden superfood is said to promote healthy hair, nails and skin.  Acai is available in supplement form in various powders and caplets.

Red Ginseng – A study published in the December, 2009 edition of the Journal of Medicinal Foods showed that red ginseng reverses wrinkles.  The study examined a group of female volunteers over the age of 40. The subjects took three grams of red ginseng extract daily for 24 weeks, and it was found that facial wrinkles were significantly reduced and collagen levels were increased.  Collagen is a product made from proteins in the body which is necessary for healthy skin.  Further, a gene that destroys collagen was inhibited and elastin, a protein that enhances skin elasticity, was increased.

Resveratrol - This important nutrient can be found in the skin of red grapes and in blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates.  Besides supporting cardiovascular health, resveratrol is said to promote a youthful appearance.  In addition to the fruits mentioned above, resveratrol supplements are available in whole foods stores and through natural supplement websites.

Sea Buckthorn Berries – This small, sour berry is found in harsh environments of Eastern Asia and is packed with vitamin C, providing 12 times more than an orange.  It is said to provide weight loss and immune system support and to foster good hair, nail and skin health.  Typically the fruit cannot be found in your local grocery store, but liquid and caplet supplements are available in stores and online.

Soy – Research that is soon-to-be-published in the British Journal of Pharmacology has concluded that soy can have positive effects on age-related skin changes in post-menopausal women. 

As adequate estrogen levels are required for youthful skin in women, an ovariectomy can accelerate aging of the skin.  This study examined the effects of soy on the skin of ovariectomized rats.  Researchers began treating rats six months after ovariectomy with genistein, a soy-derived isoflavone, for a period of 12 weeks.   At the end of treatment, the thickness of collagen and skin strength was significantly improved, which suggests that soy therapy might be a reliable alternative for age-related skin changes in post-menopausal women.

Everyone wants to look young for as long as possible and adequate nutrition is an easy fix.  In addition to a daily vitamin and mineral supplement, it might be worth a try to incorporate some of the foods above into your daily diet for a more youthful appearance.

Sources:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article6986044.ece
http://theview.abc.go.com/blog/top-7-superfoods-women

Cho, S. et al.  Red ginseng root extract mixed with Torilus fructus and Corni fructus improves facial wrinkles and increases type I procollagen synthesis in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  Journal of Medicinal Food, 2009 Dec;12(6):1252-9.

Polito, F. et al.  Genistein Aglycone, a Soy-derived Isoflavone, Improves Skin Changes Induced by Ovariectomy in Rats.   British Journal of Pharmacology.  2011 Aug 9. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01619.x. [Epub ahead of print]

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What are the Benefits of Avocado Oil?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that avocado oil is not only edible…but it is also very healthy for your skin?

Pressed from the fruit of the avocado, avocado oil is used for cooking as well as a salad dressing and garnish. With an unusually high smoke point, extra virgin avocado oil has a characteristic flavor and is excellent in almost any high heat cooking application - including baking, stir-fries, barbecue, roasts and sauté.

What are the Benefits of Avocado Oil?

In fact, extra virgin avocado oil has a similar monounsaturated fat profile to extra virgin olive oil, which protects it from breakdown during heating. 

‘Hass' cold-pressed avocado oil is a brilliant emerald green when extracted; the color is attributed to high levels of chlorophylls and carotenoids extracted into the oil, which add to its nutritious qualities.

Avocado oil is also extracted for cosmetic use. Valued for its regenerative and moisturizing properties, it easily penetrates skin and is rapidly absorbed. In fact, slicing open an avocado and applying its flesh directly on to skin is a very effective and natural approach to achieving a healthy facial glow or dealing with acne and dry skin. Simply apply the yellow pulp to soothe, protect and moisturize.

  • Avocados have very high vitamin E content. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals along with slowing signs of aging.  
  • Avocado oil has a natural hydrating ability, because of which it makes skin soft and supple. So if you’re suffering from itchy and/or dry skin, you can use cosmetics and lotions with avocado oil to remedy the situation.
  • Avocado oil contains sterolins. These are natural compounds which help to properly absorb fat and boost your immune system, along with making more skin collagen and reducing the incidence of age spots.
  • Avocado oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to be highly effective in protecting skin from UV radiation, along with lowering sunburn and skin cancer risk. Not only that, foods with omega-3 fats such as salmon, nuts, flax seed and avocados should be consumed regularly for good heart and brain health.

Avocado oil can be obtained either cold pressed in liquid for or directly from the fruit.

Source: Benefits of Avocado Oil for Skin and Health

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Is Krill Fish Oil Dangerous?

by Health News

Did you know that Eskimos have a low incidence of heart attacks, even though their diet relies heavily on whale blubber? That’s because whale blubber is rich in omega-3 fats!  

Krill Fish Oil Facts

You may have already heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which are both essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. Your body needs both of these to function properly, but the human body cannot make either of them on its own.

Omega-3 fats are made by cold-water algae. They’re also found in the fat of cold-water fish like sardines, wild salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna that feed on these plants, along with fish oil supplements and algae extract. Another type of omega-3 is also found in walnuts, flax seed, canola and soybean oil as well as in green leafy vegetables.

Omega-6 fats are found in cooking oils such as corn oil, safflower and sunflower oils, margarine and low-fat foods, meat and eggs.

Together, omega-3 and omega-6 fats control many of your body’s physiological processes. As long as they are in balance, your body remains healthy.

The problem is this - today, relative amounts of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fats are completely out of balance. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate approximately twice the amount of omega-6s as omega-3s, which many experts believe is ideal for health. Believe it or not, the typical US diet today contains up to 20–50 times more omega-6s than omega-3s!

In such excessive amounts, omega-6 fats can completely skew your body’s fat balance and physiology, causing real harm. Countless studies have shown a clear connection between high ratios of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fats, and skyrocketing rates of heart disease, arthritis, asthma, insulin resistance, metabolic disorder, type 2 diabetes, even some forms of cancer.

So what can you do to improve your odds?

It’s easy, do what the Eskimos do and increase your consumption of omega-3 fats.

Both fish oil and krill oil are a great natural source of omega-3 fats. The difference is while high-quality fish oils have many important health benefits, their antioxidant content is poor; whereas krill oil has the health benefits plus high levels of potent antioxidants.

In fact, the antioxidant potency of krill oil is 48 times more potent than that of fish oil, which makes choosing between the two an easy task.

Antioxidants are your body's primary way to neutralize free radicals. They boost heart health, keep the immune system healthy and prevent memory loss with aging.  In fact, antioxidants seem to slow down many aging-related changes.

Genuine krill oil contains:

  • More than 300 times the antioxidant power of vitamins A and E  
  • More than 47 times the antioxidant power of lutein
  • More than 34 times the antioxidant power of coenzyme Q10

Not only that, krill oil also contains Astaxanthin, a unique marine flavonoid which makes antioxidants more readily available to your body.

In a recent study, supplementation of a high-fat diet with krill oil prevented buildup of triglycerides and cholesterol in the livers of rats, along with lowering blood levels of triglycerides and glucose.

In another study, consumption of krill oil countered body weight gain and increase in blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL-cholesterol in rats given a high fat diet, along with preventing harmful oxidative damage.

Last but not least, krill is at the bottom of the food chain - which means that unlike fish oil, it’s unlikely to be contaminated by toxic heavy metals.

So why not boost your consumption of omega-3 fats and protect your health with a krill oil supplement today?

Do you currently take any omega-3 supplements?

Source:

 

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Allergy Answers in Your Cupboard

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Allergy RemediesThere are also several nutritional supplements that have powerful antihistamine properties, including vitamin E, quercetin, bromelain, and colostrum. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and natural antihistamine that has been shown to strengthen your immune system and its response to attack. Vitamin E is also a natural blood thinner. Therefore, if you are taking an anticoagulant, such as warfarin, check with your doctor before using vitamin E.

Quercetin has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, which makes a favorite natural treatment among allergists. It is believed to work by controlling the release of histamine and stabilizing cell membranes, making them less reactive to allergens.

A natural anti-inflammatory in its own right, bromelain also helps your body absorb quercetin. This pineapple derivative reduces inflammation in your respiratory system while also decreasing the amount and thickness of mucus in your respiratory tract.

Lastly, colostrum—the pre-milk all women produce immediately after the birth of a baby—is rich in immune-building and immune-enhancing properties. Colostrum contains several immunoglobulins, antibodies that help boost your immune system, as well as

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Kill Your Cold with Colostrum

by Health News

Winter and colds just seem to go hand-in-hand. Fortunately, every mammal naturally produces the amazing, immune-boosting miracle that is colostrum.

All mammals produce this immune- and growth-enhancing pre-milk fluid in the last few months of pregnancy and just after birth. Colostrum has been shown to help fight off common illnesses like colds, flu, allergies, and bronchitis.

Cold Flu Colostrum

It contains numerous immunoglobulins, which help boost your immune system and provide protection against invading bacteria and viruses. It’s also a good source of the probiotic acidophilus, which helps prevent gastrointestinal infections, including diarrhea.

The most common form of supplemental colostrum is bovine colostrum. While it is very similar to human colostrum at the molecular level, it actually contains even more immune-enhancing properties. You can purchase bovine colostrum as a capsule, tablet, liquid, powder, and nasal spray. Just be sure that the colostrum you choose comes from free-range cows that have been raised organically, and have not received any hormones or antibiotics.

Read related content:
Allergy Answers in Your Cupboard
The Power of Probiotics
Natural Ways to Prevent Cold and Flu
How to Improve Your Immune System
Natural Supplements to Ward off Colds and Flu

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Boost the Immune System with Infection-Fighting Foods

by Health News

Boost the Immune System with Infection-Fighting Foods.  Take advantage of the following natural foods when battling a cold or flu:

Try the BRAT Diet.  Immediately following stomach flu, it is best to consume fluids and broths.  On day two, try BRAT.  Commonly used for children with upset stomachs, this natural remedy of bananas, rice, applesauce and dry toast really works! 

Eat garlic, which has powerful antibacterial compounds that help the body fight infection.    A close relative with similar antibacterial agents is onion.  Cook with onions and leeks when you or family members have a cold.

Blueberries help to curb diarrhea, and they have aspirin-like properties, which may help to reduce fever and soothe aches and pains.

Try eating cranberries to prevent bacteria from invading the bladder and urinary tract.

Chili peppers help to open sinuses and clear the buildup of mucus in the lungs.  Other helpful foods for reducing nasal congestion and  mucus are mustard and horseradish.

Try a cup of tea as a natural cold and flu remedy.  Catechin, a phytochemical found in black and green teas is said to have antibiotic and anti-diarrheal properties.    

Steer clear of processed foods and sugar when battling illness as junk foods take a toll on the digestive system.

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Kill Your Cold with Colostrum

by Health News

Every mammal naturally produces the amazing, immune-boosting miracle that is colostrum. This immune- and growth-enhancing pre-milk fluid is produced by all mammals in the last few months of pregnancy and just after birth.

Colostrum has been shown to help fight off common illnesses like colds, flu, allergies, and bronchitis. It contains numerous immunoglobulins, which help boost your immune system and provide protection against invading bacteria and viruses. It’s also a good source of the probiotic acidophilus, which helps prevent gastrointestinal infections, including diarrhea. Plus, colostrum has been shown to protect against viral diseases such as HIV and herpes.

But colostrum also contains other important compounds, such as proline-rich polypeptide, a substance that helps important in restrain an overactive immune system. This is important for people with autoimmune conditions such as fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The most common form of supplemental colostrum is bovine colostrum. While it is very similar to human colostrum at the molecular level, it actually contains even more immune-enhancing properties.

You can purchase bovine colostrum as a capsule, tablet, liquid, powder, and nasal spray. Most experts agree that capsules and liquids are best. Also, be sure that the colostrum you choose comes from free-range cows that have been raised organically, and have not received any hormones or antibiotics.

The most commonly recommended dosage is 1,000–2,000 mg twice a day for prevention, and 2,000–3,000 mg twice a day if you feel a cold or flu coming on. Be sure to take it with an eight-ounce glass of water on an empty stomach. And take it early in the day (at breakfast and lunch), as colostrum can boost energy levels and cause insomnia if it is taken too late in the evening. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, have a thyroid or immune system disorder, or have cancer, be sure to consult with your physician before using colostrum.

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Natural Ways to Prevent Cold and Flu

by Nancy Maneely

Natural Ways to Prevent Cold and FluAs flu season approaches, it’s a good time to assess your overall health regimen and adopt protective measures. The cold winter months are a time when we spend more hours indoors, surrounded by friends, family, schoolmates and co-workers with their myriad germs. Our exposure to sunshine often is diminished, which effectively depletes our body’s natural Vitamin D defenses.

Aside from frequent hand washing – recommended by health experts everywhere – there are steps you can take to support your body’s immune system in its constant battle against viruses and bacteria. Here are some suggestions:

Clean your stuff – Doctors and other health professionals know how important this is in preventing the spread of germs. Use an alcohol-based cleaning agent to clean surfaces you and your family frequently touch: doorknobs, countertops, faucet handles, kitchen appliances, cell phones, the TV remote. At work, make it a daily ritual to clean your computer keyboard, phone, and desktop.

Eat more onion and garlic – Both are rich in antioxidants and selenium, members of the Allium family known for its health-promoting effects. Garlic contains antibacterial and antiviral properties, so add it to your recipes in abundance. Supplements are a good idea, too.

Keep your head clear – Healthy mucus membranes and mucus flow help your body flush toxins. When your sinuses and throat feel dry, they’re more likely to attract and harbor nasty microscopic invaders. Avoid treating a stuffed nose with nasal sprays, which tend to dry delicate tissues (you can use a saline spray or flush with a neti pot containing a saline solution). Make good old-fashioned chicken soup a mainstay of your winter menu. Researchers are discovering what grandma suspected all along – the ingredients in chicken soup (stock, carrot, onion, and celery) might actually have a medicinal effect on the body’s immune system.

Get plenty of exercise – Just because it’s cold outside, that’s no excuse for cutting out your workout sessions. Exercise boosts the immune system by clearing out the lymph system. It also boosts mood which is a protective factor in the prevention of illness.

Cut down on sugar – Just a few grams can diminish your white blood cells’ ability to resist infections for several hours. If you must sweeten your food and beverages, choose stevia.

Sleep better – Keep your body’s melatonin levels in balance with regular, good quality sleep. The immune system works best when the body is well rested.

Keep stress levels in check – Another way to wreak havoc with your immune system is to walk around with high levels of stress and anxiety. Practice a few minutes of deep breathing several times a day. Laugh more. Play with your pet. Start and end your day with a brief meditation – there are many good books and CDs that will help you.

Helpful supplementsProbiotics attack pathogenic bacteria and support your body’s white cells in their reaction to invaders. Vitamin D3 will help balance appropriate levels to support immune system function. Echinacea and zinc help protect against colds. And Vitamin C is an essential year-round immune system booster.

What is your favorite tip for keeping winter colds and flu at bay?

Sources:
WebMD
Natural Society

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All Natural Supplements: Go for Great Health

by Health News

Whether you call it lime, asparagus, Kelly, jade, forest, or emerald—green is green. And whether you talking about algae, spirulina, chlorella, or cilantro—green foods are a definite go!

Green foods are packed with so many nutrients, it’s no wonder they are called the super foods of the nutrition world. They are exceptionally rich sources of chlorophyll and vital minerals, and have been found to alleviate depression and fatigue, support your immune system, eliminate toxins, promote a healthy gut and bowel, inhibit Candida, aid in weight loss, and even banish bad breath.

Green Drink

But in this field of verdant health, two green foods stand out—spirulina and chlorella.

Spirulina is a true powerhouse. This algae is made up of 55–70 percent pure protein, 95% of which is digestible, making it ideal for people with gastrointestinal disorders. Spirulina is packed with more than 30 different vitamins and minerals and 18 amino acids, providing three times more vitamin E than raw wheat germ, 35 times more beta-carotene than carrots, and is higher in the rare essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) than evening primrose oil. 

Like spirulina, chlorella is a fresh-water algae, containing more chlorophyll than any known plant on the planet. It is also high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates, and packed with vitamin, minerals, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids, as well as the nucleic acids DNA and RNA.

Research shows that spirulina can help to boost your immune system and even ease allergic reactions, while chlorella provide gentle support constipation woes, as well as helping to promote natural detoxification.

The best and easiest way for you to reap all of the benefits is to make green foods a part of your morning routine. Simply add 1 or 2 tablespoons of a powdered green foods, containing both spirulina and chlorella, to 8 ounces of either juice or water every day.  Enjoy!

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Go Loco for Coconut

by Health News

The largest seed known to man, the coconut has been used and praised by Malaysian and Polynesian cultures for centuries. Not only does it contain a multitude of amino acids, but it is also chock full of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, as vitamin C, and riboflavin (vitamin B2). 

But coconut’s most prized nutrient is lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that converts in your body to monolaurin. Monolaurin is a compound found in breast milk that strengthens a baby’s immune system. Not only does it boost brain and bone health, but it helps strengthen the immune system.

In fact, coconut has been heralded as an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It has even been shown to reduce fever and excess heat (hyperthermia) in animal studies.

And that’s just the coconut meat and oil. But if you’ve ever been to the islands and had a fresh coconut, you know that there’s a light, refreshing water found inside the hairy shell. But what you may not know is that this coconut water is identical to your blood plasma.

According to Mortin Salin, Chief of the U.N.’s Food & Agricultural Organization, coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage with the same level of electrolytic balance as blood. It is so comparable that during the Pacific War of 1941-1945, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water taken directly from the seed to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of ways you can get these health amazing coconut health benefits. Many companies are now packaging coconut water and marketing it as an electrolyte replacement. Just look for plain versus flavored varieties to avoid unwanted sugar.

Coconut oil is a great option for cooking, due to its high smoking point (350°F for unrefined and 450°F for refined). For us non-chefs, this means you can sauté and bake with coconut oil and not worry about it turning into a trans-fat.  Plus, coconut oil is great to use topically to soften your hands. 

Finally, you can use shredded coconut as a healthy snack or great and tasty alternative to bread crumbs on your favorite chicken or fish dish.

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Can poor sleep habits make you fat?

by Nancy Maneely

Sweet Dreams Sleep Weight GainA newly published meta-analysis of sleep studies found a link between inadequate sleep and obesity.

The research, published in a special issue of The American Journal of Human Biology, explores how lack of sleep can impact appetite regulation, impair glucose metabolism and increase blood pressure.

The analysis reinforces the new thinking among experts that poor sleep habits have negative health consequences that range far beyond the occasional grumpy morning-after. In fact, improving the quality of your sleep may be the simplest way to boost your immune system, among other benefits.

When you experience that occasional sleeplessness, it’s very important to nip it in the bud before one night becomes two, then seven, and eventually – a chronic condition requiring medical intervention.

There are some simple things you can do to establish what the experts call “good sleep hygiene.” The National Sleep Foundation recommends these fundamentals for sleeping smart:

  1. Establish a regular bed and wake time.
  2. Avoid nicotine altogether, and avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  3. Exercise regularly, but complete the workout at least three hours before bedtime.
  4. Establish a consistent, relaxing “wind-down” bedtime routine.
  5. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable.
  6. Discuss the appropriate way to take any sleep aid with your health-care professional.

Once you’ve established the basics, any of the following nighttime rituals may help:

  • Soft, relaxing music or relaxation CD
  • Non-stimulating reading material (in other words – a boring book!)
  • Aromatherapy eye pillow – this works to block light as well as soothe tired eyes
  • Warm aromatherapy bath with relaxing essential oil such as lavender.

Additionally, there are some herbal remedies for sleep which are time-tested and safe. These can be taken in the form of teas available at your natural health retailer … or even grown in your backyard! Valerian, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile are some examples.

Finally, you may wish to try a natural, non-prescription sleep aid. Look for these ingredients in your all natural supplement: Melatonin, GABA, L-Glycine, and 5-Hydroxytryptophan.

Sources:
Science Daily, April 17, 2012
National Sleep Foundation

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Eyesight Improvement with Vitamin D

by Health News

You’ve probably heard what recent studies have concluded about vitamin D boosts you immune system naturally, and how it can be an invaluable ally during flu season. And you’ve no doubt heard the more recent news that vitamin D might protect against the ravages of type II diabetes. But here’s another amazing benefit this vitamin might offer: strengthen your eyesight as you age.

Eyesight Improvement with Vitamin DDr. Glen Jeffrey and other researchers at the University College of London Institute of Ophthalmology in the UK conducted a study* in which they treated middle-aged mice with vitamin D for six weeks. For the treated group, one-year-old female mice were injected with safflower oil containing 0.9 micrograms of vitamin D every three days.  One mouse year is roughly 50 human years.

After six weeks, tests measuring the electrical responses of retinal cells showed significant improvement in the vision of the treated mice. So, what is the mechanism behind these very promising results? According to Dr. Jeffrey, it has to do with the reduction in amyloid deposits and inflammation in the blood vessels—a finding that could have even broader implications beyond those gleaned from this study.

“Finding that amyloid deposits were reduced in the blood vessels of mice that had been given vitamin D supplements suggests that vitamin D could be useful in helping to prevent a range of age-related health problems, from deteriorating vision to heart disease, " says Dr. Jeffery.

Ask your health care professional about the best way to incorporate this important nutrient into your supplement regimen.

*http://www.neurobiologyofaging.org/article/S0197-4580(11)00519-7/abstract

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Turmeric: The Natural Cancer Fighter in Your Curry

by Nancy Maneely

Turmeric Cancer Fighter If you’ve ever enjoyed Thai or Indian food, you have (probably unknowingly) consumed one of the most powerful natural cancer-fighting substances known to science. This miracle ingredient? Turmeric.

Turmeric is a spice made from grinding the roots of the Curcuma longa plant which grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia. It is one of the key ingredients for many Indian, Persian and Thai dishes. Ancient Indian medicine (Ayurveda) has long recommended its use in food for its medicinal value.

Commonly used as medicine in many Eastern countries, turmeric has been found to suppress cancer growth, reduce brain tumors, support overall immune system health, and even alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While the benefits of turmeric are just coming to light within the Western mainstream and alternative media, it has been known for quite some time that this inexpensive spice holds powerful health benefits.

Curcumin (not to be confused with cumin, the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family) is a natural phenol and derivative of turmeric, and may be responsible for many of these effects -- particularly the anti-cancer benefits.

In the July edition of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, scientists noted that curcumin dramatically decreased the size of brain tumors by 81 percent in 9 out of 11 studies without apparent side effects.

Additional studies have found that turmeric and curcumin inhibit the spread of cancer by actually blocking a key enzyme responsible for its growth. Given chewable curcumin supplements containing 1,000 milligrams of curcumin each, 21 study participants with head and neck cancer experienced a halt in cancer spread after intake. Conducted by the UCLA, the results were examined by an independent lab in Maryland which confirmed that curcumin supplements ultimately stopped the spread of malignant cancer cells.

Curcumin gives turmeric its unique yellow color, and each 100 grams of turmeric contains 3 to 5 grams of the compound. In medieval Europe, turmeric was known as Indian saffron, since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive saffron spice.

Some culinary facts and tips about turmeric:

  • It is one of the principle ingredients of curry powder.
  • It can be used as a substitute for saffron.
  • It is used to flavor and color butter, cheese, margarine, pickles, mustard, liquor, fruit drinks, cakes, table jellies, fruit dishes and other foodstuffs.
  • Use it to add Eastern mystery to new favorites as well as in traditional curries, rice and chicken dishes, and condiments.
  • It is a classic addition to chutneys, pickles, and relishes.
  • Blend it with melted butter and drizzle it over cooked vegetables, pasta, or potatoes.
  • It adds a warm, mild aroma and distinctive yellow colour to foods.

Some health experts believe that turmeric will soon reach the popularity level of vitamin D, which is only now becoming universally recognized for its wide-ranging health benefits.

Turmeric and curcumin are both extremely inexpensive methods of boosting health, and are readily available worldwide. They can be purchased in the form of spices or as health supplements.

Have you cooked with Turmeric? What is your favorite recipe that uses Turmeric?

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Boost Immune System Naturally

by Health News

Boost Immune System NaturallyA complex network of cells, glands, tissues and organs - this immune system support works to shield the body from disease. One quarter to one half of all body cells are committed to strengthen the immune system with important organs being the thymus and the spleen.

Certain white blood cells are important to boost your immune system and some herbs and spices work to stimulate these cells and occasionally boost the amount of white blood cells present in an infected body. Many of these herbs and spices have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.

Astragalus – This is a perennial plant native to China, Korea and Mongolia which is harvested for its root and dried for medicinal purposes. Astragalus is labeled an adaptogen which is a medicine thought to help shield the body from physical, mental or emotional stress.

Many studies have found that astragalus can boost specific and non-specific immunity. It has been linked to increased white blood cells, and it works with prescribed drugs to enhance effectiveness of treatment for cancer and diabetes. As it contains powerful antioxidants, astragalus may also be helpful in the prevention of colds and upper respiratory infections.

Garlic – This plant contains several antioxidants that fortify the immune system and some think of it as the “herbal antibiotic.”   Garlic has been used to combat intestinal parasites, as an external antiseptic and it is said to strengthen the immune system.   It is also said to be an effective agent against H. pylori, a bacteria that has been linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.  To maximize the medicinal properties of garlic in meal preparation, peel and chop the cloves, and let sit for 15 minutes before cooking.

Ginger – This is a warming herb that helps the body sweat out a fever.   Ginger also soothes an upset stomach and is said to boost immunity. A cup of hot water, honey, lemon and steeped, fresh ginger root is a recommended folk remedy for the onset of a cold.

Goldenseal - This is a bitter root that contains a powerful compound called berberine which has been found to destroy many types of bacteria in test tubes. It can also destroy germs responsible for candida (yeast) infections, and it combats various parasites in the body. Berberine may also stimulate white blood cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.

Herbs and spices are generally a safe way to strengthen the immune system. You should always discuss any type of alternative medicine with your health care provider, however to check for contraindications. Medicinal herbs and spices come in many forms - capsules, powders, teas and tinctures – which can commonly be found at your local whole foods store or through natural supplement websites.

 

Sources: 

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-immune-foods

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2000/mar/03chen.html

http://www.mscd.edu/student/resources/health/healthymoves/Herbs%20to%20Support%20the%20Immune%20System%201~27~09.pdf

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/goldenseal-000252.htm

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Top 5 Tips for Preventing Colds and the Flu

by Health News

Many people mistakenly believe that colds and flu are inevitable when winter sets in. The fact of the matter is that there are many steps you can take to keep your immune system strong and your body healthy all year long.

1. One of the most important things you can do to ward off illness is to stay active. When it’s cold outside it’s harder to get motivated to go for a walk or for that matter, even a workout inside. But you can get exercise without having to endure the bitter cold. Check out your community recreation center for exercise classes or take a stroll at the nearby shopping mall.

2. During a recent interview, a well-known naturopathic MD revealed his secret to avoiding colds and flu while traveling around the world. He attributed his good health is to wash his hands often. It’s hard to believe that something as simple as washing your hands can protect you from illness. But it can. Wash your hands often during cold and flu season.

Use warm water and soap; wash your hands, up to the elbows if possible, for 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly to remove soap. Also, make sure the children in your life understand the importance of frequent hand washing. 

3. Drinking plenty of fluids is another “stay-well” strategy for winter. Fluids, especially water, flush out toxins. The beauty of water is that it is readily available and it has no calories, salt or sugar. Bear in mind that fruits are comprised of 80-90 percent water, so they can be an excellent source for increasing the fluids in your diet. 

4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 percent of adults use some form of herbs, botanicals and enzymes to enhance their health and boost their immunity. Consider adding supplements to your diet. Look for these popular immune boosters.

  • Vitamin C is especially helpful in strengthening the immune system.
  • Vitamin D is an effective dietary supplement that infuses your body with all-natural vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for immune function and the metabolism of calcium. Without vitamin D, you would be susceptible to constant infection and your bones would be weak and brittle.
  • Zinc is a mineral that is needed for a healthy immune system and is often sold as an over the counter natural treatment for the common cold.
  • Echinacea is available as a dietary supplement that can be used to prevent or decrease the duration of the common cold. 

5. It may surprise you to know that one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to nurture your mind, body and soul. Make sure you take time to pamper yourself. Indulge in a massage, a hot bath or an aromatherapy treatment session. Spend some quiet time with family and friends. Get plenty of sleep. Smile and laugh often. Focus on the positive people and events in your life.