Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for March, 2011

Natural Remedies for Radiation and Toxic Overload

Natural Remedies for Radiation and Toxic Overload

Our three sources of oxygen — food, water and air — are polluted and bound with toxins. All forms of pollution starve our bodies of essential oxygen.

When it comes to nuclear radiation, we are all guinea pigs in a risky experiment. Here are a few ideas that may help us adapt and survive radiation and toxic exposure. We need to remember that nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, and supplies of many of these foods and supplements may already be in short supply.

There are a number of foods that can better help our bodies tolerate the effects of pollution and radiation. Keep in mind that the kidneys are one of the first organs to suffer from radiation damage. Eating lower on the food chain minimizes our chemical intake.

The seed buckwheat is high in rutin, helps to protect against radiation and stimulates new bone marrow production. The mucilaginous fibers in seaweed (such as kelp, kombu, arame, nori, sea lettuce, dulse, wakame and hiziki) help to prevent the reabsorption of radioactive strontium 90, barium, cadmium and radium by binding with them and carrying them out of the body. Sea vegetables are also high in natural iodine, which can load the thyroid, so that radiation is not absorbed. Eat two tablespoons daily for protection and be careful of overdoing. Be sure seaweeds are from clean waters like http://www.seaweed.net, or http://www.seaveg.com.

Following the bombing of Nagasaki, a group of surviving macrobiotic doctors and their patients avoided radiation sickness by eating brown rice, miso soup, seaweed Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and were told to avoid sugar and white flour products. These patients did not get leukemia, though the hospital was only one mile from the bombsite!
High chlorophyll foods like wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella and barley grass strengthen cells, transport oxygen, help to detoxify the blood and liver as well as helping to neutralize polluting elements and stimulate RNA production. One can take 3-5 grams daily of these superfoods. Sulfur-rich vegetables in the Brassicceae Family like broccoli, cabbage, kale, radish, Brussels sprouts, arugula, rutabaga, turnip, Bok Choy and mustard greens combine with toxins and help to prevent free radical damage. Also rich in protective sulfur include garlic, onions, and beans.

High pectin foods like carrots, sunflower seeds and apples help to keep pollutants from being assimilated. High beta-carotene foods (like green leafy vegetables, carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes) help promote healthier immunity and cellular protection. Unpasteurized sauerkraut helps promote healthy intestinal flora. Garlic keeps radioactive isotopes from being absorbed.

Radiation sickness can also contribute to the development of anemia, so green foods and beets can all help build the blood. Nutritional yeast, high in B vitamins binds, absorbs and carries heavy metals out of our systems. After the fact, foods that are rich in nucleic acids can help us to rebuild and include spirulina, chlorella, nutritional yeast and bee pollen. Learn to identify and eat some of the wild edible plants from unpolluted areas such as chickweed, dandelion, malva and violets.

Aloe vera gel (Aloe vera) has been found to help heal radiation burns more quickly by its content of biogenic stimulators that encourage skin repair.

Burdock root (Arctium lappa) helps to neutralize and remove toxins from the body. During the Industrial Revolution, burdock was recommended as medicine to help people cope with the increased pollution.

Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) improves the function of our body’s organs elimination process. Consider how this plant has done a good job for itself adapting to environmental pollutants..

Eleuthero herb (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help alleviate fatigue, ameliorate symptoms from chemical and radiation exposure and lessen the effects of stress.

Ginseng root (Panax ginseng) helps one to decrease the side effects of radiation and recover more quickly its exposure.

Green and black tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) are antioxidant, immune stimulant, and contain radioprotective agents.

Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum) helps protect the body from chemical exposure, environmental illness and liver damage.

Nettles herb (Urtica dioica) cleanses and strengthens the kidneys as it builds the blood.

Peppermint leaf (Mentha piperita) can reduce nausea from radiation exposure.

Red clover blossom (Trifolium pratense) improves health in general, helping all the organs of elimination function more optimally.

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) have been found to bolster the immune system after radiation exposure.

Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) improves the function of the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, intestines and skin thus aiding the body’s natural cleansing process.

Supplements to help one better cope with environmental pollutants include antioxidants. Vitamin A and beta-carotene improve tissue strength and decrease wound healing time. The B complex can improve stress and fatigue. Vitamin C gives protection against a wide range of pollutants, reduces allergy symptoms, improves healing time and promotes detoxification. Strontium-90 competes with calcium in the body and depletes vitamin D supplies in the body, so vitamin D supplementation may be helpful. Selenium, helps protect one from heavy toxicity (and is found in Brazil nuts, garlic, green and black tea). Zinc is needed for B and T cell production. It also helps in the elimination of aluminum, cadmium, copper and lead. Glutathione is very protective against environmental pollutants. L-cysteine helps the liver breakdown chemicals. Calcium helps protect the body from absorbing radioactive materials and magnesium helps prevent the uptake of strontium 90. Bee pollen is extremely nutritive and reduces the side effects from radium and cobalt 60. Zeolite clay helps to remove heavy metals and radiation, binding to toxins in the bloodstream and helping them to be eliminated.

Epsom salt baths (1 pound per bath) can also be used to help draw radiation and toxins out of the body. Get a water filtering system for the entire household. Houseplants that are used to reduce indoor pollution include Chrysanthemum, Golden Pothos and Mother-In-Law Tongue, English Ivy, Gerber Daisy, Peace Lily, Spider plants, and Janet Craig.

(Leesa recommends Chews4Health!  Chews4Health contains 4 seaweed/sea vegetables – Dulse, Kelp, Bladderwack, and Nori!   Plus it tastes great and it is so convenient!  Learn more at www.chews4health.com/Leesa)
 

16 Lesser-Known Nutrients with Big Powers

16 Lesser-Known Nutrients with Big Powers

Many of us are well aware of macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as micronutrients, such as the vitamins and minerals that are listed on FDA-regulated food labels. But too few of us are familiar with phytochemicals — plant-based micronutrients that offer many health benefits and may help ward off chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Prevent Disease with Phytonutrient Power

It’s a time-tested truth: Plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are good for you. But researchers recently have discovered that plant molecules connect with human cells in striking ways. In other words, we’ve known they were good for you — just not this good.

“I don’t think there’s been this much excitement since vitamins and minerals were discovered more than 100 years ago,” says Beverly Clevidence, PhD, the research leader at the USDA-funded Food Components and Health Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

The discoveries — partly because of the work of the Human Genome Project — are revolutionizing the way we think about food.

In the past 20 years, for example, researchers have discovered that carrots, kale and peanuts are not just plant tissues embedded with vitamins and minerals that are easily encapsulated in multivitamins. Rather, these plant tissues are made up of tens of thousands of phytochemicals (“phyto” is from the Greek phuton, meaning plant).

You’ve probably heard of a few phytochemicals without even knowing what they are. For example, lycopene is a powerful phytonutrient found in tomatoes that helps fight heart disease and a variety of cancers. And the phenols found in strawberries protect against cancer and autoimmune diseases, and help reverse nerve-cell aging. But there are tens of thousands of other phytochemicals about which most of us know nothing. Experts in the nutrition field are buzzing about these chemicals with tongue-twisting names like glucoraphanin, zeaxanthin and saponin.

Why Food Is Your Best Source

Eating a diet steeped in fruits, veggies, legumes and other plant-based foods is the best way to ensure you’re getting all the phytonutrients your body needs. While there are a growing number of phytonutrient supplements available, many experts warn consumers away from that option.

The big cautionary tale here is beta-carotene. In 1995, it was considered the ultimate panacea. “There was so much good research on beta-carotene,” says David Williams, PhD, a researcher at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “We were charting nice correlations between beta-carotene in the blood and lower cancer risk. Basically everybody just assumed that beta-carotene was chemo-protective.”

But to the shock of many in the scientific community, two major clinical trials in 1996 indicated that beta-carotene supplements were not only useless against cancer, but actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.

“That was one of the first big disappointments, and it made people rethink the idea of going after individual phytochemicals,” says Williams.

Mark Farnham, PhD, a plant geneticist who specializes in phytonutrient research at a USDA facility in Charleston, S.C., concurs that current scientific consensus is now leaning toward emphasizing whole foods, rather than supplements, because plant chemicals seem to interact with one another in powerful ways. “There seems to be a synergistic effect between the chemicals in food,” he explains, noting also that this synergy is very hard to study because plant-based whole foods contain so many different bioactive compounds that it would be almost impossible to separate and study the potential health benefits of individual phytochemicals.

Plus, each chemical seems to have its own quirks. The carote-noids in collard greens, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, for example, are best absorbed if they are chopped, puréed or cooked, and eaten with a little fat, such as olive oil. But the glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables are most effective when eaten in their raw state and thoroughly chewed, so the plant cell walls release more of the cancer-fighting chemical. “There’s really no useful rule, because they’re all unique,” says Clevidence.

So eat as many fruits, veggies and other plant-based foods as you can, and be sure to choose foods from all around the color wheel — from ripe red tomatoes to princely eggplant to vivid oranges.

“If on a daily basis you incorporate at least seven different colors, you are much more likely to get a wide variety of these nutrients that are healing, that prevent degenerative disease, and that will go to work on every tissue, cell and organ of the body,” says nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, coauthor of The Fat Flush Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2002).

And don’t be afraid to go exotic with your color choices. Unusually hued foods add intrigue to your plate, and researchers at Washington State University have found that those foods can yield health benefits as well. Their 2006 study showed that wildly colored spuds contained more phytonutrients than white-fleshed potatoes.

If you need more motivation to eat your veggies, start a vegetable plot, and then chow down on the fruits of your labor. A 1991 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education found that vegetable gardeners ate significantly more eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, summer squashes, tomatoes, and herbs than did nongardeners.

It’s also a smart idea to avoid pesticide- and herbicide-drenched produce by going organic. Last year, Bland completed a survey of some 50 organics-related research reports and found that the vast majority of organic produce supported higher levels of phytonutrients.

If vegetables don’t usually appeal to you, consider taking just one vegetable-centered cooking class. It might make all the difference, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. After all, what sounds better: Brussels sprouts, or roasted Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and marjoram?

Ultimately, if your strategy for good health has been limited to popping vitamins, consider what you’re missing: a smorgasbord of beneficial phytonutrients found in wonderful, whole, plant-based foods. Besides, real food has been through the most extensive laboratory experiment ever conducted — natural selection. There’s nothing that’s been proven to nourish our bodies quite so well.

By Alyssa Ford, Experience Life

Alyssa Ford is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

Top 10 Superfoods for Spring

Top 10 Superfoods for Spring

I’m the first to admit that the term “superfood” gets thrown around a lot in the media and marketing, but that doesn’t mean we should turn our backs on the bursting-with-nourishment, lovely, potent, and delicious foods that fall under the moniker. Especially when these foods that are known to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and, while we’re at it, put you in a better mood.

Although some people have run rampant with the term and have made a mint by promoting the “miraculous! fountain-of-youth! death-defying!” benefits of superfoods, I hope that there won’t be a backlash against good, old-fashioned, super nutrient-exuberant food. As I’ve said before, I’m a crusader for most edibles in their pure forms–and the majority of them are superfoods in my book. There are few whole foods from the plant world that don’t have some health-boosting element to brag about–so how to decide what to eat? That’s why I like to think about–and eat–superfoods by season. Sure pumpkin is an A-plus superfood, but I like to save that for fall when it’s fresh and local, and look towards new fruit and tender green things this time of year. It’s a way to be connected to the planet’s cycle and decrease food miles, while giving your body a diversity of nutrients throughout the year to maximize its potential. And, to me at least, spring produce just tastes its amazing best in, yes, the spring! Funny how that works.

1. Artichokes
Studies have shown that artichokes contain a very high amount of antioxidants in the form of phytonutrients. A study undertaken by the USDA ranked artichokes as the number one fresh vegetable in antioxidant count. Among the most powerful phytonutrients are Cynarin and Silymarin, which have strong positive effects on the liver–any coincidence that artichokes have been reputed to help in the cure of liver diseases, liver cancer and to cure hangovers?

One large artichoke contains only 25 calories, no fat, 170 milligrams of potassium, and is a good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and has 6 grams of dietary fiber–25 percent of the daily recommended amount.

How to prepare an artichoke? Read this.

2. Asparagus
According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus is the food highest in glutathione, an important anti-carcinogen. It is also rich in two cancer-blocking vitamins (A and C) as well as the mineral selenium. These three nutrients have been singled out in several studies as fearsome cancer fighters. A 5 ounce serving (only 20 calories!) provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Asparagus is also an excellent source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, and is one of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.

Recipes:
Asparagus, Spring Onion, and Mushroom Pasta
Asparagus Spears with Black Pepper Pesto Vinaigrette
Savory Orange Roasted Tofu & Asparagus

3. Avocado
They’re rich, they’re buttery, they’re delicious, and they have about 30 grams of fat per fruit. Ouch. But that’s no reason not to love an avocado. Nutritionists have back-pedaled on their gentle warnings about avocados after finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated–the happy fat that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Yay! Let’s have an avocado party!

A study published in the Archives of Medical Research found that the 45 volunteers who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17 percent drop in total blood cholesterol. (Maybe because they were so happy to be eating so many avocados?!) As well, their levels of LDL (“bad fat”) and triglycerides, both associated with heart disease, went down. Their HDL (“good fat”) levels, which tend to lower the risk of heart disease, increased.

Avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. In a review article published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers pointed out that beta-sitosterol was shown to reduce cholesterol in 16 human studies.

Recipes:
Chilled Zucchini & Avocado Soup
Citrus Guacamole

4. Blueberries
Blueberries were one of the early belles of the Superfood Ball. Jam-packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, blueberries are also high in potassium and vitamin C. Recent research has found that additional components of blueberries may play an important role in preventing and fighting cancer. The results of one study suggest a wide array of potential cancer fighting benefits related to wild blueberry consumption. Blueberries also have anthocyanin pigments, which may have the ability to halt cancer in the critical stages of promotion and proliferation. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology indicated that, in isolated cells, the tannins found in blueberries are very active at lowering a protein that plays a role in the metastasis of cancer.

And that’s not all! In addition to helping prevent and fight cancer, the compounds in blueberries are believed to help against Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, eye disease and urinary tract infections. See? Super.

Recipes:
Blueberry Creamy No-Bake Pie
Berry Custard Cake

5. Fava Beans (AKA Broad Beans)
Mmmm. Spring in a pod–I adore fava beans, even if they are a little work. Okay, a lot of work, but so worth it! Not only are the big, fat, creamy beans scrumptious, but fava beans are particularly high in fiber (85 percent of the RDV), and also high in iron (30 percent of a day’s requirement). They contain no cholesterol and are low in fat. Fava beans are also noted to contain L-dopa, which is used as a drug for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, as with most whole grains, consumption of fava beans can help reduce risks associated with heart disease.

Recipes:
Herbed Fava Bean Salad
French Spring Soup

6. Fresh Figs
You can get dried figs year-round, which is why they might show up on my winter superfoods list, but for now (mid-May for California figs), helloooo fresh figs.Fresh figs put the va va voom in fruit–the tender but toothsome skin gives way to a soft and sticky center, dotted with delicately popping seeds, the perfumed and honeyed flesh–you get the picture. In my humble opinion, figs are quite an experience. And beyond their drop-dead flavor is their profusion of life-boosting qualities.

Figs have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruits. With their standout source of potassium, figs may help to control blood pressure. Figs are high in calcium; bones, take notice. And as fate would have it, their potassium may reduce the amount of calcium lost as a result of high-salt diets. Figs are also a good source of iron, vitamin B6 and the trace mineral manganese.

The fruit also has tremendous amounts of fiber, more than any other dried or fresh fruit. Insoluble fiber protects against colon and breast cancer–soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol, and figs provide both. (Which also makes them a mild laxative, just so you know.) They also are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols.

Recipes:
Try figs quartered, stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey and topped with sea salt and black pepper.
Fig & Kalamata Olive Tapenade

7. Leeks

Leeks look like cartoonishly big green onions, with a wonderfully sweet and subtle onion flavor. When braised or slowly sauteed, they melt into a sweet and creamy concoction that is hard not to love. And they are workhorses in the health department as well. Like garlic, onions, scallions, chives and shallots–all from the Allium family–leeks can help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens. Leeks contain sulfur compounds that may protect against heart disease and some cancers, they can help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens. Regular consumption of Allium vegetables (as little as two or more times a week–although I could certainly eat them every meal) is associated with a reduced risk of prostate and colon cancer.

Recipes:
Linguine with Leeks & Lemon
Creamy Vegan Potato Leek Soup

8. Oregeno and Other Fresh Herbs
Give me fresh oregano and find me happy. I love fresh oregano, especially if salty Mediterranean flavors–capers, olives, roasted peppers–are involved. Yum. And yum. And superfood-y too! When researchers at the University of Oslo, Norway analyzed 1,113 foods to identify those foods richest in total antioxidants. Of the 50 foods highest in antioxidants, 13 were herbs and spices. One study found that oregano had 42 times more antioxidants than apples.

Is it surprising that fresh herbs are so healthful? Not to me, on an instinctual level they strike me as deeply salubrious. Randomly pick an herb and research its health benefits. You might find that parsley is an excellent source of beta carotene, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin–essential for preventing macular degeneration–vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Or try cilantro. In research studies, cilantro�s remarkable components have shown the potential to help promote detoxification, reduce high blood sugar and lower levels of cholesterol.

Recipes:
Chard and Feta Tart with Oregano
Parsley & Walnut Pesto
Cilantro Tabouli

9. Spinach
Spinach, good old spinach. It’s almost surprising that something so good for us is loved by so many! Spinach is an excellent source of folate–the B vitamin that helps to prevent birth defects, heart disease, dementia, and colon cancer (the third most common cause of cancer in women)–people who eat at least one serving of greens, including spinach, each week are 20 percent less likely to develop colon cancer, according to Italian research. Another compound in spinach, lutein, fights against macular degeneration, which causes age-related vision loss–in fact, including at least two servings of spinach a week in your diet halves the odds of macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness), according to the the National Eye Institute. Eating cooked spinach more than twice a week cuts the need for cataract eye surgery in men by half, according to new Harvard University research. And in a large-scale Harvard study, spinach singled out as most protective against stroke! Finally, because of it’s high in vitamin K, spinach also helps build stronger bones–lowering the risk of hip fracture from osteoporosis as much as 30 percent, suggests a joint Harvard-Tufts study. Popeye was on to something.

Recipes:
Spinach Soup with Rosemary Croutons
Coconut Creamed Spinach

10. Strawberries
A of eight medium strawberries provides 140 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, 12 percent of our RDA for fiber, 6 percent of our RDA for folate, 210 mg of potassium, and is also high in vitamins K, B2, B5 and B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-fatty acids. In addition, strawberries contain anthocyanin, which has been used for studies in preventing initiation of cancers. Strawberries contain a unique phenolic group, ellagotannins, which are effective in preventing initiation of esophageal cancer.

With more antioxidant punch than most other fruits, berries in general strengthen tissue defenses against oxidation and inflammation, which are underlying factors in most age-related diseases. For example, substances in blueberries help with short-term memory loss associated with aging. All berries help lower risk for breast, oral, and colon cancers in women. With a wealth of phytochemicals like ellagic acid, adding strawberries to the diet lowers tumor risk by up to 58 percent.

Recipes:
Spinach & Strawberry Salad
Strawberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding (Or a vegan version.)
Simple Strawberry Cream Freeze

by Melissa Breyer

Does Your Brain Need an Oil Change?

Does Your Brain Need an Oil Change?

Humans really are fat heads.  About sixty percent of the human brain is fat.  To maintain proper brain health, you need to get adequate fat from your diet.  But, not just any fat will do.  Some fats damage the brain.  The Standard American Diet (SAD) high in trans and hydrogenated fats worsens inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can damage delicate brain tissues.  These unhealthy fats are found in fried foods, shortening, lard, margarine, baked goods, and processed and prepared foods.

Healthy fats help keep the lining of brain cells flexible so that memory and other brain messages can pass easily between cells.  Both Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats are important to brain health and should be eaten in a one-to-one or two-to-one ratio to each other.  However, the average North American eats these foods in a twenty-to-one to a fifty-to-one ratio, causing a huge imbalance and resulting Omega-3 deficiency.  In this ratio, Omega-6 fats can cause or worsen inflammation, for which there is insufficient Omega-3 fats to keep inflammation under control.  The typical diet, if it contains any healthy essential fatty acids, usually includes fats found in meat and poultry, or occasionally from nuts and seeds.  Most of these fats are Omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in the highest concentrations in corn, sunflower, and safflower oils.  But, you are more than what you eat.  I read somewhere that “you are what you eat eats.”  So that means if you eat a diet with meat or poultry that was fed corn, or other grains high in Omega-6s, you’re getting lots of Omega-6s indirectly.

The best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds or oil, walnuts and walnut oil, some types of algae, krill oil, and fatty coldwater fish, particularly wild salmon.  Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of Omega-3 fatty acid, makes up a large part of the lining of brain cells, helps to keep the cellular lining flexible enough to allow memory messages to pass between cells, promotes nerve transmission throughout the central nervous system, and protects the energy centers of the cells, called “mitochondria,” from damage.

Fish that contain high amounts of this Omega-3 fatty acid include mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, lake trout, and herring.  But be aware, some of these fish have become contaminated with mercury and, as you just learned in chapter two, some research links mercury to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  So, it is important to avoid fish that consistently shows up high on the mercury radar, including predatory fish like swordfish and shark, as well as sea bass, northern pike, tuna, walleye, and largemouth bass.  Salmon raised in fish farms also frequently shows up with high amounts of mercury, not to mention that farmed salmon often contains antibiotic residues and lower levels of the important Omega-3 fatty acids.

Adapted with permission from The Brain Wash by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, PhD, is an international best-selling and seven-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Phytozyme Cure and HealthSmart News. Learn more at www.DrMichelleCook.com.

Chocolate: Fact vs. Fiction

Chocolate: Fact vs. Fiction

A new study reported in WebMD leaves health professionals questioning results. First off, the study was conducted by Hershey Company (ah what?) and published in Chemistry Central Journal. The study compares the total flavonol and polyphenol content as well as antioxidant activity content of cocoa powder and dark chocolate vs. superfoods like acai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate.

Researchers found a higher level of antioxidant activity in cocoa powder than some of the other antioxidant-laden superfoods to which it was compared. But a review of the story and study on Health News Review brings up some important questions. For example, most chocolate sold in the U.S. is nothing more than sugary candy, including Hershey’s candy bars. And even more importantly, serving size matters. If you eat an entire candy bar, whether it’s dark chocolate or not, expect an expanded waistline, rather than the benefits of antioxidants.


Separate Dark Chocolate Fact From Fiction

 1. It’s Cocoa Not Dark Chocolate That Has Antioxidants

The story in WebMD did make a clear distinction between milk chocolate and dark chocolate when it comes to health benefits. But the fact of the matter is that it’s much more than just milk chocolate versus dark chocolate. Dark chocolate itself doesn’t supply the antioxidant value; it’s the cocoa powder that it’s made with. So in order to get the antioxidant benefits outlined in the study, there must be a high percentage of cocoa. The chocolate should be Fair Trade certified, organic, and be at least 70 percent cocoa. Avoid any filling like peanut butter, which could be laced with hydrogenated oils.

2. How Small is the Serving Size?

The serving size is incredibly important here. It’s normally a tiny square of chocolate within the chocolate bar, and depending on the size of the chocolate bar, there can be between 4 and 12 servings. If you’re not careful you can really overdo this, meaning that the saturated fats and sugar content can outweigh any benefits that you might have enjoyed beforehand. Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, authors of YOU: On a Diet, answered some important questions on the specifics of dark chocolate consumption. According to the article in the Sun Setinel, you don’t need a whole bar to get a healthy dose of antioxidants. The flavonoids in dark chocolate are so powerful that a daily piece the size of a Hershey’s Kiss can lower your blood pressure. While this is an ideal size comparison, it’s not a good quality comparison as written above.

3. The Price Is Much Different with Real Dark Chocolate

When compared to a conventional candy chocolate bar found in the candy aisle, real dark chocolate with known health benefits is much more expensive. Projections for world food prices show that the cost of chocolate is going up, up, up and real dark chocolate, already averages between $3 and $8 per bar.

4. Find the Benefits of Cocoa in Other Places

Sometimes a candy bar isn’t the best place to find the benefits of this known antioxidant. One of my favorite places to find it is in whole leaf tea. Use a French press to seep the tea leaves for at least 7 minutes. Add a touch of cream and raw sugar and you have the essence of delicious dark chocolate that’s much easier on your waistline. You can also enjoy cocoa by adding the unsweetened raw cocoa powder to a smoothie in the morning.

(Leesa recommends Chewcolat!  It’s the best of both worlds,  amazing acai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate found in www.chews4health.com/Leesa and just the right amount of natural dark chocolate!  Learn more and place your order at www.chewcolat.com!)

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

How Climate Affects Your Health

How Climate Affects Your Health

 How Climate Affects Your Health

My knee says a storm is coming…

The word “holistic” is used extensively to describe complementary forms of health care. But what does holistic really mean?

My definition of a holistic system of medicine is one that considers a person’s health in the context of the whole life of the patient. This includes the patient’s given constitutional tendencies, lifestyle choices (e.g., exercise, sleep patterns, etc.), the foods that a person consumes (including drugs and alcohol), emotional life, social life, and the external physical environment in which the patient lives — including climate and weather.

Chinese medicine was developed from the belief that we are deeply connected to, inseparable even, from our environment. It is helpful to understand how different external environments can influence the internal environment of our bodies.

6 Doctor-Tested Ways to Keep a Cold Away

In my last article, I discussed the various functions of qi. One of those functions is to protect against “invasion” from pathogenic influences. If our qi is strong enough, we can be exposed to harsh environments and not be too negatively impacted. If our protective qi is not strong enough, then environmental pathogens can penetrate into the body. When your mother told you to “bundle up” before you went into the cold or wind, she was telling you the same thing. Specifically, in Chinese medicine, when you catch a cold or the flu, it is said that the wind has invaded the body. When this happens, it often carries with it other environmental energies, such as heat, cold, or dampness. Wind invasions are characterized by sudden onset, aversion to drafts, and symptoms that change rapidly or move around, like the wind. If the wind has carried heat into the body, we say that a person has a “wind-heat” invasion. In addition to symptoms of wind, their symptoms will also be heat-related, manifesting in a fever, sweating, a red and irritated sore throat, strong thirst, or a fast pulse. A “wind-cold” invasion reflects symptoms of wind, plus cold symptoms such as chills, fear of cold, tightness in neck and shoulders (because cold makes the body contract and causes pain), headache, and a lack of sweating and thirst.

While some symptoms are caused by invasion from the outside environment, other diseases are created by internal factors, namely, the emotions.The Chinese name five destructive emotions: worry, anger, fear, sadness and over-joy (mania). A relaxed, emotionally-balanced state is ideal. Each emotion affects a specific organ and the body’s qi in a predictable way. Other factors include a weak constitution, excessive sexual activity, traumatic injury, and poor dietary habits. The amount of sexual activity that is considered “healthy” varies from person to person, but is related to a person’s age, inherent constitutional strength and the state of qi or health. Generally, the younger and healthier a person is, the more sexual activity he or she can have without negatively impacting health. Even diseases that have been caused from emotional or other factors will often have symptoms or characteristics that mimic environmental energies. For example, the symptoms of neurological disease — tremors, for example — often mimic the shaking movements of wind, while oozing sores, yeast overgrowth, excessive nasal mucus or other discharges reflect the energy of wet or damp weather.

 

Why do some people have symptoms that worsen with cold weather, while others suffer more in hot weather?

People with imbalances that reflect environmental energies often have symptoms that worsen when the weather is similar to their internal imbalance. People with internal heat (from internal or external causes) have symptoms that worsen in hot weather and feel better in cold weather. Those with internal cold will have symptoms that worsen in cold weather and feel better in hot weather. We all know people who seem to be able to predict that a storm is coming from the way their arthritic joints feel. This can be explained because the arthritis may have a “damp” component, worsening as the humidity increases with the approach of damp weather.

An acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist will analyze a patient’s symptoms, then use herbs or stimulate acupuncture points that have functions such as clearing heat, dispersing wind, or draining dampness in order to bring the patient’s energy back into balance. Also, by learning the specific energetics of food, we can eat in a way which brings us back toward balance, instead of adding to our imbalance. Some foods create heat (e.g., meats, spices, and greasy foods), some cool the body (e.g., raw vegetables and most fruits) and other foods (e.g., dairy products and sugar) generate dampness. Your licensed acupuncturist can help you understand your symptoms and give you personalized dietary recommendations.

Be well!

Scott Evans, Eastern Medicine & Aging Specialist, Caring.com

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

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