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How Turmeric Reduces Oxidative Stress and Supports Your Brain and Heart

June 13, 2013  By Dylan Charles   Mae Chan, Prevent Disease   Waking Times

Curcumin has increasingly come under the scientific spotlight in recent years, with studies investigating its potential health benefits. It has even been found to outperform pharmaceuticals in preventing disease. Curcumin is a compound found in the spice turmeric which gives it a natural pigment. It has been linked to a range of health benefits, including potential protection against prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, protection against heart failure, diabetes, and arthritis. Two studies add to that mix with benefits for arterial aging and cognition.

The first of the news studies, published in Experimental Gerontology and performed by scientists from the University of Colorado, found that curcumin was associated with improved vascular health in aging lab mice.

Curcumin is a diferuloylmethane derived from turmeric (popularly called “curry powder”) that has been shown to interfere with multiple cell signaling pathways, including cell cycle, proliferation, survival, invasion, metastasis and inflammation.

Adding curcumin to human cells with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and his colleagues found, stopped the cells from replicating. And the cells that were left died.

Researchers at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, found that a combination of turmeric and phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) was effective against prostate cancer. PEITC is abundant in a group of vegetables that includes cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, winter cress, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.

Intake of curcumin at ‘physiologically attainable’ doses have recently been reported to slow the development of prostate cancers by jamming receptors linked to cancer tumour growth, say researchers.

Supplementing the chow of aged mice with 0.2% curcumin “ameliorates age-associated large elastic artery stiffening, NO-mediated vascular endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress and increases in collagen […] in mice”, wrote the researchers, led by Bradley Fleenor.

Study Details

Fleenor and his co-workers gave old mice the equivalent of 14 grams per day of curcumin when compared with a 60 kg person.

“Because of curcumin’s poor absorption and rapid metabolism, clinical trials in humans also have used high doses of curcumin (8 to 12 g) similar to the amount our old mice consumed, while observing only infrequent, minor side effects,” they explained.

“Our results provide the first evidence that dietary curcumin supplementation ameliorates two clinically important markers of arterial dysfunction with aging: large elastic artery stiffening and endothelial dysfunction.

“Given its accessibility and safety, these pre-clinical findings provide the experimental basis for future translational studies assessing the potential for curcumin to treat arterial dysfunction with aging and reduce CVD risk in humans,” they concluded.

Healthy Brain Aging

The second curcumin study, published in Biogerontology and performed by researchers from Selcuk University in Turkey, examined the effects of curcumin on cognitive functions in old female rats.

Lab animals were given either curcumin or corn oil (control) for seven days, and a further five days when they were tested using the Morris water maze.

Results showed that curcumin supplementation decreased the time needed by the animals to reach the platform, and also decreased the total distance traveled by the rats.

“In addition to the behavioral testing, biochemical results showed that MDA levels decreased in brain tissue by curcumin supplementation,” they said. MDA (malondialdehyde) is a marker of oxidative stress.

“It may be concluded that, curcumin supplementation improves cognitive functions by decreasing the lipid peroxidation in brain tissue of aged female rats.”

One of the most comprehensive summaries of a review of 700 turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd. He showed that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects.

Alzheimer’s 

Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects in addressing Alzheimer’s disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.

Arthritis 

Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including sixdifferent COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin – the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects – is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.

Cancer

Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbookPhytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepato-carcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals. 

Weight Loss

Dietary curcumin can stall the spread of fat-tissue by inhibiting new blood vessel growth, called angiogenesis, which is necessary to build fat tissue. Curcumin-treated groups have been found to have less blood vessel growth in fat tissue. Blood glucose, triglyceride, fatty acid, cholesterol and liver fat levels also were lower.

Parkinson’s

A team of researchers has now demonstratedthat slow-wriggling alpha-synuclein proteins are the cause of clumping, or aggregation, which is the first step of diseases such as Parkinson’s. A new study led by Ahmad, which appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows that curcumin can help prevent clumping.

– Only 1 percent of the elderly in India develop Alzheimer’s disease – this is one-quarter the rate of Alzheimer’s development in North America. This difference is thought to be due in part to regular consumption of curry in India.
– Daily intake of curcumin may decrease the risk of developing polyps in the colon, which in turn, decreases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
– Regular consumption of turmeric may help to ease pain and inflammation that accompanies arthritis.
– Curcumin may be helpful in the treatment of some cases of cystic fibrosis.
– Curcumin can help to effectively treat skin cancer cells.
– Turmeric may help to prevent the spread of breast cancer cells.

About the Author
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Say Hello to Hemp This Summer

by Kate Geagan MS, RD   06/13/2013 

Looking for a super simple addition you can make to your diet this summer that delivers significant health benefits? Say hello to hemp.

If the thought of eating hemp makes you a little uneasy, rest assured that the edible hemp seeds you see in the store do not contain THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana). In fact, you should think of hemp in the same way you do poppy seeds – which come from the opium plant.

Hemp has rapidly gone mainstream, available in most supermarkets in seeds, powder, milk, butters and oils. And its impressive nutrition prowess makes it worthy of superfood status. Here’s why:

Protein Powerhouse

Hemp seeds are packed with high-quality protein and all the essential amino acids we need. Just 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts provides 5 grams of protein – almost as much as an egg, which has 6 grams.


Good Fats

Hemp is rich in essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fats, which may help reduce the risk of depression and reduce the clotting factors associated with heart disease. Hemp is also a good source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and inflammation. Score one more for hemp because hemp hearts offer an almost perfect balance of the omega-6 to omega-3 fats at a 3:1 ratio, making them a wonderful food to include for promoting optimum health.

Vitamin E and More

As with many other seeds, hemp seeds deliver a significant amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant. Magnesium and iron are two other nutrients of note in this mighty little seed.

How to Enjoy Hemp Now:

  • Hemp seeds (also called “hearts”) can easily be added to yogurt, hot or cold breakfast cereal, salads or smoothies.
  • Swap out 1/4 of the flour called for in baking for hemp: cookies, muffins or pancakes can get a nice nutrition boost.
  • Need an extra protein boost before your workout? Try adding a scoop of hemp powder.
  • Toast hemp seeds to make a crust for salmon therefore getting double your dose of omega-3s.
  • For a summer snack blend hemp seeds, chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and cumin to make a hemp hummus: enjoy with a plate of your favorite sliced veggies.
  • Try hemp milk instead of cow’s milk or soy milk.
  • Look for hemp oil in the grocery store-and use in salad dressings drizzled on your favorite stir fry. (Note: Hemp oil is a bit fragile, so it should be stored in a cool, dark place).


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Easy Tips for Planning a Healthy Diet & Sticking to It

Healthy Eating
Easy Tips for Planning a Healthy Diet & Sticking to It

Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, stabilizing your mood, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible– all of which can be achieved by learning some nutrition basics and using them in a way that works for you. You can expand your range of healthy food choices and learn how to plan ahead to create and maintain a tasty, healthy diet.

In This Article:

  •     Set yourself up for success
  •     Moderation is key
  •     Fill up on fruits & vegetables
  •     Eat more whole grains
  •     Enjoy healthy fats
  •     Put protein in perspective
  •     Add calcium & vitamin D
  •     Limit sugar & salt

Healthy eating tip 1: Set yourself up for success

To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.

    Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.
   
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking.  As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.

    Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.

Think of water and exercise as food groups in your diet.

Water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.

Exercise. Find something active that you like to do and add it to your day, just like you would add healthy greens, blueberries, or salmon. The benefits of lifelong exercise are abundant and regular exercise may even motivate you to make healthy food choices a habit.

Healthy eating tip 2: Moderation is key

People often think of healthy eating as an all or nothing proposition, but a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation. But what is moderation? How much is a moderate amount? That really depends on you and your overall eating habits. The goal of healthy eating is to develop a diet that you can maintain for life, not just a few weeks or months, or until you’ve hit your ideal weight. So try to think of moderation in terms of balance. Despite what certain fad diets would have you believe, we all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.

For most of us, moderation or balance means eating less than we do now. More specifically, it means eating far less of the unhealthy stuff (unrefined sugar, saturated fat, for example) and more of the healthy (such as fresh fruit and vegetables). But it doesn’t mean eliminating the foods you love. Eating bacon for breakfast once a week, for example, could be considered moderation if you follow it with a healthy lunch and dinner–but not if you follow it with a box of donuts and a sausage pizza. If you eat 100 calories of chocolate one afternoon, balance it out by deducting 100 calories from your evening meal. If you’re still hungry, fill up with an extra serving of fresh vegetables.

    Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
    Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently, particularly in restaurants. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes in realistic terms, and start small. If you don’t feel satisfied at the end of a meal, try adding more leafy green vegetables or rounding off the meal with fresh fruit. Visual cues can help with portion sizes–your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards, a slice of bread should be the size of a CD case, and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb.

Healthy eating tip 3: It’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat

Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is about more than the food on your plate—it is also about how you think about food. Healthy eating habits can be learned and it is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids.

    Eat with others whenever possible. Eating with other people has numerous social and emotional benefits—particularly for children—and allows you to model healthy eating habits. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
    Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savoring every bite. We tend to rush though our meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavors and feel the textures of our food. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
    Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
    Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going.
    Avoid eating at night. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Early studies suggest that this simple dietary adjustment—eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day—may help to regulate weight. After-dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories so are best avoided, anyway.

Healthy eating tip 4: Fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables

Shop the perimeter of the grocery storeFruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety. Aim for a minimum of five portions each day.

Some great choices include:

    Greens. Branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
    Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.
    Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C, and so on.

The importance of getting vitamins from food—not pills

The antioxidants and other nutrients in fruits and vegetables help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. And while advertisements abound for supplements promising to deliver the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables in pill or powder form, research suggests that it’s just not the same.

A daily regimen of nutritional supplements is not going to have the same impact of eating right. That’s because the benefits of fruits and vegetables don’t come from a single vitamin or an isolated antioxidant.

The health benefits of fruits and vegetables come from numerous vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals working together synergistically. They can’t be broken down into the sum of their parts or replicated in pill form.
Healthy eating tip 5: Eat more healthy carbs and whole grains

Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long lasting energy. In addition to being delicious and satisfying, whole grains are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. Studies have shown people who eat more whole grains tend to have a healthier heart.

A quick definition of healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs

Healthy carbs (sometimes known as good carbs) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.

Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Unhealthy carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.

Tips for eating more healthy carbs

Whole Grain Stamp

    Include a variety of whole grains in your healthy diet, including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley. Experiment with different grains to find your favorites.
    Make sure you’re really getting whole grains. Be aware that the words stone-ground, multi-grain, 100% wheat, or bran can be deceptive. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” at the beginning of the ingredient list. In the U.S., Canada, and some other countries, check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and 100% whole grain.
    Try mixing grains as a first step to switching to whole grains. If whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta don’t sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.

Avoid: Refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.

Healthy eating tip 6: Enjoy healthy fats & avoid unhealthy fats

Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails.  Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA are particularly important and can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.

Add to your healthy diet:

    Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
    Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements. Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, and walnuts.

Reduce or eliminate from your diet:

    Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products.
    Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Healthy eating tip 7: Put protein in perspective

Protein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going. Protein in food is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy, and essential for maintaining cells, tissues, and organs. A lack of protein in our diet can slow growth, reduce muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein is particularly important for children, whose bodies are growing and changing daily.
Here are some guidelines for including protein in your healthy diet:

Try different types of protein. Whether or not you are a vegetarian, trying different protein sources—such as beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu, and soy products—will open up new options for healthy mealtimes.

    Beans:  Black beans, navy beans, garbanzos, and lentils are good options.
    Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans are great choices.
    Soy products: Try tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and veggie burgers for a change.
    Avoid salted or sugary nuts and refried beans.

Downsize your portions of protein. Many people in the West eat too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the center of your meal. Focus on equal servings of protein, whole grains, and vegetables.

Focus on quality sources of protein, like fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, beans, or nuts. When you are having meat, chicken, or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics.
Healthy eating tip 8: Add calcium for strong bones

Add Calcium for Strong BonesCalcium is one of the key nutrients that your body needs in order to stay strong and healthy. It is an essential building block for lifelong bone health in both men and women, as well as many other important functions.

You and your bones will benefit from eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, limiting foods that deplete your body’s calcium stores, and getting your daily dose of magnesium and vitamins D and K—nutrients that help calcium do its job.

Recommended calcium levels are 1000 mg per day, 1200 mg if you are over 50 years old. Take a vitamin D and calcium supplement if you don’t get enough of these nutrients from your diet.

Good sources of calcium include:

    Dairy: Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk, yogurt, and cheese.
    Vegetables and greens: Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and crimini mushrooms.
    Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.

Healthy eating tip 9: Limit sugar and salt

If you succeed in planning your diet around fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats, you may find yourself naturally cutting back on foods that can get in the way of your healthy diet—sugar and salt.
 
Sugar

Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. Unfortunately, reducing the amount of candy, cakes, and desserts we eat is only part of the solution. Often you may not even be aware of the amount of sugar you’re consuming each day. Large amounts of added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce, and ketchup. Here are some tips:

    Avoid sugary drinks. One 12-oz soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it, more than the daily recommended limit! Try sparkling water with lemon or a splash of fruit juice.
    Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.

How sugar is hidden on food labels

Check food labels carefully. Sugar is often disguised using terms such as:

    cane sugar or maple syrup
    corn sweetener or corn syrup
    honey or molasses
    brown rice syrup
    crystallized or evaporated cane juice
    fruit juice concentrates, such as apple or pear
    maltodextrin (or dextrin)
    Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Maltose, or Sucrose

Salt

Most of us consume too much salt in our diets. Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. Try to limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt.

    Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. Processed foods like canned soups or frozen dinners contain hidden sodium that quickly surpasses the recommended limit.
    Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with sodium.
    Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
    Cut back on salty snacks such as potato chips, nuts, and pretzels.
    Choose low-salt or reduced-sodium products.
    Try slowly reducing the salt in your diet to give your taste buds time to adjust.

source: www.helpguide.org


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Acid Alkaline Imbalance

    Over acidity, which can become a dangerous condition that weakens all body systems, is very common today. It gives rise to an internal environment conducive to disease, as opposed to a pH balanced environment which allows normal body function necessary for the body to resist disease. A healthy body maintains adequate alkaline reserves to meet emergency demands. When excess acids must be neutralized our alkaline reserves are depleted leaving the body in a weakened condition. A pH balanced diet, according to many experts, is a vital key to health maintenance.

    The concept of acid alkaline imbalance as the cause of disease is not new. In 1933 a New York doctor named William Howard Hay published a ground-breaking book, A New Health Era in which he maintains that all disease is caused by autotoxication (or “self-poisoning”) due to acid accumulation in the body:

        Now we depart from health in just the proportion to which we have allowed our alkalies to be dissipated by introduction of acid-forming food in too great amount… It may seem strange to say that all disease is the same thing, no matter what its myriad modes of expression, but it is verily so.—William Howard Hay, M.D.

    More recently, in his remarkable book Alkalize or Die (see recommended reading), Dr. Theodore A. Baroody says essentially the same thing:

        The countless names of illnesses do not really matter. What does matter is that they all come from the same root cause…too much tissue acid waste in the body!—Theodore A. Baroody, N.D., D.C., Ph.D. 


    Understanding pH
    pH (potential of hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14—the lower the pH the more acidic the solution, the higher the pH the more alkaline (or base) the solution. When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 which is neutral.

    Water is the most abundant compound in the human body, comprising 70% of the body. The body has an acid-alkaline (or acid-base) ratio called the pH which is a balance between positively charges ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) The body continually strives to balance pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.

    It is important to understand that we are not talking about stomach acid or the pH of the stomach. We are talking about the pH of the body’s fluids and tissues which is an entirely different matter.

    Test Your Body’s Acidity or Alkalinity with pH Strips:

    It is recommended that you test your pH levels to determine if your body’s pH needs immediate attention. By using pH test strips, you can determine your pH factor quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home. If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.0 to 6.5 in the morning and between 6.5 and 7.0 in the evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range. If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 7.5 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range. The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal. Test your pH two days a week.

    Most people who suffer from unbalanced pH are acidic. This condition forces the body to borrow minerals—including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium—from vital organs and bones to buffer (neutralize) the acid and safely remove it from the body. Because of this strain, the body can suffer severe and prolonged damage due to high acidity—a condition that may go undetected for years.

    Mild acidosis can cause such problems as:

        Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels and the reduction of oxygen.
        Weight gain, obesity and diabetes.
        Bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones.
        Immune deficiency.
        Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to cancerous mutations.
        Hormone concerns.
        Premature aging.
        Osteoporosis; weak, brittle bones, hip fractures and bone spurs.
        Joint pain, aching muscles and lactic acid buildup.
        Low energy and chronic fatigue.
        Slow digestion and elimination.
        Yeast/fungal overgrowth.

        pH and Bone Loss:
          A recent seven-year study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, on 9,000 women showed that those who have chronic acidosis are at greater risk for bone loss than those who have normal pH levels. The scientists who carried out this experiment believe that many of the hip fractures prevalent among middle-aged women are connected to high acidity caused by a diet rich in animal foods and low in vegetables. This is because the body borrows calcium from the bones in order to balance pH. — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


    Urine pH

    Urine testing may indicate how well your body is excreting acids and assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. These minerals function as “buffers.” Buffers are substances that help maintain and balance the body against the introduction of too much acidity or too much alkalinity. Even with the proper amounts of buffers, acid or alkaline levels can become extreme. When the body ingests or produces too many of these acids or alkalis, it must excrete the excess. The urine is the perfect way for the body to remove any excess acids or alkaline substances that cannot be buffered. If the average urine pH is below 6.5 the body’s buffering system is overwhelmed, a state of “autotoxication” exists, and attention should be given to lowering acid levels.

    Saliva pH

    The results of saliva testing may indicate the activity of digestive enzymes in the body. These enzymes are primarily manufactured by the stomach, liver and pancreas. While the saliva also utilizes buffers just like the urine, it relies on this process to a much lesser degree. If the saliva pH is too low (below 6.5), the body may be producing too many acids or may be overwhelmed by acids because it has lost the ability to adequately remove them through the urine. If the saliva pH is too high (over 6.8), the body may suffer greatly, e.g. excess gas, constipation and production of yeast, mold and fungus. Some people will have acidic pH readings from both urine and saliva—this is referred to as “double acid.”

    Restoring pH Balance in the Body

    Your body is able to assimilate minerals and nutrients properly only when its pH is balanced. It is therefore possible for you to be taking healthy nutrients and yet be unable to absorb or use them. If you are not getting the results you expected from your nutritional or herbal program, look for an acid alkaline imbalance. Even the right herbal program may not work if your body’s pH is out of balance.

    Change Your pH Balance from Acidic to Alkaline

    By far the most common imbalance seen in our society is over acidity. If your urine and/or saliva test below 6.5 pH start with steps 1 through 5 below and continue adding steps until desired results are achieved. Be sure to monitor your progress with easy-to-use pH test strips:
    pH Balance Supplements for Overly-Acidic

        Enzymes are essential: Take 1-2 capsules of either Food Enzymes or Proactazyme Plus with every meal. For even better and quicker results, also take 1-2 capsules of High Potency Protease and Nature’s Noni between meals on an empty stomach.
        Easily absorbable magnesium is needed: Take 2 Magnesium Complex with each meal which provides highly absorbable magnesium to help build necessary buffers. Magnesium is often lost in urine as a consequence of too much acid in the body.
        Alkaline minerals are essential: Take 1 ounce of either Ionic Minerals or Mineral Chi Tonic once daily.
        Alkalize with Green Food: Take 1 teaspoon of Liquid Chlorophyll in water up to eight times daily.
        Absorbable Calcium: If your urine is 5.8-7.2, take Calcium Plus Vitamin D and Magnesium (the amino acid chelated form, not the carbonate form) daily to support your bones. If pH is 5.0-6.5, use Sea Calcium (pH 10.)
        If your pH is still too acidic, add the following:
        Vitamin D3 helps hold calcium in the body. Taking NSP’s Vitamin D3 and Omega 3 will help the body buffer acids. Take 1-2 of each daily.
        Cleanse as needed: Take a psyllium hulls supplement such as Psyllium Hulls Combination or Psyllium Hulls Capsules at bedtime to maintain regular bowel movements. Use CleanStart or Chinese Tiao He Cleanse twice a year for liver, bowel and kidney detoxification.
        Strengthen urinary and lymphatic systems’ ability to excrete acids: Take Kidney Drainage and Lymphatic Drainage daily in water.

        Quality is Critical: I recommend only Nature’s Sunshine Products. NSP has formulated premium-quality products for 40 years. Our experience has been that substituting lesser quality products will compromise pH balancing results!

        The food chart below briefly summarizes this information for some of the more common foods. A healthy diet should consist of 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods.

    What Causes Me to be Acidic?
    The reason acidosis is more common in our society is mostly due to the typical American diet, which is far too high in acid-producing animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, and far too low in alkaline-producing foods like fresh vegetables. Additionally, we eat acid-producing processed foods like white flour and sugar and drink acid-producing beverages like coffee and soft drinks. We use too many drugs, which are acid-forming; and we use artificial chemical sweetners like NutraSweet, Equal, or aspartame, which are extremely acid-forming. One of the best things we can do to correct an overly-acid body is to clean up the diet and lifestyle. Refer to the recommended reading for specific help with diet and lifestyle.

    pH Balance Supplements for Overly-Alkaline
    Alkalinity is relatively rare, but if your urine and/or saliva consistently test above 7.0 pH, start with steps 1, 2 and 3 below and continue adding steps until the desired results are achieved. Be sure to monitor your progress with easy-to-use pH test strips. You will notice that some of these steps are the same as those recommended above for an overly acidic condition. This is because these steps have a buffering effect, or in other words they are balancing, tending to bring the pH back toward normal no matter which direction it has gone:

        Enzymes are essential: Take 1-2 capsules of Food Enzymes or Proactazyme Plus with every meal. Also take 1-2 capsules of High Potency Protease and Nature’s Noni between meals on an empty stomach.
        Support urinary and lymphatic systems’ ability to excrete toxins: Take Kidney Drainage and Lymphatic Drainage in water according to directions. Then use Lymphomax and Urinary Maintenance to maintain.
        Correct calcium is needed: Use NSP’s Liquid Calcium.
        Vitamin C: Use Timed-Release Vitamin C. Use 3,000 mg or more, to maximum bowel tolerance. (If diarrhea occurs, reduce intake.)
        Flax Seed Oil: Use 1 capsules of Flax Seed Oil 3 times a day or 2 tablespoons of Liquid Flax Seed Oil daily.
        Cleanse as needed: Take a psyllium hulls supplement such as Psyllium Hulls Combination or Psyllium Hulls Capsules at bedtime to maintain regular bowel movements. Use CleanStart or Chinese Tiao He Cleanse twice a year for liver, bowel and kidney detoxification.

pH Balance Chart


Note that a food’s acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic, however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so lemons are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming.


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Probiotics can ‘benefit brain function’

By Tim Sandle    May 30, 2013

Scientists now argue that beneficial bacteria ingested in food (‘probiotics’) can affect brain function in humans. This is based on a study of women who consumed probiotic yoghurts.

The research found that women who regularly consumed probiotics (a term applied to beneficial bacteria) added to yogurt showed altered brain function in terms of less stress and anxiety when exposed to images designed to trigger such reactions. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures, such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements.

For the study, thirty-six women between the ages of 18 and 55 were divided into three groups: one group ate a specific yogurt containing a mix of several probiotics twice a day for four weeks; another group consumed a dairy product that looked and tasted like the yogurt but contained no probiotics; and a third group ate no product at all.

The change to brain function was seen in the majority of the women both while they were resting and when exposed to various images designed to elicit an emotional response. The researchers found that, compared with the women who did not consume the probiotic yogurt those who did consume probiotic activity showed a decrease in brain activity associated with ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’. This was shown through magnetic resonance imaging.

 

probiotics


This leads into other research where scientists have known that the brain sends signals to the gut in a way that explains is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome.

The finding, which seems to suggest that changing the bacterial environment in the gut can affect the brain carries implications for future research into dietary or drug interventions aimed at improving or altering brain function (to treat digestive, mental and neurological disorders). It may also be that a diet high in fat and carbohydrates has the reverse effect. However, given that the study was quite small, further research will be required.

The study was carried out by scientists based at UCLA’s Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA. The findings have been published in the journal Gastroenterology. The paper is titled “Consumption of Fermented Milk Product with Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity”.

source: digitaljournal.com


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22 Cheap and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

by Kate Morin    April 10, 2012

At the Grocery Store

1. Make a grocery list (and stick to it). By heading to the store with a clear list of what’s necessary, it’s much easier to avoid last-minute purchases. (Some studies say shoppers may still make impulsive buys… but the list can’t hurt.) Feeling techy? Try one of the many apps that can help with shopping, like GroceryIQ or Shopper.

2. Don’t go shopping hungry. Even after you take the time to write a meticulous grocery list, if that stomach is grumbling so loudly the people in the next aisle can hear it, chances are something surprising’s going to jump into the shopping cart. Avoid succumbing to last-minute cravings (like, say, for lardwiches) by eating a healthy snack (or meal) before heading to the store.

3. Buy more greens. On that weekly trip to the grocery store, grab some extra green vegetables for health benefits like a stronger immune system [1]. They’re super-healthy (kale and spinach are bona fide superfoods!) and easy to fit into any meal!

4. Choose fresh or frozen over canned. For veggies, soups, and beans, nixing the can cuts out unnecessary sodium. For fruit, it avoids excess sugar. Plus, the fresh stuff always tastes better. And, perhaps surprisingly, canned produce can actually end up costing more (or at least the same amount) as the fresh stuff!

5. If you can’t grow it or raise it (theoretically), don’t eat it. Monosodium glutamate doesn’t grow on trees. Neither does high fructose corn syrup or Yellow No. 5. But at least one of these ingredients is found in many (if not most) of the processed foods on grocery store shelves, from chips to fruit juice. And these ingredients have been linked to everything from obesity and diabetes to brain and liver damage [2] [3] [4]. If whatever’s in that grocery basket couldn’t theoretically come from your own backyard, swap it for something closer to the original. Choose whole potatoes over a box of mashed; pick plain ol’ oats instead of pre-sweetened packets.

6. Choose whole grains. When grains are processed — like, say, to become white flour used in crackers, cookies, or white bread — two essential parts of the grain (the bran and germ) are removed. The problem is these parts hold the most health benefits and nutrients, including vitamin E, major B vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Look for the “Whole Grain Stamp” on packaging or just opt for ingredients like whole grain, brown rice, and oats.

7. Avoid sweetened drinks. Added sugar is a big no-no. Not only does it pack on calories, but eating foods with added sugar has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weight gain [5] [6]. Replace sweetened beverages (even artificially sweetened diet drinks) with water, seltzer, and fresh fruit, or 100 percent fruit juices diluted with water.

8. Eat naturally sweet food (and don’t add extra sugar to it!). Some of us have a sweet tooth, but instead of indulging in sugar-packed processed foods, choose naturally sweet ones to cut down on sugar cravings later. Start in the fruit section and choose naturally sweet vegetables like beets, corn, and sweet potatoes (just to name a few!).

9. Buy in bulk and divide into portions. Yes, this strategy is mostly a way to cut down on cost. But buying in bulk — anything from vegetables, to meat, to grains — can also cut down on shopping time, so there’s more time left to prepare healthy meals.

10. Stick to the edges of the grocery store. The outer edges are typically home to fresh produce, meats, dairy, and breads. The inner aisles usually feature highly-processed items packed with extra sugar and artificial ingredients. There are always exceptions, of course, but try sticking to the 80:20 rule (80 percent of the grocery cart from outside the aisles, 20 percent from inside the aisles) for a healthier diet.

Food Storage and Prep

11. Make grocery day “Food Prep Extravaganza.” To cut down drastically on food prep throughout the week, do it all at once after returning home from the store. Unwrap, clean, and cut up meat to freeze or refrigerate in portions. Wash and prep all produce. Chop and freeze anything that may be used at a later date. Pre-portion snack foods (see below), and yogurt or rolled oats for easy breakfasts throughout the week! (Overnight Oats are a favorite in the Greatist office!)

12. Prepare your own food as often as possible. We’re not talking give up eating out entirely — it’s no fun skipping those special restaurant dinners! But by preparing as many meals as possible on your own, it’s much easier to know (and control) exactly what’s going into your body, without any sneaky ingredients. Going to be at work during the lunch hour? Pack something to eat there. No time to eat before heading out in the AM? Bring something to eat on the way or at the office.

13. Pre-package snacks. When eating out of a family-sized potato chip bag, it’s easy to keep reaching that hand in until all that’s left are the greasy crumbs. Instead of wasting away in a bottomless pit of chips, try pre-portioning snack foods into single-serving plastic baggies or reusable containers.

14. Grow your own herbs. Fresh herbs (or freshly dried ones) are a great way to season food without excess salt, butter, or cheese. Growing a personal herb garden isn’t only good for that belly — it’s also an easy way to pretty up any space! All that’s necessary for a DIY herb garden is a few small planters and an empty windowsill (even the Greatist office has one!).

15. Store the healthiest food in the front of the fridge. When the fridge door opens, make sure you see the healthiest items first. If the leftover chocolate cake is shoved in the back corner, chances are the eye will gravitate towards the shiny apple right up front first. Bonus points for storing healthy options in transparent containers and unhealthy stuff in opaque ones so you see the healthy stuff before the stomach really starts grumbling.
Cooking and Mealtime

16. Sneak veggies into everything. We even have a few ways to fit veggies into dessert. Yep, we went there.

17. Forget about counting calories. Checking every nutrition label before chowing down is annoying (to say the least). Instead focus on meals that include a variety of nutrients, colors, and fresh ingredients. It’s much easier to keep a healthy, balanced diet this way than by counting calories.

18. Eat a healthy breakfast! Starting the day off right is key to eating healthy all day long. So what makes the best breakfast? One study found consuming protein for breakfast can help prevent overeating later in the day [7], but another found that eating a big breakfast with dessert could help keep off excess pounds [8]. Choose what works best for you.

19. Opt for smaller portions. When restaurants pile plates bigger than a human head, it’s easy to overeat. Limit those portions to less gargantuan sizes to easily eat a little healthier. Not sure where to start? Try these portion-size plates, or learn how to estimate serving sizes for certain foods. And here’s a great tip for eating out: To avoid eating more than planned, ask the server to wrap up half the dish beforehand and go home with a pre-made doggie bag.

20. Replace dessert with fruit. (…Or at least add fruit to dessert.) While some varieties can be high in sugar, fruit is a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth without breaking the sugar bank. Plus, it offers health benefits typical desserts can’t, like fiber and antioxidants. And opting for fruit can help avoid that dreaded sugar crash.

21. Pace your mealtime. When we eat quickly, our bodies don’t always have time to realize we’re full — so it’s easy to overeat [9]. Enjoy what’s on the plate, and stop eating as soon as that stomach gives the first hint of being full. It’s always possible to eat more later.

22. Consider not buying unhealthy stuff in the first place. ‘Nuff said.

Originally posted April 2012. Updated November 2012 by Shana Lebowitz.
source: greatist.com


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5 Foods to Make You Happy (Hint: Omega-3s)

By Sherry Guastini   June 13, 2012

Do you ever feel depressed or disconnected from your daily life, as if you’re just going through the motions? Are your relationships suffering because you feel numb and joyless? Do you forget appointments or events and then wonder why? Do you have a child who seems to cry easily, feel sad a lot or just seems withdrawn?

If so, you are not alone. Depression rates in the U.S. “have roughly tripled over two decades,” according to several studies and reported in CBS News TV show “Sunday Morning,” which aired on March 18. That translates to 27 million Americans taking pharmaceuticals such as Wellbutrin, Celexa, Pristiq, Cymbalta, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and Prozac. Studies show that these antidepressants work for only 30 to 45% of people and many of these drugs come with serious side effects such as suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors.

There are many valid reasons why people could become depressed, such as the financial impact of the economy, the death of a loved one, foreclosure and abuse to name a few. However, turning to these mood-altering drugs doesn’t appear to offer a healthy solution. In fact, most of those drugs target Serotonin (the feel-good hormone) uptake while new studies show that depression is linked more closely to too much Cortisol (the stress hormone) in our system.

In fact, studies show that there are many lifestyle adjustments that can be applied for free that help to lift our mood from “can’t get off the couch” to moving through our day with a smile of accomplishment. A few changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in your mental/emotional state. Try spending time in nature or with a pet, taking a long walk, moving your body in some form of exercise you enjoy, turning off depressing news reports, finding a spiritual path that speaks to you, mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and engaging in supportive relationships.

By far, one of the most disturbing facts on depression rates is that pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants claims a study published in “Psychiatric Services,” April 2004. What?! The preschool years have always been among the most innocent and joyful times of life! At least four percent of preschoolers, over a million, are clinically depressed. The rate of increase in depression among children is an astounding 23% and is currently escalating, claims a Harvard University study reported in “Harvard Mental Health Newsletter”, February 2002.

Some might claim that doctors are simply getting better at diagnosing depression. I have a different opinion and it involves nutrition or the lack thereof.

Our brains, especially our growing brains, need good fats to be healthy. No, wait a second – don’t run to the freezer for ice cream quite yet! While ice cream is fatty and does taste great it will only make you feel good for a little while…. What I’m talking about are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s).

Of all of our body parts, it’s the brain that’s most in need of high-quality fats. In fact, the brain is made up of 60% fat, mostly an Omega-3 fat called DHA. Its job is to support cellular communication and when present in the right ratio, it produces happiness while increasing learning and memory skills. If our brains are deficient in Omega-3’s we can experience depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. Not surprisingly, Americans are deficient in Omega-3’s. Some reports indicating 95% of us lack enough Omega-3’s to support our brains!


One reason for this is our reliance on processed, nutrient-deficient foods. Ask any kid what his favorite foods are and you’ll probably get a long list of junk foods like Cheezits and Ring Dings! Not only are processed foods lacking in Omega-3’s, but are also high in Omega-6’s that unbalances the ratio of EFA’s and is the leading cause of inflammatory issues.

Once again looking to the past to solve a present day crisis provides a solution. In ages past, we had an understanding that food was medicine. When we return to the way our ancestors ate and include many natural whole foods into our diet, the dense nutrition begins to balance our brains and the rest of us as well! The lowest rates of depression are found in societies with the highest consumption of EFA rich foods.

1. Fish.

One of the biggest sources of Omega-3’s is from fish, particularly salmon, sardines and halibut. Wild-caught fish are far healthier than farm-raised. Some people are vegan or don’t like the taste of fish and choose to supplement with fish or krill oils. Choosing a highly purified version of fish oil is wise, as many fish are contaminated with PCP’s and mercury, resulting in a very expensive toxic sludge.

2. Walnuts.

Walnuts are also a good source of Omega-3’s, but be sure to buy them raw for the biggest impact.

3. Soy. 

Soy is also high in Omega-3’s. However, soy is among the most genetically modified (GM) foods on the market. GM foods contain proteins not found in nature and for many they lead to digestive issues as these strange proteins are not easily broken down. The UK experienced a 50% rise in pediatric allergies the year that GM foods were introduced in their markets. Coincidence? I think not.

4. Flax.

Flax seeds are also a great source of Omega-3’s. To access all the nutrition they hold you must be sure to grind them up. Refrigerating Flax is a must because the oil quickly becomes rancid.

5. Chia.

Lastly, chia seeds, nature’s forgotten superfood, are so chock full of Omega-3’s they are sure to put a smile on your face! As a nutrition coach, I feel chia is the superior choice for Omega-3’s. They contain 30% EFA’s and the most antioxidants of any food researched, including blueberries. Not only does that mean the oil stays very stable without the seeds needing refrigeration, but it also imparts anti-aging support to your brain and the rest of your body as well. Because the seeds have an extremely thin outer shell (unlike flax) they needn’t be ground, they are completely bio-available. Another wonderful aspect of chia seeds is that bugs don’t like the plant. This means you needn’t worry about herbicides, pesticides, mercury, PCP’s, rancidity or genetic modification.

How’s that for a superfood? Eat some and get happy – superhappy!

source: mindbodygreen.com