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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Why Everyone Should Drink Chai Tea

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

If I were stranded and could only choose one beverage, I would probably take chai. A powerful blend of tea, herbs and spices, chai has been cherished for centuries in India to preserve health and increase peace of mind. But, the more we learn about chai, the more benefits we find. In addition to improving digestion, chai enhances the immune system, fights inflammation and has antioxidant properties. It has also been suggested that chai has antibacterial and anti-cancer effects.

Chai is made using different formulas, depending on the region where it is being consumed, but there are a number of standard ingredients: black tea, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, clove and black pepper. When analyzing chai’s health benefits, it’s important to examine each ingredient in turn. Though they act synergistically to increase each other’s benefits, the separate botanical components have powerful health benefits on their own.

Black Tea
It’s no secret that tea is full of antioxidants. However, the antioxidants in tea may provide more far-reaching protection than we suspected. For example, black tea may protect LDL (good) cholesterol, helping prevent cardiovascular disease. In addition, some research has shown black tea has anti-viral and anti-cancer properties.

Ginger
An important root used in Eastern medicine, ginger aids digestion, improves circulation, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation, which can be especially helpful for people suffering from arthritis. It offers antioxidant support, and some research has also shown that ginger can help fight cancer cells.

Cardamom
Found in virtually every Tibetan medicine formula, cardamom aids digestion and supports the immune system. In addition, it helps detoxify the body, improve circulation and may also fight respiratory allergies.

Cinnamon
Keeping with the theme, cinnamon has wonderful digestive properties and may also help balance blood sugar. In addition, research has shown that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.

Fennel
A great source of antioxidants, fennel also provides Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Fennel has also demonstrated some anti-cancer effects.

Clove
Again, clove helps digestion, but it also has analgesic (pain relieving) properties and may help alleviate ulcer pain. In addition, clove has antibacterial action.

Black Pepper
New research shows that black pepper may affect our metabolism. The study demonstrated black pepper’s direct influence on fat storage, suggesting that it may be useful to prevent fat accumulation. Black pepper also offers antibacterial and antioxidant support and aids digestion.

Given these benefits, chai’s popularity should be no mystery. The real question is why people in the West took so long to discover what Eastern practitioners have known for centuries—chai calms the mind, improves digestion and provides numerous additional advantages. This ancient beverage is treasured by people around the world for its delicious flavor and vital health benefits.

Published August 16, 2012                       source: mindbodygreen.com


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20 Health Benefits of Turmeric

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Tumeric has been used for over 2500 years in India, where it was most likely first used as a dye.

The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are 20 health benefits of turmeric:

1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.

2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.

3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.

4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.

5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.

6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.

7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.

8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.

9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.

10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.


11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.

12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.

16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.

17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.

18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.

19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.

20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form. It is available in pill form in most health food stores, usually in 250-500mg capsules.

Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it’s fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. My favorite way to use it is to add a pinch of it to egg salad. It adds a nice flavor and gives the egg salad a rich yellow hue.

Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.

Published on October 1, 2007          source: HealthDiaries.com


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Coconut Oil Benefits: When Fat Is Good For You

You’ve no doubt noticed that for about the last 60 years, the majority of health care officials and the media have been telling you saturated fats are bad for your health and lead to a host of negative consequences, including high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Meanwhile during this same 60 years, the American levels of heart disease, obesity, elevated serum cholesterol and Alzheimer’s have skyrocketed.
Did you know that multiple studies on Pacific Island populations who get 30-60 percent of their total caloric intake from fully saturated coconut oil have all shown nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease? (1)
The fact is, all saturated fats are not created equal.
The operative word here is “created,” because some saturated fats occur naturally, while other fats are artificially manipulated into a saturated state through the man-made process called hydrogenation.
Hydrogenation manipulates vegetable and seed oils by adding hydrogen atoms while heating the oil, producing a rancid, thickened substance that really only benefits processed food shelf life and corporate profits — just about all experts now agree, hydrogenation does nothing good for your health.
These manipulated saturated fats are also called trans-fats — and you should avoid them like the plague. But if one form of saturated fat is bad for you, does that mean all saturated fat is bad for you?
Absolutely not!
The Tropics’ Best Kept Secret
The truth about coconut oil is obvious to anyone who has studied the health of those who live in native tropical cultures, where coconut has been a primary dietary staple for thousands of years.
Back in the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price found South Pacific Islanders whose diets were high in coconut to be healthy and trim, despite high dietary fat, and heart disease was virtually non-existent. Similarly, in 1981, researchers studying two Polynesian communities for whom coconut was the primary caloric energy source found them to have excellent cardiovascular health and fitness. (2)
Where were all the clogged arteries and heart attacks from eating all of this “evil” saturated fat?
Obviously, coconut oil was doing nothing to harm the health of these islanders.
It may be surprising for you to learn that the naturally occurring saturated fat in coconut oil is actually good for you and provides a number of profound health benefits, such as:
• Improving your heart health.(3)
• Boosting your thyroid. (4) 
• Increasing your metabolism. 
• Promoting a lean body and weight loss if needed.
• Supporting your immune system. (5)
Coconut oil even benefits your skin when applied topically and has been found to have anti-aging, regenerative effects.
So, what are coconut oil’s secrets to success?
How Coconut Oil Works Wonders in Your Body
Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a “miracle” compound because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. (6)
 
Coconut oil is also nature’s richest source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs.
LCTs are large molecules, so they are difficult for your body to break down and are predominantly stored as fat.
But MCTs (7) , being smaller, are easily digested and immediately burned by your liver for energy – like carbohydrates, but without the insulin spike. MCTs actually boost your metabolism and help your body use fat for energy, as opposed to storing it, so it can actually help you become leaner.
Back in the 1940s, farmers discovered this effect accidentally when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock.
It didn’t work!
Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean, active and hungry.
Coconut oil has actually been shown to help optimize body weight, which can dramatically reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (8). Besides weight loss, boosting your metabolic rate will improve your energy, accelerate healing and improve your overall immune function.
And several studies have now shown that MCTs can enhance physical or athletic performance.(9)
And finally, as we have already discussed, coconut oil is incedibly good for your heart. The truth is this: it is unsaturated fats that are primarily involved in heart disease and too much sugar and processed foods, not the naturally occurring saturated fats, as you have been led to believe. (10)
Coconut Oil in Your Kitchen
Personally, I use only two oils in my food preparation.
The first, extra-virgin olive oil is the best monounsaturated fat and works great as a salad dressing. However, olive oil should not be used for cooking. Due to its chemical structure, heat makes olive oil susceptible to oxidative damage. So for cooking, I use coconut oil exclusively.
And polyunsaturated fats, which include common vegetable oils such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola, are absolutely the worst oils to cook with.
Why?
Three primary reasons:
1) Cooking your food in omega-6 vegetable oils produces a variety of very toxic chemicals, as well as forming trans-fats. Frying destroys the antioxidants in oil, actually oxidizing the oil, which causes even worse problems for your body than trans-fats.
2) Most vegetable oils are GM (genetically modified), including more than 90 percent of soy, corn and canola oils.
3) Vegetable oils contribute to the overabundance of damaged omega-6 fats in your diet, throwing offyouromega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Nearly everyone in Western society consumes far too many omega-6 fats — about 100 times more than a century ago — and insufficient omega 3 fats, which contributes to numerous chronic degenerative diseases.
There is only one oil that is stable enough to withstand the heat of cooking, and that’s coconut oil. So, do yourself a favor and ditch all those “healthy oil wannabes,” and replace them with a large jar of fresh, organic, heart-supporting coconut oil.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder and director of Mercola.comBecome a fan of Dr. Mercola on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and check out Dr. Mercola’s report on sun exposure!

Follow Dr. Joseph Mercola on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mercola

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(1) Kaunitz H, Dayrit CS. Coconut oil consumption and coronary heart disease. Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine, 1992;30:165-171
(2) Prior IA, Davidson F, Salmond CE, Czochanska Z. Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: The Pukapuka and Tokelau Island studies, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1981;34:1552-1561
(3) Raymond Peat Newsletter, Coconut Oil, reprinted at http://www.heall.com. http://www.heall.com/body/healthupdates/food/coconutoil.html An Interview With Dr. Raymond Peat, A Renowned Nutritional Counselor Offers His Thoughts About Thyroid Disease
(4) Baba, N 1982.Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium-chain triglycerides, Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 35:379
(5) Dr. Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., F.A.C.N. Source: Coconut: In Support of Good Health in the 21st Century
(6) Isaacs CE, Litov RE, Marie P, Thormar H. Addition of lipases to infant formulas produces antiviral and antibacterial activity, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 1992;3:304-308.
Isaacs CE, Schneidman K. Enveloped Viruses in Human and Bovine Milk are Inactivated by Added Fatty Acids(FAs) and Monoglycerides(MGs), FASEB Journal, 1991;5: Abstract 5325, p.A1288.
Mitsuto Matsumoto, Takeru Kobayashi, Akio Takenakaand Hisao Itabashi. Defaunation Effects of Medium Chain Fatty Acids and Their Derivatives on Goat Rumen Protozoa, The Journal of General Applied Microbiology, Vol. 37, No. 5 (1991) pp.439-445.
(7) St-Onge MP, Jones PJ. Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue, International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, 2003 Dec;27(12):1565-71. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12975635
(8) Geliebter, A 1980. Overfeeding with a diet of medium-chain triglycerides impedes accumulation of body fat, Clinical Nutrition, 28:595
(9) Fushiki, T and Matsumoto, K Swimming endurance capacity of mice is increased by consumption of medium-chain triglycerides, Journal of Nutrition, 1995;125:531. http://www.coconut-connections.com/hypothyroidism.htm
(10) Barry Groves, PhD. Second Opinions: Exposing Dietary Misinformation: The Cholesterol Myth, parts 1 and 2
 Posted: 02/14/11      source: Huffingtonpost.com


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Chemical in many antibacterial soaps linked with impaired muscle function

By     Published August 14, 2012   FoxNews.com

Introduced in the 1970s, the compound triclosan has become an increasingly popular ingredient in many antibacterial soaps and other personal-care items, such as deodorants and mouthwashes.  However, as the chemical’s popularity continues to grow, a recent report has raised concerns about some frightening risks that triclosan could pose to public health.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed that exposure to triclosan is linked with muscle function impairments in humans and mice, as well as slowing the swimming of fish.  By reducing contractions in both cardiac and skeletal muscles, the chemical has the potential to contribute to heart disease and heart failure.

The researchers from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado decided to examine the possible effects of triclosan due to recent literature raising health concerns about the chemical, as well as substantial increases in its production.

“We consider [triclosan] a high volume chemical,” Dr. Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the study’s lead author, told FoxNews.com.  “Its production levels are quite high, and the levels in humans have been increasing since it was first used as an antibacterial agent in the early ‘70s.  So the body levels in humans – including plasma, urine and breast milk – have been steadily increasing.”

“The levels in the environment have been increasing as well, because it can’t all be trapped in the treatment plants,” Pessah added about triclosan’s prevalence.  

“[Companies] try to prevent some chemicals getting out past the water treatment plants so they can dispose of them in a different way, but they can’t capture all of [triclosan] because there is so much of it.”

Primarily used in antibacterial hand soaps, triclosan can also be found in a number of bath and household products, including mouthwashes, toothpastes, deodorants, bedding, washcloths and towels, kitchen utensils and toys.

Effects on muscle contraction
Having studied previous research implicating triclosan in allergy development and the growth of some cancers, Pessah and his team decided to test the compound’s effects on muscle function after comparing it to long established hazardous chemicals.

“We’ve been working on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), the major flame retardants now being considered environmental risk factors,” Pessah said.  “We’ve know about PCBs for a while.  These tipped us off based on their similar structure to triclosan.  So we looked at it in more detail, and we were quite surprised that it had so much potent activity.  Given all the scientific literature, there’s virtually nothing about its ability to interfere with contraction of the heart.”

In their experiment, the researchers produced fully functioning cells derived from primary muscle cells in humans.  Because the cells were derived and not engineered, Pessah said the experiment more accurately determined triclosan’s effects in humans.

After exposing the cells to levels of triclosan similar to amounts people use daily, Pessah and his colleagues found that the chemical greatly interfered with the muscles’ ability to contract when stimulated, a response known as ‘excitation-contraction coupling.’

“Excitation-contraction coupling is essential for muscle contraction,” Pessah said.  “If you interfere with that process, it can be lethal and certainly debilitating.  We were very surprised that triclosan essentially impaired ECC in both cardiac muscle cells and skeletal muscle cells…It did so at relatively low concentrations and relatively quickly.”

To add on to these shocking results, the team also found that exposure to triclosan in mice resulted in an 18 percent reduction in gripping strength as well as a 25 percent reduction in heart function – all within an hour of the chemical’s introduction.  Going one step further, the scientists studied the effects of triclosan exposure on fathead minnows, ultimately finding a significant reduction in swimming activity.

Implications for public health
While the results of the study are staggering, Pessah noted that usage of triclosan will not lead to immediate heart failure.  Most people are able to metabolize triclosan quickly so that it is readily excreted through urine.  But a portion of the population does not metabolize the compound as quickly, and the chemical can remain active in the blood for a longer period of time.

However, the main concern the scientists have is the potential for triclosan exposure to contribute to already debilitating heart conditions.

“The target we’ve identified has been implicated in the impairment of heart function over a period of time,” Pessah said.  “If an average individual loses 10 percent of their cardiac function, they’re not going to feel it.  But if you’re a person with heart disease already at 50 percent of heart function capacity, reducing 10 percent or 20 percent could markedly hurt your health.”

Pessah said their findings present yet another health concern posed by triclosan, adding to previous accusations of its toxic and carcinogenic nature.  Because of triclosan’s prevalence in both the environment and the household, the agent has been flagged for further risk-benefit analysis by the FDA, but no final recommendation has been made yet.  Currently, manufacturers utilizing triclosan – also known by its brand name Microban® – are required to list it as an ingredient on their product labels.  

Pessah hopes this new study will add to the FDA’s considerations, as well as help consumers become more aware of the compound’s effects.  According to Pessah, triclosan is not an essential ingredient for these products.

“When people ask me about this, I say that we’ve been taking great care to buy products without triclosan,” Pessah said.  “Instead, buy disinfectant hand wash based in alcohol.  There’s no literature that says it’s more useful than just soap and water. The risks definitely outweigh the benefits.”


source: foxnews