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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Omega 3s for Weight Loss: Timing is Everything

Michelle Schoffro Cook      January 17, 2014

You’ve probably heard that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you. You may even know they help with weight loss. But, timing when you ingest them plays a huge role in how much fat you’ll burn or whether you’ll burn fat at all.

walnuts


When researching my book 60 Seconds to Slim, I discovered that when people take Omega 3 fatty acids, or ingest them from food sources, plays a significant role in whether they’ll lose weight. By taking Omega 3s or eating Omega-3 rich foods within one hour of working out, the body will burn 14% more fat than through exercise alone.

It’s easy to obtain Omega-3 fatty acids from diet if you consume the following foods on a daily basis:

  • A handful of raw, unsalted walnuts
  • A tablespoon of freshly-ground flaxseeds two times daily or a tablespoon of flaxseed oil drizzled on food
  • Fatty fish like wild salmon, flounder, catfish, sardines, mackerel, herring, kipper, or whitebait. Tuna also contains high amounts of Omega 3s but is frequently contaminated with high levels of mercury.

If you’re supplementing with Omega 3s, 2000 milligrams of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is a typical daily dose.

Omega 3 fatty acids have many other health benefits too, including:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Brain disease prevention
  • Preventing diabetes
  • Pain-reduction
  • Joint healing and arthritis-prevention
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Flax and chia seeds: both high in Omega 3s, good fats and fibre

Once resigned to birdfeeders, seeds are now touted as the missing link to best health. Flax and chia, it seems, have been dueling for the latest title of superfood. But do these two tiny varieties live up to the hype?

Flax and chia have been dueling for the latest title of superfood.

By: Michele Henry Staff reporter, Published on Tue Aug 20 2013

Flax

Pros

Flaxseed, whether light in colour or a deep honey-brown, is an excellent source of plant-based Omega 3 fatty acids. These good fats, also known as alpha linoleic acid (ALAs), have an anti-inflammatory effect and are linked with a lowered risk of heart disease. 

Flax’s fibre, like’s chia’s, has a gummy consistency, which binds to LDLs, the bad cholesterol, and helps lower its levels in the body.

Flaxseeds are nature’s most concentrated form of lignans, says registered dietitian Nanci Guest. These specialized phytoestrogens are associated with bone health, a reduced risk of menopausal symptoms and the prevention of breast and prostate cancers.

Like the phytochemicals in tofu, lignans block the body’s estrogen receptors, fighting hormone-fuelled tumour growth. 

Research shows that combining tofu and flax provides “a double dose of breast cancer prevention,” says registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon.

One tablespoon of ground flax — or chia, in fact, — provides the recommended daily dose of ALA for men and women, says Guest.

Grown in Canada’s prairies, flax is non-GMO, says Kelly Fitzpatrick, nutritionist with The Flax Council of Canada.

Ground flax works well in baking.

Eggs, from flax-fed hens, are a good source of Omega 3s because chickens, more efficiently than humans, convert the plant-based ALAs into EPA and DHA, the unsaturated fatty acids our brains require for nerve transmissions, which are most potently found in fish oils.

Cons:

Unless ground or chewed vigorously, Flax is entirely insoluble fibre which comes out of the body in pretty much the same form as it went in. If flax’s hard outer husk remains in tact, we don’t get the benefit of its heart healthy Omega 3s or lignans.

It’s long been thought our bodies don’t adequately convert plant ALA to DHA and EPA. Turns out, that may not be entirely true. New, as yet unpublished research from the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences suggests, vegans are quite good at the conversion. “If we weren’t that good at synthesizing ALA we would have consequences,” says University of Toronto professor Richard Bazinet. “But vegans don’t seem to have those consequences. Somehow the body adapts.”

Flax oil may be the most concentrated source of plant Omega 3s, but it doesn’t contain the lignans, protein or fibre. And it can’t be used in cooking. The oil’s low smoke point produces toxic by-products when heated.

Chia

Pros:

Compared to flax, chia seed has 20 per cent more fibre per serving, Guest says, which expands in our digestive tracts, helping us feel full.

A source of soluble fibre, Chia, like flax, is linked with a lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes because it slows the absorption of glucose and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

About two tablespoons of chia — or flax — sprinkled onto cereal, say, can meet about 25 per cent of our daily fibre requirement. 

Chia, like flax, is also rich in ALAs, and both are a source of magnesium, which is essential for cell functions and catalyzing chemical reactions in the body.

When it comes to calcium, which is essential for bone health, Chia has a bit more than flax and doesn’t need to be broken down for our bodies to harvest its benefits. Lindzon says, ground chia may be an even better source of calcium.

Like flax, chia seed contains magnesium, a calming mineral that also helps lower blood pressure and aids in sleep.

Cons:

Chia may have a bit of an edge over flax in some areas, but it’s higher in calories (about 70 calories per tablespoon compared with flax’s 50 calories per tablespoon).

And chia does not have lignans, the powerful phytoestrogens with bone-building, cancer-fighting properties.

Like flax, chia must be stored in the fridge because it will go rancid after long periods at room temperature.

Possibly because it must travel from where it’s grown in Latin America and Mexico, chia is more expensive than flax.

The Bottom Line:

Eat both.

“A person who wants to eat well and stay healthy eats both,” says Guest. “The more colours, the more nutrients, the more textures, the more variety you’re getting the better. There’s no reason to limit yourself to just one.”

Flax and chia are high calorie in high doses, so a little goes a long way. Sprinkle a tablespoon onto anything from cereals to salads, smoothies to yogurt. They’re a convenient, flavour neutral way to pack a punch of phytochemicals into your diet.


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Stay energized: How to boost your alertness

by Michele Borboa, MS    Nov 14, 2008  

TIPS TO
STAY SHARP

Your mind and body are closely interconnected – when one is revved to go, the other is usually as pumped. However, when your body tires, your brain typically follows, and vice-versa. Here are five tips to ensure your physical and mental energy stays strong all day long.
 
1. DIET RIGHT
A common side-effect of weight-loss diets is overall fatigue, typically because of insufficient calories or lack of key nutrients. If you are aiming to “lose a few,” do it sensibly by eating three well-balanced meals – starting with breakfast – and a small snack or two. Make sure your meals provide a combination of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats – you’ll feel more satisfied and stay full and energized longer. If you aren’t sure you are getting enough calories or your recommended intake of nutrients, talk to a registered dietician. 
 
2. INCREASE YOUR INTAKE OF BRAIN FOOD
In addition to a well-balanced diet, eating foods especially good for your brain can give you a mental recharge. Studies show that choline, an essential nutrient found in eggs, can improve memory and reaction times as well as increase physical endurance. Omega-3 fats, found in fatty fish, nuts and flax, are also stellar nutrients to include in your daily diet – omega-3s nourish the brain cells, decrease inflammation, and can increase cognitive function. 

 

3. BREATHE DEEP FOR ENERGY
Like your muscles, your brain thrives on oxygenated blood. Not only does breathing increase the circulation of fresh oxygen and vital nutrients to your brain and body, it reduces energy-sapping stress and tiresome tension. When you start feeling drowsy, have trouble concentrating, or feel physically fatigued, take 10 minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply, filling your lungs to capacity and then fully exhaling the air. Meditation and exercise are also easy ways to invigorate your mind and body. 
 
4. PLAY BRAIN GAMES
Staying cognitively sharp requires mental training, much like staying fit requires exercise. Research indicates that brain games can improve memory, concentration, cognitive processing, reaction times and ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Mental challenges like crossword puzzles, riddles, strategic board games, and interactive online games will pique your brain and help keep you alert. To combat the mid-morning or mid-afternoon mental fatigue, take a break from tiring work and reward yourself with brain play. 
 
5. USE CAFFEINE STRATEGICALLY
Though too much caffeine can give you the scatter-brained jitters, a judicious amount can perk you up and keep you sharp. Caffeine causes a release of dopamine in your brain, which stimulates the area responsible for alertness. Research shows that a cup of coffee can improve your mental performance for up to 45 minutes – meaning a cup right before a big exam or presentation can work to your advantage. Other research shows that drinking a cup right before a nap can result in you waking up rested and cognitively sharp, granted you only power snooze for 20 minutes. Limit your caffeine intake to one or two cups daily so you don’t end up interrupting your nightly sleep, which is truly key to keeping you alert. 


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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


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The Benefits of Flaxseed

Is flaxseed the new wonder food? Preliminary studies show that it may help fight heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer.

 By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD   WebMD Expert Column

Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it.  Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.

Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased.  Flaxseed is what’s used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:

  •     Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  •     Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  •     Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.

 

The Health Benefits of Flax

Although Lilian Thompson, PhD, an internationally known flaxseed researcher from the University of Toronto, says she wouldn’t call any of the health benefits of flax “conclusively established,” research indicates that flax may reduce risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.

Cancer

Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.

In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.

The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Thompson says some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.

Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.

Cardiovascular Disease

Research suggests that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. Fitzpatrick says new research also suggests significant blood pressure-lowering effects of flaxseed. Those effects may be due to both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the amino acid groups found in flaxseed.

Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flaxseed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings.

“Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%,” Fitzpatrick says.

Because plant omega-3s may also play a role in maintaining the heart’s natural rhythm, they may be useful in treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. More research is needed on this.

Eating flaxseed daily may also help your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A  study of menopausal women showed a decrease in LDL level after the women ate 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day for a year. Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol-lowering effects of flaxseed are the result of the combined benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans.

Diabetes

Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).

Inflammation

Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson’s disease and asthma) by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents, Fitzpatrick says.

ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. And studies in animals have found that lignans can decrease levels of several pro-inflammatory agents.

Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attack and strokes.

Hot Flashes

One study of menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half. The intensity of their hot flashes also dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.

But another study reported no significant reduction in hot flashes between postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients eating a bar containing 410 milligrams of phytoestrogens from ground flaxseed and women eating a placebo bar.

The results, says Thompson, are consistent with other studies that have shown no siginifcant difference in the effect on hot flashes between flaxseed and placebo.

Flaxseed Isn’t a Magic Bullet

It’s tempting to think of flaxseed as a super food because of its many potential health benefits. But keep in mind there is no magic food or nutrient that guarantees improved health.

What matters is consistently making great dietary choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Who Shouldn’t Use Flaxseed?

Until more is known, Thompson says, pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flaxseed.

“Our own animal studies showed that flaxseed exposure during these stages may be protective against breast cancer in the offspring. But a study of another investigator showed the opposite effect,” Thompson says.
Tips for Using Flaxseed

Many experts believe it’s better to consume flaxseed than flax oil (which contains just part of the seed) so you get all the components. But stay tuned as researchers continue to investigate.

Thompson says, “Ground flaxseed, in general, is a great first choice, but there may be specific situations where flax oil or the lignans (taken in amounts naturally found in flaxseed) might be as good.”

How much flaxseed do you need? The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. But 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada.

Here are more tips for using, buying, and storing flaxseed:

  •     Buy it ground or grind it yourself. Flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components. If you want to grind flaxseed yourself, those little electric coffee grinders seem to work best.
  •     Milled = ground = flax meal. Don’t be confused by the different product names for ground flaxseed. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
  •     Buy either brown or golden flaxseed. Golden flaxseed is easier on the eyes, but brown flaxseed is easier to find in most supermarkets. There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
  •     Find it in stores or on the Internet. Many supermarket chains now carry ground flaxseed (or flax meal). It’s usually in the flour or “grain” aisle or the whole-grain cereal section and is often sold in 1-pound bags. You can also find it in health food stores or order it on various web sites.
  •     Check the product label. When buying products containing flaxseed, check the label to make sure ground flaxseed, not whole flaxseed, was added. Flaxseed is a featured ingredient in cereals, pasta, whole grain breads and crackers, energy bars, meatless meal products, and snack foods.

    Add flaxseed to a food you habitually eat. Every time you have a certain food, like oatmeal, smoothies, soup, or yogurt, stir in a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just do it.

    Hide flaxseed in dark, moist dishes. The dishes that hide flaxseed the best are dark sauces or meat mixtures. No one tends to notice flaxseed when it’s stirred into enchilada casserole, chicken parmesan, chili, beef stew, meatloaf, or meatballs. For a 4-serving casserole, you can usually get away with adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed. For a dish serving 6 to 8, use 4 to 8 tablespoons.

    Use it in baking. Substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flour with ground flaxseed if the recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour.

    Keep it in the freezer. The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Freeze pre-ground flaxseed in the bag you bought it in or in a plastic sealable bag if you ground it yourself. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.

    Whole flaxseed keeps longer. The outside shell in whole flaxseed appears to keep the fatty acids inside well protected. It’s a good idea to keep your whole flaxseed in a dark, cool place until you grind it. But as long as it is dry and of good quality, whole flaxseed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.

 

Flaxseed Recipe

Ready to try flaxseed? Here’s a recipe to get you started from The Flax Cookbook: Recipes and Strategies for Getting The Most from The Most Powerful Plant on the Planet.

Fruity Flaxseed Muffins

These moist and high-flavor flax muffins are not only good for you, but they taste great too.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice, canned
1/2 cup finely chopped apples (with peel)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, higher omega-3 if available, beaten lightly
2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup raisins, currants (or any other dried fruit, chopped)
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ground flaxseed

Directions:

  •     Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Coat inside of liners with a quick squirt of canola cooking spray.
  •     In large mixing bowl, beat together the pineapple with juice, apples, canola oil, egg, egg whites or egg substitute, sour cream, and molasses until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in raisins or dried fruit.
  •     In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flaxseed.
  •     Add flaxseed mixture to sour cream mixture, beating on low speed just until combined (batter will be a little lumpy). Spoon batter by 1/4 cupful into prepared muffin pan.
  •     Bake in center of preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch.

Yield: 12 muffins

Nutritional Analysis: Per muffin: 194 calories, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, .8 g saturated fat, 2.1 g monounsaturated fat, 2.6 g polyunsaturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g fiber, 224 mg sodium, 1.7 g omega-3 fatty acids. Calories from fat: 28%.

Recipe reprinted with permission.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

 source: www.webmd.com


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20 Pain Killers in your Kitchen

A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO TAKING MEDICATION
20 Painkillers in Your Kitchen

Make muscle pain a memory with ginger

When Danish researchers asked achy people to jazz up their diets with ginger, it eased muscle and joint pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 63 percent of them within two months. Experts credit ginger’s potent compounds called gingerols, which prevent the production of pain-triggering hormones. The study-recommended dose: Add at least 1 teaspoon of dried ginger or 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger to meals daily.

Cure a toothache with cloves

Got a toothache and can’t get to the dentist? Gently chewing on a clove can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts point to a natural compound in cloves called eugenol, a powerful, natural anesthetic. Bonus: Sprinkling a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves on meals daily may also protect your ticker. Scientists say this simple action helps stabilize blood sugar, plus dampen production of artery-clogging cholesterol in as little as three weeks.

Heal heartburn with cider vinegar

Sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water before every meal, and experts say you could shut down painful bouts of heartburn in as little as 24 hours. “Cider vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids, powerful digestive aids that speed the breakdown of fats and proteins so your stomach can empty quickly, before food washes up into the esophagus, triggering heartburn pain,” explains Joseph Brasco, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Center for Colon and Digestive Diseases in Huntsville, AL.


Erase earaches with garlic

Painful ear infections drive millions of Americans to doctors’ offices every year. To cure one fast, just place two drops of warm garlic oil into your aching ear twice daily for five days. This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription meds, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria. To whip up your own garlic oil gently simmer three cloves of crushed garlic in a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then refrigerate for up to two weeks, suggests Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in your ear canal.


Chase away joint and headache pain with cherries

Latest studies show that at least one in four women is struggling with arthritis, gout or chronic headaches. If you’re one of them, a daily bowl of cherries could ease your ache, without the stomach upset so often triggered by today’s painkillers, say researchers at East Lansing ’s Michigan State University . Their research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, are anti-inflammatories 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin. “Anthocyanins help shut down the powerful enzymes that kick-start tissue inflammation, so they can prevent, as well as treat, many different kinds of pain,” explains Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of food science at Michigan State University . His advice: Enjoy 20 cherries (fresh, frozen or dried) daily, then continue until your pain disappears.


Fight tummy troubles with fish
Indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases…if your belly always seems to be in an uproar, try munching 18 ounces of fish weekly to ease your misery. Repeated studies show that the fatty acids in fish, called EPA and DHA, can significantly reduce intestinal inflammation, cramping and belly pain and, in some cases, provide as much relief as corticosteroids and other prescription meds. “EPA and DHA are powerful, natural, side effect-free anti-inflammatories, that can dramatically improve the function of the entire gastrointestinal tract,” explains biological chemist Barry Sears, Ph.D., president of the Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead , MA . For best results, look for oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring.


Prevent PMS with yogurt
Up to 80 percent of women will struggle with premenstrual syndrome and its uncomfortable symptoms, report Yale researchers. The reason: Their nervous systems are sensitive to the ups and downs in estrogen and progesterone that occur naturally every month. But snacking on 2 cups of yogurt a day can slash these symptoms by 48 percent, say researchers at New York ’s Columbia University . “Yogurt is rich in calcium, a mineral that naturally calms the nervous system, preventing painful symptoms even when hormones are in flux,” explains Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a professor of gynecology at Yale University .


Tame chronic pain with turmeric

Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers. That’s because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, naturally shuts down cyclooxygenase 2, an enzyme that churns out a stream of pain-producing hormones, explains nutrition researcher Julian Whitaker, M.D. and author of the book, Reversing Diabetes. The study-recommended dose: Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of this spice daily onto any rice, poultry, meat or vegetable dish.


End endometrial pain with oats

The ticket to soothing endometriosis pain could be a daily bowl of oatmeal. Endometriosis occurs when little bits of the uterine lining detach and grow outside of the uterus. Experts say these migrating cells can turn menstruation into a misery, causing so much inflammation that they trigger severe cramping during your period, plus a heavy ache that drags on all month long. Fortunately, scientists say opting for a diet rich in oats can help reduce endometrial pain for up to 60 percent of women within six months. That’s because oats don’t contain gluten, a trouble-making protein that triggers inflammation in many women, making endometriosis difficult to bear, explains Peter Green, M.D., professor of medicine at Colombia University .


Soothe foot pain with salt

Experts say at least six million Americans develop painful ingrown toenails each year. But regularly soaking ingrown nails in warm salt water baths can cure these painful infections within four days, say scientists at California ’s Stanford University . The salt in the mix naturally nixes inflammation, plus it’s anti-bacterial, so it quickly destroys the germs that cause swelling and pain. Just mix 1 teaspoon of salt into each cup of water, heat to the warmest temperature that you can comfortably stand, and then soak the affected foot area for 20 minutes twice daily, until your infection subsides.


Prevent digestive upsets with pineapple

Got gas? One cup of fresh pineapple daily can cut painful bloating within 72 hours, say researchers at California ’s Stanford University . That’s because pineapple is natually packed with proteolytic enzymes, digestive aids that help speed the breakdown of pain-causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine, say USDA researchers.


Relax painful muscles with peppermint

Suffering from tight, sore muscles? Stubborn knots can hang around for months if they aren’t properly treated, says naturopath Mark Stengler, N.D., author of the book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. His advice: Three times each week, soak in a warm tub scented with 10 drops of peppermint oil. The warm water will relax your muscles, while the peppermint oil will naturally soothe your nerves — a combo that can ease muscle cramping 25 percent more effectively than over-the-counter painkillers, and cut the frequency of future flare-ups in half, says Stengler.


Give your back some TLC with grapes

Got an achy back? Grapes could be the ticket to a speedy recovery. Recent studies at Ohio State University suggest eating a heaping cup of grapes daily can relax tight blood vessels, significantly improving blood flow to damaged back tissues (and often within three hours of enjoying the first bowl). That’s great news because your back’s vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs are completely dependent on nearby blood vessels to bring them healing nutrients and oxygen, so improving blood flow is essential for healing damaged back tissue, says Stengler.


Wash away pain injuries with water

Whether it’s your feet, your knees or your shoulders that are throbbing, experts at New York ’s Manhattan College , say you could kick-start your recovery in one week just by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Why? Experts say water dilutes, and then helps flush out, histamine, a pain-triggering compound produced by injured tissues. “Plus water is a key building block of the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones, your joints’ lubricating fluid, and the soft discs in your spine,” adds Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., author of the book, The Good Mood Diet. “And when these tissues are well-hydrated, they can move and glide over each other without causing pain.” One caveat: Be sure to measure your drinking glasses to find out how large they really are before you start sipping, she says. Today’s juice glasses often hold more than 12 ounces, which means five servings could be enough to meet your daily goal.


Heal sinus problems with horseradish

Latest studies show sinusitis is the nation’s number one chronic health problem. And this condition doesn’t just spur congestion and facial pain, it also makes sufferers six times more likely to feel achy all-over. Horseradish to the rescue! According to German researchers, this eye-watering condiment naturally revs up blood flow to the sinus cavities, helping to open and drain clogged sinuses and heal sinus infections more quickly than decongestant sprays do. The study-recommended dose: One teaspoon twice daily (either on its own, or used as a sandwich or meat topping) until symptoms clear.


Beat bladder infections with blueberries

Eating 1 cup of blueberries daily, whether you opt for them fresh, frozen or in juice form, can cut your risk of a urinary tract infection (UTIs) by 60 percent, according to researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. That’s because blueberries are loaded with tannins, plant compounds that wrap around problem-causing bacteria in the bladder, so they can’t get a toehold and create an infection, explains Amy Howell, Ph.D. a scientist at Rutgers University .


Heal mouth sores with honey

Dab painful canker and cold sores with unpasteurized honey four times daily until these skin woes disappear, and they’ll heal 43 percent faster than if you use a prescription cream, say researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates . Raw honey’s natural enzymes zap inflammation, destroy invading viruses and speed the healing of damaged tissues, say the study authors.


Fight breast pain with flax

In one recent study, adding 3 tablespoons of ground flax to their daily diet eased breast soreness for one in three women within 12 weeks. Scientists credit flax’s phytoestrogens, natural plant compounds that prevent the estrogen spikes that can trigger breast pain. More good news: You don’t have to be a master baker to sneak this healthy seed into your diet. Just sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or add it to smoothies and veggie dips.


Cure migraines with coffee

Prone to migraines? Try muscling-up your painkiller with a coffee chaser. Whatever over-the-counter pain med you prefer, researchers at the National Headache Foundation say washing it down with a strong 12- ounce cup of coffee will boost the effectiveness of your medication by 40 percent or more. Experts say caffeine stimulates the stomach lining to absorb painkillers more quickly and more effectively.


Tame leg cramps with tomato juice

At least one in five people regularly struggle with leg cramps. The culprit? Potassium deficiencies, which occur when this mineral is flushed out by diuretics, caffeinated beverages or heavy perspiration during exercise. But sip 10 ounces of potassium-rich tomato juice daily and you’ll not only speed your recovery, you’ll reduce your risk of painful cramp flare-ups in as little as 10 days, say UCLA researchers.


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Five Natural Remedies to Reduce Inflammation

By Carey Rossi     Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Inflammation — what does the word mean to you? For most people, it’s a swollen cut or the swelling that occurs with pain or injury. And while, yes, these outward signs indicate inflammation, this same action happens deep inside the body. This natural process takes place when the body’s normal protective mechanisms are lacking or even over-acting.

In some, inflammation is chronic because their bodies are exposed to stress: internal, such as eating a high-fat diet or smoking; and external, such as difficult relationships or life events, like a divorce or death of a loved one. Research has shown that chronic inflammation is linked to a wide range of health problems including arthritis, allergies, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among others. Luckily, there are many natural remedies for inflammation that effectively work to provide natural inflammation relief.

1. Açai Berry
All hail, antioxidants and the Amazon berry that has an abundance of them — açai (pronounced: ahh-sa-ee). According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Açai-rich juice may reduce levels of inflammation markers linked to conditions such as heart disease by protecting cells from oxidative damage.

“Given the high content of certain specific polyphenols in the juice blend, the increased antioxidant protection [in the body] after consumption of the juice blend, and the anti-inflammatory capacity in vitro, further research is warranted to evaluate whether juice blend consumption may provide reversal of risk markers in subjects with conditions such as arthritis, obesity, chronic viral diseases, cardiovascular disease and compromised cognitive function, as well as other conditions associated with chronic inflammation,” wrote lead author Gitte Jensen from Holger NIS Inc., a contract research laboratory.

Other research has indicated that the açai berry contains a wide array of inflammation-fighting antioxidant compounds and has great potential to be used as a natural inflammation remedy.

2. Flax Seed Oil
A tiny super seed chock full of essential omega-3 fatty acids can give inflammation a one-two punch. The omega-3s its oil contains can help the body reduce C-reactive protein, a marker that is present in the body when inflammation is present. According to a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, healthy post-menopausal women who ate low-fat muffins enriched with flax seeds for six weeks saw a 15% reduction C-reactive protein. Flax seeds also contain lignans, which may protect against breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Flax seeds and flax seed oil have many health benefits, and as this research indicates, they may serve as an effective remedy to naturally decrease inflammation.


3. Quercetin
What do red grapes, broccoli and green tea have in common? They all contain quercetin, a natural antioxidant that has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Recently, Chinese researchers reported in the November 2008 issue of Molecular Biology Reports that quercetin negatively alters intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)—one of the important pro-inflammatory factors—especially in the early phase of inflammation.

As more and more research reveals, quercetin has great potential to serve as a natural anti-inflammatory, and may also boost immunity.

4. Zinc
Many people take zinc to fight off a cold or virus, and now research shows that zinc may also be a natural inflammation remedy. Popping zinc regularly can help reduce inflammation and has also been shown to fight infections in older people. Researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, tested whether zinc supplementation decreases oxidative stress. They found that consuming 25 mg three times a day for three months decreased TNF-alpha, a cytokine that amplifies inflammation. (Bao B, et al. Transl Res. 2008 Aug;152(2):67-80. Epub 2008 Jul 11.)

5. Fish Oil
It shouldn’t surprise you that more research has emerged touting this omega-3-rich super supplement’s natural anti-inflammatory powers. The latest comes from the United Kingdom. Researchers found that taking 3.5 g of fish oil daily for six weeks may activate anti-inflammatory and lipid modulating mechanisms believed to impede the early onset of coronary heart disease. (de Roos B et al. Proteomics. 2008 May;8(10):1965-74.)

Fish oil is well known for its ability to improve cardiovascular health and to fight inflammation naturally. Research has shown that it may even be a viable alternative to NSAIDS for back pain and for the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arhritis.

Keep in mind that while supplements can help tame inflammation in your body, you can make lifestyle choices to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Stay away from trans fats in your diet. Exercise on a regular basis (but don’t over do it since that can cause inflammation!) and keep stress at bay by adopting mindful activities, such as yoga, tai chi or meditation.

The bottom line is, chronic inflammation has been recognized as perhaps the cheif culprit in many diseases which can dramatically affect the quality of your life as you age. Do what it takes to keep inflammation to a minimum with proven natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as açai berry, flax seed oil, quercetin, zinc and fish oil, and by making anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle choices.

About the Author
Carey Rossi is a writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering all aspects of nutrition and fitness. She was the editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition, a shopping magazine for natural living, and the founding editor of Muscle & Fitness Hers. In addition, her work has appeared in Muscle & Fitness, Looking Good Now, Healthy Family, Vegetarian Times and Natural Health. She is the author of No More Diets Ever, Lose Weight the Natural Way.