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The Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Spice

Finally, some good news about the much-maligned PSL.

Happy pumpkin spice season!

The internet is full of people trying to slander the noblest of flavours. But it turns out that pumpkin spice, absent of all the sugar and syrup certain coffee shops may add in, is actually pretty good for you.

What’s in pumpkin spice, anyway?

Pumpkin pie spice, as it’s sometimes called, usually contains four or five ingredients, all of them good for us.

Ginger

Ginger is kind of a superstar spice. It’s an anti-inflammatory, for one thing, and can also help with digestion and quell nausea, which is why it’s often recommended for people suffering from morning sickness.

It can also reduce soreness and help with joint pain, and may improve brain function and fight infections.

You know how when you’re sick, everyone suggests you put ginger in your tea? This is why.

Cloves

There isn’t a huge amount of research behind the claims that cloves are good for you, so take this with a grain of salt. (Or cinnamon?) Many people believe cloves can be used to relieve dental pain. They also contain fibre, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs.

Nutmeg

Both nutmeg and mace — the nebulous covering of the nutmeg seed — are used in medicine. Nutmeg can treat nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, and is used in some medications for cancer, insomnia, and kidney disease.

Quick word of warning on nutmeg, though: use it sparingly! Ingesting more than two tablespoons’ worth at a time can cause unpleasant symptoms like nausea, dry mouth, and extreme dizziness. In the Middle Ages it was used as an abortifacient, according to the New York Times, who also note that Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that people used it as a drug substitute when he was in prison.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. It may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes, and may be helpful with heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases, but as with cloves, there still isn’t enough research to back those claims up.

Sometimes: Allspice

The confusingly named allspice is the “optional” ingredient in most pumpkin spice mixes. It’s actually the fruit from a flowering tropical evergreen tree plant that’s picked before it gets ripe.

Allspice can help with a variety of conditions, many in the stomach area, including indigestion, abdominal pain, and menstrual cramps.

And it contains eugenol, which kills germs on your teeth and gums, which is why it’s sometimes included in toothpaste.

And what about pumpkin itself?

OK, fine, pumpkin spice lattes don’t actually contain any pumpkin. But pumpkin has been proven to improve the immune system and to slow digestion (which can help with weight loss). It’s also good for your skin and your eyes, and may help with diabetes and certain kinds of cancer.

What are you waiting for, fellow pumpkin spice lovers? This is your time.

By Maija Kappler    10/21/2019

 

HALLOWEEN HEALTH TIPS FOR ADULTS

Let’s be honest shall we? It’s not just the kids who go a little sugar crazy over the Halloween season, and even days and weeks thereafter – it’s the adults too! It happens to the best of us.
Following a yearly Halloween excursion, your little ones come home with a bucket full of mini candy bars to nosh on, or even worse, you have five cases of leftover treats you didn’t give away. Without even realizing it, you slowly eat more candy, chocolate and other sugary treats just because they are lurking in your cupboards.

How to avoid too much sugar

Unfortunately, most of the Halloween goodies given out as treats or found at parties are loaded with an abundant amount of white sugar. This is no surprise since white sugar is added to a myriad of products as a cheap filler to improve taste.
In fact, it is estimated that the average North American consumes two to three pounds of sugar per week in products such as cereals, cookies, yogurts and even ketchup! As you can imagine, during the days around Halloween, the amount of consumed white refined sugar skyrockets.

The dangers of eating too many sweets

What is the problem with a little white sugar? In addition to contributing to weight gain, white sugar can create a number of health problems in the body that include:
• Suppression of immune system function
• Fluctuation of energy levels
• Making the body more acidic
• Hyperactivity and impulse behavior
• Raised insulin levels
• Can elevate bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower good cholesterol (HDL) levels
• Can contribute to diabetes and heart disease
By no means am I suggesting that you be “that house” on Halloween and eliminate all the holiday fun. When I was a child growing up, my dear father was a dentist and gave out toothbrushes for Halloween! Talk about a humiliating experience for a child. However, there is a balance and a degree of moderation that can be exercised to make Halloween a healthier time for both parents and tots.

What you can do

• Get rid of over 50 per cent of the food your child has collected and/or leftover goodies that were not given away. Donate it or throw it out. Having it in the house is too much of a temptation for all ages.
• Replace chocolate bars – featuring trans fatty acids and too much sugar – with small cut up squares of dark chocolate that are heart healthy and rich in antioxidants. Keep small bite sizes in the freezer and grab when you are craving a sweet treat.
• Exercise portion control. Many chocolate bars come in “thin” sizes with half the calories.
• Substitute in foods with healthier, naturally occurring sugars such as fruits and fruit juice. Over the fall and winter months, baked apples with cinnamon and sprinkled chocolate is a perfect treat to satiate any sweet tooth.

Take home point

Remember, it is best to allow yourself to indulge from time to time. Practice the 80-20 rule of eating. In other words, eat healthy 80 per cent of the time and allow yourself to fall off the health wagon and indulge 20 per cent of the time.
By doing so, you will avoid temptation and feelings of deprivation that can lead to future food binges. In addition, become a label reader and replace white sugary products with foods that contain naturally occurring sugars. Watch out for products whose first or second ingredient is glucose, high fructose corn syrup or sugar.
Happy Halloween!
 
BY: DR. JOEY SHULMAN     OCT 30, 2008
Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of the national best seller The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2005). For more information, visit http://www.drjoey.com


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7 Spices Loaded with Serious Flavor—And Incredible Health Benefits

by Michelle Pellizzon for Thrive Market    November 9, 2015 

Cayenne pepper really hit its prime in the early aughts. When Giselle Bundchen credited cayenne with helping maintain her slim, Victoria’s Secret-worthy figure, the spice was suddenly stylish.
It’s almost too easy—just a pinch of some magic powder and suddenly you’re a fat-burning machine? Well maybe not a machine, but fiery cayenne does seem to have an effect on increasing the metabolism. It’s well documented that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that give Advil a run for its money, and cinnamon is coveted amongst those with metabolic disorders thanks to its blood sugar-lowering effect.

The rest of your spice rack isn’t to be overlooked—there are some superfood seasonings hidden in the pantry that are worthy of a little more love. Put down the salt and start cooking with these spices—your blood pressure, waistline, and tastebuds will thank you.

Paprika

Sweet, spicy, smoky—paprika comes in tons of different flavors and varieties, but it’s always a vibrant brick red. Thanks to its plenitude of antioxidants that impart its quintessential color, paprika is also full of vitamins A and E. Together, they fight free radical damage in the body, but vitamin A also promotes cell growth and recovery, which supports anti-aging.

Fennel

With its distinct taste and smell, fennel is often loved or loathed. If you fall into the latter category, this classic Italian seasoning is worth your adoration—full of phytonutrients, fennel has been proven to have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. A special phytonutrient called anethole found in fennel has been linked to slowing the growth of cancer cells and apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells. Additionally, fennel’s antioxidants can help reverse damage to liver cells… So after a really rough night out, look to this spice to help heal your hangover.

Cloves

Especially popular in some of the most beloved holiday foods—gingerbread, hot toddies, and pumpkin pie, to name a few—cloves are a warming and aromatic addition to any dish. Along with their lovely flavor, cloves impart another interesting element to dishes: eugenol. A compound found specifically in clove oil, eugenol is incredibly effective at protecting the body from external toxins found in the environment, like carbon tetrachloride. It’s also a potent natural pesticide, so mixing a little clove oil into your lotion can ward off annoying mosquitos and bugs.

spicerack

 

Bay Leaves

You don’t really realize how important bay leaves are to Grandma’s chicken noodle soup, your favorite bolognese sauce, or classic cooked beans until you accidentally forget to throw one into the mix. When you do overlook these dried leaves, it’s clear that something is missing. Although the pungent, almost bittersweet flavor of bay leaves isn’t necessarily appetizing on its own, when added into dishes and left to simmer, they impart a little extra depth and dimension. Plus, as it turns out, these leaves also bring some pharmacological properties to the table.

Even dried, bay leaves help the digestive system function properly, acting as a diuretic and eliminating toxins. They also contain a plethora of B-vitamins that support the nervous system to increase energy and amp up the metabolic rate.

Thyme

Whether fresh or dried, thyme deserves a permanent place in your pantry, especially during the fall and winter months. The woody and aromatic herb has been used for centuries in aromatherapy to treat illness, but it’s proven over time to be a powerful antimicrobial treatment. In fact, thyme actually encourages a healthy immune system by increasing white blood cell formation. Next time you feel a chill coming on, throw some thyme into almost any savory dish to reap the immune-boosting benefits of this spice.

Black pepper

Try not to roll your eyes. Black pepper—no duh! Of course you already know about this spice. But before you skim to the next incredible ingredient, reconsider black pepper for its fat-burning powers. Yep, you read that right. That freshly ground black pepper you’ve been declining at restaurants for years can actually help your body break down fat cells. Plus, pepper raises core body temperature, forcing the body to eliminate toxins via sweat.

Nutmeg

Too often, nutmeg is relegated to holiday treats (what’s up, eggnog), but there are plenty of reasons to throw nutmeg into your cooking all year round. Nutmeg has long been used as a home remedy for insomnia—and there’s actually something to this old wives tale.

This spice has a high magnesium content, which has been proven to help those who suffer through restless nights fall asleep and relax far more easily than normally. The powerful antioxidants myristicin and elemicin found in nutmeg fight inflammation and pain, and some researchers believe actually slow down the deterioration of neural pathways in the brain. Slow down aging and maintain memory for a long time? Sounds like it’s time to start adding nutmeg to every morning cup of joe.


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Could Dark Chocolate Ease Poor Leg Circulation?

Perhaps, but experts say there are better ways to obtain beneficial polyphenols

WebMD News from HealthDay     By Dennis Thompson     HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) – The antioxidants contained in dark chocolate might help people suffering from reduced blood flow to their legs, researchers from Italy report.

In a small study, people with artery problems in their legs walked a little longer and farther right after eating a bar of dark chocolate, the researchers said.

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. The researchers believe polyphenols improve blood flow to the legs by affecting biochemicals that prompt arteries to widen.

“Our body secretes chemicals that naturally dilate blood vessels in response to certain stimuli, improving the blood flow to certain areas,” said Dr. Richard Chazal, vice president of the American College of Cardiology. “Some of the chemicals inside dark chocolate could affect the way these enzymes are metabolized in the body,” suggested Chazal, who was not involved with the study.

The pilot study involved 20 people aged 60 to 78 who suffered from peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs, stomach, arms and head. Reduced blood flow can cause pain, cramping or fatigue in the legs or hips while walking.

The patients walked on a treadmill in the morning and again two hours after eating 40 grams of dark or milk chocolate – the size of an average American chocolate bar – on separate days. The dark chocolate in the study had a cocoa content of more than 85 percent, making it rich in polyphenols. The milk chocolate, with a cocoa content below 30 percent, had far fewer polyphenols, the study authors noted.

After eating dark chocolate, patients walked an average 11 percent farther and 15 percent longer than they did earlier in the day. That’s about 39 feet farther and about 17 seconds longer, according to the study, published July 2 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Milk chocolate did not improve time or distance, according to study co-author Dr. Lorenzo Loffredo, assistant professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, and colleagues.

The researchers found that levels of nitric oxide, a gas linked to improved blood flow, were higher after eating dark chocolate. They suggested that the higher nitric oxide levels may be responsible for widening peripheral arteries and improving the patients’ ability to walk.

Both the results and the theory are “intriguing,” said Dr. Mark Creager, director of the Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“The results are certainly interesting but modest, in terms of the walking distance improved,” said Creager, who also serves as a spokesman for the American Heart Association. “With information such as this, one would anticipate these investigators will conduct a much larger trial with long-term treatment to confirm their observations.”

Creager and Chazal noted that chocolate is also high in fat and sugar, and eating too much can contribute to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

“People need to be very aware of the fact that there are many substances in chocolate bars that could have an adverse effect on health,” Creager said. “I would not recommend that people eat chocolate bars to improve their walking distance.”

Chazal agreed, saying the study’s true value lies in identifying the way that polyphenols might affect blood flow to the legs.

Polyphenols also can be found in foods with less added sugar and saturated fats, such as cloves, dried peppermint, celery seed, capers and hazelnuts.

“All of us can get very excited about studies like this, but we have to be very cautious in interpreting it in terms of treatment,” Chazal said. “At this point in time, I wouldn’t consider dark chocolate to be something people should be taking large amounts of as a therapeutic agent. It’s possible that moderate amounts might be helpful, but we need confirmation.”