Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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6 Brain-Boosting Foods That Should Be In Every Kitchen

When you’re retraining your brain — trying to acquire a new habit or pick up a new skill — you’d be surprised by the little things that can have a big impact on your brain’s overall health and function. One of the most important things you can do for your brain’s health is eat brain-boosting foods.
Of course, people who are already taking on a brain regimen of some sort already have enough on their plates without adding meal preparation with exotic ingredients only found in specialty grocery stores. So here are six foods you can find at any neighborhood grocery store that will help you retrain your brain.

1. Coconut oil

Why eat it? There are so many advantages to swapping out the cooking oil in your house with coconut oil. One of the biggest is that coconut oil has a much higher heat tolerance than other oils packed with good-for-you fats (like olive oil). That means it remains stable at higher heats, retaining more of the beneficial fats.

Coconut oil is also a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides, which are broken down into ketones, an ideal brain food, in the liver.

How to eat it: Use coconut oil in any of your recipes that call for oil. If you don’t care for the flavor, just a little bit of salt goes a long way in cutting that tropical taste.

2. Turmeric root

Why eat it? One reason brain function declines is the oxidation and inflammation of the neurons in your brain. A compound in turmeric called curcumin inhibits a neurotoxin that’s been linked to neurodegenerative disorders and shows promise as both an anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory agent.

How to eat it: Fresh turmeric root probably isn’t the most grocery-store friendly, but you’ll definitely find it in the spice aisle. It’s got a peppery, almost mustard-like flavor and will turn just about anything it’s in contact with a lovely golden color. You’ll see it used in Indian and African cuisine, so choosing recipes from those areas of the world is a good way to start experimenting with turmeric.

turmeric

3. Blueberries

Why eat it? You’re probably already heard that blueberries are high in antioxidants, which certainly helps promote brain health. They also contain flavonoids, compounds which are thought to enhance memory. Flavonoids have been shown to enhance spatial memory in both animals and humans, and fruit-derived flavonoids are thought to be especially potent, making blueberries a perfect choice.

How to eat it: Blueberries are great for breakfast in oatmeal, yogurt, a smoothie or part of a fruit salad. They’re tasty tossed in a salad at any time of day and you can make some decadent desserts using these little brain-food bombs. You can even toss them into a container and bring them along as a snack food.

4. Broccoli

Why eat it? Broccoli is one of the most popular vegetables in the US, so hopefully you already know that it can be delicious when it’s not boiled within an inch of its life. It’s also contains lots of lignans, which have been shown to benefit assorted brain functions such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining and learning new words. They’re also high in glucosinolates, which help promote levels of acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

How to eat it: Don’t boil broccoli until it stinks up your house. It’s delicious lightly steamed, roasted in the oven, sauteed with some healthy oils or even finely chopped and served raw in a broccoli salad.

5. Green Tea

Why drink it? We’ve known for a while that green tea is another food high in antioxidants, but recent research also indicates that a green tea extract enhances cognitive function, particularly in the working memory of the brain.

How to drink it: Unlike black tea, green tea is best made with not-quite-boiling water and steeped only for one to two minutes. Green tea mixes and blends are also available: green-and-white blends or jasmine green tea are smooth options that will tolerate boiling water for tea novices. And if you don’t like hot tea, you can always drink it iced and infused with some honey, mint or both.

6. Black Pepper

Why eat it? Black pepper is the most widely used spice on the planet. And in the past couple of years, we’ve learned that it can also have significant benefits for your brain. Piperine, an active compound in black pepper, can help inhibit the breakdown of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters crucial to brain health and mood regulation. Piperine also appears to help control the flow of calcium in the brain, which gives the compound anti-seizure effects.

How to eat it: Fresh-cracked black pepper is much tastier and more beneficial than the already-cracked versions you can buy in stores. So buy a pepper grinder if you don’t already have some and keep it on your table. Crack fresh black peppercorns over anything that strikes your fancy.

by Lisa Wimberger       November 30, 2014                     source: www.mindbodygreen.com

 

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5 Foods To Rev Up Your Metabolism

The problem with many diets is that they focus on what you shouldn’t have instead of on what you should have!

“I felt like they were telling me everything I couldn’t have, which left me completely deprived,” my friend confessed, recalling a particular diet she’d adamantly adhered to until finally she got frustrated with all those restrictions.

Instead, think about it this way: before you dump sugary, highly reactive foods that stall fat loss and leave you feeling lousy, fuel up on healthy, crave-busters that edge out bad foods and keep you from feeling hungry and reaching for the junk.

You know, the usual appetite-curbing add-ons like lean protein, fiber-rich veggies, and green tea. these work great. But I’ve also picked up some unique, off-the-beaten-path ones that rev up your metabolism so you blast more fat. Best of all, they taste good and become easy to incorporate into your diet.

Add these five things to your diet and see if they don’t become your needle movers for easy, lasting fat loss:

1. Lemon Juice

You may have heard of having hot water with lemon in the morning to support good digestion. I did this when I lived in Japan years ago.

Turns out, a few tablespoons of lemon juice just before or during a meal may also help lower your blood sugar response from that meal. You might also have a glass of sparkling water with lemon juice during your meal or squeeze on some lemon onto your salad or your fish.

2. Cinnamon

What’s not to love about this delicious spice that helps balance blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity?

cinnamon

Cinnamon also tastes so darn good and helps curb your sweet tooth.

3. Kefir

Speaking of a sweet tooth kefir, or other sour cultured foods, can help zap sugar cravings. The sour taste of cultured or fermented foods kills your sweet tooth and feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

Too much bad gut flora means you can extract more calories from the foods you eat and store them as fat. Not cool! My favorite kefir is made form coconut water (this is available in many health food stores). You can also shop online for culture starter kits to make your own!

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne can help you burn more calories and curb hunger. You can also get the same effect with some hot sauce or hot peppers.

One of my favorite snacks is blending non-dairy, non-soy, plant-based or defatted beef chocolate protein powder with avocado, coconut milk, and a quarter-teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can always increase the amount of cayenne per your personal taste, but a little goes a long way). Cayenne can really provide that get-up-and-go morning kick!

5. Coconut Oil & Coconut Milk

Coconut oil and milk remain kitchen staples for everything from cooking to shakes. Both the oil and milk are antiviral and antibacterial, making them perfect to keep that good balance of good bacterial in your gut.


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What Coconut Water Does To Your Body

Coconut is all the rage these days; whether it’s coconut oil, coconut milk, fresh coconut or coconut water it really is an amazing superfood. I know you have heard about coconut oil, but what about coconut water no one ever talks about its benefits but they are astounding.

Coconut water is the ultimate thirst quencher, and it offers a tasty alternative to regular water. This pure amazing liquid yields a variety or health benefits.

Prevents dehydration

It is no secret that coconut water is refreshing, but It can help prevent you from becoming dehydrated, It is a source five important minerals: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and phosphorous. Try drinking after strenuous activity, and you will not be sorry!

Aids in Weight loss efforts

The fat content in the water of a coconut is very low, so generous quantities can be consumed with no fear. It also helps to suppress the appetite, and helps to make you feel fuller for a longer period of time because of its rich nature.

Helps Clear up the skin

Many people suffer from acne or skin blemishes but did you know that the topical application of coconut water can help to clear it up? It also moisturizes the skin from inside, eliminating large amounts of oil.

Natural Hangover remedy

Next time you over do it on the drinking, consume some fresh coconut water to settle your stomach. It helps to replace essential electrolytes that exit the body when experiencing frequent urination and vomiting.

Coconut

Aid in Digestion

Coconut water is wonderful for the digestive system, It helps with food absorption and improves the digestion using its bioactive enzymes. It can also have a laxative effect, so think before consuming copious amounts.

Rich in natural vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients

Coconut water contains a lot of B vitamins, minerals and trace elements like zinc, selenium, iodine, and sulphur. It also helps to fight against free radicals that cause many diseases including cancer.

Increases immunity

It is rich in nutrients and vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine, and folates, coconut water has a great anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that help to increase your body;s immune system and fight infections like the flu.

Improves Kidney Function

Due to its high mineral content coconut water is beneficial to a person suffering from kidney disease, the water is also a natural diuretic and increases the flow and production of urine.

Regulates Blood Pressure

Coconut water helps to improve blood circulation, lowers high blood pressure levels, reducing the risk of heart attack and various other cardiovascular issues.

Anti – Aging

Coconut water contains a group of plant hormones known as cytokinins, which are involved in the growth, development, and aging of a plant. Cytokinins also have been shown to have an effect on human skin as well.

Fuels the brain and body

Coconut water has more potassium than a banana; potassium regulates heartbeat and muscle function. The electrolytes help the nervous system functioning and nerve transmission as well as a better cognitive function.

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/truth-about-coconut-water
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/coconut-water.html

 


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8 Best Superfoods To Boost Your Mood and Energy Levels

BY PAULINE HANUISE    JANUARY 3, 2013 

Discovering superfoods has changed my life and was one of my first steps towards my recovery from eating disorders, and becoming healthier and happier. Now, I have them every day and that’s helping me to stay healthy and have great energy.

But what are superfoods, exactly?

Superfoods are basically foods that are much richer in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, electrolytes and phytonutrients, but also much poorer in calories than any other usual foods. They nourish your body on a very deep level.

Here are my 8 favorite superfoods to boost you mood and energy levels:

1. Maca powder

Maca is a root that comes from Peru. You will mainly find it as powder because it doesn’t grow in all climates So, it is dried and powdered to be exported in the rest of the world.

Maca is amazing for balancing hormones and is beneficial to both women (relief of PMS symptoms and menopause) and men (enhanced fertility). Maca is also a great adaptogen that helps decrease stress levels, enhance strength, stamina and libido as well as providing great energy and endurance. It works with the rhythms and needs of your own body.

Maca is rich is calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vit B1, B2, C, E and iron. It contains lots of trace minerals like zink and selenium and is great for menstrual imbalances, lack of libido, infertility, menopausal symptoms and stress but also for conditions such as anemia, fatigue, depression, poor memory, tuberculosis and malnutrition.

I usually add maca powder to my breakfast muesli, smoothies, juices, chocolate, desserts, etc.

Try adding maca into your diet and notice the benefits. (You can find more recipes here.)

2. Pure, raw organic cacao

YES, chocolate is a superfood! But I am not talking about the sugary, packaged chocolate bars you find at the supermarket. I’m talking about the real, original, raw, pure cacao. You can use the beans, which are quite bitter or you can find it in powder in any health food store to make amazing desserts like my wonderful Love Chocolate Pie or Sour Cherry Fudge.

Pure, raw, organic cacao is just amazing and to be honest, I am enjoying it every single day in healthy, sugar free desserts or smoothies. Because what’s bad about chocolate? It’s actually sugar, dairy and other additives that have been added to packaged chocolate you buy in supermarkets.

Cacao itself is great for your health and is nature’s number-one weight loss and high energy food, according to David Wolfe, the cacao master (watch his TEDx talk about chocolate here).

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, copper, vit-C, phosphorus and more. It’s also rich in tryptophan, which is a powerful mood-enhancer, crucial in the production of serotonin, which diminishes anxiety and has the same impact as love in our brain. That’s why chocolate is often associated with love and Valentin’s day.

Add more raw, pure and organic cacao into your diet and start feeling amazing effects.

3. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a complete protein rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and manganese. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 grams of fiber. So adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to your breakfast (cereals, smoothies, juices, etc.) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

But chia seeds are also very rich in vitamin C, Omega 3 and 6 and antioxidants. They absorb lots of water (about 10 times their weight). When you soak chia seeds, they will absorb lots of liquid and create a gelatine-like substance, which will clean your digestive and immune systems by moving all the toxins and impurities to the bowels.

Soaking chia seeds in coconut water or mashed fresh fruit for breakfast is great and chia puddings are also delicious and great for your health.

chia

4. Coconut (water, flesh/meat, oil and butter)

This is one of my favorite foods and drinks ever. The water inside the young coconut is an isotonic drink full of electrolytes and can even be used in blood transfusions. It is rich in potassium, is ideal for proper rehydration and has strong antiviral properties.

It also contains kinetin, which keeps the coconut young despite the fact that it’s under the sun all day long. Kinetin has the exact same effect on our body and keeps you young.

(Amazing isn’t it?)

Coconut meat is high in protein and fiber and is a great saturated fat (essential to our body). It’s been proven that the saturated fat in coconut oil supports the immune system, thyroid gland, nervous system and skin.

Coconut oil and butter are also a very healthy saturated fat and are perfect for cooking as it’s the only oil/butter that stays stable when you heat it (even olive oil is not perfectly stable when you heat it). Thus, using coconut oil for cooking is much safer and healthier than any other oils.

Personally, I only use coconut oil for cooking. I still use olive, hemp and flax oil, which are all amazing oils, but only for dressings. I also use coconut oil on my skin, as moisturiser as coconut oil is actually a top beauty product… and at a very cheap price!

5. Spirulina

Spirulina is a Blue-Green Algae, which thrives in alkaline lakes. It contains over 65% of complete protein (300% more than fish, meat or poultry, with 0 cholesterol). Spirulina is also very rich in chlorophyl, iron (about 58 times more than spinach), antioxydants, beta-carotene and essential fatty acid Omega 3 and 6.

Spirulina really helped me to have more strength and energy to recover from bulimia. It also fixed my anemia and I was able to get rid of my unnatural iron supplements.

Today, I am taking 3 to 6 grams of spirulina every morning. You can choose to use powder – which is the most powerful way as it’s directly absorbable by your body – and add it to your juices and smoothies. If you don’t juice or blend every day, you can use tablets (I personally find that the taste is too strong to mix spirulina powder with water only). You can change your dosage regarding your levels of energy, activity and your diet.

Spirulina is also great for people who have digestive issues as it helps improving the absorption of nutrients by your body.

As you can see, I love spirulina and I really recommend you to give it a try. I am pretty sure you will notice great improvements in your energy in just a few days 😉

6. Goji berries

Goji berries are a berry-fruit found in Asia and America. They are usually dried before being exported elsewhere in the world.

Gojis are probably one of the most nutritious berry-fruit found on the planet. They are a complete source of protein and amino acids, contain lots of trace mineral as well as vit B1, B2, B6, E and C. They are extremely rich in antioxidant, which protects you from the ageing process and free radical. They are also well-known to improve vision, boost libido, sexual function and immune system. Sounds great, right?

You can consume them in many different ways. Add them to your smoothies, breakfast, salads or use them in your trail mix or in your awesome chocolate desserts 😉

7. Hempseeds and oil

Hempseeds and oil are one of the rare complete source of protein (33% to 37% of its weight) and are packed with life-force energy and enzymes. They are rich in Omega-3, 6 and 9 which are all very important for brain functions and considered a quality beautifying oil.

Hempseeds and oil are great to boost your immune system and bring balance in your essential fatty

acids, thus are also decreasing inflammation. They deliver a balanced array of amino acids and are rich in minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, sodium, silicon, copper and many others.

Use the oil in in your dressings and sprinkle the seeds on your cereals, fruits, smoothies or salads, they are delicious!

8. Flaxseeds and oil

Flaxseeds (or linseeds) and their oil are one of the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health as our body doesn’t produce them on its own. The problem in our societies is that the big majority of people consume too much Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough Omega-3. However, the balance between both is absolutely vital to be healthy. Flax seeds and oil is one of the rare food that contains Omega-6 and 3 (EFAs – essential fatty acids) in perfect balance for the human body.

EFTAs are vital for brain function, energy production, oxygen transfer and strengthen immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids help to fight and prevent inflammation and many degenerative conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, etc .

They are many other superfoods great to try and add to your diet such as acai, bee products (bee pollen, royal jelly, honey and propolis), marine phytoplankton, aloe vera, wheatgrass or any seaweed, but here are the ones I am using the most to boost my mood and energy levels!


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Simple Food Tips for Improved Brain Function

By Deane Alban    Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The average North American shockingly gets 70% of their calories from just three foods — corn, wheat, and soy. Virtually none of this is in a form that can be considered real food.

Corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup (in reality, few of us are eating that much corn-on-the-cob!) Wheat is ubiquitous and almost always stripped of all nutritional value. Soy has been touted as a health food, but not the way now we eat it. Asian cultures eat fermented soy as a healthy condiment, not highly processed soy burgers and refined soy oil.

We consume a lot of corn and soy indirectly, too, since they are used to feed factory farm animals. Neither of these are natural food sources for livestock, but are used because they’re cheap and fatten up the animals fast. The same happens to humans when they eat a lot of these foods.

But it’s not just our weight that is affected. Your brain uses a disproportionate amount of energy — there’s a lot going on up there! That’s why it’s vital you give your brain the best food you can find, and that means eating real food.

Sources of healthy fats and foods high in antioxidants are considered top brain foods. Let’s take a look at why these nutrients are essential to brain health.

Antioxidants

Free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that attack your cells much in the same way that oxygen attacks metal. Your brain is highly susceptible to free radical damage because it uses so much oxygen — approximately 25% of your body’s intake.

What goes on in your brain is not dissimilar to what happens when an old car rusts. When you can’t remember how to do something and you say you are “rusty” at it, you’re actually closer to the truth than you realize!

Antioxidants render free radicals harmless. You get antioxidants almost exclusively from plant-based foods in your diet. The best sources are fruits and vegetables, with all kinds of berries at the top of the list.

Other excellent antioxidant sources are green tea, red wine, and dark chocolate. Yum!

Healthy Oils

Your brain is largely made of fat — 60% by volume. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the quality of your brain largely depends on the quality of the fats you eat. That is why your diet should include foods high in good fats such as avocados, olives, nuts, healthy vegetable oils, grass-fed butter, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel.

The subject of culinary oils is particularly confusing. The commonly held beliefs about which oils are healthy are largely wrong. The two best vegetable oils to stock in your brain-healthy kitchen are olive oil and coconut oil.

olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil:

A key part of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is great to use as-is on things like salads. But olive oil should not be heated. Olive oil is unstable and easily burns at very low temperatures which causes unhealthy trans fat formation.

Unfortunately, there is a huge market in fake olive oil. A University of California study found that 69% of extra virgin olive oil sold in the US is not what the label says. Some of these aren’t extra virgin and many aren’t even olive oil! They are cheap adulterated oils colored and flavored to appear as olive oil.

Olive oil is a case where buying local is definitely best. California olive oils are much more likely to be high quality than Italian brands. If you are lucky enough to live near a local olive oil producer, get your olive oil there.

Coconut oil:

Coconut oil s a very brain-healthy fat with an undeservedly bad reputation. While it is 90% saturated fat, that’s not a bad thing – as I’ll explain. It’s this property that makes it extremely stable for cooking.

Coconut oil contains 50% lauric acid. This fatty acid is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It lowers risk of heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and boosts the immune system. Lauric acid naturally occurs in human breast milk, but coconut is the only food source.

Coconut oil contains medium chain fats which enable it to supply energy directly to the brain with no insulin spike. It’s this property that makes it a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Some people have had great success with stabilizing and even reversing Alzheimer’s symptoms by taking it in therapeutic doses. There is already a prescription-only “medical food” called Axona that works on the same principle as coconut oil. Of course this product costs many, many times more than coconut oil. The drug companies never skip a beat if there is money to be made.

Vegetable oils:

One of the most widespread and damaging myths about dietary fat surrounds vegetable oils. Vegetable oils like soybean, safflower, sunflower, sesame, corn, and canola are not the health foods they’ve been made out to be. These kinds of oils are a main source of unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids which contribute to inflammation, a root cause of a veritable “who’s who” of chronic health conditions.

These oils are in everything, even in many foods sold as ‘health’ foods. The best way to avoid them is to eat mostly unprocessed foods.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon, if it’s wild-caught, is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that is the single most important brain nutrient. The Harvard School of Public Health states that essential fatty acid deficiencies cause up to 96,000 preventable deaths per year.

Our ancestors got omega-3s from the game they hunted, the wild fish they caught, and the plants they foraged. But factory-bred animals that aren’t given access to their natural food supply no longer have omega-3s in their meat. Most cattle now spend their days in feed lots and are given hormones designed to get them fatter faster. This change has been responsible for a hidden epidemic of this essential fatty acid deficiency that affects 99% of the population. So, to ensure you get these essential fatty acids in your diet, eat grass-fed beef, bison, and wild-caught salmon which are amongst the few reliable sources of omega-3s.

Be careful when you buy salmon though; according to the Environmental Defense Fund, most salmon sold in US is farm-raised then incorrectly labeled “Atlantic salmon”. Farm-raised salmon is fed fish feed made from “undesirable” fish and “chicken pellets”. Chicken pellets are made from chicken parts of all kinds including feathers, beaks and even chicken poop! It takes up to 15 pounds of feed to grow one pound of farmed fish, so contaminants get concentrated. The fish are fed antibiotics to help them survive their crowded and toxic environment.

Know Where Your Food Comes From

Get the best quality food you can, then prepare it and store it properly to retain maximum nutrition.

The best way to know you are getting what you pay for is to know your farmer. If you aren’t sure where to shop, visit the EatLocalGrown.com directory. Just enter in your town or city to find farmers’ markets, farms, ranches, co-ops, and artisan food producers in your area. The food you find there will generally be fresher, healthier, and less expensive than supermarket food, and you’ll be supporting local agriculture and supporting your brain health at the same time!

Giving your brain the nutrients it needs is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall quality of your life.

Updated August 2014


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U.S. study looks into the benefits of coconut oil on patients with Alzheimer’s

CTVNews.ca Staff   Published Wednesday, October 9, 2013 10:00PM EDT

After studying the effects of ginkgo leaves, vitamin E and painkillers on Alzheimer’s — a disease that affects about 30 million people globally — researchers at the University of South Florida have turned their attention to another possible natural remedy: coconut oil.

In what’s believed to be the first clinical trial of its kind, the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute enrolled 65 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s to measure the effects of coconut oil — versus placebo – on the disease.

The research was sparked by the five-year efforts of Dr. Mary Newport, who hopes to have results of the study within a year.

Dr. Mary Newport and her husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51.

Dr. Mary Newport says she began seeing improvements in her husband’s Alzheimer’s after she started giving him four teaspoons of coconut oil per day.

 Coconut oil benifits

A doctor whose husband suffers from Alzheimer’s has seen a dramatic improvement after adding coconut oil to his diet.

While there is currently no clinical data showing the benefits of coconut oil on the prevention and treatment of dementia, Newport – whose husband Steve was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51 – said she began to see improvements after starting him on four teaspoons of coconut oil per day.

“Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes. His weird slow gait … That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again. He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory,” Newport said.

Prior to starting him on coconut oil, Newport said none of the existing medications were working.

“He got to the point that he had a tremor when he tried to eat or talk,” she said.

That’s when she began looking into ketones: molecules of organic fuel produced when your body burns fat.

“Our brains rely on glucose from carbohydrates. But if that isn’t available, because we haven’t eaten anything or are on a low-carbohydrate diet, then our brain cells switch to using the energy from our fat. This energy comes in the form of small molecules called ketones,” Newport explained.

And according to some scientists, coconut oil is a source of food that the body can easily convert into ketones.

Canadian researcher, Stephen Cunnane studies brain metabolism at Universite de Sherbrooke. His question: How do you revive aging or diseased brain cells in the elderly and those with Alzheimer’s?

Using PET scans, he found that ketones are indeed a possible alternative brain fuel, sharing similar excitement to Newport.

coconut

“The reason it is exciting, it suggests the brain is starving as you slip into Alzheimer’s disease. If you can provide an alternative fuel there may be an alternative to resuscitate parts of the brain,” said Prof. Cunnane.

But he is also urging caution – and for more research to get underway quickly. With a huge list of failed treatments for dementia, he knows families are searching for new options that have scientific backing.

“We don’t want to give a wrong impression that we have a magic solution … and we have to understand why the coconut oil might be beneficial and at what doses,” said Cunnane.

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute has already tackled other, out of the box ideas for stalling the mental decline of Alzheimer’s — like Ginkgo biloba, Vitamin E or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, finding no benefit.

After five years of resistance from the medical community, Newport was able to convince the Institute researchers to launch this one-of-a-kind study of coconut oil, after receiving a $250,000 grant from a private foundation.

“Mary has been very persistent in asking us to move forward with this and as a scientist I like to find out if there is any real scientific basis,” said Dave Morgan, CEO of the Institute and professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, and director of Neuroscience Research at the University of South Florida.

The pharmaceutical industry is in this – of course to make money for their companies, and of course they want to help people theoretically – but at the end of the day it is about dollars and sense, and so money gets invested in things that are new or patentable rather than things that are sitting on the shelf already,” said Amanda Smith, Medical Director, University of South Florida (USF) Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, Tampa Florida.

”There is no one who really stands to benefit from this except the patients. For us that is enough, that is our mission, that is who we want to help,” she explained.

The Florida researchers hope to have results within a year.

“I am thrilled they are open-minded enough thinking outside the box that this is possible and that they are embarking on a study. Physicians will start to recommend it to patients if they see results so we can only hope that they start to see results,” said Dr. Newport.

Steve Newport has since suffered a setback, and his health has declined in the past year. His wife Mary says Alzheimer’s may ultimately win, but his case has given medicine a new clue.

“Given what else is out there – which is nothing right now – hopefully this is something that people can incorporate into their diet that can delay the onset of the disease or slow down progress of the disease for several years said,” said Newport.

With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip


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The 11 healthiest foods in the world

Grown without chemicals and loaded with nutrition, these 11 foods will keep you (and the planet) healthy for life.

By Rodale News Thu, Mar 08 2012

WHOLE FOODS: Full of nutrition and easy on the planet. 

J.I. Rodale, the man who founded Rodale Publishing, launched the organic farming movement in America. A strong believer in the power of food to heal, he knew long before organic went mainstream that producing the healthiest food meant growing it in the healthiest soil — soil enriched naturally with organic matter, not synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers that can rob it of vital nutrients and minerals. In a 1947 issue of Rodale’s first magazine, Organic Gardening, J.I. Rodale outlined “The Rodale Diet,” a simple recommendation of easily accessible healthy foods, grown without the use of toxic chemicals that, if followed 20 to 30 percent of the time would “give disease a smart punch in the solar plexus.” And 65 years of nutrition science have proved him right. All of the foods he recommended back in the ’40s, studies are finding, contain the highest amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and other vital nutrients that are deficient in the modern American diet. If you want to follow “The Rodale Diet,” here’s what you need to get started.

Fish

J.I.’s take: “Here is an animal that, unlike cattle, does not eat food raised with chemical fertilizers. It feeds in waters rich with minerals, prominent among which is the most valuable element, iodine.”

Why it’s healthy: Saltwater fish, to which Rodale was referring, are the most commonly consumed, and one of the healthiest, sources of protein consumed worldwide. Even today, saltwater fish still don’t eat food raised with chemical fertilizers, but the problem is, they’re becoming harder and harder to find. Overfishing has ballooned since J.I. Rodale’s day, and the list of saltwater fish that have managed to continue to exist in healthy amounts is getting shorter by the day.

How to get it: Go with the safest fish to eat, namely wild fish living in sustainably managed fisheries, such as wild Alaskan salmon and wild-caught Pacific sardines. There are a number of farmed fish that are raised without damage to their surrounding environment, but some, such as farmed tilapia and catfish, are fed corn that may be have been genetically modified and grown with pesticides.

Kelp

J.I.’s take: “Kelp is rich in potassium. It is believed that the reason there is a complete absence of hay-fever cases in the Orient is the fact that the Japanese and Chinese eat liberally of this product.”

Why it’s healthy: An edible form of brown algae, kelp contains more than just potassium. It’s rich in iodine, protein, magnesium, and other minerals at levels higher than most land vegetables. It’s also rich in the omega-3 fatty acid EPA.

How to get it: “Overall, kelp harvesting is a sustainable practice that can have low impact on the marine environment if done right,” says Matthew Huelsenbeck, marine scientist with the conservation organization Oceana. However, he adds, some kelp farmers have started introducing genetically modified varieties, which can escape and contaminate the surrounding environment, and kelp grown in waters near polluting industries could be contaminated with heavy metals. “About 80 to 90 percent of kelp on the market comes from China — a species called Japanese kelp,” he adds. Because the name is confusing, it can be hard to know where your kelp is coming from. So stick with domestically raised kelp: Maine Coast Sea Vegetables sells kelp raised in the Gulf of Maine.

Mushrooms

J.I.’s take: Grown in beds of rich organic matter, mushrooms were grown without the use of any pesticides, he said, “because it would kill out the very spores which are needed to develop into mushrooms.” Not only that, but they’re rich in iron and protein.

Why they’re healthy: Mushrooms are not just healthy, they’re vital in boosting your immune system and preventing infections, and they’re becoming increasingly valuable tools in medicine, where research is finding that mushroom compounds can fight diseases such as breast cancer. But nowadays, commercial mushroom producers do use heavy amounts of insecticides, says Thomas Wiandt, an organic mushroom farmer in Ohio and owner of Killbuck Valley Mushrooms. “Common practice is to grow them in caves, or cavelike structures,” he says. Those areas provide optimal breeding grounds for insects, so the crops are often misted with insecticides (which are different types of pesticides than fungicides, which aren’t used because they would kill of the spores mushroom need to grow). U.S. Department of Agriculture tests have detected 14 insecticide residues on mushroom crops. “Not only that, a mushroom has a highly absorbent surface,” Wiandt says.

How to get them: Get the health benefits without the toxic chemicals — go organic.

Coconut

J.I.’s take: “A good source of fats and carbohydrates,” coconuts also “provide excellent exercise for the teeth.” Coconut palms also didn’t require heavy doses of synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers.

Why it’s healthy: Though high in saturated fat, coconut products, particularly coconut oil, are proving to be exceptionally healthy. Studies on populations that consume high quantities of coconut oil have found lower rates of heart disease, and coconut oil is one of very few sources of lauric acid, which helps your immune system fight bacterial and viral infections.

How to get it: Every part of the coconut is valuable — even the shells are being used as water filters in some areas. In J.I. Rodale’s day, coconuts were probably harvested wild, but now, coconut palm plantations have taken over Southeast Asia, where most of the world’s coconuts are grown. Plantations deplete the soil of nutrients and increase pest problems — increasing the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. But it might be hard to find certified-organic whole coconuts, so opt instead for organic coconut products, such as Dr. Bronner’s certified-organic and Fair Trade coconut oil or Body Ecology organic Coconut Water.

coconut

Watercress

J.I.’s take: “Watercress is never grown with chemical fertilizers. It grows along brooks and other running waters and … it contains more iron than spinach.”

Why it’s healthy: It’s not just an iron powerhouse. Scientists have also found that the antioxidants in watercress can battle breast and lung cancers, and a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating just three ounces a day boosts your levels of certain antioxidants by 100 percent.

How to get it: You probably won’t find much wild watercress in grocery stores, but hydroponic watercress (grown directly in water) is the most commonly available type. The benefit: Few pesticides are needed in hydroponic operations, and the plants are still grown without synthetic fertilizers.

Wild berries

J.I.’s take: Wild fruit trees grow without chemical help, and even cultivated cranberries and other berries, in Rodale’s day, were rarely treated with pesticides.

Why they’re healthy: Wild berries, wild blueberries in particular, have higher levels of antioxidants than their cultivated counterparts. One Canadian study found that wild blueberries can counteract inflammation and insulin sensitivity, two factors that, when abnormal, can contribute to arthritis and diabetes. Rodale was particularly fond of mulberries, huckleberries and blackberries, all of which have a higher antioxidant content than cultivated berries.

How to get them: Wild blueberries can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store (the season for fresh wild blueberries is very short), but for other wild berries, you’ll have to go out foraging during spring and summer.

Wild rice

J.I.’s take: Rodale seemed fascinated by this wild grass that grew in swamps and wanted his readers to send in more information about its cultural significance.

Why it’s healthy: Native to the Great Lakes regions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and parts of Canada, wild rice has been hand-harvested in canoes by Native American tribes that live in those areas for over a thousand years. Not technically a grain but a grass, wild rice is rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins. Since it grows wild, there is no need for toxic pesticides or water-polluting fertilizers, and it’s harvested in the least environmentally damaging way possible.

How to get it: Most “wild rice” on store shelves isn’t wild at all but a hybrid product cultivated in paddies. Keep an eye out for wild rice that’s actually wild, sold by companies like Eden Foods and Native Harvest.

Wild game

J.I.’s take: Rodale liked wild game because it was “free of the taint of chemical fertilizers” since the animals forage for food in the wild. But he was first turned on to it as a healthy superfood by a physician who was prescribing diets of wild game to patients with high blood pressure.

Why it’s healthy: Wild animals aren’t just free of the taint of chemical fertilizers; they’re also free of hormones, antibiotics and even the antibiotic-resistant bacteria so common in factory-farmed animals, according to a study published last year in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Meat from deer, elk, wild boar and other feral creatures also has fewer calories, less saturated and total fat, and even lower levels of cholesterol. The primary concern with wild game is lead contamination; hunters use leaded bullets, fragments of which can get introduced into the meat.

How to get it: J.I.’s advice? “Go to the hunting regions during the proper season. Many of the resorts serve venison and other game meats.” But you don’t really have to travel that far in this day and age. A number of online retailers sell wild game meats. Just be sure to ask about whether the retailer tests for lead.

Maple syrup

J.I.’s take: “I strongly recommend that white sugar be dispensed with entirely and that maple syrup be substituted,” Rodale wrote.

Why it’s healthy: Overrefined and nutritionally void, white sugar comes from chemically intensive sugar cane and sugar beets — Rodale’s reasoning for eliminating it from his diet. Now, sugar beets aren’t just pesticide-heavy, they’re also being genetically modified to grow faster so Americans can have access to more cheap sugar we don’t need. You need just a small amount of maple syrup to sweeten your coffee, baked goods, or oatmeal, and it’s actually good for you. Scientists recently discovered more than 50 compounds in maple syrup known to battle cancer and heart disease.

How to get it: Find organic maple syrup at any grocery store or visit your farmers market to get the good local stuff. Don’t fall for “pancake syrup” that’s mostly high-fructose corn syrup dyed brown with “maple flavoring” added.

Honey

J.I.’s take: “Natural honey is full of living hormone-like qualities, which makes it a valuable adjunct to the diet.”

Why it’s healthy: Honey is rich in antioxidants and is often used as an antiseptic treatment on wounds. As Rodale said, it also contains phytoestrogens, and studies on Greek honey have found that those phytoestrogens can blunt the growth of breast, prostate and endometrial cancers. Honey also has a low glycemic index, so using it to sweeten tea or coffee won’t lead to energy-busting blood sugar drops later in the day.

How to get it: The best honey is raw, local honey from a nearby farmer. A recent test by Food Safety News revealed that more than 75 percent of the honey sold in the U.S. is so heavily processed and filtered, a process that removes all of the pollen in honey, that it would flunk quality standards set by most of the world’s food agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration.

Nuts

J.I.’s take: J.I. valued nuts — particularly walnuts, pecans, filberts and pine nuts — because the trees on which they grew lived in soils rich in organic matter that had built up for centuries. That soil enriched nuts with minerals and protein.

Why they’re healthy: Today, nuts are grown on trees raised in plantations that, unless certified organic, have resorted to heavy doses of chemical fertilizers. But find a certified-organic nut supplier, and you’ll get all the protein and minerals that J.I. valued without the extra dose of pesticides. In addition, walnuts and pine nuts are good sources for essential fatty acids that protect your brain, heart and bones.

How to get them: If you’re having a hard time finding organic nuts at the store, take a walk. Though pecan and pinyon (pine nut) trees grow wild only in certain areas, walnut trees exist pretty much everywhere. Just keep an eye out for trees bearing large green shells that resemble green apples. Crack one open and the nut is resting inside a soft casing that will dye your hands brown.

source: Rodale.com   www.rodalenews.com