Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


4 Comments

Healthy Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

About Molasses
Isn’t it ironic that the waste product of manufacturing white sugar, is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic syrup? I’m talking about molasses. That gooey, rich, unmistakably black-brown nectar with a rather divisive flavour.
There are a few varieties of molasses, but to understand how they vary, let’s first look at how molasses is made.
Molasses is created from either sugarcane or sugar beets (but because the molasses made from beets can be quite bitter, sugarcane molasses is the most common variety available for human consumption). These plants are harvested, and then cut, crushed, and mashed so that the juice is extracted. “Fancy Molasses” is the first product to be made, but is in fact the only type of molasses that is not a by-product of sugar processing, but instead a direct product from sugar cane. This type is super sweet and is most commonly enjoyed as the syrup straight on pancakes or waffles, and as an ingredient in baked goods.
Varieties of Molasses
The real deal molasses comes from boiling the juice of sugar cane down to crystallize the sugars, producing a concentrate, the first of which is called First Molasses, First Strike Molasses, Barbados Molasses, Light Molasses, Mild Molasses, or Sweet Molasses. This comes from the first boiling of the sugar. It is light in colour and mild in flavour. Some people also enjoy this type directly on their food, like fancy molasses. It is about 65% sucrose.
Next up is Second Molasses, Second Strike Molasses, Dark Molasses, or Full Molasses. As you may have guessed, this is made from the second boiling of the extracted cane juice, a process that extracts even more sugar, producing a darker, thicker syrup typically used as a cooking ingredient in sauces, marinades and baked beans. It is about 60% sucrose.
Blackstrap molasses is likely the one all you health foodies out there know and love. This type of molasses is made by boiling the cane syrup a third time, which extracts even more sugar and concentrates the flavour. By this point, the sucrose content is so low (about 55%) that the syrup no longer tastes sweet, but slightly bitter. The colour is nearly black, and the consistency is very thick and viscous. Blackstrap molasses is used in baking, sauces, stews and even as a food supplement due to its high nutrient content.
Nutritious and Delicious
Blackstrap molasses is highly concentrated in essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, selenium, manganese, potassium, copper, and zinc. As I mentioned above, this type of molasses is sometimes used as a dietary supplement or tonic. One tablespoon stirred into warm water is a food-based way to boost mineral levels, especially iron, as this small amount contains a whopping 20% of your RDI. You can also enjoy it in foods such as smoothies, tea, warm cereal, or dressings, sauces and stews. Remember to eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C to enhance its absorption. I like to use a little lemon juice.
Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners that is low on the glycemic scale with an index classification of 55. This means that it metabolizes slowly in a controlled way, demands less insulin production and won’t cause a spike in blood glucose levels. All in all, blackstrap molasses is a fantastic, healthy sweetener to which I enthusiastically give a thumbs up!
 
Healthy Holiday Gingerbread
Makes at least 2 dozen medium-sized cookies
Ingredients:
2 ½ / 350g whole spelt flour
¼ tsp. fine grain sea salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. ground ginger (or less if you prefer more mild gingerbread)
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
½ cup / 70g coconut sugar
½ cup / 125ml unsulfured blackstrap molasses
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Sift the dry ingredients together.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, then whisk in the molasses, applesauce, and vanilla.
3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and fold to combine – you may need to use your hands to mix this, but don’t overwork the dough. Fold just until the ingredients come together evenly. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, make a ball, then flatten into a large disc. Wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Remove dough from the fridge, unwrap and cut in half. Wrap one half and return it to the fridge. Place the other half of the dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll out (if it is very stiff, you may need to let it warm up just slightly). Remove top half of the paper and cut out desired shapes with a cookie cutter or a knife. Slide a knife or thin egg lifter under each shape and place on a lined baking sheet. Ball up the scraps of dough, roll it out between the parchment and start again. Once the dough becomes too warm, return it to the fridge and repeat the entire process with the other half of the chilled dough.
5. Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes (7 minutes produces a softer, chewier cookie, while 10 minutes produces a crispier one). Remove from oven and let cool on pan. Decorate with the Cashew Cacao Icing if desired (recipe follows).

Cashew-Cacao Butter Icing
Makes about ¾ cup
Ingredients:
½ cup / 65g cashews
a few pinches of sea salt
3 Tbsp. / 40g cacao butter, melted
1 ½ Tbsp. raw honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice)
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
3 Tbsp. hot water

Directions:

1. Soak cashews with sea salt for four hours, or overnight.
2. Drain, rinse and place cashews in the most powerful blender you have along with all other ingredients. Blend on high until as smooth as possible.
3. Pour into a piping bag and store in the fridge until it firms up, about 2 hours, then use. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. If you do not have a piping bag, you can also use sandwich bag with a teeny corner snipped off

When purchasing molasses, read the label to ensure that what you are buying is 100% pure molasses (some companies will cut blackstrap molasses with corn syrup to make it sweeter) and that it is “unsulfured”. Sulfur dioxide can be added to all grades of molasses to help preserve it, as it prevents the growth of bacteria and mould. From a health perspective, sulfur can cause reactions in sensitive people (you can read more about that here). Sulfur dioxide also has a very bitter flavour, and can drastically alter the flavour of the dish you are making. Look for organic molasses whenever possible too.
Store unopened molasses in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Opened containers must be stored in the fridge and will last for up to six months.
Advertisements


Leave a comment

Natural Remedies For The Most Nagging Everyday Ailments

Post-work headache, we will bear you no more.

Adaptation has its pros and cons. While we humans often benefit from melding into changing environments, we can also become accustomed to constant daily discomforts.
Whether it’s the after-work headache, a cough that you can’t seem to shake, eye strain, achy joints or chapped lips, it could be time to raise the bar of expectation, wave the kitchen spoon, and bear it no more.

For quick and easy remedies, here are some recipes and simple techniques that you can stir-up at home, to shake it all off.

Headaches

When it comes to headaches, we can investigate two major culprits: dehydration and elimination. If we are not properly hydrated or if we are constipated, we could be suffering from frequent headaches. A quick and easy solution is to drink room temperature water with a pinch of Himalayan salt to return trace minerals and hydration back into the body. If you are not eliminating properly, then you could place a warm castor oil pack on the stomach to help kick start excretion. Castor oil packs and Himalayan salt can be purchased at most natural health food stores.

Neck tension

Tension headaches can occur when we hold stress or strain in our shoulders, chest, neck or eyes. To relieve stress in the neck and shoulder areas, start by stretching open the arms and breathing deeply into the chest a few times. Release the arms to down. Open the jaw and stretch the chin down toward the chest. While holding this gesture, inhale and exhale through the mouth 3 times. Close the mouth and slowly and gently, begin to move the neck forward, then back to neutral. The motion should look as though you are a chicken, slowly pecking for food. The neck should not move backward, only forward to neutral. Repeat this action 15 to 20 times. This will release the tension in the neck.

Eye strain

Tired red eyes or eye strain can often accompany headaches at the end of a long day. Stretching your eyes can relieve stress and tension. Start by slowly looking up toward the forehead, then down towards your toes.  The eyes should feel like they are stretching up and down, as you move them. Then in a horizontal movement, slowly look all the way to the left and then all the way to the right. Remember not to move your neck or head. Move only the eyes. In a diagonal movement, look to the top right corner of the eyes, then look down to the bottom, left corner of the eyes. Finally, look up to the top left corner of the eyes, then down to the lower right corner of the eyes in a diagonal. Repeat very slowly, 8 times in each direction and then close the eyes for a moment.

Another exercise is ‘Blink 45’: Sitting down, blink rapidly 45 times in a row. This can also help to loosen tension and re-energize the eyes. To avoid dizziness, wait a few minutes before standing up.

Cold symptoms: Achy joints, runny nose and sore throat

Try these three remedies to relieve symptoms.

The gift of gold: Turmeric and honey

Turmeric is an immune modulator that acts as a natural anti-microbial with antibacterial and antiviral properties. It can also be used to reduce inflammation in the joints and increase immunity.

Mix a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder with a spoon of organic honey until it becomes a smooth golden paste. Lick the honey and turmeric mixture throughout the day.

Fresh, energizing ginger tea

Warm liquids increase the body’s temperature, which can help to maintain immunity and reduce stagnation in the joints.  Honey is antimicrobial and is packed with nourishing minerals. Ginger fights infection, improves digestion and reduces nausea.

Cut and peel a few round slices of fresh ginger. Pound the cut ginger with a mortar and pestle to release the juices. Add the juice and the pounded ginger slices to about two cups of water and bring it to a boil for a few minutes. Take it off the heat, and let it cool for a few minutes. Pour the tea into a thermos and sip it throughout the day.

Himalayan salt and lime

Although a simple salt gargle could suffice, a shot of Himalayan salt and lime can be a potent antibacterial concoction. Squeeze half of a lime and combine the fresh lime juice with two or three pinches of Himalayan salt. Mix together and sip slowly.

Chapped lips

A fast and easy remedy can be found at the centre of your universe – the navel. Before bed, lie down and place a few drops of warm, natural oil into the navel. Allow the navel to retain the oil for about 1 minute before rubbing it in. *Natural options for oil are cold-pressed sesame, sunflower, almond or coconut oils.

Nicole Mahabir · CBC Life · November 15

Nicole Mahabir is the Founder and Director of JAI Wellness, a platform for health education, mindful living and wellbeing. For the past 10 years, Nicole has lead professional certified programs, teaching Nutrition, Meditation, Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy and Natural Anti-Ageing Beauty Regimes. When she isn’t teaching, Nicole creates integrated, sustainable health protocols for her busy clients. Follow Nicole on Instagram @jaiwellness or on her website, jaiwellness.com.

source: www.cbc.ca


3 Comments

6 Health Reasons To Eat Spicy Foods More Often

Many people from different cultures and backgrounds worldwide have a special place in their hearts for spicy foods, and it turns out that these foods don’t only taste great, but provide wonderful health benefits as well.

Although everyone prefers a different level of spice in their foods, it doesn’t actually matter how much your food burns your tongue, but what type of spice you use in your cooking. Spices can serve as wonderful alternatives to medicines and other conventional healing modalities, and have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments, including aches and pains. Many spices have antimicrobial properties, which explains why they make wonderful alternative remedies.

“Studies show that many different herbs and spices offer health benefits,” says David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Much of the existing evidence supports use of cinnamon, chili peppers, turmeric, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary, Heber tells WebMD.

According to Heber, a compound in chili peppers called dihydrocapsiate increased fat-burning capacity in a study where people ate the spice three times a day. Furthermore, a study in Cell Metabolism showed decreased blood pressure in lab animals that consuming capsaicin, the component in chili peppers that makes them spicy.

If you don’t know which spices to add to your food, start out with the simple ones we’ve listed above. Thousands of spices exist in the world, but if you don’t use spices often, it’s best to begin with “safer” spices that you might be more familiar with. You can easily replace salt, sugar, or other additives with spices, which have no added calories or salt.

If you need more convincing to add spices to your food, read on for more of the benefits you can expect to receive.

6 HEALTH REASONS TO EAT SPICY FOODS MORE OFTEN

1. SPICES CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT.

Many spices have properties that increase body heat, which will help to boost your metabolism, and therefore lose weight. Others, such as cinnamon, help to balance your blood sugar so that you stay full longer.

Furthermore, as we mentioned above, spices can serve as a substitute for other additives such as sugar, which contains calories but no nutrients. More commonly, people use a spice to replace salt, which can pack on the water weight due to bloating.

Spices will help to make your food more satisfying, which means you won’t need as much to feel full.

spicerack

2. SPICES CAN INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM.

According to Better Nutrition, the capsaicin in chili peppers increases your body heat, which therefore amps up your metabolism. This goes along with our first point, but it’s still worth mentioning. Eating spices can serve as an easy way to increase your energy and metabolism, plus make your food taste better. Sounds like a win-win, right?

3. SPICES CAN PREVENT HEART DISEASE.

Garlic, ginger, and cinnamon specifically have been proven to help prevent heart disease. According to Dr. Sinatra, an integrative cardiologist, “Garlic, one of the most healthy herbs and spices in the world, is both a powerful antioxidant and blood thinner. It is commonly recommended as a cholesterol-lowering agent, and has been shown to help lower triglycerides – blood fats that are closely linked to heart disease. Garlic can even lower blood pressure as effectively as some drugs (as shown in studies where subjects supplemented with daily dosages ranging from 600 – 900 mg over a period of 3-6 months.”

He also lists cinnamon as one of the best healing herbs and spices for increasing antioxidant levels in the blood, and ginger as a natural blood thinner.

4. SPICES CAN ALSO ALLEVIATE SINUS TROUBLE.

This one seems pretty self-explanatory, as we’ve all had spicy food at one time or another, and had to run for the tissues in the middle of our meal. Because of the incredible heat present in spices, they cause the sinuses to become unclogged, which explains the runny noses and watery eyes.

If you ever have sinus issues, just reach for your favorite spice to add to your cooking, and you’ll see some relief in no time.

5. EATING SPICES COULD HELP YOU LIVE LONGER.

According to a study done by Time, people who ate spicy foods 1-2 times per week had a 10 percent reduced risk of death, compared to those who ate spicy food once or fewer times a week.

You can see why spices might make you live longer, as they decrease your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening issues.

6. SPICES CAN SERVE AS A NATURAL REMEDY FOR ANXIETY AND STRESS.

According to Dr. Cynthia, a holistic doctor, passionflower, kava kava, turmeric, and lavender have the potential to decrease anxiety and stress in a healthy, nonaddictive way. L-theanine, an amino acid found mostly in green and black tea, can reduce anxiety as well.

So, there you have it, six science backed reasons to eat more spicy foods; remember, incorporate spices into your foods slowly, so that you don’t overwhelm your taste buds. Then, once you feel comfortable, you can experiment with bolder spices that also make your food taste great!

source: Power of Positivity     July 15, 2016


1 Comment

This ONE Ingredient Can Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. – WebMD

“Research shows that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level.”

A positive development in the world of medicine is the willingness of medical professionals to experiment with natural remedies. Despite technological advancements and cutting-edge pharmaceuticals, some of the most effective medicines can be found right in our local grocery store.

The typical American diet disproportionally includes sugar, sodium and other additives that wreak havoc on our body. This is partially due to the fact that, through advances in food science, we’ve accepted convenience at the expense of what our body really needs: a natural, healthy diet.

Fortunately, enough research now exists that proves the effectiveness of everyday foods. One of those foods is ginger – a sweet and spicy ingredient that also happens to benefit our health in a number of ways. In addition to the great taste, ginger is a nutritious and exceptionally versatile ingredient.

Arthritis is one of the most prevalent ailments in society today. A painful and degenerative condition, arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints. This inflammation adversely affects mobility and causes often debilitating physical pain. The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, has a tendency to get worse with age as natural wear and tear of the body takes its toll.

It’s this inflammatory response where ginger truly demonstrates its medicinal properties. One of the leading arthritis organizations, the Arthritis Foundation, promotes ginger as a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient. The organization’s website cites a study by the University of Miami that suggests ginger supplementation as a natural substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). In the study of 247 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, those given a highly concentrated dose of ginger extract “reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo.”

One of the study’s lead researchers states that “Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant activities, as well as a small amount of analgesic (pain reduction) property.” In other words, it is ginger’s ability to counteract inflammation and pain that makes the spice a particularly potent medicinal alternative. This is certainly positive and welcome news for the millions of people who suffer from pain and inflammation from arthritis and other ailments.

ginger

As mentioned, ginger is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be consumed in a number of different forms. The Arthritis Foundation notes that choosing an effective form of ginger is essential to experiencing the most powerful effects from its medicinal properties. Specifically, the organization recommends choosing supplements that use “super-critical extraction,” a process that results in the purest ginger. This process also provides the greatest medicinal effects of any ginger delivery method.

That said, there are a number of ways to incorporate ginger into your diet. Many people add ginger to fresh juices and everyday food. Favorite foods and beverages to include ginger as an ingredient are: carrot ginger lentil soup, stir fry, ginger berry smoothies, salad, split pea soup, kale juice, homemade ginger ale, ginger cookies and candy ginger.

Aside from ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties, the spice also serves other medicinal purposes. Research has shown that ginger can relieve the pain caused by headaches, menstrual cramps, and other injuries. Some research has even documented that the potency of ginger’s anti-inflammatory and pain reduction benefits exceeds that of painkillers and other drugs.

GINGER ALSO HELPS:

– Fight cancer. Studies show that ginger may help to kill cancer cells. Promising research exists that specifically shows ginger’s powerful counteractive effects in breast cancer patients.

– Aid digestive processes and reduce bloating. Ginger tea and ginger ale drinkers have known this for quite some time. The ingredient contains certain compounds that counteract digestive discomfort while improving digestive processes – both of which help to ward off and reduce bloating.

– Prevent and aid motion sickness. A plethora of research exists that notes ginger’s counteractive effects on nausea and vomiting. For this reason, ginger ale and other ginger beverages are a favorite for those that suffer from motion sickness.

– Prevent sickness. As an anti-viral, ginger is effective in reducing the likelihood of illness. At minimum, consuming ginger during cold and flu months should be considered as a viable alternative.


1 Comment

8 Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger Health Benefits: 8 Reasons Why This Root Rules Winter

The Huffington Post Canada    By Arti Patel    03/11/2016

Ginger may only be an option when you’re sick, but there’s good reason to get a dose of it every day.

Ginger has a long list of health benefits from fighting indigestion to boosting immunity, and since the cold and flu season seems to be sticking around, it’s time to learn about what this root can do for you.

Although fresh ginger can be a little intimidating (and spicy!), there are easy ways to consume it says registered dietitian Selena Devries of Kelowna B.C..

“You can simply grate it, skin and all, into recipes,” she tells The Huffington Post Canada. “And to keep it fresh, store it in the freezer with the skin on and take out as needed.”

If you’re new to ginger (or just can’t handle the taste), try a powdered form and mix it into teas or your meals. You can also start adding ginger to the meals you eat on a regular basis — like oatmeal, stir-fry or sauteed veggies.

“Ginger can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Eating it traditionally pickled will also provide a good dose of probiotics helping to boost your immune system,” she adds.

Eight reasons why ginger should be considered winter’s best superfood

ginger-root-sliced

Reduce Nausea
One of the most well known benefits of ginger is to help with reducing nausea, says registered dietitian Selena Devries of Kelowna B.C.. “Try making ginger tea by steeping a one-inch root in one to two cups of hot water for about 10 minutes,” she says. “Sweeten with a dash of honey.”

It Can Help With Indigestion
Upset stomach? Try chewing on candied or crystallized ginger. According to author Gerard E. Mullin of The Inside Tract, ginger helps the stomach to efficiently empty it’s contents.

Ginger Is Anti-Inflammatory
Devries says if you’re suffering from any type of inflammatory disease, ginger is a great root to add to your diet. “It is packed with gingerols and volatile oils which help to decrease inflammation in the body.”

Goodbye Flatulence
Are you always gassy, bloated or burping? Ginger has a carminative effect, Devries says, meaning it is able to break up and reduce intestinal gas. “Sprinkle fresh ginger on oatmeal, stir-fry and veggie side dishes.”

Sooth Your Muscle Cramps
“Because of ginger’s powerful anti-inflammatory effect, it helps to relieve muscle cramping,” Devries says. If you develop muscle cramps after workouts, try drinking a smoothie with frozen bananas, pineapple, turmeric, hemp hearts, ginger and a milk of your choice.

It’s A Natural Immune Booster
There’s a reason you’re told to drink ginger tea when you’re sick. “Lacto-fermented ginger is a great source of good gut bacteria which will boost the immune system, and help to prevent you from getting sick,” Devries adds. Try fermenting ginger at home or buy a ginger-flavoured kombucha at your local supermarket.

It’s High In Antioxidants
“Antioxidants, which are found in a variety of plant-based foods, help to repair the damage done by harmful, free radicals in the body,” she says. For a high dose of antioxidants, try a ginger tonic.

Reduce Menstrual Pain
One study found ginger was effective as ibuprofen in relieving pain during your period, Devries notes. “Although this is just one study, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to up your intake of ginger during your period.”


Leave a comment

Why You Should Have Ginger Every Day

by Jonathan Galland   October 19, 2015

Ginger is a treasure in Asian cuisine, where it’s cherished for its unique ability to bring a touch of tanginess to dishes. Its distinctive lemony aroma and touch of spiciness can awaken the flavors of favorite recipes.

But ginger’s amazing role in cooking is just the start — the spice is also well-known for its many medicinal benefits. For centuries, ginger has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds, stomachaches, nausea, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea.

In traditional Chinese medicine, sliced or grated ginger is boiled in water as a soup to help fend off early signs of a cold. And it’s often the last resort for those who suffer motion sickness when pills won’t work. (A freshly cut ginger slice is either placed in the mouth or on the belly button with a Band-Aid.)

Right into the modern age, ginger is still the go-to herbal remedy for those who believe in natural healing.

And science is now catching up. Here are some of the research-backed revelations about the powerful benefits of this exotic spice:

1. It’s anti-inflammatory.

Ginger contains dozens of the most potent natural inflammation-fighting substances, like gingerols. The ability for food to reduce inflammation is important, as inflammation contributes to many chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes, pain, and heart disease.

2. It’s anti-aging.

Ginger also has powerful antioxidant effects. It raises levels of the master antioxidant glutathione in the body. And by fighting oxidative stress, ginger helps control the process of aging.

3. It reduces pain from exercise.

One study found that eating ginger before cycling reduced quadriceps muscle pain, likely thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects.

4. It assists with weight loss.

Research shows that ginger tea helps prevent metabolic disorders and reduces the feeling of hunger, meaning it plays a role in weight management.

ginger

5. It helps treat anemia.

Ginger and its bioactive components, such as gingerols and shogaols, stimulate the production of blood cells in the body and can improve anemia symptoms.

6. It can help manage diabetes.

One study showed that ginger can improve fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients. And scientists have discovered that combining honey and ginger reduces oxidative stress as well as the complications of diabetes.

This is especially important, given that the number of people with diabetes across the world is predicted to increase from 171 million in 2000 to 552 million by 2030.

7. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Since ancient times, natural compounds of ginger have been appreciated for their use in preventing various age-related ailments, including brain aging and neuro-degeneration. Recent studies have emphasized ginger’s benefits in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

8. It can ease symptoms of osteoarthritis.

In traditional Indonesian medicine, red ginger has been prescribed to relieve arthritis pain.

Now, an unprecedented study has found that topical ginger treatment using either a traditional manually prepared ginger compress or a standardized ginger patch could relieve symptoms for people with chronic osteoarthritis.

9. It can prevent liver disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common liver disease that’s quickly turning into an epidemic. Insulin resistance is a major feature in patients with NAFLD.

But research has shown that gingerols, the active component of ginger, could help improve insulin resistance, serving as a natural way to prevent NAFLD.

How to Spice Up Your Life with Ginger

Shop for whole ginger root in the vegetable aisle, looking for ginger that is firm to the touch and not wilted, dried out, or moldy. To use fresh ginger, remove the skin and cut a section of the yellow root. Finely chop the ginger, and it’s ready to use.

You can also make fresh ginger tea by adding finely chopped ginger to boiled water, letting it steep for two to three minutes, and then straining out the ginger.


1 Comment

Foods That Double as Medicine

By Ben Smart, Special to CNN      Wed July 29, 2015

(CNN)A typical visit to the doctor might leave you with a bottle of pills and instructions to take them twice daily.

But a small, growing number of physicians are “prescribing” foods not only for weight management, but also to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

CNN spoke with medical nutrition experts to unearth the specific foods they recommend. And you don’t have to be a chef or nutritionist to take advantage of these healthy choices.

While one food might be recommended as treatment for a specific ailment, it’s important to remember that a single food item doesn’t work in isolation, said Dr. Melina Jampolis, a board-certified physician nutrition specialist.

“True nutrition experts prefer to speak about dietary patterns or groups of foods, as nutrients in foods work in combination to improve certain conditions,” Jampolis said.

However, there are notable exceptions to this rule, said Dr. John La Puma, a practicing physician and professionally trained chef. Here are 10 you may want to stock your kitchen with before reaching in the medicine cabinet.

Buckwheat honey for a cough

Derived from the bee nectar of flowers of the buckwheat grain, buckwheat honey might eventually make its way into every parent’s medicine cabinet.

“Buckwheat honey is better than cough syrup for nocturnal cough in kids,” according to La Puma. This is an especially useful food-as-medicine for children under 6 but older than age 1, who are ill-advised to take over-the-counter cough medicines.

“Foods can work like medicine in the body — and they do,” said La Puma.

Pickled foods for diarrhea

Fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, pickled vegetables, miso, kimchi and poi. These foods contain living bacteria that help maintain the health of the digestive tract, said Dr. Gerard Mullin, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of “The Gut Balance Revolution.”

These bacteria-filled foods can be used to prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, infantile diarrhea, eczema and allergies, according to Mullin. “But the hottest use of fermented foods is to burn stubborn fat,” Mullin said.

A study from 2012 that reviewed data from 82 clinical trials found probiotic foods were indeed effective at treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea. However, the data for using probiotics as a treatment for eczema are mixed. Some research found supporting evidence while other studies did not.

Ginger for menstrual cramps

Ginger is a pungent spice originating from Southeast Asia. “As a digestive disease specialist I frequently recommend the spice ginger in the form of tea for nausea and abdominal discomfort,” said Mullin.

Ginger could also be a helpful food-as-medicine for women. “Ginger probably works as well as ibuprofen for menstrual cramps. It works taken as a ginger capsule or chewed,” said La Puma.

One scientific review of seven clinical trials found that 750 to 2000 milligrams of ginger powder taken during the first four days of menstrual cycle was an effective treatment for cramps.

Peppermint for IBS

Think beyond candy canes and chewing gum. Peppermint is also found in supplement, essential oil and tea forms. When used medicinally, peppermint is prescribed to help treat abdominal cramping and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

“What I find interesting about peppermint is that when compared to the various medical therapies for IBS, peppermint is the most effective and the least toxic,” Mullin told CNN.

Peppermint oil is effective — and could be the first line of treatment — against irritable bowel syndrome, according to a 2005 scientific review of 16 clinical trials.

Hibiscus Tea

 

Hibiscus tea for high blood pressure

“Hibiscus tea has a greater anti-hypertensive effect than blueberries,” said La Puma. Infused as an herbal tea, hibiscus flowers contain anthocyanins, which could help to lower blood pressure.

The steeples of the flower are dried and made into a tea drink, which has a tart cranberry taste, La Puma said.

Multiple studies back up the blood-pressure-lowering abilities of hibiscus, including one published in the Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences.

Turmeric for arthritis

Native to southwest India, turmeric has a warm, bitter flavor. Used medicinally, Jampolis recommends turmeric to help treat inflammatory conditions.

“Turmeric is used especially for brain-related conditions and to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It can be also be used for arthritis,” said Jampolis.

Add black pepper to turmeric to maximize the disease-fighting benefits. “This helps your body absorb more of the curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric that delivers the positive health effects,” said La Puma.

Indeed, an article published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology explains the various disease-fighting benefits of turmeric.

Chia seeds for high cholesterol

Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are nutrient-dense and often labeled as a “superfood.”

Dr. Jampolis said she recommends them to patients with high LDL cholesterol as a bonus to other healthy food choices. “I can actually say that I’ve seen great results just adding chia seeds to an already healthy diet for lowering cholesterol,” said Jampolis.

Steel-cut oatmeal for high LDL cholesterol

“This is a no-brainer for lowering LDL if you haven’t tried anything else,” said La Puma. “There are lots of studies showing that foods high in soluble fiber lower LDL cholesterol.”

One such study found that eating at least 3 grams of oats daily is associated with lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Try mixing in a spoonful of chia seeds to maximize the cholesterol-lowering impact.

Beans for high blood sugar levels

Beans are useful in lowering blood sugar levels and managing high cholesterol, according to Jampolis. And because they’re loaded with fiber, beans can help induce that “full” feeling to help with weight loss.

“I have certainly seen improvements in blood sugar with encouraging more fiber-rich foods like beans that are also rich in magnesium, but it is harder to isolate that effect alone,” said Jampolis.

Salmon for inflamation

With its pink-orange hue and distinct smell, salmon is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are an important part of treating any inflammatory or autoimmune condition, according to Dr. Jampolis.

Jampolis also recommends salmon to those dealing with high triglyceride levels, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or MS.

“I think most people think food can’t possibly be as potent as drugs, but I see the powerful direct benefits all the time,” said Jampolis.

source: www.cnn.com