Friday, August 1, 2014

Magnesium - You May be Deficient

According to Dr. Oz, magnesium is an essential mineral in our body and classics symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, anxiety, twitchy muscles, irritability, and constipation.

Magnesium is a key element in our bodies that helps us efficiently and optimally use our energy stores. Additionally, research has shown that lower levels of magnesium can make red blood cells, which are important in increasing your energy levels, more fragile, and thus causing a decrease in the availability of these cells.

The healthiest way to get magnesium is by eating foods rich in magnesium. Foods high in magnesium include brown rice, lentils such as peas and edamame, nuts, and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Say NO to Artificial Sweeteners

A recent report published by Taylor & Francis Online has shown that sucralose (commercially known as Splenda) has many potentially negative consequences to your health:
  • in rats, sucralose reduced the beneficial probiotics in the gut - probiotics are highly important to your digestive health and even your immune system. See my previous post:  Probiotics
  • sucrolose was also found to be able to alter the DNA and thus increase the frequency of mutation levels in an organism
  • cooking sucralose at high temperatures generates chloropropanols - potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds
  • high amounts of sucralose caused inflammation of the liver in laboratory animals, this is of concern, since there is evidence that sucralose does accumulate in the human body.


Neither did Aspartame, another artificial sweetener, emerge with glowing reviews:
  • when dissolved in liquid, one of the components it creates, DKP  has been shown to be a contributor to brain tumors.
  • when taken, aspartame is broken down by the digestion process, and methanol is released. Methanol is  a toxic even in small amounts, and causes blindness if eaten directly. 

I hope this gives you enough motivation to avoid artificial sweeteners and opt for natural, unprocessed or minimally processed sugars such as honey, raw cane sugar, and maple syrup - however in moderation.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Turmeric-The Golden Spice with Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Turmeric has been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine to combat inflammation.  The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has antioxidant and antibacterial properties as well as anti- inflammatory properties.   A clinical review by Julie S. Jurenka,  published in 2009 goes over the anti-inflammatory properties  and therapeutic potential of turmeric which I will be summarizing.

Turmeric's Anti-Inflammatory properties and different conditions: 

The strong  anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin  allows inhibition of cancer cell replication, and pre-clinical research has shown  it to inhibit cancer cell growth in different types of cancers such as pancreatic, gastric, prostate, hepatic, and breast cancers.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Rat studies have shown that curcumin extracts significantly inhibited joint inflammation in rats with both acute and chronic conditions of rheumatoid arthritis

Rats with experimentally-induced pancreatitis showed decreased inflammation when given curcumin

Post-surgery inflammation reduction:
In humans, curcumin given post surgery has showed significantly decreased inflammation in the patients.

It is however important to mention that absorption of the active ingredient curcumin is limited, as it is very rapidly metabolized in the body, as seen in studies done on rats and cancer patients, and thus it's therapeutic usefulness is limited.  Reseacher's however have found that if black pepper or long pepper are taken together with turmeric, turmeric's bio-availability increases 20 times.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Four Pantry Staples and their Healthier Substitutes

Honey - ditch the pasteurized honey and opt for the unpasteurized type

Why? Honey is pasteurized to kill any yeast spores and to melt any tiny crystals in it to ensure it remains liquid.  The pasteurization process reduces the nutrient value and the healing properties of raw honey which is high in minerals, enzymes and anti-oxidants.  Additionally, the heat from the pasteurization removes majority of the pollen grains in the raw honey and thus destroying the honey's ability to reduce allergy symptoms.So is unpasteurized honey safe? Yes it is, since the goal of pasteurization is not to make the honey safer but to increase its shelf life and make it look "pretty".  However in rare cases people have reported allergic reactions with raw honey due to the pollen spores in it. Additionally, infants under a year old must not be given honey (raw or processed) due to risk of infant botulism.

Margarine - throw it out for real butter
Why? For me the number one reason is that margarine is chemical and butter is real food. Did you know that without food colouring margarine is gray in colour?  Margarine is made of vegetable oils that are hydrogenated  to make them stay solid at room temperature through exposure to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst (see In contrast, butter from grass fed cows contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, and as well as important minerals like calcium.

Table salt - use Himalayan pink rock salt
Why? See my previous post:

Refined White sugar - use unprocessed cane sugar (of course in moderation!)
Why? Simply because refined sugar has added harmful chemicals such as phophoric acid, sulfur dioxide, and formic acid.   However, keep in mind that sugar, refined or raw, is not beneficial to health if taken in high quantities and  raw sugar is not any better in nutrient value than refined sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, opt for eating sweet fruits such as cherries and peaches for e.g., instead of cakes and pastries.

Image courtesy of[Dan]/ (Honey)
Image courtesy of[SOMMAI]/ (Butter)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Antioxidants and Sun Protection from Inside Out!

A recent review titled "skin protection against UV light by dietary antioxidants"
published in the Food and Function journal shows that antioxidants found in the foods we eat can protect us from the harmful UV light and prevent UV damage from sun exposure. Studies have shown that diets rich in carotenoids provide protection from the harmful UV rays. Additionally, antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E protect us from the damaging UVB and UVA lights. There is a catch however, sun protective benefits were seen only after many weeks of antioxidant rich diet consumption.
So this summer, protect your skin by eating antioxidant rich foods, and incorporate these amazing nutrients into your meals everyday to see the benefits.
Some Foods High in :
Vitamin C
Yellow bell peppers, guavas,  kale, kiwi...

Vitamin E
Almonds and other nuts, spinach..

Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach...

Image courtesy of Foto76