Bottled Water, Tap Water, Filtered Water: Which one is Best?

15 Aug

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We used to take our water for granted.

We rarely think about where it came from, or what it may have in it.

Then bottled water came on the scene. At first, it was a nice convenience, and a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. But then there was all that plastic clogging up our oceans and other waterways, say nothing of our landfills.

Better to drink tap, we all thought.

So we went back to our faucets, but then we heard stories of the contamination. Back in the 1980s, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from the DuPont plant (Teflon) contaminated drinking water in Ohio and West Virginia.

Decades later, in 2015, the same chemical popped up in Hoosick Falls, New York, and several other nearby areas in the Northeast, spurring the EPA to issue a new, lower level recommendation for PFOA.

Then there was the astounding recent case of contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, where after the state decided to switch the source of their supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, between 6,000 and 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead.

It’s enough to confuse even the least eco-conscious individual, who care about their own health, but also want to do what’s best for the planet.

Where do we go for our water? What’s the best choice?

What’s Really in that Bottled Water?

You already know that bottled water is contributing to environmental waste, but you may not know the details:

  • Bottles take over 1,000 years to biodegrade. If they’re incinerated instead, they produce toxic fumes.
  • Only one out of five water bottles are recycled.
  • U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles.
  • It takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one bottle than it does to fill it.
  • We use 17 million barrels of oil each year to produce water bottles.
  • Every square mile of the ocean has over 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

But let’s put aside all the environmental problems for a minute. Is bottled water better for you? In other words, is it less toxic than tap water?

In many cases, no. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle, sometimes further treated, but sometimes not.

The NRDC conducted their own tests on water bottles, and found that of the 1,000 bottles they tested (about 22%) contained chemicals above state health limits in at least one sample. They also found that samples of two brands were contaminated with phthalates—toxic plasticizing chemicals linked to asthma, hormone disruption, diabetes, and other health issues.

You’d think that government regulation would help reduce the risks, but the problem is that two different organizations regulate tap and bottled water. The EPA regulates tap, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations bottled. That means that while tap water has to be disinfected, filtered to remove pathogens, and tested for viruses, bottled water doesn’t have to be.

City water is also tested more frequently than bottled water. Manufacturing plants have to test for bacteria just once a week—city tap has to be tested 100 or more times a month.

And don’t think you can get around these issues by buying a certain type of bottled water. The EPA notes that labels can be confusing.

  • Spring water: May be collected where water flows to the earth’s surface, or from a borehole that taps into the underground source.
  • Glacier water: Not regulated and may not indicate where the water is from.
  • Mountain water: Also not regulated.
  • Purified: Not necessarily free of microbes—just indicates that it was treated to remove chemicals and pathogens.

They add that bottled water can come from a ground water source, just like tap water, or from surface water source, like a river or stream. Most comes from groundwater, which is generally safer, but some comes from the public water system and just receives additional treatment before its bottled.

What about the bottle itself? Some studies have found that toxic phthalates can leach from the bottle into the water over time. One study, for example, found that water stored for 10 weeks became contaminated with phthalates.

Most bottles today are considered safe, but if they’re stored in hot or warm temperatures, leaching becomes more likely. Even leaving a bottle in a hot car can change it enough to allow chemicals into the water.

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So Is Tap the Better Option?

Considering all this, it certainly seems like tap water would be the better alternative.

You definitely get rid of the plastic problem with tap. There are no bottles, and you aren’t exposed to any chemicals leaching from the plastic.

But how safe your tap is depends on a number of things. These include:

  • Where it’s coming from—the source. The source of water in Flint, Michigan, for example, when it changed, resulted in contamination.
  • The pipes in your building—some older homes and buildings have pipes that may contaminate water.
  • How the water is treated to remove contamination.

There still are risks for contamination with tap water. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), since 2004, testing by water utilities discovered pollutants in tap water. A 2003 study, for example, reported that the quality of drinking water varies from place to place, and that some can be contaminated with arsenic, fluoride, or pathogens.

A 2009 article in Scientific American reported on a three-year EPA study that found 202 unregulated chemicals in the tap water of 45 states. A similar EWG analysis of 20 million tap water quality tests taken between 2004 and 2009 found 316 contaminants, including weed killers, industrial solvents, refrigerants, and perchlorate.

The EPA regulates 114 of those contaminants, setting maximum levels that were achieved 92 percent of the time, but the EWG expressed concern about the rest of the chemicals, which have no federal safety standards. (Find the EWG’s top –rated and lowest-rated water utilities from their 2009 testing here.)

The EPA is considering regulating additional chemicals, including pesticides and disinfection products, but these things take time, and so far we’re still waiting on most. The EPA has stated that it is “developing or reviewing regulations for certain drinking water contaminants,” including lead, copper, perchlorate, and chromium.

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Option Three: Use a Water Filter

With the reports out of the Northeast and Michigan areas, many people are understandably nervous about their tap water supply.

You can get more detailed information on your water by ordering a do-it-yourself water testing kit, or arranging for a water quality test from a water filtration company. You can also ask for the annual drinking water quality report from your water supplier. Called the “Consumer Confidence Report (CCR),” it tells you where your water comes from and what’s in it.

The EPA has a handy page here where you can insert your state and county to receive more information on your water.

If you have a private drinking well, realize that the EPA does not regulate that, and that many states and towns don’t require testing after installation. It’s up to you to get your water tested regularly.

Finally, the best option all the way around may be to install a filter on your water faucet. You won’t be using bottled water and contaminating the environment, and you’ll be adding another layer of safety to your tap water supply.

Here are a few good guidelines to follow when purchasing a filter:

  • Choose a filter made to remove contaminants that may be found in your water—another reason to get a report or home test such as those mentioned above.
  • Carbon filters are affordable and remove many common contaminants, like lead and disinfection byproducts.
  • Reverse osmosis filters are more expensive, but are also more effective at removing contaminants, catching those that carbon filters miss, like arsenic and perchlorate.
  • Change your filters as directed to avoid letting contaminants through.
  • Check out the EWG’s water filter guide here.

All filters require regular cartridge replacement and/or other maintenance in order to remain effective. Here are four things you need to know:

FILTER CARTRIDGES HAVE A “LIFE SPAN”

  • Many types of water filters, particularly carbon filters, contain cartridges that must be replaced periodically.
  • A filter cartridge’s life span, also known as its capacity, is based on the amount of water that can flow through it before it needs to be replaced.
  • Most counter-top, faucet-mounted and under-the-counter filtration systems have greater capacity than pitcher filters.
  • How often you must change cartridges, and how much they cost, greatly affects the total annual cost of any system.

WHY A CARTRIDGE THAT REACHES CAPACITY MUST BE REPLACED

  • A filter cartridge contains a material, called the media, that “traps” contaminants and removes them from the water flowing through. Those impurities remain in the filter media.
  • Once the media in the cartridge is saturated, the filter can no longer remove contaminants and is effectively useless.
  • Bacteria may accumulate in older cartridges, potentially causing more harm than good.

DIRTY OR OLD CARTRIDGES MAY REDUCE WATER FLOW RATE

  • Most filtration systems also rely on mechanical filtration to remove excess sediment and particulate matter from the water.
  • Too much trapped sediment may clog the system and lower the flow rate.
  • Depending on your filtration system, a good cleaning may solve the problem; in other cases a new cartridge may be necessary.

REVERSE OSMOSIS FILTERS AND WATER SOFTENERS REQUIRE SPECIAL MAINTENANCE

  • Reverse osmosis systems, in addition to often having one or more cartridges that must be replaced periodically, have a special membrane that must be replaced every 2-3 years.
  • Water softeners based on ion-exchange technology use salt ions to remove excess calcium and magnesium from the water. The salt gets depleted over time has to be replenished periodically.
  • Many manufacturers recommend additional regular maintenance tasks for reverse osmosis filters and water softeners. It is important to follow the manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations.

Maintenance Issues to Consider Before Purchasing A Filtration System

HOW OFTEN WILL YOU NEED TO REPLACE A FILTER CARTRIDGE?

  • A cartridge’s capacity, listed in gallons, is usually listed under the product description and specifications on the label, as well as in the user manual available on most manufacturers’ websites.
  • Since most users do not know or track to the amount of water they use, manufacturers also suggest how often the cartridge should be replaced.
  • The lower the capacity, the more frequently you will need to change the cartridge and the more it will cost to keep your filter working well.
  • Some water filters contain a gauge of some kind that will alert you when it’s time to replace a cartridge. It’s unclear how accurate these are, however, so it’s best to be proactive about filter maintenance.

KNOW THE COST OF REPLACING CARTRIDGES AND OTHER FILTER COMPONENTS

  • Cartridge prices can vary tremendously. To estimate your annual costs, consider both the number of cartridges you would need in a year as well as the unit cost of each one you buy.
  • In addition to any necessary filter cartridges, consider what other components of your water filter system may need replacement or maintenance. Two examples: reverse osmosis membranes and salt for ion exchange water softeners.
  • A cheaper filtration system that requires more frequent cartridge replacement may be more costly over the long term than a more expensive system.

THE FINE PRINT

  • Some filtration systems require professional maintenance services.
  • There are several different types of salts for ion-exchange water softeners. Be sure to purchase salt that is compatible with your system.
  • Consult the user manual before replacing a filter cartridge or cleaning your system!
  • The Nitty Gritty of Filter Types and Technologies

    Although there are hundreds of brands of home water filters, they all rely on a small number of technologies to remove contaminants. That does not mean that every filter that uses a given technology is as good as another, but it does mean that you can get a good idea of the general pros and cons of the different systems relatively easily.

    A few tips to keep in mind:

    • Some filters use a combination of technologies, while others rely on just one.
    • To ensure that a filter removes a particular contaminant, verify that it is certified for that contaminant by a reputable, independent agency. For example, some carbon filters can remove chloramine but others cannot. Filters vary widely in quality.
    • Some filters are labeled “NSF certified.” NSF is a reputable product evaluation company, but its certifications are not all the same. It may certify that a filter will improve water’s taste and odor but not necessarily guarantee that it will remove any specific contaminants. Read the fine print.
    • EWG’s water filter guide only includes filters that have been certified by the California Department of Public Health and/or NSF to reduce one or more common drinking water contaminants.

    The basics of common water filter technologies

    Carbon/Activated Carbon: Activated carbon chemically bonds with and removes some contaminants in water filtered through it. Carbon filters vary greatly in effectiveness: Some just remove chlorine and improve taste and odor, while others remove a wide range of contaminants including asbestos, lead, mercury and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, activated carbon cannot effectively remove common “inorganic” pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate and perchlorate. Generally, carbon filters come in two forms, carbon block and granulated activated carbon.

    Carbon Block: Carbon block filters contain pulverized activated carbon that is shaped into blocks under high pressure. They are typically more effective than granulated activated carbon filters because they have more surface area. Their effectiveness depends in part on how quickly water flows through.

    Granulated Activated Carbon: These filters contain fine grains of activated carbon. They are typically less effective than carbon block filters because they have a smaller surface area of activated carbon. Their effectiveness also depends on how quickly water flows through.

    Ceramic: Ceramic filters have very small holes throughout the material that block solid contaminants such as cysts and sediments. They do not remove chemical contaminants.

    Deionization: These filters use an ion exchange process that removes mineral salts and other electrically charged molecules (ions) from water. The process cannot remove non-ionic contaminants (including trihalomethanes and other common volatile organic compounds) or microorganisms. EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Distillation: This technology heats water enough to vaporize it and then condenses the steam back into water. The process removes minerals, many bacteria and viruses and chemicals that have a higher boiling point than water. It cannot remove chlorine, trihalomethanes or volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Fibredyne block: This is a proprietary type of carbon block filter that claims to have a higher sediment holding capacity than other carbon block filters.

    Ion Exchange: This technology passes water over a resin that replaces undesirable ions with others that are more desirable. One common application is water softening, which replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium. The resin must be periodically “recharged” with replacement ions.

    Mechanical Filters: Like ceramic filters, these filters are riddled with small holes that remove contaminants such as cysts and sediments. They are often used in conjunction with other kinds of technologies, but sometimes are used alone. They cannot remove chemical contaminants.

    Ozone: Ozone kills bacteria and other microorganisms and is often used in conjunction with other filtering technologies. It is not effective in removing chemical contaminants. EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Reverse Osmosis: This process pushes water through a semi-permeable membrane that blocks particles larger than water molecules. Reverse osmosis can remove many contaminants not removed by activated carbon, including arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate. However, reverse osmosis does not remove chlorine, trihalomethanes or volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Many reverse osmosis systems include an activated carbon component than can remove these other contaminants. Quality can vary tremendously in both the membrane system and the carbon filter typically used with it. Consumers should also be aware that reverse osmosis filters use 3-to-20 times more water than they produce. Because they waste quite a bit of water, they are best used for drinking and cooking water only.

    UV (ultraviolet): These systems use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. They cannot remove chemical contaminants. EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Water Softeners: These devices typically use an ion exchange process to lower levels of calcium and magnesium (which can build up in plumbing and fixtures) as well barium and certain forms of radium. They do not remove most other contaminants. Since water softeners usually replace calcium and magnesium with sodium, treated water typically has high sodium content. Some people may be advised by their physicians to avoid softened water. For the same reason, it is also not recommended for watering plants and gardens.

    THE BASIC ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES OF EACH WATER FILTER TYPE
    Type Description Pros Cons
    Pitcher/Large dispenser Pitchers or large dispensers are typically fitted with an activated carbon filter that can remove contaminants and improve taste and odor. Models vary, but many reduce chlorine, lead, mercury and (less frequently) disinfection byproducts. This filter style works well for filtering drinking water and can be stored in the refrigerator. Inexpensive. No installation required. Available in various sizes and styles. If filters are replaced regularly, yearly cost may equal expense of faucet, countertop or under-sink filters. Can require frequent filter changes. Filtering is slow.
    Faucet mounted Faucet-mounted filters attach directly to the end of the faucet. Most can be pivoted to an “on” or “off” position, allowing you to collect filtered water for drinking and cooking. This filter style typically uses an activated carbon filter that can remove contaminants and improve taste and odor. Models vary, but many reduce chlorine, lead, mercury and (less frequently) disinfection byproducts. Relatively inexpensive. Easy to install. Allows user to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. Filtration is fast enough to fill cooking pots. Does not work with all faucet styles. May slow down faucet flow rate. Typically must change filter more frequently than with countertop or under-sink filters.
    On-counter On-Counter filters typically sit on the counter, with a line connecting directly to the faucet. A diverter value allows you to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. You collect filtered water from an extra spout or faucet on the filter unit. Models use a range of technologies, including activated carbon and reverse osmosis. Effectiveness varies widely between models, but many on-counter filters will reduce a wide array of contaminants. May allow user to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. Typically requires relatively infrequent filter changes. Ideal for filtering both drinking and cooking water. Requires installation and possibly plumbing modification. Can be expensive, though not always.
    Under-sink Under-Sink filters are mounted underneath the kitchen sink, where they are fitted to the water supply line. Some models have a separate spout or faucet for water collection. Models use a range of technologies, including activated carbon to reverse osmosis. Effectiveness varies widely between models, but many under-sink filters will reduce a wide array of contaminants. Placed out-of-sight under the sink. Typically requires filter changes relatively infrequently. Ideal for filtering both drinking and cooking water. Requires installation and possible plumbing modification. Can be expensive, though not always

Do you filter your water? Please share your thoughts. 

Annmarie Skin Care

Buckwheat Can Boost Cardiovascular Health

12 Aug

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Buckwheat can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and may boost heart health according to a small study in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.

‘Buckwheat’- this name might suggest that it is a type of cereal similar to wheat. But buckwheat has no connection with wheat whatsoever. In fact, it is a fruit seed that is closely related to rhubarb, sorrel and knotweed. These grain-like seeds have a unique triangular shape and have the same size as wheat kernels. In order to make them edible, their outer hull has to be removed with the help of special milling equipment. Its color varies from tannish pink to brown.

Just like wheat, buckwheat also can be grounded into flour and can be a suitable substitute for wheat in case of those who are gluten intolerant as buckwheat is gluten free. The darker form of buckwheat is more nutritious. Buckwheat flowers attract bees which use them to produce a strongly flavored dark honey. Buckwheat is available in roasted and unroasted forms. The roasted form is also known as ‘kasha’ which is widely used in traditional European dishes. In United States, it is commonly used in porridges and pancakes. The unroasted, whole buck wheat kernels are known as buckwheat grains or hulled buckwheat.

Buckwheat is also known as ‘Kootu’ in Hindi, ‘Kuttu’ in Telugu, ‘Kotu’ in Tamil, ‘Kootu’ in Malayalam, ‘Kuttu’ in Marathi, ‘Kutti-no Daro’ in Gujarati, and ‘Titaphapur’ in Bengali.

Those who consumed a diet containing buckwheat as a main source of carbohydrates for two months or longer found that they had significantly reduced markers of cardiovascular disease including Type 2 Diabetes and oxidative or cellular stress in both overweight men and women, the research found.

Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and is used as a substitute for grains in people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens.

The health benefits of Buckwheat are vast and may be due to its low impact on blood sugar levels, while containing high levels of protein, fiber and nutrients, including polyphenols that can fight disease, research suggests.

Buckwheat is a powerhouse of nutrients. Being gluten free, it can be an excellent substitute for wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is thus considered suitable for those who are allergic to wheat and celiac patients. It has a high content of fiber and protein, and significant amounts of iron and magnesium. Besides, it contains all the eight essential amino acids. Buckwheat is also packed with phyto nutrients which are amazing disease fighting organic components. The several health benefits of buckwheat can be attributed to its amazing nutritional profile.

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The researchers from The University of Florence in Italy analyzed and monitored 21 people in their mid-50s for their blood composition following two eight-week diets. One of the diets was enriched with buckwheat and were separated with eight weeks of unrestricted eating. The other diet included bread, pasta and other kinds of carbohydrates made with wheat flour that were enriched with 40-50% buckwheat flour.

Results indicated that on average, the buckwheat diet showed a decreased total cholesterol, low-density lipo-protein or LDL and triglycerides. The study also found that markers of oxidative stress decreased significantly in those people on the buckwheat diet.

The study holds promising results for anyone wanting to improve their cardiovascular health in the long term. By following a healthy diet and lifestyle including Buckwheat, it’s possible to get healthier and over time, see significant improvements in chronic diseases and one’s general level of health.

1. Aids in Weight Loss:

Whole grain buckwheat can be very helpful in weight loss. Buckwheat has fewer calories in comparison to wheat or barley. It is free of saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in dietary fiber and protein. This combination plays an important role in suppressing appetite, controlling blood sugar, facilitating proper digestion and building lean muscle mass.

2. Diabetic friendly:

Being low in calories and fat free, buckwheat is an ideal food for diabetic patients. Buckwheat contains a medicinal chemical which strengthens capillary walls and reduces hemorrhage, thus lowering the risk of fatal strokes and heart attacks in people with high blood pressure and diabetes. It improves micro vascular integrity and circulation in diabetics, thus preventing the damage of nerves and muscle cells and loss of kidney function. D-chiro-inositol is a compound that is deficient in type II diabetic patients. This compound is required for proper conduction of insulin for controlling and treating type II diabetes. Buckwheat also contains D-chiro-inositol.

3. Reduces Blood Pressure:

Buckwheat is a good source of magnesium which is instrumental in improving blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure naturally without the use of harmful chemicals.

4. Cardiovascular Health:

Being rich in B vitamins, particularly niacin, folate and vitamin B6, buckwheat is highly beneficial for the cardiovascular health. These vitamins reduce the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. Niacin causes an increase in high density lipo-proteins (HDL) which further enhance the blood vessel strength and cholesterol removal. The minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese help in reducing blood pressure and improving blood oxygenation. Buckwheat contains high quality proteins which remove the plaque forming triglycerides and low density lipo-proteins (LDL). Thus buckwheat is highly beneficial for people with weak heart functions and other cardiovascular problems.

5. Protection against Breast cancer:

Research has proved that eating a diet rich in fiber from whole grains such as buckwheat reduces the risk of breast cancer. In fact, pre-menopausal women eating wholegrain fiber are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The antioxidant properties of buckwheat are often used as an antidote for x-ray irradiators. The antioxidants, lignans play an important role in estrogen reception and hence are beneficial for women during or after their menopause. The plant lignans are converted into mammalian lignans in the intestines.  One of these called enterolactone is believed to protect against breast cancer and other forms of cancer related to hormones.

6. Protection against Childhood Asthma:

As per research, consumption of whole grains such as buckwheat can reduce the risk of childhood asthma by around 50 percent.  Due to its high content of magnesium and vitamin E, buckwheat can help in reducing the incidence of childhood asthma.

7. Prevents Gallstones:

Being high in insoluble fiber, buckwheat can help in preventing gallstones. Insoluble fiber speeds up the movement of food through the intestines, increases insulin sensitivity but lowers the secretion of bile acids and blood sugar.

8. Health Benefits of Buckwheat Protein:

Buckwheat contains proteins of a very high quality which offers several health benefits. This protein in combination with amino acids helps in lowering cholesterol levels besides being a key factor in preventing diabetes and obesity. In addition, buckwheat proteins reduce hypertension by reducing the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme.

9. Healthy Bone Structure:

Manganese present in buckwheat ensures healthy bone structure by forming essential enzymes for building bones and acting as a co-enzyme for assisting metabolic progression in the human body. It is also actively involved in the formation of connective tissues, absorption of calcium and metabolism of fat and sugar. Magnesium is also beneficial for bone and dental health. It trans- misses nerve impulses and helps in the production of energy. It facilitates the absorption of calcium by the body and prevents the development of osteoporosis. Thus, buckwheat has a lot to contribute to a healthy bone structure.

10. Mental Health:

Buckwheat also contributes to mental health. It contains tryptophan which influences the mood in a positive manner, thus making happy and preventing depression.

11. Other Benefits:

Being rich in minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese and having high flavonoids content, buckwheat is very effective in curing low hemoglobin and frequent colds and flu. Due to its high content of vitamin B complex, buckwheat is often recommended to people suffering from liver disorders and illnesses which require them to restrict their consumption of sugary substances.

Skin Benefits of Buckwheat:

Skin problems are a major cause of concern in the present scenario. Proper supply of nutrients to the body is essential for healthy and radiant skin. The quality of skin largely depends upon genetic factors, but it is also influenced by environmental factors to a significant extent such as exposure to pollution, level of stress, lifestyle etc. Being a powerhouse of nutrients, buckwheat has an important role to play in skin health.

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12. Natural Suntan:

Buckwheat helps greatly in skincare. It contains large amounts of rutin which is beneficial in protecting against skin damage caused by the sun. Hence, it can be regarded as a natural suntan lotion as it provides protection against the harmful rays of the sun.

13. Prevents Ageing:

The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in buckwheat prevent premature skin ageing.

14. Makes Skin Glow:

Magnesium contained in buckwheat has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels, thus improving blood circulation. This results in a glowing and youthful looking skin.

Buckwheat Nutritional Value:

Buckwheat is a powerhouse of nutrients. It contains a range of nutrients comprising of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium and amino acids. It contains minerals like manganese, magnesium and copper. Moreover, it has two health-promoting flavonoids-rutin and quercitin and all the eight essential amino-acids. Buckwheat is also a great source of an essential fatty acid called Alpha-Linolenic acid which is important for overall health. Its nutritional profile is explained below.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 36 (152 kJ)
Calories from fat 3
% Daily Value 1
Total Fat 0.4g 1%
Sat. Fat  0.1g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 1%
Total Carbs 7.6g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1.1g 4%
Protein 1.4g
Calcium 1.9mg
Potassium 48.9mg

 

  • Vitamins: Buckwheat provides 8% of daily value (DV) of niacin which aids in the release of energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat during metabolism. They provide 6% of daily requirement of vitamin B-6, folate and choline and small amounts of vitamin K, riboflavin and thiamine.
  • Minerals: One cup serving of buckwheat grains provides 21% DV of magnesium and 12% DV of phosphorus and copper. Thus, they are an important source of these minerals.
  • Calories: One cup of cooked and roasted buckwheat provides around 155 calories. Carbohydrate is the primary energy source. Around 33 grams of carbohydrates are available in the form of starch. It contains just 1.5 grams of sugar.
  • Dietary Fiber: Buckwheat grains contain 4.5 grams or 18% of the daily value (DV) of total fiber. Fiber aids in weight loss by lowering cholesterol and glucose levels and promoting proper digestion.
  • Proteins: One serving of buckwheat grains contains about 6 grams of protein. Protein is vital for building and repairing body tissue.
  • Fat: Calories in Buckwheat grains are low. They contain just 1 gram of total fat and less than ½ gram of saturated fat.

Healthy pancakes:

1/2 cup organic buckwheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 organic grass fed egg (Vegan replace with  ground flaxseed)
1 organic banana, sliced up
handful of raw or dry roasted almonds, walnuts or pistachios – or all 3!
1/4 cup organic fresh or frozen blueberries

Are you looking for an ideal gluten-free option to boost your weight loss process? Do you want to add a healthy and new beverage to your diet? If yes, then, you must go to the grocery, pick up the Buckwheat tea bags, and start using them regularly. The Buckwheat tea, also known as soba cha offers immense health benefits and is free from the harmful gluten.

Buckwheat Tea

Do you want to add a healthy and new beverage to your diet? The Buckwheat tea, also known as soba cha offers immense health benefits and is free from the harmful gluten.

Its taste is light and is drunk for enjoyment apart from health purposes. Studies suggest that it aids in weight loss, improves the health of the blood vessels and reduces blood cholesterol. The preliminary research on Buckwheat tea is promising and suggests that the nutrients and chemicals in the tea can serve as a nutritional supplement.

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and is beneficial for weight loss and overall health. However, if you have been advised to cut down on caffeine in your diet, and want to follow a low-oxalate diet, Buckwheat tea is the best alternative. It offers all the benefits of green tea sans caffeine and can be an ideal choice for those who want to follow The Kidney Stone Avoidance Diet. The Vitexin and rutin in the Buckwheat tea improve blood flow, and prevent varicose veins and leg edema.

Replacing your regular drinks with Buckwheat tea has several health advantages and can improve the quality of your life. Do not contemplate! Try buckwheat today for a better tomorrow.

Robert Redfern

Saba

Nourish, Stimulate, and Calm Your Brain

11 Aug

Having difficulties focusing, remembering tasks or organizing your thoughts?

It may sound strange to learn that cognitive function is not solely the job of the brain alone; other parts and organs of the body are involved—the heart and kidneys both partner with the brain to nurture a healthy and attentive mind. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help optimize your brain power through a treatment approach that incorporates different modalities, including nutritional support.

One reason why the heart needs constant attention is because it must constantly pump blood throughout the body via the blood vessels. Oxygen and vital substances are delivered to the brain in this manner to stimulate or calm it. The heart also has another important responsibility relating to the sustainability of the brain: to house the Shen.

The concept of the Shen can be described as the spirit or mind of a person. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the spirit, or Shen, embodies consciousness, emotions and thought. Shen influences long-term memory and the ability to think clearly, contributes to wisdom, and presides over activities that involve mental and creative functions. When the mind is healthy, we are able to think clearly. When the mind is unhealthy or unbalanced, we experience confusion, poor memory and clouded thinking.

The kidneys also contribute to a healthy brain as they supply a vital substance called Jing, which then produces marrow. Jing is a unique, fundamental substance necessary for human life. Marrow is the material foundation for the central nervous system and is the matter that ‘fills up’ the brain, thus the brain is referred to as the Sea of Marrow.

The Sea of Marrow is indispensable for memory and concentration. It also rules over the five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing. It is natural for the Sea of Marrow to wane as we grow older. However, there are acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments that can help nurture even the most mature brain.

A healthy mind involves harmony between the brain (Sea of Marrow) and the spirit (Shen). Disharmony of the mind often manifests as anxiety, insomnia, muddled thinking, forgetfulness and chronic restlessness. Meditation and acupuncture, as well as diet and physical exercises such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong can balance and strengthen the mind.
Keep your mind active and challenged. Brain function decreases with age. Studies show that cognitive exercise can improve blood flow to the brain. Spend at least 15 minutes each day on a mental exercise such as a crossword puzzle, journaling or learning a new language in order to slow memory loss.

However you choose to exercise your brain, acupuncture can help. Numerous studies suggest that acupuncture can help improve memory, mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function.

One recently published study showed how acupuncture can be used to help patients with vascular dementia. Cerebral functional imaging before and after acupuncture treatments showed a significant increase in the cerebral glucose metabolism of the brain, which is associated with improved cognitive function.

Other studies have looked at how acupuncture affects the performance of students taking an exam or those with Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment induced by diabetes and cerebral ischemia. All results, thus far, have been positive

Looking to support your health and also boost your brain function? Good nutrition can help boost your brain power. Not only is it essential to overall physical health, it can also enhance the function and harmony of the mind.

The right foods enhance brain function by providing essential nutrients such as flavonoids, Omega 3s, vitamins, folate and iron–all great for improving the quality and quantity of learning capacity, cognitive abilities, memory and overall brain function.

Where to begin? First of all, avoid excess. According to Oriental medicine, overindulging in food or drink can impair your Qi–the energy which powers the body and the mind. Greasy, fatty, spicy and sweet foods can also lead to “stuck” Qi, worsening any symptoms of fogginess or sluggishness.

So how can you support your brain and body health with food? Consider these foods and their benefits for your brain and body:

Walnuts for Memory
Walnuts are a good source of vitamins B and E, which may support memory function and slow cell aging. Try eating 1-2 walnuts per day for optimal brain function. Nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, folate, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and zinc, all of which allow you to think more clearly. Seeds and nuts rich in thiamine and magnesium are great for memory, cognitive function and brain nourishment.

Leafy Greens for Concentration, Recall and Understanding
Cooked leafy greens support the Yin, which, according to Oriental medicine, enables better concentration and deep rest. Vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens and others are rich in vitamins, folate and iron, all of which are essential for memory recall and increasing cognitive activity. Oriental medicine considers cooked foods easier to digest, so throw them in soup, steam them or stir-fry.

Water for a Calm and Restful Mind
According to Oriental medicine, drinking water is a crucial way to nourish your Yin, calming the mind and improving your rest. Oriental medicine recommends drinking warm water to support the body’s internal temperature.

Substitute any beverages with pure water to transport nutrients during digestion, to act as fluid between the joints, and help regulate our temperature and skin (via perspiration). As a broad guideline, drink half your weight in ounces of water.

Berries to Improve Learning Capacity
Most berries contain fisetin and flavonoids, which are great for improving your memory and allowing you to easily recall past events. Blueberries are well known for their role in improving motor skills and overall learning capacity.

 

Christina Sarlo LMT, L.Ac., NCCAOM
Experience Your Chi
www.christinasarlo.com
 

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Spirulina

8 Aug

Screen-Shot-2016-08-04-at-15.30.18-300x186

 

Spirulina is a nutrient-rich algae that has been used worldwide to treat illnesses. Along with being a potentially sustainable source of food to end world hunger, Spirulina has been shown to have many immune system boosting effects. Some of these surprising health benefits can be found below…

  1. Supports healthy bacterial flora in the gut. Autoimmune diseases like Chronic Fatigue, Crohn’s Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Candida…these are all likely to cause chronic yeast infections and this can worsen the symptoms. Spirulina can suppress the bad bacteria like e.Coli and candida yeast, while supporting beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria and promoting a healthy digestive system in the long term.
  2. Balances Blood Pressure. High blood pressure affects millions of people every day and those who have high blood pressure are likely to be at an increased risk of dying from heart attacks or strokes. Following a healthy nutritional plan however along with getting moderate amounts of exercise and reducing stress levels can all make a difference. A study by the Department of Biochemistry in Mexico showed that 4.5 grams of spirulina every day can regulate blood pressure amongst both men and women aged 18-65 years old, without any changes to their diet during the six week experiment.
  3. Normalizes Cholesterol Levels. Tens of millions of people take cholesterol lowering medications but these can have dangerous side effects. Spirulina can help to naturally lower cholesterol levels. A study conducted on elderly male and female patients aged 60-87  showed that those given eight grams of spirulina per day for 16 consecutive weeks had lowered cholesterol levels as opposed to those given a placebo.
  4. A Rich Source of Protein – Contains More Than Meat. Many vegetarians may benefit from taking spirulina, especially if they don’t eat meat. Many vegetarians may eat nuts, beans, lentils and soy products to get enough protein but soy isn’t the health food it has been claimed to be. It contains 65-71% complete protein which compared to beef is only 22% and lentils are 26%. Adding spirulina to meals is an excellent way of ensuring you receive a good source of vital amino acids and minerals and that these are readily assimilated within the body. You only need to consume 2 tablespoons of spirulina as a protein substitute for this to be viable.
  5. Reduces Cancer Risk. A study done in China indicated that selenium-infused spirulina can inhibit the growth of MCF-7  breast cancer cells. Cancer is one of the leading killers in the Western World and therefore prevention is highly important. By taking this nutrient along with eliminating sugar/fructose, grains and processed foods from the diet, it’s possible to starve cancer cells.

Robert Redfern

 

How to Get Rid of Blackheads using DIY Facials

2 Aug

The most common reason people go to the salon is for a facial for removal of blackheads. No one likes those pesky bumps that stretch out pores and create those signature black dots on our face. But the reality is that almost all of us deal with blackheads at one point or another in our lives. First, let’s get some background on blackheads so we know what we’re dealing with.

What Are Blackheads?

Blackheads are a type of acne characterized by a dark, oxidized bump in the hair follicle made up of excess oil and dead skin cells. And they don’t only appear on the face–they also be found on the back, chest, neck, ears, and shoulders. The name “blackhead” is a little deceiving since they can be a range of colors from yellow to black. And when a blackhead is extracted, usually just the top of the blackhead is dark in color, which is the part that has had contact with the air. Beautiful, right?

Now that we know what a blackhead is, we can find out the best way to prevent and remove them. Cleansing regularly, twice a day at least, can keep excess sebum (oil) and dirt to a minimum. If you are an athlete, play sports, or work out, you’ll want to be sure to cleanse after exercising as well.

How to Remove Blackheads

These recipe below can help with loosening a blackhead, and may even help remove surface blackheads. However, if you try manual extractions at home, you’ll need to be familiar with some important do’s and don’ts!

Do:

  • Always wash your face prior to trying to remove a blackhead.
  • Always steam your face in a nice hot shower or with a portable steamer for 10-15 minutes to help open the pores.
  • Wrap your fingers with plenty of tissue until you no longer feel your nails through the tissue.
  • Gently squeeze the sides of the blackhead in an inward and upward motion.
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Don’t:

  • Force anything to come out of any pore, and especially avoid drawing blood.
  • Leave any marks. If you see nail indentations on the skin you need more tissue on your fingertips to pad them.
  • Work on unclean skin, as you can spread bacteria and cause more acne.
  • Try to remove a blackhead that you can’t see (such as on the side of your face). It’s very important to be able to see the blackhead you are trying to remove.

Blackhead Loosening Clay Mask

Mud-Mask

 This simple two-ingredient mask is designed to draw impurities out of the pores. Most clay masks dry taut; you will feel a bit of pulling on the surface of the skin, which is normal. Mix the clay (Bentonite or Moroccan Red Clay are ideal for battling blackheads) and witch hazel in a small bowl and apply to the affected area with a facial brush. Leave the mask on until it’s dry and then rinse your face with warm water.

  • 1 teaspoon clay
  • 1 teaspoon witch hazel (we like Thayer’s)

Anti-Blackhead Facial Scrub

Baking-Soda-Exfoliation

 Combine the baking soda and raw milk in a bowl and then gently scrub the areas with clogged pores and blackheads. Apply gentle pressure in a circular motion with your fingertips. If you allow this scrub to partially dry it becomes more of a gommage that you can gently remove in circular motions with your fingertips; remove the excess with warm water.

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons raw milk

If you tend to have clogged pores or an oily sheen on your face most of the time, the last thing you might think to apply is more oil! However, cleansing your face with oil is proven to strip away dirt, makeup, sebum and other “bad oils.” Oil binds to this surface grime and washes it away with the cleanser. Blackheads are something we all develop, sometimes regularly in areas like our t-zone, but you can help lessen the frequency of them with these simple recipes at home.

Oil-Cleanser

*Beware that acne is often not a problem caused solely by surface clogging, but can be a bacterial problem or inflammation caused by hormones. So while these recipes can be beneficial for oily skin, they won’t necessarily treat acne. Some oils such as tea tree can be incorporated into your products however, as they are anti-bacterial.

  • Jojoba Oil
  • Tamanu Oil
  • Frankincense essential oil – 9 drops per 2 ounce container

The ratio is 3 parts jojoba oil to 1 part tamanu oil. For every 2 ounces of oil you will add 9 drops of Frankincense essential oil, both toning for the skin, and reduces the appearance of large pores. Shake before each use and rub gently over forehead, t-zone area, cheeks and chin. Leave on for 1-2 minutes and then remove with a warm, wet wash cloth, lastly a final rinse of warm water.

Deep Cleansing Mask for Blackheads

Deep-Cleansing-Mask

Regularly using a deep cleansing mask designed to control oil accumulation in your pores is crucial to keeping blackheads at bay. While no mask can remove blackheads, that is done by manual extraction, it can help prevent them from developing. This mask should be applied at night once a week since the lemon juice can make skin photosensitive.

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon clay
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Beat egg white until fluffy and then add in the clay and lemon juice, mix well. It will form a paste which you will apply in your t-zone area, or any other areas that are prone to blackheads. If it’s a bit thick, which will depend on the type of clay you use, add a 1/2 teaspoon of water. After 10 minutes rinse with warm water.

 

DIY:
Strawberry Honey Acne Mask

Anyone who has ever experience an acne flair up knows that you do not want to irritate your skin anymore than it already is. That’s why, I believe, many men and women who have acne prone skin are turning to organic and homemade remedies to fight the problem. The strawberry acne mask – a mixture of strawberries and honey – can be found in one variation or another, all over the web, but I put a little twist (of lemon…) on mine that I think makes a real difference. The instructions are rather simple with only 3 ingredients and the time it takes to make the mask, from start to finish, is no more than 5 minutes.

What You’ll Need:
5 fresh strawberries, no stems
1 tbls organic honey
1/4 fresh lemon (cut as a wedge)

Benefits of the Ingredients:
Strawberry – A natural source of salicylic acid. SA is a common anti-acne ingredient used to clean out pores and get rid of blackheads without over drying the skin. Also used as a natural exfoliant.
Honey – The antibacterial properties in honey benefit acne-prone skin by reducing breakouts and healing current flair ups. It’s also a natural humectant so it locks in necessary moisture to keep skin hydrated and soothed.
Lemon – A natural astringent that tightens pores and brightens the complexion (because lemons are packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants).

Also an ingredient commonly used to even out skin tone (good for minimizing the appearance of acne scarring).

Instructions:
Cut up the strawberries into fine pieces and place on a paper plate. Using a fork, smash the strawberries to excrete the juice. Do this until the strawberries are of a mushy consistency. Pour pulpy strawberry mixture into a bowl. Firmly squeeze your lemon wedge into the bowl and add your tablespoon of organic honey. With a spoon, stir quickly until all of the ingredients have combined together. You can also use a whisk to bind the ingredients together. If you’re mask is looking a bit too liquidy for your liking, add some more honey and stir again. If the mask is too thick for your liking, add more strawberry and lemon juice, and mix.

How To Use:
You’ll want to use this mask immediately because the ingredients are most potent within minutes of mixing them together making the benefits the strongest. You can either refrigerate for 10 minutes prior to applying so that the mask is cold and thus will feel more soothing on the skin, or you can apply straight from the bowl. Leave on skin for 7-12 minutes. Wash off with tepid water. Dispose of the any remaining mixture. You can use this mask 2x a week but you must make a fresh mask for each application.

Hello Glow

Oregano Oil Nature’s Antibiotic

29 Jul

oregano

 

How often have you heard – or even thought – I’ll just go in and get a round of antibiotics – for an ailment of any sort? Usually, the physician concurs, and today’s antibiotic of choice is prescribed. Childhood ear infections, cold symptoms, you name it.

The problem with automatic prescription of antibiotics, due to patient demand or physician ignorance, is that they are only effective against bacterial infections. If our illness is viral and we take an antibiotic, we’re risking the loss of beneficial bacteria in our bodies and aiding the creation of bacteria-resistant superbugs, all with no healing benefit. Even when we are facing a bacterial illness, finding the right antibiotic is much more effective than prescribing a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

The Wall Street Journal brought this significant public health concern to light in a 2013 article about antibiotic overuse and misuse, stating: (1)

“Overuse of antibiotics, and prescribing broad-spectrum drugs when they aren’t needed, can cause a range of problems. It can make the drugs less effective against the bacteria they are intended to treat by fostering the growth of antibiotic-resistant infections. And it can wipe out the body’s good bacteria, which help digest food, produce vitamins and protect from infections, among other functions.

  • In a July study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, researchers from the University of Utah and the CDC found that 60% of the time physicians prescribe antibiotics, they choose broad-spectrum ones….
  • A similar study of children, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2011, found that when antibiotics were prescribed they were broad-spectrum 50% of the time, mainly for respiratory conditions….

Both studies also found that about 25% of the time antibiotics were being prescribed for conditions in which they have no use, such as viral infections.”

Essentially, our current approach to prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics out of reflex is like sending the atomic bomb where the A-Team would have sufficed.

Natural Antibiotic Alternative

No, pizza is not going to cure your bacterial illness.

Medicinal grade oregano (Origanum vulgare and Origanum majorana) is grown in the Mediterranean, and its essential oil is extracted via distillation. Each pound of oil is a product of over 1,000 pounds of wild oregano, forming a potent and valuable medicine that has been valued for thousands of years and countless cultures.

Antibiotic Prowess

Most consumers have no idea that antibiotics come in multiple forms. Beyond the indication of broad-spectrum antibiotics, there are more qualifications that determine how an antibiotic is most effectively used – Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria are affected in their own ways, and certain antibiotics will be more effective against one than the other.

The Journal of Medicinal Food published an analysis of oregano oil’s efficacy against three Gram-negative (Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and two Gram-positive ( Staphylococus aureus , Bacillus subtilis) bacteria. Medicinal, true oregano (Origanum vulgare) harvested at various growth stages were tested, and all three were effective against all five bacterial strains. (2)

Similar findings were published two years prior, when researchers in Pakistan found oregano oil to be effective against parasites and even cancer cells! (3)

With clear results against these common bacteria – especially the food safety-related E. coli and Salmonella – including oregano essential oil in meals seems wise for gastrointestinal protection and disease prevention.

oregano-oil-health-benefits-335942_650x488

Beyond Bacteria

We could go on for pages about the antibiotic effects of oregano oil, but there’s more to it than that. Unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics that are essentially one trick ponies, oregano oil carries with it so many more benefits. It is truly the ultimate natural treatment and an answer to standard antibiotics.

Within the oregano essential oil extract, a phenol component called carvacol is arguably the reason that oil of oregano is so strong. When you search the PubMed database of peer-reviewed literature, carvacol is referenced in more than 800 separate returns. Researchers are intrigued by this component, to say the least.

Some of the conditions carvacol and oregano oil have been indicated for, aside from bacterial infections, include fungi, parasites, viruses, inflammation, cell death, tumors, pain, histamine reactions, and oxidative stress.

Carvacol stepped out among the crowd of medicinal components when the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences highlighted its ability to detoxify and protect against side effects caused by Methotrexate. (4)

For perspective, Methotrexate (MTX) is well known as dangerous but used anyway for its treatment capability in severe illness such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. The benefits outweigh the risks, but only just.

In order to measure the interaction between MTX and carvacol, MTX-treated mice were observed with and without carvacol. The anti-inflammatory effects were able to inhibit the negative effects of MTX. Similarly, carvacol has also been shown to potentially, “”prevent pathogenic overgrowth and colonization in the large intestine during oral iron therapy” – a therapy for anemia associated with severe gastrointestinal complaints. (5)

The research that follows will be exciting to watch, because the implications of a natural remedy able to limit the effects of necessary prescriptions are vast. Beyond fascination, someone taking harsh treatments such as iron therapy or chemotherapy could face a very different future with the side effects controlled.

DIY

Although the scientific literature is very quiet regarding specific essential oil protocols, many people have found the following to be helpful:

  1. Apply diluted oregano oil on the bottoms of feet. Proper dilution depends on individual sensitivity: 1 drop of EO per 3-5 drops of carrier oil is a good start for adults. For children use extra caution and be sure to use even more carrier oil.
  2. Put 1 drop of oregano + 1 drop of tea tree in a gel capsule and consume. For people battling a cold, consider taking up two capsules a day.

 

oregano-oil

Practical Oregano Oil Use

After lambasting unnecessary use of antibiotics, then singing the praises of a powerful one, you are no doubt wondering what limits we should place on oregano oil and how it should be used properly.

At this point, we can’t be sure, really.

Because of its potency and capabilities, oregano oil should be used carefully alongside the guidance of a natural health expert or naturally-minded health care provider. Always dilute it, and be sure to take orally in a gel capsule instead of straight with water.

If it’s strong enough to tackle MTX, it’s strong enough to be taken seriously. Seek out a natural health provider today and see how oregano oil might fit within your lifestyle and regimen.

Dr. Eric Z

Resources:

  1. http://www.wsj.com/articles/sb10001424127887323423804579023113596120826
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3868303/
  3. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/260776284_composition_antioxidant_and_chemotherapeutic_properties_of_the_essential_oils_from_two_origanum_species_growing_in_pakistan
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24302176
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24379194

The Coconut and Thyroid Connection

28 Jul

A good place to start uncovering issues is to consider the efficiency of the thyroid. Often, even if your test results say you are fine, the thyroid is struggling to do its job. Without a properly functioning thyroid, it is nearly impossible to feel and look well.

But, don’t dismay, there is a really simple, completely natural way to help your thyroid get back into the game.


Not The Villain

Once termed a villain fat armed to destroy, coconut oil is now being embraced as the healthiest saturated fat on the planet — and for good reason…

Coconut oil is truly a jam-packed therapeutic bullet that can tackle even some of the most health destroying conditions, including thyroid problems. It is rich in fatty acids, which support metabolism and provide energy.

Over 30 million people in America suffer from thyroid malfunction. As many as one in three women over 35 may be suffering from thyroid problems. Integrative medicine specialist Robin Miller, MD, co-author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond, says that women are 10 times more likely as men to have a problem with their thyroid.

According to an estimate by endocrinologists, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population is affected on some level by low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism. This condition is actually an autoimmune disease, which makes over 80 percent of conventional pharmaceutical treatments ineffective (more on that to come).

FACT: Thyroid hormones are necessary for normal health and cellular activity, and if thyroid function is not normal, weight loss is next to impossible.

Are you exhausted, have memory lapses, thinning hair, body aches, irritability, depression, sleep problems, low sex drive, constipation and/or weight gain? Perhaps you don’t quite feel right but can’t put your finger on why?

It may be your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland that rests below your Adam’s apple, just along the front of your windpipe. Comprised of two lobes, connected in the middle by a bridge, the thyroid serves a major role in metabolism growth and maturation.


Signs Your Thyroid May Be Out Of Whack

Extreme Fatigue. If you’re always tired, even after sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night, it’s a common sign that your thyroid hormone levels are low. Of course, fatigue and low energy are associated with many conditions, but if you don’t have enough thyroid hormone (TH) flowing through your body, your muscles aren’t receiving a signal to get up and get moving.

Brain Fog. If it feels as though you’re walking around in a fog all day, are having difficulty focusing, or forgetting things frequently, it could be that your thyroid is out of whack. Too much TH can make it hard to concentrate, while too little can cause memory problems.

Digestive Issues. Those with hypothyroidism often complain of constipation, as an underactive thyroid can cause the digestive process to slow. An overactive thyroid gland can cause the opposite problem, such as diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.

Mood Problems. Mood swings, anxiety or depression can develop in those who have thyroid disorders. Anxiety and nervousness are linked to hyperthyroidism as the body is flooded constantly with a message to go, go, go, causing it to go into overdrive.


Do You Exercise, Eat Right And Still Can’t Lose Weight?

Putting on a few pounds can be caused by many different things, so few physicians will consider this alone as a symptom of a thyroid problem. But if you aren’t eating any more than usual, exercise regularly and still can’t seem to lose those extra pounds, it could very well be an underactive thyroid.

EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY CAN BE IMPACTED BY THYROID MALFUNCTION

Many people may be suffering from minute imbalances that have not yet resulted in abnormal blood tests. If we included people with low-grade hypothyroidism whose blood tests are normal, the frequency of hypothyroidism would no doubt exceed 10 percent of the population.

What is of special concern, though, is that many people whose test results are dismissed as normal could continue to have symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Their moods, emotions, and overall well-being are affected by this imbalance, yet they are not receiving the care they need to get to the root of their problems.

Even if the TSH level is in the lower segment of normal range, a person may still be suffering from low-grade hypothyroidism.

— Arem, Ridha M.D., The Thyroid Solution, 1999, 2007 revised edition.


Other Signs That Your Thyroid Is In Trouble
( Do You Have More Than 3 Of These?)

  • Fluid retention/swelling
  • Frequent viral infections
  • Hair loss
  • Frequent bruising
  • PMS
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to cold/heat
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Itchiness
  • Joint aches
  • Brittle nails
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Lack of concentration
  • Constipation
  • Depressed immunity
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Hoarse voice

How Does Diet Interfere With Thyroid Function?

It is thought that diet plays a role in thyroid health. Although low iodine intake leads to low thyroid function, table salt does not appear to be the best option. Many foods eaten in Western culture contain what are known as goitrogens or iodine blockers. Two popular goitrogens are soybeans and peanuts.

A great amount of processed foods contains either or both of these. Grocery store items are full of polyunsaturated oils and many Americans still shy away from using saturated fat, preferring to cook with expelled-pressed or solvent-extracted oils. If you cook with vegetable oil, it is time to stop. These oils are only increasing inflammation.

With the industrialization of our agricultural system, soil has become iodine deficient, further compromising thyroid health. In addition, consumption of refined sugars and grains also negatively impact thyroid function.


Why Thyroid Medications Need to Address the Root of the Problem

Simply gobbling up hormone replacement medication without addressing the root of the problem will not promote health. It is a band-aid solution that so frequently defines Western medicine.

Hypothyroidism causes a decrease in thyroid hormone and it is not as simple as replacing the hormone ( a very Western thing to do, of course). The underlying cause of the condition MUST be addressed.

It is important to understand what happens in an autoimmune disease. First and foremost, this condition causes the body to fight against the a foreign invader, such as a virus or bacteria.

The attack causes inflammation which suppresses thyroid hormones and also decreases the responsiveness of thyroid receptors. You can pump all the thyroid medication you want into your body, but if your receptors are not keen, it won’t help at all.

In addition, the inflammation decreases the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active form of thyroid hormone). Most of the synthetic hormone medicines (Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl, etc.) are T4, and if you give this medication to someone who has inflammation, it won’t work at all because it can’t be converted to the active form.

The two root causes of hypothyroidism, immunity and inflammation, MUST be addressed in order to restore balance and health to the body.


It’s Time To Feed Your Thyroid…

Perhaps you have always thought coconut oil was a bad thing… truth is, it is a really, really good thing. Considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts.

It also contains saturated fat — in fact, it is a whopping 90 percent saturated fat. Don’t let that scare you; although you may be convinced that saturated fat should not be touched with a 10-foot pole, coconut oil is healthy.

Although there have been over 60 years of negative public policy around healthy saturated fats, like those found in coconut oil, research and review of cultures that have used coconut oil for thousands of years tell a different story — healthy saturated fat can be highly beneficial.

Research demonstrates that the naturally occurring saturated fat found in coconut oil has some amazing therapeutic values:

  • Promoting heart health
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Providing immediate energy
  • Promoting healthy skin
  • Helping to regulate blood sugar
  • Boosting metabolism
  • Promoting weight loss

3 Fatty Acids That Your Thyroid Craves

The unique medium-chain fatty acid profile of coconut oil is what makes it stand apart from all other oils and gives it the ability to help the body self-regulate (something it is quite able to do).

These fatty acids, including lauric acid (found in a mother’s breast milk), are small enough that they can be gobbled up by the mitochondria in the cells. Because of this, they provide immediate energy for the body.

Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-protozoal substance. Because monolaurin is a monoglyceride, it can destroy lipid-coated viruses including measles, influenza, HIV, herpes and a number of pathogenic bacteria.

Another fatty acid that coconut oil contains is caprylic acid, also found in breast milk. Also known as octanoic acid, this saturated fatty acid has a number of health promoting properties and the innate ability to treat yeast-like fungus in the intestines.

Capric acid is present in very small amounts in goat’s milk and cow’s milk, but is abundant in tropical oils, including coconut oil and palm kernel oil.

It is a medium-chain fatty acid that has potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties. In the body, capric acid is converted to monocaprin, a form that can readily fight viruses, bacteria, and the yeast Candida albicans.

Because of this unique combination of fatty acids, coconut oil suppresses inflammation and repairs tissue while inhibiting microorganisms that cause the inflammation in the first place.


Metabolism Booster

Not only can coconut oil keep infections at bay, it also helps to rev up your internal fat busters to help you maintain a healthy weight. Researchers have discovered that in cultures where unrefined coconut oil is a part of the everyday diet, there is less obesity and less lifestyle-related disease.

In fact, a culmination of studies done on coconut oil and metabolism has found that changing the oils you use every day can help you lose up to 36 pounds in a year. Yep… I said 36 pounds simply by switching unhealthy oils for coconut oil.

The shorter-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil burn quickly in the body. They are like small pieces of dry kindling added to a fire as opposed to a big damp log. The immediate transport of medium-chain fatty acids to the liver means the fat does not have to be transported through the whole body first and does not end up as fat in the blood, but instead remains accessible fat that can be used to power the body.

Medium-chain triglycerides also increase the rate at which the body burns fuel for energy. When you look at the lean and trim bodies of people living in the tropics — who make coconut a staple in their diet — this makes perfect sense.


A Word Of Warning

I would be remiss not to mention the worst type of fat you should always avoid: trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil. Often included in so-called “low fat” foods, this fake fat is highly dangerous.

The main sources of trans fats are processed, baked goods and fast foods. You must switch to a whole foods diet if you want to help your thyroid. So, sorry, no more Twinkies, donuts, candy-bars or other snack items.

These types of fats raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, while reducing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. It is best to stay away from trans fats altogether — they offer absolutely no health benefits.

The inflammatory properties of these oils observed by some studies may well be due to the methods used in processing and packaging these oils, and not a property of the oils themselves.

The more natural a fat source is, and the less processing involved in its creation, the healthier it usually is. There are exceptions, such as the hormone-disrupting dangers of soybean oil. However, aside from these known “risk-factor foods,” when you choose natural, it is hard to go wrong.


How To Add Coconut Oil To Your Diet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use coconut oil for everything. It can replace all of the other oils in your kitchen. Raw, organic coconut oil remains solid at room temperature and does not break down during cooking.

You can fry with it, bake with it, drizzle it on foods, saute with it — and also put it on your skin, hair, nails etc… There is no shortage of ways to how coconut oil can truly improve your health — you can even add a tablespoon or so to your morning coffee for a great energy boost!

The days of badmouthing traditional saturated fats are quickly coming to an end.

Other natural ways to improve thyroid function

In addition to including coconut oil in your diet, try these other natural ways to balance your thyroid function.

  • Switch from iodized table salt to sea salt, as it has more minerals that help support better thyroid functioning.
  • Follow a gluten-free diet, which has also been shown to improve thyroid function. Research has found a link between wheat allergies and thyroid disease.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation or deep-breathing. Chronic stress is said to be one of the main triggers of hypothyroidism.
  • Avoid chemicals like triclosan, which is commonly found in items like antibacterial soap, deodorant, lotions, and even in cutting boards.
  • Supplement with probiotics, as good thyroid functioning depends on a supply of healthy gut bacteria.
  • Take a high quality whole-food multivitamin, and make sure you’re getting enough iodine, B-vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc and copper.
  • Limit exposure to fluoride and mercury — have a good water-filtration system for your home.
  • Follow an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating processed foods and eating as many whole, organic foods as possible.
  • Take high-quality supplements, such as zinc, selenium, manganese, chromium, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E (cod liver oil is a good source of natural vitamin A).
  • Exercise — this is especially important to correct thyroid function. Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day is a good place to start.

Susan Patterson

 

DIY: Tasty Infused Water Recipes

26 Jul

Are you drinking enough water?

It’s worth asking. Even slight dehydration can affect you in ways such as headaches, loss of focus, sense of fatigue and low mood both at rest and during exercise.

In the hot summer months, the body’s requirement for water goes up, but we don’t often respond by drinking more. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly half of adults drink less than four cups of water a day.

So, why do we fall so short? Most experts agree: It comes down to taste. We simply prefer other drinks, from tea to lemonade to soda to whatever. We like a little flavor in our beverages.

Yet there’s no doubt that pure, clean water is good for us, and even critical for our optimal health. So how can we consume more of it?

Introducing infused water! In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s simply water infused with natural flavor to make it more enticing.

Why Drink More Water?

In case you’re not on the “more water” bandwagon yet, here’s a quite overview of the benefits of staying adequately hydrated:

  • Boosts mood: A 2014 study found that increasing water intake at work helped boost mood, increase positive emotions, and raise energy levels.
  • Helps weight loss: Studies have shown that drinking water before a meal helps you eat less. It can also help you reduce cravings throughout the day. Even slight dehydration can feel like hunger.
  • Ease digestion: Adequate water helps keep digestion rolling along smoothly.
  • Increased physical performance: You especially need water when exercising, as you lose more water when you’re sweating. If you wait too long without drinking to replenish those fluids, you can end up feeling fatigued too quickly.
  • Mental focus: Adequate water intake helps you focus and concentrate.
  • Younger-looking skin: If you get dehydrated, your skin is more likely to look dry, wrinkled, and sunken in. Your lips suffer even more. Adequate water intake keeps skin plump.
  • Protects joints: Water keeps cartilage around the joints hydrated. Dehydration dries out joint fluids, and can make joint pain worse. Lower back pain, for example, can be alleviated by adequate water intake.
  • Maintains healthy kidneys: If you regularly drink too little water, your risk for kidney stones goes up.

Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough

How do you know if you’re drinking enough?

You can simply ask yourself: Am I drinking enough water? That question alone can help increase your awareness of your own thirst.

Other signs of slight dehydration may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Dry skin
  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Hunger
  • Reduced urination
  • Dark-yellow-colored urine

How to Make Infused Water

To entice you and your family to drink more, try infusing your water with tasty, healthy things that will make it more attractive. We have several suggestions below, but no matter what you use, consider the basics.

First, use large glass bottles or jars with lids to make your infused water. Wash produce and rinse herbs to remove any chemicals or residues. Choose organic if you can. Avoid any fruits or vegetables that are bruised or past their prime, as that will affect the taste. Peel both to avoid bitter tastes.

If you prefer to leave the peel on to obtain the nutrients, remove the ingredients after about four hours for best results. (You can always add fresh ones right before a get together or party for attractiveness.)

Always cut or slice the ingredients into small, thin pieces so they will break down more quickly. Crush herbs or roots and tear or crush leaves. If you choose to use loose herbs or flowers, consider using a tea infuser or cheesecloth so you can remove them later if desired.

Add the ingredients to the bottle or jar, and then fill it with cool water. Avoid using warm or hot water as it can reduce the nutrient level of the ingredients. Infuse at room temperature for two hours, and then put into the refrigerator. Soaking overnight provides the best results for flavor and nutrients.

 

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Five Infused Water Recipes

Now it’s time to have some fun!

You can infuse water with just about anything that sounds good, including fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and edible flowers. There really is no limit—just your imagination!

To help you get started, here are a few ideas:

  1. Citrus Blueberry: Use 2 organic oranges, sliced thin (rind on or off, depending on your preference), and 1-cup blueberries for one gallon of water.
  2. Berry, Peach, and Coconut: Use 1 cup organic blueberries, 1-cup organic blackberries, 2 peaches (pitted and sliced), and 2 cups unsweetened coconut water in a gallon of regular water.
  3. Mixed Melon: Use 1-cup cantaloupe, 1-cup watermelon, and 1-cup honeydew, all cut into small pieces in a gallon of water.
  4. Grapefruit Rosemary: Use 1 grapefruit, with the rind cut away and then cut into small slices, and 1 sprig of fresh rosemary in one gallon of water. You may want to remove the rosemary after about four hours to keep it from dominating the flavor.
  5. Pineapple Mint: Add one-fourth of a fresh pineapple and 15 leaves of fresh mint to one gallon of water. (Adjust amounts as desired.) Some people prefer adding a bit of sliced ginger instead of the mint.
  6. Lemon Herb Cucumber: Use about a half cucumber (peeled or not), 1 lemon (with or without the rind and cut up), 2 sprigs rosemary, a handful of thyme, and a handful of mint in a gallon of water.
  7. Apple Cinnamon Ginger: Use 2 medium organic apples (cut into thin slices), 4-6 cinnamon sticks, and 6 thin slices of peeled, fresh ginger root.

Annmarie Skin Care

The Health Benefits of Eating Oatmeal

25 Jul

Oatmeal has various health benefits and in the long term some of these include weight loss, lowered blood sugar levels along with a reduced risk of heart disease. As Oatmeal contains various important vitamins and minerals, fiber and antioxidants, they make for an excellent alternative to wheat based products.

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Known scientifically as Avena Sativa, oats are commonly eaten at breakfast in the form of oatmeal, but can also include cookies, granola bars, muffins and other types of baked goods. The nutrient composition of oats means they are a good source of the following vitamins: Manganese, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Folate, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid). In smaller amounts, Calcium, Potassium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) can also be found. All of this combined means that oats are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.

Lowered Blood Pressure

Rich in Antioxidants and Polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds), they contain a unique group of antioxidants known as Avenaranthramides and these are almost exclusively found within oats. It has been found that avenaranthramides may help with lowering blood pressure and it does this by increasing nitric oxide production. This gas molecule helps with blood vessel dilation and can lead to better blood flow. They also contain anti-itching and anti-inflammatory effects, as additional benefits.

Beta-Glucan is a type of soluble fiber that partially dissolves in water to form a thick gel-like solution within the gut. There are numerous health benefits to taking beta-glucan fiber and this includes reduced cholesterol levels and LDL. It also increases the feeling of fullness, while increasing the growth of good gut bacteria.

Reduced Cholesterol Levels

Lowered levels of Cholesterol can protect against leading causes of death such as heart disease. Beta-Glucan can increase the amount of excretion of cholesterol-rich bile and this reduces the circulating levels of cholesterol within the blood. The oxidation of LDL “bad” cholesterol happens when the LDL reacts with free radicals and this is a crucial progression for heart disease. This can help with producing inflammation within the arteries, damaging tissues while raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes. One study also found that when Vitamin C is included, the antioxidants and oats work together to prevent the LDL oxidation.

Better Blood Sugar Levels

Improved blood sugar control is one of the common symptoms of Diabetes Type 2 and can usually result in decreased sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Oats can also help with lowering blood cholesterol levels in those who are overweight and this is believed to be because of the beta-glucan’s ability to form a thick gel that delays the stomach from being emptied and stops the absorption of glucose within the blood.

Less Hungry

As Oatmeal can help you to feel fuller for longer and due to the Beta-Glucan, this promotes the release of peptide YY, a hormone that is produced in the gut in response to eating. This hormone controls satiety and can lead to reduced calorie intake and decreased risk of obesity. There are other benefits to eating Oatmeal too and these include improving uncomfortable symptoms of eczema and even asthma prevention. Many researchers believe that an early introduction to solid foods can decrease the risk of asthma and other allergic diseases from developing. Oats are the exception however as according to studies they have been shown to have protective benefits.

Easier Bowel Movements

Oats also have other health benefits and this includes help with relieving constipation and encouraging infrequent or irregular bowel movements to pass freely. Studies have indicated that oat bran can also help with providing relief from constipation, especially in older patients. Studies also show that oat bran can reduce constipation within elderly individuals, and this reduces the need to use laxatives in the long term. For all of the above reasons, eating oats is the healthy choice and the ideal weight loss friendly food…anyone wanting to eat oats will benefit in the long term.

Robert Redfern

4 Health Boosting Foods

20 Jul

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Natural energy is a quality we’re all seeking in our every day lives. Yet many of us are increasingly finding our energy stores depleted due to long working hours, along with the demands of raising a family or maintaining a household. The result is that our nutrition is often the first to suffer and as a result, we may make poor food choices and find it more difficult to stay alert and focused during the day as a consequence.

The good news is that by taking the right nutrients, it’s possible to give your body the nutrition it needs to feel revitalized and to fight fatigue and exhaustion. If you are having problems getting up in the morning or find it difficult to stay alert all day, consider adding the following four health boosting foods into your diet…

 

1. Coconut Oil. This is classed as a superfood and it’s because it contains saturated fats or medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) that provide a unique source of energy. The MCTs are easily digested, without any need for extra lipid enzymes and bile salts. These are used directly by the cell’s mitochondria, that produces energy, meaning it is seldom stored as fat. It can also boost thermogenesis and the body’s fat burning abilities. Coconut Oil is excellent when added to a smoothie, to porridge or used in cooking.

2. Chia Seeds. These are full of omega 3 fatty acids that are excellent for giving the body energy and keeping you stable throughout the day. They are low-carbohydrate and won’t cause spikes or drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, meaning they can prevent cravings and the desire to overindulge later on. Add chia seeds to your breakfast smoothie or dessert for a tasty way to get a health-giving energy boost.

3. Legumes or pulses like black beans, buckwheat, chickpeas, mung beans and red lentils contain a rich source of fiber, protein, calcium, iron, B-vitamins and zinc along with other vitamins and nutrients. All of these nutrients have health boosting properties and can increase your energy levels naturally. For best results, it’s recommended to eat at least two servings of legumes per day.

4. Green Leafy Vegetables like Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, etc. These are full of chlorophyll and magnesium. Chlorophyll has been shown in recent studies to manage hunger and food cravings, while keeping blood sugar levels stable. Chlorophyll can help to rebuild and replenish red blood cells, boosting our energy in the process. Magnesium plays an important role in more than 300 biochemical reactions within the body, and this includes the breakdown of glucose into energy. Good sources of magnesium include almonds, hazelnuts, cashews or oily fish. A more readily absorbed form of magnesium is to apply it topically to the skin as it’s readily absorbed on a cellular level in this manner.

Robert Redfern

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