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Source: plant therapy Blog
Nutrient-rich, versatile and jam-packed with health benefits, the black currant may not be well-known around the world, but it should be.
With emerging evidence showing that the black currant possesses antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties and may be useful in slowing cancer growth, enhancing immunity and even preventing eye disease, this sour berry should be a must-try on everyone’s list.
Not only can you enjoy this flavorful berry all on its own, but it can also make a delicious addition to everything from baked goods to glazes and more. For even more added convenience, you can also pop a quick capsule of black currant oil to get an instant megadose of its many health benefits.
Whether you’re just hearing of black currants for the first time or they’ve been a longtime favorite in your household, these tart berries are high in health benefits and can be a nutritious addition to any diet.
1. Rich in Anthocyanins
The deep purple pigment of the black currant is attributed to its high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are plant pigments that produce a red, purple or blue hue depending on their pH.
Black currants contain a good variety of different anthocyanins, with some studies showing that they contain up to 15 unique types. (1)
In addition to their role as a plant pigment, anthocyanins also possess many health-promoting properties. Research has shown that anthocyanins may play a role in cancer prevention, heart health, obesity and even diabetes. (2, 3, 4)
They also act as antioxidants, which are compounds that neutralize harmful free radicals to prevent cell damage as well as chronic disease.
In addition to black currants, other anthocyanin-rich foods include berries, eggplant, red cabbage and grapes. Including a good amount of these foods in your diet can have a lasting impact on your health.
2. Helps Reduce Cancer Growth
One of the most impressive benefits of the black currant plant is its powerful effect on cancer. Thanks to its high anthocyanin content, some research has found that black currant extract may help slow the growth of cancer.
In one test-tube study conducted by Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, black currant extract was shown to help inhibit the growth of liver cancer cells. (5) Another study out of Japan found that black currant extract blocked the spread of breast and endometrial cancer cells. (6)
Other research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has shown that black currant extract may also be effective in killing off stomach and esophageal cancer cells. (7)
3. Promotes Eye Health
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause blurred and distorted vision and may even lead to blindness. This is typically a result of damage to the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the brain to the eyes.
Some studies show that the compounds found in black currants could help prevent glaucoma and promote the health of your eyes.
In one study conducted by Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology in Japan and published in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, supplementing glaucoma patients with black currant extract was shown to decrease levels of endothelin-1, a type of hormone that is thought to contribute to the development of glaucoma. (8)
Another two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study, again conducted at the Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, found that black currant anthocyanins helped reduce vision loss and improved blood flow to the eyes in patients with glaucoma. (9)
When used in combination with traditional treatments, black currant may be effective in promoting eye health and preventing vision loss.
Black currant is bursting with vitamin C. In fact, just one cup of raw black currants can provide triple the amount you need for the entire day.
Vitamin C is well-known for its immune-enhancing properties. Studies show that vitamin C can shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections and protect against malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea infections, among others. (10)
One review from the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki in Finland comprised 12 studies and found that vitamin C supplementation cut common cold incidence by up to 91 percent and slashed the incidence of pneumonia by 80 percent to 100 percent. (11)
Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, which can help prevent damage to tissues caused by harmful free radicals and may even reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. (12)
For best results, pair black currant with other high vitamin C foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to keep your immune system strong.
5. Protects Against Pathogens
In addition to its powerful abilities as an antioxidant, black currant also contains antimicrobial properties that could help protect against harmful bacteria and viruses.
A 2012 study in Japan published in Microbiology and Immunology showed that black currant extract with a concentration of less than 1 percent was able to block the growth of several strains of viruses — including those responsible for adenovirus and influenza — by over 50 percent. An extract of 10 percent concentration was able to block 95 percent of these viruses from sticking to cell surfaces. (13)
Another study from the Department of Microbiology at Asahikawa Medical College in Japan demonstrated that treating strains of influenza with a concentrated amount of black currant extract was able to completely suppress virus growth. (14)
Black currant may also be helpful in treating other types of illnesses caused by bacterial infections, such as whooping cough.
6. May Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
Herpes is a common viral infection that affects millions of people worldwide. Symptoms can vary, causing fever blisters on or around the mouth in some people and painful, itchy genital sores in others.
Some studies show that the compounds found in black currant may help kill off the virus that causes both oral and genital herpes.
A study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that black currant extract stopped the herpes virus from adhering to cells and prevented the spread of the virus. (16)
Coupled with traditional treatments and other natural remedies like L-lysine and zinc, black currant may be a useful addition to the diet to help prevent herpes outbreaks.
Known by its scientific name Ribes nigrum, the black currant (also sometimes called blackcurrant) belongs to the gooseberry family of plants. This small shrub is native to certain parts of northern and central Europe as well as Siberia and thrives in the cold temperatures found in these regions.
The black currant bush can produce up to 10 pounds each year of dark purple edible berries that have a tart taste and can be eaten raw or used to make flavorful jams, jellies and juices.
Black currants are nutrient-dense foods, meaning they are low in calories but contain many important nutrients. They are particularly high in vitamin C and can meet and exceed your daily needs in just one serving.
One cup (112 grams) of raw European black currants contains approximately: (17)
Black currants may be available in some grocery stores as well as online. Keep in mind that they differ from Zante currants, which are simply dried Black Corinth grapes.
The black currant berries have an intense sour flavor and can be either enjoyed raw or used to cook both sweet and savory dishes. Because of their tart taste, many prefer to sweeten them up a bit if eaten raw by using a natural sweetener. They can also be brewed into black currant tea or used to add a unique flavor to juices, jams, sauces, shakes and baked goods.
Here are some easy black currant recipes that you can try:
To squeeze in a quick and concentrated dose of all the beneficial nutrients found in black currants, you can also give black currant oil a try. Frequently found in capsule form, black currant oil is a good source of gamma-linolenic acid, a type of omega-6 essential fatty acid, and is taken to promote healthy skin and hair.
Look for a capsule that contains at least 45 milligrams of GLA with minimal added ingredients, and take 500 milligrams twice daily.
In the 1800s, black currant was extremely popular in the United States. In fact, in the 1920 census it was estimated that United States farmers were growing 7,400 acres of currants and gooseberries. However, many Americans today have never tried, let alone heard of, the black currant.
This is because it was later discovered that black currants were responsible for the spread of white pine blister rust, a type of fungus that began gradually killing off white pine trees. This became a major problem, as white pine trees were an essential component of the lumber industry.
By the 1920s, millions of white pine trees had been decimated by white pine blister rust, leading the federal government to ban and begin eradicating the black currant. (18)
Today, most white pine trees have been bred to resist the effects of white pine blister rust. Commercial growth of black currants is no longer banned at the federal level, although several states do still have regulations in place restricting growth.
In Europe, black currants have retained their popularity over the years. In fact, a black currant juice called Ribena was even given to children during World War II to prevent vitamin C deficiency after the import of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes was blocked in the United Kingdom.
Black currant remains a popular ingredient for juices, jams and jellies in Europe. Recent statistics even show that a whopping 97.8 percent of currants grown worldwide are actually found in Europe. (19)
In the United States, black currants are not as common as they once were, but they have begun to thrive again in areas like Connecticut, Oregon and New York.
Recent efforts have begun to breed improved black currant varieties that are less susceptible to disease, yield more fruit and are more resistant to pests.
Although uncommon, black currant may cause an allergic reaction in some people, especially in those who have a sensitivity to salicylate, a compound that occurs naturally in some plants. If you experience symptoms like rashes, hives or swelling after eating black currant, you should discontinue use immediately.
Black currant seed oil may also cause side effects for some individuals, including gas, headaches and diarrhea.
Those who are taking phenothiazines, a type of anti-psychotic medication, should not take black currant as it may increase the risk of seizure.
Additionally, black currant may slow blood clotting. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking a medication for blood clotting, such as Warfarin, you should consult with your doctor before taking black currant. You should also not take black currant prior to surgery as it may increase bleeding risk.
From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.
By Dr. Mercola
Most people would agree with the assessment "you are what you eat," yet many overlook the fact that this holds true for the food you eat, too. If the chicken on your dinner plate was fed an unnatural diet of genetically engineered (GE) soy and grains (or worse) — what essentially boils down to junk food for birds — it can't be expected to be optimally healthy, nor optimally nutritious.
Because most poultry in the U.S. comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), The Guardian went so far as to state, "In 50 years, poultry has gone from being a health food to a junk food," pointing out a study from London Metropolitan University that found, compared to 1940, chicken in 2004 contained more than twice as much fat, one-third more calories and one-third less protein, the latter being the main nutritional reason most people eat chicken.1
Levels of healthy fats in chicken, namely beneficial animal-based omega-3s including DHA, have also changed considerably. The London Metropolitan University study, written by professor Michael Crawford of London Metropolitan University, found that eating 100 grams (about one-quarter pound) of chicken in 1980 would give you 170 milligrams (mg) of DHA, but that same amount of chicken in 2004 would provide just 25 mg.
Omega-6 fats, on the other hand — the kind most Americans get way too much of, courtesy of highly processed vegetable oils — increased, rising from 2,400 mg in 1980 to 6,290 mg in 2004.
If you're not familiar with the importance of the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, the ideal ratio is 1-to-1, but the typical Western diet may be between 1-to-20 and 1-to-50. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1-to-5 for general health and 1-to-2 for optimal brain development. CAFO chicken, and for that matter CAFO anything, certainly isn't helping anyone achieve that goal.
Crawford told The Guardian that a large part of the problem with declining nutrition in chicken and other animal foods is the fact that nearly all livestock is fed grains instead of grass and other species-appropriate foods:2
"Animal husbandry started with grass and green foods, which are rich in omega-3. That is the beauty of [some] fish and seafood because it's still largely wild, it's still living in an omega-3-rich environment.
The same used to be true of livestock animals — even chickens used to roam free and live off seeds and herbs — but that is no longer the case. It really is a question of redesigning our food and agriculture systems so they are more keyed in to the pivotal priority of human physiology — namely, our original genome being shaped by wild foods."
The American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) also published a study that compared the nutrition of chickens fed on pasture with the USDA's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference values for CAFO chicken. The pasture-raised chickens were higher in vitamins D3 and E and had an average omega-3-to-6 ratio of 1-to-5, compared to the USDA's value of 1-to-15.3
You might consider the plump chicken breasts at your grocery store to be the norm when it comes to chicken sizes, but as recently as the 1920s, most people did not consider raising chickens for their meat — they were far too scrawny. At that time, chickens were raised for eggs only, but that changed around 1923, when a farmer in Delaware accidentally placed an order for too many hatchling chickens (500 instead of 50), so she sold them for meat.
In her book "Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats," journalist Maryn McKenna explains how this one mistake led chickens to become big business. Part of the story, unfortunately, was the discovery that feeding chickens antibiotics made them grow about 2.5 times faster.
Around that same time, in 1948, a national "Chicken of Tomorrow" contest, seeking to develop a meatier chicken, was sponsored by A&P supermarket and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The major lines of chickens sold in the U.S. today can all be traced back to the contest's winner. Between the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and the genetic selection of chickens that grow faster and larger, the average chicken today is four times bigger than chickens in the 1950s; chicken breasts are also 80 percent larger.4
As noted by the Cornucopia Institute,5 the price of chicken has dropped dramatically over the past few decades, becoming the cheapest meat available in the U.S. As a result, consumption has doubled since 1970.
Seeing how chicken is supposed to be a healthy source of high-quality nutrition, the fact that it has become so affordable might seem to be a great benefit. But there's a major flaw in this equation. As it turns out, it's virtually impossible to mass-produce clean, safe, optimally nutritious foods at rock-bottom prices, and this has been true since the beginning of "industrialized farming." McKenna wrote:6
"Chicken prices fell so low that it became the meat that Americans eat more than any other — and the meat most likely to transmit foodborne illness, and also antibiotic resistance, the greatest slow-brewing health crisis of our time."
In their report, "The Hidden Cost of Cheap Chicken," the Cornucopia Institute pointed out three primary issues with the CAFO chicken that accounts for 99 percent of poultry sold in U.S. grocery stores:7
• Ethics: Chickens are intelligent and deserving of access to the outdoors where they can express their natural behaviors. Sadly, in CAFOS, "The National Chicken Council, the trade association for the U.S. chicken industry, issues Animal Welfare Guidelines that indicate a stocking density of 96 square inches for a bird of average market weight — that's about the size of a standard sheet of American 8.5-inch by 11-inch typing paper … They are unable to move without pushing through other birds, unable to stretch their wings at will, or to get away from more dominant, aggressive birds."
• Environment: CAFOs are notorious polluters of the land, air and water, with problems reported across the U.S. The report noted:
"In Warren County, in northern New Jersey, Michael Patrisko, who lives near an egg factory farm, told a local newspaper that the flies around his neighborhood are so bad, 'You literally can look at a house and think it's a different color.' Buckeye Egg Farm in Ohio was fined $366,000 for failing to handle its manure properly.
Nearby residents had complained for years about rats, flies, foul odors, and polluted streams from the 14-million-hen complex. At the same time, [former] Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson was threatening to sue Arkansas poultry producers, including Tyson Foods, saying that waste from the companies' operations is destroying Oklahoma lakes and streams, especially in the northeast corner of the state."
• Human Health: The spread of infectious disease and antibiotic-resistant superbugs is a fact of life at CAFOs. In 2015, a bird flu outbreak among U.S. poultry led to the destruction of millions of chickens and turkeys in three states (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa) before spreading elsewhere in the U.S.
Even though there were supposed safeguards in place to contain deadly disease outbreaks from spreading, poultry veterinarians noted that those strategies failed, as the bird flu managed to spread across 14 states in five months.
Not to mention, one study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that chicken samples gathered at the end of production after having been cut into parts, as you would purchase in the grocery store, had an astonishing positive rate of 26.2 percent contamination with salmonella.8
Allowing chickens to roam freely is better for the chickens, the planet and nutrition, yet another reason being because it could cut down on the staggering amount of soy and other crops grown as chicken feed. A report by wildlife group WWF noted that poultry is the biggest user of crop-based feed globally and, in turn, 60 percent of the loss of global biodiversity can be tied back to the food we eat, particularly crop-based animal feed.9
Further, the report estimated that if demand for animal products continues to grow as expected, soy production would need to increase by nearly 80 percent to feed those animals, which would strain already vulnerable areas:10
"Feed crops are already produced in a large number of Earth's most valuable and vulnerable areas, such as the Amazon, Cerrado, Congo Basin, Yangtze, Mekong, Himalayas and the Deccan Plateau forests. Many of these high-risk regions already suffer significant pressure on land and water resources, are not adequately covered by conservation schemes.
The growing demand for livestock products and the associated intensification and agricultural expansion threaten the biodiversity of these areas and the resource and water security of their inhabitants, as well as the stability of our food supply."
Again, the research shows that feeding CAFO animals an unnatural and environmentally expensive diet does not yield a superior product. On the contrary, you'd need to eat six CAFO chickens to get the same amount of omega-3 fats found in a chicken from the 1970s.11
It's not only chicken meat that benefits nutritionally from pasture. Not surprisingly, chicken eggs do too. A study by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences revealed that eggs from pastured hens had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats compared to eggs from CAFO hens. The eggs' omega-6-to-3 ratio was also less than half that of the commercial hens' eggs.12 Study co-author Paul Patterson, professor of poultry science, said in a news release:13
"The chicken has a short digestive tract and can rapidly assimilate dietary nutrients … Fat-soluble vitamins in the diet are readily transferred to the liver and then the egg yolk. Egg-nutrient levels are responsive to dietary change … Other research has demonstrated that all the fat-soluble vitamins, including A and E, and the unsaturated fats, linoleic and linolenic acids, are egg responsive, and that hen diet has a marked influence on the egg concentration."
You can usually tell eggs are from pastured hens by the color of the egg yolk. Foraged hens produce eggs with bright orange yolks, and this is what most people who raise backyard chickens are after. Dull, pale yellow yolks are a sure sign you're getting eggs from caged hens that are not allowed to forage for their natural diet.
Regenerative agriculture focusing on grass fed beef is a popular topic, and a worthy one at that, but chickens also have an important role to play in regenerative agriculture. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, an innovator in the field of regenerative agriculture, has developed an ingenious system that has the potential to transform the way food is grown. According to Reginaldo, regenerative agriculture needs to be centered around livestock in order to be optimized, and adding chickens is an easy way to do that.
Reginaldo's program has generated a system that has regenerative impact both on the ecology and the economy, meaning it restores the ecology that produces food, and the economic flows necessary for that food to be economically sustainable and resilient. It also addresses the social conditions of food production in the U.S (and elsewhere), which is important considering the fact that farmworkers are typically poorly paid immigrants.
The chickens are completely free-range, with access to grasses and sprouts as they are rotated between paddocks. This system significantly reduces the amount of labor involved as compared with other ideas out there.
Further, in a poultry-centered regenerative system, tall grasses and trees protect the birds from predators instead of cages — in addition to optimizing soil temperature and moisture content, extracting excess nutrients that the chickens deposit, bringing up valuable minerals from below the soil surface and being a high-value perennial crop. It's the opposite of CAFOS — regenerating the land instead of destroying it, raising chickens humanely instead of cruelly and producing nutritionally superior, not inferior, food.
Choosing food that comes from small regenerative farms — not CAFOs — is crucial. While avoiding CAFO meats, look for antibiotic-free alternatives raised by organic and regenerative farmers. Unfortunately, loopholes abound, allowing CAFO-raised chickens and eggs to masquerade as "free-range" and "organic."
The Cornucopia Institute addressed some of these issues in their egg report and scorecard, which ranks egg producers according to 28 organic criteria. It can help you to make a more educated choice if you're buying your eggs at the supermarket.
Ultimately, the best choice is to get to know a local farmer and get your meat and eggs there directly. Alternatively, you might consider raising your own backyard chickens. Backyard chickens are growing in popularity, and many U.S. cities are adjusting zoning restrictions accordingly. Requirements vary widely depending on your locale, with many limiting the number of chickens you can raise or requiring quarterly inspections (at a cost) and permits, so check with your city before taking the plunge.
You might be surprised to find that your city already allows chickens, as even many large, urban cities have jumped on board (Chicago, Illinois, for instance, allows residents to keep an unlimited number of chickens, as "pets" or for eggs, provided you keep a humane and adequately sized coop). However, even if you don't want to raise your own chickens but still want farm-fresh eggs, you have many options. Finding high-quality organic, pastured eggs locally is getting easier, as virtually every rural area has individuals with chickens.
If you live in an urban area, visiting the local health food stores is typically the quickest route to finding high-quality local egg sources. Farmers markets and food co-ops are another great way to meet the people who produce your food. With face-to-face contact, you can get your questions answered and know exactly what you're buying. Better yet, visit the farm — ask for a tour. If they have nothing to hide, they should be eager to show you their operation.
Source: mercola rss
By Dr. Mercola
As reported by CBS Miami (above), nitrogen fertilizers and sewage sludge runoff from factory farms are responsible for creating an enormous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. As fertilizer runs off farms in agricultural states like Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and others, it enters the Mississippi River, leading to an overabundance of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, in the water.
This, in turn, leads to the development of algal blooms, which alter the food chain and deplete oxygen, resulting in dead zones. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest recorded dead zone in the world,1 beginning at the Mississippi River delta and spanning more than 8,700 square miles — about the size of New Jersey.
Needless to say, the fishing industry is taking a big hit, each year getting worse than the last. The featured news report includes underwater footage that shows you just how bad the water quality has gotten.
Nancy Rabalais, professor of oceanography at Louisiana State University, is an expert on dead zones. She has measured oxygen levels in the Gulf since 1985, and blames agricultural runoff entering the Mississippi River for this growing environmental disaster. Recent measurements reveal the area has only half the oxygen levels required to sustain basic life forms.
“The solution lies upstream in the watershed,” she says, “with agricultural management practices; a switch to crops that have deeper roots and don’t need so much fertilizer and are still just as profitable as corn.”
According to CBS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created a task force to assess dead zones, and hope to reduce nutrient-rich agricultural runoff by 20 percent by 2025. Common sense will tell you that’s nowhere near enough. A study2 published last year revealed nitrogen builds up far below the soil surface, where it can continue to leach into groundwater for 35 years.
This means environmental concerns would persist for decades even if farmers were to stop using nitrogen fertilizers altogether. The researchers analyzed more than 2,000 soil samples from the Mississippi River Basin, finding nitrogen buildup at depths of 10 inches to 3.2 feet. According to the authors:
“[W]e show that the observed accumulation of soil organic [nitrogen] … in the [Mississippi River Basin] over a 30-year period … would lead to a biogeochemical lag time of 35 years for 99 percent of legacy [soil organic nitrogen], even with complete cessation of fertilizer application. By demonstrating that agricultural soils can act as a net [nitrogen] sink, the present work makes a critical contribution towards the closing of watershed [nitrogen] budgets.”
The problem is hardly restricted to the Gulf of Mexico. Many other waterways are being choked by agricultural chemicals as well. Lake Erie, for example, is currently reporting a 700-square-mile algal bloom, the toxins from which may also contaminate drinking water. Algal blooms also fill the largest tributary to the Great Lakes, the Maumee River. At present, officials claim microcystin levels (toxins produced by the algae) in intake pipes from Lake Erie are low, but that can change at any time.
In 2014, Toledo, Ohio, was forced to shut off the supply of drinking water to half a million residents for three days due to elevated microcystin levels in the water. The algae also hurt the regional economy each year, as recreational fishing and beach visits must be restricted. Lake Erie began experiencing significant problems in the early 2000s.
Over the years, it’s only gotten more extensive, the bloom covering an increasingly larger area. The University of Michigan is now using a new robotic lake-bottom laboratory to track microcystin levels in the lake (see video above), thereby allowing them to detect and report water safety issues to water management officials more quickly.
According to a study by the Carnegie Institute for Science and Stanford University, the expansion of algal bloom in Lake Erie is primarily attributable to a rise in the amount of dissolved phosphorus from farm land entering the lake. Part of the problem is that agricultural runoff is typically exempt from clean water laws.
On September 26, 2017, Toledo mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson urged the federal government to declare Lake Erie impaired due to excessive algae.3 Doing so would allow the lake’s nutrient load to be regulated under the Clean Water Act. Many activists believe Hicks-Hudson has been too slow to act, and still isn’t taking it far enough. The Blade reports:4
“Activist Mike Ferner dumped a pitcher of algae-infested water and two dead fish into One Government Center's public fountain … to highlight the condition of the river and lake. Mr. Ferner, joined by more than a dozen other members of the Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie group he founded in response to the 2014 Toledo water crisis, said the protest was in response to foot-dragging by local, state and federal officials.
He said the administrations of Mayor Hicks-Hudson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are complicit in allowing manure and other farm fertilizers to pollute the water because they won't call for the open water of Lake Erie to be designated as impaired.”
Agricultural runoff threatens drinking water across the U.S. as well. As reported by Fern’s AG Insider:5
“Seven million Americans who live in small cities and towns have worrisome levels of nitrates in their drinking water — below the federal limit of 10 milligrams per liter, but high enough to be associated with cancer in some studies, said an Environmental Working Group official.
Craig Cox, head of EWG’s Midwest office, said 1,683 communities had nitrate levels above 5 milligrams per liter and, when plotted on a map, they ‘crazily lined up with intensive agriculture.’ Farm use of nitrogen fertilizer is regarded as a frequent source of nitrates in groundwater. Soils also shed nitrates naturally. Urban runoff and septic systems also are sources.”
According to Mighty Earth,6 an environmental group chaired by former Congressman Henry Waxman, a “highly industrialized and centralized factory farm system” — consisting of a fairly small number of individual corporations — are responsible for a majority of the water contamination and environmental destruction we’re currently facing. Tyson Foods, which produces chicken, beef and pork, was identified as one of the worst offenders. As reported by The Guardian:7
“Tyson, which supplies the likes of McDonald’s and Walmart, slaughters 35 [million] chickens and 125,000 head of cattle every week, requiring five million acres of corn a year for feed, according to the report. This consumption resulted in Tyson generating 55 [million] tons of manure last year … with 104 [million] tons of pollutants dumped into waterways over the past decade.
The Mighty research found that the highest levels of nitrate contamination correlate with clusters of facilities operated by Tyson and Smithfield, another meat supplier …
The report urges Tyson and other firms to use their clout in the supply chain to ensure that grain producers such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland employ practices that reduce pollution flowing into waterways. These practices include not leaving soil uncovered by crops and being more efficient with fertilizers so plants are not doused in too many chemicals.”
October 2, the group launched its national #CleanItUpTyson campaign,8 calling for Tyson, the largest meat company in the U.S., to “clean up pollution from its supply chain that’s contaminating local drinking water and causing a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.” According to Mighty Earth:
“The local campaigns are part of Mighty Earth’s national effort to hold the meat industry accountable for reducing its vast environmental impact, which is driving widespread water pollution, clearance of natural landscapes, high rates of soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions. Local communities from the Heartland to the Gulf are among those most affected by the meat industry’s impacts, and pay billions each year in clean-up costs.”
According to Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming and author of “Farmageddon” and “Deadzone” — two books detailing the destructive impact of industrial agriculture — factory farming is a threat to all life on Earth.
Speaking at a recent Livestock and Extinction Conference in London, Lymbery said: “Every day there is a new confirmation of how destructive, inefficient, wasteful, cruel and unhealthy the industrial agriculture machine is. We need a total rethink of our food and farming systems before it’s too late.”9
As noted by The Guardian,10 a number of “alarming exposés” have been featured as of late, including “chicken factory staff in the U.K. changing crucial food safety information on chickens,” and an admission by the European commission last month that “eggs containing a harmful pesticide may have been on sale in as many as 16 countries.” And, of course, the Gulf of Mexico being earning the recent designation of having the largest dead zone ever recorded. According to Lymbery:
“We need to go beyond an isolated approach. Not just looking at the technical problems around welfare, not just looking at the technical issues around the environment, not just looking at food security in isolation, but putting all of these issues together, then we can see the real problem that lies at the heart of our food system — industrial agriculture.
Factory farming is shrouded in mythology. One of the myths is that it’s an efficient way of producing food when actually it is highly inefficient and wasteful. Another is that the protagonists will say that it can be good for the welfare of the animals. After all, if hens weren’t happy they wouldn’t lay eggs. The third myth is that factory farming saves space.
On the surface it looks plausible, because, by taking farm animals off the land and cramming them into cages and confinement you are putting an awful lot of animals into a small space. But what is overlooked in that equation is you are then having to dedicate vast acreages of relatively scarce arable land to growing the feed …
The UN has warned that if we continue as we are, the world’s soils will have effectively gone within 60 years. And then what? We shouldn’t look to the sea to bail us out because commercial fisheries are expected to be finished by 2048.”
Lymbery, as many others, myself included, point out that the answer is readily available and implementable. Regenerative farming can solve this and many other environmental and human health problems, if done in a thorough and holistic manner. No-till agriculture, which has become increasingly embraced as a solution to water pollution and other environmental problems associated with modern farming, is nowhere near enough.
While it’s certainly useful, and a method employed in regenerative agriculture, it alone cannot address the growing problems of chemical pollution. This was also the conclusion of a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study. As reported by Indiana University:11
“Researchers in the Department of Earth Sciences in the School of Science at IUPUI conducted a meta-analysis to compare runoff and leaching of nitrate from no-till and conventional tillage agricultural fields. Surface runoff and leaching are two major transportation pathways for nitrate to reach and pollute water.
Due to its mobility and water solubility, nitrate has long been recognized as a widespread water pollutant. ‘What we found is that no-till is not sufficient to improve water quality,’ said Lixin Wang, an assistant professor and corresponding author of the paper.
‘In fact, we found that no-till increased nitrogen leaching.’ The study suggests that no-till needs to be complemented with other techniques, such as cover cropping and intercropping or rotation with perennial crops, to improve nitrate retention and water-quality benefits.”
Other recent research12 confirms that adding native prairie strips to the rural landscape can help reduce water pollution from farm fields. Prairie strips refers to small patches of land around the edges of crop fields where native, perennial grasses and flowers are allowed to grow wild. The results show that converting as little as 10 percent of crop areas into prairie strips:13,14
The only viable long-term answer is regenerative agriculture (which goes beyond mere sustainability), for which biodynamic farming stands as a shining ideal. In addition to no-till, regenerative farming focuses on such practices and concepts as rotational grazing, improvement and building of topsoil (which includes cover cropping), the use of all-natural soil amendments and increasing biodiversity.
Aside from putting an end to water and soil pollution, regenerative agriculture is also needed to protect future generations from the devastating harm caused by pesticides. The amount of pesticides used both commercially and in residential areas has grown immensely since 1945.
More than 1 billion pounds are used each year in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, an estimated 7.7 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and that number is steadily increasing.15 According to a 2012 analysis,16 each 1 percent increase in crop yield is associated with a 1.8 percent increase in pesticide use.
Logic tells us this is an unsustainable trajectory. As just one example, studies done by the Chinese government show that 20 percent of arable land in China is now unusable due to pesticide contamination.17 Earlier this year, two United Nations experts called for a comprehensive global treaty to phase out pesticides in farming altogether, noting that pesticides are in no way essential for the growing of food.18
The report highlighted developments in regenerative farming, where biology can completely replace chemicals, delivering high yields of nutritious food without detriment to the environment. “It is time to overturn the myth that pesticides are necessary to feed the world and create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production,” they said.
You can help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more sustainable systems by supporting local farmers dedicated to regenerative farming practices. The Demeter mark, indicative of Biodynamic certification, is the new platinum standard for high-quality foods raised and grown in accordance to the strictest environmental parameters possible.
Biodynamic is essentially organic on steroids, far surpassing it in terms of its environmental impact. Unfortunately, Biodynamic certified foods are still scarce in the U.S., unless you happen to live near a certified farm.
Most Biodynamic farms only sell locally or regionally. You can find a directory of certified farms on biodynamicfood.org. We hope to change that as we move forward, and building consumer demand is what will drive that change. Other U.S.-based organizations that can help you locate wholesome farm-fresh foods include the following:
The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.
Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.
EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.
Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.
The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.
This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.
A national listing of farmers markets.
The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.
The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.
If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund19 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.20 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.
Source: mercola rss
By Dr. Mercola
The process of bees turning flower nectar into honey is one of the marvels of nature. After sucking the nectar from a flower, a honeybee stores the sweet juice in her stomach, carrying an amount close to her own weight, back to the hive. There, she delivers the nectar to an indoor bee, and it is passed from one bee to the next, mouth-to-mouth, until its moisture content reduces to about 20 percent, forming honey.
Other times, the nectar may be stored in honeycomb cells before the bee-to-bee moisture-reducing process, as the storage process helps to jumpstart the evaporation. Once the honey is created, bees store it in cells capped with beeswax to feed newborn and adult bees.1
Humans have also developed a taste for the sweet, sticky treat, which is often regarded as one of the purest sweeteners available. However, recent research has revealed that honey is contaminated with neonicotinoid pesticides, with concerning ramifications for bees and humans alike.
In a sampling of honey collected around the world, the majority of samples were found to be contaminated with neonicotinoid pesticides, including acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Nearly 200 honey samples were tested, with neonicotinoids found in 75 percent of them. Forty-five percent of the samples contained two or more of the pesticides, while 10 percent contained four or five.2
“The fact that 45 percent of our samples showed multiple contaminations is worrying and indicates that bee populations throughout the world are exposed to a cocktail of neonicotinoids,” the researchers wrote. “The effects of exposure to multiple pesticides, which have only recently started to be explored, are suspected to be stronger than the sum of individual effects.”3
Broken down by continent, 86 percent of North American samples contained neonicotinoids, along with 80 percent from Asia, 79 percent from Europe and 57 percent from South America.4 While the levels of pesticides detected were supposedly safe for human consumption, nearly half of the samples contained concentrations known to harm bees.5
Even the researchers were shocked by the prevalence of the bee-harming pesticides. Lead study author Edward Mitchell, a soil biologist at Switzerland's University of Neuchatel, told The Globe and Mail, “It just shows us that they are used almost everywhere in the world. It's really amazing … Bees, by collecting nectar up to 10 or 12 kilometers (6.2 to 7.45 miles) around the hive, they really are good sensors of contamination of pesticides in the environment."6
Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides on the planet, the researchers noted. As systemic pesticides, the chemicals are taken up by the plants and contaminate flowers, nectar and pollen. “Neonicotinoids are suspected to pose an unacceptable risk to bees, partly because of their systemic uptake in plants, and the European Union has therefore introduced a moratorium on three neonicotinoids as seed coatings in flowering crops that attract bees,” a separate study published in Nature revealed in 2015.7
However, the majority of soybean, corn, canola and sunflower seeds planted in the U.S. are precoated with neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics). The chemicals persist and accumulate in soils, and since they're water-soluble they leach into waterways where other types of wildlife may be affected. Adding insult to injury, according to an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), treating soybean seeds with neonicotinoids provides no significant financial or agricultural benefits for farmers.8
Yet, the practice continues, even as neonicotinoids have been blamed for declines in pollinators in the U.S. and elsewhere. Neonicotinoids affect insects' central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time. One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee's immune system, allowing them to fall prey to secondary, seemingly "natural" bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria.
While the effects of different neonicotinoids have long been regarded as interchangeable, each may actually affect bees differently. Bayer's imidacloprid was found to cut the number of egg-containing brood cells by 46 percent, for instance, while Syngenta's thiamethoxam decreased the number of live bees by 38 percent.9
Clothianidin, another neonicotinoid made by Bayer, had a curious effect of increasing the number of queens produced, which the researchers noted could potentially backfire if, "say, all those queens turned out to be infertile.”10 Lead researcher Christopher Connolly, Ph.D., of the University of Dundee, told the Guardian, "I think there is sufficient evidence for a ban on imidacloprid and thiamethoxam … "11
Much of the research surrounding neonicotinoids surrounds commercially bred honeybees and bumblebees, but wild bees are also at risk. One study involved 18 years of U.K. wild bee distribution data for 62 species, which were compared to amounts of neonicotinoid use in oilseed rape, a crop grown to produce canola oil. The researchers found evidence of increased wild bee population extinction rates in response to neonicotinoid seed treatment.
While bees that forage on oilseed rape have historically benefited from its availability, according to the researchers, once the crops are treated with neonicotinoids (as up to 85 percent of England’s oilseed rape crops are) they have detrimental impacts on the bees. In fact, wild foraging bees were three times more likely to be negatively affected by exposure to neonicotinoids than non-crop foragers. Overall, about 50 percent of the total decline in wild bees was linked to the pesticides.12
In another study, researchers fed queen bees a syrup containing neonicotinoids (thiamethoxam) in an amount similar to what would be found in neonic-treated canola fields. Queens exposed to the chemical were 26 percent less likely to lay eggs.13 According to the study, which was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the finding is an ominous warning for the future of bees:14
“Modelling the impacts of a 26 percent reduction in colony founding on population dynamics dramatically increased the likelihood of population extinction. This shows that neonicotinoids can affect this critical stage in the bumblebee lifecycle and may have significant impacts on population dynamics.”
Research by a U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) chemist and a colleague from the University of Iowa revealed glyphosate residues of 653 parts per billion (ppb) in some honey samples — an amount that’s more than 10 times the European limit of 50 ppb.15 Other samples contained residues ranging from 20 ppb to 123 ppb. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s widely used RoundUp pesticide.
Bees, as pollinators, travel from plant to plant. With grasslands being increasingly converted into genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean fields where glyphosate is amply sprayed, it’s easy for them to become contaminated and then transfer that contamination to their honey. Research published in the journal Nature Communications has similarly revealed that pollen collected next to corn fields is contaminated with up to 32 different pesticides.16
At this point, the effects of these chemical exposures on bees is unknown, but common sense would indicate that they can’t be good. In addition to neonics, for instance, glyphosate has been implicated as being at least partly responsible for bee die-offs. In many cases of bee die-offs, the bees become disoriented, suggesting endocrine hormone disruption.
Glyphosate is a very strong endocrine hormone disruptor. GMO expert Don Huber, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University, also cited a study on glyphosate in drinking water at levels that are commonly found in U.S. water systems, showing 30 percent mortality in bees exposed to it.
The European Union is considering a permanent ban on neonicotinoids to protect pollinators, but Syngenta is speaking out in their favor, calling pesticides only a “very minor element” in declining bee health and claiming that neonics have been singled out among them. Their rhetoric isn’t surprising, especially considering that insecticides accounted for nearly 13 percent of their revenue in 2016.17
Yet, as the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit wildlife conservation group, explains, “Avoiding pesticide use is the best option for conserving pollinators. Most insecticides (and a handful of fungicides and herbicides) can kill bees directly or have sublethal effects that reduce the number of offspring a female bee can produce.” They also recommend alternatives to pesticides as an important step in pollinator conservation:18
“A plant that is growing vigorously, with minimal stress, can avoid or outgrow many diseases and insect pests … It is also important to recognize and work with naturally occurring pest controls (beneficial insects that prey upon pests). A healthy and diverse landscape with sufficient natural habitat can support large numbers of native predators and/or parasites of insect pests.
Pesticides may eliminate these beneficial insects where they are used, leading to chronic pest problems. Fortunately, many of the same strategies that protect pollinators will support these other native beneficial insects, further reducing the need for pest control. For farms, maximizing crop diversity and practicing crop rotation to disrupt pest populations are some basic strategies to reduce pest problems.”
As for honey, at this time there’s no easy way to know whether the variety you buy is contaminated with pesticides, but if the featured study is any indication, there’s a good chance it is. Of even greater concern, however, is the preservation of pollinators as a whole, as they’re essential to the growth of at least 30 percent of the world’s food crops.19
To avoid harming bees and other helpful pollinators that visit your garden, swap out toxic pesticide and lawn chemicals for organic weed and pest control alternatives. But be aware that even some organic formulations can be harmful to beneficial insects, so be sure to vet your products carefully. The Xerces Society explains:20
“Pyrethrin, and spinosad, are both common pesticides in organic farming, and are broad-spectrum insect killers, destroying pest and beneficial species alike. Other organic-approved products are safer to use as long as they are not applied where pollinators are actively foraging or nesting. Less toxic pesticides include horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps.”
Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant an edible organic garden. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide good honeybee habitats. It's also recommended to keep a small basin of fresh water in your garden or backyard, as bees do get thirsty. In addition, you'll want to grow your own pollinator-friendly plants from organic, untreated seeds. If you opt to purchase starter plants, make sure to ask whether or not they've been pre-treated with pesticides.
Keep in mind that you also help protect the welfare of all pollinators every time you shop organic and grass fed, as you are actually “voting” for less pesticides and herbicides with every organic and pastured food and consumer product you buy. The video above, from the Pesticide Research Institute (PRI), gives examples of 12 pollinator-friendly plants that are good sources of nectar and pollen to add to your garden.
Source: mercola rss
Eyeliner can either make or break your look. It also happens to be one of the hardest makeup techniques to master. It all starts with getting to know your eye shape and—of course—a great eyeliner. We love Savvy Minerals Eyeliner because of its rich color, versatility, and all-day wear. Use it along with this handy compilation of our top eyeliner tips to make your eyes appear bigger, brighter, and bolder.
Source: Young Living Blog
Few things are as frightening for a woman as finding a lump in her breast. While some lumps may be cancerous, many lumps are benign. Noncancerous lumps include fluid-filled cysts, as well as solid lumps called fibroadenomas. A fibroadenoma is among the most common benign lumps that appear in the breast, accounting for 50 percent of all breast biopsies. And, these noncancerous breast lumps are the most common masses found in adolescents. (1, 2)
These lumps typically range from 2 to 3 centimeters in size; however, they can grow to greater than 10 centimeters and cause asymmetry in the breast or even hypertrophy, in some cases. While some women choose to have a lumpectomy for their peace of mind, most fibroadenomas do not require further treatment. But close monitoring is essential to know whether it changes in size or texture. (3)
If you notice changes in an existing lump or find a new lump during your monthly self-examination, schedule an appointment with your physician as quickly as possible. During your appointment, your doctor will explore your family history, perform a clinical breast examination, and then order a mammogram or an ultrasound if you have dense breast tissue. If the imaging tests show that the lump is solid, a biopsy may be necessary to determine the composition of the lump.
These lumps are broken into two categories in the United States: simple and complex. While any changes in the breast naturally cause concern and stress, a breast fibroadenoma only slightly increases your risk of developing breast cancer in the future and this condition should not be considered a cause of cancer. (4)
A fibroadenoma is a benign breast mass that often presents during adolescence, but can occur in women at any age. While considered very rare, men, too, can get these benign lumps. This type of mass develops from the glands in the breast, including the lobules and the ducts. Lobules and ducts are surrounded by fibrous, glandular, and fatty tissue. A fibroadenoma occurs when these glandular tissues and ducts grow over a lobule and form a solid lump. (5)
In the United States, two types of fibroadenomas are recognized, simple and complex. Both simple and complex lumps are small in size. They just have different physical characteristics. In other parts of the world, giant and juvenile are also recognized types. (6, 7)
Simple: Generally round, with distinct and smooth borders. If one is close to the surface, it should move easily and may feel rubbery or firm. They rarely cause discomfort or pain; however, monthly hormonal changes and menstruation cycles may cause slight but noticeable changes.
Complex: An irregularity, not size, is what determines if a lump falls into the simple or complex category. According to the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, one of the following pathological features must be present to make it complex: cystic change, epithelial calcification, sclerosing adenosis, or papillary apocrine hyperplasia. These abnormalities occur in about half of all patients diagnosed with this type of lump. (8, 9)
Juvenile: Occurring in young adolescents and girls aged 10 to 18, a juvenile fibroadenoma can grow quite large, quite quickly. However, most shrink over time and may even disappear. Depending on the size and discomfort it causes, surgical removal may be recommended. Just like adults who find a lump, any changes in the breasts of young girls must be evaluated by a doctor. (10)
Giant: This type grows greater than 5 centimeters causing discomfort, pain or a visible asymmetry in the breast. They may also replace other breast tissue, and your physician may recommend removal of the lump. While this variety of fibroadenoma may be found in women, and even men, they are more common in juvenile girls.
Phyllodes tumors: Some in the medical community classify these tumors alongside fibroadenomas. However, they are different and very rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of all breast tumors. Unlike a fibroadenoma, which typically presents in a smooth, round shape, phyllodes have a more leaf-like pattern. Additionally, unlike their counterparts that develop inside the ducts or lobules, they develop in the breast’s connective tissue. (11, 12)
Phyllodes tumors tend to grow quickly, but they rarely spread beyond the breast. While normally benign, some can be “borderline” or malignant. Often, your medical team will advise their removal, even if they are currently benign. If you find a rapidly growing mass in your breast, it does not automatically mean that it is malignant; some benign masses can grow quickly too. (13, 14)
A small lump that feels rubbery or like a marble, and moves easily and smoothly under the skin, is often the first sign of a breast fibroadenoma. The edges are well-defined and it rarely causes pain or discomfort. However, some may not be close enough to the surface of the skin to be felt, unless under pressure such as while lying on the stomach or receiving a hug. And, if they are deep in the tissue, they may only be identified through a mammogram or ultrasound.
During pregnancy, women may experience rapid growth of this type of lump. During menopause they often shrink. Just remember, any noticeable changes should be reported to your physician.
The exact cause remains unknown; however, there is some evidence that a fibroadenoma may be related to the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. Researchers acknowledge the following as possible causes and risk factors: (15, 16)
Before a treatment plan can begin, a proper diagnosis is necessary. This is often the most stressful part of the journey. As the list below indicates, it can sometimes take several visits to your physician and imaging centers over a period of a few weeks or months. Diagnostic tests include: (17, 18, 19)
Treatment plans vary from person to person, but generally simple lumps do not require further medical intervention. In fact, some lumps may shrink or disappear without treatment. However, additional screenings at six months and 12 months may be advised.
With complex lumps, your doctor may recommend surgical removal for peace of mind and physical comfort. If the lump or lumps are on the larger size and causing pain, surgery can help to relieve it. This is typically done as a lumpectomy or an excisional biopsy, and, in rare cases, as a cryoablation where a gas is used to freeze and destroy the tissue.
If surgical removal is recommended, please understand additional noncancerous lesions and lumps may develop, and the same diagnostic tests listed above may be necessary to rule out cancer.
With juvenile fibroadenoma, observation is generally suggested; however, a core needle biopsy or open biopsy may be recommended. If the lump becomes too large and transitions into the giant category, it may start to cause a deformity in the breast or noticeable asymmetry. In these cases, a complete excision may be the best course of action. (20, 21)
If you’ve been diagnosed with a noncancerous lump, or you have a family history of breast cancer, you may want to consider thermography. This noninvasive screening helps to identify fast-growing and active tumors. It can help your doctor identify subtle changes in your breast. Additional benefits include no additional exposure to radiation, and many insurance companies cover the screening. Even if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost, affordable screenings may be locally available. (22)
Breast cancer is, of course, the greatest fear when a lump is detected in the breast. And for good reason. The statistics are frightening. (23)
As mentioned above, while researchers aren’t quite sure why a noncancerous fibroadenoma slightly increases the risk of breast cancer, any breast health issue causes a pause, and, naturally, some anxiety. So much research has been done on breast cancer and prevention and much of the evidence circles back to diet and early detection.
1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and other highly respected cancer centers across the globe found that an increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with moderate exercise, is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. The study brought particular attention to the benefits of consuming sesame oil because of the PUFA fatty acids it contains; seaweed; garlic and onions; and lychee fruit. (24)
2. Enjoy organic meats and cultured dairy. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, top cancer-fighting foods include organic meats, wild-caught fish, nuts and seeds, mushrooms, tea, and cultured dairy products like kefir and yogurt.
3. Blueberries. A top healthy choice, blueberries contain vitamins C and K, manganese, and fiber, as well as the phytochemicals quercetin, reservatrol and pterostilbene, which have been specifically identified to increase the self-destruction of certain types of cancer cells including lung, stomach, pancreatic, and breast cancer cells. (25)
4. Flaxseeds. A study from the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences found that the lignans in flaxseed are associated with decreased cancer growth and are effective for reducing the risk of breast cancer and to consume in treatment. Purchase a high-quality organic flaxseed and grind into a fine powder. Add to your favorite smoothie, sprinkle on oatmeal, or add to a salad to receive its benefits. (26)
5. Beta-Carotene rich-foods. A study from Germany published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that a diet including beta-carotene foods shows a slight positive effect on breast health, particularly in postmenopausal women. An additional study shows carotenoids reduce oxidative danger and they are particularly helpful in reducing the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women who smoke. (27, 28)
Add more beta-carotene foods to your diet like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots and mangos — basically any fruit or vegetable that has a rich orange or yellow hue after you’ve been diagnosed with a noncancerous mass.
6. Green tea. The polyphenolic compound catechin has been shown to improve breast health, density and estrogen levels. Researchers believe this is due to its outstanding antioxidant activities. Enjoy three or four cups of green tea per day for best results. (28)
7. Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. A study from researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University on African-American women found that a diet rich with carotenoid vegetables and cruciferous vegetables decreases the risk of breast cancer. (29)
8. Get out in the sunshine. The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, lung cancer and bladder cancer. When possible, try to get 20 minutes each day of unfiltered sun exposure. For those in northern climates, add 10,000 IU of a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement daily. (30)
9. Pomegranate. Studies show that the polyphenols in pomegranate might fight cancer growth, particularly in estrogen-dependent cancers like breast cancer. Researchers indicate that long-term studies are needed and noted that a high-potency botanical supplement was used in their research. If you are on ACE inhibitors, blood pressure medications, statins, or blood thinners, avoid pomegranate supplements. (31)
10. Turmeric. The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to fight certain tumors and demonstrates anti-breast cancer activity. A study published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design found that the polyphenolic curcuminoids are responsible for anti-breast cancer activity and that individual curcuminoids inhibit cancer cell growth. For improving breast health, take 2,000 milligrams of turmeric daily; make sure the supplement contains 20 milligrams of piperine to increase bioavailability and absorption. (32)
11. Walnuts. The nut that looks like a brain is rich with healthy omega-3s and has been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer tumors. And, walnuts can reduce cancer growth and development according to researchers. An added benefit is that they support weight loss and are a filling snack, suitable for young children and adolescents. (33)
12. Lion’s Mane Mushroom. Don’t let the scruffy look of the lion’s mane mushroom dissuade you; research indicates it exhibits anticancer activity specifically for the breast and colon. While this exotic mushroom is rarely available in local grocery markets, they can be found in many Asian markets or you can purchase a high-quality supplement. (34)
13. Evening Primrose Oil. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is research that suggests that evening primrose oil may ease menstrual cycle breast pain due to breast cysts. Some researchers believe that women who have a deficiency in linoleic acid may be more sensitive to fluctuations in hormones, and evening primrose may help to alleviate the deficiency. (35)
14. Exercise. Multiple studies show that exercising a minimum of 150 minutes each week can lower the risk of breast cancer and other types of cancer. A French study has found exercise particularly important for postmenopausal women, and researchers stressed that continuing to exercise was the key. Walking, gardening, yoga, tennis and golf are all great moderate activities suitable for any age. (36)
15. Meditation. Seeking a mind-body balance through meditation can be instrumental in relieving the stress and anxiety after a diagnosis. While these lumps are not cancerous, the possibility of cancer in the future weighs heavy on the heart and mind. Studies show that meditation reduces stress in cancer patients and enhances coping mechanisms and well-being. (37)
A breast fibroadenoma is not cancerous. However, it does slightly increase your risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Eating a healing diet rich in lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, nuts and berries may help to reduce your overall risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Any changes in breast health, including the development of new lumps or changes in existing lumps, need to be evaluated by your health care team.
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And you’re invited! Click Here to Register
Whether you’re in pursuit of essential oil mastery or you want to build an essential oil business, this is a must-see presentation. Plus, I’ve set aside a half hour to answer your questions.
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By Dr. Mercola
If your impression of prunes is that they're something old people eat for help with regularity (although there is that), you could use a bit more information about the benefits of this delicious food. For some people, prunes have somehow gleaned a reputation as dry, mealy and terrible-tasting, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, they may look a little odd, being a wrinkly, purple-to-black lump, but they're tasty to the point of crave worthy.
In case you're not familiar with prunes, they're simply dried plums, just like raisins are dried grapes. More specifically, prunes are sun-dried plums that skipped the fermentation process.1 To make the moist little morsels more intriguing to 25- through 54-year-old females, the California Prune Board asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin referring to prunes as "dried plums."
It must be working, as prune consumption shifted. Europe is on the receiving end of 40 percent of the California prune market, and it's jumped 37 percent in just the last year, Fresh Plaza, a global produce news site, notes:
"It is moving away from the traditional home baking and breakfast occasions into the acceptance of prunes as a healthy snack and a versatile ingredient for home cooking. Chefs from all around the world are starting to recognize the significant benefits of including prunes in a whole range of recipes."2
Prunes, much like peaches, are referred to as "freestone," meaning the large pit in the center can stay intact through the drying process, then be easily removed before packaging. Medicine throughout centuries made use of prunes for fever, high blood pressure, jaundice, diabetes, digestion and constipation, still one of its most popular remedies.
Just like raisins, prunes offer chewy sweetness and amazing versatility as well as plenty of surprising nutrients. Fiber, potassium, iron and retinol from vitamin A are some of its most prominent nutrients (in fact, the drying process increases the fiber content)3 as are the vitamin K and beta-carotenes.
While I don't recommend you eat an entire cup (174 grams) of pitted prunes in one sitting due to their fructose content (about 5 grams in five prunes4), if you did, you'd get 12 grams, or 49 percent,5 of the recommended dietary allowance (RDI) of fiber, which is what U.S. health organizations say you need for one day (I believe about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed is ideal, however).
Fiber is crucial for moving food smoothly through your colon, which automatically lowers your risk of colon cancer. In fact, two studies — the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Screening Trial and another by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) — noted that "dietary fiber intake is inversely related to the incidence of colon adenomas and cancer."6
Even more recent studies have come to the same conclusion, such as one conducted in 2015 by researchers at Texas A&M. Nancy Turner, AgriLife research professor in the nutrition and food science department, showed that dried plum consumption provides beneficial effects by helping your colon retain advantageous gut microbiota.7
The 36 percent RDI in potassium,8 a mineral crucial for good health, you get from eating 1 cup of prunes helps balance the chemical and electrical processes in your body, lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease along with your blood pressure, and optimizes several other important body functions.
In the same cup of prunes, you also get 129 percent of the DRI in vitamin K, which may help prevent inflammation and osteoporosis and improve your insulin sensitivity.9 Other prominent nutrients in prunes include more than 20 percent DRI of several B vitamins10 along with notable amounts of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and boron.
Prunes are a rich source of simple sugars, including fructose. Despite this, research has shown dried plums do not lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar concentration when consumed,11 possibly due to their high fiber and sorbitol content. However, the fructose still constitutes good reason to limit your intake, as is true in regard to consuming most other fruits. Fruits such as plums and prunes can be good for you, but in limited amounts.
One medium prune contains 1.2 grams of fructose. If you're insulin- or leptin-resistant (are overweight, diabetic, hypertensive or have high cholesterol), then it would be especially advisable for you to limit your fruit intake.
As a general rule, I recommend limiting your fructose intake to a maximum of 15 grams of fructose per day from all sources, including whole fruit. If you are not insulin/leptin resistant (are of normal weight without diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol) I suggest limiting your fructose intake to 25 grams per day (or less) from all sources.
Prunes, as you've already read, contain a lot of extremely health-beneficial nutrients. It's how they relate to your body in terms of disease prevention, however, that makes them so valuable. The end conclusion of one study, for instance, reported in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, lists several of those benefits:
"Prunes have been found pharmacologically active as antioxidant, anticancer, anxiolytic, mild laxative and antihyperlipedimic. Their efficacy in treatment and prevention of … osteoporosis has been documented in clinical studies.
It exerts positive effects on cardiovascular parameters possibly through antioxidant activities, high fiber and potassium contents. In conclusion, prunes have wide range of nutritional and medicinal uses and daily consumption can be beneficial in the treatment or prevention of different ailments."12
Flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants in plums, such as lutein and cryptoxanthin, help scavenge free radicals from your body. Free radicals come from toxins that enter your body through your skin and the air you breathe, such as pollution and toxic fumes from household cleaners, food dyes and other unhealthy food ingredients. Free radicals are also produced normally during metabolism. Medical News Today reports:
"Antioxidants, called polyphenols, may prevent cell mutation and reduce cancer cell formation. Prunes were found to have the highest range of polyphenols when compared with other dried fruits, such as raisins, figs, and dates."13
Bahram H. Arjmandi, Ph.D, a registered dietician and researcher at Florida State University, was one of the first to investigate "estrogen receptors in the gut to aid in calcium transport and to demonstrate the efficacy of dried plum in protecting bone in both animal models of osteoporosis and postmenopausal women."14 NDTV's Smart Cooky quotes Arjmandi:
"Over my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums or prunes have. All fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on nutrition, but in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional."15
The incredible compounds in prunes provide several benefits that may seem unrelated, which just goes to show you how all-encompassing such nutrients can be. Here are several more super advantages you gain:
1. Prunes are considered heart healthy, mostly due to the potassium content, which optimizes heart function and nerve responses throughout your body. Daily potassium intake helps lower your blood pressure, as well as your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
2. Prunes help fight osteoporosis, in part due to the boron content, which Alive, a health and wellness site, explains:
"Helps regulate mineral metabolism and optimizes estrogen levels, which in turn increases calcium absorption. Additionally, boron helps convert vitamin D to its active form, which helps the osteoblasts [bone-building cells] utilize calcium for bone formation."16
3. Eating prunes benefits your hair and skin due to the array of vitamins and minerals they provide, which even help slow signs of aging, such as wrinkles. High amounts of iron helps prevent a deficiency that can show up in dry, discolored hair, and even hair loss.
4. Prune consumption benefits your vision due to high vitamin A, which produces retinol. Being deficient in this vitamin is a leading cause of macular degeneration, dry eyes, cataracts and night blindness.
5. The nutrients in prunes go a long way. Nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat offers both a caution and an encouragement:
"Prunes are high in natural sugar, so too many may not be good for people watching their weight. After all, excess of anything is stored as fat in your body. Prunes have such high nutritional values ensuring that you can eat just one piece and still gain measurable nutrients."17
You've no doubt heard about the effects of prune juice being a good laxative. In fact, studies have shown it to be even more effective than psyllium husk at treating constipation.18 Prune juice, too, is lauded for decreasing the "transit time" of foods in your digestive tract.
For people with constipation, eating the whole prune may be enough to get things moving, and I recommend trying this first. If the constipation persists, you could try drinking a small amount of prune juice in the morning to help stimulate the desired action. Additionally, another dose half an hour to an hour after a meal might prove helpful, as well.19
I do not, however, recommend drinking prune juice regularly or in large quantities because of the sugar content. If chronic constipation is a problem for you, there are many other natural strategies to treat it. Constipation aside, here are a few more ways to incorporate whole prunes into your diet:
Source: mercola rss
By Dr. Mercola
A number of foods have known anti-cancer activity. Among the more well-known are members of the cruciferous family, with broccoli leading the pack when it comes to undergoing scientific investigation. One of the lesser-known ones is mustard seed, which also belongs to the brassica genus.1,2
As it turns out, not only does mustard seed contain compounds shown to inhibit cancer proliferation, it also contains compounds that augment the cancer-fighting potential of other cruciferous veggies, delivering a real double-punch when combined. For this reason, I recommend keeping organic mustard seed powder in your kitchen at all times. Mustard seed powder can also be used to whip up homemade topical remedies, such as plasters and baths to relieve pain.
One 2010 study3 discovered a compound found in both brown mustard and cruciferous vegetables called allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), also known as mustard oil, lowered the risk of bladder cancer by 34.5 percent and was 100 percent effective at preventing the spread of cancer into surrounding muscle cells. The complete stop of cancer progression is quite remarkable considering the cancer metastasized into surrounding tissues 71 percent of the time in untreated controls.
Importantly, the whole food — mustard seed powder — was more effective than the purified form. Dry mustard seed contain a compound called sinigrin, a precursor to AITC. When combined with water (which is what happens in your stomach), an enzyme called myrosinase converts the sinigrin into AITC.
A related form of this enzyme is found in the human digestive tract, but the plant-based one is far more effective, accomplishing a more complete conversion. This is likely why the whole food worked better than the isolated compound.4 Another interesting finding was that higher doses were not more effective. Animals given 71.5 milligrams (mg) of mustard seed powder per kilo of body weight were the ones in which cancer occurrence was reduced by 34 percent and metastasis completely blocked.
In animals treated with 715 mg of mustard seed powder per kilo, tumor growth was reduced by just 23 percent, and tumor invasion still occurred up to 62 percent of the time. So, a little can go a long way! Other studies have made similar findings. As reported by Natural Society: 5
“A similar conclusion was found by Dr. Anthony Di Pasqua, a bioinorganic chemist at the University of North Carolina and his colleague Dr. Fung-Lung Chung from Georgetown University. Their studies support Bhattacharya’s conclusions about AITC is brown mustard seed.
Dr. Di Pasqua said:6 ‘Our studies have shown that, once inside the cell, ITCs [isothiocyanates7] bind to proteins and that protein binding affinities are closely associated with the ability to induce apoptosis (cell suicide).’”
ITCs are derivatives of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, found in cruciferous vegetables. Different glucosinolates hydrolyze into different ITCs. Broccoli, for example, is high in glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate precursor to sulforaphane, which has well-established chemoprotective effects.8,9 Sulforaphane also helps improve blood pressure, heart health10 and kidney function.
Scientists believe sulforaphane's benefits are related to improved DNA methylation, which is crucial for normal cellular function and proper gene expression, especially in the easily damaged inner lining of the arteries (endothelium). Broccoli, like mustard seed, also contains sinigrin, the precursor to AITC. As mentioned, glucosinolate hydrolysis is catalyzed by a class of enzymes called myrosinase. Plant sources known to be particularly high in myrosinase include:
To reiterate, the enzyme myrosinase is critical for the conversion of the various glucosinolates into ITCs11 — the compounds that ultimately provide you with health benefits such as chemoprotection — and, while most if not all cruciferous veggies do contain some myrosinase, you can significantly boost the conversion by eating cruciferous vegetables together with a particularly myrosinase-rich food.
Doing so is a simple way to really maximize the chemoprotective effects of these vegetables. Wasabi, for example, has been shown to increase the chemoprotective effects of cruciferous vegetables by as much as 40 percent.12
Mustard seed appears to be the most effective, however, as it contains a particularly resilient form of myrosinase. Research confirms mustard seed can boost sulforaphane formation even in boiled broccoli, which is typically not recommended as boiling prevents sulforaphane formation by inactivating the myrosinase in the broccoli.13
Once ITCs are absorbed, they turn into glutathione in your liver. Known as your body's most powerful antioxidant, glutathione is a tripeptide found in every single cell in your body. It is called "master antioxidant" because it is intracellular and has the unique ability of maximizing the performance of all the other antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, as well as the fresh vegetables and fruits that you eat.
Glutathione's primary function is to protect your cells and mitochondria from oxidative and peroxidative damage. It is also essential for detoxification, energy utilization, and preventing the diseases we associate with aging. Glutathione also eliminates toxins from your cells and gives protection from the damaging effects of radiation, chemicals and environmental pollutants.
AITC is found in all cruciferous vegetables, not just mustard. Here’s a list of vegetables that belong to this important family.14 Adding one or more of these foods to your diet each week may go a long way toward lowering your cancer risk. And, remember, to really boost the chemoprotective effects of these cruciferous veggies, be sure to add some mustard seed powder or other myrosinase-rich food (see earlier list).
Mustard (leaves and seed; brown, green, white and black)
Turnips (roots and greens)
Another factor that can affect the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables to a significant degree is the way you cook them. Studies have not been done on every single member of this family, but research clearly demonstrates there’s an ideal way to prepare and eat mature broccoli.
In the video above, Elizabeth Jeffery, Ph.D., a researcher and professor in the department of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois, delves into this research,15 which shows that steaming your broccoli for three to four minutes is ideal. Do not go past five minutes. While I normally recommend eating most of your vegetables raw, mature broccoli and some other cruciferous vegetables are exceptions to this rule.
When you eat raw mature broccoli, you only get about 12 percent of the total sulforaphane content theoretically available based on the parent compound. Steaming your broccoli spears for three to four minutes will optimize the sulforaphane content by eliminating epithiospecifier protein — a heat-sensitive sulfur-grabbing protein that inactivates sulforaphane — while still retaining the enzyme myrosinase, which converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane.
Again, without myrosinase, you cannot get any sulforaphane. Boiling your broccoli past the one-minute mark is not recommended, as it will destroy a majority of the myrosinase. If you want to boil your broccoli, blanch it in boiling water for no more than 20 to 30 seconds, immerse it in cold water to stop the cooking process, and be sure to add some mustard seed powder to your dish.
Cauliflower also contains sulforaphane. Boiling or blanching cauliflower causes the greatest loss of antioxidants,16 so steaming appears to be your best bet for cauliflower as well. Unfortunately, while research has identified the ideal steaming times for broccoli, the same has not been identified for cauliflower specifically, but it is likely similar to broccoli’s.
Moreover, research17 reveals different varieties of cauliflower respond differently to various levels of heat and cooking times. In one study, blanching purple cauliflower at 70 degrees C (158 degrees F) significantly increased sulforaphane content compared to 50 degrees C (120 degrees F), while immersion time had no significant influence. In Roman cauliflower, on the other hand, both temperature and immersion time played a role.
Broccoli SPROUTS, on the other hand, are best eaten raw, and are an excellent alternative if you don't like the taste or smell of mature broccoli.
Sprouted broccoli seeds are also far more potent, nutritionally speaking, than mature broccoli, so you don’t need to eat nearly as much to reap the clinical benefits from key therapeutic compounds. Research shows that even small quantities of broccoli sprout extract have the power to markedly reduce the size of rat mammary tumors induced by chemical carcinogens. As noted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University:18,19
"Three-day-old broccoli sprouts consistently contain 20 to 50 times the amount of chemoprotective compounds found in mature broccoli heads, and may offer a simple, dietary means of chemically reducing cancer risk."
Broccoli sprouts are easy and inexpensive to grow at home. Growing your own is also the best way to ensure the active ingredients in the sprouts have not been destroyed by processing. Commercially-available broccoli sprouts are typically heated in order to kill off harmful bacteria. However, use of high heat may also render the sprouts worthless, as it will negatively affect the conversion of glucosinolates to ITCs.
A recent study20 evaluating ways of eliminating microbial contaminants on broccoli sprouts found treating the sprouts with high pressure could kill off bacteria while leaving heat-sensitive nutrients intact. What’s more, the pressure treatment actually boosted glucosinolate to ITC conversion. As reported by Science Daily:21
“Results showed that processing broccoli sprouts at 400 to 600 megapascals increased the amount of glucosinolates that turned into isothiocyanates. Up to 85 percent of glucosinolates were converted under high pressure processing, boosting the plants' potential health-promoting compounds.
The rate of conversion for mild heat treatment at 60 degrees Celsius was 69 percent. Isothiocyanate levels in boiled samples were undetectable or not quantifiable. Thus, the researchers say high pressure could be a preferred method over heating for processing broccoli sprouts.”
Getting back to mustard seed, powdered mustard seed actually has a long history of use, especially in Ayurvedic medicine, where it was used topically to improve blood circulation and detoxification. Taken internally, 1 teaspoon of mustard seed powder twice a day can be used as a remedy for constipation. Mustard plaster and mustard baths were also common folk remedies for muscle and joint pain. Part of the pain-relieving effect is due to the mustard seed’s high magnesium and selenium content.
You can easily recreate such remedies today using inexpensive household ingredients. For a soothing, pain-relieving mustard bath, fill your tub with warm water. In a glass jar, mix together the following ingredients, then add to your bath and soak:22
There are a number of take-home messages here. First, as a group, cruciferous vegetables are known to have a wide range of health benefits, including the quelling of inflammation and prevention of cancer, and the list of cruciferous vegetables is far longer than most people realize. This means you have plenty to choose from should broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts fail to tantalize your taste buds.
Secondly, cruciferous veggies contain several different chemoprotective compounds, but they require the enzyme myrosinase to work. Not only do some cruciferous vegetables contain higher amounts of this critical enzyme, but preparation and cooking can greatly affect its activity, and therein lies the problem. After all, some veggies — Brussels sprouts, for example — are not particularly delectable raw. So, the question is, how do you cook these foods without forgoing the health benefits?
To recap, your best bet for many cruciferous veggies is to lightly steam them and eat them in combination with a myrosinase-rich food. Mustard seed is the most potent. Doing this is a “hack” that basically gives you the benefit of raw food even though it’s been lightly cooked. But there’s yet another trick, presented by Dr. Michael Greger in the video below,23 which he dubs the “hack and hold” technique.
When a cruciferous vegetable is chopped, the myrosinase is activated. So, by chopping the food and waiting about 40 minutes, the sulforaphane will have formed, allowing you to cook the food (in excess of the recommended three to four minutes of steaming) without risking sulforaphane loss.
The reason for this is because both the precursor to sulforaphane and the sulforaphane itself are largely resistant to heat. It’s the myrosinase that gets destroyed during cooking, which then prevents the formation of sulforaphane. By allowing the sulforaphane to form before you cook it, you circumvent this chain of events. An example given by Greger is the making of broccoli soup. When making the soup, you’ll want to blend the raw broccoli first; wait 40 minutes for the sulforaphane to form, then boil it.
Source: mercola rss
By Dr. Mercola
Spices are a wonderful addition to foods and beverages because they can add just the right flair. Nutmeg, for instance, lends quiet warmth and complexity, in desserts like apple crisp and in vegetables like spinach, as in the savory Indian dish, saag peneer. And paprika lends mild sweetness to meat dishes and goulash.
But flavor is just one trait that makes spices such an integral part of cooking and eating. They can also be incredibly good for your health and help you reach your weight goals. One of the great things about adding spices of any kind to your meals is that the flavor can help you feel more satisfied, so you don't feel so deprived when you eat foods with fewer calories, says Jaclyn London, senior clinical dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital.1
London adds that in regard to spices, "The key is that all the ones we talk about for weight loss or maintenance have anti-inflammatory properties and a flavor profile that may help limit overall calorie intake." With that, here are several examples of spices to try in your quest to lose weight.
While cinnamon is delicious and warming, it also kicks in your metabolism. Studies also show it helps reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance for people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, in one study published in Diabetes Care concluded that it:
"Reduced serum glucose [and] triglyceride … levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Because [it] would not contribute to caloric intake, [people with] type 2 diabetes or elevated glucose [or] triglyceride … levels may benefit from the regular inclusion of cinnamon in their daily diet."2
Nutritionist and author Marilyn Glenville, Ph.D., the former president of the Food and Health Forum at the UK Royal Society of Medicine, warns that people with bleeding disorders or anyone taking blood thinners such as warfarin or heparin should avoid cinnamon, as it contains the blood-thinning compound coumarin.3
There's a popular legend that Confucius ate ginger at every meal. One reason why may be explained in a study reported by the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hematology, which explored the effects of ginger on "gastric motility," aka how quickly food moved through the colon instead of sticking around and causing problems.4
The study involved 11 patients, some of whom were given placebos, and concluded with the statement that ginger encouraged more antral contractions in comparison between the two, which conceivably promoted more rapid gastric emptying.5 It also boosts insulin sensitivity, which London explains is due to ginger's anti-inflammatory properties, reducing fatty acids and promoting weight stability.
Referred to as the "queen of spices" in India and Nepal, cardamom is one of the most expensive spices but still a very popular ingredient in tea and coffee. It's related to cinnamon and is shown in studies to help lower blood glucose levels and regulate your insulin, as well as optimize your cholesterol levels.6
Studies say this little-known spice, a thermogenic herb, has dozens of other valuable health benefits and uses, besides being antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, which can sooth your gastrointestinal system and enhance your metabolic function.7
Cardamom is regarded as a diuretic in Ayurvedic tradition. One study also compared it favorably with8 commercial products designed to relieve weight retention, colic, diarrhea and constipation.9 It's also been noted for balancing gut flora to optimize digestion.10
You've heard the term "active ingredient." Well, the active ingredient in chili powder is capsaicin. London calls chili powder a "triple threat" because as it boosts your energy, it can help you eat slower.
Additionally, a sprinkle of chili powder on your food may inspire you to eat more healthy plant-based offerings rather than an extra helping of bread or rice. All three advantages relate to eating less, which may be what you're hoping for. Capsaicin also stimulates brown fat, a type of fat that generates heat by helping you burn calories, which is why it's being explored as a tool for weight loss, healthy metabolism, and more.11
Recent animal studies note that piperine's ability to inhibit new fat cells from forming, known as adipogenesis, helps reduce waist size and body fat and optimizes cholesterol levels.13 With similar effects to capsaicin, Europeans have used black pepper for thousands of years in traditional medicine to treat inflammation and digestive problems. Its effectiveness is due in part to a compound known as piperine. Daily Mail notes:
"Piperine has similar effects to capsaicin in chilies and is what gives black pepper its heat. It's the heat which helps prevent the formation of new fat cells, especially if you decide to indulge in a mouth-searing meal featuring pepper and chili."12
Known for jazzing up Southwestern fare, cumin is also capable of suppressing your appetite and keeping fat cells from showing up again after weight loss.
Ginseng, particularly the Siberian variety, is known for speeding up your metabolism and giving you a "second wind" of energy, which may be why tea with ginseng has been a "thing" all over Asia and Europe for centuries. Siberian ginseng is known as an adaptogen, which Daily Mail describes as something that "works according to what your body needs." Glenville says it provides energy when required, and helps combat stress and fatigue when you are under pressure.14
Cayenne pepper is noted for a phenomenon known as thermogenesis, which consumes oxygen in your body and can result in weight loss. It contains capsaicin, which gives it its heat, but also promotes fat oxidation15 and increases fat burning by as much as 16 percent.
Capsaicin has been shown to have potential for promoting metabolic and vascular health. Further, the same study shows it has "favorable effects" on atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver, cardiac hypertrophy and stroke risk.16 But while spice is good, Eat This observes there's such a thing as too much: "Too much spicy food can send you to Toilet Town, but a little hit of capsaicin, the compound that gives chili pepper its powerful kick, has proven to reduce belly fat, suppress appetite and boost thermogenesis."17
Practically speaking, one reason garlic powder can help you lose weight is because its strong flavor may make you take smaller bites and also eat slower, which may prevent you from eating too much. Studies also indicate that when you eat garlic, your body temperature can increase, a sure sign of a revved up metabolism. Spry Living says:
"Garlic is thermogenic. It makes your body generate heat, which burns calories [and] revs up an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase that regulates metabolism. This enzyme targets many areas of the body, including muscles and a form of fat called brown fat, which produces heat and burns off calories."18
Practically a prerequisite for any kind of Indian curry, turmeric is a huge star in the constellation of beneficial spices. London notes that when it comes to weight loss, turmeric can differentiate fat cells by halting their formation and ability to reduce in size.19 Detailing why this is important, Glenville notes:
"Its active ingredient is curcumin and although the research has not shown that curcumin can actually help with weight loss, it is thought to stop the regrowth of fat after someone has lost weight. This could be helpful as many people end up putting back the weight they have lost after a diet."20
Turmeric also helps reduce inflammation, which can be a significant contributor to obesity and the inability to lose weight. One study notes:
"Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Evidence suggests curcumin may regulate lipid metabolism, which plays a central role in the development of obesity and its complications. The present review addresses the evidence and mechanisms by which curcumin may play a role in downregulating obesity and reducing the impact of associated problems."21
It's probably no surprise that the compound in mustard seed that's responsible for burning fat and enhancing your metabolism is, once again, capsaicin. Glenville explains:
"Mustard is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which are thought to have many health benefits. Other cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. If you are buying ready-made mustard make sure that it does not contain sugar as this is going to be counter-productive for your weight."22
Another study at Oxford Polytechnic University in England found that 1 teaspoon of mustard seed can elevate your metabolism by 25 percent, a benefit that persists for several hours after consumption. This may be due to the phytochemical allyl isothiocyanates, which also deliver the flavor.23 Be careful, though: when mustard is neon yellow or loaded with sugar, health benefits go out the window.
Nutritionist Monica Reinagel explored a new diet designed to help people lose weight by "flushing impurities from your body and super-charging your metabolism."24 The secret of these weight loss benefits were said to be spices like coriander, cumin, pepper, cinnamon and black pepper.
While noting the anti-inflammatory and blood thinning ability of turmeric, garlic and ginger, and that cinnamon can stabilize blood sugar, Reinagel asserted that losing 7 to 12 pounds the first week is often more about losing water rather than fat, a trajectory that can't be sustained longer than a few weeks.
Limiting your intake of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) to under 40 to 50 grams per day and replacing them with healthy fats is necessary for lasting weight loss, as this will transition your body into primarily burning fat for fuel. Unless you continue limiting your net carbs going forward, the downward momentum generally dwindles, as does your metabolism. Further, unless exercise is a priority, muscle tissue may also begin to diminish, lowering your metabolism even more.
Regardless of how quickly weight is shed, if the same old eating habits climb back in the saddle, lost pounds are notorious for returning, and then some.
The biggest hurdle people face when they double down on a diet plan that's drastically different from what future habits can sustain is that, too often, the weight comes right back. Here are some ways to help you lose weight and also keep it off once you've reached your goal:
• Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to burn fat for fuel and helps optimize insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial health and energy production. It involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily.
For instance, you may restrict your eating to a window of six to eight hours, choosing between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner. It's one of the most effective interventions for normalizing your weight.
• The amount of fiber in your diet is crucial for weight loss, as it is for general health. Eat foods known for keeping food moving smoothly through your colon, such as veggies, nuts and seeds such as chia.
• Vitamin D, or lack thereof, derived to some extent from foods you eat and primarily via the sunshine you bask in on any given day, can have an impact on your ability to lose and maintain weight. One study25 showed that for more than 4,600 women 65 years old and older, low vitamin D levels contributed to mild weight gain.26
• Reversing insulin/leptin resistance plays a key role in preventing obesity, metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Trading refined sugar and processed fructose for healthy fats will help optimize your insulin and leptin levels. For more detailed dietary guidance, please see my nutrition plan.
• Exercise is extremely important in the quest for weight loss, as well as shoring up sagging muscles and keeping them firm and strong. Exercise also benefits your glucose, insulin and leptin levels by optimizing insulin/leptin receptor sensitivity, subsequently helping to prevent chronic disease.
Source: mercola rss