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Microbiome

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By now, you’ve certainly heard a thing or two about the health benefits of probiotics.

Digestive microbiology has only just started to gain an understanding of our internal ecosystem, which is made up of somewhere between 500-1000 different species of bacteria.

One thing’s for sure, though: these little critters play a massively important role in the maintenance of your health. When they’re not happy, you won’t be either. Microbiome imbalance has been linked to all sorts of health problems, including immune deficiency, obesity, and diabetes.

As this field of research continues to develop, I’m sure we’ll see an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that it’s absolutely essential to take care of our gut flora.

Getting (creatively) started

While there’s lots of great probiotic products on the market, one of the most creative and affordable ways to get your beneficial bacteria fix is to make your own fermented foods at home.

It’s not nearly as hard as you may think, and the results are well worth the effort.

Besides, there’s something magical and empowering about creating your own food and health products. Our consumption-addicted society likes it when we value the convenience of shopping more highly than self-reliant freedom.

While the bounty with which the food and health product industry provides us is certainly something to be grateful for, it’s also nice to remind ourselves of this simple truth: we are fully capable of taking care of ourselves.

So in the spirit of DIY healthy eating, here’s some probiotic-rich fermented foods that you can easily make at home. Most of these foods require minimal prep-work, and then you simply wait for the beneficial bacteria work their magic.

Sauerkraut is a classic and delicious fermented food that’s incredibly simple to make—and it’s packed with beneficial bacteria that will keep your microbiome strong and healthy.

Essentially, all that you need to make it is cabbage and salt (3 pounds of cabbage and 1.5 tablespoons of salt is a good ratio), as well as a mason jar or other fitting fermentation container. This simple recipe is a great way to get started.

Pickled vegetables are another straightforward class of fermented foods. They also allow you to add lots of variety to your repertoire, because you can pickle pretty much any vegetable (I find carrots and beets particularly delicious).

Try to avoid pickling recipes that call for sugar or whey (including inflammatory and health-sapping substances seems entirely beside the point). Instead, use salt or lemon juice, like in this recipe.

Yogurt is also incredibly easy to make (don’t let the fancy packaging of store-bought packaging fool you). Basically, you just combine a bit of your favorite pre-made yogurt with the milk type of your choice. Learn more by reading this recipe.

Remember that milk carries an assortment of potential health issues with it. Try making yogurt with coconut or almond milk instead, or at the very least, make sure that your cow’s milk is organic (and preferably raw).

Kombucha preparation is a great hobby to take up if it’s your probiotic medium of choice (continually buying it from the store can get very expensive).

Making kombucha is a bit more of an intensive process, but lots of people will tell you that’s it’s worth it. It’s a sort of alchemy—a relatively simple process with endless variations for you to play with. You can learn exactly what teas, fruits, spices, and flavors you prefer. It’s also pretty neat to cultivate a connection with a living “mother culture.”

Here’s a great place to get started.

Fermented juice is a healthy twist on a classic beverage. Read this fermented apple juice recipe, and apply the process to your favorite kind of juice.

Just remember that juices are processed as simple sugars by the body (which means they spike insulin and can lead to all the same nasty effects as processed sugar). Enriching them with probiotics certainly makes them more healthful, but you still shouldn’t go overboard.

Drinking vinegars are highly medicinal, and once again, very easy to make. Apple cider vinegar has long been celebrated as an immune system tonic and natural cold remedy. You’ll see from this article that there’s a huge variety of possible recipes available to you.

Drink them straight, or use them as ingredients in smoothies, juice blends, and salad dressings, so that even more of your diet becomes enriched with probiotics.

Now the real fun begins

Once you’re hooked on fermented foods, you’ll be happy to find that there’s a whole fermented foodie culture (no pun intended) awaiting your exploration.

There’s seemingly no end to the delicious and interesting recipes that the community has created. Find your favorites (or make up your own), and integrate these incredible foods into your life for vibrant health and wellness.

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miso-soup-radiation

With worrying updates about the incident at Fukushima still making news headlines, the threat of radiation is fresh on many people’s minds.

There’s been so much whitewashing surrounding the tragedy that it can be hard to decipher fact from pro-nuclear propaganda. The general consensus in the alternative health community is that authorities haven’t told us the whole story about how much radioactive material was leaked, and is continuing to leak, into the environment.

One thing is clear, though: the presence of harmful radiation is a very real issue—one about which we would do well to educate ourselves, so that we can take the proper protective measures.

Fukushima resurrected memories of Chernobyl, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and reminded us of the horrific effects that ionic radiation can heap upon the body.

But these recollections do offer a bit of hope.

While cancer and radiation disease rates increased precipitously following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were some people who seemed to be immune to the harmful effects of radiation!

One man’s story has is so astounding that it’s been covered by many news and radio outlets in the past. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was walking to work in Hiroshima when the first atomic bomb was dropped only a mile away. He was so close to the impact point that the blast threw him to the ground and inundated his body with ionic radiation. Nevertheless, he survived, only to travel to his hometown of Nagasaki…where he once again was caught in the blast radius of the second atomic bomb.

Despite this horrendous exposure to radiation, Yamaguchi experienced no radiation diseases, had children without any issue, and lived until the ripe age of 93.

This experience is echoed by that of Dr. Tatuichiro Akizuki, his 20 employees, and their 70 patients—all of whom were also in a hospital 1.4km from the Nagasaki bomb drop point. Again, none of them suffered from any acute radiation disease.

So what’s their secret?

Dr. Akizuki had a theory about why he, his colleagues, and his patients all managed to avoid the fate of radiation contamination that was suffered by so many others: all of them consumed generous portions of wakame miso soup every day.

The deeper researchers dig, the stronger the connection between miso consumption and “radiation immunity” seems to be. Now a number of studies have scientifically proven that miso—a food made from fermented soy beans, rice, and salt—is powerfully radioprotective.

One study published in the journal Toxicologic Pathology found that rats given miso before being exposed to ionic radiation were strongly protected from its effects. Their miso diet also suppressed the growth of cancerous tumors—and these radioprotective effects persisted for all but extremely high, acute doses of radiation.[1]

The researchers found that, while all types of miso are radioprotective, those that have been fermented for the longest period of time are the most radioprotective (they tested miso fermented for 3-4 days, for 120 days, and for 180 days, and the 180-day-fermented miso offered the greatest level of radioprotection).

This is an important finding, because it reveals that the key to miso’s incredible radioprotective effects is the bacteria produced during its fermentation. Beneficial bacteria are what make all probiotic foods so amazingly health-promoting—and miso boasts special benefits because it also contains compounds called soy isoflavones, which have also been shown to be radioprotective on their own.[2]

But wait a minute…isn’t soy bad for you?

It is true that soy is an estrogen-mimicking food that can cause worrying hormonal imbalances (especially for women) if consumed regularly. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most soy is produced as a GMO crop, which ensures that it’s also contaminated with endocrine-disrupting pesticides and all sorts of other toxins.

But fermented soy (the main ingredient in miso) is entirely different. The fermentation process transforms soy into an anti-estrogenic food, which therefore actually balances hormones rather than throwing them out of whack.[3] The world of beneficial bacteria—which we’ve barely even begun to understand—works in wonderful and mysterious ways.

And while the benefits of miso may be a new finding in the world of laboratory science, this healing brew has a long history as a healing food. As we mentioned above, it saved many people in Japan from the deleterious effects of atomic radiation at the end of World War II, and it (along with other macrobiotic foods) was used as a radioprotective measure after the Chernobyl incident, as well.

New studies even suggest that miso and soy isoflavones are ideal for cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment, because they simultaneously protect healthy cells from radiation and increase the damage done to cancer cells.

It will probably be some time before conventional medical science is willing to admit that the intelligence of healing foods can actually trump medical technologies (such as chemotherapy and the corrupt industry that wields it). Nevertheless, you can take advantage of miso and its radioprotection now.

Just make sure to eat the right kind of miso

Before you head out to the closest restaurant that serves miso soup, though, note these words of caution. As we already discussed, the vast majority of soy is GMO. It can be very difficult to find miso that’s been produced only with organic, non-GMO soy, but anything else isn’t worth eating.

Make sure to do your research, and only purchase your miso from a coop, health food store, or trustworthy website that can verify the quality and source of their product.

Once you’ve gotten your ingredients, making miso soup is a cinch. Just mix organic miso powder with water and scallions, and bring the mixture to a boil. Some people like to add an egg, tofu, or seaweed to their soup. If you choose to do so, make sure to use organic eggs, to limit your overall tofu intake (which is almost always made from unfermented soy), and to use organic seaweed or kelp that isn’t sourced from a radiation-contaminated area of the world (many types of seaweed can sequester radioactive compounds, which then make their way into your body when you consume it).

As long as you’re careful with your sourcing, you can rest assured that your delicious, homemade miso soup will offer potent protection against radiation, without any of the negative effects of unfermented soy.


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3695331/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800250/

[3] http://www.naturalnews.com/049769_miso_radioprotective_effects_Hiroshima_survivors.html

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manuka_honey

We’re in the midst of a very interesting time—a return to folk medicine, to self-healing, and to the application of treatments sourced directly from the natural world.

After a brief dream of all-powerful pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and fancy medical technology, we’re reawakening to the subtle and integrative principles of nutrition, proper lifestyle, and natural medicine.

These two paradigms shouldn’t be pitted against one another. Instead, we should view them as complementary systems that can help us achieve optimal health effectively and sustainably.

For example, medical science provides us with the tools to prove the worthiness of “at home remedies” and “alternative treatments.” Healing tools and practices that once needed to be accepted on faith may now be tried by tested with scientific rigor.

One perfect example is honey, which was touted since ancient times as a healing, tonifying agent. It was routinely used as a healing dressing for wounds until the early 20th century, when antibiotics stepped into the limelight.

At that point, it was demoted to the rank of alternative remedy and replaced in common practice by manufactured antimicrobial agents.

But honey is making a comeback

With the rising tide of antibiotic-resistance infections, ailing healthcare systems, and the (well-founded) distrust of Big Pharma comes the hopeful search for simpler, more sustainable, and more effective methods of treatment.

Honey has gained a large and faithful following, and for good reason.

It’s packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and antimicrobial agents that combat harmful bacteria, enhance the immune system, and work wonders as a topical agent for wounds.[1]

It’s anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, and even works to heal the stomach and balance gut flora.[2]

Not all honey is created equal, though

While lots of health claims have been made for all sorts of honey, the one that really walks the walk is Manuka honey.

Manuka honey is made from the Manuka bush in New Zealand (more commonly known as the tea tree). It boasts an impressive array of healing and antiseptic components—including some with which we’re not even familiar yet.

Its potential as a natural antibiotic is profound: this magical, exotic honey varietal destroys over 250 different strains of bacteria, including MRSA and other highly resistant pathogens.[3]

Best of all, it was found to work just as well as conventional antiseptics at combatting the whole gamut of infectious organisms.

>>  Sugar vs Coconut Sugar vs Honey <<

Its effectiveness as a topical agent is particularly pronounced, and can be used for healing wounds, acne, rashes, burns, and ulcers. Some research has even found it to be as effective as chemical mouthwash for reducing dental plaque.[4]

Many people have even reported miraculous healing experiences when using Manuka honey to treat warts and MRSA sores…

“This honey was suggested for my young son’s warts. He had eczema as a baby and rapidly spreading warts is a common link to people with eczema. At our last count he had over 25 warts on his two hands. We tried everything to get rid of them from over-the-counter products to several doctor visits to ‘freeze’ the warts. Nothing was successful. Finally a plastic surgeon recommended this honey because of its success in patients with eczema and psoriasis. Within a week of using the honey the warts were visibly much smaller. Now that the honey is gone so are the warts! It is a miracle!”

“My mother contracted MRSA through a pressure sore at a hospital. No antibiotic can ever get rid of MRSA, it kept coming back and the bedsores getting worse. We bought the MGO 400 Manuka honey, started putting in the wound and in all MRSA sores, the next day there was a significant improvement over all. Now, it’s been 5 days, the pressure sore is almost completely healed and the MRSA has not come back like it did on a daily basis, there is nothing but beautiful skin, no sores, no redness. IT’S A MIRACLE!”

The FDA even officially approved Manuka-honey-based wound dressings, thus lending it credibility and preventing it from going the way of most other folk treatments.

Before you rush out to try this sweet panacea, though, be warned: the buzz surrounding Manuka honey has led to a bit of feeding frenzy for marketers and health product slingers.

The result is that not all Manuka honey products are as high-quality as they should be. Finding the kind that works the best requires a little extra homework.

>> Sugar vs Coconut Sugar vs Honey <<

“Uniqueness” is the key to finding the best manuka honey  

We still don’t quite understand exactly how Manuka honey works so well at killing bacteria—and unfortunately, this knowledge gap leaves open the possibility for unsubstantiated claims.

There’s a name for its bacteria-battling superpower, though: the unique manuka factor, or UMF. Clever, right?

Here’s what you need to know: Manuka honey only lives up to its hype when it has a UMF rating of 10 or higher.

Products with this ideal UMF rating contain higher levels of antibacterial components that aren’t broken down by the body’s catalase enzyme system, which makes them much more powerfully medicinal than all other types of honey.

The best Manuka honeys should be thick in consistency and light in color, and they should be marked with the UMF quality trademark—a cute little logo that can only be used by licensed manufacturers who meet strict criteria set by the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA).

If a product doesn’t have all of these defining characteristics, steer clear of it. Remember that you can always ask for a company’s official testing and certification results before purchasing honey from them.

Low-quality products have created controversy around Manuka honey, since some of them can’t withstand the scrutiny of clinical trials. As long as you work with a high-UMF product, though, it will meet or exceed your expectations.

Combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, Manuka honey is a wonderful alternative to chemical antiseptics and mouth washes, and an excellent natural remedy for all-around well being.

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609166/

[2] http://www.naturalnews.com/035959_manuka_honey_healing_medicine.html

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903658

[4] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/28/manuka-honey-better-than-xylitol-in-mouthwash.aspx

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LavendarEssentialOilssmall

If you have any experience with aromatherapy or other medicinal methods for using essential oils, you’ve probably come across lavender essential oil.

Lavender is the paragon of relaxation—and for good reason. Its rich, soothing scent cuts right through anxiety, sleepnessness, headaches, and many other symptoms of everyday stress.

But don’t let its gentle persona fool you: lavender essential oil is a powerful panacea. Praise for it never usually extends beyond its calming aroma, but in fact, it’s a whole first aid kit wrapped into one potent oil. Many essential oil specialists claim that, if you only use one essential oil, you should make it this one!

Essential oils have been used medicinally for thousands of years, and those who have carried these traditions into the modern age have long extolled lavender oil for its incredible variety of health benefits. And much more recently, medical science began to back up these claims with hard evidence.

Here’s a handful of research-supported reasons why you should always keep some lavender essential oil handy.

All things calming

Lavender lives up to its reputation as a relaxation agent, even under the scrutiny of scientific research. Study after study confirms that the compounds in lavender essential oil function as an effective nerve relaxant.

This property translates to all sorts of benefits, including decreased anxiety, better sleep, increased cerebral blood flow (and thus improved cognitive function), and overall improved mood.[1] Studies have also revealed that using lavender oil relieved depression in college women and ameliorated the agitation often associated with geriatric dementia.[2]

Many people have even reported experiencing pain relief from lavender essential oil. While the mechanism by which this benefit is conferred isn’t fully understood, researchers suspect that quelled inflammation is a byproduct of lavender’s nerve-relaxing effects. Rubbing the oil directly into affected areas, or mixing it with lotion beforehand, offers a quick and lasting reprieve from aches and pains.

A worthy weapon against illness and infection

What is less well-known about lavender essential oil is its incredible ability to prevent and fight disease. For starters, it offers excellent immune support, especially when taken internally using an inhaler or vaporizer. Putting four drops of essential oil in 20 milliliters of hot water does the trick too (hold your face over the hot water and inhale the steam).

This remedy also shines after you’ve already contracted an illness. Studies have shown that lavender is a surprisingly powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. It successfully treats even MRSA and staph infections (against which most conventional antibiotics are powerless) [3]

MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is becoming commonplace. It originated in hospitals as a result of overuse and misuse of antibiotics and has become symbolic of out-of-control mainstream medicine. The disease created by antibiotics used for treatment of staph infections is often far worse than the original.

Most exciting, though, is that lavender oil has been found 100% effective in lab testing to treat some infections, including MRSA. That means it could be used to treat staph infections that drugs can’t touch. This fact alone should make it clear how dramatically underestimated lavender essential is as a legitimate medicine.

You can even apply it topically to clear athlete’s foot and other fungal skin conditions, or use a douche made with lavender flower tea to treat vaginal yeast infections (drinking lavender tea during times of greater susceptibility will also help prevent yeast infections in the first place).

Lastly, by balancing the immune system, lavender oil can even reverse hair loss caused by alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles as though they were foreign agents). Simply apply essential oil to balding spots every day for at least a couple weeks, and you’re bound to see positive results.

All systems go: support for the whole body

The more studies are conducted on lavender, the more benefits are uncovered. Researchers have already linked its use to benefits across many bodily systems.

Respiratory system. When inhaled through steam, lavender essential oil relaxes breathing passages, calms asthma attacks, clears the sinuses, and improves overall respiratory health.

Digestive system. Lavender works as a perfect digestion aid, and improves nearly every aspect of digestive health—studies have shown that it increases nutrient absorption, alleviates nausea, vomiting, and flatulence, and even inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria without hurting your microbiome’s beneficial bacteria.

Circulatory system. Part of lavender’s calming effect is attributed to its ability to improve your blood circulation. This improvement leads to lots of other secondary benefits, including deeper sleep and greatly enhanced cardiovascular health.

Easy to find and use

Because of its popularity and long tradition of use, lavender is incredibly easy to find. Just make sure to buy it fresh if you choose to work with lavender blossoms (growing your own lavender is also very easy, and it can be found growing in the wild in most temperate zones across the United States).

If you work with lavender essential oil, always use brands that are therapeutic-grade (they’re a bit more expensive, but are safer, more effective, and well worth the cost). Before using the essential oil, always apply just a bit to a small area of skin, in order to test for an allergic reaction (they do occur in a very small percentage of people).

Luckily, this incredible natural medicine is widely available to anyone in the United States with the wherewithal to seek it out—unlike in the EU, where lavender is now unavailable without a prescription. Healing herbs and remedies like lavender afford us a special opportunity to take health into our own hands—don’t let it pass you by!

Special Report: Apple Cider Vinegar — 81 unique uses including Gout, belly fat, fleas, warts, etc


 

References 

[1] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lavender-effective-against-drug-resistant-staph-infection?page=2

[2] https://www.mendeley.com/catalog/lavender-oil-treatment-agitated-behaviour-severe-dementia-placebo-controlled-study/

[3] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lavender-effective-against-drug-resistant-staph-infection

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decanter with coconut oil and coconuts on green background

If you’ve read our past articles, you know that we’re firm believers in the coconut craze. Coconuts and all their derivative products (such as coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil) are some of the most powerful and versatile healing foods on the planet.

Mounting evidence demonstrates that coconut products provide the body with a healthy and efficient fuel source (healthy saturated fats called medium chain triglycerides, or MCT’s), supercharge the body’s natural detoxification system, serve as a powerful antibiotic and anti-viral agent (without harming your microbiome), combat Alzheimer’s and general cognitive degeneration, improve teeth and gum health, and much more. Coconut oil even acts as a fantastic base for natural skin moisturizers, deodorants, and other body care products.

Just when it seemed like there couldn’t possibly be any new coconut applications yet to discover, raw coconut vinegar entered the spotlight.

We’ve written before about the wonders of fermented foods. These probiotic-rich, nutrient-dense, living foods and beverages boost the immune system, increase energy levels, and target a huge array of diseases and conditions by strengthening and balancing your body’s beneficial bacteria. Much is still unknown about the vastly complex workings of this bacterial community, but almost all medical scientists now agree that it’s absolutely essential for maintaining optimal health.

Among all the choices of living, probiotic foods available to you—including yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi—vinegar is perhaps the simplest. Any sugar-containing liquid, when exposed to bacteria and yeast, will ferment and become alcoholic. If left unsealed, the bacteria from the surrounding air will then migrate into the liquid, transforming it into vinegar. You’ve probably experienced this process firsthand if you’ve ever left out an open bottle of wine for too long.

Vinegars have used as medicine for centuries, and throughout their long history, apple cider vinegar has almost always been the most popular. This is certainly the case today—many researchers have set out to demonstrate the functional benefits of apple cider vinegar, in order to prove its surrounding folklore correct.

Its popularity is well-founded. Researchers were not disappointed when they put this ancient elixir to the test—they found that it effectively lowers glucose levels, [1] lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure, [2] acts as a natural antibiotic, [3] and alleviates joint pain and stiffness. [4]  It even balances the pH of the entire body, and boosts immune function.

These properties certainly qualify apple cider vinegar as a first-rate natural medicine—but it seems that coconut vinegar has even more to offer. Let’s take a look at some of its incredible benefits.

Raw Coconut Vinegar: Ultimate vinegar for radiant health?

Raw coconut vinegar, which is made from coconut blossom nectar, is considered the “champagne of vinegars,” due to its mild, sophisticated flavor. It turns out that this exotic creation provides all the benefits of apple cider vinegar…and it doesn’t stop there.

Many health enthusiasts attribute the benefits of apple cider vinegar to compounds like potassium, pectin, amino acids, and other nutrients. The fact of the matter, though, is that studies have failed to find any significant quantities of these compounds in apple cider vinegar (this doesn’t mean that it isn’t amazing for your health, but only that we aren’t yet sure why it’s so amazing). Coconut vinegar, on the hand, is packed to the gills with nutrients.

Vitamins. Coconut vinegar is high in vitamin C, an amazing and underrated compound that is implicated in over 300 different metabolic processes, ranging from disease resistance to tissue growth and repair. The full gamut of B vitamins can also be found in coconut vinegar—these essential vitamins are centrally important for nervous system function, and also play a huge role in metabolic processes. It’s especially important to find a good source a B vitamins if you’re a vegetarian.

Minerals. Mineral deficiency is a huge problem in the United States, and coconut vinegar is a wonderful solution. Because coconut trees are grown in mineral-rich volcanic soil, coconut vinegar contains high levels of magnesium (arguably the most pronounced of our deficiencies), iron, sulfur, boron, manganese, zinc, phosphorous, and potassium (of which it contains an impressive 192 milligrams per serving).

Amino acids. Protein sources get a lot of attention in the health world, but the huge importance of amino acids—the building blocks of protein—is often overlooked. They also help the body produce hemoglobin, repair tissue, and support detoxification. Coconut vinegar contains seventeen different amino acids—all nine essential amino acids, plus eight more.

Enzymes. Coconut vinegar also contains a healthy dose of beneficial enzymes, which aid digestion, alleviate stomach issues, balance immune function, and ensure the absorption of vital nutrients by the body. Because enzymes are intimately tied to the health of our microbiome, there’s still much that we don’t understand about them; what we do know is that they help keep every aspect of our physical and psychological health in balance.

Prebiotics. An increasing number of natural health advocates are touting the importance of prebiotics, which are essentially food for probiotics. Without them, the argument goes, probiotics can never take hold and thrive. Coconut vinegar contains fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), one of the most promising prebiotics. This makes coconut vinegar one of the rare healing foods that is both prebiotic and probiotic.

Tips for getting started

While coconut vinegar is a bit less mainstream than apple cider vinegar, it’s still relatively easy to find. Just make sure that you buy truly raw coconut vinegar without any additives. Knock-offs are made from coconut water instead of nectar—a process that significantly reduces the nutritional content of the resulting vinegar.

Use it as a tonic for fighting illness by combining a tablespoon or two with warm water and honey (use Manuka honey for an extra antibiotic boost). For general wellness maintenance, use a bit of coconut vinegar in sauces, salad dressings, and other uncooked dishes (cooking vinegar destroys most of its nutrients and bacteria).

Taking advantage of this simple and powerful remedy will remind you that healing through natural foods and substances is the real path to balanced and optimized health.

Popular Health Resources:

Cure your erectile dysfunction… with a sandwich?

Apple Cider Vinegar — 81 unique uses including Gout, belly fat, fleas, warts, etc

 


 

References

[1] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.full

[2] http://pt.wkhealth.com/pt/re/bjon/abstract.00002375-200605000-00008.htm

[3] http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-health-promoting-properties-of-mother-of-vinegar.htm

[4] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/the-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar/

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kombucha1

By now you’ve probably heard of kombucha, the probiotic-rich tea that’s available in all shapes, sizes, and flavors at your local health food store.

Kombucha gained popularity as an exotic and enjoyable way to consume probiotics, which support the invaluable community of microorganisms within the body known as your microbiome.

This is one health fad that’s worth applauding—microbiologists are continually discovering new reasons why taking good care of your body’s beneficial bacteria is absolutely essential to maintaining optimal health.

Kombucha isn’t a new creation, though. It boasts a 2,000-year history as a renowned arthritis soother, cancer fighter, and immune booster—the ancient Chinese even called it “the Immortal Health Elixir.”

As it spread from Asia to Europe and Russia, then finally into the Western health food mainstream, the body of evidence and stories touting its amazing benefits grew significantly.

Excellent (and delicious) support for your gut flora

For starters, kombucha is one product that delivers what it promises. It’s literally fermented with a SCOBY (which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”), so it works wonders for your microbiome.

Many people report that it improves digestion, fights candida and other harmful stomach bugs, and even promotes mental clarity (thus supporting what an increasing number of scientists are calling the “gut-brain connection”).

A holistic immune booster

Kombucha is chock-full of antioxidants, which offer full-spectrum support to your immune system.

And because healthy gut flora play a vital role in immune function, kombucha provides an extra disease-resistance boost. Some experts even go so far as to say that your immune system’s main fighting power resides in the microbes of our intestinal tract.[1]

Kombucha is fortifying on such a deep level that an Indian study even demonstrated that it protects DNA from being damaged.[2]

Detoxifying elixir

The enzymes and bacterial acids in kombucha are powerful facilitators of detoxification. They reduce the burden placed on your pancreas and liver, so that your body can more effectively flush toxins.

Kombucha even contains a compound called glucaric acid, which has been the subject of numerous cancer studies. Because of its profoundly detoxifying qualities, glucaric acid is a highly effective cancer preventative.[3]

Time-tested arthritis support

Kombucha contains glucosamines, which you may recognize as an ingredient in many joint support formulas. Glucosamines increase production of synovial hyaluronic acid, which helps lubricate joints and protect joints from damge.

Long before the days of arthritis supplements and fancy chemical names, kombucha was lauded for its ability to prevent and treat all types of joint pain and stiffness.

Want more kombucha in your life?

If you’re intrigued by all these health benefits and have some DIY spirit, you can make it at home for as little as 50 cents a gallon (and it’s quite an experience watching the “mother culture” grow in your home setup).

If you prefer the convenience of manufactured kombucha, just make sure you stick to brands that don’t use bucketloads of sugar (kombucha cultures are already fed with sugar to make them grow, so the sugar levels in commercial drinks can very easily become excessive).

The benefits of kombucha accumulate over time, so find your favorite recipes and make this ancient elixir a part of your regular health routine.

 


 

References

[1] http://www.thealternativedaily.com/kombucha-tea-health-elixir-need-try-now/

[2] http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/14631833

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2208084?dopt=Abstract

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yogurt-toxic

Yogurt is one of the most ancient health foods around. It’s been treasured as a probiotic-rich, healthy treat for thousands of years (some historical accounts even trace its roots back to 6000 B.C.).

And it’s no wonder that yogurt has maintained popularity for so long: it’s vitamin-rich, impressively immune-boosting, and full of beneficial bacteria that support your microbiome.

Proper gut flora optimizes not only your digestive health, but also the functioning of an entire network of processes throughout the body. Researchers have even linked unhealthy gut flora with anxiety, depression, and ailing brain health.[1]

In its pure and natural form, yogurt is an excellent source of flora-promoting probiotics.

But yogurt these days isn’t what you think it is…

Big Food has the uncanny ability to turn anything healthy it touches into a toxic mess. And unfortunately, this is exactly the fate that yogurt has suffered.

Naturally, industrial food companies have capitalized on its health benefits by highlighting them in their marketing campaigns. Here’s the problem, though: what they’ve created barely deserves to be called yogurt.

After a two-year, comprehensive study, the Cornucopia Institute released their aptly named Yogurt Report, which exposes just how health-destroying conventional yogurts actually are.

Here’s some frightening facts about the “fake” yogurts made by Dannon, Yoplait, and other mega-corporate brands…

They contain sweeteners that are worse than high-fructose corn syrup.  That’s right—many conventional yogurts are sweetened with HFCS-90, which contains 35% more fructose than regular HFCS.

And worst of all, companies are not even required to list it as an ingredient. Instead, you’ll find that many yogurt ingredient labels simply say “fructose” or “fructose syrup.” Don’t be fooled, though.

Other yogurts contain a highly processed, indigestible beet sugar called neosugar (though it’s often disguised under other names like “NutraFlora” and “Fructan.” Companies claim that it’s a healthful prebiotic, but this benefit hasn’t been proven.

The reality is that it’s such a new creation that we have no idea what long-term effect it has on the body. But there’s a good chance that—like other processed foods—it’s bad news.

They’re full of other (unlabeled) toxins. A chemical called dimethylpolysiloxane is sometimes used during yogurt processing. If the name isn’t enough to scare you, this information will: its a toxic defoaming agent that’s preserved with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

Here’s a bonus tip, in case you still give your patronage to fast food joints: this formaldehyde-laden defoamer is routinely used in their oil fryers and soda dispensers.

Another study also discovered titanium dioxide nanoparticles in yogurt.[2] Though companies diplomatically deny such claims, it’s a known fact that such nanoparticles are often used as artificial coloring agents…and they’re only labeled as something like “artificial color.”

They’re the result of toxic processes. To top things off, nearly all conventional yogurt is made with milk that has been pasteurized—which renders the milk dead and toxic.

Furthermore, the fruits and pectin in yogurt are often GMO and pesticide-treated (and that’s if they contain real fruit at all…sometimes they’re just loaded with artificial colors and flavors).

They often don’t even contain living cultures. Here’s how they trick you: Industry regulations only require manufacturers to ensure probiotic content when the product is sealed in the factory.

The Yogurt Report, as well as other independent testing, has revealed that by time you purchase them, many conventional yogurts have very few (if any) living bacteria left in them.[3]

The right way to eat yogurt

First and foremost, avoid all those processed, sugary yogurt knock-offs that line the shelves of most grocery stores.

The best way to go is to make your own yogurt—it’s not nearly as hard as you may think, and the probiotic quality of homemade yogurt is unparalleled. And besides, creating your own food is wonderfully empowering!

If you’d rather stick to store-bought yogurt for now, just make sure you read labels very carefully. Pass on anything that contains lots of added sugar, carrageenan, or any other suspicious-sounding chemicals…even if it’s “organic.”

Choose products with simple recipes, and make sure that they contain living bacterial cultures (otherwise, you’ll be missing out on one of yogurt’s primary benefits).

Never forget how much power you have as a consumer. By choosing brands that make organic, healthy, real yogurt, you’ll be investing in your own health—and in the process, you’ll also be supporting organic farming, humane animal treatment, and stewardship of the environment.

 


 

References

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/when-yogurt-affects-the-brain/380542/

[2] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es204168d

[3] http://www.cornucopia.org/yogurt

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Apple-Cider-Vinegar

Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek scientist and doctor Hippocrates gave the advice to “let food be thy medicine.” Considering that he’s thought of as the father of modern medicine (all doctors still take the Hippocratic Oath), his counsel is probably worthy of our attention.

He was a huge fan of what’s now called “lifestyle medicine,” and thought of lifestyle modification (like proper diet and exercise) as the highest form of self-treatment.

He even said that  “walking is man’s best medicine”—another dictum that should be applied more liberally in today’s sedentary climate of excessive sitting.

For quite a while, it seemed like we forgot all about the ancient knowledge of lifestyle medicine, but the tide is finally turning.

Self-directed health is back in fashion.

We’re remembering that the answers to our health problems were right in front of us all along—because we’re surrounded by a bevy of miraculously healing foods.

The planet provides us with all that we require—all we need to do is learn which foods work best for us, so that we can welcome them into our lives.

Apple cider vinegar is a prime example of a simple, profoundly healthful, and readily available healing food. Let’s explore what makes it so amazing, and why you might want to keep it close at hand.

A simple and ancient health elixir

Vinegar is a true gift—a testament to the wonders nature can produce when left to her own devices.

When any sugar-containing juice is exposed to bacteria and yeast, it will ferment, thus turning the sugars into alcohol. Then, by simply leaving the alcoholic concoction unsealed, the ever-present bacteria in the air will turn the alcohol into acetic acid (the technical name for vinegar).

By this completely natural process, apple juice is transformed into a living, nutrient-dense powerhouse—apple cider vinegar.

Because of its rich profile of beneficial properties, apple cider vinegar can be used to address a wide array of health concerns.

Coincidentally, Hippocrates prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for coughs, colds, and even for treating diabetes—in the 4th century B.C.!

It’s safe to say that this is one natural remedy that’s withstood the test of time.

Proving Hippocrates right

Because of its multi-thousand year track record of promoting vibrant health, apple cider vinegar has attracted the attention of medical science.

While more research is certainly necessary, many studies have already clinically confirmed its healing qualities. Here’s what the research tells us…

It helps lower glucose levels. A study at Arizona State University demonstrated that apple cider vinegar, when taken before eating, helps improve insulin sensitivity and lower glucose levels. Diabetics improved their glucose levels by 25%, and pre-diabetics improved theirs by an impressive 50%. [1] Another study supported these findings by showing that participants who took apple cider vinegar before bed lowered their morning glucose levels by 4 to 6%. [2]

It lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure, as suggested by a study in 2006. [3] While the mechanism behind this health benefit is still rather mysterious, researchers believe that credit should be given to the high content of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar.

It’s powerfully antibacterial and antifungal, especially when taken on a regular basis as a preventative immune system booster. [4]

It helps with joint pain and stiffness by acting as a potent anti-inflammatory agent and improving circulation. [5]  

It’s even good for your pets. Apple cider vinegar is a popular tonic for controlling fleas, treating skin conditions, and promoting a healthy, shiny coat. [6]

What makes this stuff so magical?

In order to explain its abundance of health benefits, many health experts point to the nutrients and minerals that apple cider vinegar contains. They cite things like potassium, pectin, and amino acids, and enumerate their corresponding effects.

Here’s the rub, though: most conclusive studies haven’t found high levels of any of these compounds in apple cider vinegar.

This fact doesn’t negate its immense healthfulness; it just means that its healing action is still a bit mysterious to us.

There are two properties, though, that researchers have their eyes on: its alkalinity-promoting components (like acetic acid, malic acid, and ash), and its beneficial living bacteria.

Our body’s pH level and microbiome are both vast networks of biological processes that we’re just beginning to understand. They defy simple, cause-and-effect explanations, and encourage looking at the body as a holistic, unified system.

Sounds rather like natural health in general, doesn’t it? This is another benefit of letting food be our medicine: food leads us to think about health from a broader, more complete perspective.  

Apple Cider Vinegar alkalizes the body to inhibit the growth of cancer because cancer can’t survive in an alkaline environment. 

>>Discover Mother-Nature’s Miracle Potion (81 reasons) and how to make sure you get the right kind!

How to take apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is affordable and easily obtained.

First and foremost, though, always keep in mind that clear vinegar isn’t the same as apple cider vinegar. Regular vinegar doesn’t have any of the healing properties discussed above, because processing has stripped it of all of its living and beneficial components. Always look for brands that are brownish, murky, and populated by a cobweb-like material (that’s the beneficial bacteria that make it so good for you).

Add it to salad dressings and smoothies, use it with hair and skin products, or take it as a tonic (diluted with purified water).

If you like your food-medicine a bit more delicious, try mixing apple cider vinegar with honey and purified water (Hippocrates-style). For extra anti-inflammatory and antibacterial power, use Manuka honey.

Adding Himalayan salt to this mix (to fortify it with even more essential minerals) takes this blend to the next level, and works great for gargling when you have a sore throat.

Get creative, and find out what works for you!

 


References

[1] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.full

[2] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/apple-cider-vinegar-and-health?page=2

[3] http://pt.wkhealth.com/pt/re/bjon/abstract.00002375-200605000-00008.htm

[4] http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-health-promoting-properties-of-mother-of-vinegar.htm

[5] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/the-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar/

[6] http://www.apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com/pet-care.html

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bpa-receipts - receipt-flickr-derek_b-220

The other day, I watched nervously while a coffee shop cashier dealt with a receipt printing malfunction. She fumbled with the unraveling roll of thermal printer paper, smoothed creases with her palms, and even held one end up of the stubborn reel between her teeth while she fidgeted. When she finally got the contraption working, I declined her offer of a receipt.

Not wanting to hold up the line, I didn’t voice my concerns to her…but here’s what I was thinking: even handling thermal printer paper (especially for hours every day) can be hazardous to your health, and rubbing it on your hands and mouth is downright dangerous.

This is because of a simple but frightening fact: receipt paper is saturated with bisphenol-A (BPA), the potent carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that first gained its infamy as a toxin in plastic containers and water bottles.

We wrote about this incredible destructive chemical in a past article—how it’s a form of “fake estrogen” that hijacks your body’s endocrine system and makes it go haywire. The ensuing dysfunction can lead to devastating issues with fertility and reproduction, metabolism, immune functioning, sleep, and mood. Studies have linked BPA to over fifty different serious health issues.[1]

Despite the impression given by the prevalence of “BPA-Free” plastic (which is still contaminated with other toxins, by the way), the chemical still poses a huge risk to our health and environment. While water bottle manufacturers calm our worries with misleading labels and claims, BPA is still seeping into our bloodstream through the receipts that most of us touch on a regular basis. Even handling paper currency, which is often in close contact with receipts, can be a health risk

[magicactionbox]

How worried should we be about receipts?

As much as I’d like to say that this warning about receipts is a product of overcautiousness, the unfortunate truth is that they do present a clear and present danger. In fact, studies suggest that exposure to thermal printer receipt paper is one of the primary routes by which BPA enters the body—and once it’s in there, it accumulates over time and causes progressively greater dysfunction.

The Center for Disease Control reports that they found BPA in over 90% of urine samples that were taken as a representative of the U.S. population.[2] For this reason—and because of the terrifying ease with which endocrine disruptors can disturb the entire body’s balance—many health experts believe that BPA (and its toxic cousins) can be linked to nearly every health issue facing our society.

And speaking of these toxic BPA analogues, some are even more toxic. Preliminary research has shown that bisphenol S (BPS) is up to one hundred times more toxic and endocrine-disrupting than BPA.[3] Thermal receipt paper contains both of them, as well as a number of other analogues, including PBS and BPSIP.

What you can do to protect yourself

The easy and obvious answer is to decline receipts whenever they’re offered to you. Doing so will probably feel like a paranoid overreaction at first, but just think of this comparison whenever you find yourself at checkout: handling BPA-laced receipts without gloves is like handling paint thinner or other hazardous liquids without proper precaution.

If you religiously use receipts to track your expenses, consider going digital. There’s a number of great smartphone apps that allow you to take pictures of receipts (or input totals manually) and keep track of all your expenses through one handy interface. You might just find that you enjoy not being buried under all those old receipts—and your body will thank you too.

Research has also shown that the absorption of BPA is highly potentiated by some of the chemicals in hand sanitizers, skin moisturizers, and other industrial cosmetic products. Sometimes these products even carry their own dose of BPA and other endocrine disruptors—so you should avoid them anyway. At the very least, be careful not to use any of these products right before or after touching a receipt. This means that washing and sanitizing your hands after touching a receipt could actually worsen the exposure. Staying healthy is tricky these days, isn’t it?

There are also a few ways you can lessen the effects of BPA toxicity. A particularly strong protective effect has been exhibited by certain foods and substances, including kimchi (because of its probiotic, microbiome-supporting capacity), genistein (a phytoestrogen that helps balance the endocrine system), and high-antioxidant teas.

Incorporating detoxification practices into your life is absolutely essential, as well. Read more about how to make detoxing work for you here and here, and read this article to learn more about endocrine disruptors.

You’ll want to try out these BPA-mitigating practices even if you’ve sworn off receipts. While staying away from contaminated thermal printer paper is a step in the right direction, you’ll still be exposed to BPA through rampant industrial pollution—so your body will need all the help it can get. With a little thought and effort, though, you can preserve your personal health and balance in a world that still has a tough time prioritizing either of these ideals.

 


References

[1] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/toxic-ingredient/bisphenol

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/FourthReport_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

[3] http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/advpub/2015/8/ehp.1409427.acco.pdf

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bpa-dangers - 18282321923_6fe75d16e9

Living—let alone thriving—in our toxic world can be awfully tricky.

As we’ve discussed in other articles, modern society is a veritable obstacle course of sneaky toxin sources. Nowadays, even the air we breathe and the water we drink is suspect.

While there are all sorts of nasty pollutants worthy of our concern, one class of chemicals is particularly worrisome: endocrine disruptors.

These noxious chemicals adversely affect the functioning of your hormones, the “messenger molecules” that coordinate nearly every complex process in your body. The importance of the endocrine system (and the hormones it produces) simply cannot be overstated—it regulates growth, metabolism (including nutrient absorption), fertility and reproduction, immune function, sleep and other circadian rhythms, mood, behavior, and the coherent functioning of nearly every tissue in the body. For this reason, health experts have warned that endocrine disruptors can be linked to almost every major health issue that we face.

Unfortunately, there’s a vast array of endocrine-disrupting substances that have planted themselves firmly in our industry-laden culture. They show up in cleaning products, industrial agriculture applications, cosmetics, and even food.

But the most widespread endocrine disruptor of all is bisphenol-A (BPA), a form of “fake estrogen” that hijacks the endocrine system and causes massive long-term health problems. The acute toxicity of this terrible substance is now openly acknowledged—but very little is being done to prevent it from saturating our environment.

Too little too late?

As evidence began to mount against BPA, it quickly became common knowledge that BPA-free plastic is the way to go. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find a water bottle without a “BPA-Free” sticker slapped on it.

While this kind of initiative is a step in the right direction, it’s far from being a comprehensive solution. For starters, accumulating evidence suggests that the BPA alternatives used in many water bottles may be just as toxic and endocrine-disrupting as BPA itself.[1]

This allegation points to a frightening truth: that all plastics may be inherently problematic (not just types that contain BPA). And even if we assume for a moment that someone manages to produce a truly non-toxic water bottle—what about all the other ways in which plastic is used?

This thought is frightening precisely because plastic is an enormously important pillar of industrial society; it’s used for just about everything. This means that even if you swear off your personal use of plastic (especially BPA-containing plastic, and receptacles used for eating and drinking), you’ll still be affected by the massive amounts of BPA that industry inevitably pumps into the environment.

Researchers from the University of Missouri found that industrial sites all over the country release worrying quantities of BPA directly into our air and water.[2] It’s able to bind to dust and other particulates, and thus can disperse itself across vast distances. It’s also been discovered in tap water (so much for trustworthy public water treatment). Researchers have even shown that handling cash register receipts—which are saturated with BPA—can lead to elevated BPA levels in your bloodstream.[3]

And these steadily rising BPA levels have been strongly correlated with a whole host of degenerative conditions, including systemic inflammation, obesity, infertility, diabetes, asthma, compromised lung function, lung cancer, breast cancer, reproductive cancers, birth defects, calcification of the pineal gland, compromised gut flora, immune suppression, and more.

What you can do to fight back

While it’s nearly impossible to avoid BPA and other endocrine disruptors altogether, there’s still plenty you can do to protect yourself.

Eat and drink wisely. Avoid all conventional and GMO foods, which are often treated with endocrine-disrupting pesticides. Don’t buy fruits and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic (even if they’re organic), and avoid plastic food containers and cooking implements whenever possible. In fact, just avoid plastic altogether whenever possible; at the very least, avoid plastic items with a No. 3 or No. 7 recycling label. Drink purified water (even bottled water isn’t always safe).

Use hormone-balancing foods and supplements. BPA causes a build-up in excess estrogen within the body, which thus disorients the entire endocrine system. By incorporating naturally hormone-balancing foods into your diet, you can help restore your endocrine system to order. Try maca root (if you choose just one food, make it this one), turmeric, burdock, rhodiola, tulsi, beet root, cordyceps mushroom, reishi mushroom, and lion’s mane mushroom. For extra, more acute estrogen-balancing support, try these supplements: SAM-e, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), DIM, and quercetin.

Use detoxification practices. All of the foods and supplements listed above are already wonderfully detoxifying, but incorporating even more cleansing practices into your life will help ensure that you’re protected. Practice semi-regular fasting, use healing clays, eat an all-around detoxifying diet, exercise regularly, take cold showers, and spend more time in saunas.  

Support your pineal gland. The pineal gland is the center of a master detoxification system in the body, so it’s in your best interest to help it help you. Detoxification practices, avoidance of fluoridated water and toothpaste, avoidance of mercury-contaminated food and dental fillings, and forms of meditation that develop the awareness of the “third eye” are all incredibly helpful.

It could be some time before our society mends its toxic ways. In the meantime, following the advice above will help you stay protected from the unavoidable onslaught of BPA and its endocrine-disrupting cousins.

 


References

[1] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/bpa-free-plastics-tritan-nalgene-dangerous

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/21/bpa-exposure-hormone-disrupting-fda-missouri-study-bisphenol-endocrine

[3] http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/1022-thermal-paper-cash-register-receipts-account-for-high-bisphenol-a-bpa-levels-in-humans-mu-study-finds/

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