Posts tagged antioxidants

3 Secret Weapons Against Stress, Inflammation, and Insomnia by Shelli Stein

3 Secret Weapons Against Stress, Inflammation, and Insomnia by Shelli Stein

You probably already know that inflammation, stress, and lack of sleep aren’t good for you. You may not know, however, that these things have a huge impact on your cells.

More specifically, they all affect the length of your telomeres—which can actually affect the length of your life.

What are Telomeres?

In 2000, a young doctor asked molecular biologist Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn a rather simple question: Does length matter?

Dr. Blackburn’s research, which focused on the role that DNA tips—called telomeres—play in the ability to replicate, eventually earned her a Nobel Prize.

But no one had connected this process to stressful and important life events.

Today, though, the science is clear: Shorter telomeres are associated with dead and dying cells. Short telomeres also suggest a person is susceptible to age-related diseases and even early mortality.

So let’s take a look at what we can do to keep our telomeres LONG so we live a long and healthy life!

What Shortens Telomeres?

Taking care of our telomeres means first understanding what outside factors affect them. These factors are simpler than you might think.

But we should also understand a bit more about what they do.
Telomeres protect the useful, programmed parts of our DNA—which, in turn, affect when our cells divide, or make new cells.

Every time a cell divides, it must make a full copy of its DNA. To do this, the DNA unwinds into smaller, easier-to-copy units called chromosomes. However, when each chromosome is copied, the process cuts off some of the end pieces.

Think of telomeres as those plastic tips on shoelaces that prevent the laces from unraveling. With each cycle, a little bit of telomere DNA gets lost, but the important coding DNA is protected.

Cell division is a natural cause of telomere shortening that we can’t control. We can, however, manage some everyday stressors that shorten our telomeres faster than usual.

Which outside factors affect telomeres the most? Keeping clear of the top three stressors listed below will not only improve your telomere length, but also your overall health.

Top Three Stressors
Inflammation
Stress
Lack of sleep

1. Inflammation is triggered by your body’s defense system fighting off anything it believes is hurting you. This includes germs, chemicals, and radiation.
In a study funded by the National Institute of Health in 2010, chronic inflammation had a significant correlation with shortened telomere length. It was the first large-scale study to show evidence that telomere length can relate to increased amounts of inflammation.

In past articles, I have recommended fighting unwanted inflammation with a healthy diet. I think that’s the easiest and most direct approach to keep systemic inflammation in check.

2. That stress can wreak havoc on your body should come as no surprise. But did you know that psychological stress also boosts inflammation and can speed up the cell-division process?
In a large German study, people with post-traumatic stress disorder had telomeres that were much shorter than those without the disorder. Some studies have also been done on childhood trauma and indicate this sort of stress also shortens your telomeres. This backs up my belief that it is never too soon to start taking care of your stress levels.

3. Sleep is an often-overlooked factor in our overall health. Sleep can help alleviate stress by reducing the production of stress hormones. Sleep also relaxes your blood vessels, which helps your heart, and reduces inflammation.
Several scientists have studied telomere length in people who sleep for different lengths of time. In one recent study done by the University College of London and Cardiff Metropolitan University, telomeres appeared to be shorter in people getting less than five hours of sleep per night compared with those sleeping seven or more hours per night.

These studies do not show us, though, whether less sleep led to shorter telomeres or if shorter telomeres led to insomnia. What we do know is that poor-quality sleep can produce chemicals that lead to inflammation, which is one of the main culprits in shortening telomeres.

While there are many other stressors that shorten telomeres (more than we have room to discuss here), we also have three simple ways to protect and even lengthen your telomeres.

Top Three Protectors
Antioxidants
Exercise
Vitamin D

1. Antioxidants are a class of chemicals known for fighting cancer and other ailments. Antioxidants also help blood vessels expand and regulate the flow of blood. Vitamin C is one type of antioxidant. Other antioxidants include vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium.

Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help preserve your telomeres and improve your health in other ways as well. A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Cancer discovered that women with low antioxidant intake had shorter telomeres and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet is simple. Some antioxidant-rich foods include chocolate (the darker, the better), blueberries, red wine, tomatoes, and broccoli. I’m sure you have some of your own favorite antioxidant-rich foods, as well.

2. The top recommendation on my annual list of ways to improve your health is movement. (See here.) Regular exercise reduces stress, releases endorphins, improves brain function, and improves cardiovascular health. And it turns out, exercise also lengthens telomeres!
Last year, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco tested the relationship between exercise (along with other lifestyle changes) and telomere length. Participants who walked at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day for six days each week lengthened their telomeres about 10%. Participants also improved their diet, reduced stress, and increased social support.
Please notice that participants did not need overly strenuous exercise to improve their health. Even yoga and gardening can count toward your daily movement requirements.

3. The next telomere enhancer on my list might surprise you, or maybe not. The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, is associated with telomere length. Vitamin D inhibits cell proliferation (how fast your cells grow and divide).

A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a positive association between high vitamin D concentrations and longer telomeres. Although the study shows a correlation and not a direct cause and effect, we know vitamin D reduces cell division in white blood cells (the cells used in most telomere studies), so it may have a direct role in preserving telomeres.

The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. Do what I do and go for a walk every day to get natural sunlight. People who live in areas that don’t get much sun in the winter can become deficient in vitamin D. In those cases, dietary supplements may be necessary.

How Long Are My Telomeres?

Measuring telomeres is a complicated process. Companies like SpectraCell and Life Length will charge a few thousand dollars for the test and require about five milliliters of blood. That’s about one teaspoon.

Tests like these are still relatively new, so their precision and usefulness in diagnostics are still being evaluated. If you are interested in getting your telomeres checked, talk to your doctor or go online to read more.

Here’s the bottom line, though: Research on the importance of telomere length keeps increasing. The good news is we now have scientific evidence showing how we can preserve and lengthen our telomeres. Reduce your stress, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods like leafy green vegetables and berries.

Follow the suggestions I’ve outlined here, and you’ll find yourself on your way to improving the quality of your life by increasing the length of your telomeres.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

3 Antibacterial Herbs for Everyday -Steph Jackson

3 Antibacterial Herbs for Everyday by Steph Jackson
http://www.stephjackson.com

Are you interested in keeping your detox delicious? Would you like to bring bad bacteria into balance while enjoying delicious food too? Many of the most delicious herbs that we love to use in food preparation are also powerful antibacterial herbs with many other benefits. These herbs give our foods their distinctive character and flavour. In this article you will learn three of my favourite antibacterial kitchen herbs that can be used every day.

1. Ginger
Ginger has been used for thousands of years for its antimicrobial properties and has been carried around in my purse from time to time for three years. Some people carry Advil and I carry plants… Ginger has several other important properties that can be considered when choosing this herb. Ginger has also been used for its anti-inflammatory, warming, circulatory stimulating and expectorant properties. People use ginger to help stimulate faster removal of a cold or flu or for arthritis, headaches or circulation issues particularly at the extremities. Ginger can be great for pain because it does quite well with reducing inflammation which causes us to feel the pain in the first place. As usual of course finding and addressing the cause of the inflammation along with reducing it is usually a good idea but for me ginger works well for those little aches and pains. I often take ginger as a tea or a fresh juice and really enjoy it because I can really use its warming and stimulating properties along with its antimicrobial benefits. The character of the fresh juice is very very different from the character of the boiled root in a tea or a straight ginger/garlic “soup”. The rest of my family really loves those ginger candies but I’m not convinced they are really doing anything helpful and I haven’t been able to create an amazing sugar-free alternative! Some people take ginger before bed to stimulate motility in the digestive tract which can be very helpful to keep food moving so that it does not feed the bad bacteria in an unhealthy way. If this sounds like the right herb for you give ginger a try!

2. Rosemary
Rosemary, the herb of remembrance. I love to drink just straight rosemary tea or mix it with my peppermint. It is wonderful. Rosemary increases the flow of oxygen to areas all over the body including the mind. This may be why it seems to bring increased mental clarity. I know I love to drink rosemary tea when I am doing some thinking, writing or planning articles. Rosemary has been used for circulation problems just like our other two herbs ginger and cinnamon. Rosemary is warming as well. Rosemary has been used for cramping including in the digestive system as well as bloating. I have included rosemary here because it has antibacterial and anti fungal properties and has been used for candida, both the oil and the herb itself. There is some evidence that rosemary does not kill the friendly flora in the body but only the pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. A word of warning is that although some rosemary essential oils are edible they are strong medicine so make sure to start slowly and take care of yourself. Try mixing the fresh herb with others in salad dressings or marinating mushrooms with it. I love rosemary with lime and berries in desserts.

3. Cinnamon
Another stimulating, warming, drying herb, cinnamon has so many virtues I’m not sure where to get started. It does have those antimicrobial qualities that we are looking for here and of course tastes really good in a chai tea… It has blood sugar lowering properties and has been used for its astringent qualities too. Astringents can actually help tissues to heal. Cinnamon is one of the arch enemies of the evil candida, the scourge of the digestive tract 🙂 It is slightly demulcent so can create a bit of a healing soothing gel as it travels through the body and this is often overlooked because of its many other amazing properties. Cinnamon has been used as a blood thinner. Cinnamon can be taken as a tea or a tincture and of course in my favourite foods. I do love the spicy… Cinnamon has also been used to increase circulation. It is sometimes used as an anti-diarrhea herb although I have no personal experience with it in this way. Cinnamon is often included in toothpaste, rinses and other tooth products because of its antibacterial and astringent properties. Cinnamon is high in nutrients and antioxidants just in case you needed another reason! I find cinnamon also a sneaky way to cover up the flavours of other herbs if I am trying to feed them to my pickier family members because of its strong yet familiar flavour. Many of the studies featuring cinnamon for the uses above have been using more concentrated encapsulated doses but it is my personal belief that using cinnamon as a culinary spice has many many great benefits including the ones we have talked about and more.

Each with its own distinctive flavour the power of the herbs above cannot be overstated… And I bet you have them in your kitchen right now. Enjoy your cup of chai tea or rosemary marinated vegetables knowing you are bringing balance to your digestion and enjoying the myriad health benefits these herbs possess.

Leave a comment »

Superfruits for Healthy Living by Herbal Papaya

Superfruits for Healthy Living by Herbal Papaya
http://www.herbalpapaya.com

The top 7 Superfruits to include in your diet for the best daily health benefits

You may have heard the term “Superfruit” thrown around a lot in the health industry in recent years, but what does it actually mean?

Superfruit is a marketing term that first started being used by food & beverage companies in 2005. This isn’t a FDA or USDA approved term by any means, and the labeling is completely up to the product manufacturer, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be used appropriately.

How we define a Superfruit is through picking out the best of the best in the fruit family, and discovering which ones provide the most overall health benefits and nutrients to the human body. That, in our mind, is the true essence of a Superfruit and what the term was initially intended for.

Many people have their own idea of what a Superfruit entails, but these are our 7 picks for the best fruits to choose for your diet to give your body a boost in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients for daily health.

Açaí Berries

Açaí Berries have so much hype as a Superfruit because of their high levels of antioxidants that steamroll most of the other fruits on offer at the local supermarket. However, because it’s from Brazil, it’s not always easy to find fresh. A great alternative is finding Açaí powder to put into smoothies and drinks for that extra boost in the morning.

Pomegranates

The fruit that packs some of the highest antioxidants, pomegranates are best fresh during September and February. With around 600 seeds, this fruit has been shown to contain almost more than 3x the amount of total antioxidants in green tea and red wine. This is one of the best Superfruits you could include in your diet.

Cherries

This unsuspecting tart summer fruit has an important antioxidant in them called anthocyanin. This antioxidant helps to reduce inflammation, and triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the body. Cherries have also been known to boost metabolism for that extra health benefit that kicks it into Superfruit power.

Apples

The old adage that has stuck with us since childhood is actually true! “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples fall into the quercetin family, which is one of the best antioxidants for anti-inflammatory action in the body. On top of this, they’re also a great source of fiber.

Blueberries

The best Superfruit to boost your brain power and memory, blueberries pack in quite the health punch for their small size. The key is the high flavonoid levels in blueberries, which have been linked to sharper brain functioning and cognitive prowess as you age. They’re also high in manganese which is a great tool for better metabolism.

Tomatoes

Although some people may still think of tomatoes as vegetables, they’re actually a fruit! And a very healthy one at that! Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a rare and powerful antioxidant hardly ever found in other fruits (except papaya, which has it too!). They are also incredibly high in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. And as an added bonus, they’re very low in calories.

Papayas

You must know already how much we love papaya, and all the health benefits attached to this wonderful fruit. We could not leave it off the list! Papayas are known for antioxidants vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotenes. They help to boost immunity for those nasty winter colds and support healthy digestion. The seeds of the papaya even help to detoxify your liver!

This list just skims the surface of some of our favorite Superfruits, but there are quite a few others that could also be included, such as grapes, cranberries, avocados, goji berries, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, cantaloupe, pineapple, bananas, oranges, dragonfruit, blackberries, lychee, raspberries, and even pumpkins!

We enjoy choosing our favorites depending on what’s in season and what specific health benefits we’re after.

Leave a comment »

Nutrition to Balance Hormones That Affect Your Mood

Nutrition to Balance Hormones That Affect Your Mood
From Herbal Papaya Newsletter – http://www.herbalpapaya.com

Now that summer is on the way, you’re undoubtedly ready to get outside and start doing “summer things.” You’ve probably noticed that you’re feeling better and that your mood is a bit more buoyant.

That’s not just a coincidence; vitamin D deficiency has been linked solidly to being moody, and sunshine is the only natural source of vitamin D. Therefore, when you’re out getting plenty of it, it’s entirely possible that your mood improves, too!

You may be surprised how much a healthy diet contributes to balanced hormones and helps with your mood, but there’s plenty of solid research to back up the theory that you are what you eat.

B vitamins are also being studied for their link with unhappy mood. Specifically B12, and to a lesser degree B6 and folate, have been linked strongly to feeling sad. This is a particular concern for vegetarians and vegans because B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products. Supplementation is necessary for that part of the population.

Vitamin C has historically been known as the vitamin that boosts the immune system. However, people who are unhappy often report significant boosts in mood after taking vitamin C. The studies here are fairly new but are promising.

One particular group of nutrients called carotenoids are linked significantly to brain, prostate, heart, eye and mental health. Carotenoids are phytonutrients found in yellow, red and orange fruits and vegetables and are powerful antioxidants. Some, but not all, convert to vitamin A in the body. Others, such as lycopene, may not convert but are still extremely valuable for their ability to bond to free radicals and help keep you healthy.

For instance, the minerals zinc and magnesium are being closely studied in relation to brain health. Both seem to play significant, though largely mysterious, roles in assisting with mood chemical production and uptake in the brain. A notable percentage of people who suffer from mood swings are found to be deficient in one or both of these minerals.

The carotenoids lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin were studied in a group of almost 1800 people age 20-85. People with the highest levels of circulating carotenoids were a whopping 37% less likely to suffer from mood swings than those who had low levels.

A Japanese study of men only showed that men with the highest levels of carotenoids were an astounding 67% less likely to suffer from mood issues than those with the lowest levels. The studies are piling up.

Carotenoids are found in high amounts in foods that are bright orange, yellow, red or green such as:

sweet potatoes
papayas
red peppers
mangos
green leafy veggies
carrots
squash
dried apricots
cantaloupe

Leave a comment »

What Are Phytonutrients? – Hippocrates Health Institute

What Are Phytonutrients? http://hippocratesinst.org

The Hippocrates Health Institute have been studying food for a very long time. We have found that there are certain nutrients in food that have a dramatic impact on human health. One of the most important and relatively recent discoveries is that of phytonutrients. These are chemicals in plants that help protect themselves in nature from germs, fungi, bugs, and disease. We are very excited about this discovery because these same chemicals happen to have a similar beneficial effect on us when we eat the plants.

Phytonutrients have powerful health-promoting properties including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Whenever you hear the word antioxidant think “anti-aging.” This is because antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause cellular damage which can lead to wrinkles and dry, sagging skin. Free radicals come from alcohol, air pollution, radiation, stress, coffee, and cooked food to name just a few. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response wherever there is infection or injury. The affected area swells as your immune system sends more blood to deliver those components needed to recover.

Scientists have identified more than 25,000 phytonutrients in plant foods. Many phytonutrients give plants their distinctive colors such as the green, orange, and red in spinach, carrots, and bell peppers.

Here are just a few:

Chlorophyll – wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, and in all leafy greens. Good for healthy blood, brain, all bodily tissues, detox, lowers blood pressure, glowing skin.

Beta-carotene – carrots, yams and green leafy vegetables. Good for Healthy eyes, skin, hair, bones, teeth and sex.

Lycopene – tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruits and apricots. Good for boosting the immune system and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, lung, stomach, intestines, prostate, cervical and colon.

Selenium – brazil nuts and walnuts. Boosting the immune system especially for people dealing with colds, flus, AIDS/ HIV, and tuberculosis. Excellent for the thyroid and it is anti-aging!

Diindolylmethane – broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and collard greens. Strengthens the immune system.

Allyl Sulfides – garlic, onions, and shallots. Strengthens the immune system, good for allergies, colds, and flu.

Curcuminoids – Turmeric. This phytonutrient has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, pro-digestive, and anti-infectious activities.

Organic fruits and vegetables have far more phytonutrients than nonorganic plants. This is because nonorganic plants become dependent upon the artificial, chemically-synthesized pesticides and fungicides farmers spray on them to help them grow. Consequently, the plants stop producing many of the antibodies needed to naturally deal with these challenges. Phytonutrients are also very sensitive to heat and are destroyed by the cooking process. Therefore fresh, ripe, raw, organic, and whole fruits, vegetables, and sprouts are the best source of these powerful defenders for your immune system.

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: