Tag Archives: antioxidant

Top 5 Spices in my Kitchen (Medicine) Cabinet

9 Mar

Spices have amazing properties. There are entire websites and books dedicated to their healing attributes. Today, I’d like to cover a few basic staples. As with all supplements, they should be taken with caution. If you take any medication check with your pharmacist about possible interactions before adding spices to your supplement regimen.

Cinnamon has been getting praise as of late, in regards to its ability to assist in blood sugar management. Even the Mayo Clinic says that patients with type II diabetes can benefit from taking a cinnamon supplement. It’s said to lessen the impact of sugar on the blood.

According to German research it can also “supress completely” the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, as well as assist in controlling the fungus candida albicans.

Cinnamon can eliminate many of the types of bacteria that cause food poisoning, and when mixed with ginger you can easily avoid stomach upset and reduce the symptoms of food poisoning.

Keep in mind that using cinnamon is not like taking a typical OTC medication. It contains compounds that thin the blood. Cinnamon also assists in metabolic function and according to Thyroid-Info.com can reduce cholesterol, as well. One great way to monitor your intake is to take it in supplement form – or if you like the controlled portion but love the flavor, pull the capsule apart and sprinkle it on food, or in a beverage. I use it on many different things – next summer try it on some watermelon! Cinnamon will also assist in cleansing the liver and detoxifying the blood.

Turmeric is a beautiful yellow spice that will stain just about anything you get it on! Traditionally used in Indian curry dishes turmeric is now known as one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices in the natural supplement kingdom. In many countries it is used as a treatment for cancer, namely prostate. Some studies suggest that it may remove plaque buildup from the arteries, and the brain. It was shown to prevent the spread of breast cancer in mice, and of course more research on humans is needed.

Of all spice supplements, in my humble opinion, turmeric is king. It has also shown positive effects for arthritis sufferers. Check out this great list 20 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

A word to the wise (and not-so-wise): after dealing with a shoulder pain for several weeks, I decided to try using turmeric topically as my late-night googling suggested. I made a nice paste with some aloe vera gel, put it on, and covered it with a large gauze. The next day, it wouldn’t wash off. My skin was stained for nearly a week, and afterwards peeled like a sunburn. I do not recommend this!

Fresh Ginger Root
 If you like spices with a bite, its likely you may have forgotten about ginger. While the dry ginger in the spice aisle certainly has its place, there’s nothing like the bite of freshly grated or juiced ginger root. If you do a lot of juicing with apples, try adding an inch of ginger root. It will keep your apple juice white! (The brown color comes from oxidation.) Much like cinnamon, ginger is known in traditional medicine to help with symptoms of arthritis, thin the blood and reduce cholesterol.

Ginger is great for upset stomach, and is known to calm down stomach upsets due to some strains of food poisoning. In China ginger is used to calm a cough. There are many uses for ginger (not to mention, it’s really yummy!).

Cayenne Pepper
Of my list of staple spices to keep in the cupboard/medicine cabinet cayenne pepper is often forgotten. It’s bite is certainly as loud as its bite. One year someone brought an awful virus to the office. You know the drill, one day Mark can’t swallow and he thinks he has strep, and two days later Phil calls out. A few more days and your throat is on fire. Mark is the first to visit the doctor. He’s told he has a virus, and he should be nearly through it. The Dr. basically says “wait it out.”

Mark gets that call from a crazy relative about cayenne pepper. We’re all miserable enough to try it. Behold.. it works. Here are the most pleasant ways to take it: 1. Mix it in some tomato soup. or 2. Mix it in hot chocolate (dark is best!). You need enough to bite the pain in your throat, literally. It should sting. Sip slowly to ensure the longest amount of time spent in this “stinging” phase. Repeat 2-3 times a day, it shouldn’t take more than 1-2 days to work. While I don’t know the mechanism of this, I will say: I have not had a cold in 5 years, since I learned this trick, the moment I feel a tingle I have cayenne pepper.

While it is more pleasant in a good dark hot chocolate, monitor your sugar intake anytime you’re fighting a cold – and if you still drink that nasty sugar water that I so dearly love (my personal weakness, Dr. Pepper) remember that 1 can of soda can take your immune system down for 24 hours.

Like the other top-5, garlic is a potent medicine. It is known to have antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Said to lower blood pressure and cholesterol garlic is another spice that has a list of health benefits. Much like ginger, while it’s dried variety is fine for cooking, its health properties are best found from the raw form. Because of its strong flavor, many people opt to take a it in supplement form.

Here’s a great list from my-home-remedies.com of the healing properties of garlic. As always, do some of your own research and ask a medical care professional or pharmacist before adding spices to your daily regimen. They can be quite powerful – they can also be quite wonderful!

On that note, stay warm, stay healthy – and for a delicious way to combine all 5 of my favorites, see my last post with my Butternut Squash Soup recipe. Please let me hear if you try any of my suggestions. I’d love to hear about your experience.


Keeping winter colds at bay.

14 Nov

I hear sniffles! Thankfully they are not mine. Somehow I’ve avoided all colds, sniffles, coughs and flu for nearly 5 years now. With a combination of good diet and knowing how to tackle that first scratch in your throat, hopefully you can do the same. So, let’s get down to business.

1. Ditch your hand sanitizer, rely on old fashioned soap and water (and – your body’s incredible immune system.). Yes, I know you love your little bottles of scented antibacterial goodness. I know you love the dramatic computer generated images of awful germs attacking every surface of your home. Let’s be real, here. triclosan, the primary antibacterial ingredient of 99.99% of all brands of hand sanitizer is highly toxic. While the human body has a great ability to remove and filter out much of the junk we put in it, triclosan is different. It does not get filtered out, and is responsible for weakening your immune system, as well as helping to create “super bugs” or strains of bacteria that no longer respond to antibiotics. Use a green product, or old fashioned- soap and water.

2. Watch your sugar intake. Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing it (so am I!). Drinking one can of soda reduces your immune system’s capacity for approximately 24 hours. With that, keep in mind the sugar in other products you may be consuming and try to reduce, if not eliminate sugary foods from the diet.

3. Eat more whole fruits and veggies. This should go without saying, but including a rainbow colored selection of fruits and veggies in your diet is a great way to boost nutrient and oxygen availability in the body. Whole foods will help do that.

4. Are you taking supplements? If you are, be sure to read my post about the quality (or lack) of many run-0f-the-mill supplements and be sure you’re taking one with science behind it. A whole food-based supplement can really boost your body’s ability to ward off the sniffles.

5. Use a probiotic. This can be in the form of a high-quality yogurt, capsule, kefir, etc. Do your research and be sure you’re selecting one that helps to build the active healthy flora in your digestive tract.

6. Cry about it. No, really – crying releases stress hormones from the bloodstream and stress hormones in the bloodstream suppress the immune system so don’t hold back!

7. Be happy. Sometimes the simplest answers work best. Having a positive outlook and a resilient mind equate to having fewer times of distress. As you learn to be more adaptable to stress and allow things to simply pass, your body will respond to stress in a less volatile way. Again, stress weakens the immune system so instead of fuming about that daily wait in traffic, turn up the stereo and find an opportunity to experience relaxation rather than stress. Remember – perception is a choice and the neurons that fire together wire together. The more you practice being grounded, grateful and relaxed the stronger the connections in your brain become to those emotions.

8. Scratchy throat (and no fully formed cold yet!)? Gargle with warm sea salt water several times a day or try cayenne pepper as described in my blog about spices. You may also try undiluted raw honey, as described in my blog about honey.

Stay healthy this winter! I challenge all of you to join me in having a winter without a sniffle :)

A perfect supplement? A review of Juice Plus.

9 Nov

With today’s soil quality even the most dedicated foodie will still need to supplement their diet to get all of the vitamins and minerals needed for optimum health. The old way of thinking was “calories in, calories out, not much else matters.”  This could not be farther from the truth. In yesterday’s blog I discussed adding healthy foods as opposed to restricting yourself as a way of making positive changes. One of the largest problems with the Standard American Diet (appropriately SAD) is that we take healthy whole  ingredients and strip away their natural nutritional content. Then we “fortify” the food with chemically derived vitamins and minerals that the body does not recognize and does not use. In short, our overfed population is in a nutritional defecit. By all regards, your body thinks it’s starving so it will hold on to every calorie until it receives a proper amount of nutrition.

“So what, I’ll just take a supplement.” While this may ease your mind, once again the quality of your supplement should be in question. Is your supplement made from whole foods that your body can recognize and uptake? Or are you one of the millions of Americans who wastes hundreds of dollars each year on supplements that are not researched? If you are, you might as well pull a few hundred from the ATM and flush it down the toilet. You’ll probably get about the same nutritional value, too!

A perfect example is the artificial thyroid medication Synthroid. Hundreds of thousands of people take this medication to stimulate a slow thyroid. Most folks go to their doctor and go through a number of blood tests to determine that they have hypothyroidism. Once the assessment is made the patient is prescribed Synthroid and begins taking it at regular intervals. The Synthroid is introduced to the bloodstream where it floats around aimlessly. Later, new blood tests are taken and sure enough, it would appear the problem is solved, since the Synthroid shows up in the bloodstream.

Dr. Mark Starr suggests taking an animal derived thyroid supplement, as well as coconut oil and a kelp supplement. The naturally occuring iodine in kelp is essential to thyroid function. Finding an animal-derived thyroid supplement is easier than you may think. There’s a brand called Raw Thyroid that has both thyroid and pituitary support. As a long-time user of this supplement I will say that you will actually feel your metabolism speed up when taking a supplement that is working. The shift in energy is astounding.

Another incredible whole food-based supplement is Juice Plus. Juice Plus has been around for decades and is one of the most well-researched whole food supplements on the market. Juice Plus subjects its product to independent, unbiased research. The food pyramid has been updated. It is now recommended that we get 7-13 servings of whole fruits and veggies per day, increased from 5-9. It’s nearly impossible to eat that frequently, and that quantity of fruit and veg in one day. If you’re anything like me, you buy fresh produce with the best of intentions, only to throw half of it out a week later because you didn’t get to it when it was fresh. We all do it.

The bottom line is that our bodies need whole fruits and veggies to reduce oxidative stress, and to fuel the body’s natural healing ability. I’ve heard stories of people reducing medications, and more importantly the symptoms of consuming a poor diet just by adding whole foods, daily. Everyone wants more energy, and everyone wants to feel the energy that we remember once having. There are very few of us who have the time or budget to eat 7-13 whole fruits and veggies in one day. I bet most of you reading this get 13 in a week. (Yep, I’m guilty, despite my “good” habits!) In our fast-food society its easy to eat junk, or simply skip meals. I’ve found that taking a whole-food supplement is unmatched. Despite all the amazing brands and range of supplements (even whole foods-based supplements!) none match Juice Plus on the variety of nutrients and quality of ingredients. It’s like several dozen supplements in one.

While this may seem a shameless plug (fine, it is.) I fully admit to spending several hundred dollars last year on supplements. Honestly I should take a photo of the array of capsules and tablets that live in my kitchen. While I do still love my cinnamon and apple cider vinegar capsules, my multivitamin collection is being reduced drastically. In fact, aside from a few herbs and spices, Juice Plus is my  new go-to. There is simply no comparison between whole food supplements and chemically-based supplements. It really is the next best thing to the real thing. Read the research for yourself. I love finding real, whole products to fall in love with!

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