Rose Hips for Wellness

Rose HipsThere’s nothing like a rose to stimulate feelings of wellbeing. And nothing quite like rose hip – the actual fruit of a rose – to enhance health and promote wellness.

Of all the roses, the beautiful Wild Dog Rose is the type most often cultivated for their hips. Once the flower has bloomed, and all the petals have fallen off, the hip is picked and used in a range of herbal preparations. Rose hips contain a variety of antioxidants (especially Vitamin C), Vitamin A, carotenoids, and other plant compounds that are recognized for their role in preventing degenerative disease, including heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Many natural health practitioners use rose hip as a remedy for wounds and inflammation. Rose hip oil is commonly used in cosmetics as it has the ability to revitalize skin cells. It has been used as a remedy for scars, acne and burns. In Germany, rose hip powder (capsule) has been used as a remedy for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Herbalists have long used rose hip tea to ease constipation and as a supplement to treat a cold.

Rose hip pulp can be incorporated into sauces or made into a jelly. Standardized extracts are also available in capsules. Always check with your wellness practitioner before using any herbal remedy.

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Beta-Carotene

CarrotsBeta-carotene has two important functions in the body: It functions as an antioxidant, protecting cells against damage, and it can be converted to Vitamin A (retinol), critical to maintaining skin and eye health.

Without beta-carotene, our bodies are unable to manufacture Vitamin A. And without sufficient Vitamin A, nearly all of our systems are at risk, including lungs, kidneys and immune function. Research shows that people who consume the necessary levels of beta-carotene are able to lower their risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, macular degeneration, and other age-related diseases.

You can get beta-carotene from a variety of foods:

  • Apricots
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Yam/Sweet Potato
  • Spinach
  • Kale

The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of 3,000 IU for adult men and 2,310 IU for adult women. For children, amounts vary according to age. While beta-carotene deficiency is rare in most industrialized countries, it can be difficult getting the recommended levels simply from food. That’s where supplements come in. In consult with your healthcare practitioner, design a plan that meets your individual needs. You may want to consider a supplement with a mixture of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.

It’s possible to take too much beta-carotene. This is usually indicated by a yellowing of the skin, palms or soles and is known as carotenemia. Once consumption of beta carotene is reduced, this yellowing fades over time. As always, your best outcomes are achieved when working closely with your healthcare practitioner.

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Boost Breast Health with these Bust Musts

ExerciseOne in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and, each year, about 40,000 women die from the disease. From puberty through the elder years, it’s imperative for a woman to take care of her breasts, from the inside out, both physically and emotionally.

The “bust musts” for breast health go beyond screenings and routine self-exams. Until recently, the prevalent thinking was that screenings are the best way to detect and treat cancer before it metastasizes. However, increasing numbers of false-positive tests have led to unnecessary medical treatment. In some cases, screenings have failed to detect active tumors. It could be that timing for screenings should be personalized, based on health and family history, age, and lifestyle habits.

More important than early detection is the power of prevention in the hands of every woman. This includes properly performing breast self-exams (BSE), and taking care of body and mind in ways that boost breast health.

Six Ways to Boost Breast Health

Know Your Bosom. It’s important for a woman to be familiar with the look and feel of her own breasts. Performing a monthly BSE is the best way to detect a lump or other abnormality. This video will help you do it right.

Chill Out. In general, excessive stress has negative effects on health. Research indicates that stress can also increase your risk for breast cancer as well as its recurrence (Ohio State U). Because stress impairs immunity, there’s evidence that it can alter how aggressively cancer develops.

Go for Green. A component of green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (ECCG) is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to suppress the growth of new blood vessels in tumors. ECCG also seems to play a role in keeping cancer cells from destroying healthy tissue. Enjoy at least a cup or two of tea daily.

Get Crunchy. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting compounds that convert excess estrogen into a form that is more “friendly” to a woman’s body. Women who eat a high percentage of cruciferous veggies on a daily basis are less likely to develop breast cancer. Enjoy a “crunchy salad” or add steamed mixed veggies to your daily meal plan.

Get Spicy. The turmeric plant contains curcumin, which is known to support a strong immune system. Some research shows curcumin can reactivate genes that suppress tumor development and stave off cancer cells. Add a curry night to your weekly meal plan.

Fiber Up. Fiber from fruits and whole grains helps rid the body of toxins. In addition, flax contains cancer-fighting compounds, called lignans, that can block the negative effects of excess estrogen on cells. Sprinkle flaxseed on your salad or yogurt.

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The Healthy Goodness of Oats

oatmeal-3171723Avena sativa, also called the common oat, is a grain full of healthy goodness. Oats are often used for breakfast cereal, oatmeal, granola and as a flour for baking breads and cookies. A dietary source to fuel the body, a 3.5 ounce serving of oats provides over 60 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of protein, and about 7 grams of fat.

Oats contain beta-glucans, which are known to decrease saturated fat in the blood and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Most people are familiar with oat as a medicinal food for its ability to regulate cholesterol.

Other important effects of having a serving of oats in your daily diet include: support for digestion, sexual health, and bone health, as well as enhancing energy and maintaining a positive mood. Oat is a fantastic source of dietary fiber, which helps maintain a healthy gut. Oat has been studied in the management of male sexual dysfunction as well as managing menstrual symptoms and regulating blood sugar levels. It’s also an excellent source for B vitamins and the mineral manganese, which play important roles in physiological processes that support your health.

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Eggplant: Versatile and Good For You

EggplantA favorite in vegan and omnivore cuisine, eggplant can be baked, roasted, grilled, used as a pizza topping or in stir-fry recipes. It has a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture that may vary depending on the color/variety of eggplant selected. Dress your cooked eggplant with herbs, sauces, and condiments and you’ll be sure to please even the pickiest guest at your dinner table.

Eggplant contains a phytonutrient (plant chemical with nutritional benefits) called nasunin. Nasunin acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage. In addition, eggplant contains a wealth of other antioxidants that support brain and heart health. In research studies, one variety of eggplant – called Black Magic – was found to have three times the antioxidant properties compared to several other types of eggplant. It’s also a terrific source of dietary fiber, copper, potassium and B vitamins.

It’s best to buy eggplant in-season during the months August through October. It comes in all sorts of shapes (baseball size to a thick crescent) and a cornucopia of colors such as lavender, jade green, and yellow-white. Choose eggplants that are firm, vivid in color, and heavy for their size. The skin should be smooth, shiny and without damage.

To test for ripeness, press your thumb into the eggplant. If the skin doesn’t “spring back,” it’s not ripe. Eggplant is highly perishable so don’t cut it before storing. Keep it stored in a food crisper or on the shelf in the fridge for a few days.

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Amazing Avocado

avocado-bright-color-997389There are so many reasons – and so many ways – to love avocado. A culinary superfood, avocados provide up to 20 nutrients including vitamins K, C and E, as well as folate, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. In fact, they actually have more potassium than bananas.

Unlike most fruits, avocado is low in carbohydrates and high in a healthy fat called oleic acid. Like olive oil, oleic acid has been linked to health benefits such as reducing inflammation, protecting cells against cancer, and reducing cholesterol. This amazing fruit also improves digestive health and helps your body absorb other nutrients.

There are limitless ways to add avocado to snacks or meals: Use avocado as a healthy spread on toast; blend it into scrambled eggs; add it to dips, salsa, or soup; slice for a salad topping.

Avocado is optimally ripe when the fruit is mildly soft to touch. Its flesh should be creamy and green-gold in color. If you don’t use the whole fruit at one time, keep leftover avocado fresh by leaving the pit in the unused portion and allow it to sit, uncovered, on a counter for a few hours before placing it in the fridge (still uncovered) for up to two days. When you want to use the other half, simply peel off the brown crust to reveal a soft and deliciously ripe avocado beneath.

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Can You Rev-up Your Metabolism?

ExerciseIt’s not unusual to blame your shrink-resistant waistline on a slow metabolism. But that’s not usually the culprit keeping you from reaching your ideal weight.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is your body’s method of converting calories, from the food you eat, into energy needed to power all the physiological processes that keep you alive and kicking 24/7. The minimum amount of energy your body needs to keep you going is called Base Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Calories in food – protein, fat and carbohydrates – fuel your BMR. Each of us requires a unique daily number of calories to maintain BMR so we can breathe, grow, think, sleep, digest food, and filter waste. Age and lifestyle are significant factors in calculating BMR. If you sit more than you move each day, your BMR is lower and your daily calorie needs are lower, too.
Losing or gaining weight is about energy balance (calories taken in – calories burned off). Take in more calories than your body needs for maintaining BMR (or take in more calories than you use for physical activity) and you will gain weight.

It’s in My Genes!
Your genes (and hormones) play a role in metabolism because they can influence the potential you have to grow muscles (how dense and how big) and how your body stores fat. However, genetic and hormonal mechanisms in metabolism are extremely complex. There are no definitive theories. Yet, many people have lost and maintained a tremendous amount of weight despite their family history. Many health experts agree, “Your genes are not your fate.”

Chances are your ‘slow metabolism’ has more to do with your diet and the type of exercise you are (or are not) doing on a regular basis.

If your exercise routine builds lean muscle, that helps rev-up your metabolism. Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue. This is why people with leaner bodies (a higher muscle to fat ratio) have a higher BMR. (Those are the folks who eat carrot cake that doesn’t ‘go right to their hips.’)

Build a 24-Hour Fat Burning Body
The first key to revving-up metabolism is eating a whole foods diet: lean protein, high quality grains, plant-based fats and oils, fresh fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water.

To really turn-up the heat on your metabolism, and your waistline, you’ll want to try the muscle-building, never boring workouts listed below. These workouts help your body generate a ‘post-exercise burn’ that can rev up your metabolism for 2 – 24 hours after you finish a workout. Factors that determine the afterburn effect include your current fitness level and body composition, the intensity and duration of exercise, and type of exercise performed.  Just remember: Our bodies are designed to adapt; beginners to elite athletes both have to change-up their routine every few weeks to continue to see progress.

Circuit Training: Exercises all the major muscle groups in one workout (30-45 minutes) and may include body-weight movements, machines, dumbbells, and exercise bands. Exercises are performed for 8-12 reps, 1-3 sets of each.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These workouts alternate bouts of maximal physical effort with a rest (or lower intensity) period for set times (e.g., 40 seconds max, 15 seconds lower effort). HIIT principles can be integrated into a variety of exercise routines including walk/run, swim, weight training, and group classes. Research shows an increase in calorie burn for up to 24-hours post exercise.

Metabolic Conditioning routines are highly intense and designed to engage different physiological “energy” pathways in the body. These workouts typically use a “suspension exercise system” (e.g., TRX) but can be integrated into other fitness activities. It’s best to have a metabolic exercise routine designed and supervised by an experienced exercise specialist who can appropriately alter the intensity, reps, sets and rest intervals.

CrossFit often done as a group activity, this involves a variety of functional movements that engage the whole body at a relatively high intensity. The routines involve running, rowing, squatting and other exercises that support the way your body moves on a daily basis. The aim is to generate maximal power in as little time as possible to get stronger and fitter.
Calculate your BMR here

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Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)

CayenneA popular ingredient for giving a kick to salsa and other dishes, Cayenne has numerous health benefits including reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing pain and inflammation, providing relief for heartburn, moderating blood sugar level, and helping to break down carbohydrates during digestion. All of that is due to a potent chemical, capsaicin, found in the thin skin surrounding the seeds.

Cayenne (capsaicin) supplements have been studied for their ability to curb appetite, increase resting metabolic rate (turn-up your metabolism), and stimulate the breakdown of fats for energy. Short-term studies (12 weeks or less) with athletes, individuals who are of average weight, and those who are obese have shown cayenne does raise metabolism by about an extra 50 calories burned per day. In one to two years, if you did nothing else special with your diet and exercise routine, you’d lose a little weight.

Other studies have looked at different amounts of capsaicin taken and how it is prescribed (ex., taken before, during or after a meal) plus a person’s general health status. Capsaicin has an affect on how full a person feels (satiety) before, during, and after a meal as well as food choices people make. (The latter, scientists think, has to do with how cayenne supplements are digested). The amount of capsaicin taken, to a certain point, also affects the amount of change in metabolism and the effect on appetite. A holistic health practitioner can best determine the amount of capsaicin that will help you with your weight loss or other health goals.

A capsaicin supplement is a great way to support your metabolism when you are trying to lose weight but it’s not a “miracle diet pill.” You still need to follow an overall healthy diet and consistently participate in an exercise program.

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Can Red Hot Chili Peppers Help You Lose Weight?

capsicums-chili-pepper-red-63589Bite into a hot pepper, or chilis, and you’ll instantly feel the ‘flame effect.’ But can these fiery fruits actually boost your metabolism and promote weight loss?

To a degree, the scientific answer is yes.

Chilies get their heat from an oily chemical compound called capsaicin, which is concentrated in the membrane surrounding the seeds of the Capsicum plant. In studies, Capsaicin boosts thermogenesis – the process by which the body turns calories into heat to use for fuel. However, the effect on weight loss is modest, at best. Here’s why:

Given the pungency of peppers, it’s difficult for anyone, even a person with a great tolerance for spicy foods, to eat hot peppers often enough and in a sufficient enough serving to lose weight via the ‘chili pepper effect.’

Even though we can’t eat enough hot peppers to result in weight loss, including chilies in your diet promotes good health in other ways. Chilies are rich in vitamins A, E and K and potassium. Additionally, in scientific studies capsaicin (in capsule form) has been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation, boost immunity, lower the risk for Type 2 Diabetes, and clear congestion associated with colds.

Caution: Biting into a raw or cooked chili pepper creates an intense heat inside the mouth (the flame effect). If that happens to you, drink milk or eat cottage cheese or plain yogurt to tame the heat. Also, if you’re not accustomed to eating chilis your throat may swell and your body may react to the peppers and cause you to vomit.

The Hottest of the Hot
The Scoville scale measures the heat of chili peppers. The following list shows chilis in the order of their Scoville Heat Units, from high heat to modest heat:
• Habaneros and Scotch bonnets
• Cayenne pepper
• Tabasco pepper
• Thai chili pepper
• Jalapeno and Serrano chili peppers

Hot Tip: If you can’t remember which are the hottest of the hot peppers, look at the thickness of the stem. The thinner the stem, the hotter the pepper (and higher the capsaicin). Red peppers are hotter than green.

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Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)

The dainty yellow flowers of Greater Celandine (aka “swallow”) bloom when swallows return from winter nesting and die when the birds head south again. A member of the Poppy family, the medicinal use of the plant dates back to ancient Greece. It has been widely used in European herbal medicine through modern time for treatment of gallbladder disease and liver conditions.

As a homeopathic remedy, Chelidonium has produced favorable results for treating liver disorders. It has also been used with health conditions such as indigestion, heartburn, IBS, gout, osteoarthritis, warts and other skin diseases.

Greater Celandine is often prepared as an extract or tincture, depending upon the intended use. If extracts are not properly prepared and preserved, it can render the herb less effective or cause side effects. Also, if you don’t use the appropriate dose of this herb for your particular health concern you could experience side effects ranging from rash to upset stomach and serious illness. Chelidonium is not appropriate for everyone. It is important that a healthcare practitioner provide you with the appropriate dose and quality of this herb.

Recent debate about the liver-protective versus potential toxic effects of Chelidonium majus has renewed the medical community’s interest in this plant. Interactions have been found when Chelidonium is taken with Tylenol or Erythromycin or other drugs that stress the liver.

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