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Ginger … the superfood

Posted February 15, 2018 By C.B. Swartz

 

Ginger is a popular spice, which is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It is among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices and is closely related to Turmeric. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.  It has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold.  It is also used to relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Ginger appears to be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain and may reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.  These effects are believed to be brought about by the anti-inflammatory properties.  Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies show ginger to be effective at reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is a very common health problem.  Another study found that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil, can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically.

Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes, although larger studies into this aspect need to be conducted before any recommendations can be made.

Ginger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach, which can be beneficial for people with indigestion and related stomach discomfort.  It was shown after eating soup, ginger reduced the time it took for the stomach to empty from 16 to 12 minutes and in a study of 24 healthy individuals, 1.2 grams of ginger powder before a meal accelerated emptying of the stomach by 50%.

Ginger appears to be very effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.  One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain.  In one study, 150 women were instructed to take 1 gram of ginger powder per day, for the first 3 days of the menstrual period.  Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen.

There is some evidence, in both animals and humans, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.  The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels.  In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.  This is supported by a study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin.  Both studies also showed reductions in total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.

Studies suggest that ginger can protect against age-related damage to the brain. It can also improve brain function in elderly women.  Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process.  They are believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.  Some studies in animals suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain.  There is also some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly. In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory.  There are also numerous studies in animals showing that ginger can protect against age-related decline in brain function.

Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections.  It is believed, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria and is effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.  Fresh ginger may also be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections.

Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and it is one of the very few “superfoods” worthy of that term.

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It is sad when drugs that are commonly used are shown to pose great dangers to health. This is directly opposed to the reason for which they were created.  In a recent study by Danish researchers, it was found that use of NSAID’s among heart attack survivors greatly increased their risk of a repeat heart attack.  NSAID’s are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have shown serious side effects such as; liver and kidney damage, stomach irritation and an increase of the risk of heart attack and stroke.  If you read the compulsory information provided with your medications, you will find that all medications come with some type of side effects.  Another OTC pain relieving drug acetaminophen (Tylenol) can also cause drug-induced liver failure.

The idea behind anti-inflammatory drugs is stop the inflammation; stop the pain.  Drugs such as NSAID’S are designed to inhibit activity of what is known as the COX2 enzyme, a major factor in pain. The COX2 is a natural enzyme created in everyone and is responsible for the production of some of the agents called prostaglandins, which trigger pain and inflammation.

This is just a couple of examples of possible hazards of OTC pain relief drugs.  The prescription pain relievers can have much worse side effects and even addictions.

The science of plant-based medicines is significantly advanced, and we now have products available to us that will reduce or eliminate pain without being hazardous to our health.

Hippocrates said, “first of all do no harm.” This should be the guiding credo of all the health arts, from pharmacy to surgery. Medicines should heal not hurt, and promote life not take it away. In part due to disappointment with drugs, and in part due to a belief that natural remedies are safer than most pharmaceuticals, many people seek natural remedies to alleviate pain.

Hippocrates also said, “let your food be your medicine.” One of the very most effective and potent natural anti-inflammatory agents is curcumin, derived from turmeric root. Turmeric is a yellow spice native to Asia, widely enjoyed as both a food and a dye. Turmeric is the yellow in curry powder, and curcumin is a resinous compound found in turmeric root. Extensively well studied for its anti-inflammatory powers, curcumin is scientifically proven to be highly effective at relieving pain, and very safe. Curcumin inhibits COX2, but it does not do so selectively. Instead, curcumin also affects the activity of other key factors in inflammation, including NF-kappaB, PPAR Gamma transcription factors, and 5-LOX. By inhibiting the activity of all these aspects of inflammation, curcumin delivers far superior anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving activity than most drugs.

It is said that Turmeric’s curcumin: improves liver health by tonifying liver tissue and encouraging bile excretion; boosts the immune system; eases cold and flu symptoms; detoxifies the body; prevents internal blood clotting.

To get turmeric’s curcumin through the digestive system, it needs to be heated in a saturated fat with black pepper. The more potent curcumin capsules should be enteric coated to avoid getting the curcumin from being degraded by stomach acid.

The active ingredient from black pepper, piperine, is often added to enhance cellular absorption. Add the pinch of black pepper to maximize bioavailability.  CAUTION: The side effects of piperine are inextricably linked to the benefits. The same mechanism that aids in the absorption of curcumin can cause elevated levels of other drugs that interact with the same enzymes. The liver’s inability to regulate certain compounds is helpful in some cases while not helpful in others.  While most of the side effects of piperine are related to the other variables (i.e.: drugs) in your system, it is still helpful to use caution when supplementing with this specific compound.

Natives of India and Southeast Asia heat turmeric in fats, usually whole milk or coconut oil with black pepper. This is easily duplicated in the kitchen with food ingredients. And other ingredients are added for better taste and even more health benefits.

To make this turmeric tea by the cup, here’s what you need.

  • 4 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger powder
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • A pinch of black pepper, freshly ground if possible
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of raw honey
  • A half cup of warm coconut or animal milk of your choice
  • Boiling water

If you wish to make more than a mug’s worth of this beverage, simply extrapolate the amounts proportionately. Either way, here’s the mixing method.

  1. Fill the mug or larger contain halfway with boiling water
    Add the turmeric and ginger
    3. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes
    4. Stir in the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and raw honey
    5. Add the warm milk of your choice

 

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EXERCISE

Posted February 12, 2018 By C.B. Swartz

There is no way around it. Your body was built to move, so if you want to be physically “well”, you’re going to have to get moving. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring or painful.

Start with a goal in mind. Moderate exercise for 45 minutes per day is the amount that has been shown to deliver real health benefits. Decide the best way to get started and how quickly you can progress toward that goal. Once exercise becomes a daily part of your life, you may very well wonder why you ever lived without it. But it won’t happen overnight.

You could start by playing basketball or soccer with the kids, taking a long walk on your favorite scenic route, or dusting off that golden oldies disk and rock out with your favorite dances. It won’t seem like a chore if it’s something you enjoy doing.

If you haven’t exercised in a while start with three 10 minute segments; and it is very important to always start your workout with at least 5 minutes of thorough stretching. Gradually add time or intensity to your activity every week. You’ll not only see results sooner, you’ll avoid burnout and develop a habit you can sustain for life. Click here to determine your fitness level.

Plan your workout time just as you schedule any important event in your life. It will never happen if you try to squeeze it into your day. Always follow your healthcare professional’s guidance as you increase physical activity. Working towards making sustainable lifestyle changes to your activity levels is important. You do not want to overwhelm yourself with an abundance of physical activity all at once. Start with simple steps toward moving more and sitting less.

Make it a family matter. There’s real strength in numbers when it comes to exercise. Couples who work out together not only have healthier bodies, they also tend to have healthier relationships and better communication.

Not long after starting your journey, it’s easy to look around and feel like you haven’t made much progress, but every step you take brings you closer to your goals. Remember that it may take a while. It’s about progress, not perfection. Don’t focus on the final outcome. Instead, pay attention to the progress you are making day by day. Don’t judge yourself by numbers, but by behaviors. Every day that you make an effort is a day worth celebrating, because you’re one day closer to reaching your goals.

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This is the most important thing you can take away from this article.

Water makes up more than two-thirds of the weight of the human body. Without water, humans would die in a few days. All the cells and organs need water to function.

Water serves as a lubricant. It makes up saliva and the fluids surrounding the joints. Water regulates the body temperature through perspiration. It also helps prevent and relieve constipation by moving food through the intestines.

Even knowing this, most people will ‘forget’ to drink enough water to keep a healthy fluid level on any given day. It is essential to drink more water than usually would be enough for a healthy fluid level in the body when dieting. Drinking water during weight loss is important because it provides hydration without unwanted calories. Drinking water before or with a meal can help a dieter feel full sooner. Drinking water may help replace or avoid unnecessary food calories found in extra servings at mealtime.

The amount of water you drink to be healthy during exercise goes up. This is key to successful weight loss. It’s even more important in hot weather when it’s possible to lose about the equivalent of a quart of water in an hour. You will need to drink water before, during and after every workout.

Don’t wait to start sipping. That’s a sign that dehydration has already started. We need to drink water throughout the day, on a regular basis. If you want your diet to work, you need to drink plenty of water. Water can fill you up, decrease your appetite, and help your body get rid of waste from that fat you’re burning. So what are you waiting for? Water is available right now from your tap, and it’s free!

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Why is it important to maintain an ideal weight?

Posted February 12, 2018 By C.B. Swartz

In short, when you control your weight you control the key factors to your overall health. Lowering body weight, even as little as 10%, has been shown to have phenomenal health benefits that can be more effective than medications. It can help reverse or prevent diabetes and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Excess fat hits more than just your waistband. Life expectancy, medical expenses, productivity, mobility, and self-confidence are all affected. The path to better health is straightforward and simple: eat smart, get active, and stay accountable. True wellness means a life unfettered by weight and illness. It means enjoying your golden years actively with your great-grandchildren. Wellness is so much more than a number on a scale. It’s living a life full of vitality and loving it.

Getting healthy benefits more than just your body. A number of recent studies have reported a link between exercise and maintaining brain and cognitive health throughout your entire life.

Planning your pathway to wellness is just like planning any other journey. You have to know your starting point, your destination, and define any checkpoints along the way. Knowing where you are now brings clarity to where you want to go. Without that critical factor, it’s far too easy to lose direction and get discouraged.

The secret is knowing one critical number … your daily calorie limit. When it comes to losing weight, there is one universal truth. You have to take in fewer calories than your burn. This can be achieved by eating less, exercising more, or both. Weight loss cannot happen unless there is a “calorie deficit”.

How do you know how many calories you need to lose weight? You need to know your calorie limit. Your calorie limit tells you how many net calories you need to consume each day to maintain your current weight.

(Click here for a ‘Calorie Calculator’ and other helpful tools.)

To determine how many calories you should eat each day, simply take your daily calorie limit and subtract 500 or 100 depending on your goal. For moderate weight loss, your daily calorie limit should be -500 calories per day equaling one pound per week. For more significant weight loss your daily calorie limit should be -1000 calories per day to equal two pounds per week. Any more would not be healthy weight loss.

A 500 calorie deficit in your day will make more difference than you may think. If you go on a brisk 45-minute walk (-220 calories) and trade two cans of soda for an unsweetened drink or water (280 calories) you have a 500 calories deficit.

Choose your calories wisely. When it comes to managing your weight, any real, lasting change will unavoidably involve changes in how you eat. That doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself.

When it comes to carbohydrates, complex is best. Have cereals, green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grain breads; instead of candy, soda, and refined breads. Making four simple switches is enough to lose 10 pounds of fat a year! Choose mozzarella instead of cheddar, popcorn instead of potato chips, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and salad instead of French fries. Those few changes add up to about 35,000 calories a year.

Most of us have believed that we should eat ‘three good meals a day’. Anyone who has ever struggled to lose weight can tell you that the six-hour gap between lunch and dinner can seem much longer indeed and can often lead to cheating on your diet or eating more. Eating three smaller meals and two substantial snacks throughout the day makes much more sense and makes losing weight easier. What difference does it make? It makes quite a bit of difference, actually. Eating smaller meals more often can boost the rate at which you burn calories, make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients, and stabilize your blood sugar levels over the course of the day.

Important: While the number of times you eat each day should increase, your total daily caloric intake should not. In short, eat smaller meals more often. Give your stomach time to adjust to this strategy. Your stomach will shrink and after time, the idea of eating 3 large meals will be unappetizing. To calm your grumbling tummy in the meantime, keep plenty of water on hand.

Beware of portion distortion! Over the last 20 years, this nation’s portion sizes have expanded dramatically. A typical restaurant portion is nearly twice the recommended amount. As a rough rule of thumb, consider your fist as a full portion size.

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Exercise for Improvement of Quadriceps Strength

Posted February 6, 2018 By C.B. Swartz
If you are planning to start running for the first time ever or if it has been a while since you have run, do this before you take that first step …
Sit on the floor with knees flexed. Contract the quads as tightly as you can, trying to straighten out the knee as much as possible. Hold this for 10 seconds, rest for 2 seconds, and repeat for as long as you are able increasing the number of reps as you are able to do so.
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Exercise for Arthritis

Posted February 6, 2018 By C.B. Swartz

Research has shown that exercise can help reduce arthritis pain and improve range of motion, and it’s now considered an essential part of arthritis management. Regular exercise can: Reduce inflammation, stiffness, and joint pain Build muscle around joints, better supporting them and protecting them from shock and daily wear and tear Increase flexibility Improve endurance Take some special precautions to make sure that your exercise routine provides maximum benefit while reducing the risk of injury and pain from sore joints.

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