Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coconut Oil

The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Nearly one-third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy.

Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.

Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another may provide a wide range of health benefits.

Coconut oil helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids, contributing to overall health. It contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of lauric acid.

Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome and candida. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that cause indigestion.

Coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and by those who are dieting. Coconut oil contains fewer calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy, reducing stress on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzyme systems. It increases the body metabolism, helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose.

Some of the most recent research has come from people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, with reports of people improving or even reversing the effects of Alzheimer's by using coconut oil. Alzheimer’s is now seen as a type 3 form of diabetes, and for years there have been positive results from people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in using coconut oil.

Coconut can be used as a beauty product. It has been shown to reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. It supports the natural chemical balance of the skin, softens skin, helps relieve dryness and flaking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots, and provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Used as a hair product, coconut oil provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair and providing a shiny complexion. When applied to the scalp, coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. It is an excellent conditioner, and is used in many hair and skin products on the market.

With a long shelf life and a melting point of 76 degrees, coconut oil was a favorite in the baking industry. But a negative campaign against saturated fats in general, and coconut oil in particular, led to most food manufacturers abandoning coconut oil in recent years in favor of hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that come from the main cash crops in the US, particularly soy. These hydrogenated oils contain trans fatty acids.

While some people accuse coconut oil of being a “fad,” the fact is that it has been consumed for thousands of years, and around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient that is vital to all creatures. Vitamin C is perhaps best known for its ability to strengthen the immune system. But this potent nutrient also has many other important roles that control significant aspects of our health.

Along with its immune functions that fight against bacteria, viruses, and infection, vitamin C also serves as an effective antihistamine that will lessen the unpleasant effects of the common cold, including inflammation, stuffy nose and aches. It is also necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. A healthy dose of vitamin C will protect your body from infection and maintain healthy bones and teeth, as well as quicken the body's ability to repair wounds.

Vitamin C is a powerful and effective antioxidant that protects our bodies from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Excessive oxidative stress can lead to a host of severe medical conditions, such as atherosclerosis that can cause both heart disease and stroke, and is associated with many different types of cancer, including lung, mouth, throat, colon, stomach and esophagus. Vitamin C also helps to regenerate your supply of vitamin E and helps your body absorb iron.

Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure, lessening the probability of hypertension, as well as the serious health problems that follow, such as cardiovascular disease.  Along with lowering your blood pressure, vitamin C ensures proper dilation of blood vessels, which can prevent such diseases as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, and angina pectoris.

Vitamin C dramatically lowers your blood lead level. This is especially important for children living in urban areas, as studies have shown that lead toxicity can lead to behavioral and developmental problems, such as learning disabilities and lowered IQ. Adults, moreover, may suffer from kidney damage and high blood pressure.

The lens of the human eye requires vitamin C to function properly, and a deficiency can lead to cataracts (a condition in which the lens becomes increasingly opaque, causing blurry vision). A higher intake of vitamin C has been shown to fight cataracts by increasing the amount of blood flow to the eye.

Recent research suggests another potential use for vitamin C. In a study of hospitalized patients, who often have lower than normal vitamin C levels, researchers observed an improvement in mood after they received vitamin C. The link between vitamin C and mood may seem surprising, but it's not so far-fetched. People who have vitamin C deficiency often feel fatigued or depressed.

One reason why we fall so short is that our diet simply does not consist of nearly enough raw fruits and vegetables. Another reason is that the RDA of 90 mg for vitamin C is set much too low, which is the same problem we see with vitamin D. Such a low RDA leads people into a false sense of security that they are meeting their daily requirements. It also makes them wary of taking the much higher dosages that are required for good health.

Because your body doesn't produce or store vitamin C, it's important to include vitamin C in your diet. The amount depends on many variables such as diet, age, stress level, amount of exposure to pollutants, amount of medications we take, and overall health. A generic amount is around 1-4 grams per day for a healthy individual. People with serious illnesses will need much, much more.

Foods that are especially rich in vitamin C are parsley, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts. Rose hips are commonly used to make supplements.

As far as supplements are concerned, natural vitamin C complexes are much more potent than the common and less expensive ascorbate forms. However, someone that needs a lot of vitamin C will find that the natural complexes can be cost prohibitive. Mineral ascorbates and ascorbic acid are acceptable forms to take for reaping all of vitamin C's many health benefits. Just be sure to look for vitamin C supplements that are non-GMO, as the vast majority of these supplements come from GMO corn.

When we get enough in our diets, vitamin C helps detoxify our bodies, promotes healing of all of our cells, and allows us to better deal with stress. It also supports the good bacteria in our gut, destroys detrimental bacteria and viruses, neutralizes harmful free radicals, removes heavy metals, protects us from pollution, and much more.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Trying to Cut Calories? Try These Substitutions!

Potatoes
Craving mashed potatoes? Try using cauliflower instead. Boil cauliflower until tender. Mash using masher for "home style" or use an electric mixer for smooth texture. You may add butter, or milk, skim milk would be best. Season to taste.

Chips and Salsa
Salsa is a low-calorie snack. However those pesky chips add up. Try using vegetables instead. Cucumbers, celery, zucchini and other vegetables that can be sliced in flat manner work great.

Salad Dressing
Many people on diets default to choosing salads to cut back on calories. However many do not realize how many calories can be packed into their dressing. Especially a cream based dressing. Try using non-fat cottage cheese. Some brands are more liquid than others. You may need to experiment to find the consistency that you prefer.

  • Another great alternative to salad dressing is salsa! There are a variety of flavors and textures to choose from. You and get chunky or smooth, sweet or spicy, etc.

Soft Taco Shells
Going low carb? Try using eggs! You can use just whites or the whole egg. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat. Pour a thin layer of egg into a greased pan. Cook on a low heat. Using a spatula can help remove the egg "pancake" from the pan without tearing it.

Making a wrap?
Forget the pita. Just use lettuce leaves.

Peanut Butter
Just two tablespoons of peanut butter has 190 calories and a whopping 150 calories are from fat. Try using powdered peanut butter. It contains 45 calories and 13 from fat. Just add water and stir!

Hot Dogs
Try turkey or chicken dogs, by the time you put your zero calorie mustard on it you won't be able to taste a difference from beef or pork dogs.

Hamburgers
Mix equal parts lean ground beef or turkey with found mushrooms to cut calories in half. Trade the large puffy bun for a "sandwich thin". Use low-fat cheese.

Sour Cream
Use non-fat greek yogurt. It is thick and tart like sour cream.