Category Archives: Health

Give Chai a Try

It packs a more powerful taste punch than traditional teas and has nutritional benefits to boot!
By Deborah Steuer
Chai” is a Hindi word meaning “tea,” so you never need to ask for a “chai tea.” Whatever you call it, this spicy tea drink will deliver a pleasing taste and a host of anti-aging health benefits.

Flavor full of flavonoids

The chai that’s served up in coffee shops is usually a strong brew of black tea blended with a mixture of spices, milk, and sugar. The black tea leaves (like Assam or Darjeeling) contain a wallop of antioxidants, called flavonoids, that help protect the body against Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and heart disease. In fact, researchers from the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, New York, have shown that tea—whether black, green, white, or oolong—has about eight to ten times more flavonoids than fruits and vegetables. And tea may help soothe stress: A British study from the University College in London found that people who drank black tea had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and were able to destress faster than those who drank a tea substitute.

Even better than black tea

Chai may be even more nutritious than traditional black tea. Says tea researcher Wa Song, a professor of nutrition at Michigan State University in East Lansing, “In addition to the health benefits from the phenols in the tea, chai provides some phytochemicals from the ginger, cinnamon, and other fresh spices.” These spices have different kinds of disease-fighting antioxidants that work in harmony with tea flavonoids. What’s more, the milk that gives chai its creamy flavor provides a hefty serving of calcium and vitamin D to strengthen your bones. “Plus it has more flavor, providing a more pleasurable taste,” adds Song.

Creating chai at home

It’s easier than ever to make chai at home. Dry mixes, similar to instant coffee, require you to just blend with warm milk for a quick brew. Steam the milk in an espresso machine to make yourself a chai latte. To make traditional chai, here’s a simple recipe:

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) of water

1 1/2 inch (3.8 cm) stick of cinnamon

8 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon (2 grams) grated fresh ginger root

2/3 cup (160 ml) of milk

3 teaspoons (6 grams) black tea leaves (Assam or Darjeeling)

Honey or sugar to sweeten (optional)

Place water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil.

Cover and lower heat to low setting; simmer for 10 minutes.

Add milk and black tea leaves and again bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Strain through a sieve.

Add honey or sugar to sweeten.

For less caffeine, try making chai from white tea leaves, which are the least processed and contain the highest amount of antioxidants. If you prefer no caffeine, try a slightly more pungent red chai made from red tea leaves.

Deborah Steuer is a freelance health writer and regular Aisle7 contributor. Though not a chai drinker, she’s eager to try it after writing this piece.
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Posted by on January 20, 2011 in antioxidants, Chai, Health, Tea


What Makes a Good Multivitamin?

Know Your Options to Best Support Health
Designed for people whose diets don’t meet all their nutritional needs, multiple vitamin–mineral supplements (“multivitamins”) are convenient nutrient combinations, usually taken one to six times per day. While it’s generally agreed that a healthy diet is the best foundation for health, everyday life makes that goal challenging for many people. So, some people supplement in hope of preventing disease-causing deficiencies and providing higher nutrient amounts than they can get through diet alone, which may help prevent or manage certain diseases.

Who decides how much is enough?

In the US, official Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) recommendations were developed by a government-appointed panel in the 1940s to broadly cover healthy people of any age or gender. Used to design mass food programs, such as for the armed forces and food relief/ration programs, RDA’s were the basis for the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) values, which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to create the Daily Value (DV) packaging labels.

Many multivitamins contain at least 100% of RDA recommendations. However, decades of research on human nutrition have led many researchers and healthcare professionals to conclude that a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not address the increased need for certain nutrients by certain groups, such as calcium for children, vitamin C for smokers, or vitamin D for seniors. Though sometimes inconclusive, abundant research still suggests therapeutic benefits to supplementing with certain nutrients, even when eating a healthful diet.

For a list of the recommended optimal amounts of each nutrient, go to a Healthy Person’s Guide to Vitamins & Minerals.

What’s the best multivitamin for me?

Multiples are available as a powder inside a hard-shell pull-apart capsule, as a liquid inside a soft-gelatin capsule, or hard-pressed as tablets that may be chewed or swallowed. Common products on the market include:

* Low-potency/one-a-day multiples: These mixtures often contain 100% of the vitamins and minerals many people require, though not enough to make up for deficiencies or other therapeutic amounts. For example, people eating a Western diet may be deficient in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which one-a-days may not help correct.[REF1 from V&M]
* High-potency multiples: These mixtures may provide higher amounts of desired nutrients sometimes designed to support particular health goals, such as heart health. To evenly distribute nutrition to the body, these are sometimes optimally taken two to six times per day in divided doses.
* Timed-release: Theoretically, releasing vitamins and minerals slowly into the body over a period of time is better than releasing them all at once. However, except for some studies showing better absorption of time-released vitamin C, this assumption has not been well studied and some concerns have been raised about the safety of the chemical agents used to cause the timed-release (though they have not well researched).
* Vegetarian: Most capsules are made from animal gelatin, so vegetarians need to carefully read supplement labels to ensure they are getting a vegetarian product.

What’s the best way to take a multi?

The best time to take most supplements is with meals, to avoid stomach upset they sometimes cause and to help the body better absorb the nutrients.

* Capsules vs. tablets: Occasionally B vitamins react with a product’s other ingredients, especially when exposed to moisture or heat; this can cause discoloration and a bad smell. While the multiple is still safe and effective, the smell is off-putting and usually not very well tolerated. Liquid multiples in a soft-gel capsule—or tablets or capsules that are kept dry and cool—do not have this problem. Capsules are usually not as large as tablets, so some people find them easier to swallow. Properly made tablets and capsules will dissolve readily in the stomach, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed.
* Chewables: Multiples do not taste very good and to make them palatable to both children and adults, bad-tasting ingredients are reduced or eliminated and the rest are masked with a sweetener (sometimes more sweetener than any other ingredient). Debates continue, but healthcare professionals generally recommend avoiding regular consumption of both artificial sweeteners like aspartame (NutraSweet®) and sugars. (Xylitol, a natural sugar, does not cause tooth decay or other known problems but is rarely used in chewables because it is relatively expensive.) Chewable vitamin C products should contain buffered vitamin C, rather than the acidic form (ascorbic acid), to avoid damaging tooth enamel.

Does a multiple ensure good nutrition?

Nothing beats a nutrient-rich, whole foods diet to as a foundation for good nutrition, and quality supplements may help support that goal. However, there is some speculation that the nutrients found in a multiple are better utilized if taken separately, as certain nutrients compete with each other for absorption, whether in food or supplements. For example, magnesium, zinc, and calcium compete; copper and zinc also compete. However, the body is designed to cope with this competition and it is less likely to be a problem if nutrition is derived from several sources and supplementation is spread out over the day.

Are multiples good for kids?

While a whole food diet is the preferable route, a high-quality multivitamin might be recommended for children eating an unbalanced diet. In one double-blind trial, schoolchildren received a daily low-potency vitamin-mineral tablet for three months that contained 50% of the USRDA for most essential vitamins and the minerals. About 20% of participants (working class, primarily Hispanic, children, aged 6 to 12) experienced dramatic gains in certain measures of IQ, possibly due to correction of specific nutrient deficiencies found in these children. However, it was not possible in this study to identify which nutrients caused the improvement.

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Posted by on January 9, 2011 in Diet, Health, Vitamins


Keep Body Fat Down with Whole Grains

By Maureen Williams, ND

When it comes to cardiac risk, it’s not just the amount of carbohydrate in our diet that matters, but also the quality. A new report describes how carbohydrate quality might affect heart health by altering body fat distribution. They found that people whose diets were high in whole grains had less of the type of fat that appears to be associated with higher cardiovascular risk (visceral abdominal fat, which is deposited between organs) than people with high refined grain intake.

The report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, comes out of a large ongoing study called the Framingham Heart Study. Dietary information and abdominal fat measurements from 2,834 participants in the larger study were included in this report.

Whole grain eaters have less belly fat

For the dietary analysis, grains were put into two categories:

Whole grains: Examples of these include whole grain cold cereals, oatmeal, brown rice and other cooked grains, dark bread, popcorn, and additional bran and germ.

Refined grains: Examples of these include refined grain cereals, white bread, English muffins, bagels, biscuits, muffins, white rice, pasta, pancakes, waffles, crackers, and pizza.

Measurements of the visceral fat were lower in whole grain eaters and higher in refined grain eaters:

• People with the highest whole grain intake (more than three servings per day) had the least visceral fat.

• People with the highest intake of refined grains (more than four servings per day) had the most visceral fat.

Adding whole grains is not enough

Before you start thinking that you need only add some whole grain servings to your day in order to reap their benefit, consider the following: the study also found that people who ate lots of both whole and refined grains did not see similar improvements in visceral fat measurements as people who ate lots of whole—but not refined—grains.

“These findings suggest that if individuals are already eating several daily servings of refined grains, the inclusion of whole grains in the diet may not translate into lower amounts of visceral fat,” said lead study author Dr. Nicola McKeown of Tufts University in Boston. “Instead, efforts should be made to replace refined grains in the diet with whole grains.”

Making the switch

Here are some ways to replace refined grains with whole grains:

• Start with breakfast. Switch from sugary cold cereals to high-fiber whole grain cereals like shredded wheat, or experiment with hot cooked grains like oatmeal, buckwheat, or quinoa with some added fruit and nuts.

• Break the bread habit. Instead of a sandwich, have your lettuce, tomato and cheese, meat, or hummus with quinoa or brown rice and some dressing. If you really want a sandwich, use bread that lists whole grain flour as the first ingredient.

• Snack on popcorn. Treat yourself to a bowl of air-popped popcorn with olive oil and a little salt, chili powder, and nutritional yeast, and forego the cookies and muffins. Lemon and garlic are another tasty popcorn combination condiment.

• Choose whole grain pasta. Or better yet, choose one of the cooked whole grains like millet, unpearled barley, or brown rice.

While you’re at it, don’t forget about the other components of a heart-healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, and occasionally fish.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2010;doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29106)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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Posted by on January 2, 2011 in Diet, Food, Health


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Once Again, Fish Fats Shown to Fight Heart Disease

Healthnotes Newswire – By Maureen Williams, ND

More and more, inflammation has been implicated as the culprit in heart and blood vessel diseases, making anti-inflammatory agents such as the omega-3 fats found in fish of interest to researchers. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to play an important role in supporting cardiovascular health, and a new study published in Vascular Pharmacology now reports that lower-than-normal levels of omega-3s were found in people who have suffered vision loss and brain damage as a result of disease in the artery that carries blood from the body to the head and neck (the carotid artery).



Plaques—not good for the arteries

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is characterized by plaque formation in the artery walls. These plaques are thought to be the result of cholesterol buildup, oxidative damage, and inflammation.

The cap of an atherosclerotic plaque can break away from the vessel wall, travel in the blood, and become lodged in a smaller artery: traveling plaques within the coronary arteries can cause a heart attack. Breakaway plaques from the carotid arteries tend to block small arteries in the brain, leading to vision loss, a condition that sometimes precedes a stroke, known as transient ischemic attack, or a stroke.

Low omega-3s associated with more symptoms

Carotid artery plaques from 41 people having surgery to have them removed were analyzed for signs of inflammation and for their fatty acid makeup. Plaques from people with symptoms of vision loss, transient ischemic attack, or stroke, had a higher degree of inflammation and lower levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the two major omega-3 fatty acids from fish, than plaques from people with no symptoms. Levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which are generally considered to be inflammatory, were the same in symptomatic and asymptomatic people.

“Recommendations have previously been made regarding the amount of omega-3 content which may prove to be beneficial for cardiac protection, especially in those at risk,” the study’s authors said.

More might be the answer

These current results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids from fish might prevent stroke, adding to the evidence from a number of previous studies showing that omega-3 fatty acid consumption prevents cardiovascular disease. Here are some ways to get more in your diet:

• Follow the advice of the American Heart Association: eat two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish per week. These include salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel.

• Include plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as non-defatted flax meal, walnuts, and oils from soy, canola, walnut, and flaxseed. These foods can increase levels of the beneficial EPA, and, unlike fish, are generally free of heavy metals and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl).

• If you have heart disease or a high risk of heart disease, consider taking a daily fish oil supplement that provides 1 to 1.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.

(Vascul Pharmacol 2009; doi:10.1016/j.vph.2009.08.003)
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in Food, Health, Omega-3


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Gotta Love Those Anthocyanins!

Purple carrots – yes, you heard me right, purple not orange – are rich in phytonutrients, such as anthocyanins, phenolic acids, and carotenoids. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia set out to investigate how these compounds might aid in the treatment of the metabolic syndrome. They compared how well either purple carrot juice or beta-carotene reversed the structural and functional damage to tissues in rats fed a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Results showed that the rats fed a high-carbohydrate, high fat diet developed all the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, including hypertension, cardiac fibrosis, increased cardiac stiffness, endothelial dysfunction, impaired glucose tolerance, increased abdominal fat deposition, altered plasma lipid profile, liver fibrosis and increased plasma liver enzymes together with increased plasma markers of oxidative stress and inflammation as well as increased inflammatory cell infiltration. However, supplement that diet with purple carrot juice and all those damaging effects were reversed. Beta carotene did not reduce oxidative stress, cardiac stiffness or fatty liver. The researchers suspect that it was either the anthocyanins or a combination of phytonutrients that produced the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which then improved glucose tolerance, as well as cardiovascular and liver structure and function.   Poudyal H, Panchal S, Brown L: Comparison of purple carrot juice and beta-carotene in a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet-fed rat model of the metabolic syndrome. British Journal of Nutrition 2010;12:1-11.

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Posted by on December 16, 2010 in Health


Healthy Child

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Posted by on December 3, 2010 in Harmony, Health, Nature


Hello world!

Welcome to Health Harmony & Nature!

“Health in harmony with nature”,


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Posted by on August 25, 2009 in Health