Almond milk

I was asked earlier this week what was better for you; skimmed cow milk or soy milk. I thought more people might have the same question, so I figured I’d write it out in my blog:

What type of milk is best for you?

As a general rule of thumb, the less processed the better for you. When products are very processed they normally have less nutrients and often more chemicals (less natural). I believe a small glass of full cream milk is better than a big glass of skimmed milk. However, the milk from the cow is meant for the calves and contains a lot of hormones that may not be good for humans. Also, cows often eat food that contains chemicals that could be harmful to us. Personally I try to stay away from dairy all together and chose other alternatives. People often think you lose out on calcium if you don’t drink cow milk. There are a lot of foods that are high in this nutrient – such as poppy seeds (see Calcium). Also, if you go out in the sun and get some Vitamin D your body is able to absorb more of the calcium you provide it with!

In regards to soy, it is one of the most gene manipulated (GMO) foods out there. I therefore only chose organic soy products. Although most cafés only provide cow milk or soy milk (an not always organic), you can purchase several alternative types of milk in the grocery stores, such as:

  • Almond milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Quinoa milk

My favorites are almond and oat milk.

One thing to look out for when buying these products are the sugar content. Some of them contains quite a bit, so just read the label. Otherwise you can MYO (make your own). I often make almond milk and change it up by using different ingredients to add some sweetness to the milk.  Depending on how rich you want it to taste, you can increase amount of almonds per liter of water. You can also chose other sweetening ingredients instead of the coconut like I’ve used this time. Some examples are vanilla extract, honey, agave syrup, cinnamon or stevia.

Almond Milk Recipe

  • 1.5 cup almonds
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut

Soak the almonds for 1-2 hrs, rinse and put them in the blender with the water and vanilla extract. Mix for approximately 30 seconds. A good tip is to only put some of the water in first and mix it so that it almost turns into almond porridge. This will help the almonds to be chopped finer. Moreover, if your blender has a pulse function, this also helps cutting it into finer pieces. Pour the remaining water in and mix for 15 sec.

Filter the milk though a nut bag (can be found in most health stores) and the milk is ready to drink. You can use the pulp to make almond flour. Simply spread it out on a tray and put it in the oven for 20 min on low temperature. This is great to use in baking but also in cooking other food (e.g, when making vegetarian burger patties).

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Uses of almond milk

Almond milk tastes great in coffee, tea (especially in Chai tea) and in hot chocolate. It is good to use in baking as well.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

What is a Vegetarian and Vegan Diet?

Although there are many variations of vegetarian diets, they all base their diets on foods of plant origin, but there are different levels of vegetarianism according to how much food derived from animals is also eaten. The groups can generally be split into 5 major categories:

  1. ‘Semi vegetarian’ eats poultry and/or fish, dairy foods and eggs, but no red meat;
  2. ‘Lacto vegetarian’ consumes dairy foods but no meat, poultry, fish or eggs;
  3.  ’Lacto-ovo vegetarian’ includes dairy foods and eggs, but no meat, poultry or fish;
  4. Pescetarian’ includes fish and other seafood, but no meat or poultry (while eggs and/or dairy foods may or may not be eaten); and
  5. A ‘vegan’ eats only foods of plant origin.

There are also some extreme forms of vegetarianism, like ‘fruitarians’ that eat nothing requiring a living organism to be killed, restricting their diet to fruits, nuts, honey and olive oil.

Why Go Vegetarian or Vegan?

Many people are vegetarians as a result of religious beliefs and some because they don’t want to support animals suffering. A lot of people also chose to not eat red meat as a result of research that links red meat consumption and health issues. Heart diseases and high cholesterol levels are two examples.

Vegans would almost certainly agree with the moral argument but would probably add that, unlike milk and eggs, plants contain no cholesterol and most plant foods have little ‘saturated fat‘ (a type of fat that is associated with increased risk of heart disease). But it is worth noting that coconut oil and palm oil are exceptions, in that most of the fat from these plant foods is saturated. However, please stay as far away as possible from palm oil as this breeds highly unethical behaviour against wild life (google or youtube it if you need more insight).

Arguments for a vegetarian diet are the higher levels of many vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and other substances that are of nutritional benefit in foods of plant origin.

Many vegetarians believe that, in addition to health benefits and moral considerations, there is also reduced environmental degradation (i.e. increased sustainability) associated with vegetarianism.

Do I Get All the Necessary Nutrients With a Vegetarian Diet?

Vegetarian diets, when properly planned, have been consistently found to provide the full range of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fibre necessary for optimal nutritional status.

However, vegetarian diets can lead to low iron status. Vegetarian teenage girls and women of child-bearing age are particularly at risk of iron-deficiency anaemia because red meat a good source of iron. Combining a source of vitamin C (such as fruit or fruit juice) with wheat-based cereal foods will increase the absorption of the iron available in the cereal. Eggs, legumes (a term that includes peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soy foods) and nuts are also significant sources of iron.

Do I Get Enough Nutrients With a Vegan diet?

A well-planned vegan diet can meet all nutritional requirements. However, some are at risk of developing B12 deficiency unless special effort is made to eat foods with this vitamin, or a vitamin supplement is taken. Although any diet that fails to address healthy eating principles can be deficient in essential nutrients, vegans may need to be especially cautious with their eating habits with regard to nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, iodine, selenium and omega-3 fats.

These nutrients can still be absorbed via supplementation. Supplement vendors like GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe, local grocery stores or online vendors such as Powder City provide the aforementioned nutrients in supplement form. It is most cost effective to purchase your supplements in bulk powder form. (ex: http://www.powdercity.com for Zinc)

Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods, and studies have shown that both vegetarians and vegans generally have lower levels of vitamin B12 than do omnivores.  While it can take many years to become deficient, anyone following a vegan diet who doesn’t include a reliable source of vitamin B12 is at risk of becoming deficient over time.  If you follow a vegan diet (or you are vegetarian but don’t eat many dairy foods or eggs) you should either take a vitamin B12 supplement or include foods fortified with vitamin B12 in your diet regularly. This is particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, to reduce the risk of deficiency in their babies.

If you’re tired of getting ripped off for vitamins and supplements from your local grocery or department stores, affordable and high quality supplements are at online retailers like Powder City or Hard Rhino. Their customer service is top notch and they offer free shipping to orders over $25.

Do I Get Enough Protein on a Vegetarian or Vegan diet?

One of the first things that stops people from going vegetarian or vegan is that they think their only source of protein is meat. Grain foods, legumes, potatoes, seeds and nuts are good sources of protein. Pepitas seeds are a good source – 36.7% of its weight is actually protein!

Although vegetarians and vegans have to make an effort to get enough of certain vitamins, is fair to say that vegetarians in Western nations often eat a diet that is closer to the recommended pattern of food intake. Vegetarian diets include higher intakes of cereal foods, vegetables (including legumes) and fruits—and therefore of dietary fibre—with lower intakes of fat  (particularly saturated fat) and salt.

Vegetarians in Western countries experience significantly less cancer, less heart disease, fewer strokes and generally live longer

What are the Benefits of Being on a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet?

medicinalThere is substantial evidence supporting that vegetarians in Western countries experience significantly less cancer, less heart disease, fewer strokes, and generally live longer than omnivores. Studies has shown that higher intake of beneficial dietary factors—available only in foods of plant origin— explains the better overall health of vegetarians.

Much research is still needed to determine the optimal diet for health and longevity (living to a ‘ripe old age’). Some nutritionists believe that a predominantly vegetarian diet, with low-moderate quantities of lean meat and moderate quantities of low- or reduced-fat dairy products will produce the best long-term health outcome. However, it is still true that strict vegetarianism (particularly the lacto and lacto-ovo varieties) is associated with better health outcome than an omnivorous diet.

Resources

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/frequently-asked-questions/vegetarian-diets

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Summer’s coming!

Summer finally seem to be around the corner, and being a Norwegian I did not for a second hesitate to rush down to the beach and absorb some rays and vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for calcium to be taken up in the body and utilized (read more in the vitamins and minerals section). Although the temperatures were only creeping just over the 20-mark, being out in the sun I could actually feel the need for hydration.

Hydration

Watermelon and coconut water are known to be two of the best ways to rehydrate. They are found to be more easily absorbed by the body than water. Coconut water is the same thickness as blood, and when chewing watermelon, it is mixed with saliva and therefore more easily taken up in the system.

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coconut

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Recovery

After a couple of hours in the sun and a rather refreshing swim, I was ready to withdraw from the beach. Sun and salt really dries your skin out, but applying aloe vera and apple cider vinegar helps the recovery.  Apple cider vinegar is good if you are sunburnt as the skin needs to restore its chemical balance which will speed up the healing process. Make sure the vinegar is aged in wooden containers   ★

Chlorophyll

What is Chlorophyll and what is it used for?

Chlorophyll is a chemoprotein that gives plants and algae their green colour. It is also commonly known to be related to protoheme, the red pigment of blood. Chlorophyll has been used clinically for over half a century for various symptoms and conditions. It also removes toxins from the liver, which makes it a great detox aid.

Benefits and Medicinal Uses of Chlorophyll

medicinalNatural chlorophylls are not known to be toxic, and no toxic effects have been attributed to chlorophyllin despite more than 50 years of clinical use in treating humans.

Traditionally, Chlorophyll has been used to improve bad breath and acts as natural antiperspirant against body odor including odors of the urine, feces. Moreover, chlorophyll has for more than 50 years been commonly used to reduce local inflammation and promote healing of infected and slow-healing wounds. More recently chlorophyll has been used to help remove various toxins via the liver and remains a key compound for improving the function of essential detoxification pathways. Research suggests it can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent for conditions, such as pancreatitis as well as exhibiting potent antioxidant and chemoprotective activities. Science has demonstrated it may be an effective therapeutic agent in the treatment of herpes simplex,  benign breast disease,chemoprevention, tuberculosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Type 2 and obesity are also being explored as areas where chlorophyll can also be used.

Below is a list of conditions that chlorophyll has shown a positive effect on

Cancer (laser therapy adjunct): Preliminary evidence suggests that chlorophyll may aid in the reduction of side effects associated with photodynamic therapies such as those used in management of malignant tumors. A recent study showed that human colon cancer cells undergo cell cycle arrest after treatment with chlorophyllin. The mechanism involved inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase activity. Ribonucleotide reductase plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair, and is a target of currently used cancer therapeutic agents. This provides a potential new avenue for chlorophyllin in the clinical setting, sensitizing cancer cells to DNA damaging agents

Fibrocystic breast disease: The benefits of chlorophyll in benign breast disease may be attributed to its ability to alter liver enzyme pathways involved in estrogen metabolism. A combination product containing chlorophyll may be beneficial for this condition, but more research is needed to confirm these preliminary results. 

Herpes: Clorophyll may treat herpes simplex and herpes zoster, although more research is needed in this area.

Pancreatitis (chronic): Chlorophyll-a may reduce the mortality rate of experimental pancreatitis. Additional study is needed in this area.

Pneumonia (active destructive): Chlorophyll may help to regulate T lymphocyte counts in patients with active destructive pneumonia. Further studies are required to further elaborate on the immune-modifying effects of chlorophyll.

Poisoning (reduce Yusho symptoms): Yusho is a poisoning caused by ingestion of rice oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, specifically polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A chlorophyll-rich diet may increase PCDF and PCB elimination, but further high quality research is needed.

Protection from aflatoxins: Chlorophyll may be of use as a chemopreventative agent due to its ability to inhibit the tumor-promoting effects of carcinogens. Chlorophyll may act to improve the detoxification of toxins involved in cancer promotion. However, more research is needed in this area.

Reduction of odor from incontinence/bladder catheterization: Based on historical use, chlorophyll has been suggested to improve bodily odor in colostomy patients. Despite empirical use, clinical research did not support these findings.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Diets high in chlorophyll have been hypothesized to modify intestinal flora resulting in improved management of immune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis. More evidence is needed to support the use of chlorophyll inautoimmune diseases.

Tuberculosis: Preliminary evidence suggests that chlorophyll intake duringchemotherapy treatment in patients with tuberculosis may improve immune parameters and free radical indices, such as malonic dialdehyde. Additional study is needed in this area.

What foods contain Chlorophyll?

medicinal 2Chlorophyll is found in green plants; generally the darker green the higher content.  It can be obtained from green leafy vegetables (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, and spinach), algae (Chlorella and Spirulina), wheat grass, and numerous herbs (alfalfa, damiana, nettle, and parsley. Chlorophyll can easily be implemented into your diet through juices and smoothies, salads and stir fries.

The chlorophyll contents of selected vegetables are presented in the table below

Chlorophyll Content of Selected Raw Vegetables
Food Serving Chlorophyll (mg)
Spinach 1 cup 23.7
Parsley ½ cup 19.0
Cress, garden 1 cup 15.6
Green beans 1 cup 8.3
Arugula 1 cup 8.2
Leeks 1 cup 7.7
Endive 1 cup 5.2
Sugar peas 1 cup 4.8
Chinese cabbage 1 cup 4.1

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What is Chlorophyllin? 

Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll and unlike natural chlorophyll, chlorophyllin is water-soluble – not fat-soluble. Most chlorophyll supplements available in the supermarket and health stores contain some chlorophyllin as it is less expensive than the natural substance.

References

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/chlorophylls/#intro

http://www.healthline.com/natstandardcontent/chlorophyll

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002893.htm

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Kale

What is Kale?

Kale is a member of the cruciferous family and is a highly nutrient dense vegetable. It is an excellent source of calcium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin A, Vitamin C and vitamin E. Kale is very often used in green juices and smoothies due to its health benefits.

Benefits & Medical Uses of Kale

medicinalWhen chewing kale, (and other brassicas broccoli and cabbage) they release sulphoraphanes, which boost the body’s ability to remove toxins. Moreover, the indole-3-carbinole in brassicas promotes DNA repair and may stop cancer-cell growth. Research suggests that kale is effective in preventing and fighting bladder, breast, colon, ovary and prostate cancer.

Vitamin E in kale can preserve elasticity in the skin and prevent stretch marks. It is also known to generally support pregnancy. Kale is also a great source of vitamin K, which is necessary for bone growth and needed to make thrombin, the substance that allows blood to clot.

Tip

To retain the most nutrients, eat raw, steam or stir fry rather than boil and chop the leaves at the very last moment.

Recipes with Kale

White Bean, Greens and Tomato Gratin

medicinal 24 servings. To make bread crumbs, whirl two or three slices of day-old French bread in a food processor or blender to fine crumbs.

  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked or canned white beans, rinsed and drained if canned
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. salt

Topping

  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch round or 10-inch oval gratin or baking dish. Remove tough stems from greens and rinse well. Stack greens and cut into thin strips.
  2. In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add greens and cook until tender, tossing often, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add beans, tomatoes, broth, thyme and salt and mix well. Spoon into prepared gratin dish, spreading evenly.
  3. Topping: In small bowl, mix all ingredients. Sprinkle evenly over top of greens mixture. Bake until hot, about 40 minutes.

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Crispy Kale Chips

medicinal 2Betcha can’t eat just one of these light, crispy snacks. Nutritional yeast gives them a tangy, almost cheesy flavor. If you are concerned about gluten, check to make sure the brand of nutritional yeast you use was grown on beets, not barley.

  • 1 12-oz. bunch curly kale, center
  • stems removed, each leaf torn
  • into 4 pieces (6 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast

1. Place kale in bowl. Rub oil, lemon juice, and salt into leaves with hands. Add nutritional yeast, and toss well.

2. Spread kale onto dehydrator trays without overlapping. Dehydrate 2 to 4 hours, or until dry and crispy. Turn off dehydrator, and cool completely.

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Nutritional Values in Kale

Nutrient Value pr 100g
Energy 49 kcal
Protein 4.3 g
Fat 0.9 g
Carbohydrate 8 g
Calcium 150 mg
Iron 1.5 mg
Magnesium 47 mg
Phosphorus 92 mg
Potassium 491 mg
Sodium 38 mg
Zinc 0.6 mg
Vitamin C 120 mg
Thiamin 0.1 mg
Riboflavin 0.1 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Vitamin B6 1.3 mg
Folate 31 µg
Vitamin A, RAE 500 µg
Vitamin A, IU 9990 IU
Vitamin K 704.8 µg
Saturated fat 0.09 g
Monounsaturated 0.05 g
Polyunsaturated 0.34 g

Resources

Watts, Charlotte (2011) “100 best foods for pregnancy” Parragon.

Manheim, Jason (2011) “The healthy green drink diet”. Skyhorse Publishing

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Garlic

What is Garlic?

Garlic is the edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. It has been used as both amedicine and a spice for thousands of years. Garlic’s most common folk or traditional uses as a dietary supplement are for high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Medicinal Use of Garlic

medicinalMedicinal garlic comes in many forms, but raw garlic is most potent medicinally, and deodorized forms may have reduced medicinal action. According to a researcher at the National Cancer Insti- tute, garlic should be chopped and allowed to sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking to stabilize benefi- cial compounds and maximize garlic’s anti-cancer properties.

Garlic’s uses in folk medicine include treatments for bronchitis and respiratory problems, gastrointesti- nal problems, flatulence, leprosy, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, diabetes and externally for warts, corns, arthritis, muscle pain, neuralgia and sciatica. It’s no wonder that garlic acquired the name poor man’s treacle, or cure-all. Recently, science has begun to confirm some of garlic’s long-standing medicinal uses. Garlic has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar in studies and clinical trials and has also demonstrated anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant effects.

Benefits of Garlic

  • Preliminary research suggests that taking garlic may slow the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke.
  • Evidence suggests that taking garlic may slightly lower blood pressure, particularly in people with high blood pressure.
  • Some studies suggest consuming garlic as a regular part of the diet may lower the risk of certain cancers.

Side Effects and Cautions of Eating Garlic

Garlic may have some side effects due to disease, sensitiveness, in combination with medications etc. and if eating excessive amounts of it. Some are harmless and some more significant;

  • Breath and body odor, heartburn, upset stomach, and allergic reactions (these side effects are more common with raw garlic).
  • Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) in a manner similar to aspirin. This effect may be a problem during or after surgery. Use garlic with caution if you are planning to have surgery or dental work, or if you have a bleeding disorder.
  • Garlic can irritate the digestive tracts of very young children, and some sources don’t recommend garlic for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, some individuals are allergic to garlic.
  • Garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection. Its effect on other drugs has not been well studied.

Recipies with Garlic

Penne Pasta Salad with Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

medicinal 2A high-quality, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is essential to this recipe’s success: the bold, salty flavor curbs the need for extra fat or seasoning. The salad also makes a quick weeknight meal when served hot. Serves 6

  • 6 oz. penne rigate pasta
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced (3 Tbs.)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ red jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped (1 Tbs.)
  • 10 fresh red or yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 oz. shaved or crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 8 minutes. Add broccoli, and cook 1 minute more. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.

2. Return pot to stove, and heat oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic in oil 1 minute. Add jalapeño, and cook 30 seconds. Stir in pasta mixture, tomatoes, and reserved cooking water. Transfer to large serving bowl, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cool to room temperature, and top with cheese.

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Garlic & Kale Soup

CookingThis brothy soup provides heart-healthful nutrition on many levels: kaleand garlic are good for the cardiovascular system; wheat berries are high in fiber; and shiitake mushrooms contain eritadenine, an amino acid that speeds up processing of cholesterol in the liver.

  • ½ cup wheat berries
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3.5 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch kale (10 oz.), stemmed and coarsely chopped

1. Soak wheat berries in large bowl of cold water overnight.

2. Heat oil in 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and season with salt, if desired. Sauté mushrooms 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in vinegar; simmer until vinegar is almost evaporated, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan.

3. Drain wheat berries, and add to mushroom mixture with vegetable broth and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes. Add kale, and cook 10 to 20 minutes more, or until kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

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Nutritional Content in Garlic

Nutrient Value pr 100g
Energy 149 kcal
Protein 6.36 g
Fat 0.5 g
Carbohydrate 33 g
Sugar 1 g
Fiber 2.1 g
Calcium 181 mg
Iron 1.7 mg
Magnesium 25 mg
Phosphorus 153 mg
Potassium 401 mg
Sodium 17 mg
Zinc 1.16 mg
Vitamin C 31.2 mg
Thiamin 0.2 mg
Riboflavin 0.1 mg
Niacin 0.7 mg
Vitamin B6 1.2 mg
Folate 3 µg
Vitamin A  9 IU
Vitamin E 0.08 mg
Vitamin K 1.7 µg
Saturated fat 0.09 g
Monounsaturated 0.01 g
Polyunsaturated 0.25 g

Resources

http://nccam.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Herbs_At_A_Glance_Garlic_06-15-2012_0_0.pdf?nav=gsa

http://www.herbsociety.org/factsheets/Garlic%20Guide.pdf

http://www.herbsociety.org/factsheets/garlic.pdf

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?format=&count=&max=25&sort=&fg=Vegetables+and+Vegetable+Products&man=&lfacet=&qlookup=&offset=300

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Caffeine

What is caffeine and what does it do?

Caffeine is a substance that is found in certain plants. It can also be produced synthetically and then added to food products. It is a central nervous system stimulant and a diuretic (substance that helps rid your body of fluids). Caffeine is absorbed and passes quickly into the brain. It does not collect in the bloodstream or get stored in the body. However, it leaves the body in the urine many hours after it has been consumed.

There is no nutritional need for caffeine and it can be avoided in the diet.

Caffeine stimulates, or excites, the brain and nervous system. It will not reduce the effects of alcohol, although many people still believe a cup of coffee will help a person “sober-up.” Caffeine may be used for the short-term relief of fatigue or drowsiness and is suggested to be the most common stimulant in our society.

Most people get their caffeine intake from coffee, which is highly acidic. Milk is also acidic, so the combination makes a very acidic environment in the body. In chemical terms, acids are molecules that  contain an extra proton that can be donated, while bases can accept an  additional proton. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14; pure water has a neutral pH  of 7. Acids range from 0 to 7, and bases range from 7 to 14 on the scale. The regular blood pH-range is 7.36 to 7.44, making it slightly alkaline. Deviating from this pH range puts you in an imbalance which is likely to limit the body in maintaining health, making it less resistant and can then result in disease.

Food sources containing coffeine

Caffeine is widely consumed. It is found naturally in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of more than 60 plants, including:

  • Tea leaves
  • Kola nuts
  • Coffee
  • Cocoa beans

It is in:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Most colas (unless they are labeled “caffeine-free”)

Caffeine is often added to over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, over-the-counter diet pills, and cold medicines. Caffeine has no flavor and it can be removed from a food by a chemical process called decaffeination.

Side Effects

Caffeine can lead to:

  • A fast heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Urinating more often
  • Vomiting

Stopping caffeine abruptly may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Reduce caffeine gradually to prevent any symptoms of withdrawal.

The effect of caffeine on health has been widely studied.

  • Large amounts of caffeine may decrease bone mass density, most likely by interfering with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. This may lead to osteoporosis.
  • Caffeine may cause or worsen painful, lumpy breasts (fibrocystic disease).

Caffeine may have a negative effect on a child’s nutrition if caffeinated drinks replace healthy drinks, such as pure water and freshly pressed juices. A child who consumes caffeine may also eat less, because caffeine can reduce the appetite.

Recommendations

The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs states that moderate tea or coffee drinking likely has no negative effect on health, as long as you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

  • Three 8 oz. cups of coffee (about 250 milligrams of caffeine) per day is considered an average or moderate amount of caffeine.
  • Ten 8 oz. cups of coffee per day is considered excessive intake of caffeine.

People who may want to avoid caffeine or only drink small amounts of it include:

  • People who are prone to stress, anxiety, or sleep problems
  • Women with painful, lumpy breasts
  • People with acid reflux or stomach ulcers
  • People with high blood pressure that does not respond to treatment
  • People who have problems with fast or irregular heart rhythms
  • People who have chronic headaches

Carefully watch how much caffeine a child gets. Even though caffeine is safe in moderate amounts, it is a stimulant. A hyperactive child may need to avoid caffeine.

Small amounts of caffeine during pregnancy are safe, but large amounts are strongly discouraged.

  • Caffeine, like alcohol, travels through your bloodstream to the placenta and can have a negative affect on your baby. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it increases your heart rate and metabolism — both of which directly affect the baby.
  • It is okay to have one or two cups of coffee, tea, or cola a week, but try to give them up completely if you can.

Many drugs will interact with caffeine. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about possible interactions with caffeine whenever you take medications.

Resources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002445.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20502420

http://www.livestrong.com/article/331031-facts-about-human-bodys-ph-levels/

http://www.gaianaturopathic.com/docs/Effects_of_Coffee.pdf

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