Archived Articles - July 2014

Depleted levels of vitamin C in blood increase fatal strokes risk by 50 percent

In the U.S., over 800,000 people endure the wrecking consequences of a stroke every year, while 150,000 succumb to the effects of this fourth main cause of death. It is unfortunate that several of these deaths can be avoided by changing one's lifestyle and sticking to a diet without any processed food, and incorporating more healthy vegetables and fruits. High blood pressure coupled with series of unhealthy lifestyle choices result in stiffening of the arteries as one ages, thereby radically augmenting the chances of developing an incurable ischemic disease.

In fact, while augmented physical activities is a familiar approach to lower blood pressure, now a diet incorporating sufficient amounts of vitamin C is being valued for its aptitude to enhance the elasticity of the arteries, which lowers the chances of developing a stroke.

Scientists at France's Pontchaillou University Hospital will be realising the findings of a research undertaken by them to the American Academy of Neurology demonstrating how consuming foods enclosing vitamin C like broccoli, oranges, papaya, strawberries and peppers may be associated to diminished chances of developing a hemorrhagic stroke. Compared to ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke is a rare disease, but certainly more lethal. This ailment occurs when a fragile blood vessel inside the brain rips open allowing blood to seep into as well as in the region of the brain.

Intake of vitamin C from foods as well as supplements enhances the elasticity of the blood vessels to reduce the risks of vascular diseases, including a stroke. During the course of their research, the scientists at Pontchaillou University Hospital examined 65 patients who had earlier suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke and compared their findings with the health conditions of another group of healthy individuals of the same age.

Dr. Stephane Vannier, the lead study author remarked that their findings have shown that it is important to consider deficiency of vitamin C as a risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke. Similarly, their study revealed high blood pressure (hypertension), consumption of alcohol and overweight are also responsible for this type of stroke. After examining the levels of vitamin C in the bloodstream, the researchers discovered that the level of this nutrient in about 41 percent of those who participated in the study was normal, the level of this vital nutrient was low in 45 percent subjects and 14 percent suffered from vitamin C deficiency.

The scientists evaluated the subjects' conditions for 10 years and finally concluded that vitamin C levels in the blood were depleted in subjects who suffered a stroke earlier, while the level of the nutrient was normal in participants who did not experience a stroke. Substantiating their findings, the researchers cited the findings of a study undertaken by the University of Cambridge in 2008 that showed people having elevated levels of vitamin C in their blood had 42 percent less chances of having a stroke. The researchers also referred to the findings of a study undertaken in 2012 hinting that chocolate consumption may also reduce risks of a stroke. The study discovered that the chances of stroke were 17 percent less in men who consumed large quantities of chocolate, compared to those who seldom ate chocolate.

Writing in Medical News Today, Catherine Paddock, PhD, says that vitamin C may possibly lower risks of stroke by lowering the blood pressure, adding that vitamin C offers several other benefits, such as formation of collagen, a vital protein responsible for the structure of the skin, tissues and bones.

In fact, nearly all citrus fruits as well as vegetables provide us with adequate quantity of vitamin C and majority of the researches on the topic have shown that taking vitamin C supplements in measures of anything between 1,500 mg and 3,000 mg daily helps to notably reduce the chances of developing vascular diseases, counting stroke and heart disease.

Top foods that help to alleviate high blood pressure

Although high blood pressure or hypertension is a widespread condition these days, its consequences may often be serious or even fatal. However, it has been scientifically proved that making certain changes in your diet may help a lot in addressing this condition. People enduring serious cases would definitely need medical attention and also pharmaceutical intervention. It is unfortunate that most people suffering from mild cases fall back on synthetic drugs too soon, ignoring the various common foods and herbs that can restrain mild to moderate cases of hypertension.

Garlic and onions

Findings of several studies have demonstrated that fresh garlic as well as garlic supplements help to lower blood pressure. It is also useful for the immune and cardiovascular systems. It has been found that garlic also aids in lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Some studies suggest that you need to consume just one clove of garlic daily in order to lower blood pressure. According to some specialists, the optimum health benefits of garlic can be obtained by consuming this herb raw. Slice the garlic clove roughly 10 minutes prior to consuming it.

Onions are also helpful in lowering blood pressure.

Potassium-rich foods

Many people intake significant amounts of table salt in their daily diet. When we take diets high in sodium content, it results in elevated blood pressure, especially in people who are vulnerable to this mineral.

Therefore, to regulate blood pressure, it is important that there is a steady balance between potassium and sodium in the body. Consumption of more foods rich in potassium not only reduces sodium intake, but also helps to control blood pressure.

Usually fresh vegetables and fruits are wonderful resources of natural potassium. Vegetables and fruits also enclose plenty of dietary fiber that also aids in lowering blood pressure. Contrarily, packed and processed foods enclose loads of sodium salts and detrimental additives.

Some fruits that contain elevated amounts of potassium include apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, dates, mangoes, kiwifruit, honeydews, papayas, pomegranates, oranges and watermelon. Similarly, vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, asparagus, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, artichokes, parsley, watercress, celery, winter squash and Swiss chard are rich in potassium content.

However, people with kidney problems should avoid foods rich in potassium, as this may be detrimental for their condition. It is essential for them to consult a physician before taking any potassium-rich fruit or vegetable.


Drinking plenty of water daily is one remedy for high blood pressure. According to Dr. Julian Whitaker, who founded the Newport Beach, California-based Whitaker Wellness Institute recommends that you should drink 15 glasses (8-ounce glass) of water daily or one glass every hour you are awake.

Water facilitates the bodily systems to relax. This includes the arteries - tight and constricted arteries are a major reason for developing high blood pressure. According to Dr. Whitaker, nearly all medications for high blood pressure imitate the consequences of drinking lots of water.

Other particular vegetables

Specific compounds present in particular vegetables have been found to support lowering high blood pressure. For instance, tomatoes enclose seven compounds, counting gamma-amino butyric acid (also known as GABA), whereas broccoli encloses no less than six such compounds that assist in lowering high blood pressure. In addition, carrots contain no less than eight such specific compounds.

Celery has long been employed in traditional Chinese medicine for bringing down high blood pressure. Consumption of just four celery stalks may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure.

The above mentioned recommendations may be useful for addressing high blood pressure of mild to moderate nature. However, medical drugs are required for serious cases of hypertension. Once these drugs bring the situation under control, you may gradually reduce using them under a physician's supervision simultaneously using the foods discussed above.

Best means to relieve acid reflux and heartburn

Many different foods may lead to heartburn and acid reflux, both very annoying conditions. In fact, there are various medical reasons for lessening their occurrences. For instance, frequent incidents of acid reflux may result in esophagus irritation, which may, sooner or later, make one vulnerable to deadly diseases like cancer. However, we are fortunate because some dietary and lifestyle changes can aid in preventing these conditions from occurring.

Prefer herbs to spices

Although spices add a lot of flavour and even heat to a dish, they may also prove to be exasperating. If you experience heartburn and/ or acid reflux following a spicy meal, next time you should opt for some calming herbs for seasoning your foods. While herbs like parsley, basil and oregano no doubt add wonderful flavour to dishes, they are also calming for the body. Therefore, try consuming some herbs that are soothing, instead of taking spicy meals. While another herb mint offers various health benefits, it can also cause irritation for sensitive people. However, you may have to do some trial and error before deciding which herb is appropriate for you.

Avoid carbonated beverages

While carbonated drinks are bubbly they are also responsible for bloating as well as gas in people who are especially vulnerable to their consequences. Moreover, carbonated drinks may also result in esophagus irritation and heartburn. Drink herbal tea or plain water for better results, rather than consuming the harmful carbonated drinks.

Discard caffeine

Many people prefer to begin their day with a hot cup of coffee soon after they wake up. However, it is unfortunate for connoisseurs of coffee; caffeine may lead to irritation of the esophagus as well as the intestines, thereby causing heartburn and acid reflux. Rather than consuming coffee every morning, warm some almond milk and sprinkle some cinnamon and drink it. Alternatively, you may also try some herbal tea every morning after you wake up.

Choose right healthy foods

People who consume healthy foods may often be baffled to experience heartburn and acid reflux. In fact, some foods that are very healthy, such as beans, tomatoes, legumes, peanuts and peppers may also lead to these conditions. However, other healthy foods like berries, apple cider vinegar, organic yogurt, olive oil, leafy greens and sweet potatoes may aid in calming the stomach as well as the esophagus. Try to avoid all healthy foods that are unsuitable or problematic for you and also stay away from red meat, refined flour, many dairy products and sweets. Instead, use healthy foods that lessen incidences of acid reflux and heartburn.

These tips are time-tested and people suffering from acid reflux and heartburn will soon be relieved of their problems provided they simply follow them.

Cinnamon bark may thwart progression of Parkinson's disease

Findings of a latest study undertaken by scientists at the Rush University Medical Center and carried in the June 20 edition of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology suggest that consuming cinnamon powder may possibly help to negate some of the changes in the brain that are related to Parkinson's disease.

According to Kalipada Pahan, PhD, and lead researcher, for several centuries, cinnamon has been extensively used by people worldwide as a spice and its use may have the potential to be the safest means to thwart progression of Parkinson's disease in people already enduring the neurological disorder.

Symptoms of brain and motor overturned

An untreatable degenerative neurological disorder, Parkinson's disease affects the substantia nigra, the region in the middle of the brain. As the cells in this brain region die, it leads to a decline in the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter; thereby causing symptoms like stiffness of limbs, tremor, sluggish movement, bladder disorders, constipation, sleep disorders, problems related to balance and gait, difficulty in swallowing and also mood or cognitive disorders. Currently, 1.2 million people in the U.S. and Canada are affected by this condition.

In earlier studies, scientists examined the various changes in the brain that result in the development of Parkinson's disease as well as its symptoms.

According to Pahan, in order to develop drugs that are effective in protecting the brain and also stop the advancement of Parkinson's, it is important to comprehend the manner in which the disease works. He added that it has been detected that the amount of some vital proteins such as Parkin and DJ-1 are diminished in the brain of people suffering from Parkinson's disease.

During the latest study, scientists fed mice enduring Parkinson's disease with ground cinnamon and found that as the cinnamon arrived in their gut, it was metabolized into a variety of metabolites, counting sodium benzoate, which is widely used as a food preservative. When this chemical entered the brain, it helped to stop Parkin and DJ-1 loss, prevent neuron death and also led the neurotransmitters like dopamine to get back to the standard levels. When fed with cinnamon, the mice also experienced enhanced functioning of the motor system.

Pahan observed that cinnamon is broken down in the liver to form sodium benzoate - a drug approved by the FDA and employed for treating hepatic metabolic anomalies related to hyperammonemia.

Scientists are positive that these findings may bring about Parkinson's disease treatment or even its cure.

Pahan was of the view that now they needed to turn these findings to the clinic and experiment ground cinnamon in people with Parkinson's disease. If the results are reproduced in Parkinson's patients, it would certainly be a big leap in the treatment of this wrecking neurodegenerative condition, he added.

A primeval super food

Obtained from the internal bark of Cinnamomum trees, for centuries cinnamon has often been used in traditional medical systems for treating colds, diarrhea and congestion.

Various studies have demonstrated that cinnamon may particularly be useful in controlling or putting off diabetes, as it seems to decrease insulin resistance, bring down sugar levels in the bloodstream and also lessen the complications associated with the disease. In clinical trials, it has been found that cinnamon also helped to bring down high blood pressure, LDL or "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.

Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, which help to eliminate free radicals from the body and may even aid in putting off chronic ailments and delay the effects of aging process. A study undertaken by scientists at the University of California-Santa Barbara found that this herb may also be helpful preventing Alzheimer's disease by saving the tau proteins in the brain from oxidative stress.

Pahan suggests that people seeking to enhance cinnamon intake through their diet should take Cinnamomum verum or Ceylon cinnamon instead of Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon). Both varieties are available in the United States.

Pahan says that though both cinnamon varieties are broken down into sodium benzoate in the liver, mass spectrometric analysis has shown that compared to the Chinese cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon is more wholesome. Chinese cinnamon encloses a hepatotoxic molecule called coumarin, he explained.

Aloe vera is excellent for skincare and cardiovascular system's health

The use of aloe vera dates back to more than 6000 years. In fact, the amazing health benefits of this herb were first noticed by the Egyptian civilization and, hence, people in ancient Egypt considered and named aloe vera as a plant that ensured immortality.

Aloe vera was employed to treat an assortment of health conditions, including indigestion, baldness, insomnia and cancer. Currently, this herb is grown regularly in tropical regions like Latin America, South Africa and the Caribbean. Many additional curative properties of aloe vera were discovered in the 18th century and it is frequently used for treating burn injuries, skin irritations and wounds.

Many physicians consider this herb to be a super food, as it possesses extraordinary antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. It is also loaded with large quantities of various vitamins and essential minerals. Aloe vera is also believed to be an adaptogen, meaning it possesses the aptitude to facilitate the body in adapting as well as resisting any changes brought about by foreign elements that may usually result in ailments. Aloe vera routinely encourages the defense mechanisms enabling the body to deal with various types of stress more effectively.

In addition to being remarkably beneficial for the skin as well as the immune system, findings of latest studies have revealed that aloe vera also has tremendous potential to address problems associated with the cardiovascular system and also specific cancer forms.

Ability to inhibit skin cancer growth

Scientists in India undertook a study on Swiss albino mice with stage-2 skin carcinogenesis to examine the effectiveness of aloe vera when used orally or externally. The scientists instantly observed that employing DMBA and croton oil separately on the test subjects always led to tumour development. Conversely, the test subjects that were administered aloe vera in any form were likely to develop 60 percent less tumours, since the collective number of papillomas was diminished considerably. This convinced the scientists that the aloe vera stems possess chemo preventive activity owing to the presence of elevated levels of antioxidants, polysaccharides, glutathione peroxide, various isozymes of super oxide dismutase, trace mineral selenium and zinc.

Findings of a number of experiments have led the scientists to believe that introducing aloe vera to the bloodstream may lead to a significant increase in the transportation of oxygen of the red blood cells and their diffusion abilities. The British Medical Journal, 2000 edition, carried the findings of a study showing the manner in which aloe vera constituents were capable of bringing down the cholesterol levels in bloodstream, regulating blood pressure and augment blood circulation by diluting the blood further.

The results clearly indicated that aloe vera consumption is very likely to reduce the possibilities of developing heart diseases.

Several researchers have identified that treatment with aloe vera can speed up the healing of burn injuries - at least by nine days. Findings of one study show that using aloe vera can help to heal burns in below 16 days. On the other hand, it would take no less than 19 days to heal burns with a synthetic drug called silver sulfadiazine.

Restrict fat intake when under stress to avoid weight gain

Contrary to the widely accepted view that stress accelerates the metabolic process, findings of a latest study hint that one should strictly take a healthy and low fat diet when one is in tension or trauma.

Scientists at the Ohio State University provided a 930-calorie serving of food, comprising 60 gram fats, to a group of 59 female subjects having average age of 53 years, and subsequently evaluated the metabolic pace of the participants and also assessed their blood sugar, insulin, triglycerides and cortisol, a stress hormone.

All the subjects were asked to provide details regarding the preceding day's stress and it was found that women, who endured at least one nerve-racking incident, actually burnt lesser calories compared to the participants who did not experience any stress. The researchers were of the view that such disparities in the metabolism may possibly add to gaining additional weight about 11 lbs annually.

In addition, the scientists also found that the insulin level in stressed women was higher and this might lead to weight gain, as insulin helps to amass fat in the body.

According to Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, study lead author and psychology and psychiatry professor at the Ohio State University, this indicates that with passage of time, stressors may result in weight gain. He said that other data have shown that people are prone to consume wrong foods when in stress and the data collected by them showed that eating wrong foods often leads to weight gain, as we burn lesser calories in such situations.

While several studies in the past have related stress to being obese or overweight, scientists at the Ohio State University claim that they are the first to discover the actual way it affects us. Kiecolt-Glaser observed that taking a meal of turkey sausage, gravy, eggs and biscuits, which the women participants were required to consume within 20 minutes, is not different from what people eat during their busy schedule.

In order to trim down their findings, the scientists divided the women subjects into two groups and served a different fat-rich meal to each. While one group was given a meal comprising mostly saturated fat, the other was served a meal comprising sunflower oil along with monounsaturated fat - but the disparity in fat content does not seem to make any difference.

The Ohio State University's human nutrition professor and a co-author of the research Martha Belury said that they were of the view that saturated fat would affect the women's metabolism more adversely, but their findings showed that both types of high-fat meals produced similar results vis-à-vis the stressors influenced by burning up calories.

While studying the issue of depression, the researchers discovered that although a history of depression did not affect the rate of metabolism, people experiencing both stress and depression at work or in their family endured a sluggish metabolism. In fact, such individuals witnessed an acute rise of fat deposits in their bloodstream, which can be determined by the quantity of triglycerides present in the blood.

Although the scientists do not say that their findings are also relevant for men, as men and women have dissimilar body fat storage as well as hormones, the researchers are hopeful that the findings of their study would persuade one and all to keep healthy foods close at hand for consumption during stressful times.

Belury admitted that though they are aware that one cannot always steer clear of stress in his/ her life, we can certainly organize ourselves to counter stressors by storing healthy foods in the cabinets and refrigerators so that they are at hand when we are under stress, instead of conveniently going for high-fat foods.

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