Archived Articles - February 2015

Natural remedies for alleviating sore throat

There are several reasons for developing a sore throat, including air pollution that often aggravates allergies to the exasperating common cold. While people often have to deal with more grave issues like gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD) and carcinogenic throat tumours, one may develop a sore throat, especially in winter or in cold climatic conditions, due to dry indoor air amidst very heated surroundings.

A sore throat causes a dry, irritating and sometimes painful feeling that is very annoying, forcing people to try out several things to alleviate their condition. However, it is unfortunate that most things such people do, for instance using numbing throat sprays bought from pharmaceutical stores, actually worsen their condition.

Stay away from sprays, liquid promises

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that they continue to get reports regarding methemoglobinemia - a severe and potentially fatal side effect related to benzocaine products including sprays, which are used medically to frozen the mucous membranes in the throat as well as the mouth.

Although this condition is rare, it can occur due to poor oxygen supply in one's blood stream resulting in headaches, very fast heart rate and sometimes also death.

Instead of using such harmful non-prescription drugs, it is prudent to adopt natural methods to treat a sore throat.

Seven natural ways to alleviate a sore throat

Some simple ways to treat a sore throat are discussed briefly below. Possibly, you already have many of these simple remedies at your home.

Apple cider vinegar: This substance is very versatile and is usually prescribed for treating various health conditions, which may vary from helping treat problems related to the skin to being a part of your detox program. No doubt, often apple cider vinegar is considered to be a go-to solution. If you want to use apple cider vinegar for treating a sore throat, you should take a blend of two teaspoon of the substance with one-fourth cup (62.5 ml) warm water and honey. If you are bold enough, you may take apple cider vinegar solution directly, without diluting it.

Cayenne: Cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, which serves as a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. To treat sore throats, just take 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder and mix it in one glass of lukewarm water and use the solution as a gargle. Gargling with this solution when necessary will provide respite from annoying sore throat. However, remember not to use cayenne powder in excess, as it is very spicy. If you can tolerate, you can use more than half teaspoon of the powder.

Garlic: This spice possesses antibacterial as well as antiviral attributes and taking crushed or sliced raw garlic is an excellent way to alleviate a sore throat. Having chopped garlic, leave the pieces for about 15 minutes, as this will will make them more effective, unlike using them in cooking, which robs their healing attributes. There are people who like taking garlic with lemon and honey. Some others like adding the crushed garlic to their preferred herbal tea or simply a cup of plain hot water.

Sore throat teas: Apart from taking a garlic tea, you can take several other herbal teas available at health stores to treat a sore throat. However, while purchasing them, opt for organic teas that are particularly meant to swathe the throat and alleviated the tenderness associated with a sore throat. In fact, ginger, cinnamon and licorice root also possess warming and soothing attributes that help in curing a sore throat.

Pickle juice: Taking pickle juice to treat a sore throat may not be tempting to many, but this is certainly a go-to option that is worth trying. It is said that gargling with a salt and vinegar blend found inside a pickle jar helps to alleviate the pain associated with sore throat. In fact, taking raw sauerkraut juice, which encloses probiotics and vitamin C, is also effective for alleviating irritating throats.

Zinc: Findings of many studies suggest that zinc may possibly lessen the period of a cold and it may even help to reduce the total number of occurrences of cold one develops throughout the year. While taking lozenges are known to stifle rhinovirus, many people have often complained of undesirable side effects like headaches, alteration in their smell sense and even a foul taste in the mouth.

Hence, it is suggested that you try using zinc supplements obtained from reliable healthcare stores to treat a sore throat. In addition, you may take foods that contain high levels of zinc, for instance pumpkin seeds and garlic.

Warm saline water: Gargling with a warm saline solution is one of the most common natural remedies for sore throat. Just add 1/4 teaspoon of table salt to half a cup (125 ml) of warm water and gargle at frequent intervals to get respite from a sore throat. Using a warm saltwater solution not only reinstates the right pH levels, but also unwinds the throat muscles, thereby reducing the pain associated with a sore throat.

When you try any of the above mentioned natural remedies for sore throat, it brings about a calming effect inside your mouth and throat, thereby making you feel better soon.

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Anti-cancer properties of turmeric and how to increase curcumin absorption

Turmeric (scientific name Curcuma longa) belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This perennial plant has a bright yellow rhizomatous root covered with a tan-colored skin. Turmeric is a popular spice that is widely used in the cuisines of the Middle East, Southeast Asian and North African regions. Turmeric is a very versatile herb that is also one of the key ingredients in spice blends for curries and it augments the flavour of soups, salads, meats, stir-fries and other cuisines.

The active elements in turmeric are called curcuminoids, which offer many health benefits. The particular compound called curcumin is known to be the most potent, therapeutically very powerful and responsible for turmeric's cancer-killing attributes. This compound facilitates detoxification as well as rejuvenation of the liver, diminishes the negative consequences of excessive iron in the body.

In addition, curcumin augments the body's antioxidant ability, reinforces the brain cells, enhances cognitive functioning and lessens the risks of developing Alzheimer's disease as well as treats the condition. This compound also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, lessens the chances of developing heart diseases and depression, besides combating premature aging.

We know that curcumin literally kills cancer, but what is its mechanism?

Curcumin's lethal aspect

There are about 10 to 13 trillion cells in the human body. Every day our body replaces anything between 100 billion to 130 billion of these cells. The old and unnecessary cells are destroyed through a firmly controlled process of cell suicide known as apoptosis or programmed cell death.

Interestingly, unlike the normal cells, the carcinogenic cells do not commit suicide. On the contrary, they render the suicide genes inactive.

In such situations, curcumin stimulates the death receptors in different ways. Scientists are still in the process of learning the mechanism by which curcumin works to activate these receptors. One interesting means by which this compound turns on the death receptors is by activating enzymes that simply breaks up the proteins present in the cells. Scientists are of the view that cancer cells are unable to resist curcumin, unlike the chemotherapy drugs, because this compound triggers the death of carcinogenic cells in various different ways. As of now, we are still not aware of the reason behind curcumin sparing the healthy cells in our body. All that we know is that curcumin just kills the cells that are thought to be dead already.

Unfortunately, our bodies have a propensity to get rid of almost all the curcumin we consume. It is important to note that unless there is help, it becomes difficult for our body to absorb much curcumin.

Increasing bioavailability of curcumin

Our bodies have a problem with curcumin. As our liver tries to put off or get rid of unnecessary drugs, supplements and similar substances, it also retards curcumin absorption - a process known as glucuronidation. In effect, this process makes curcumin less effectual in our body compared to its normal effectiveness. Nevertheless, we can enhance the ability of our body to take up this compound.

Consume turmeric with black pepper

The strong flavour of black pepper is attributed to piperine, an alkaloid enclosed by it. Piperine slows down the metabolic functions of specific enzymes resulting in the disposal of what our body deems to be surplus curcumin. However, the action of this compound is not restricted only to curcumin, as black pepper can also augment the body's ability to take up other supplements and similar substances. When taken with black pepper, piperine helps to raise the body's ability to absorb curcumin by about 2000 percent.

Blend turmeric with useful fats

It has been established that curcumin dissolves in fats. In the absence of fats, curcumin does not disband as it should. As a result, curcumin finds it difficult to reach the gut and being assimilated into our blood stream and eventually reach the cells where the compound is needed. Hence, it is advisable that you always consume turmeric with beneficial fats such as olive oil, avocado and coconut oil.

Take turmeric with quercetin

A plant flavonoid, quercetin slows down the action of the enzymes that neutralize curcumin. Hence, it is advisable that you consume turmeric with quercetin.

Apples, blueberries, chicory greens, cranberries, onions, red lettuce leaf, sweet peppers, raw broccoli, raw spinach, raw kale, snap beans, green tea, black plums, red grapes and red wine are some foods that contain high levels of quercetin. However, capers are known to be the best whole food source that enclose quercetin.

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10 Natural Nutrients To Overcome Depression

Have you ever thought why you are lacking positive emotions? If you are among the people who do not have an positive attitude towards life, you ought to know that apart from the various psychological approaches, proper nutrition is also essential to maintain your mood. In fact, deficiency of several nutrients can result in depressive feelings.

Some nutrients that are vital for maintaining your mood are discussed below. You may consider asking your physician or healthcare practitioner whether your body has a deficiency of any of these nutrients. In case your healthcare practitioner does not consider that lack of specific nutrients is responsible for your depression, you may go ahead and think about firing him/ her.

The principal objective of any well educated physician with integrity should be to review your diet and correct it by adding the appropriate supplements, if your diet lacks adequate nutrients. Taking a healthy diet that accomplishes all your nutritional requirements is the easiest, safest, cheapest, most effective and least invasive means to reinstate your body's balance.

Below is a brief discussion regarding the merits of 10 nutrients that you may explore and try to get rid of your depressive feelings.

Amino acids
Amino acids have a key role in supporting your brain to operate as it should be. If your diet does not incorporate adequate amino acids, it is likely that you will start feeling depressed, sluggish and even unfocused. In such cases, you need to augment your intake of beans, nuts, seeds and red meat with a view to make sure that your body is receiving sufficient amounts of these essential nutrients.
B-complex vitamins
Findings of a study undertaken in 2009 showed that more than 25 percent of aged women who have been diagnosed with acute depression suffered from B complex vitamins deficiency. The findings suggested that B complex vitamins are much more vital for our mental health than what people previously thought. According to the National Institute of Health, ingestion of 2.4 mcg of B-12 along with anything between 1.5 mg and 1.7 mg of B-6 daily is necessary for sound mental health. Both these essential nutriments are present in milk, poultry, eggs, fish, and meat in addition to seafood like clams, crab, and mussels.
Vitamin D
Deficiency of this vital nutrient is not only related to depression, but absence of adequate vitamin D in your body may even make it prone to other conditions like autism and dementia. Generally, people become deficient in vitamin D during the fall and winter, when we receive very little sunlight. The National Institute of Health recommends that adults require at least 600 IUs of this nutrient daily. On the other hand, Dr. Mark Hyman suggests that ideally an adult should take anything between 5,000 IU and 10,000 IU daily for optimum health.
It has been found that deficiency of folate in the body severely reduces the efficiency of antidepressant medications. As a result, these days many progressive psychiatrists prescribe folate for people suffering from depression. The minimum daily dosage of folate for most adults is 400 mcg and this can be obtained by consuming lots of dark leafy greens, beans, legumes and citrus fruits as well as juices.
This chemical element is vital for the proper functioning of the thyroid glands. While the thyroid glands appear to be very small, it influences almost all other systems in our body, including the body temperature, the energy level of the body, metabolism, functioning of the brain, immune system and many more. People with iodine deficiency usually suffer from an impaired thyroid and this often results in depressive feelings as well as other undesirable symptoms.
According to rough estimates, nearly 20 percent of women in all age groups endure iron deficiency. Low levels of iron in the body may result in symptoms that are very akin to those of depression such as irritability, fatigue and failure to concentrate. Therefore, you should ensure that you are essentially taking iron in dosage between 8 mg and 18 mg daily.
While it may seem incredible, the fact is that almost 50 percent of Americans suffer from magnesium deficiency. In fact, consuming excessive salt, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and enduring chronic stress only leads to depletion of the body's magnesium reserves. Magnesium is a vital nutrient as it is among the minerals that combat the detrimental consequences of continuous stress most effectively. While adult males require anything between 400 mg and 420 mg of magnesium daily, the standard daily dosage of this mineral for adult women is anything between 310 mg and 320 mg.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Most of us are aware that omega-3 fatty acids are good for the health of our heart, but what many of us are yet to realize that this nutrient also has a positive effect on our mental health. Your diet may be lacking in adequate omega-3 fatty acid content even if you consume a fish oil supplement every day. Since our body is unable to produce these compounds by itself, it is essential for us to consume them in sufficient quantities and also take omega-3 fatty acids supplements to make certain that we are receiving adequate amounts of these nutrients. Some foods that contain elevated amounts of this nutrient include fish like salmon, tuna, halibut as well as nuts, including walnuts and flaxseeds.
This is a trace mineral that is vital for the optimal functioning of the thyroid glands. Selenium is also a vital antioxidant that works to prevent the oxidization of the polyunsaturated acids present in the cell membranes. In fact, nearly all of us require no less than 55 mcg of this mineral to ensure that we are in the best of our health - both physically as well as mentally.
Though zinc is being mentioned last in the list, this mineral is a vital nutrient and essential for the functioning of various systems in the human body. In addition to facilitating digestion, zinc assists the DNA to make as well as mend proteins. At the same time, zinc works to perk up the functioning of the immune system and assists in controlling inflammations inside the body.

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Suffering from bloating? Watch these foods

If your belly is ballooning with gas, you should know that this may be due to bloating caused by some ingested foods. Therefore, staying away from foods that are responsible for this condition is the best way to avoid bloating. At the same time, eat foods that help to lessen bloating. Nevertheless, at times it is prudent to blend healthy foods with those you need to avoid to keep your stomach happy as well as ensure optimum health.

Below is a small list of foods and herbs that will help prevent bloating and maybe even cure the condition. In addition, there is a list of foods that you need to avoid to prevent bloating.

The food dos

Asparagus: This vegetable possesses diuretic properties. Hence, if you want to pass more urine and urinate frequently to get rid of the excess water in your body, you should eat asparagus. In addition, asparagus also encloses probiotics, which are necessary for promoting the health of the digestive system as well as to prevent gas formation. Accumulation of gas in the stomach is one of the reasons for bloating. Asparagus also offers other health benefits - it contains high levels of dietary fiber, which is vital for detoxifying the system and eliminate the waste and toxic products from the body, thereby preventing bloating.

Bananas: This fruit contains elevated levels of potassium and helps to regulate the sodium levels in the body. In other words, potassium rich foods like bananas aid in lessening the water retention in the body. Surplus water in our body makes us feel filled and bloated like a balloon. It has been found that all foods that are rich in potassium also enclose elevated levels of dietary fiber, which helps to alleviate as well as prevent constipation. It is important to note that when you suffer from constipation, it is also likely that you will have a bloated belly.

Cucumbers: This is an appetizing and crunchy vegetable that is refreshing too. Ideally, you should eat cucumbers as snack to get rid of the bloating feeling, as this vegetable encloses a potent antioxidant called quercetin, which aids is lessening abdominal swelling. If you are eating cucumbers to alleviate bloating, it is important to consume them plainly without salt and dressing. You can also squeeze the cucumbers in a compressor to make a refreshing drink and consume it to alleviate bloating.

Papaya: This fruit is loaded with enzymes and is excellent for preventing as well as providing relief from bloating. Papaya also possesses anti-inflammatory attributes that aid in avoiding swelling of the stomach. Papaya also contains dietary fiber that is necessary for the health of the digestive system as well as the intestines. This fruit also reinforces the digestive system, thereby, preventing gas build-up, which is responsible for bloating.

Yogurt: This is a complete food that is perhaps best for preventing bloating, as probiotic yogurts enclose elevated amounts of beneficial bacteria that are necessary for the health of the gut. Eating yogurt prior to a meal is very effective in preventing bloating and indigestion.

Fennel seeds: In case you are being bothered by stomach gas problems and you find it difficult to allow it to pass, you may find fennel seeds highly beneficial. These seeds enclose a natural compound that facilitates the gastrointestinal tract to unwind, thereby aiding in passing the gas accumulated in the digestive tract. This, in turn, alleviates bloating.

Herbs: Chamomile, ginger and peppermint are some of the herbs that you can use effectively to get respite from stomach discomfort due to bloating. All these herbs possess diuretic properties and aid in flushing out the excessive water from the stomach. In addition, these herbs also contain various enzymes that help the body to absorb proteins from ingested foods. It is worth mentioning here that proteins are responsible for causing inflammation in the abdomen.

The food don'ts

Some foods cause heavy gas build up in the stomach, resulting in bloating as well as abdominal discomforts. Hence, you need to avoid taking these foods. Foods that may promote bloating include foods rich in fiber content like apples, prunes and peaches, salty foods, and dairy products like whole milk as well as cheese. In addition, you should also avoid foods rich in sulphur content like broccoli, cabbage and kale if you want to prevent bloating. Avoiding legumes will also help in avoiding bloating to a great extent.

At the same time, you should remember that although the foods mentioned above are often responsible for bloating, they also enclose several vital nutrients required by our body to remain healthy as well as prevent specific forms of cancer. Therefore, it is advisable that you combine these otherwise healthy foods with foods that help to reduce and prevent bloating. In fact, this is the appropriate means to incorporate all these healthy foods into your diet and still not suffer from bloating or stomach discomfort.