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  • 19 Nov 2019 12:08 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Astragalus has a long history in Chinese medicine as a complementary approach to hepatitis, cancer, and other conditions. Today in the western world, it has been rediscovered as a “super herb”, but most of its uses still lack solid clinical evidence. 

    This plant is a native to the temperate regions in Northern China, Mongolia and Korea. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed (some species in North America) and goat’s thorn. Astragalus is a large genus of around 2000 species belonging to the legume family Fabaceae. Only two of the 2000 species of astragalus, astragalus membranaceus and astragalus mongholicus, are used medicinally.

    The dried root is the part used for medicinal purposes, in the form of tea or as an extract. When grown for cultivation, the plants are traditionally harvested after four or five years, with the roots collected in spring or autumn. The roots are dried in the sun and then sliced for distribution. The slices are yellow in colour and have a sweet, moistening taste with a firm, fibrous texture. 

    Astragalus continues to be widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, often combined with other herbs such as liquorice, ginseng, and angelica, to boost immune function, improve endurance, prevent upper respiratory infections and colds, lower blood pressure, control night sweats, and to treat heart disease and diabetes. Today’s herbalists call it an “adaptogen”, meaning it helps protect the body from physical, mental, or emotional stress.

    Scientific evidence for using astragalus for any health condition is limited – few human studies have been conducted. However, some preliminary scientific evidence suggests that astragalus, either alone or in combination with other herbs, may benefit the immune system, heart, and liver, and be useful as treatment for cancer when added to conventional methods. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is sponsoring studies of the effects of astragalus on the body, particularly on the immune system.


    Astragalus Benefits

    Astragalus contains three components that allow the plant to have such a positive impact on human health: saponins, flavonoids and polysaccharides.

    Saponins are known for their ability to lower cholesterol, improve the immune system and prevent cancer. Flavonoids provide health benefits through cell signalling. They show antioxidative qualities, control and scavenge of free radicals, and can help prevent heart disease, cancer and immunodeficiency viruses. Polysaccharides are known to have antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities, among other health benefits. Other constituents include amino acids, folic acid, and minerals like selenium, zinc, and copper.

    May Boost Your Immune System

    Some evidence shows that astragalus may increase your body’s production of white blood cells, which are the cells of your immune system responsible for preventing illness. In one study, 8 grams of Astragalus given orally to 14 healthy volunteers for 2 months significantly stimulated white blood cells.

    Preliminary clinical research, astragalus has shown immune-supporting effects by stimulating macrophage and natural killer cell activity and inhibiting T-helper cells.

    In animal research, astragalus root has also been shown to help kill bacteria and viruses in mice with infections. Though research is limited, it may also help fight viral infections in humans, including the common cold and infection of the liver.

    May Improve Heart Function

    The flavonoids present in astragalus are antioxidants that help prevent plaque build-up in arteries and narrowing of vessel walls by protecting the inner wall of the vessel. In addition, astragalus is thought to widen your blood vessels and increase the amount of blood pumped from your heart.

    Astragalus injections showed significant improvement in heart function in two studies of 134 patients with congestive heart failure. In another study it also showed reduced symptoms of chest distress and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

    Research has been showing how astragalus has the ability to reduce blood pressure and improve lipid profiles. When astragalus mongholicus was given to rats with high lipids, it resulted in a significant decline in the levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL, and an increase in HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. High levels of triglycerides put individuals at risk for many forms of heart disease, such as stroke, heart attack and hardening of artery walls.

    A clinical study was conducted on patients with heart failure. They were given 2.25 grams of astragalus twice daily for two weeks, along with conventional treatment. They experienced greater improvements in heart function compared to those receiving standard treatment alone.

    In other studies patients with ischemic heart disease or angina were treated with Astragalus. They experienced significant relief, heart rate improvement and an increase in heart function.

    Astragalus has the potential to improve heart function and help with different types of heart disease, but well-designed clinical trials should verify these effects.

    Complementary Cancer Treatment

    Astragalus may help alleviate the negative side effects of chemotherapy. For example, one clinical study in people undergoing chemotherapy found that astragalus given by IV reduced nausea by 36%, vomiting by 50% and diarrhoea by 59%. Similarly, other studies have demonstrated the same benefits in people having chemotherapy for colon cancer.

    Giving 500mg of astragalus by IV three times weekly may also improve the extreme tiredness associated with chemotherapy during the first week of treatment. Astragalus has also shown to significantly improved quality of life and reduced the chemotherapy side effects in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

    Some preliminary studies have shown that the addition of Astragalus to chemotherapy could also inhibit the development of tumours. Astragalus saponins suppressed the growth of colon cancer in mice with equal efficiency and fewer side effects, compared with chemotherapy. Astragalus polysaccharide could promote the production and maturation of cancer-fighting immune cells in patients with chronic myelogenous leukaemia.

    Well-designed clinical trials are needed to verify the potential of Astragalus to improve cancer treatment.

    May Help Control Blood Sugar Levels

    Studies show that astragalus has the ability to relieve insulin resistance and treat diabetes naturally. In fact, it is the most frequently prescribed herb to help with diabetes management in China.

    The herb’s collection of saponins, flavonoids and polysaccharides all are effective in treating and regulating type 1 and 2 diabetes. They’re able to increase insulin sensitivity, protect pancreatic beta cells (the cells in the pancreas that produce and release insulin) and also act as anti-inflammatories in areas related to diabetes symptoms. 

    Studies have shown that taking 40–60 grams of astragalus per day has the potential to improve blood sugar levels after fasting and after meals in people with type 2 diabetes when taken daily for up to four months.

    Animal and test-tube studies have shown that astragalus could improve sugar metabolism and may even lead to weight loss.

    May Improve Kidney Function

    Astragalus may support kidney health by improving blood flow and laboratory markers of kidney function, such as measures of protein in the urine. Proteinuria is a condition in which abnormal amounts of protein are found in urine, which is a sign that the kidneys may be damaged or not functioning normally. Astragalus has been shown to improve proteinuria in several studies involving people with kidney disease.

    It may also help prevent infections in people with reduced kidney function. For example, 7.5–15 grams of astragalus taken daily for three to six months reduced the risk of infection by 38% in people with a kidney disorder called nephrotic syndrome.

    High-dose Astragalus injection could improve kidney function, when taken alone or in conjunction with other medication, in people with lupus nephritis and diabetic nephropathy.

    Scientists have also observed the potential of Astragalus to reduce kidney inflammation and protect them against toxic drugs in multiple animal studies.

    More studies are needed to demonstrate the effects of kidney function when astragalus is taken orally, as well as when taken in injection form.

    Anaemia and Other Blood Disorders

    Astragalus root has shown great promise in helping certain types of anaemia and blood disorders when taken alone or with medication. Astragalus injections improved treatment effectiveness and stimulated the production of blood components in patients with chronic aplastic anaemia. It improved haemoglobin and red blood cells in children with beta-thalassemia while causing no major side effects. Researchers have even observed the potential of this herb to protect and stimulate bone marrow cells in anaemic mice.

    Astragalus has shown potential in many other ailments such as asthma, would healing, dermatitis, to name a few; but clinical trials are needed to substantiate these benefits. 

    Precautions

    For most people, astragalus is well tolerated. However, minor side effects have been reported in studies, such as a rash, itching, runny nose, nausea and diarrhoea. When given by IV, astragalus may have more serious side effects, such as irregular heartbeat. It should only be administered by IV or injection under medical supervision.

    Therefore, the following people should avoid it:

    Pregnant and breastfeeding women: There’s currently not enough research to demonstrate that astragalus is safe while pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Individuals with autoimmune diseases: Astragalus may increase the activity of your immune system. Consider avoiding astragalus if you have an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

    Individuals taking immunosuppressant drugs: Since astragalus may increase the activity of your immune system, it may decrease the effects of immunosuppressant drugs.

    Astragalus is currently used as an addition to conventional treatments and should not be used as a replacement for medications unless suggested by a doctor. As it may have effects on blood sugar levels and blood pressure, use this herb with caution if you have diabetes or issues with your blood pressure. 

    Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let him know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.

    Recipes for Health

    Astragalus is available at most Chinese markets or health food stores in these forms:

    ·        Tincture (liquid alcohol extract)

    ·        Capsules and tablets

    ·        Topically for the skin

    ·        Dried root or powders used in tea

    DOSAGE RECOMMENDATIONS:

    Though there’s no official consensus on the most effective form or dosage of astragalus, most recommend taking 9–15 grams per day of the crude herb per day in decoction form. A decoction is made by boiling the root in water for a few minutes and then brewing the tea. For most health conditions, astragalus was injected under strict medical supervision and taking it by mouth may not have the same effects. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

    General oral doses:

    ·        Astragalus root: About 1-4 grams of freshly dried root.

    ·        Powdered root capsules: 250-500 milligrams, two capsules 3x a day.

    ·        Tincture: 3-6 ml (½ – 1 tsp), 3x a day.

    Synergies

    According to preliminary research, Astragalus may yield even better results with the following plants:

    ·        Goji berries

    ·        Elderberry fruit

    ·        Chinese ginseng

    ·        Red sage

    ·        Female ginseng (Angelica sinensis)

    ·        Fo-ti

    Well-designed clinical trials haven’t approved the safety and efficacy of these combinations.

    Immune Soup

    INGREDIENTS:

    ·        8 cups (237 ml) water 

    ·        1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil 

    ·        1 onion, diced 

    ·        1 bulb garlic (at least 10 cloves), minced 

    ·        One 1 1⁄2 inch (3 1⁄2 cm) piece of fresh gingerroot grated 

    ·        1 1⁄2 cups salted vegetable soup stock

    ·        5 pieces sliced dried astragalus root 

    ·        2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms 

    ·        1 large reishi mushroom 

    ·        Cayenne powder, if desired.

    DIRECTIONS:

    1.      Bring water to boil in large pot. 

    2.      Heat olive oil, sauté garlic, onions, and ginger until soft and aromatic. 

    3.      Add contents of skillet to water. 

    4.      Add broth, shiitake, astragalus, and reishi. 

    5.      Simmer covered for two hours. 

    6.      Remove from heat, allow to sit for two more hours. 

    7.      Remove astragalus and reishi mushrooms. 

    8.      Reheat. 

    9.      Add salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne powder if desired.

    To Sum Up…

    Astragalus root is an adaptogen used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a remedy for a large number of conditions. It’s a herb belonging to the pea family and native to China, Mongolia and North Korea. The root contains many active plant compounds, which are responsible for its amazing benefits. 

    Astragalus has shown to boost the immune system, improve heart and kidney function, control blood sugar levels, and help produce more blood cells. It even has a part to play in cancer treatment, either to reduce chemotherapy side effects, or slow down the growth of tumours. It has the potential for many more uses so we haven’t heard the last of this fantastic herb.

    Nonetheless, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of astragalus for preventing and treating these conditions. Much of the research out there is still very limited, but it has shown uses in treating the common cold, seasonal allergies, chronic fatigue and more.

    Astragalus is generally safe, but it’s best to always consult with your physician and be aware of possible interactions and side effects when taken in conjunction with other medications.

    Sources

    https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/astragalus

    https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/astragalus-root/profile

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/astragalus

    https://www.ascopost.com/issues/august-15-2012/astragalus/

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/astragalus

    https://selfhacked.com/blog/astragalus/

    https://draxe.com/nutrition/astragalus/

    https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/herbal-immune-system/

  • 17 Oct 2019 11:20 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Continuing with the theme of natural sweeteners I decided the next blog should focus on the natural sugars that are available on the market. These sugars will resemble the sugar granules you are used to and will also affect your blood sugar levels. However, it’s important to know what these sugars are and how they differ from one another.

    But first, let’s go back to basics - Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on the body and your overall health depends on the type of sugar you’re eating. We already touched upon some natural plant sweeteners and the beneficial effects on your health with introducing Stevia and Monk Fruit. Natural sugars, on the other hand, are found in fruit as fructose and in dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as lactose. The key with both fructose and lactose is that when you consume them, you consume them with other important nutrients, namely fibre in the case of fructose, or protein in the case of lactose. These nutrients help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, which prevents you from feeling hungry soon after eating.

    We are a nation of sugar lovers. Britons consume well over the recommended amount of sugar each day. The official recommendation from the government is to limit sugar to no more than 5% - around 30g or seven cubes of sugar per day. However, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) produced by Public Health England, found that sugar makes up 13.5% of 4 to 10-year-olds, and 14.1% of teenagers’ (11 to 18-year-olds) daily calorie intake respectively - almost three times the recommended amount. 

    A diet high in refined sugar can lead to obesity, tooth decay and their related health complications, including type 2 diabetes. This is why it’s important to address this topic now as many find it very difficult to limit sugars to the recommended amount. Natural sugars, although they may have better nutrient profiles than their refined counterparts, can still contribute to obesity and other conditions. Therefore, they should also be limited. This blog will explain the differences between the natural sugar varieties so that you are better informed at making the right choices.

    Types of Natural Sugars

    Here are the common natural sugars that are readily available on most market shelves:

    Molasses

    Molasses is a sweet, brown liquid with a thick, syrup-like consistency. It's made from boiling down sugar cane or sugar beet juice. Blackstrap is the highest and most nutritious of all grades of molasses. It’s created as a by-product from the process of creating refined sugar and contains the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. It contains vital vitamins and minerals (unlike refined sugar, which has zero nutritional value), such as vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, iron and selenium. What sets it apart from refined sugar is its ability to break down slowly in the body, preventing spikes in blood sugar, making it a good option for diabetics.

    Uses: Molasses has a unique, rich flavour. It may not be appealing for some to use for topping toast, porridges or other concentrated applications. However, it’s a perfect sweetener for marinades and to use in baking. 

    Raw Honey

    Honey is a thick, golden liquid produced by honey bees. Honey is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, folate, iron, manganese, and fluoride. It’s also known for its immune-boosting properties due to its numerous bioactive compounds that fight inflammation and also give honey its anti-cancer properties.

    Raw honey also contains strong antioxidants, such as quercetin and caffeic acid, explaining its effectiveness for instantly boosting energy and performance. The glucose in honey is quickly absorbed by the body to provide an instant boost in energy while the fructose is absorbed more slowly, preventing spikes in blood sugar and provides sustained energy.

    Uses: First, don’t cook with raw honey. Drizzle it on breakfast cereals, over your sprouted grain toast, on yogurt and for salad dressings. Honey can also be added to your tea and coffee but wait until the drink is tepid enough to sip comfortably, and then add honey to taste. This way you help the raw honey to maintain those valuable nutrients. 


    Check out my blog on Raw Honey also for more interesting facts!

    Maple Syrup

    True Maple syrup is a thick, sugary liquid that's made by cooking down the sap of maple trees. The health benefits come from the nutrients and minerals found in pure maple syrup (and not the processed variety) such as manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, and various antioxidants. All these minerals help our bodies in hundreds of ways — whether it’s boosting brain health to building and maintaining stronger bones to protecting us from the damaging effects of free radicals to preventing heart disease, stroke, or atherosclerosis. Select darker, Grade B maple syrups, as they contain more beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups.

    Uses: Maple syrup is heat stable, so you can use it in virtually any application. Add it to marinades, glazes or sauces and use for baking. Use it to sweeten homemade granola and your morning coffee or tea.

    Dates

    Dates are such an incredibly nutritious sweetener that the scope of health benefits will impress you! First, they’re a great source of natural sugars like glucose and fructose, making them the perfect afternoon snack for a quick energy boost. They’re also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients, while promoting colon health and boosting heart health by binding with LDL (bad) cholesterol and getting rid of them.

    Dates are an excellent source of copper and iron by ensuring the production and maintenance of healthy oxygen-containing red blood cells, keeping you from feeling sluggish. They’re also rich in essential minerals, such as calcium (great for bone health), magnesium (anti-inflammatory, reduces blood pressure, supports heart health) and copper.

    Uses: Use in your favourite cookie or cake recipe to cut out refined sugar and boost the nutrients. You can also use date paste to sweeten your favourite muffins and pies. For fruit pies, mix 1–1½ cups of puree with four cups of fruit, and bake as normal. Depending on the water content of the fruit, you may need to add a thickener, like tapioca.

    Coconut Palm Sugar

    Coconut sugar is extracted from the sap/nectar of the flower buds of the coconut palm. Packed with polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous and other phytonutrients, coconut sugar is versatile and now readily available. It also has a lower glycaemic index than sugar, which may be partly due to its inulin content. Inulin is a type of fibre that has been shown to slow glucose absorption.  It's also very high in fructose, which is the main reason why it needs to be consumed in moderation. Date sugar (made from dried dates) and coconut sugar are often used interchangeably in recipes because they provide similar flavour.

    Uses: Use coconut sugar in your favourite recipes, for it measures just like traditional sugar. It’s a bit more coarse than refined sugar, so just add the amount of sugar called for in a recipe to your food processor and give it a whirl until you get the desired texture. Or you can dissolve the coconut sugar in the liquids called for in the recipe. However, dissolving the sugar is not recommended when making a recipe that calls for “creaming” ingredients together — like for cakes or cookies.

    Check out my blog on Coconut Oil also for more interesting facts!

    Brown Rice Syrup

    Brown rice syrup starts with brown rice that is fermented with enzymes to break down the starch. The liquid is then heated until the syrup consistency is achieved. This results in a thick, amber-coloured, sweet syrup perfect for recipes calling for corn syrup and other unhealthy sweeteners.

    The fermentation process helps to break down the sugars into ones that are easily digestible. Some brown rice syrups are fermented with barley enzymes, meaning it contains gluten. Purchase brown rice syrups that are labelled gluten-free.

    Uses: A great corn syrup substitute. Use a one-to-one ratio. To replace regularly processed white sugar, use one cup for each cup of sugar called for and decrease liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup. Use brown rice syrup to make healthy granola bars and granola, nut clusters and to sweeten nut and fruit pies.

    Rapadura

    Rapadura sugar is an unrefined cane sugar that preserves the natural caramel taste of the sugar. However, unlike white sugar, it has a grainy texture rather than a crystallised one because it is not as heavily processed. Rapadura sugar is slightly richer in some nutrients than white sugar is because it is not spun during processing to remove the nutritious molasses and it doesn’t contain chemicals or anti-caking agents. Nonetheless, it should still be consumed in moderation.

    In Brazil, where it is produced, ‘Rapadura’ is the traditional name for this kind of sugar. Similar non-centrifugal sugar products exist all over Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, although they all have different names and small differences in the processing: Jaggery (Asia/Africa), Gur (India), Panela (Colombia), Piloncillo (Mexico), Tapa dulce (Costa Rica), Namtan tanode (Thailand), Gula Melaka (Malaysia), and Kokuto (Japan).

    Uses: Rapadura has a fine-grained texture and can be used in place of white sugar in all recipes. However, the taste will be different with a deeper caramel flavour. Rapadura dissolves quickly in liquids, especially warm liquids. Granules of rapadura sugar may also be used to sweeten baked goods. You can also buy rapadura which has been solidified and formed into cakes. These can then be grated and sprinkled onto puddings and tortes.

    ------

    There are many more natural sugars not covered in this blog, such as applesauce, fruits juice concentrates/jams, carob syrup, chickory root fibreyacón syrupsweet potato syrupand tapioca syrup. With all these varieties on the market there’s no need to reach for the bag of white sugar. 

    Recipes for Health

    Date Paste

    1.    Soak medjool dates in hot water until soft. If the water reaches room temperature and the dates aren’t soft enough, soak in hot water again.

    2.    Reserve the soaking liquid, as it’s integral to making a good paste! 

    3.    Add the soaked dates to your food processor, along with one tablespoon of the soaking liquid. 

    4.    Blend until smooth. 

    5.    Add more water as needed to create a thick, rich paste.

    Key Lime Pie

    INGREDIENTS:

    ·     1 Gluten-Free Pie Crust

    ·     2 cups evaporated or condensed coconut milk

    ·     ½ cup lime juice

    ·     1 teaspoon lime zest

    ·     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    ·     ½ cup maple syrup

    ·     1 tablespoon coconut oil

    ·     2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

    ·     ½ teaspoon sea salt

    ·     2–3 limes, sliced for garnishing

    DIRECTIONS:

    1.    In a saucepan over medium heat, combine arrowroot powder and coconut oil. Whisk to create roux.

    2.    After about one minute, add coconut milk. Whisk continuously until mixture thickens into a custard-like consistency, about 10 minutes.

    3.    Add lime juice, lime zest, vanilla, maple syrup and salt. Whisk until mixture thickens even more, about five minutes.

    4.    Pour mixture into pie crust and allow to cool, then chill the rest of the way in the freezer, about one hour.

    5.    Top with sliced lime for garnish and serve.

    Precautions

    It’s important to remember that even if you’re using natural sweeteners, you still need to be mindful of not consuming too much added sugar in your diet. Eating too much added sugar can lead to poor nutrition, tooth decay, weight gain, increased triglycerides and other significant health concerns. Also remember you shouldn’t give children under the age of one year old any honey.

    Although natural sugars contain more beneficial nutrients that refined sugar, many of them are high in fructose and some can even be extracted chemically. They also still contain a considerable amount of calories which is why I recommend using natural sugars sparingly just like refined sugar:

    Calories in 1 tablespoon:

    ·     Coconut sugar 45 

    ·     Blackstrap molasses 47

    ·     White sugar 49

    ·     Maple syrup 52

    ·     Raw honey 64

    ·     Dates (1 medjool date) 66

    If you are being treated for any ongoing health concern, especially diabetes, check with your doctor before incorporating any new sweeteners into your diet.

    To Sum Up…

    There are so many different varieties of sugars out there from natural to refined. A search on wiki will give you a vast list of what’s available. They all come from different plants and processing procedures giving them their distinct taste and texture.

    Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. It is typically found as sucrose, which is the combination of glucose and fructose. Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar to products to boost their flavour and satisfy the sweet tooth of the population. It’s generally added to nutrient-poor, processed foods, which can harm your health when eaten in large quantities.

    Natural sugars like honey, maple syrup and molasses also contain fructose but are typically found in whole foods. This gives it that added bonus of containing beneficial components the human body recognises in the form of key vitamins and minerals. However, not all natural sugars are equally good. Natural sugars can also be processed in a way that removes virtually all of their fibre and a good portion of their other nutrients. In their whole form, fruits offer chewing resistance and are loaded with water and fibre.

    Regardless of being natural or refined sugars they both contain a vast amount of calories and can contribute towards increasing the risk of diabetes, obesity, tooth delay and related conditions. All sugars need to be consumed in moderation but opting for natural sugars give you the opportunity to take advance of their beneficial constituents rather than just being fed empty calories.

    Sources

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/natural-sugar-substitutes#section5

    https://www.naturespath.com/en-us/blog/7-natural-sugar-substitutes-to-try-in-cooking-baking/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sugars

    https://www.drwf.org.uk/news-and-events/news/report-diet-finds-most-people-uk-are-consuming-almost-3-times-recommended-daily

    https://www.furtherfood.com/surprising-health-benefits-4-natural-sugars-eating/

    https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/alternatives-to-sugar/

    https://draxe.com/nutrition/sugar-substitutes/

    https://www.spiceography.com/rapadura-sugar/

  • 19 Sep 2019 11:13 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Monk fruit is all the rage lately, thanks to the never-ending search for an alternative sweetener to sugar that’s not made from artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame and saccharin.  One such natural sweetener is stevia, which I discussed in my last blog. More recently, we've seen sweeteners derived from monk fruit. What fruit, you say?


    Indigenous to China and Thailand, monk fruit (a green, round melon-looking fruit) is grown on a vine known as Siraitia Grosvenorii, named for the president of the National Geographic Society in the 1930s who funded an expedition to find the fruit. In Chinese, it is called luo han guo. It has zero calories and is said to be up to 500 times sweeter than sugar.

    Monk Fruit is a member of the gourd family and a distant cousin of the cucumber and melon. It's colloquially referred to as monk fruit because it was said to have first been used by monks in China in the 13th century. The first report in England on the herb was found in an unpublished manuscript written in 1938 by G. Weidman Groff and Hoh Hin Cheung. The report stated the fruits were often used as the main ingredients of "cooling drinks" as remedies for hot weather, fever, or other dysfunctions traditionally associated with warmth or heat. 

    When eaten fresh, monk fruit does offer 25 percent to 38 percent various carbohydrates, as well as vitamin C. However, monk fruit doesn’t keep very well after harvest and is difficult to store and transport without fermenting. Most often, it is dried until dark brown in colour, and then steeped as a tea to treat symptoms of congestion, inflammation, coughing and sore throat. 

    Today, it is still used for its medicinal properties and is also believed to promote a long life, earning it the nickname, “The Longevity Fruit” thanks to its high antioxidant levels. 

    Unlike most fruits, whose sweetness comes from fructose sugar, Monk Fruit’s sweet taste comes from a different kind of substances called mogroside, which tastes extremely sweet but has negligible calories.

    While monk fruit itself has been treating illness in China for thousands of years, the processed commercial version is relatively new to the market. That's because, though sweet, monk fruit has some interfering flavours, nullifying the actual fruit's ability to be used as a sweetener. Commercial monk fruit extracts are continuously being improved to eliminate the interfering tastes and make a useful sweetener from the fruit. Overall, the response to monk fruit sweetener has been positive, though some say that it leaves you with a less than pleasing aftertaste (though less bitter than the aftertaste a lot of people complain about with stevia).

    Why is Monk Fruit so sweet?

    Monk fruit is not only sweet due to natural sugars like most fruits. It contains mogrosides, a group of triterpene glycosides (saponins), which are metabolised differently by the body than natural sugars. The fruit contains 25 to 38% of various carbohydrates, mainly fructose and glucose. The sweetness of the fruit is increased by the mogrosides. That’s why, despite their very sweet taste, these fruits contain no calories and have no effect on blood sugar.

    Mogrosides, consist of a backbone structure called a mogrol with glucose units or glycosides attached to it. The five different mogrosides are numbered from I to V; the main component is mogroside V, which is also known as esgoside.

    Most of what is known about mogroside metabolism comes from studies done on animals, which is thought to be the same or similar to mogroside metabolism in humans. Mogrosides are not absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract and do not contribute to any calories to our diet. When they reach the colon, gut microbes cleave off the glucose molecules and use them as an energy source. The mogrol and some metabolites are then primarily excreted from the gastrointestinal tract, while minor amounts are absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine.


    Monk Fruit Benefits

    Fights Free Radicals

    Monk fruit’s mogrosides, the compounds that give it its intense sweetness, are also powerful antioxidants. Oxidative stress plays a part in many diseases and disorders, and choosing high-antioxidant foods is the key to reducing free radical damage in the body. Studies have shown that mogrosides “significantly inhibited reactive oxygen species and DNA oxidative damage”. 

    Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory and Coolant

    Ancient Chinese usage of this fruit included drinking tea made from the boiled fruit to cool the body from external and internal sources and ailments from fever to heat stroke. It was also used to soothe a sore throat. This method worked because of monk fruit’s anti-inflammatory abilities. Many studies prove its anti-inflammatory powers are most likely the reason it’s able to positively affect so many other diseases and disorders.

    Combats Cancer 

    Many studies have proven the anti-carcinogenic effects of the natural sweeteners contained in monk fruit. Some studies have shown its abilities in inhibiting skin and breast tumour growth as well as providing proteins that have potent anticancer abilities. However, more studies into its cancer combating properties are needed to substantiate these findings and more.

    Treats Bacterial Infections

    Monk fruit has shown great results in inhibiting the growth of bacteria, specifically oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and periodontal disease. These studies have also shown the fruit’s ability to fight some forms of candida symptoms and overgrowth, like oral thrush, which when left untreated can affect many other body systems.

    Fatigue Fighter

    In a study on mice, monk fruit extracts were successful in decreasing fatigue in exercising mice. The study was able to reproduce the results and prove that mice given the extract had extended exercise times. This study may give evidence as to why monk fruit has long been referred to as the “longevity fruit.”

    Naturally Controls Diabetes

    This fruit was used as an anti-diabetic by the Chinese for centuries. Aside from being a proven anti-hyperglycaemic (which helps bring down the blood glucose levels in the body), studies have also shown targeted antioxidant abilities toward pancreatic cells, allowing better insulin secretion in the body. Thus, monk fruit works well as a natural diabetes treatment.

    The anti-diabetic abilities of the monk fruit are associated with its high levels of mogrosides. Better insulin secretion is a major part of improving diabetic patients’ health, and monk fruit has even shown results in reducing kidney damage and other diabetes-related issues. As a sweetener with a low glycaemic index, it’s also a way for those struggling with diabetes to be able to enjoy a sweet flavour without the concern of affecting or worsening their diabetic condition.

    Natural Antihistamine

    Monk fruit extract, when used repeatedly, has shown an ability to fight allergic reactions as well. In a study with mice, monk fruit was administered repeatedly to mice exhibiting nasal rubbing and scratching due to histamines. The study showed that “both the [lo han kuo] extract and glycoside inhibited the histamine release” in the test subjects.

    Recipes for Health

    There are a few ways you can get the benefits of monk fruit into your home. Due to its short shelf life, the only way to try it fresh would be to travel to Southeast Asia and buy one fresh off the vine! The next best way to get the rewards of this natural sweetener is by purchasing monk fruit extract or monk fruit sweetener. Monk fruit extract is manufactured in a number of different ways. Most commonly, the fresh fruit is harvested and the juice is combined with a hot water infusion, filtered and then dried to create a powdered extract. The sweetness is contained in the mogrosides, and depending on the manufacturer, the percentage of the compound varies. Beware of added ingredients like molasses and a sugar alcohol called erythritol, which will decrease the health benefits of the product.

    You can use monk fruit sweeteners to sweeten almost anything, including:

    ·     Coffee

    ·     Hot tea, iced tea, or lemonade

    ·     Salad dressings

    ·     Sauces

    ·     Smoothies

    ·     Frostings

    ·     Yogurt

    ·     Oatmeal or other hot cereals

    There are products and recipes for using this sweetener in baked goods which you can find online. I haven’t mentioned any as I haven’t found any product in the UK which is cost effective for, say, baking a cake. Most recipes use products with erythritol and ask for the same quantity as you would need for substituting the sugar ingredient. This amount is huge considering the price for monk fruit sweetener at the moment is around 30 times more expensive than your normal bag of sugar.

    Dried monk fruit can be found at many Chinese markets and is simply a dried version of the fruit. You can use the dried fruit in soups and teas. One half to 2 pieces (approximately 9 to 15 g) of the dried fruit is commonly used as a tea after simmering in boiling water.

    Precautions

    Monk fruit is a member of the Curcurbitaceae family (also known as the gourd family), which includes pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, and melons. Your risk of monk fruit allergy is higher if you’re allergic to other gourds. Signs of allergic reaction may include:

    ·     hives or rash

    ·     difficulty breathing

    ·     rapid or weak pulse

    ·     dizziness

    ·     swollen tongue

    ·     stomach pain or vomiting

    ·     wheezing

    Apart from this, there are no reported monk fruit side effects or negative reactions, which means it’s safe for adults, children and pregnant/nursing women. It was approved by the FDA in 2010 as generally safe for consumption, which is relatively recent. There are no long-term studies available to test monk fruit side effects over time, so it’s always best to exercise care when consuming.

    To Sum Up…

    This round and greenish fruit with a brittle shell originated in a very specific climate found in Northern Thailand and Southern China. Known for its healing benefits for centuries, it was not popularly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine because it was so rare, difficult to cultivate and usually grown in family-sized orchards. The raw fruit has a sweet, refreshing taste and a distinct “cooling” property that leads it to be used against inflammation. When dried, it is also used to steep in tea to treat inflammation and congestion. 

    While most fruits get their sweetness from fructose sugar, Monk Fruit’s sweet taste comes from a different kind of substances called mogroside. This powerful antioxidant metabolises differently to natural sugars, tastes extremely sweet but has negligible calories.

    With the need to find natural sweeteners, manufacturers have developed monk fruits sweeteners in powder form for people with diabetes who want the sweetness without it compromising their health. Small randomised trials have shown that monk fruit sweeteners do not negatively impact blood sugar or insulin levels. Other benefits demonstrated have been its ability to fight cancer, bacterial infections, fatigue, free radicals and allergic reactions. It could possibly help those wanting to lose weight by substituting dietary sugar with monk fruit sweetener in their teas, coffees, smoothies, yoghurts, cereals etc.

    Since monk fruit sweeteners are relatively new to the food supply, their impact on, and association with, chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes has not been well studied. However, they have been safely used for centuries in Asian cultures and have not demonstrated any side effects, even after very high amounts have been consumed. More research is definitely needed to explore their full potential so watch this space. Still, it seems to be a good choice for those with diabetes and anyone who wants to limit dietary sugar. 

    Sources

    https://www.lakanto.com/blogs/news/the-legend-behind-the-monk-fruit-name

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii

    https://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/what-is-monk-fruit

    https://foodinsight.org/everything-you-need-to-know-about-monk-fruit-sweeteners/

    https://draxe.com/nutrition/fruit/monk-fruit/

    https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/monk-fruit-health-benefits#allergies

  • 22 Jul 2019 1:11 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Stevia is a South American plant, native to Paraguay that has long been used to sweeten beverages and make tea. As many as 1500 years ago, the Guarani people of Brazil and Paraguay, discovered a native plant with delicious green leaves that had an unbelievable sweetening power. When they chewed just a few leaves or added crushed leaves to hot “yerba mate” (a bitter tea-like drink), the leaves sweetened the drink, just like our modern-day sugar.


    Gradually, they found that this sweet plant they called “kaa he-he” (which means “sweet herb”) had other uses besides its sugary taste. Ancient history tells us that natives used this sweet plant for softening skin, aiding digestion, nourishing the pancreas, balancing blood sugar, smoothing wrinkles, and healing blemishes, sores and wounds.

    In 1887, Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, director of the College of Agriculture, first learned of what he described as “this very strange plant” from Indian guides while exploring Paraguay’s eastern forests. Bertoni named the plant Stevia Rebaudiana in honour of a Paraguayan chemist named Rebaudi who would later identify the plant’s sweetness component. Stevia Rebaudiana is the most prized variety out of 200+ species. He found that a fragment of the leaf only a few square millimetres in size sufficed to keep the mouth sweet for an hour and a few small leaves was sufficient to sweeten a strong cup of coffee or tea. 

    In 1931, chemists M. Bridel and R. Lavielle isolated the two glycosides that make stevia leaves sweet: stevioside and rebaudioside (with five variations: A, C, D, E and F). Stevioside is sweet, but also has a bitter aftertaste that many complain about when using it, while isolated rebaudioside is sweet without the bitterness. Rebaudioside A, aka rebiana, contains the highest sweetest and is used commercially as an artificial sweetener in foods and beverages.

    In the 1960’s, the Japanese government highly regulated chemical additives in their food supply. Once they discovered and established its safety, Japan became one of the first to use stevia on a large scale commercially. Recognising that stevia was a safer choice than aspartame and saccharin, by 1988 stevia had been added to ice cream, bread, candies, pickles, seafood, vegetables and soft drinks. By 1994 stevia reportedly comprised 41% of the sweet substances consumed in Japan.

    Over the years the Japanese have conducted extensive studies to confirm stevia’s safety. Today stevia grows and is used in 10 other countries including China, Germany, Malaysia, Israel and South Korea.

    Three Types of Stevia

    When it comes to the options available today, it’s vital to know that not all stevia is created equal. In fact, there has been concern in recent years about counterfeit stevia, or products laced with unwanted ingredients. Here are the three main types of stevia which you may come across:

    1.     Green Leaf Stevia: the least processed of the types. The leaves are dried and ground into powder form. This is the type that’s been used in South America and Japan for centuries as a natural sweetener and health remedy. Green leaf stevia is only about 10-15 times sweeter than sugar. This unprocessed version more than likely contains a combination of steviosides and rebaudiosides.

    2.     Purified Stevia Extracts: If you’re eating this natural sweetener you are consuming rebaudioside A in either a pure extract or our third type (altered blends). These extracts contain over 95% or more pure rebaudioside A glycosides and may not contain other forms of rebaudiosides or steviosides in order to be legally marketed as food. While purified stevia extracts are more processed than green leaf stevia, their health benefits seem to be on par with its unprocessed counterpart.

    3.     Altered Stevia Blends:the least healthy option. By the time a product like this is placed on a shelf, very little of the stevia plant remains. Some companies use processes to create these blends that include chemical solvents, including acetonitrile, which is toxic to the central nervous system, and a GMO corn derivative called erythritol (in the US). The small amount remaining contains rebaudioside A only. Many purified stevia extracts and altered blends are reported to be 200-400 times sweeter than sugar.

    Stevia Benefits

    If you stick to green leaf stevia or the purified extract you will be able to reap some of its amazing benefits. They have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable. The sweet component of the plant is known as steviol glycosides which are found in the leaves. The body does not metabolise the glycosides in stevia, so it contains zero calories like some artificial sweeteners. The green stevia and its extract’s taste that has a slower onset but longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter or liquorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

    Stevia actually contains eight glycosides. These are the sweet components isolated and purified from the leaves of stevia. These glycosides include: stevioside, rebaudiosides A, C, D, E, and F, steviolbioside and dulcoside A. As mentioned before, stevioside and rebaudioside A (reb A) are the most plentiful of these components.

    Diabetes

    Research has shown that stevia sweeteners do not contribute calories or carbohydrates to the diet. They have also demonstrated no effect on blood glucose or insulin response. This allows people with diabetes to eat a wider variety of foods and comply with a healthful meal plan.

    Another review of five randomised controlled trials compared the effects of stevia on metabolic outcomes with the effects of placebos. The study concluded that stevia showed minimal to no effects on blood glucose, insulin levels, blood pressure, and body weight.

    In one of these studies, subjects with type 2 diabetes reported that stevia triggered significant reductions in blood glucose and glucagon response after a meal. Glucagon is a hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood, and the mechanism that secretes glucagon is often faulty in people with diabetes.

    Weight Management

    Stevia contains no sugar and very few, if any, calories. It can be part of a well-balanced diet to help reduce calorie intake without sacrificing taste. By keeping your sugar and calorie intake in a healthy range, you can help fend off obesity as well as many health problems linked with obesity, like diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

    If you choose to replace table sugar with a high-quality stevia extract and use it in moderation, it can also help you decrease your overall daily sugar intake. This is why stevia is very popular for low-carb diets like Paleo or the keto diet. 

    Blood Pressure

    Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels and increase sodium excretion, two things that are very helpful to keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Evaluation of two long-term studies (one and two years in length, respectively) gives hope that it may be effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients. However, data from shorter studies (one to three months) did not support these findings.

    A 2003 study showed that stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure. The study suggested that the stevia plant might have cardiotonic actions. Cardiotonic actions normalise blood pressure and regulate the heartbeat. However, further research is required to confirm this benefit of stevia.

    Improves Cholesterol Levels

    Results of a 2009 study showed that stevia extract had “positive and encouraging effects” on overall cholesterol profiles. It’s important to note that researchers also found that there were no adverse stevia side effects on the health status of the subjects involved in this study. Researchers concluded that the extract effectively decreased elevated serum cholesterol levels, including triglycerides and LDL (“bad cholesterol”), while increasing good HDL cholesterol.

    Anti-Cancer Abilities

    In 2012, Nutrition and Cancer highlighted a groundbreaking laboratory study that, for the first time ever, connected stevia consumption to breast cancer reduction. It was observed that stevioside enhances cancer apoptosis (cell death) and decreases certain stress pathways in the body that contribute to cancer growth.

    The journal Food Chemistry published a study out of Croatia showing that when it is added to natural colon cancer-fighting mixtures, such as blackberry leaf, antioxidant levels soar (when tested in a lab). Together, these studies suggest its potential as a natural cancer treatment.

    Stevia contains many sterols and antioxidant compounds, including kaempferol. Studies have found that kaempferol can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23 percent.

    Recipes for Health

    Stevia is available online or at most health food stores, both in powdered and liquid form. Keep in mind that the best stevia should have no additives, including other sweeteners, and is certified organic and non-GMO certified. The liquid varieties are useful for sweetening coffee, teas or healthy smoothies. Powders work best for cooking and baking — and a little goes a long way.

    Try these basic conversions the next time you replace sugar with this natural sweetener: 

    1 teaspoon sugar = 1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia = 5 drops liquid

    1 tablespoon sugar = 1/3 teaspoon powdered stevia = 15 drops liquid stevia

    1 cup of sugar = 2 tablespoons powdered stevia = 2 teaspoons liquid stevia

    The only substitution that won’t work is caramelisation in desserts, as it doesn’t brown like conventional sugar.

    Cinnamon & Clove Hot Chocolate

    Ingredients:

    ·      2 cups almond milk (or preferred choice of non-dairy milk)

    ·      1 1/2 tbsp raw cacao or chocolate

    ·      1 tsp cinnamon

    ·      1/2 tsp ground cloves

    ·      pinch salt

    ·      1/4 tsp stevia

    1.     In a pot, stir the cacao or chocolate, cloves, stevia and salt into the almond milk on medium heat until everything is well combined and dissolved. I recommend using a whisk and constantly stirring while heating the mixture.

    2.     Serve hot, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and enjoy!

    Notes: You can substitute stevia with your natural sweetener of choice (e.g. honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup…) while adjusting measurements for your preferred sweetness!

    Keto Waffles

    Ingredients:

    ·      115 g cream cheese

    ·      4 eggs

    ·      1 tablespoon melted butter

    ·      1 tablespoon Stevia

    ·      1 teaspoon vanilla

    ·      4 tablespoons coconut flour

    ·      1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

    ·      Pinch salt

    1.     Blend all ingredients in your blender.

    2.     Pour into greased waffle iron.

    3.     Makes 2-3 waffles depending on your waffle maker.

    Precautions

    Most people do well with this natural sweetener, but listen to your body: It is an herb, and everyone’s body may react differently to it. The benefits and possible side effects really depend upon what type you choose to consume. Some people find that this natural sweetener can have a metallic aftertaste.

    Multiple global regulatory bodies have determined that high refined and purified stevia extract is safe for consumption by the general population within the recommended levels, including children. Governing bodies have established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 4 milligrams per kilogram (kg). These organisations include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the FDA.

    Some stevia products also contain sugar alcohol. People with sensitivity to sugar alcohol may experience bloating, abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, though one type of sugar alcohol, erythritol, poses less risk of symptoms than others.

    In general, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice before using it if you have an ongoing medical condition or take other medications. There aren’t any contraindications (interactions) with medications at present, but your healthcare provider will help to give you advice to make sure you don’t use it in excess.

    To Sum Up…

    Stevia Rebaudiana is an intensely sweet-tasting plant that has been used to sweeten beverages and make tea since the 16th century. Research shows that the stevia plant was used by indigenous people to sweeten medicines and foods. In fact, due to its sweet taste and flavour-enhancing abilities, the stevia plant was traditionally used as far back as 1500 years ago.

    Stevia sweeteners contain zero calories, which means foods and beverages that use stevia sweeteners are usually lower in calories. Extensive research has shown that stevia does not contribute any sugar to the diet and does not affect blood glucose or insulin response, which means stevia is safe and appropriate for use by people with diabetes and those wishing to lose weight. On top of that, stevia has also shown to have amazing qualities for fighting cancer as well as having heart-protecting properties, such as controlling blood pressure and improving your cholesterol profile. Nonetheless, the potential health benefits of stevia require further study as well as discovering what other benefits it holds. 

    With all of these benefits it’s hard not to introduce such sweetness into our diets. Just remember that not all stevia products are the same. Choose your stevia products wisely and opt for the green leaf or the purified extract varieties to enjoy the natural sweet taste and health promoting benefits.

    Sources

    https://bodyecology.com/articles/brief_history_of_stevia-php/

    https://steviabenefits.org/history/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

    http://www.stevia.net/history.htm

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287251.php

    https://draxe.com/stevia/

    https://cookpad.com/us/recipes/5218851-cinnamon-clove-hot-chocolate?via=search&search_term=stevia


  • 20 Jun 2019 11:21 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Climate change and increasing global food demand have created a need for crops that thrive in suboptimal growing conditions and provide quality nutrition. Quinoa, a stress-tolerant crop with a better nutritional profile than many kinds of cereal like rice and corn, has attracted attention for this reason. It’s now grown in more than 70 countries.

    Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a 7,000-year-old plant that originated in the mountainous regions of South America. While it is commonly known as an “ancient grain,” quinoa is technically not a grain or cereal grain, but a seed. Cereal grains like wheat, rice, and corn are grasses, and their nutritional value comes from the grass fruit. Quinoa is more closely related to spinach and chard and its nutritional value comes from the plant’s seed.


    Quinoa comes from an annual flowering weed-like plant from the family Amaranthaceae, which includes other species like lamb's quarters, beetroot and amaranth. It is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.

    Quinoa dates back three to four thousand years ago when the Incas first realised that the quinoa seed was fit for human consumption. Quinoa was considered “the gold of the Incas” because the Incas believed it increased the stamina of their warriors.

    While most of us are used to seeing the more common white quinoa, there are actually about 120 varieties throughout the world. Three categories of quinoa have been commercialised for sale: red, white and black. It’s prepared like rice, but before boiling, all quinoa must first be soaked to remove the outer coating (pericarp), which contains bitter compounds (saponins).

    White Quinoa – This is the most widely sold variety of quinoa, and takes the least amount of time to cook. It’s sometimes referred to as ivory quinoa.

    Red Quinoa – Because it doesn’t easily lose its shape, cooks prefer using this type of quinoa in cold salads or other recipes where the texture of a distinct grain is preferred.

    Black Quinoa – The taste of black quinoa is more different than the white and red varieties, with an earthy, sweet flavour profile. It takes the longest to cook, needing about 15–20 minutes to be completely done.

    These days, you can find quinoa and quinoa products all over the world, especially in health food stores and restaurants that emphasise natural foods.

    From beneath the earth to outer space, quinoa nutrition is so impressive that NASA even wants to use it for long-term space missions as a healthy, easily growable crop. United Nations (UN) declared 2013 "The International Year of Quinoa," due to its high nutrient value and potential to contribute to food security worldwide. It has been eaten for thousands of years in the Andes Mountains in South America and only recently became a trend food, even reaching superfood status.

    Quinoa Benefits

    Very Nutritious

    Quinoa is rich in many important macronutrients, micronutrients, and other molecules (secondary metabolites) that can affect human health. Although quinoa is more nutritious than most grains, it shows a lot of variability in its nutritional composition. The strain of quinoa and where it’s grown impact its nutritional profile. That means nutrients in the quinoa you eat may vary from the values reported here and elsewhere:

    MACRONUTRIENTS

    Amount in 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa:

    Protein

    8 g

    Fibre

    5 g

    Energy

    222 calories

    Fat

    4 g

    Carbohydrate

    39 g

    MINERALS

    Iron

    2.8 mg (15% of the RDA*)

    Copper

    0.4 mg (18% of the RDA)

    Zinc

    2 mg (13% of the RDA)

    Manganese

    1.2 mg (58% of the RDA)

    Magnesium

    118 mg (30% of the RDA)

    Phosphorus

    281 mg (28% of the RDA)

    Selenium

    5.2 mg (7% of the RDA)

    Sodium

    13 mg

    Potassium

    318 mg (9% of the RDA)

    VITAMINS

    Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

    0.2 mg (13% of the RDA)

    Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

    0.2 mg (12% of the RDA)

    Vitamin B3 (niacin)

    1.06 mg

    Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

    0.61 mg

    Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

    0.2 mg (11% of the RDA)

    Vitamin B9 (folic acid)

    23.5 – 78.1 mg (19% of the RDA)

    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

    4 – 16.4 mg

    Vitamin E (tocopherols)

    1.2 – 6 mg (6% of the RDA)

    * Recommended Daily Allowance

    High in Protein with a Complete Amino Acid Profile

    Relative to most grains, quinoa has a high protein content (12.9 to 16.5% protein). It has more protein than rice, corn, oats, and barley, and about the same amount as wheat (14.3 to 15.4% protein).

    Unlike wheat, quinoa is a complete protein. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, including twice the amount of lysine found in corn or wheat. Lysine is an essential amino acid that is not produced by the human body. As a result, lysine must be obtained through food consumption. Adults (>18 yrs) require 30 mg of lysine per kilogram of body weight every day. The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as lysine. However, quinoa is an exception to this, being a rich source of lysine (4.6 to 6.6 grams per 100 grams). This makes it a good source of lysine for vegans, vegetarians, and undernourished populations.

    Quinoa is gluten-free, has an amino acid profile similar to whole dried milk, and can provide over 180% of the recommended daily intake of essential amino acids.

    High in Fibre

    One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of 10–16 grams of fibre per every 100 grams. This equals 17–27 grams per cup, which is very high, more than twice as high as most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fibre, gram for gram because it absorbs so much water. The fibre comprises around 10% of quinoa seeds. Roughly 78% of that is insoluble fibre, which isn’t broken down in the intestines, and the other 22% is soluble. This gives quinoa a fibre profile similar to vegetables, legumes, and fruits.

    High in Minerals

    Quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals, particularly magnesium. It has a total mineral content (3.4%) higher than rice (0.5%), wheat (1.8%), and other cereals.

    It is also low in phytic acid. This compound, common in many grains and vegetables, binds to the minerals in food and prevents them from being absorbed by the body. Since quinoa is low in phytic, it is a good source of easily absorbed minerals. By soaking and/or sprouting the quinoa prior to cooking, you can further reduce the phytic acid content and make these minerals more bio-available. Plus, soaking before cooking helps to remove some of the saponins, which helps get rid of the bitter flavour.

    Fat Profile

    On average, quinoa seeds are comprised of 5 to 7% fats. This can vary depending on the strain. The fats in quinoa seeds are mostly unsaturated (90%) and they have an omega-6 to the omega-3 ratio of 6/1, giving quinoa a better ratio than most plant-derived oils.

    High in Phytonutrients 

    Quinoa is also a rich source of beneficial phytonutrients. These are chemicals produced by plants that have specific effects on human health. For example, they can be anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, neuroprotective, anti-aging, and much more.

    PHYTONUTRIENT

    AMOUNT

    POTENTIAL BENEFITS

    Phytosterols

    (β-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol)

    118 grams per 100 grams

    Lowers cholesterol 

    Anti- inflammatory

    Cancer-fighting

    Phytoecdysteroids

    (62 to 90% 20-hydroxyecdysone)

    138 – 570 micrograms per gram

    Anti- inflammatory

    Anti- obesity

    Anti- depressant

    Increases insulin sensitivity

    Flavonoids

    (quercetin* and kaempferol)

    Up to 839 micrograms per gram each

    Anti- inflammatory

    Anti- diabetic

    Cancer-fighting

    Cardio-protective

    Glycine Betaine

    3930 – 6000 micrograms per gram

    Prevention of diabetes, obesity and heart disease

    *Quercetin content is higher than in typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries. 

    Rich in Antioxidants

    Quinoa is rich in antioxidants such as Betalains, Vitamin E (tocopherols), Vitamin A (carotenoids) and Squalene, amongst many others. These are molecules that neutralise free radicals, reducing cellular damage in the body. Oxidative damage has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, a variety of inflammatory diseases, and other negative health effects.

    In a study of how different cooking techniques affect antioxidants in quinoa, the most antioxidants were preserved when quinoa was washed, then cooked in a pressure cooker, while the most antioxidants were lost when it was toasted.

    Usually Gluten Free

    Quinoa is a safe alternative to gluten-containing cereals for people with coeliac disease or non-coeliac gluten intolerance. A biochemical analysis of quinoa proteins found that they did not behave like the wheat proteins that are toxic to coeliacs (gliadins). Another study found that 19 coeliac patients had normal intestinal and blood test results after eating quinoa every day for 6 weeks.

    Although quinoa varieties commercially available outside of South America are gluten-free, some traditional varieties are not. When 15 different strains were tested, 2 of them (Ayacuchana and Pasankalla) had the same effect as wheat proteins on coeliac intestinal cells.

    Lowers Cholesterol and May Prevent Heart Disease

    In a study of 35 overweight women, participants who ate quinoa flakes every day for 4 weeks had reduced total cholesterol (191 to 181 mg/dl) and LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol (129 to 121 mg/dl), compared to those who ate cornflakes. Both groups had reduced triglycerides (112 to 108 mg/dl in the quinoa group).

    In a study of coeliac patients, those who ate quinoa every day for 6 weeks also saw a small reduction in triglycerides (from 0.8 to 0.79 mmol/l) and total cholesterol (4.6 to 4.3 mmol/l).

    In another study of 22 students aged 18 to 45 years, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and bad cholesterol were reduced after eating a quinoa cereal bar every day.

    May Lower Blood Sugar and Improve Diabetes

    Although there haven’t been any human clinical trials examining the effects of quinoa consumption on diabetes, a study on sugar-fed rats found quinoa reduced blood glucose levels and oxidative stress. Hyperglycaemic mice found quinoa reduced fasting blood glucose levels and prevented weight gain.

    Quinoa also reduced the number of free radicals in these rats, which cause damage to cells. Additionally, it improved antioxidant capabilities in the rats’ blood, heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, and testes. This indicates that quinoa reduces the negative effects of sugar on the body by protecting it from oxidative stress.

    20-hydroxyecdysone, a phytoecdysteroid, also has multiple anti-diabetic effects. Quinoa consumption lowered blood glucose levels and increased insulin in diabetic rats.

    Approximately 58 to 64% of the quinoa seed (by weight) is starch (D-xylose, amylose, and maltose). It also has a low glycaemic index of 53, which is considered low, making it suitable for diabetics.

    Aid Weight Loss

    In a study of 30 pre-diabetic patients, the group that ate quinoa for 28 days felt full and satisfied and lost weight, compared to a control group who didn’t eat quinoa. Animal studies have found that both quinoa extract and whole quinoa protected mice from gaining body fat, even when they were fed a high-fat diet.

    The relatively high protein content of quinoa may play a part in this as it increases satiety, causing people to eat less. High-protein diets also burn more calories. However, quinoa also contains 20-hydroxyecdysone, a steroid hormone which has shown to interfere with several genes responsible for fat storage, inflammation, and insulin resistance.

    Recipes for Health

    A good thoroughly cooked quinoa recipe has a light and soft consistency similar to couscous or bulgur wheat with a mild, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch. Sometimes, when quinoa is not pre-rinsed, a slightly bitter taste can be detected. This is from saponins that may be present on the seed coating. Soaking the seeds for two hours with an acid medium, like apple cider vinegar, is a good way to remove most of saponins but also the phytic acid. 

    Classic Cooked Quinoa

    INGREDIENTS:

    ·       1 Cup quinoa grain

    ·       2 Cup filtered water

    ·       Pinch Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt

    ·       Pre- soaking water with 1tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1.      Add the dry quinoa to a bowl and pour enough filtered water over the top to cover it about a few inches.

    2.      Stir in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and allow it to sit for about 2 hours.

    3.      Thoroughly strain the soaked quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.

    4.      In a glass or ceramic pot add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.

    5.      Add strained quinoa and salt, place a lid on top and reduce heat to the lowest flame setting.

    6.      Leave undisturbed for 15-20 minutes or until no liquid is present when you tilt the pot.

    7.      Turn the flame off and let the quinoa sit with lid on for another 5-10 minutes.

    You can use quinoa the same way you would use rice, as a side dish to vegetables, tempeh, tofu or meat protein. It can likewise be incorporated into many recipes, like sushi or curried vegetable sautés. Quinoa also makes a lovely cold salad ingredient with chopped raw veggies, marinated in a dressing. It is also a nice grain to add to hot soups or as a breakfast porridge, with a little coconut oil, shredded coconut and a natural sweetener.


    Precautions

    Quinoa is considered a safe staple grain to consume on a regular basis. In rare cases, however, some individuals are sensitive to saponin residues that may be present in the uncooked seeds, which can cause mild digestive upset. This effect is usually avoided by soaking and rinsing techniques as well as by thoroughly cooking the grain before consumption.

    Quinoa is also quite high in oxalates, which reduce the absorption of calcium and can cause problems for certain individuals with recurring kidney stones.

    To Sum Up…

    A complete protein and fantastic wheat-free alternative, the demand for quinoa has risen sharply in recent years. There’s truly no denying it; the health benefits of quinoa are real and plentiful. From being one of the most protein-rich plant foods with a nutrition profile fit for outer space it’s no wonder that it’s been given the superfood status.

    Quinoa is gluten-free, so it’s great for those intolerant to gluten; and it has a low glycaemic index, so it’s great for  diabetics too. Given it is high in iron and magnesium, quinoa can have wonderful effects on an individual’s metabolism. The seeds brim with phytonutrients high in antioxidants, and loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals, all in all providing protection against oxidative damage and  inflammation which gives rise to diseases such as heart disease, weight gain, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer. Antioxidants fight the free radicals that are responsible for early aging as well as improving hair and skin health. So if you’ve got a chance to try a gluten-free, nutrition-packed food that can be eaten like rice and used in all sorts of ways, plus improve your health from strength to strength, wouldn’t you try it?

    Sources

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-quinoa#section12

    https://draxe.com/10-quinoa-nutrition-facts-benefits/

    https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4994/7-Benefits-of-Quinoa-The-Supergrain-of-the-Future.html

    https://selfhacked.com/blog/quinoa/

    https://www.superfoodevolution.com/quinoa-recipe.html

    https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-quinoa-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref

  • 28 May 2019 2:54 PM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Spirulina is an organism that grows in both fresh and salt water. It’s a spiral-shaped, multi-celled plant with no true nucleus. It’s a natural “algae” (cyanbacteria), which is a family of single-celled microbes that are often referred to as blue-green algae. 


    Spirulina grows best in low-alkaline conditions — particularly, fresh water lakes, ponds and rivers. It is rich in Chlorophyll, and like plants, gets its energy from the sun.

    Believed to have been a staple for the Aztecs, recorded history dating to the Conquistadors confirms that spirulina cakes were regularly sold as far back as the 16th century. Spirulina was a primary source of protein for the Aztecs for several hundred years and Lake Texcoco remains an abundant fountainhead of this superfood still today. 

    Grown around the world from Mexico to Africa to even Hawaii, spirulina is renowned for its intense flavour and even more powerful nutrition profile. It is dried and made into cakes for use in a number of recipes. It is incredibly high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients, and is typically recommended to vegetarians due to its high natural iron content. The high concentration of protein and iron also makes it ideal after surgery, or anytime the immune system needs a boost.

    Spirulina benefits are so profound that taken on a daily basis they could help restore and revitalise your health! To date, there are nearly 1,700 peer-reviewed scientific articles evaluating its health benefits. When harvested correctly from non-contaminated ponds and bodies of water, it is one of the most potent nutrient sources available.

    Spirulina Benefits

    Very Nutritious

    This tiny alga is packed with nutrients. A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder contains:

    ·        Calories: 20 kcal

    ·        Protein: 4.02 g

    ·        Carbohydrate: 1.67 g

    ·        Fat: 0.54 g

    ·        Calcium: 8 milligrams (mg) 

    ·        Magnesium: 14 mg 

    ·        Phosphorus: 8 mg 

    ·        Potassium: 95 mg 

    ·        Sodium: 73 mg

    ·        Iron:  2 mg (11% of the RDA)

    ·        Copper: 21% of the RDA

    ·        Vitamin C: 0.7 mg

    ·        Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 11% of the RDA

    ·        Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 15% of the RDA

    ·        Vitamin B3 (niacin): 4% of the RDA

    ·        Also contains folate, and vitamins B-6, A, and K.

    Gram for gram, spirulina may be the single most nutritious food on the planet.

    A tablespoon of spirulina also provides both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in an approximately 1.5–1.0 ratio.

    The quality of the protein in spirulina is considered excellent — comparable to eggs. It gives all the essential amino acids that you need.

    It is often claimed that spirulina contains vitamin B12, but this is false. It has pseudovitamin B12, which has not been shown to be effective in humans.

    Anti Inflammatory & Antioxidant Properties

    Spirulina is a fantastic source of antioxidants, which can protect against oxidative damage. Its main active component is called phycocyanin. This antioxidant substance also gives spirulina its unique blue-green colour. Phycocyanin can fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signaling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

    Fatty structures in your body are susceptible to oxidative damage. This is known as lipid peroxidation, a key driver of many serious diseases. For example, one of the key steps in the development of heart disease is the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Interestingly, the antioxidants in spirulina appear to be particularly effective at reducing lipid peroxidation in both humans and animals.

    In a study in 37 people with type 2 diabetes, 8 grams of spirulina per day significantly reduced markers of oxidative damage. It also increased levels of antioxidant enzymes in the blood.

    May Control Diabetes

    A 2018 review study found that spirulina supplementation significantly lowered people's fasting blood glucose levels. High fasting blood sugar is a common problem in people with diabetes type 1 and 2. This suggests that spirulina supplements may help people control diabetes.

    In a two-month study in 2001, 2 grams of spirulina per day led to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels in 25 people with type 2 diabetes. However, more studies are necessary.

    May Lower Cholesterol


    A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that taking spirulina supplements may have a positive impact on blood lipids, which are fats in the blood. In the study, spirulina was found to significantly reduce total cholesterol and lower LDL — "bad" — cholesterol while increasing HDL — "good" — cholesterol.

    A 2013 study also supports this health claim. Researchers found that taking 1 g of spirulina every day reduced participant's total cholesterol after 3 months. Another study in 2014 people with high cholesterol determined that 1 gram of spirulina per day lowered triglycerides by 16.3% and “bad” LDL by 10.1%.

    In a study in 2001, 25 people with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of spirulina per day significantly improved these markers.

    Several other studies have found favourable effects — though with higher doses of 4.5–8 grams per day.

    May Lower Blood Pressure

    Phycocyanin is a pigment found in the spirulina that scientists have discovered possesses antihypertensive effects (it lowers blood pressure). Japanese researchers claim that this is because consuming the blue-green algae reverses endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome.

    A small-scale 2016 study found that eating spirulina regularly for 3 months reduced people's blood pressure when they were overweight and had hypertension.

    While 1 gram of spirulina is ineffective, a dose of 4.5 grams per day has been shown to reduce blood pressure in individuals with normal levels. This reduction is thought to be driven by an increased production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps your blood vessels relax and dilate.

    May Reduce Allergic Symptoms

    A 2013 study states that spirulina can relieve nasal inflammation and reduce histamine in the body. Compared to a placebo, 2 grams per day dramatically reduced symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching in 127 people with allergic rhinitis.

    May Detox Your Body from Heavy Metals

    After giving 24 patients affected by chronic arsenic poisoning spirulina extract (250 milligrams) plus zinc (2 milligrams) twice daily, they compared the results with 17 patients who took a placebo and found that the spirulina-zinc combination helped in clearing the arsenic. Ultimately, the participants experienced a 47 percent decrease of arsenic in their body.

    Apart from arsenic, a 2016 review found that spirulina had antitoxic properties that could counteract other pollutants in the body, such as: fluoride, iron, lead and mercury.

    May Eliminate Candida 

    Spirulina appears to help with yeast infections. Several animal studies have shown that it’s an effective antimicrobial agent, particularly for candida. 

    Spirulina benefits have been shown to promote the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestines, which in turn inhibits candida from thriving. Additionally, the immune-strengthening properties of spirulina will help the body eliminate candida cells.

    May Aid Mental Health

    A 2018 paper highlights the potential role that spirulina could play in treating mood disorders. The theory is that spirulina is a source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that supports serotonin production. Serotonin plays an important role in mental health.

    People with certain mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, may have reduced levels of serotonin. Taking tryptophan supplements to maintain healthful serotonin levels may play a role in supporting mental wellbeing. Researchers need to conduct more clinical trials before they know the true role of spirulina in supporting mental health.

    Anti Cancer Properties

    According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “A number of animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.”

    Spirulina’s effects on oral cancer — or cancer of the mouth — have been particularly well studied.  One study examined 87 people from India with precancerous lesions — called oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) — in the mouth. Among those who took 1 gram of spirulina per day for one year, 45% saw their lesions disappear — compared to only 7% in the control group. When these people stopped taking spirulina, almost half of them redeveloped lesions in the following year.

    In another study of 40 individuals with OSMF lesions, 1 gram of spirulina per day led to greater improvement in OSMF symptoms than the drug Pentoxyfilline.


    Recipes for Health

    Spirulina is available in powder or tablet form. A standard daily dose of spirulina is 1–3 grams, but doses of up to 10 grams per day have been used effectively. As a powder, people can:

    ·       add it to smoothies, which gives the drink a green colour

    ·       sprinkle spirulina powder on salads or in soups

    ·       mix it into energy balls, along with other healthful ingredients

    ·       stir a tablespoon into fruit or vegetable juices

    Date and Spirulina Energy Balls

    Ingredients:

    • 20 medjool dates, pitted
    • 2 cups walnut pieces
    • 1 teaspoon Spirulina Powder
    • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, plus 1/4 cup for coating

    Directions:

    1.      Place walnuts, dates, hemp seeds, spirulina, and 1/4 cup of coconut into food processor and mix until it becomes sticky and starts to form a ball (around 2 minutes). 

    2.      Take dough from food processor and form 1 inch balls. 

    3.      Roll the balls into the remaining coconut to coat them. 

    4.      Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Spirulina ice cream

    Ingredients:

    • 2 frozen peeled bananas
    • 1 tsp spirulina powder

    Directions:

    1.      Place frozen bananas in blender, food processor or smoothie machine. 

    2.      Mix in spirulina, stir and serve.

    Precautions

    If you have an autoimmune condition, it’s a good idea to take this supplement under the supervision of your healthcare provider as there have been some cases of autoimmune reactions.

    It’s absolutely critical to make sure that the quality and purity of the spirulina that you consume is of the highest standards. Particularly, like anything that comes from the sea, be certain to only purchase blue-green algae that is free from contamination.

    Spirulina could contain the amino acid phenylalanine and thus should be avoided by people who have phenylketonuria (PKU) — a metabolic disorder in which the body can't metabolise phenylalanine.

    Always consult a health profession before taking spirulina for any reactions including any drug interactions.

    Also, some sources suggest that pregnant women and children should not consume algae. Contact your natural health care provider to confirm whether or not you should be using spirulina supplements.


    To Sum Up…

    Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria — often referred to as blue-green algae — that is incredibly healthy.

    It has been well-researched for its many potential benefits. Some of the most significant of them include detoxing heavy metals, eliminating candida, fighting cancer and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. 

    Spirulina may cause autoimmune reactions in some who are susceptible to autoimmunity. It’s also not recommended for pregnant women or children. Be cautious where you purchase spirulina, as it may be contaminated if not bought from a high-quality source, leading to additional spirulina side effects.

    While more research is needed before any strong claims can be made, spirulina may be one of the few superfoods worthy of the title.

    Sources

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324027.php

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-spirulina#section2

    https://draxe.com/spirulina-benefits/

    https://wellnessmama.com/4738/spirulina-benefits/

    https://www.nutrex-hawaii.com/blogs/recipes

  • 30 Apr 2019 11:35 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    In my last blog we covered the importance and benefits of soaking your grains, nuts, legumes, seeds etc. in this blog we will go one step further and look into why sprouting your grains can do so much more for your health than you think. You probably eat sprouted grains when you eat your egg and cress sandwiches or when you eat Chinese and love the taste of crunchy bean sprouts. So here’s why we should eat so much more than we already do.


    Sprouting is the process of germinating seeds, nuts, grains and beans. It involves soaking them and then rinsing them every 8-12 hours until they begin to develop a tail-like protrusion. At this stage they become easier to digest and easier for the body to absorb their nutrients.

    Soaking is sometimes confused with sprouting, which, as mentioned, is actually the first step in the sprouting process. Soaking softens the hull, allows the sprout to grow and then sprouting allows the soaked item to germinate further. You first must soak something before you can sprout it.

    Sprouts have a long history of being used for more than 5,000 years ago in Chinese medicine where physicians prescribed them for curing many disorders for their nutritional and medicinal properties.

    It is only in the past thirty years that “westerners” have become interested in sprouts and sprouting. During World War II considerable interest in sprouts was sparked in the United States by an article written by Dr Clive McKay, Professor of Nutrition. Dr McKay announced: “Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a … chop.”

    Dr McKay was talking about soybean sprouts. He and a team of nutritionists had spent years researching the amazing properties of sprouted soybeans. They and other researchers found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, contain high amounts of vitamin A and C compared to that of the unsprouted seeds. Some nutritionists found that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss, nonetheless, an average 300 percent increase in vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in vitamin C. In addition to this, the sprouting process converts starches into simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.

    Sprouting Benefits

    Highly Nutritious

    The biggest benefit of sprouts is that they are a powerhouse of nutrients, all of which our body needs, and they’re just there waiting to be unlocked with their maximum potential ready to be used. Just as Dr McKay found, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) were all barely detectable in the dry grains. However, sprouting the grains increased their concentrations significantly, with peak concentrations of the nutrients observed after seven days of sprouting. 

    Other studies have found that nutrients, including amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), sugars in the form of glucose, and even vitamins and minerals become more available and absorbable. Folate also increases in sprouted grains by up to 3.8-fold.

    Seed and legumes see a raise in antioxidant levels when sprouted, making them an important aid against free radical and ageing. There is also an increase in the contents of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene and improved availability of calcium, iron and zinc. Sprouts are the perfect support for skin and immune health.

    A 2012 study found that vitamin C levels, phenolic and flavanoid antioxidants, significantly increased in mung bean sprouts when germinated for up to eight days.

    Makes Foods Easier to Digest

    For many people, eating grains and beans can cause discomfort and adverse reactions. Sprouting is able to activate beneficial enzymes, which make all types of grains, seeds, beans and nuts easier on the digestive system. This also boosts beneficial bacteria in the gut, reducing inflammation and possible autoimmune reactions. It can also be especially beneficial for individuals sensitive to gluten, as sprouted flours can further decrease in gluten content.

    Other studies have shown that as time goes on, sprouted flours can further decrease in gluten, while the availability of total amino acids (protein), fats and sugars becomes more easily available. 


    Increases Protein Availability

    Depending on the exact seed that is sprouted, proteins in the form of amino acids can become more concentrated and absorbable in sprouted foods. As sprouting continues, complex proteins are converted into simple amino acids, making them easier on digestion.

    Some studies have shown that an increase in amino acids, including lysine and tryptophan, can take place when seeds are sprouted. However, the protein gluten can also decrease in grains when sprouted.

    Sprouts rich in protein: sprouted lentils, mung beans, adzuki beans, garbanzo beans and peas.

    Decreases Anti-Nutrients and Phytic Acid

    Just as I mentioned in my last blog, germination lowers the levels of anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, lectins, saponins and enzyme inhibitors. Anti-nutrients are naturally occurring compounds that protect plants in nature but they can block the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals by the body.

    Phytic Acid- found in grains and beans binds to calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc, inhibiting their uptake and our digestive enzymes. It also inhibits our digestive enzymes called amylase, trypsin and pepsin. Amylase breaks down starch, while both pepsin and trypsin are needed to break down protein into smaller amino acids.

    Enzyme Inhibitors- found in nuts and seeds may prevent adequate digestion. They can cause protein deficiency and gastrointestinal upset. Tannins are enzyme inhibitors. So are other difficult-to-digest plant proteins like gluten. Enzyme inhibitors not only cause digestive problems, but they can contribute to allergic reactions and mental illness.

    Lectins and Saponins— present in legumes and vegetables affect the gastrointestinal lining, contributing to leaky gut syndrome and various autoimmune disorders. Lectins are particularly resistant to digestion by humans. They enter our blood and trigger immune responses. Lectins can cause GI upset similar to classical food poisoning and immune responses like joint pain and rashes. Improperly prepared raw grains, dairy and legumes like peanuts and soybeans have especially high lectin levels.

    Polyphenols— inhibit digestion of copper, iron, zinc and vitamin B1, along with enzymes, proteins and starches found in plant foods.

    Increases Fibre Content

    Several studies have found that when seeds are sprouted, their fibre content increases and becomes more available. Reports show that sprouting increases concentrations of crude fibre, which is the fibre that makes up the cell walls of plants. When we consume plant’s crude fibre, the fibre cannot actually be absorbed within our digestive tracts. Therefore it helps push waste and toxins out of the gut and regulate bowel movements.

    Helps Reduce Other Allergens Found in Grains

    Aside from decreasing gluten protein concentrations, sprouting grains has been shown to help reduce other food allergens (especially one called 26-kDa allergen) that is found in grains like rice.

    In one study, researchers found that sprouted brown rice contained much lower levels of two allergen compounds when compared to non-sprouted brown rice. They believed that the reduction was due to certain enzyme activities that took place during sprouting.

    Recipes for Health

    Below gives the time needed to soak and then sprout various nuts, beans, legumes, grains and seeds:

    NUTS

    Almonds: Need 2–12 hours for soaking. Sprout for 2–3 days if truly raw. The length you choose depends on what you want to use them for. For example, 48 hours of soaking allow the skins to fall off.

    Walnuts: 4 hours soaking, do not sprout

    Brazil nuts: 3 hours soaking, do not sprout

    Cashews: 2–3 hours soaking, do not sprout

    Hazelnuts: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout

    Macadamias: 2 hours soaking, do not sprout

    Pecans: 6 hours soaking, do not sprout

    Pistachios: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout

    BEANS AND LEGUMES

    Chickpeas: 8–12 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Lentils: 8 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Adzuki beans: 8 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Black beans: 8–12 hours soaking, 3 days for sprouting

    White beans: 8 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Mung beans: 24 hours soaking, 2–5 days for sprouting

    Navy beans: 9–12 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Peas: 9–12 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    * It’s not recommended to sprout red kidney beans as they contain a very toxic lectin*

    GRAINS

    Buckwheat: 30 minutes–6 hours soaking (time varies), 2–3 days for sprouting

    Amaranth: 8 hours soaking, 1–3 days for sprouting

    Kamut: 7 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Millet: 8 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Oat groats: 6 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    Quinoa: 4 hours soaking, 1–3 days for sprouting

    Wheat berries: 7 hours soaking, 3–4 days for sprouting

    Wild rice: 9 hours soaking, 3–5 days for sprouting

    Black rice: 9 hours soaking, 3–5 days for sprouting

    SEEDS

    Radish seeds: 8–12 hours soaking, 3–4 days for sprouting

    Alfalfa seeds: 12 hours soaking, 3–5 days for sprouting

    Pumpkin seeds: 8 hours soaking, 1–2 days for sprouting

    Sesame seeds: 8 hours soaking, 1–2 days for sprouting

    Sunflower seeds: 8 hours soaking, 2–3 days for sprouting

    METHOD

    The sprouting method is the same for all foods, the only difference is the amount of time involved:

    1.      Rinse your grains, seeds or legumes thoroughly and buy some that are free of pesticides and that haven’t been pasteurised or irradiated. 

    2.      Put them in a bowl, cover with water and place some cheese cloth or a kitchen towel on the top. 

    3.      Let soak for the suggested times. 

    4.      Then strain, rinse well and place in a shallow glass container or dish on your kitchen counter so they’re exposed to air. 

    5.      Rinse every 8-12 hours and repeat the process until sprouts appear. They can vary in length from 1-5cm. 

    6.      Once ready, rinse well again, drain and store in a glass jar or container in the refrigerator. They can keep up to 7 days but to avoid the formation of mould or bacteria, make sure to rinse them every day, as well as washing their storing container.

    MEAL IDEAS

    ·       Beans and grains, once sprouted, cook faster and are easier to digest. It is best to slightly cook these, while seed and grass sprouts can be eaten raw.

    ·       Add them to salads for extra protein or mix quinoa, buckwheat or wild rice with crunchy vegetables and a zesty citrus vinaigrette. 

    ·       Cook sprouted chickpeas or peas and process them into hummus – they will be much lighter in texture than the traditional counterpart. 

    ·       Use sprouted flour for baked goods that will be much more easily digested and enjoyed or make your favourite granolas with sprouted oat groats or buckwheat for extra crunch and nutritional value. 

    ·       Add radish or broccoli sprouts to your morning juice or smoothie to start the day with a spicy injection of vitamins and minerals, then fill your lunchtime wrap with alfaalfa or sunflower sprouts.

    Precautions

    As for many foods in their raw stage, sprouts can potentially develop bacteria and cause harmful illnesses. The best way to avoid this possibility is by sanitising all the containers you have used for soaking and sprouting, and carefully rinse the items to sprout for at least one minute, eliminating any dirt and shell fragments. Most importantly, always choose nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that are certified organic and pathogen-free.

    To Sum Up…

    Nuts, beans and seeds can play an important role in many adults’ diets, contributing a range of different nutrients.

    The reason that humans suffer from indigestion and autoimmune reactions from unsprouted foods is because we aren’t designed to break down anti-nutrients in plant compounds that lock up or deplete vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Regularly consuming high amounts of anti-nutrients can significantly impact your health. 

    Sprouting and soaking seeds can break down anti-nutrients, make the seeds more digestible and unlock high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other healthy compounds found in plant foods. These can all have a positive impact on your nutritional health, be easier of your digestive system and cause less allergic reactions.

    Use raw, unsprouted nuts, grains, seeds or legumes that haven’t been roasted, blanched or prepared at all in any way. Place them in a bowl covered with several inches of water, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let them sit for anywhere between 5–48 hours depending on the kind. With a little labour of love, they will soon sprout and be ready to boost your nutritional health to a new level. Add them to your morning smoothie or granola, your lunch time wrap or salad or your evening stir-fry!

    Sources

    https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/sprouting-ancient-process-becoming-modern-trend/

    http://www.isga-sprouts.org/about-sprouts/sprout-history/

    https://draxe.com/sprout/

  • 25 Mar 2019 10:37 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)


    Grains and legumes have been consumed for many years, but it wasn’t until the past 50+ years that we stopped traditionally preparing grains by soaking them. The practice of soaking grains has become more common in our modern age due to the book “Nourishing Traditions”. In it, author Sally Fallon Morell teaches the reader about how food was prepared in traditional cultures that were not exposed to industrialised food in an industrialised world.

    By soaking the grains in an acidic medium (lemon juice, buttermilk, liquid whey, yogurt, or apple cider vinegar) you break down the anti-nutrients in the grain and the minerals are released making them digestible.

    It is the whole grains that require more careful preparation than their more refined counterparts. When the bran and germ are removed from grains, as in white rice or white flour, many of the nutrients are stripped from these grains, but many of the anti-nutrients are as well.

    Anti-Nutrients in Grains

    Grains are like seeds, in a way. Those very same wheat berries that you might grind to make flour can also be planted in a field and allowed to grow into a stock of wheat, if they haven’t been chemically treated to prevent it.

    Because they are like seeds they contain protective elements in their outer seed coat and bran. These protective elements help to combat predators such as insects, or potentially damaging environmental threats such as bacteria, sun radiation, or weather. These anti-nutrients include phytic acid, lectins, enzyme-inhibitors, and fibre in the bran that can be tough to break down in the digestive tract. Most of these anti-nutrients are part of the seed’s system of preservation—they prevent sprouting until the conditions are right. 

    It is the germination process – when the conditions are right – that encourages the grain or seed to throw off these protective barriers and give forth a shoot. In order for that germination process to happen, there must be moisture and warmth. 

    What is Phytic Acid?

    Phytic acid is one of the most touted “bad guys” in grains. It essentially works as a chelating agent, binding with the minerals in the grain, and preventing those minerals from being absorbed in the digestive tract.

    Phytic acid is an organic acid in which bound to phosphorus in a snowflake-like molecule.It is mostly found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. In humans and animals with one stomach, the phosphorus—a vital mineral for bones and health— is not readily bio-available. In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.In this form, the compound is referred to as phytate.

    Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin, needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.

    Other anti-nutrients in whole grains include enzyme inhibitors which can inhibit digestion and put stress on the pancreas; irritating tannins; complex sugars which the body cannot break down; and gluten and related hard-to-digest proteins which may cause allergies, digestive disorders and even mental illness.

    Soaking Benefits

    Plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in order to sprout. Proper preparation of grains is a kind and gentle process that imitates the process that occurs in nature. It involves soaking for a period in warm, acidulated water in the preparation of porridge, or long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of bread. Such processes neutralise phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

    Soaking flours and grains is a shortened version of fermentation. It is usually done for 12 to 24 hours and it is often recommended to introduce an acidic medium to the process, mimicking the acids that are naturally produced during the souring process.

    Benefits of using cultured dairy as the acid counterpart:Cultured dairy contains beneficial bacteria, in the form of a specific culture, and naturally occurring acids. It has been used as a medium to soak grains and flours in, although lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are just as effective. Cultured dairy such as milk kefir, buttermilk, and yogurt all contain enzymes. Enzymes are a big part of what kick-starts the process of breaking down fibre and anti-nutrients. Furthermore, the nutritional components of dairy (protein and fat) create a more balanced and nutritious baked product than one made with water alone. 

    The Next Step from Soaking

    Soaking is just the beginning of the fermentation process. If allowed to soak longer, those grains + water + acidity + warmth will equal fermentation and that is what we should really be after. Fermentation naturally produces an acidic environment that will pre-digest those grains more for you. It naturally neutralises anti-nutrients and increases the vitamin content of your grains, giving you a more nourishing food product. It naturally decreases the starchiness of grains as the friendly organisms eat it up and produce acids. However, it takes more time than soaking and it produces an end product that may be too tangy for our western taste buds.

    As soaking is the beginning of the fermentation process, you can simply continue the soaking process until your grains/flours have fermented. It will get a little bubbly (think sourdough) and smell a big tangy. That’s when you know you have truly soured or fermented your grains. You’ll also need to simply get used to the sometimes tangy flavour of fermented grains, though they don’t always have to taste like a bowl of vinegar if prepared properly.

    Recipes for Health

    Soaking grains in cultured dairy has been practiced for generations. The entire basis of the “eat traditional foods” concept is that a food can be trusted as a large part of your diet when it has been eaten by a traditional culture with a history of robust health.

    How to Soak

    Soaking grains, legumes and flour is not hard, in fact it is quite easy.  It just takes thinking ahead a bit and a little time.  Here is what you need to soak grains, flour & legumes:

    ·       Warm filtered water - warm water is necessary to properly break down the phytic acid and other minerals 

    ·       Acidic medium - yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, whey, milk kefir and coconut kefir.  Note that all dairy needs to be cultured.

    ·       Baking soda for legumes

    ·       Warm place in the kitchen

    ·       Time

     

    Soaking Grains


    1.      Place the grain into a glass bowl and cover completely with filtered warm water.  For every 1 cup of liquid you will need 1 tbsp of acidic medium. All grains, with the exception of buckwheat and millet, need to be soaked for 12-24 hours.  Buckwheat and millet have low levels of phytic acid and only require 7 hours soaking time.

    2.      Place your bowl of soaking grains on the counter top and cover.  You could use a clean towel with a rubber band around the circumference holding the towel in place. 

    3.      Allow the grain to sit in a warm place for the time needed for that particular grain.

    4.      You do not have to rinse the grains after the soaking time if you do not want to but you can.  

    5.      Proceed with recipe.  Note: many soaked grains will take less time to cook than non-soaked grains. 

    Soaking Brown Rice

    The ideal preparation of brown rice would start with home-milling, to remove a portion of the bran, and then would involve souring at a very warm temperature at least sixteen hours, preferably twenty-four hours. Using a starter would be ideal. 

    For those with less time, purchase brown rice in air-tight packages: 

    1.      Soak rice for at least eight hours in hot water plus a little fresh whey, lemon juice or vinegar. 

    2.      If you soak in a tightly closed mason jar, the rice will stay warm as it generates heat. 

    3.      Drain, rinse and cook in broth and butter.

    Soaking Flours

    If soaking flour for recipes like pancakes, muffins or quick breads:

    1.      Add the liquids (water, oils, sweetener) and flour together in a glass bowl and 1 tbsp of acidic medium for every 1 cup of liquid used. 

    2.      Cover and allow to soak overnight.

    3.      Proceed with the recipe in the morning by adding the remaining ingredients (such as the eggs, milk and other perishable ingredients) and cook as directed.  

    If soaking flour for yeast breads:

    1.      Add together flour and water (reserving 1/2 cup water to dissolve yeast) and 1 Tbsp of vinegar or kefir for every 1 cup of water added.  You can also add the sweetener and oils if you want.  

    2.      Cover and allow to soak for 8-12 hours.  

    3.      After soaking add the reserved water to the yeast with a tsp of honey  and proceed with recipe. 

    Soaking Legumes

     

    For kidney shaped beans:

    1.      Add enough water to cover the beans and a pinch of baking soda.  

    2.      Cover and allow to sit in a warm kitchen for 12-24 hours, changing the water and baking soda once or twice.  

    For non kidney shaped beans such as northern beans or black beans:

    1.      Place beans into pot and add enough water to cover the beans.  For Every one cup of beans you need 1 tbsp of acidic medium.

    2.      After soaking is done, rinse the beans, replace the water and cook for 4-8 hours on low heat until beans are tender.

    Remember: If you are soaking legumes, it is best to rinse them several times during the soaking time to prevent them from starting to ferment.  Always rinse legumes before cooking.

     

    Traditionally prepared Soaked Porridge 

    INGREDIENTS

    ·       1 cup rolled organic oats (not quick oats)

    ·       1 cup filtered water

    ·       2 tbsp acidic medium (yogurt, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk)

    ·       1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt

    1.      Add 1 cup of oats, water, and the acidic medium into a glass bowl and stir well. Cover and let it sit overnight on the counter (at least 7-8 hours).

    2.      In the morning add another 1 cup of filtered water and the unrefined sea salt, stir well. (**Note: if you feel the oatmeal is too sour, you can rinse the oats before adding the additional 1 cup of water, but this is not necessary.)

    3.      Heat to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

    4.      Serve with a generous portion of butter and cream.

    To Sum Up…

    Nature has set it up so that the grain or seed may survive until proper growing conditions are present. Nature’s defence mechanism includes nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances that can be removed naturally when the conditions are right for it to germinate. Soaking them is a way for us to mimic the natural process of releasing this defence mechanism and unlocking the vital nutrients inside these precious grains.

    Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralise a large portion of anti-nutrients and phytic acid in grains. Soaking in warm water also neutralises enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of minerals, and vitamins, especially B vitamins. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption. This process of fermentation, has been used for thousands of years by various cultures to create foods such as sourdough bread, dosas, and soured porridges.

    A diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. Buy only organic whole grains and soak them overnight to make porridge or casseroles; or grind them into flour with a home grinder and make your own sourdough bread and baked goods. For those who lack the time for bread-making, kindly-made whole grain breads are now available. 

    Sources

    https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/health/is-soaking-grains-and-legumes-necessary-and-how-to-properly-soak-and-prepare-them/

    https://wholelifestylenutrition.com/recipes/traditionally-prepared-soaked-oatmeal-holistic-recipe/

    https://www.nourishingdays.com/2012/07/why-soaking-grains-isnt-necessarily-the-best-way-to-prepare-them/

    https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/be-kind-to-your-grains-and-your-grains-will-be-kind-to-you/

    https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/vegetarianism-and-plant-foods/living-with-phytic-acid/

    https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/general/benefits-soaking-grains-flours-cultured-dairy/

    https://www.foodmatters.com/article/the-benefits-of-soaking-nuts-and-seeds

  • 19 Feb 2019 11:45 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)




    Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to the mint. From beverages to baked goods, these seeds are said to have been used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for “supernatural powers”. In Mayan, “chia” means “strength.” This probably has to do with the large amounts of energy provided by chia seeds. Ancient warriors attributed their stamina to this tiny seed. 

    Chia was first used by the Aztecs as early as 3500 B.C. and was a cash crop in the centre of Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. Pre-Columbian civilisations used chia as a raw material for medicines, nutritional compounds.  Chia was used by the Aztecs as food, mixed with other foods, mixed in water and drunk as a beverage, ground into flour, included in medicines, and pressed for oil.  Chia flour could be stored for many years and could be easily carried on long trips, serving as a high-energy food.  The aztecs also offered chia to their gods during religious ceremonies.

    When the Spanish conquerors landed the new land in 1500s, they repressed the natives, and suppressed their existing traditions and trade system.  Many crops that had held a major position in pre-Columbian American diets were banned by the Spanish because of their close association with religion. Chia, as the result, was deliberately eliminated.  Chia survived only in regional areas of Mexico for the last 500 years. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that Latin American governments began to re-establish chia seeds as a national agricultural product.

    Chia seeds are cultivated on a small scale in their ancestral homeland of central Mexico and Guatemala and commercially throughout Central and South America.

    Chia Seed Benefits

    Highly Nutritious

     

    Chia is one powerful little seed, as it delivers the maximum amount of nutrients with minimum calories. They have several of the same benefits as the more well-known “super seed” flax, but unlike flax seed, you don’t need to grind them to reap the health benefits. 

    A 2 tablespoon serving (28g) contains 138 calories and 9 grams of fat, along with a whopping 11g of fibre, 5g of protein and 18% of the daily value for calcium, plus other important minerals. It’s also surprisingly packed with alpha-linolenic acid omega-3s (4,500mg), more than you’ll find in flaxseed. This makes them one of the world's best sources of several important nutrients, calorie for calorie. 

    Chia boasts an impressive array of flavonoid and polyphenol anti-oxidants including quercetin, kaempferol, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.  It has three times the amount of anti-oxidants as blueberries for equal volume.

    This combination of nutrients is perfect for healthy blood sugar levels and sustained energy. A diet that includes chia seeds is a powerful combatant for diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

    High in Omega 3

    Contributing to its superseed status, chia is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 in any food. It also contains high amounts of omega-6. Everyone needs to consume high amounts of these essential fatty acids in their diet, because these EFAs build new cells and regulate various processes of the body, but our bodies cannot make them internally. They also support heart health and beautiful skin, hair and nails. 

    Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are very high in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the omega-3s in them are mostly ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is not as beneficial as you may think. ALA needs to be converted into the active forms eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) before your body can use it. Unfortunately, humans are inefficient at converting ALA into these active forms. Therefore, plant omega-3s tend to be vastly inferior to animal sources like fish oil (21). Because they don't supply any DHA, which is the most important omega-3 fat, most experts consider chia seeds a lower-quality omega-3 source. Studies in humans and animals have shown that chia seeds may raise blood levels of ALA up to 138%, and EPA up to 39%.

    Promote Energy and Endurance

    The Mayans and Aztecs originally used chia seeds for their energy and endurance benefits. They were known as “Indian Running Food” and warriors and athletes often consumed a chia seed gel prior to their events to maintain energy and stamina.

    It turns out that these same benefits are just as applicable in modern times! In fact one study, found that a chia gel was as effective as energy drinks for maintaining athletic performance. In the study, participants were split into two groups. One group was given an energy drink, and another an energy drink/chia seed gel. Participants completed various running and endurance activities and their results were compared. The study found no difference in performance between the two groups and concluded that chia seeds were as effective as energy drinks in promoting athletic performance. A recipe for this energy gel is given below.

    High in Fibre

    Almost all of the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fibre. In 28g of chia seeds, the 12g of carbs that it contains 11g of it is fibre, which your body doesn’t digest which does not raise blood sugar or affect insulin levels like other forms of carbohydrates. A high fibre intake has been linked with improved gut health and a lower risk of numerous diseases.

    Chia seeds also have a unique ability to “gel” due to the soluble fibre content. The outer shell is hydrophilic and so has the ability to absorb over 10 times their weight in liquid. This makes them filling and satisfying. Researchers think that this gel action also occurs in the stomach, creating a barrier between carbohydrates and enzymes in the stomach which slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. This may account for some of the reported endurance benefits of chia seeds. 

    This super absorbent nature also helps to hydrate the colon and move toxins out of the gut. The blend of insoluble and soluble fibre helps to sweep and sponge microorganisms and environmental toxins out of the colon and into the faeces. Thus, the fibre works as a prebiotic in the digestive system, so while it isn’t digested and used directly, it feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and may help improve gut health. It has also been linked to decreased risk of diabetes, increased stool bulk and reduced constipation.

    Adding just 2 tbsp of chia seeds to your diet can reduce caloric intake and double the amount of fibre you would consume. As this high fibre seed promotes a feeling of fullness, it could prevent overeating which leads to weight gain. However, more evidence is needed to support this concept.

    Bone Health

    Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health. This includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein.

    In 28g (=2 tablespoons): % of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)

    Calcium: 18% (three times more calcium than skimmed milk)

    Manganese: 30% 

    Magnesium: 30% 

    Phosphorus: 27% 

    Gram for gram, this is higher than most dairy products and so would make an excellent source of calcium for people who don't eat dairy. 


    Lowers High Blood Sugar

    Chia seeds may lower the rise in blood sugar after a high-carb meal, possibly benefiting people with type 2 diabetes.

    Animal studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, stabilising blood sugar levels after meals. A few human studies support this by showing that eating bread that contains chia seeds lowers the post-meal rise in blood sugar compared to bread that doesn’t include any chia.

    Boosts Mental Function

    Chia is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids and neuro-protective anti-oxidants such as quercetin, caffeic and chlorogenic acid.  These essential fats and anti-oxidants produce cell membranes that are more flexible and efficient. Healthier cell membranes results in more efficient nutrient delivery systems and faster nerve transmission processes.  This improves brain function including memory and concentration.

    Recipes for Health

    Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. The seeds themselves taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything. They also don't need to be ground like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridge, pudding, smoothies or added to baked goods. You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes. Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and as egg substitutes in recipes. Mixed with water, they can replace egg in vegan cooking or for those with egg allergies. Simply mix one part chia seeds to six parts water. About one tablespoon of this gel equals one large egg. When combined with liquid, chia seeds swell and form a gel. Chia’s ability to gel also makes the seeds a fine substitute for pectin in jam (Recipe below). 

    Chia seeds are an integral ingredient in the Mexican and Central American favourite drink: Chia Fresca (Recipe below), in which the seeds are mixed into lime or lemon juice with added sweetener. 

    Energy Gel

    Great energy gel for endurance activities:

    Add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water. 

    Let sit for about ten minutes and you’ll have an incredible energy gel!

    Blueberry Chia Jam

    Ingredients

    ·       1 1⁄4 cup frozen wild blueberries

    ·       1 1⁄2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey

    ·       1 tablespoon chia seeds

    ·       1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract (fresh, minced ginger or lemon juice also work well as flavouring agents in this jam).

    Instructions

    1.      In small saucepan over medium heat, add blueberries and maple syrup/honey. Stir and cook the blueberry mixture for 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash blueberries.

    2.      Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and continue to cook and stir for about 2 to 3 minutes or until blueberry mixture resembles a jam consistency. 

    3.      Remove from heat and blend in vanilla extract. 

    4.      Refrigerate and use within a week.


    Lemon Chia Fresca

    Ingredients

    ·       Tall glass of cold water

    ·       2 Tablespoons lemon juice

    ·       2-3 teaspoon chia seeds

    ·       5-6 drops liquid stevia (or 2 teaspoons maple syrup/honey)

    ·       pinch of cayenne pepper

    Instructions

    1.      Combine all ingredients in a glass and let sit for about 15 minutes in the fridge so the chia seeds have a chance to absorb some of the liquid and “gel” up. 

    2.      Enjoy immediately or save for later. 

    3.      Can be made ahead of time as the mixture should last at least 2-3 days in the fridge.

    Precautions

    Chia seeds generally do not cause any adverse effects. However, to avoid possible digestive side effects, drinking plenty of water with chia seeds is generally advised, especially if they have not been soaked before eating.

    Like all grains and seeds, chia seeds contain compounds called phytic acid. Phytic acid is a plant compound that binds with minerals, such as iron and zinc, and inhibits their uptake from foods. This is the reason that many ancient cultures soaked and fermented grains and seeds prior to eating them. Chia seeds are naturally gluten free and are a good source of many nutrients. Though they do contain phytic acid, they do not contain as high of levels as many other nuts and seeds. There is also some evidence that soaking and rinsing the seeds may help reduce the levels of phytic acid, thus releasing the nutrients from the seed.

    Large doses of omega-3 fats, such as those from fish oils, may have blood thinning effects. If you are taking blood-thinning medications, then consult with your doctor before incorporating large amounts of chia seeds into the diet. The omega-3 fatty acids may affect the activity of the medication.

    Chia seeds can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water so it is important to mix chia seeds into another food or liquid before consuming, especially for people with a history of swallowing problems. Small children should not be given chia seeds.

    To Sum Up…

    Chia seeds are very rich in fibre, antioxidants, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. A few spoonfuls daily might be powerful enough to improve risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, lead to better digestive and bone health, plus boost endurance and mental function. Chia is such a versatile seed and so very easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Adding chia seeds to any recipe will dramatically boost their nutritional value. They are truly worthy of their reputation as a superfood.

    Source

    http://www.ancientgrains.com/chia-seed-history-and-origin/

    https://foodandnutrition.org/january-february-2014/chia-seeds-tiny-seeds-rich-history/

    https://www.doctoroz.com/blog/lindsey-duncan-nd-cn/chia-ancient-super-secret

    https://beyondtheequator.com/blog/2017/01/31/a-history-of-chia-seeds

    https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/lemon-chia-fresca/

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#section12

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/291334.php

    https://draxe.com/chia-seeds-benefits-side-effects/

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/chia-seeds#section6

    https://wellnessmama.com/4981/chia-seeds-benefits/

    https://drjockers.com/top-3-health-benefits-chia-seeds/

  • 07 Jan 2019 11:58 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

    Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t reabsorb them. It’s made from a variety of sources, but when used for natural healing, it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.


    Making activated charcoal involves heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, peat, coconut shells, or sawdust, to very high temperatures. The high temperatures change its internal structure, reducing the size of its pores and increasing its surface area. This results in a charcoal that is more porous than regular charcoal. The manufacture of activated charcoal makes it extremely adsorbent, allowing it to bind to molecules, ions, or atoms. This 'activation' process strips the charcoal of previously absorbed molecules and frees up bonding sites again. This process also reduces the size of the pores in the charcoal and makes more holes in each molecule, therefore, increasing its overall surface area. As a result, one teaspoon full of activated charcoal has more surface area than a football field!

    The charcoal's porous texture has a negative electrical charge, which causes it to attract positively charged molecules, such as toxins and gases. The black powder stops toxins and chemicals from being absorbed in the stomach by binding to them. The body is unable to absorb charcoal, and so the toxins that bind to the charcoal leave the body in the faeces.

    Activated charcoal is not the same substance as that found in charcoal bricks or burnt pieces of food and it shouldn't be confused with charcoal briquettes that are used to light your barbecue. While both can be made from the same base materials, charcoal briquettes have not been "activated" at high temperatures. Moreover, they contain additional substances that are toxic to humans.

    A Bit of History…

    The first documented use of activated charcoal goes as far back as 3750 B.C., when it was first used by the Egyptians for smelting ores to create bronze. By 1500 B.C. the Egyptians were also using it for intestinal ailments, absorbing unpleasant odours, and for writing on papyrus. In 400 B.C. the Ancient Hindus and Phoenicians discovered the antiseptic properties of activated charcoal and began using it to purify their water. A well known practice for any long sea voyage was to store water in barrels that had been charred. 

    By 50 A.D., leading the way for the use of activated charcoal in medicine was Hippocrates and Pliny, who began using it to treat many different ailments such as epilepsy, and vertigo. After the suppression of the sciences through the Dark Ages, charcoal re-emerged in the 1700’s and 1800’s within the use of medical treatments - both for its absorbent properties of fluid and gases and for its disinfectant properties. Some popular uses during this time period included poultices made from charcoal and bread crumbs or yeast (favoured by army and navy surgeons) as well as charcoal powders to alleviate foul smelling ulcers, acidity in the stomach, and even nosebleeds. By the 1900’s charcoal was even starting to be sold as lozenges, biscuits, and tooth powders!

    Today, activated charcoal is used in practical applications in hospitals and homes, for people and for pets. In medical facilities around the world, charcoal is used in filtering masks for lab technicians, in liver and kidney dialysis machines, and even as markers in breast cancer surgery (among many other applications). Just as charcoal has been used to help remove toxins ingested by humans, veterinarians also use this practice for pets that may have ingested something potentially harmful to them (such as when dogs eat chocolate!). Additionally, activated charcoal has found its place in day to day use, being used in air filters and water purification. Activated carbon is used in methane and hydrogen storage, decaffeination, gold purification, metal extraction, sewage treatment, air filters in gas masks and respirators, filters in compressed air, teeth whitening, and many other applications.

    Activated Charcoal Benefits

    One of the most popular activated charcoal uses is for the safe and effective treatment of poisoning and drug overdoses. It’s used in emergency trauma centres across the world. Research shows that activated charcoal works better than stomach pumping in some situations. In addition, it’s used to reduce bloating and gas, lower cholesterol and treat bile flow problems safely during pregnancy (intrahepatic cholestasis).

    So, how does activated charcoal work? As mentioned before, activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in its millions of tiny pores. Typically, however, it’s not used when petroleum, alcohol, lye, acids or other corrosive poisons are ingested.

    It doesn’t absorb the toxins, however. Instead it works through the chemical process of Adsorption:

    In the body, absorption is the reaction of elements, including nutrients, chemicals and toxins, soaked up and assimilated into the blood stream. Adsorption is the chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface.

    In addition to being a safe and effective treatment for poisonings and the removal of toxins from the system, additional activated charcoal uses include deodorizing and disinfecting, and it’s an important step to treat Lyme disease.

    Kidney Health

    Activated charcoal may be able to assist kidney function by filtering out undigested toxins and drugs. It seems to be especially effective at removing toxins derived from urea, the main by-product of protein digestion.

    Aging is a natural part of life, but due to the toxic load we are exposed to through food, our homes and workplaces, and our environment, to prevent premature aging we must get rid of them. For this activated charcoal use, take two capsules per day after exposure to non-organic foods, heavy meals or after contact to other toxins. This supports better cognitive function, a reduction in brain fog, healthier kidney and liver function, and a healthier gastrointestinal tract.

    In humans, activated charcoal has been shown to help improve kidney function in those suffering from chronic kidney disease. Activated charcoal may help promote kidney function by reducing the number of waste products that the kidneys have to filter. Those with chronic kidney disease suffer from a condition in which the kidneys can no longer properly filter waste products.

    Activated charcoal uses include helping prevent cellular damage to kidneys and liver, as well as supporting healthy adrenal glands.  Activated charcoal benefits major organs by helping the body flush out the toxins and chemicals that cause the damage.

    Intestinal Gas

    Activated charcoal powder is thought to be able to disrupt intestinal gas, although researchers still do not understand how. It could work by binding the gas-causing by-products in foods that cause discomfort. Liquids and gases trapped in the intestine can easily pass through the millions of tiny holes in activated charcoal, and this process may neutralise them.

    In a 2012 study, a small sample of people with a history of excessive gas in their intestines took 448 milligrams (mg) of activated charcoal three times a day for 2 days before having intestinal ultrasound examinations. They also took another 672 mg on the morning of the exam. The study showed that medical examiners were better able to see certain parts of some of the organs they intended to identify with the ultrasound whereas intestinal gas would have obscured these before the treatment. Also, some 34 percent of the participants who were given the activated charcoal to reduce their gas had improved symptoms.

    In a 2017 study, people who took 45 mg of simethicone and 140 mg of activated charcoal three times daily for 10 days, all reported a significant reduction in abdominal pain with no side effects.

    Dosing recommendations to alleviate gas and bloating: Take 500 milligrams one hour prior to a typical gas-producing meal, with a full glass of water. Follow with an additional glass of water immediately thereafter to help get the charcoal into your system, where it can bind with gas-producing elements.

    Water Filtration

    People have long used activated charcoal as a natural water filter. Just as it does in the intestines and stomach, activated charcoal can interact with and absorb a range of toxins, drugs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, and chemicals found in water.

    In commercial settings, such as waste-management centres, operators often use activated carbon granules for one part of the filtration process. Dozens of water filtration products are also designed for at-home use, using carbon cartridges to purify water of toxins and impurities.

    A 2015 study found that water filtration systems that used carbon removed as much as 100 percent of the fluoride in 32 unfiltered water samples after 6 months of installation. However, according to a study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, activated carbon filters (activated charcoal), removes some fluoride.  

    Activated charcoal traps impurities in water including solvents, pesticides, industrial waste and other chemicals. This is why activated charcoal uses include being used in water filtration systems throughout the world. However, it doesn’t trap viruses, bacteria and hard-water minerals.

    Diarrhoea

    Given its use as a gastrointestinal absorbent in overdoses and poisonings, it follows that some people might propose activated charcoal as a treatment for diarrhoea.

    In a 2017 review of recent studies on the use of activated charcoal for diarrhoea, researchers concluded that it might be able to prevent bacteria and drugs that can cause diarrhoea from being absorbed into the body by trapping them on its porous, textured surface.

    While noting it as a suitable treatment for diarrhoea, the researchers also pointed out that activated charcoal had few side effects, especially in comparison with common anti-diarrhoeal medications.

    Teeth Whitening and Oral Health

    Have your teeth become stained from coffee, tea, wine or berries? Activated charcoal helps whiten teeth while promoting good oral health by changing the pH balance in the mouth, helping prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease.

    It works to whiten teeth by adsorbing plaque and microscopic dirt that stain teeth. This activated charcoal use is cost-effective and an all-natural solution for a bright smile.

    Although activated charcoal has amazing toxin-absorbing properties, there still is no significant research to support its use for teeth whitening or oral health.

    Skin Health

    Activated charcoal uses extend beyond internal applications. For external treatments, it’s effective at treating body odour and acne and relieving discomfort from insect bites, rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, and snake bites.

    Around the world, many different traditional medicine practitioners use activated charcoal powder made from coconut shells to treat soft tissue conditions, such as skin infections.

    Researchers have reported that activated charcoal can help draw micro-particles, such as dirt, dust, chemicals, toxins, and bacteria, to the surface of the skin, to make removing them easier.

    Emergency Toxin Removal

    Activated charcoal uses also include as an antidote in the event of an accidental, or purposeful, overdose of many pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications. It’s effective for aspirin, opium, cocaine, morphine, sedative and acetaminophen. It’s important that the proper amount is administered as quickly as possible — definitely within an hour of ingestion. That's because it can bind a wide variety of drugs, reducing their effects. 

    In humans, activated charcoal has been used as a poison antidote since the early 1800s. For instance, studies show that when a single dose of 50–100 grams of activated charcoal is taken within five minutes of drug ingestion, it may reduce drug absorption in adults by up to 74%. This effect decreases to around 50% when the charcoal is taken 30 minutes after drug ingestion and 20% if it's taken three hours after the drug overdose.

    The initial dose of 50–100 grams is sometimes followed by two to six doses of 30–50 grams every two to six hours. However, this multiple dosage protocol is used less often and may only be effective in a limited number of poisoning cases.

    It can be used in cases of food poisoning when nausea and diarrhoea are present. Adults take 25 grams at onset of symptoms or when food poisoning is suspected, and children should be given 10 grams. Increase dosage as necessary. Remember, it’s essential that adequate water is consumed when activated charcoal is taken.

    Most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizer and bleach bind to activated charcoal’s surface, allowing for quicker elimination, while preventing the absorption in the body. However, it's important to note that activated charcoal is not effective in all cases of poisoning. For instance, it appears to have little effect on alcohol, heavy metal, iron, lithium, potassium, acid or alkali poisonings.

    In the event of poisoning, call the emergency services immediately. No one should ever try to treat an overdose or poisoning at home. What's more, experts warn that activated charcoal shouldn't be routinely administered in all cases of poisoning. Rather, its use should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Recipes for Health

    Cleansing Face Mask

    Activated charcoal is an active ingredient in many commercial products for fighting acne. This is because activated charcoal can pull the dirt and toxins from your skin that cause you to break out.

    Ingredients:

    1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal powder

    1/2 teaspoon water

    1/2 teaspoon aloe vera gel

    A few drops of tea tree oil (optional)

    Mix this together and apply to your face with a flat brush for a wonderful skin detox. Let the mask dry and wash off gently.

    Teeth Whitener

    Wet a toothbrush and dip into powdered activated charcoal. Brush teeth as normal, paying special attention to areas showing the most staining. Sip a bit of water, swish through mouth thoroughly and spit. Rinse well, until spit is clear. For best results, brush your teeth with activated charcoal powder 2–3 times per week.

    Note:Be careful, for it can (and will) stain grout and fabrics. Protect counters, floors and clothing before using. If you have crowns, caps or porcelain veneers, it’s possible that activated charcoal will stain them. In addition, if your teeth become sensitive, stop using it.

    Deodorant

    Charcoal may absorb smells and harmful gases, making it ideal as an underarm, shoe, and refrigerator deodorant. Activated charcoal is also reported to be able to absorb excess moisture and control humidity levels at a micro level.

     

    Take about 4 tablespoons of your favourite coconut oil and mix in 2 teaspoons of activated charcoal powder. You will also need a third of a cup of both starch and baking soda.

    Insect Bites/Stings

    After a mosquito bite or bee sting, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil, and dab on affected area. Reapply every 30 minutes until itching and discomfort are gone. As activated charcoal stains nearly everything it touches, wrap with a bandage.

    Snake/Spider Bites

    To treat bites from snakes and spiders, including the brown recluse or black widow, you want to cover a larger area than just a small bandage, as the bacteria and viruses that lead to tissue damage need to be mitigated quickly.

    Create a wrap out of fabric that’s big enough to go around the affected area twice. Dab the mixture of coconut oil and activated charcoal on the fabric, and wrap. Secure with bandages. Reapply every two to three hours, rinsing well between applications.

    Acne

    To treat acne, mix one capsule of activated charcoal with two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, and smooth over face. Let dry and rinse off completely. The activated charcoal binds with environmental toxins and dirt that contribute to acne. It’s also good for spot treatments.

    Precautions

    There have been no major adverse reactions noted with activated charcoal in any of its various forms, except that it may cause nausea and vomiting in large amounts. In addition, constipation and black stools are two other commonly reported side effects. Whenever you take activated charcoal, it’s imperative to drink 12–16 glasses of water per day. Activated charcoal can cause dehydration if adequate amounts of water aren’t consumed in tandem. In addition, this helps to flush out the toxins quickly and prevents constipation experienced by some individuals.

    It’s always good to be aware of any medical conditions such as intestinal bleeding or blockages, holes in the intestines, chronic dehydration, slow digestion, or a recent abdominal surgery, as they may affect how activated charcoal reacts in your body. 

    When activated charcoal is used as an emergency antidote for poison, there's a risk that it can travel into the lungs, rather than the stomach. This is especially true if the person receiving it vomits or is drowsy or semi-conscious. Because of this risk, activated charcoal should only be given to individuals who are fully conscious.

    Additionally, activated charcoal can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, supplements and interfere with prescription medications. Take activated charcoal 90 minutes to two hours prior to meals, supplements and prescription medications.

    People taking medications should talk with a doctor before taking oral activated charcoal products, as these may interfere with absorption of their medication.

    To Sum Up…

    Activated charcoal is a type of charcoal that's processed to make it more porous. This porous texture is what distinguishes it from other types of charcoals, including the type used for barbecuing. Its super absorbent nature helps it trap toxins and chemicals in the gut and as it can’t be absorbed by your body, it carries the toxins bound to its surface out of your body in faeces. The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive-charged toxins and gas to bond with it. This is why it is still touted as a universal antidote to treat drug overdoses, food poisoning and deadly snake and spider bites. Not only does it combat the life threatening conditions it has many other uses ranging from lowering cholesterol to whitening teeth.

    Although its toxin-absorbing properties have a wide range of medicinal and cosmetic uses, more research is needed to scientifically prove its effectiveness.

    Source

    https://www.sappohill.com/pilot.asp?pg=Activated_Charcoal 

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activated_carbon

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322609.php

    https://draxe.com/activated-charcoal-uses/

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/activated-charcoal#section2

    https://www.ideahacks.com/activated-charcoal-benefits/

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