Antioxidant

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory. What’s the Difference?

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory. What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Anti-inflammatory

Our body reacts to tissue injury or an invasion of pathogens or toxins, through a specific inflammatory response, which increases our immune activity to reduce their impact on us.

We need inflammation to help our body to protect itself against pathogens or injury. When our body undergoes an inflammatory response, there are 4 signs which show inflammation is occurring:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Heat

The immune cells stay activated until either the tissue has been repaired, or the pathogen has been removed. When this has been achieved, anti-inflammatory signals are sent out to stop the inflammation so that the body can return to its normal state and reduce the inflammation that has occurred, with the 4 signs that demonstrate inflammation going away.

This is known as acute inflammation, where the defence inflammatory state is shortly resolved. If the inflammatory state is not resolved and the site remains inflamed, this inflammation will begin to damage the tissue surrounding the site and then eventually the whole body.

Our immune cells, even in states where there is no injury or invasion, circulate through our body in case there is damage. Chronic inflammation is caused when whatever has induced the inflammation has not been removed(1).

So, we can see that we do need inflammation to help protect and repair any damaged tissue or to protect us from pathogens. However, being able to bring our body back to its normal state is also important, which is where we have the anti-inflammatory responses.

By consuming omega 3 fatty acids, we are able to produce an anti-inflammatory response which brings our body back to its normal state(2). Interestingly foods can have properties which are either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.

Pro-inflammatory foods include:

  • Sugar
  • Trans fats
  • High processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are
    essential fatty acids which we can only obtain from our diet and are involved
    in the inflammatory process which helps to protect our body. However, it is
    important to maintain a balance with omega 3 fatty acids. You can read more about these essential fatty acids here.

The main type of anti-inflammatory food that we have comes from omega 3 fatty acids and this includes from:

  • Oily fish
  • Walnuts
  • Algae
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds etc.

These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and are what bring the body back to its normal state after inflammation.

Antioxidant

Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage which is caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and therefore free radicals. Both of these are unstable molecules which cause damage to cell structures. Inflammation within the body can lead to an increase in ROS. These ROS damage the surrounding tissues. At low levels ROS is a signalling molecule for cells, however when in high quantities it can lead to the progression of inflammatory diseases.

Antioxidants help to prevent damage to cells from ROS by neutralising them, preventing the oxidation of molecules. We have an antioxidant system within our body, but we can also get antioxidants from the foods we eat. If our antioxidant system is overwhelmed due to ROS and free radicals, it is known as oxidative stress(3).

What are Sources of Antioxidants?

As previously said, our body has its own antioxidant system which works to help maintain an oxidative balance. However, we can also get antioxidants from foods we eat which can help to protect our body from damage.

Vitamin E: is a fat-soluble vitamin and is made up of a number of compounds called tocopherols. The most potent and bioavailable is called alpha-tocopherol. These act as antioxidants, by preventing the production of ROS when fat undergoes oxidation. Vitamin E also helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes and helps the immune system.

Sources of vitamin E include:

  • Soya
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wheatgerm
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Spinach

Vitamin C: is also called ascorbic acid and is a water-soluble vitamin. It is involved in the maintenance of both healthy skin and connective tissue and it helps with the absorption of iron in the small intestines. It is also an antioxidant that plays a role in the regeneration of other essential antioxidants, and also protecting again oxidative damage.

Sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Blackcurrants

It is important to note that vitamin C is easily destroyed by light and heat, so it is best to store in a cool dark place and try and avoid cooking at high temperatures for long periods of time. You can also get all the vitamin C you need from a varied diet; due to it being a water-soluble vitamin (excess is not stored in the body). When consumed in excessive amounts as a supplement you will end up excreting the rest out as urine.

Phytochemicals: occur naturally in plants, including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, seeds and nuts. There are thousands of different phytochemicals that have been identified, and some of these have antioxidant properties, protecting our cells from oxidative damage. Carotenoids act as an antioxidant, and also gives food such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, mangoes, peppers, oranges, and cantaloupes their yellow, orange and red colour. One carotenoid which you may have heard of is Beta-carotene which can be converted into vitamin A, or as an antioxidant. Polyphenols include red fruits like grapes, onions, coffees, spices, wine, curcumin, and lignins which are found in flax seeds. Flavonoids are found in chickpeas, soybeans, and almost all fruits and vegetables including parsley, blueberries, pomegranates, citrus fruits, kale, brussel sprouts, leeks, tea, cacao and broccoli. Allyl sulphides are also a phytochemical, found in onions, leeks and garlic which have antioxidant properties – so enjoy your garlicky food!

Selenium: is a mineral found within foods. It has been shown to help make sure the immune system is functioning properly, as well as working with an antioxidant enzyme which helps to prevent damage to cells and tissue.

Sources include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Eggs

Other minerals that we need to include within our diet which help to assist antioxidant activity are copper, manganese, zinc and iron, which all are needed for antioxidant enzymes. Sources for each include:

Manganese:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Tea
  • Bread
  • Cacao
  • Cereal
  • Green vegetables

Zinc:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • Dairy foods
  • Cereals

Iron:

  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • beans
  • Wholegrains
  • Fortified foods
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

There’s no need to run over to the nearest health food shop and stock up on supplements, however. Amazingly, as you’ve seen from above, you can get all of these antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients from the food around us. This is where the concept of eating the rainbow comes from. By eating a variety of foods you’ll get to enjoy all of these benefits, as well as an extra nutritious impact which these foods hold, not just the antioxidants and inflammatory responses.

Written by Daisy Buckingham ANutr, Registered Associate Nutritionist at Lucy Bee.

References
1. Arulselvan et al., 2016
2. Calder, 2006
3. Rahal et al., 2014

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sleep

Sleepless Summer Nights: 5 tips for a good night’s sleep

The current heat wave is leaving many of us sleep deprived, as more than sixty two per cent of adults in the UK struggle to sleep in warm weather. In order to get a good night’s sleep, it is essential for our body’s temperature to drop at night by one degree. This becomes difficult during the warm nights in summer, leaving many people struggling to get to sleep and stay asleep. Read on for five ways to improve sleep naturally.

1. Tart cherry juice

The body needs darkness in order to make the sleep hormone melatonin. The long and light summer days cause melatonin levels to drop, meaning that many of us begin to suffer with sleep problems. Boosting levels of melatonin naturally can help to alleviate this problem.

One of the best ways to boost melatonin levels is to drink tart cherry juice. A recent study found that drinking just 30mls of cherry juice each day is effective in boosting melatonin levels. Adults who drank the cherry juice had more than 25 minutes more sleep each night compared to those who drank a placebo drink, and they also woke less often through the night.

2. Boost your Magnesium levels

Magnesium deficiency is common among adults. It is abundant in leafy greens, and lacking in processed foods, meaning that the typical UK diet often falls short. Magnesium is required for the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and relaxation. For this reason, magnesium supplementation can be helpful in supporting good quality sleep, especially in those who find it hard to ‘switch off’ at night.

Studies have found magnesium to be effective in improving sleep, while increasing melatonin levels and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol (2). Those who find difficultly sleeping may wish to try supplementing 300mg of a well-absorbed form of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or magnesium taurate.

3. Try supplementing Lemon Balm and Theanine

Lemon balm is a plant from the mint family, which has been used for centuries to soothe the stomach, reduce anxiety and promote calm. More recent studies have found that lemon balm aids restful sleep by boosting levels of circulating GABA, the brain’s ‘calming’ nurotransmitter.

A pilot study found that lemon balm, at a dose of 600mg for 15 days, resolved insomnia for 85 per cent of participants (3). Hopefully the promising results of this study will pave the way for larger studies in this area.

Combining lemon balm with theanine is thought to be particularly beneficial in promoting healthy sleep. While theanine does not have lemon balm’s sedative effect, it works to boost the brain’s production of alpha waves. These brain waves are linked to deep relaxation. They reduce levels of physical and mental stress, and lower levels of anxiety (4).

4. Eat to Sleep

To encourage good quality sleep, try eating a high-protein, low GI snack, such as natural yoghurt with berries or some almond butter on rye, a couple of hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed by the brain to produce the sleep hormone.

While, protein-rich snacks can help, sugary foods will have the opposite effect. These will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep.

Alcohol also robs the body of good quality sleep. While a chilled glass of wine might seem tempting on a hot evening, alcohol actually prevents the body from falling into the deeper stages of sleep, where the body does most of its healing.

5. Lower your Core Temperature

Good sleep is strongly linked to core body temperature. In order to get to sleep, your body needs its internal temperature to drop by around one degree. Losing heat actually helps to bring on restful sleep at night. Unfortunately this can be difficult during the summer, when hot days lead to uncomfortable, warm nights.

To combat uncomfortably hot summer nights, a cool bath can encourage a drop in core temperature, bringing on restful sleep. Try adding some Epsom bath salts to boost the effect. Ventilate the bedroom well before bedtime to reduce the room temperature, and keep a cooling water mist spray by the bed for a quick cool down.

References
1. Howatson G et al (2010) Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr 51:8 pp909-916
2. Abbasis B et al (2012) The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci 17:12 pp1161-9
3. Cases J et al (2011) Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Med J Nutr Met 4:3, pp211-8
4. Kimura, K. (2007). L-theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological psychology, 71(1): 39-45.

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Toothbrushes

WooBamboo – The Solution to Plastic Toothbrushes

The Solution to Plastic Toothbrushes

The problem with plastic toothbrushes…

  • Every year billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away, clogging landfills and polluting oceans
  • In the UK over 150 million plastic toothbrushes are discarded per year
  • Toothbrushes are made up of plastic, rubber and nylon non of which are biodegradable

The solution – bamboo!

WooBamboo toothbrushes offer a natural and biodegradable option that works just as well and last just as long as a conventional toothbrush. The handle is made from sustainable and organic moso bamboo which is panda friendly (not the bamboo that they eat). The recyclable bristles are Dupont Tynex Nylon, arguably the best quality and most trusted bristle available. So when you’re done using your WooBamboo toothbrush, you could literally pull out and recycle the bristles, and throw the handle into your compost where it will gently biodegrade.

WooBamboo’s newest product, Eco-awesome Floss, was designed to be the most environmentally friendly floss available. The floss itself is natural, biodegradable silk coated in beeswax and flavoured with organic mint. It’s packaged in a unique plant based plastic that converts into its own dispenser, completely eliminating the need for a separate plastic case like other flosses in the market.

All packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials. Big changes happen if we all make small steps, and these products serve as an inspirational reminder that a small step has been made towards a cleaner planet!

WooBamboo – changing the world one smile at a time!

  • 100% Environmentally-friendly product & packaging:
  • Highly hygienic: bamboo is naturally antimicrobial
  • Last as long as a regular plastic toothbrush
  • Stylish and unique
  • Safe & effective for all the family: Dentist
    approved and recommended

WooBamboo range includes brushes for adults in super soft, medium bristles, kids brushes, Pet brushes and natural dental floss.

Click here to shop the WooBamboo range!

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astaxanthin

Astaxanthin – The King of Antioxidants

Allow me to acquaint you with one of nature’s most potent antioxidants – astaxanthin (as-ta-xan-thin) – with the latest research showing promising results for those everyday concerns such as ageing skin, low immunity, tiredness and fatigue, aching joints, low fertility, poor cognitive function, below-par exercise performance – and so much more.

What is astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a bright red carotenoid pigment (natural colour) derived from haematococcus pluvialis (H. pluvialis), an algae with the highest levels of astaxanthin, accumulated to protect itself in response to stressors from its environment, such as starvation, high levels of salt, high temperature and radiation. The accumulation of astaxanthin turns the algae from green to red, and is responsible for the bright pink-red colouring of many marine animals such as salmon, crab and lobster and the brightly coloured feathers of flamingos, who obtain astaxanthin through their diet. Aside from its wonderful colouring, its main action is that of an antioxidant and, as such, providing protection to algae from environmental stressors as listed above.

Just as with algae, the human body is also exposed to environmental stressors; however, these lead to the creation of free radicals – for example, from factors such as poor diet, pollution, stress, exercise, smoking, alcohol and medication. Fortunately, the body has its own inbuilt antioxidant capabilities which it works hard to keep in balance. Issues arise, however, when an over-burdened body struggles to keep up, which can lead to oxidative stress and, in turn, cellular damage. Long term, oxidative stress is associated with chronic inflammation, autoimmune conditions, accelerated ageing and hormonal issues.

Astaxanthin can support combat against free radicals

Astaxanthin works in several ways to help to combat free radicals in the human body. Like all antioxidants, astaxanthin donates a chemical group to free radicals (compounds that have lost a chemical group and without it become unstable and lead to oxidative damage). With many antioxidants, they themselves can become pro-oxidant unless they are recycled by another antioxidant. Astaxanthin, importantly, has an unlimited ability to provide chemical groups without itself becoming a pro-oxidant. Astaxanthin also works by calming free radicals, absorbing the negative energy they emit. Finally, its unique chemical structure enables it to act through the entire cell, unlike fat-soluble antioxidants that tend to provide protection to the inner wall of the cell membrane, and water-soluble antioxidants that provide protection only to the outer wall. Since astaxanthin is able to span the cell membrane, it provides antioxidant protection to the inner and the outer wall, as well as the intra-membrane space.

Of all the carotenoids, astaxanthin is nature’s most potent, with the highest known ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) – a measure of its ability to combat oxidative stress. Astaxanthin’s ability to quench free radicals is 6,000 times greater than vitamin C, 800 times that of coenzyme Q10 and 550 times that of vitamin E.

Studies to date show astaxanthin’s ability to reduce and terminate oxidative stress, protect against unwanted inflammation and protect cell structure and function, providing health-enhancing properties in the following areas:

  • Astaxanthin for ageing skin – Skin ageing occurs over time, but the ageing process is accelerated by certain lifestyle factors and exposure to agents which cause oxidative stress in the skin – like, for example smoking, drinking alcohol, UV exposure from the sun and poor diet, amongst others. Studies illustrate that supplementation and topical application of astaxanthin improved the appearance of ‘crow’s feet’, improved elasticity, skin texture and moisture content over the course of 8 weeks (1). Who doesn’t want to keep that fresh-faced and crease-free complexion for longer?
  • Astaxanthin for exercise – Exercise leads to production of reactive oxygen nitrogen species (RONS) within muscle, which promote improvement in athletic performance. Without the body’s own antioxidant capabilities, RONS can cause a state of oxidative stress, the body can become overloaded during times of vigorous exercise, thus leading to oxidation, damaging molecules and potentially a negative impact on physiological function. Astaxanthin is not only a powerful antioxidant, but as it also upregulates the body’s own antioxidant capabilities, it helps to rebalance the oxidative stress caused by an over-production of RONS, with 3-5 weeks of astaxanthin supplementation shown to improve exercise metabolism, performance and recovery (2).
  • Astaxanthin for neuroprotection – Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble molecule, enabling it to pass the blood-brain barrier where it can exert its beneficial effects neurologically. With its ability to upregulate the body’s own antioxidant capabilities, as well as exerting anti-inflammatory effects, supplementing with astaxanthin can reduce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), the build-up of which can lead to tissue damage and therefore loss of function following a cerebrovascular event (3).
  • Astaxanthin for cardiovascular disease – Studies suggest that taking astaxanthin before an ischemic event provides protection to the muscle tissue of the heart (4). It has also been shown to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels by decreasing overall triglycerides and increasing HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, which provides protection against atherosclerosis as HDL cholesterol carries LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol back to the liver to prevent it from forming plaques in the arteries (5).
  • Astaxanthin for eye health – Astaxanthin protects the cells of the eye following an ischemic attack (6) and also inhibits retinal damage following white light exposure (7). A 6mg daily dose of astaxanthin for 4 weeks has also been shown to improve the function of the eye in middle-aged participants with eye strain complaints (8).
  • Astaxanthin for immunity – Astaxanthin has been shown to boost the immune response and reduce DNA damage when exposed to infection (9).
  • Introducing Pure Essentials AstaPure Astaxanthin Complex

    Pure Essentials AstaPure Astaxanthin Complex is a natural extract from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis (H. Pluvialis) – the same algae responsible for the pink-red pigmentation of wild salmon and crustaceans. AstaPure contains the highest available concentration of astaxanthin, as well as a complex of other beneficial carotenoids including lutein, canthaxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, amino acids and fatty acids, which together offer a broad range of health benefits, enhance its bioavailability and increase cell membrane stability.

    Written by Maxine Sheils, Nutritional Therapist at Igennus Healthcare Nutrition.

    References
    1. Tominaga K., Hongo N., Karato M., et al. (2012). ‘Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects’, Acta biochimica polonic, 59 (1), pp. 43-47.
    2. Brown D. R., Gough L.A., Deb S.K., et al. (2018). ‘Astaxanthin in exercise metabolism, performance and recovery: a review’, Frontiers in nutrition, 4 (76), pp. 1-9.
    3. Haijian W., Huanjiang N., Anwen S., et al. (2015). ‘Astaxanthin as a Potential Neuroprotective Agent for Neurological Diseases’, Marine drugs, 13 (9), pp. 5750-5766.
    4. Fassett R.G. & Coombes J.S. (2011). ‘’Astaxanthin: A Potential Therapeutic Agent in Cardiovascular Disease’, Marine drugs, 9 pp. 447-465.
    5. Yoshida H., Yanai H., Ito K., et al. (2010). ‘Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia’, Atherosclerosis, 209 (2), pp. 520-523. 7.
    6. Otsuka T., Shimazawa M., Inoue Y., et al. (2016). ‘Astaxanthin Protects Against Retinal Damage: Evidence from In Vivo and In Vitro Retinal Ischemia and Reperfusion Models’, Current eye research, 41 (11), pp. 1465-1472.
    7. Tomohiro O., Masamitsu S., Tomohiro N., et al. (2013). ‘The Protective Effects of a Dietary Carotenoid, Astaxanthin, Against Light-Induced Retinal Damage’, Journal of pharmacological sciences’, 123, pp. 209-218.
    8. Kajita M., Tsukahara H. & Kato M. (2009). ‘The Effects of a Dietary Supplement Containing Astaxanthin on the accommodation Function of the Eye in Middle-aged and Older People’, Translated from medical consultation and new remedies, 46 (3), pp. 1-7.
    9. Park J.S., Chyun J.H, Kim Y.K, et al. (2010). ‘Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans’, Nutrition and metabolism, 7 (18) pp. 1-10.

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    curcumin

    Just How Good for You Is Curcumin?

    If you haven’t heard of curcumin yet, where have you been? This polyphenol is extracted from turmeric and responsible for its multitude of health benefits. Over recent years, there has been an explosion in popularity for turmeric-based drinks – such as turmeric latte, golden milk and even turmeric herbal tea – but don’t be fooled into thinking this is simply a gimmick for the ‘in scene’; the benefits of turmeric, and more specifically curcumin, have been valued for centuries in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine. Sure, the drinks look Instagram perfect, but there is a lot more to this pretty little spice than meets the eye.

    The multiple health benefits of curcumin – inflammation and beyond

    Curcumin is wonderful for so many things: for reducing inflammation, which underpins most health conditions; it’s antimicrobial, meaning that it will help the body fend off nasty bacteria; it has antioxidant activity to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and has even been shown to help modulate the immune system. Plus, if you’re prone to respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, laryngitis or sinusitis, you’ll be happy to hear that curcumin also has positive effects on the respiratory tract.

    Inflammation is linked to many chronic health conditions including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) is considered the inflammatory master-switch, responsible for the initiation of the inflammatory cascade within cells (1). One of the main ways in which curcumin exerts its beneficial anti-inflammatory benefits is by blocking NF-kB from entering the cell, and therefore supporting the body in the healthy balancing of inflammation.

    As an anti-inflammatory, when there is pain, there is inflammation, which probably explains why curcumin is found to be most useful for those with joint pains – often being associated with arthritis. These benefits are not just limited to pain-related health conditions though; research has also confirmed that curcumin reduces inflammation from exercise-induced muscle damage, perfect for those who enjoy a rigorous workout (2).

    Overcoming the poor bioavailability of curcumin

    Turmeric contains only 5-10% curcuminoids, 75% of which is curcumin, and whilst some cultures use turmeric in high quantities on a daily basis, the western world won’t benefit from the wonders of curcumin with the odd turmeric latte. Extracting curcumin for supplements will easily increase your intake of curcumin but, unfortunately, the body is extremely efficient at removing this spice from the body. With such poor bioavailability, you may need to take up to 8 grams per day to achieve the benefits. Whilst many technologies and additions (such as piperine) have been applied to curcumin to address this poor bioavailability, they are limited in their ability to exert a beneficial effect. Longvida technology from Igennus, however, enhances the bioavailability by 285x, with 7x longer-lasting action and 65x higher peak plasma levels. Longvida is also the only technology that has been shown to help curcumin pass the blood-brain barrier to provide the health benefits associated with curcumin to the brain as well as the body.

    Igennus Longvida for neurological benefits

    With its ability to pass the blood-brain barrier, Longvida technology has been shown to provide many neurological benefits such as improvements in working memory and mood (3); it also reduces beta-amyloid protein, a marker of brain ageing that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease (4). Beta-amyloid aggregation can be promoted by metals, but curcumin exerts its beneficial effects by chelating some metals, and therefore helping to inhibit aggregation (5, 6).

    With its plethora of neurological benefits, Igennus Longvida Optimised Curcumin is ideal for people of all ages who are looking to support both their short – and long-term brain health.

    Longvida as a cardioprotective

    Studies show that using Longvida technology to deliver curcumin also helps to lower triglycerides, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for poor cardiovascular health (4), as well as reducing total and low-density cholesterol (3), making it a very useful supplement for supporting those with high cholesterol levels. Curcumin is also safe for those on statin therapy.

    Supplementing with Longvida Optimised Curcumin

    Each tub of Igennus Longvida Optimised Curcumin contains 30 capsules, with a recommended 1 capsule per day dosage to support general health, and supplementation with up to 3 per day to provide more intensive support for short-term use.

    References
    1. Nahar PP, Slitt AL, Seeram NP. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Novel Standardized Solid Lipid Curcumin Formulations. J Med Food. 2015 Jul;18(7):786-92
    2. Takahashi M et al., Effects of curcumin supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress in humans. Int J Sports Med. 2014 Jun;35(6):469-75.
    3. Cox KH, Pipingas A, Scholey AB. Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. J Psychopharmacol. 2015 May;29(5):642-51.
    4. DiSilvestro RA, Joseph E, Zhao S, Bomser J. Diverse effects of a low dose supplement of lipidated curcumin in healthy middle aged people. Nutr J. 2012 Sep 26;11:79. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-79.
    5. Yang F, Lim GP, Begum AN, Ubeda OJ, Simmons MR, Ambegaokar SS, Chen PP, Kayed R, Glabe CG, Frautschy SA, Cole GM. Curcumin inhibits formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, binds plaques, and reduces amyloid in vivo. J Biol Chem. 2005 Feb 18;280(7):5892-901.
    6. Ono K, Hasegawa K, Naiki H, Yamada M. Curcumin has potent anti-amyloidogenic effects for Alzheimer’s beta-amyloid fibrils in vitro. J Neurosci Res. 2004 Mar 15;75(6):742-50.

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    stress

    Mental Health Awareness Week: Stress Busters

    Focusing on Stress

    May 14th is the beginning of National Mental Health Awareness week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year the focus is stress. Tackling stress early is crucial for good health because ongoing stress can lead to depression and anxiety, and is also linked to physical diseases such as heart disease and immune problems.

    The stress response is actually a healthy response to threat or danger. It is designed to give us a quick boost of energy to fuel our fight or flight response. When stress becomes an everyday experience, however, the body struggles to cope. Blood pressure rises, inflammation is triggered and hormone levels are disrupted. Experts call this ‘allostatic overload’ and it can result in anxiety, depression and insomnia.

    Several key nutrients have been found to help deal with stress and support the organs that are involved in the stress reaction. Taking time to nourish the body in this way can therefore offer protection against the effects of stress.

    The ‘Fighting Five’

    Nutritionist Ian Marber emphasises five key nutrients – which he calls the ‘fighting five’ – needed to support the body under stress (1). These are vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals zinc and selenium.

    Each of these nutrients helps in disarming the free radicals produced when the body is under stress. Free radicals are molecules that harm cells in the body through oxidative damage. They have been linked to diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and accelerated ageing.

    The ‘fighting five’ antioxidants help by neutralising these free radicals, helping to prevent the cell damage caused by stress. While antioxidant supplements can help to ensure a good intake of these nutrients, it is recommended that dietary sources should be included every day. The best sources of these valuable antioxidants include plums, tomatoes, dark green vegetables, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and seafood.

    Cortisol and Stress

    Another hazard associated with stress is elevated levels of cortisol. When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands begin to pump out higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that powers the ‘fight or flight’ response.

    Over time, elevated levels of cortisol can become a problem, leading to anxiety and depression, as well as weight gain and breakdown of muscle and bone. Early signs of high cortisol include sleep problems, weight gain, raised blood pressure and difficulty concentrating.

    Several nutrients have been found in studies to be effective in lowering cortisol levels. The most effective of these include the herb ashwaganda root extract, and the nutrient phosphatidyl serine. Both of these nutrients have been found to improve mood and lower feelings of stress and anxiety (2, 3 & 4).

    Adrenal Health

    Finally, protecting the health of the adrenals is particularly important for anybody experiencing ongoing stress. The key nutrients required by the adrenal glands are vitamin B5, vitamin C and magnesium.

    Because our body cannot store vitamin C, it is important to provide it with a regular daily supply, particularly when stress levels are high. The adrenal gland requires higher levels of vitamin C during times of stress. The richest sources are black and red berries, citrus fruits and red peppers. Similarly, vitamin B5 cannot be stored by the body, and so including wholegrains and green leafy vegetables daily would be a sensible measure to help protect the body from the effects of stress.

    The mineral magnesium is crucial to the health of the adrenals, and requirements for magnesium increase when the body is under stress (5). Stressed individuals may therefore benefit from supplementing around 300mg magnesium each day. Good dietary sources include leafy greens, wheatgerm, almonds, cod and mackerel.

    While we may not be able to influence everyday stressors, such as commuting, financial worries or workload, we can certainly give the body the fuel it needs to cope with the stress response. Taking early measures to protect the body from the effects of stress is a sensible way to safeguard long term health and wellbeing.

    References
    1. Marber & Edgson (1990) The Food Doctor. USA: Collins and Brown.
    2. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262.
    3. Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Jul 31;13:121.
    4. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Jul 28;5:11.
    5. Tarasov et al (2015) Magnesium deficiency and stress: Issues of their relationship, diagnostic tests, and approaches to therapy. Ter Arkh 87(9):114-122

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    thrush

    Thrush and supporting your intimate area the natural way

    What is thrush?

    Let’s begin with the most important question – what is thrush? Thrush is a very common condition caused by a yeast infection usually in the genital area, affecting predominantly women. Symptoms include irritation, inflammation, soreness, itchiness and excess discharge.

    80-90% of the time, the yeast infection is caused by an increase of a fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus normally lives harmlessly on the skin in various areas of the body like the mouth, gut and on the vagina.

    The Candida albicans is kept under control by bacteria (called lactobacilli) which also naturally occur on your skin, but when the fungus multiplies – due to a weakened immune system – it can cause thrush. Important to emphasise here is that thrush has nothing to do with lack of hygiene – it’s all to do with your immune system, like so many skin related issues.

    Who gets thrush?

    Most women get thrush at some point in their lives, but it’s most common for women in their thirties and forties. So, if you feel your intimate area is sensitive or displays thrush-like symptoms, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

    Even more so – many women may also suffer from thrush more than once in their lives, with it recurring frequently for some.

    Factors that make us more prone to thrush:

    • If you are ill or stressed
    • If you take antibiotics
    • If you take contraceptive pills
    • If you have diabetes
    • If you are pregnant
    • If you are undergoing chemotherapy
    • If you wear tight clothing
    • If you are menstruating

    Also, be aware that some shower and bath products might irritate the vaginal areas, especially products that are quite synthetic – containing known irritants on the sensitive skin, like parfum, SLS and parabens. Check the ingredients of your skincare products before you buy or use them.

    What are the symptoms of thrush?

    Every woman is unique. So everyone may experience symptoms of thrush differently, with some women not even being aware they have it until they undergo a cervical smear test. Symptoms and severity of the symptoms may also vary every time you get thrush.

    Most common symptoms include:

    • Vulvar itching and soreness
    • Irritation and inflammation
    • Excess discharge, often white and odourless
    • Pain or discomfort during sex
    • Pain or discomfort when passing urine
    • Slight swelling of the labia (vaginal lips)

    What is Salcura’s Topida Intimate Hygiene Spray?

    Salcura’s Topida Spray has been formulated to provide a safe, effective and practical solution for thrush or other fungal infections. The fine liquid of the spray is easily absorbed into skin – providing the body with what it needs to strengthen the immune system and recover a healthy pH balance.

    Topida Intimate Hygiene Spray is dermatologically tested to be safe for use on dry and sensitive skin.

    What makes Topida unique?

    Salcura believe in the body’s natural ability to heal itself if given the right tools to do so. By using spray applications, the body can absorb the fine liquid much deeper. As a result, we can reach new skin cells earlier in their lifecycle, feeding them the minerals, vitamins and other nutrients they need to grow to the surface healthier. A healthier skin is better able to fend of any allergens and to find a healthy balance.

    Topida contains natural oils of eucalyptus, lemon and peppermint to cool and soothe the skin – safflower, rosehip and plive to nourish and moisturise – tea tree, thyme and sea buckthorn for their anti-bacterial properties – and is naturally fragranced with lavender, cinnamon and fennel.

    • Instant relief from itchiness & soreness
    • High grade essential oils to restore a natural pH balance
    • Full of vitamin E (antioxidant)
    • With lactic acid to support a healthy vaginal environment
    • Easy application with 360° spray
    • Cruelty free & vegan
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    smoothie

    Detox Smoothies to Spring Clean the Gut

    Spring Clean from the Inside Out

    The beginning of Spring is the ideal time to concentrate on nourishing your body to give you a ‘spring clean’ feeling from the inside out. Incorporating a daily smoothie is a simple way to include fresh ingredients to support your health naturally. Here are three super smoothies designed to spring clean your body by aiding digestion, healing and repairing the gut, and boosting your liver function.

    1. Cleanse with Antioxidants

    Antioxidants are known to protect the gut lining, which is particularly important for those who suffer with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (1). New research also suggests that irritable bowel syndrome is also marked by raised levels of inflammation in the digestive tract (2).

    Antioxidants also help to support healthy levels of beneficial bowel flora, making them an essential consideration for anyone looking to support digestive health.

    Super Antioxidant Chocolate Mint Smoothie

    If you’ve overindulged on Easter chocolates, then this Chocolate Mint smoothie is the perfect detox remedy. Black beans, cacao and fresh mint have particularly powerful antioxidant properties, while bananas boost levels of healthy bacteria in the gut. Peppermint relaxes digestive spasms, easing symptoms of indigestion and IBS. This smoothie also packs in a whopping 20 grams of fibre, making it the ultimate digestive cleanser.

    If you’d like to sweeten it further, then a couple of medjool dates are the best fibre-rich sweetener available.

    Superboost your smoothie: add a teaspoon of acai powder for a powerful antioxidant boost.

    2. Soothe and Repair with Demulcents

    Certain plant foods provide special demulcent fibres. These fibres form a gel with water and coat the gut lining, forming a soothing and protective layer. Smoothies with demulcent ingredients are perfect for soothing irritated or inflamed tissue, making them valuable digestive ‘cleansers’.

    Gut Healing Apple Pie Smoothie (Serves 2)

    The ingredients in this smoothie all have properties that support and repair the gut lining and help to protect against infection. Apple pectin, oat beta-glucans and chia are special ‘demulcent’ fibres which soothe and protect the gut lining. Cinnamon, ginger, manuka honey and coconut milk each have antibacterial properties. In studies, glutamine has been found to protect the intestinal lining, effectively healing a ‘leaky gut’ (3).

    Superboost your smoothie: add a teaspoon of glutamine powder to nourish the intestinal lining.

    3. Boost Digestion with Bitters

    Bitters have long been valued for their unique ability to cleanse the body. This is because bitters or ‘cholagogues’ stimulate the liver to produce digestive enzymes, improving overall digestion and the absorption of fats. They also provide essential balance to the Western sweet and salty diet.

    Liver Cleansing Green Smoothie

    The best green smoothies are packed with detoxifying ‘bitters’ or ‘cholagogues’. Try this super cleansing green smoothie for a refreshing digestive boost . Leafy greens, citrus and almond butter also provide a combination of Vitamins A, C and E for antioxidant support.

      • 1 cup water
      • 2 handfuls of kale
      • ½ avocado
      • ½ lime
      • ½ lemon
      • large handful of frozen pineapple chunks
      • 1 tbsp almond butter

    Superboost your smoothie: add a couple of teaspoons of supergreens powder – a simple way of including more ‘bitters’ and phytonutrients from greens such as kale, broccoli and artichoke.

    References
    1. Miller et al (2001) Dietary antioxidants protect gut epithelial cells from oxidant-induced apoptosis. BMC Complement Altern Med 1: 11.
    2. Barbara G et al (2015) A role for inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 51:1
    3 RadhaKrishna Rao and Geetha Samak. (2012) Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions. J Epithel Biol Pharmacol. 5(Suppl 1-M7): 47–54.

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    aloe vera

    Introducing: Simplee Aloe! All Natural Aloe Vera Products

    Simplee Aloe are leading the way with an array of all natural Aloe Vera products. Whether you are a hard-core health fanatic and want a dose of pure Aloe Vera, or a keen discoverer who wants to uncover the benefits with something slightly softer; there is something for everyone. Give Simplee Aloe a try and begin your Aloe journey to a healthier and optimally functioning body.

    Benefits of Aloe

    Aloe Vera, known by the Egyptians as the Plant of Immortality, has been used for centuries as a healing super-plant. Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties have a soothing effect on the gut, leading to a healthier digestive tract, while its natural prebiotics are a fantastic boost for the immune system. Perfect, because as we all know, a healthy gut is key to a healthy body and mind!

    Aloe Vera is a natural prebiotic, with a high polysaccharide content. It forms and develops healthy gut flora, allowing our body to cultivate the ability for higher nutrient absorption from what we eat. As such, not only does Aloe Vera relieve our body from negative digestive symptoms, it gives our bodies the best chance of retaining and maintaining optimal health through high nutrient absorption and good bacteria flow.

    Aloe & the brain

    Already, it has become clear how wondrous this power-plant is. In fact, it doesn’t stop there! Recent research by Harvard and nutritionists such as Libby Limon have uncovered the added benefit of Aloe Vera, arguably the most influential of all; impacting our brain. Its ability to transform our digestive tract, the bacteria it contains and the nutrients our bodies absorb has been shown to directly impact anxiety, depression and other mental health difficulties. In short, this can be explained through the fact that the state of our gut directly impacts the state of our brain. With good bacteria surrounding our gut lining and high nutrient absorption, our digestive system communicates with our brains in an optimal way. Stress is shown to be relieved, anxiety reduced and general mood and outlook to be far more positive as our bodies are absorbing and flowing with bacteria that helps our systems function at their best.

    Simple Aloe Range

    Simplee Aloe offer organic health supplements & all natural juices. Try Simplee Aloe’s 100% natural & organic Aloe Vera, 10 servings per bottle & highest level of polysaccharide content of any inner leaf supplements on the market! Or for those wanting a refreshing alternative to a sugary fruit juice with the added benefit of Aloe Vera, try Simplee Aloe’s Aloe Vera Coconut Water.

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    stress

    Stressed out? Try this herbal remedy to de-stress naturally

    April is stress awareness month, so what better time to check in with yourself and your loved ones to make sure your lifestyle is sustainable and that you’re managing your stress levels? Although some stress is a natural part of life, we often forget that it doesn’t need to be ongoing.

    Stressful situations trigger the body to increase the activity of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) which activates our fight-or-flight response. This heightens our senses and makes us hyper-alert to keep us safe during times of immediate danger. Naturally, and ideally, once the threat has passed the body should dampen down the SNS and find a balance with the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which supports rest and digestion and anything that requires a relaxed and calm state. Sadly, due to the pace and constant stimulus from our modern lifestyles, many people are living with SNS dominance.

    Chronic stress can become a catalyst for disease if left for too long. Ongoing stress can manifest in disorders such as anxiety and depression, accelerate the ageing process, trigger reproductive issues for both women and men and interrupt sleep patterns. Unbalanced levels of cortisol from chronic stress can lead to a compromised immune system and regular infections, autoimmune disease, allergies and increased fat stores around the waist (1). Chronic inflammation from long-term stress is implicated in many diseases and when it comes to heart health, researches are suggesting that it could be as important a risk factor as smoking and high blood pressure!

    Adaptogens

    When your stress levels have gone on for a bit longer than expected and your nervous system needs a bit of support in toning down its overactive response, there are herbs that can help. Herbs classified as adaptogens are used by herbalists to help the body cope with stress to help you feel calm while increasing energy and focus. It is thought the effect is associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a part of the stress-system that plays a key role in how the body responds to and adapts to stress (2).

    Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero) is one of the oldest and most popular adaptogenic herbs prescribed by herbalists today. It has a long history of use in Asian cultures as a tonic to reinforce qi, calm the nerves and support fertility. Research indicates that Eleuthero works with your central nervous and hormonal systems to moderate how your body responds when you feel tense and anxious (3). Other research suggests it also has the ability to protect your brain from the damaging effects of stress (4).

    Stress and the gut

    Times of intense stress can literally shut down your digestion. Interestingly, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is considered a “gut-brain disorder,” since it is often worsened by stress. Half of IBS sufferers also have difficulties with depression or anxiety (5).

    The gut and the brain talk to each other via the gut-brain-axis. This is a bi-directional pathway of communication which means that one can influence the other. For example, science has found that certain bacteria in the gut can have a short term influence on anxiety and calm the nervous system via their effect on the neurotransmitter receptors GABA (6). However, on the other side of the coin, stress can destroy healthy gut bacteria, showing that it’s equally important to look after both!

    Perfect combination

    Taking Sun Eleuthero together with Sun Chlorella makes for the perfect combination in supporting your nervous system and gut health. The founder of Sun Chlorella had become very ill from a hard military life. His pursuit for healing lead him to Chlorella and Siberian ginseng, which changed his life so dramatically that he gave up his business and dedicated the rest of his life to sharing his findings.

    Sun Chlorella is a sustainable fresh water algae that contains fibre, chlorophyll, protein, vitamins and minerals. It acts as a prebiotic food to support gut function and a healthy gut microbiome as well as helping rid the body of toxins. The chlorella plant’s ability to photosynthesise at a rate unlike any other makes it rich in a protein called Chlorella Growth Factor, which is known for its healing properties.

    Aside from its benefit as a healing food, chlorella also has many environmental applications from reducing greenhouse gases to cleaning up oil spills. It cleaned up the earth’s atmosphere millions of years ago to make it one that could support life and scientists hope they can use it in a similar way.

    The chlorella plant has a tough exterior cell wall which contains the valuable nutrients – but this fibrous exterior makes it difficult to digest. Sun Chlorella is the only company that uses a patented process called the DYNO®-Mill to liberate the nutrients without the use of heat or chemicals to make them available for absorption and assimilation by the body.

    References
    1. Epel ES, McEwen B, Seeman T, et al. Stress and body shape: stress-induced cortisol secretion is consistently greater among women with central fat. Psychosom Med 2000;62(5):623-632.
    2. A Panossian Ge Wikman ,Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress—Protective Activity, Phytother Res. 2005 Oct;19(10):819-38.
    Panossian, A., Wagner, H. (2005). Stimulating effect of adaptogens: an overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration. Phytotherapy Research, 19(10), 819-838.
    3. Farnsworth NR et al. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): current status as an adaptogen. In: Wagner H, Hikino H, Farnsworth NR, eds. Economic and medicinal plant research. Vol. 1. London, Academic Press, 1985:217–284; Yance D. Adaptogens In Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, VT: 2013; Halstead, BW. Eleutherococcus Senticosus. Oriental Healing Arts Institute. 1984. P. 4
    4. Panossian A et al. Adaptogens Stimulate Neuropeptide Y and Hsp72 Expression and Release in Neuroglia Cells. Front Neurosci. 2012; 6: 6. Published online 2012 February 1. Prepublished online 2011 November 12
    5. Borre YE, Moloney RD, Clarke G, et al The impact of microbiota on brain and behavior: mechanisms & therapeutic potential. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:373-403.
    6. Bravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV, et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011;108(38):16050-16055. [Full text]

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