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Superfood

The New Superfood Trends for 2017

The Hottest New Superfood Trends for 2017

A great way to make sure you stick to your healthy New Year’s Resolutions is to keep your diet fresh and interesting. Boost your culinary repertoire and stay in tip-top health with three of this year’s hottest new superfood trends.

Turmeric

The healing properties of turmeric are well known amongst medical herbalists, as this spice boasts more than 8,000 peer reviewed articles supporting its health benefits (1).

A powerful anti-inflammatory agent, turmeric has been found effective in relieving a range of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis (2-4). It reduces levels of unhealthy triglycerides in the bloodstream and helps to prevent blood platelets from sticking together, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes (5).

There is growing interest in adding turmeric to the diet in a variety of ways. The ‘golden latte’ – a healthy anti-inflammatory alternative to your usual coffee fix – is predicted to become popular as the year draws on. Simply heat 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a little grated ginger in a pan for 10 minutes. Strain and then add a little honey and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk for the perfect creamy latte.

For those who don’t fancy brewing turmeric tea, this spice can be taken in capsule form. For example, 400mg standardised extract daily, is effective in relieving general and arthritic pain (6), and just one tablet (around 100mg) of turmeric extract daily has been found to improve irritable bowel syndrome (7).

Medicinal Mushrooms

Those who were enjoying green tea in 2016 will soon be quenching their thirst with a mushroom coffee.  Joining functional foods such as acai and cacao, medicinal mushrooms are bursting onto the superfood scene.

Mushrooms are in fact one of the most widely studied superfoods in the world. In natural medicine, their ability to balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation is well known (8). One of the few food sources of vitamin D, mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, compounds that support the immune system by boosting levels of white blood cells. Some varieties of mushrooms even have adaptogenic properties, meaning that they can help the body cope with stress.

Four Sigmatic founder Tero Isokauppila claims that the two varieties to look out for are the Chaga mushroom which “can help to fight pathogens and lower inflammation,” and lion’s mane which is believed to have “brain and nervous system protecting properties.”

The mild, earthy flavour of mushrooms means that they make a delicious healthy pairing for strong flavours such as coffee or chocolate. Mushroom lattes, made with a milk of your choice, or mushroom hot chocolate made with cacao and a healthy sweetener, are good options for those wanting to enjoy the healing benefits of mushrooms.

Prebiotic Foods

Those of us who take probiotics for digestive wellness may be adding prebiotics to boost gut health in 2017. Prebiotic fibres act as fertiliser for healthy bacteria in the gut, and so eating prebiotic foods regularly is a great way to grow your own healthy bacteria. Interest in prebiotic foods and supplements is set to grow this year, and is has been suggested that they may soon become even more popular than probiotics (9).

As well as boosting digestive health, prebiotics offer a host of health benefits including improved bone density, improved digestion, lower levels of inflammation and lower anxiety levels (10).

The king of prebiotic foods is the Jerusalem artichoke. Those who want to boost their own healthy bacteria should also include chicory root, asparagus, carrots, jicama, leeks and onions in their diet. Inulin works well as a healthy sweetener with prebiotic benefits, and snacks such as bananas or crisps made with prebiotic-rich Jerusalem artichoke are an easy way to get a healthy dose of prebiotic fibre.

References
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=curcumin
2. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2006.
3. Effect of curcumin on diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain: possible involvement of opiod system. Eur J Pharmacol. 2013
4. Therapeutic strategies for the management of ulcerative colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009
5. Protective effects of Curcuma longa on ischemia-reperfusion induced myocardial injuries and their mechanisms. Life Sci. 2004.
6. Comparative evaluation of the pain-relieving properties of a lecithinized formulation of curcumin, nimesulide, and acetaminophen. J Pain Res. 2013
7. Turmeric extract may improve irritable bowel syndrome symptomology in otherwise healthy adults: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2004.
8. Recent progress of research on medicinal mushrooms, foods, and other herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine. J Tradit Complement Med. 2012
9. Industry Arc Booming Digestive Health Market to Propel the Usage of Prebiotic Ingredients. Accessed 25/02/2017.

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Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Gut Health: The key to all round good health?

Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Just as the gut is the centre of our bodies, we’re also starting to think that it might be at the centre of our health too. The gut is far from being just an organ that simply digests food and excretes the waste. It also produces more than 20 kinds of hormones, contains more than a thousand species of bacteria and is controlled by its own nervous system that is almost as complex as the brain’s. An unhealthy gut can contribute to a wide range of diseases including: obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, autism, depression, as well as joint and heart problems.

Good Digestion for Good Health

Ensuring good digestion is vital. Good chewing prepares the food, mixing it with enzymes that help to break it down. In the stomach, stomach acid and pepsin released from the liver thoroughly work on the food, simplifying the proteins with great efficiency. Many people experience problems with stomach acid ‘reflux’ where it is pushed up into the food pipe or throat, causing burning and an unpleasant taste. This can be helped by some natural herbs to calm the stomach down and help it heal any damage. Slippery elm, marshmallow, aloe vera and licorice are all especially important.

Once food passes through the stomach it enters the small intestine, where additional enzymes break down food groups into the simplest molecules to make them both absorbable and usable by the body. If this does not happen very well – perhaps it is a rushed meal, lack of preparation or the concentration of acids/enzymes are compromised by age or medication (possibly the overuse of Omeprazole and other Proton Pump Inhibitors), then larger particles of food are propelled through the system to cause mischief. They may be fermented by bacteria in the gut causing wind and/or they may get through the gut wall’s strategic defences. The body’s protective immune system (mostly seated in the gut) may even decide that they look similar to a potential enemy and attack them, causing inflammation. To help the body digest difficult proteins like gluten and other foods, it may be useful to take supplementary digestive enzymes. Gluten digesting enzymes may be particularly useful as well as certain beneficial or probiotic bacteria.

Bacteria in the Gut: Our little friends

Our friendly bacteria have been living with us all of our lives, resident in our gut like billions of bacterial pets. The beneficial ones play a very important role in maintaining health. They help to keep the immune system on a low-level alert and therefore support its function. In some studies, when babies do not develop this layer of good bacteria properly, they are more likely to develop an allergy or have an immune system that doesn’t work efficiently. The best and safest way to support beneficial bacteria is to take a high-strength daily probiotic with carefully selected and well-researched bacterial strains. If the balance of bacteria is disrupted, then certain plant oils can help to speed up the recovery. Garlic is king here, and is nature’s best natural antibiotic, but also consider using clove oil, cinnamon and oregano oil for a multi-pronged approach on a short-term basis.

While it is true to say that gut problems are on the increase, and that sub-optimal gut function seems to be having wide ranging effects on health beyond the digestive system, we can also do a great deal to help ourselves. Take good care of your gut, and you will reap the health benefits for years to come.

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How can probiotics support your immune system?

It is generally accepted nowadays that probiotic microorganisms are helpful for digestion, but people are just beginning to understand that these ‘friendly microorganisms’ can support the immune system as well.  For example, one great way to maintain your children’s health in the back to school period is by supporting their gut with a high quality kid’s probiotic.

The gut can be seen as the gateway to a healthy body.  When we have good numbers of friendly bacteria in the gut, we perform our digestion with ease, effectively absorbing vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream.  But that is not all probiotics help with!

OptiBac Probiotics - For Daily Immunity
Probiotics in the gut provide a ‘Barrier Effect’ against pathogens.

Probiotics in the gut provide a ‘Barrier Effect’ against pathogens.(1) When the body has a healthy balance of ‘friendly bacteria’ or probiotics, these can help to protect the body from ‘bad bacteria’ or pathogens, by coating the gut wall lining and competing with pathogens for space.  When probiotics limit the ability of pathogens to adhere to the gut wall lining, this automatically limits the bad bacteria’s ability to grow, as bacteria need to bind before they can multiply and proliferate.

Probiotics also stimulate both the body’s innate immune response & acquired immune response.  Statistically over 70% of the body’s immunity is based in the gut, and our friendly bacteria play a significant role in the gut and in working with the body’s immune system.  Specific strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 have been shown in-vitro to stimulate the growth of white blood cells such as macrophages and in turn lymphocytes, which attack foreign microbes and cancer cells.  Probiotics have also demonstrated abilities to stimulate the production of useful antibodies such as Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin A (IgA);(2) which plays a critical role in the mucosal immunity.

Prebiotics (the food source for probiotics) such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) enhance the production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria as well as to significantly inhibit the growth of cancerous colon cells.

So in a nutshell, probiotics & prebiotics help to support your immunity by fortifying the body’s natural defences, out-populating harmful bacteria, and by promoting the production of immune cells in the body.

OptiBac Probiotics For your child’s health (For children from 6 months to 12 years) is a probiotic & prebiotic made especially for children, and has been clinically trialled for its benefits in immunity.   This supplement was found in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to decrease the risk of common childhood infections by 25%.(3) The study was conducted only on children who had suffered recurring digestive and immune infections throughout the previous winter; hence showing even greater potential for supporting immunity in children.   Three month daily supplementation with For your child’s health was found to significantly lessen the risk of infections, and reduce days missed from school.  It is also worth noting that the types of infections reduced were not only gastrointestinal, but also ear-nose-throat (ENT).

It’s also important to support your own gut health as well as your children’s.  OptiBac Probiotics For daily immunity is a blend of both super antioxidants and probiotics.   Vitamin C, Grape Seed, Green Tea and Pine Bark Extract are all natural & organic ingredients which help support your immunity by inhibiting the production of free radicals which can harm body cells & compromise immunity. Additionally, the probiotics help the body to absorb the antioxidants into the bloodstream.

Alternatively For daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength provides a high strength daily probiotic dose, containing 20 billion micro-organisms per capsule. The daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength and the daily immunity can be safely taken together throughout the winter months for added immune support.

Looking after your gut means looking after your immunity too –  Easy!

Written by Lou Bowler, BHSc (Naturopathy)

References

1.  Isolauri, E., et al. (2001) Probiotics: Effects on immunity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol.73, No. 2, 445-450s, February 2011.

2.  Perdigon, G., Alvarez, S., Rachid, M., Aguero, G & Gobbato, N., (1995) Immune System Stimulation by Probiotics. Journal of Dairy Science. Vol 78, Issue 7. Pp 1597 – 1606.

3.  Cazzola, M. et al. (2010) Efficacy of synbiotic supplementation in the prevention of common diseases in children: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study;  Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease 0ctober 2010 Vol. 4 no. 5 pp.271- 8.

 

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