Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pomegranate: A Healthy New Twist for Old Favorites

Pomegranate: A Healthy New Twist for Old Favorites
By Mary Duffy

Healthnotes Newswire (November 12, 2009)—The rich ruby pomegranate has been featured in art, literature, and mythology for centuries. Today, the versatility of this flavorful fruit is inspiring chefs, from the family kitchen to four-star restaurants.

Dress up any dish

Each pomegranate contains hundreds of tiny seeds encased in juice-rich ruby pulp. Devin Alexander, a chef and author of The Most Decadent Diet Ever, suggests adding seeds to a salad and using the juice to make salad dressing. “The seeds are also great to add natural sweetness to black rice and whole grain pilaf dishes,” she notes.

The pomegranate’s sweet-tart taste, deep red color, and many little seeds can add flavor, beauty, and crunch to a wide variety of dishes. Sprinkle seeds into soup or add to baked goods. For a fresh twist to an old standby, add a tablespoon of the juice and three tablespoons of seeds to guacamole. Or try Alexander’s favorite use of the fruit, a variation on the traditional Purple Cow ice cream soda. “I love making Pomegranate Cows. I use pomegranate juice and vanilla frozen yogurt instead of grape juice and ice cream for a much healthier treat.”

Why pick pomegranate?

You’d be hard pressed to find a healthier treat than the pomegranate. It’s filled with nutrients and loaded with antioxidants. Research indicates that it can help lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, prevent the cartilage damage that leads to osteoarthritis, slow progression of prostate cancer, and protect the arteries from plaque buildup. So isn’t it time to try this superfood?

Picking and prepping

Look for fruit that is heavy for its size (and therefore juice-filled) and has bright, unblemished skin. When refrigerated in a plastic bag, pomegranates will keep for up to two months. Loose seeds can be refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen in single layers on trays and in airtight containers for up to six months. Juice can be refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for up to six months.

To prepare the fruit fresh: Cut the crown end off the pomegranate, and then.....

To read full article on Pomegranate click here

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Natural Cold and Flu Remedies: Do They Help?

Natural Cold and Flu Remedies: Do They Help?

With the increased attention on the cold-and-flu season this year has predictably come stronger claims on both ends of the treatment spectrum: from those who cling fervently to favorite remedies that may or may not be supported by research, to conservative practitioners who dismiss anything but flu shots and decongestants as a waste of time and money.

As might be expected, for many people the answer lies somewhere in between: There is simply too much research to completely dismiss some traditional remedies, but not enough to call any one treatment an actual “cure.” While it is common to have studies with differing results, it is important to look at both the study details and the entire body of research to really understand what they are telling us. Keep in mind too that sometimes “a lack of evidence” means that a treatment has simply not been studied, but traditional use may in some cases suggest benefit.

Though most of these much-talked-about remedies below have had their share of research demonstrating both sides of the issue, they ultimately remain well supported as steps to shorten the life of a cold or flu and may help you get back on your feet.

1. Boost immunity with supportive supplements

While evidence on the effectiveness for preventing infections is mixed, immune-boosting supplements may help strengthen your body’s defense system. A short list includes:

Vitamin C—Studies have shown a higher-than-normal dose of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day may make your cold shorter and milder. (These amounts are tolerated by most people but may cause diarrhea in others, so pay attention to how your body reacts.)

Echinacea—At the onset of a cold or flu, 3 to 4 ml of echinacea in a liquid preparation or 300 mg of a powdered form in capsule or tablet can be taken every two hours for the first day of illness, then three times per day for a total of seven to ten days. Though inconclusive, some studies have shown it may shorten the duration of a cold in adults. It has not been shown to be effective for children.

Zinc lozenges—Lozenges containing zinc gluconate, zinc gluconate-glycine, or zinc acetate, providing 13 to 25 mg every two hours, may help slow the cold virus and shorten the illness. (Avoid zinc sprays, however, as recent reports confirm that they may sometimes seriously damage sense of smell.)

For more on Natural Cold and Flu Remedies click here.

Taming Fear of the H1N1 Flu Vaccine

Taming Fear of the H1N1 Flu Vaccine.
Research has not clearly demonstrated how successfully flu vaccines protect against the flu, but, relying on historical precedent, the healthcare community’s prevailing opinion is that certain groups should take the precaution. This year, the extra focus on the H1N1 (“swine flu”) virus has made many people consider seeking the vaccine for themselves or an at-risk family member, but for some, concerns about H1N1 are outweighed by mistrust of a “new” vaccine.

Old news

In reality, H1N1 isn’t any newer than many previous seasonal flu vaccines. Over time, the influenza virus evolves and sometimes it changes enough that a “new” vaccine must be developed. But the H1N1 vaccine mostly contains the same materials found in related flu serums—with an added particle from the newly evolved virus. The new H1N1 particle stimulates the immune system, which is what is needed to create immunity against the virus.

While it is impossible to predict how all people may react to the new portion of the serum, this type of adjustment has historical precedence, and the calculated risk appears very low, and is so far supported by use. To date, 10,000 to 15,000 children and adults have been vaccinated with the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, without reports of serious side effects.

Not for everyone

While the H1N1 vaccine is considered safe for the healthy general public, just as with the seasonal flu vaccine, no vaccine is completely safe for every person.

Some people should be more cautious than others and talk with their doctor about their personal risks. For example, people with egg allergies should work with a doctor if they are considering the flu vaccine.

Similarly, not all forms of the vaccine are right for all people. For example, administering the vaccine by nasal spray (FluMist) is being more widely used, but should not be used by people with compromised immune systems or people around them, such as cancer patients in active treatment, people with HIV/AIDS, and those who spend time around infants less than 6 months old.

Safety statistics

So, while it’s reassuring that around 100 million people received the seasonal flu vaccine last year without safety problems, there are no guarantees that a rare, negative side effect won’t happen. Health experts estimate that approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1 million people vaccinated may experience serious reactions to any influenza vaccine.

The most important thing to remember is that the risk of negative side effects from vaccines is considered by most health experts to be much lower than the risks from the disease itself. Solid historical data indicates that serious health risks from vaccines appears to be very small, while there is a known risk of serious complications, and even death, from the flu—including the H1N1 strain.

Who and why

Given the low risk of vaccine reactions, getting the vaccine should be a particular priority for people who are at much higher risk of complications from the disease, namely:

• H1N1 is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and is proving to be much more dangerous to a woman and her unborn child than the vaccine. Currently, the death rate among pregnant women hospitalized with H1N1 flu is over 20%, while risk of complications from the vaccine is estimated to be around 1 to 2 in one million.

• People with heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, or diseases requiring immunosuppressive medications should be vaccinated as early in the season as possible.

• Children and young adults 6 months to 24 years old with cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, type 1 diabetes, or significant lung disease resulting from premature birth should also be vaccinated as early as possible in the season.

Take-home message

Much like advocates of natural remedies sometimes rely on traditional use when there is a lack of controlled research, historical practice has led most health experts to concur that for the vast majority of people in the US, the vaccine will provide far more benefit than harm. If you have questions or concerns about whether you and your family should be vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Additional ways to help stay healthy during flu season include:

• Keeping your immune system in top shape by getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.

Taking vitamin C (100 to 1,000 mg per day) and vitamin D (1,000 to 2,000 IU per day) supplements if your diet is low in these nutrients.

Washing your hands frequently; avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes; and staying home if you’re sick.

(National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by The New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.
Copyright © 2009 Aisle7

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Study Shows Creatine Supplementation May Prevent Aging and Degeneration is proud to bring to you Kosher Creatine.
The dietary supplement, creatine, has risen to prominence in recent decades largely because of its effectiveness in helping to increase muscular size and strength. But, while creatine is still widely though of as a mere “sports supplement,” this remarkable substance is slowly beginning to gain the respect it deserves as a remarkable anti–aging nutrient as well.

On a cellular level, high creatine stores allow for the rapid recycling of the universal energy molecule, adenosine triphosphate, or, ATP. More specifically, supplemental creatine is able to increase stores of a chemical called creatine phosphate, which donates phosphate and “recharges” ATP (which means that ATP doesn’t have to be produced again “from scratch”). But, while the mechanism by which creatine works may be simple, the repercussions of this single chemical reaction are nothing short of profound for our health and longevity.

Energy is Life

When it comes to maintaining the vitality of youth, all of us are only as good as the efficiency of energy production, or in other words, the functioning of our mitochondria. In fact, keeping these energy–producing cellular structures intact and free from harm (or, finding ways of replacing them if they do become damaged) is increasingly being seen as a fundamental goal of anti–aging science.

To make a long biochemical story short, the mitochondria in our cells are unique among cellular structures in that they contain their own DNA (as you may remember from high school biology class, the vast majority of what we consider “our” DNA is found in the nucleus of the cell). Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), though relatively simple relative to the complex nuclear DNA, is still remarkably important as it contains the blueprints which encode for the building of the energy “assembly line” known as the respiratory chain.

Note: The fact that “our” DNA in the nucleus of the cell, and the mitochondrial DNA appear to be of different evolutionary origin has led many scientists to believe that human mitochondria were once bacteria which have adapted over eons to become a normal part of our physiology.

Because it resides on the “front lines” of energy production within the mitochondria, mtDNA is quite susceptible to damage via reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are natural byproducts of energy metabolism. This means that, unlike the DNA which is protected within the cellular nucleus, mitochondrial DNA is relatively easily damaged, and nearly impossible to repair.

Scientists have begun to gather evidence that damage to mitochondrial DNA is likely to play a fundamental role in such things as neurodegeneration, skin aging (a.k.a. photoaging), muscle loss and cancer:

Study Link – Analysis of potential cancer biomarkers in mitochondrial DNA.

Study Link – Mitochondrial DNA mutations in human cancer.

Study Link – Accumulation of mitochondrial DNA deletion mutations in aged muscle fibers: evidence for a causal role in muscle fiber loss.

Study Link – Mitochondrial DNA mutations in disease, aging, and neurodegeneration.

So, even a brief look at the research makes it very clear that anti–aging science is in dire need of substances which can protect the mitochondria (and its DNA) from the relentless assault of reactive oxygen species.

Creatine Prevents Damage To Mitochondrial DNA

A recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology shows that creatine may be just such a substance:

Study Link – Creatine supplementation normalizes mutagenesis of mitochondrial DNA as well as functional consequences.

The researches who conducted the above study tested the effects of in vitro creatine supplementation in ultraviolet A–treated fibroblast cells.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) is known to be the spectrum of ultraviolet light largely responsible for skin aging [and, although ultraviolet B (UVB) is commonly implicated, some research suggests a significant role for UVA in the development of skin cancers as well]. The researchers attempted to test the effects of creatine against physiologically–relevant levels of UVA as could be obtained from sunlight “during a regular summer holiday.”

Although such exposure to UVA was sufficient to cause functionally–relevant mtDNA mutations, these mutations were prevented in the presence of creatine.

The researchers reported:

Our data suggest that mtDNA mutations induced by sublethal repetitive UV–exposure of a magnitude acquirable during a regular summer holiday suffices to result in functionally relevant changes and that creatine supplementation of cells is able to normalize mtDNA mutagenesis and functional impairment.

Interestingly, the researchers noted that in this case, creatine didn’t confer its protective effect upon the mitochondria via scavenging ROS directly. That is to say that creatine didn’t exhibit a direct antioxidant effect per se. Rather, as the researchers hypothesized, the rapid recycling of ATP caused by the presence of creatine may have taken a metabolic “burden” off of the mitochondria.

In not having to produce ATP de novo (“from scratch,” so to speak), the mitochondria therefore don’t have to run the entire “assembly line” of energy production. The result is likely to be less reactive oxygen species generated from de novo ATP synthesis, and less overall free radical damage to the mitochondria.

Such cell–protective effects of creatine have already led to investigations of the nutrient’s role in muscular, cardiovascular, and neurological health; and if creatine can reduce cell damage caused by ultraviolet radiation as was shown in the above study, it appears we can add dermatological health to this list as well (it’s easy to imagine that we may see creatine–based skin care products hit the market before long).

Again, the take home message is clear: Creatine is far more than just a bodybuilding supplement. Creatine improves the efficiency of energy production at a fundamental level, and offers cellular protection to a wide range cells throughout the body. The implications of this may very well be a slowing of the aging process and an extension of lifespan for those who maximize their creatine levels.

Only time will tell. is proud to bring to you Kosher Creatine.

Get a Jumpstart on Your Hay Fever

Want the most from medicines your doctor has recommended this allergy season? Then taking them at the right time is the best way to get rid of symptoms—but the right time may be earlier than you think.

Taking once-a-day antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays a week or so before spring and fall allergy seasons are set to start could put you ahead of the game, says Marjorie Slankard, professor of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. For example, in many parts of the country, ragweed season starts in mid-August, so you’d want to start your medication around the second week. “Once you start taking antihistamines, there’s a maximum buildup by day five to seven,” says Dr. Slankard.

Take your allergy medicine every day

Keeping your dose of medicine constant will help relieve allergy symptoms, so be sure to take it every day.

• If your symptoms are worse in the morning, be sure to take the drug at night, recommends Dr. Slankard, as it will give the drug time to build up in your body and be effective when you most need it.

• Even though you can take allergy medicines at any time of day, taking them at bedtime is also a good idea if they cause sleepiness (ask your doctor or pharmacist if yours does).

Keep your medicine on hand

Be sure to renew and refill prescriptions on time so you always have your medicine when you need it.

• Think ahead when you’re planning vacations or business trips and have prescriptions renewed or refilled beforehand, or be sure to carry your prescription and insurance information with you.

• Ask your doctor and pharmacist the easiest way to renew and refill prescriptions, and mark your calendar.

Explore other symptom relief

Medicines are important allergy management tools, but keep these points in mind for more relief:

• Over-the-counter saline sprays may help relieve a stuffy nose, and saline rinses can help flush pollen and other allergens and soothe irritated nasal passages.

• Many people find relief using herbal remedies, such as nettle tea, and nutritional supplements such vitamin E.

• Sharing other people’s allergy relief products is never a good idea.

• Using air conditioning, instead of open windows, and using an air filter during allergy season can help keep pollen out.

• Showering before bed will allow you to sleep pollen-free.

Fran Kritz is a freelance writer from Silver Spring, Maryland. She tries to remember to take her allergy medicine before the sneezing starts.

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