Monthly Archives: August 2015
|Enjoy this sweet start to your day…
Colorful, energizing fruit bowls are always a hit and this Berry Delight recipe is especially delicious. It brings together the perfect combination of fruit flavors and textures – sweet, juicy, tart, and creamy. Add a touch of fresh herbs and you have a winning recipe to savor yourself, or to serve to loved ones.
It’s the perfect nutrient-rich summer breakfast, and will give you an energizing and uplifting start to your day. You can also enjoy this recipe as a snack, dessert, or anytime. For something different, try adding in some fresh leafy greens like spinach, butter lettuce, or mâche to turn it into a vibrant salad for lunch or dinner.
This recipe couldn’t be any easier to put together. The ingredients can easily be found at most supermarkets and it can be prepared in just a few minutes.
1. Mix the strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and banana in a bowl together.
2. Squeeze the juice of the orange or tangerine over the fruit and gently mix.
3. Serve immediately and sprinkle with fresh basil or mint if desired. Eat, smile, and enjoy!
More than 35 million Americans may be on a drug that causes violent, suicidal and homicidal behavior, including statins, birth control and acne medicine.
Feeling irritable, paranoid or even violent lately? Before you blame other life triggers like your job, money problems or your significant other, you may want to examine your prescription drug regimen, as it could be changing you in more ways than you realize.
Close to 70 percent of Americans are taking at least one prescription drug and more than50 percent are prescribed two or more, according to numbers released in 2013 by Mayo Clinic, meaning that it’s probably even higher today.
Prescription drug use rose from 44 percent in 1999 – 2000 to 48 percent in 2007 – 2008. While the most common pharmaceuticals in use today include antibiotics, antidepressants and painkiller opioids, another drug is on the rise: statins, a class of drug routinely prescribed to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
Statins are not just prescribed for lowering cholesterol, but also used for acne, asthma and birth control
Published in the journal PLOS One, the study suggests that lower levels of cholesterol in the brain could be to blame for aggressive behavior, as the waxy fat-like substance enables brain cells to communicate, and can be adversely affected when lowered.
While touted as being nothing short of a miracle for preventing heart attacks and stroke, a new study says statins may cause some pretty scary side effects including “aggressive, violently jealous, suicidal or even homicidal behavior.”
The other side of the coin is that most statins do not work for 60% of the population, but they keep taking them anyway.,
Researchers from the University of California found a link between statins and aggression, particularly in postmenopausal women over 45-years-old. Interestingly, women who were innately calm exhibited the most aggressive behavior when on statins.
A separate study out of Pennsylvania State University found that women taking birth control pills were more jealous (to the point of violence) towards their partners.
Men, on the other hand, were much less likely to exhibit “large increases in aggression,” says professor Beatrice Golomb, who led the statin research.
Proof of this lies in the case of violent prison inmates, many of which have lower levels of brain cholesterol.
“Professor Golomb says statins raise testosterone and cause sleep problems, which could tend to make people prone to irritability and aggression,” The Daily Mail reports.
Golomb has uncovered several cases in which individuals acted aggressive and violent after taking statins, including one instance in which a 59-year-old man, who had no prior history of violence, began chasing his wife, threatening to kill her. Six weeks after quitting the drug he returned to his “normal, placid self.”
David Healy, professor of psychiatry at Bangor University and an expert in the field of dangerous side-effects caused by common drugs, found that with the statin Lipitor, there were 310 reports of aggression and violence and 62 reports of homicidal behavior.
There were 309 reports of irritability, 256 reports of personality change and 68 of paranoia.
Another article by The Daily Mail asks whether the benefits of statins have been exaggerated based on new evidence showing they aren’t as safe as Big Pharma claims.
While they’ve reduce cholesterol levels, they’ve “failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes,” according to a review of clinical trial data. Many “studies” have failed to note serious side-effects including the ones discussed here.
In terms of psychological effects, the only consequences of statins listed are memory loss, confusion and amnesia, but there’s absolutely no mention of suicidal and homicidal behavior.
The lack of information on, or rather the intent to hide, the more serious side-effects of statins is seriously concerning considering the number of Americans on the drug is about to be greatly increased under the new guidelines.
Health and Wellness Associates
Basil, Shrimp & Zucchini Pasta
This quick-cooking, healthy dinner is a simple combination
of zucchini, shrimp and pasta flecked with plenty of fresh basil.
If you have leftover cooked pasta from another meal, use it and skip Step 2.
Since the recipe combines a starch, vegetables and the shrimp,
all you need is a fruit or vegetable salad to round out the menu.
◾1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
◾1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
◾2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
◾2 cloves garlic, minced
◾1/4 teaspoon salt
◾1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or more to taste
◾Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
◾1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (31-40 per pound; see Note)
◾2 cups orecchiette or other small pasta, preferably whole-wheat
◾2 medium zucchini or summer squash or 1 of each
1.Combine 1/4 cup basil, tomato sauce, 2 teaspoons oil, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl. Stir in shrimp; let stand for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
2.Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
3.Quarter squash lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the shrimp mixture along with the squash. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and just barely cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the pasta and heat, stirring, until piping hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup basil and season with pepper.
Tips & Notes
Note: Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to make one pound. For example, “21-25 count” means there will be 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound. Size names, such as “large” or “extra large,” are not standardized, so to get the size you want, order by the count per pound. Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Fortunately, it is possible to buy shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as the Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught.
Per serving: 315 calories; 8 g fat ( 1 g sat , 5 g mono ); 143 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 24 g protein; 7 g fiber; 622 mg sodium; 687 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (38% daily value), Magnesium (30% dv), Folate & Potassium (20% dv), Vitamin A (19% dv), Zinc (18% dv), Iron (17% dv)
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat
Health and Wellness Associates
Lower your Blood Pressure with a daily dose of onions.
In a Spanish study, eating 1/3 cup of onions daily, any kind of onions,
it cut patients blood pressure by 21% in five weeks. Onions are
rich in quercetin, a natural diuretic that lowers pressure by
flushing our excess fluids and salt. Many people stop eating onions
because of bad breath worries, but please put them back in your
diet and make sure any older people put them back in their diets
also, to avoid congestive heart problems.
Picture: Onion Flower
Health and WEllness Associates
Great Barbeque Sauce Skinny Version
◾1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
◾1 sweet onion, finely diced
◾2 cloves garlic, minced
◾1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
◾1/4 cup honey
◾1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (use white balsamic vinegar for gluten free)
◾2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
◾1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
◾2 teaspoons chili powder
◾Kosher or sea salt to taste
In a medium sauce pan add canola oil, turn to medium-low heat and sauté onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Health and WEllness Associates
3 to 4 zucchinis depending on size
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup bread crumbs (we used Trader Joes Organic Bread Crumbs, but you can sub gluten-free or whatever you prefer)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon plain, unsweetened yogurt
Preheat the oven to 420°F. Wash and slice the zucchini into strips about two inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. In one bowl, crack and lightly whisk both eggs. In another bowl, pour in the nutritional yeast. In a third bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, salt, paprika, basil, and parsley. Take your zucchini slices and dip them one by one in the nutritional yeast, egg, and then bread crumb mixture, and place them on a parchment paper lined sheet. Once each zucchini fry has been coated and is on the sheet, place in the oven and back for 20 to 25 minutes (no need to flip). Fries are done when the coating is brown and crispy.
While the fries are baking, make the avocado aioli in a food processor or blender by adding all ingredients and then blending
What does the food you eat have to do with how your brain functions? Turns out an awful lot. While we’ve always known that what we eat affects our bodies and how we look, scientists are also learning more and more that what we eat takes a toll on our brains. Yes, brain foods matter (especially for our gray matter).
See, our bodies don’t like stress. Who does? When we’re stressed out — whether it’s physical, like someone jumps out at you from a dark alley, or mental, like you have a major project due at work — our bodies release inflammatory cytokines. (1)
These little chemicals prompt the immune system to kick in and fight back against the stress through inflammation, as though stress is an infection. While inflammation helps protect us against illnesses and repairs the body when you do something like cut yourself, chronic inflammation is a different animal. It’s been linked to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, anxiety, high blood pressure and more. (2)
But what does this all have to do with food? Our gut helps keep our body’s immune responses and inflammation under control. Additionally, gut hormones that enter the brain or are produced in the brain influence cognitive ability, like understanding and processing new information, staying focused on the task at hand and recognizing when we’re full. (3)
Plus, brain foods rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals provide energy and aid in protecting against brain diseases. So when we focus on giving our bodies whole, nutritious foods benefiting both the gut and the brain, we’re actually benefiting our minds and bodies while keeping them both in tip-top shape.
Of course, some foods are better for your brain than others. I’ve rounded up 15 brain foods you should be eating to feed both your mind and body. With a mix of fruits, veggies, oils and even chocolate (yes, chocolate!), there’s something to please everyone!
15 Best Foods For The Brain
This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of my all-time favorites. While avocados often get a bad rep because of their high fat content, it’s important to note that these green powerhouses are packed with monosaturated fats or the “good” kind, keeping blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing.
Containing both vitamin K and folate, avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improve cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration.
They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. Not too shabby! Avocados’ creamy texture makes them a smart addition to smoothies and a replacement for fats in baked goods,
It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers. That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat — they’ve even earned a spot on my healthy foods shopping list.
They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins. The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels. I love them roasted or in salads
Proving that great things do come in small packages,blueberries are a fruit I try to eat daily. That’s because they’ve got so many great health benefit while tasting like an all-natural candy!
For starters, it’s one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods known to man, including vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress
4. Bone Broth
Bone broth is the ultimate food for healing your gut and, in turn, healing your brain. This ancient food is full of health benefits, ranging from boosting your immune system, overcoming leaky gut, improving joint health and overcoming food allergies.
Its high levels of collagen help reduce intestinal inflammation, and healing amino acids like proline and glycine keep your immune system functioning properly and help improve memory. Bone broth is what I prescribe most frequently to my patients because it truly helps heal your body from the inside out.
It’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake. Its high-fiber levels mean that you’ll feel full quickly, too
For a vegetable with such few calories (just 16 per cup!),celery sure does offer a lot of benefits. Its high levels of antioxidants and polysaccharides act as natural anti-inflammatories and can help alleviate symptoms related to inflammation, like joint pain and irritable bowel syndrome.
Because it’s so nutrient-dense — packing loads of vitamins, minerals and nutrients with very little calories — it’s a great snack option if you’re looking to shed pounds. And while we often eat celery stalks, don’t skip the seeds and leaves; both provide extra health benefits and taste great in things like stir fries and soups.
7. Coconut Oil
Ahh, coconut oil, one of the most versatile — and good for you — foods out there. With more than 77 coconut oil uses and cures, there’s almost nothing that coconut oil can’t help.
And when it comes to your brain, it’s full of benefits, too. Coconut oil works as a natural anti-inflammatory, suppressing cells responsible for inflammation. It can help with memory loss as you age and destroy bad bacteria that hangs out in your gut. (5)
8. Dark Chocolate
Not all chocolate is created equal; in fact, dark chocolate can actually be good for you! Chocolate is chockfull of flavonols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the brain and heart.
But don’t go wild munching on Hershey’s Kisses just yet. Most of the chocolate you see on supermarket shelves is highly processed with few benefits. The rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits.
Skip milk and white chocolates and opt for a minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent of cocoa..
9. Egg Yolks
On the nutritional naughty list for years, egg yolks are finally experiencing their well-deserved day in the sun. If you’ve been eating only egg whites, the yolk’s on you. Yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women. It also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to happiness. That’s right, eggs can make you happy! (6)
If you’ve kept away from eating eggs whole because of cholesterol concerns, there’s good news. Studies show that eating eggs had no effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy adults and might, in fact, help raise good cholesterol levels.
It’s also one of the most inexpensive sources of protein out there; just be sure you’re buying organic, free-range eggs. Need some egg-spiration?
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Real extra virgin olive oil is truly a brain food. Thanks to the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that are found in the oil, including EVOO in your diet may not only improve learning and memory, but also reverse the age- and disease-related changes. (7) The oil also helps fight against ADDLs, proteins that are toxic to the brain and induce Alzheimer’s. (8)
As great as extra virgin olive oil is, remember that it’s not a good option for cooking, as it hydrogenizes and begins decomposing at high temperatures. The best way to get your fill is by eating it cold or at room temperature
11. Green, Leafy Vegetables
It turns out that Popeye was onto something with his spinachobsession. Getting regular helpings of leafy green brain foods — like kale, Swiss chard and romaine lettuce — can help keep dementia at bay according to new research. (9)
In the study, which evaluated the eating habits and mental ability of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years, those adults who ate a serving of leafy green veggies once or twice a day experienced slower mental deterioration than those who ate no vegetables, even when factors like age, education and family history of dementia were factored in.
Green, leafy vegetables are also loaded with vitamins A and K (just one cup of kale has more than 684 percent of your recommended daily serving!), which help fight inflammation and keep bones strong.
We already knew that rosemary oil has a variety of benefits, but did you know that the herb does, too? Carnosic acid, one of the main ingredients in rosemary, helps protect the brain from neurodegeneration. It does this by protecting the brain against chemical free radicals, which are linked to neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, strokes and normal aging in the brain. (10)
It also helps protect eyesight from deteriorating, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. (11)
If you like seafood, get excited, because salmon is one of the most nutritious, brain food-friendly foods out there! It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your brain running smoothly — goodbye, brain fog — and improve memory.
If you have kids, feeding them salmon can help preventADHD by improving their focus. And these same fatty acids can also help prevent cancer and kill tumors — not bad for a four-ounce serving of fish!
Please note that these benefits are for Alaskan wild-caught salmon — farm-raised and regular wild-caught salmon can be filled with mercury and toxins.
Isn’t it great when a simple spice has amazing health benefits? That’s the Turmeric also helps boost antioxidant levels and keep your immune system healthy, while also improving your brain’s oxygen intake, keeping you alert and able to process information. Talk about a super spice!
It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts. Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. (12) Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.
Do you have a diagnosed disease and you need help reversing the effects. Call us
Basil is a common aromatic herb in the mint family, the same plant family as other nutrient-dense, beneficial herbs, including mint, oregano and rosemary. Basil, of course, is used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may surprise you is the many benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties. Basil extract, or basil essential oil, is proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most important medical herbs known today.
Did you know there are actually 35 different types of basil? Basil plants come in a range of variety and sizes, but holy basil is the most researched type of basil thus far. Holy basil is the species of basil most known for its powerful healing qualities. To date, at least six different essential oils have been identified in holy basil within its seeds, roots, leaves and stem. Holy basil, which has the scientific name Ocimum sanctum L. or Ocimum tenuiflorum L., is known to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and powerful adaptogen — meaning it helps the body to respond to stress and fight disease.
Basil is an important medicinal plant in various traditional and folk systems of medicines, such as those in Southeast Asia and India. Holy basil is usually referred to as tulsi in India and is actually considered a sacred herb. It’s been used in over 300 different Ayurvedic herbal treatments for thousands of years, including tinctures, teas, ointments and tonics. Tulsi is also an important symbol in many other Hindu religious traditions and is linked to the goddess figure; in fact, tulsi in Sanskrit means “the incomparable one.” (1)
What Are the Proven Benefits of Basil?
Scientific studies show the following benefits of basil: (2)
Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic. This means they don’t dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil’s volatile essential oils are what give the herb its distinct smell and taste, but they’re also responsible for the healing benefits of basil.
Herbs like basil contain essential oil compounds because these help the plant defend itself from predators like bugs, rodents and strains of bacteria in the soil. When we ingest these protective oils, we experience similar benefits: a boost in immunity and protection from disease.
The most common cooking basil used as a fresh herb in recipes is Italian basil, which also boasts numerous health benefits because of it’s high levels of antioxidants, magnesium and vitamins. Basil extract is also used to create perfumes, household cleaners and in dental-care products since one of the known benefits of basil is its ability to act as an anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agent that fights germs and bacteria.
½ cup of fresh chopped basil (or about eight tablespoons) has roughly: (3)
0 fat, protein, sugar or fiber
56 milligrams vitamin A (24 percent)
88 milligrams vitamin K (108 percent)
0.24 milligrams manganese (12 percent)
4 milligrams vitamin C (8 percent)
12 Health Benefits of Basil
- Contains Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
One of the key benefits of basil essential oil is the ability to help fight free radical damage while protecting DNA structure and cells. Basil contains two important water-soluble flavonoid antioxidants, known as orientin and viceninare, which help protect white blood cells responsible for immune function, as well as cellular structures where DNA is stored.
Antioxidants found in basil keep chromosomes from becoming altered and resulting in cell mutations and cancerous cell growth. Oxidative stress occurs inside the body due to the effects of toxins in the diet, environmental pollution and radiation — but antioxidants like the kind found in basil help fight oxidation and slow down the effects of aging.
- Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
Basil contains powerful essential oils, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool. These are enzyme-inhibiting oils that help lower inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
- Fights Cancer
Clinical studies published in Nutrition and Cancer also show that basil contains phytochemicals, which can help naturally prevent cancer, including chemical-induced skin, liver, oral and lung cancers. Basil is able to increase antioxidant activity, positively alter gene expressions, induce cancerous-cell apoptosis (death of harmful cells) and stop cancerous tumors from spreading. (4)
In studies using animals, basil extract has shown protection against cancer and mortality while also selectively protecting normal tissue and cells from negative effects of cancer treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. This means that using basil extract can be beneficial as a supplemental cancer treatment even when someone is already undergoing traditional forms of treatments.
- Contains Antibacterial Properties
Another one of the benefits of basil essential oils is to provide protection against harmful bacterial growth. In studies, basil extract is even shown to be helpful in inhibiting resistant strains of bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotic treatments.
When researchers from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland tested the antibacterial activity of basil oil against strains of E. coli and other powerful bacteria that were gathered from sick patients with infections, the results showed that basil was effective in acting against the bacteria strains and helping to inhibit their growth. (5) This has led researchers to continue to study how basil and other antibacterial oils may help fight antibiotic resistant illnesses and infections.
- Contains Antimicrobial Properties that Fight Viruses and Infections
Basil essential oils have been found to exhibit anti-microbial activity against a wide range of bacteria, yeasts, molds and viruses. This means you can add protection against the candida virus and various forms of skin irritations to the long list of proven benefits of basil.
- Combats Stress by Acting as an ‘Adaptogen’
Studies show that basil has strong potential to act as a natural adaptogen, an herbal medicine that helps the body adapt to stress and to normalize the harmful effects of stressors on bodily processes.
For example, when researchers studied the anti-stress effects of fresh basil leaves given to rabbits that were exposed to a high-stress environment, they found a significant improvement in oxidative stress levels following basil use. After the rabbits received supplementation of two grams of fresh basil leaves for 30 days, they experienced cardiovascular and respiratory protection in response to stressors. A significant decrease in blood sugar levels was also observed, while a significant increase in antioxidant activity was observed. (6)
- Fights Depression
Benefits of basil also apply to those with mental disorders or mood-related illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Basil is also considered an antidepressant by some since it can positively impact brain function within the adrenal cortex, helping stimulate neurotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for making us happy and energetic.
- Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food, basil can help the muscles that control blood vessel function to contract and relax, promoting healthy blood pressure. Benefits of basil include the ability to help prevent dangerous platelet aggregation, clumping together of blood platelets that can form a clot within the arteries and cause cardiac arrest.
Basil extracts also reduce inflammation that can cause cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that are secreted from cell to cell in order to communicate and raise the body’s immune defenses.
When this happens for prolonged periods of time, the body experiences an “inflammatory cascade,” which puts stress on the organs and slows down blood circulation, hormone regulation and cognitive processes. When it comes to heart health, inflammation can build up fatty, cholesterol-rich plaque in blood vessels and raise the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- Supports Liver Function and Helps Detoxify the Body
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that when sickly rats were given basil extract over a period of five days, they experienced significant improvements in producing detoxifying enzymes, higher antioxidant defenses and a reduction of fat buildup in the liver that can cause liver disease. (7)
- Helps Alkalize the Body and Improve Digestion
Basil helps balance acid within the body and restore the body’s proper pH level. This can improve digestion and immunity by helping healthy bacteria flourish within the gut microflora, while also decreasing harmful bacteria that can cause disease.
Other benefits of basil when it comes to improved digestion? Traditionally, basil has also been used to help reduce bloating and water retention, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, acid reflux, and even to kill stomach worms or parasites.
- Can Act as a Natural Aphrodisiac
In Italy, basil has been considered a symbol of love for centuries. The aroma of basil is believed to increase libido and arousal, possibly by increasing blood flow and energy levels, while reducing inflammation. In the Hindu religion and in Ayurveda practices, holy basil (tulsi) is considered the “elixir of life” and is used to promote healthy sexual function and an upbeat mood. (8)
- Helps Protect from Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
Basil extracts have been found to reduce circulating blood glucose levels and inflammation, which makes basil protective against diabetes development and other forms of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, benefits of basil essential oils include the ability to help lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which diabetic patients are at a higher risk for developing.
When researchers from the Department of Home Science at Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in India investigated the effects of holy basil leaves on blood glucose and serum cholesterol levels in humans through double-blind clinical trials, the results showed that basil caused significant improvements in blood glucose control and mild improvements in cholesterol levels. This suggests that basil supplementation can be a useful and safe way to help control diabetes and complications that result from the disease. (9)
Types of Basil
There are actually some significant botanical differences between various types of basil plants, so when someone refers to generic “basil,” it’s hard to know exactly the type that person is speaking of and what the benefits of that species may be.
All basil plants for the most part grow as small plants that produce large green leaves, measuring around two inches in length. Their season is through the warm summer months when they can often be found at farmers’ markets across the U.S.
Some of the many species of basil include: sweet basil, lemon basil, Italian or curly basil, holy basil, thai basil and lettuce-leaf basil. The flavor and smell of basil varieties vary depending on their unique chemical components and the amount of essential oils they contain. The following oils are common across all basil types but are found in varying quantities: cinnamate, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, pinene and terpineol. (10)
Historical Uses of Basil
Basil belongs to the genus Ocimum, which is derived from the Greek ozo, meaning “to smell.” The exact origins of basil are somewhat unclear, however it’s believed that basil is native to areas in Asia and Africa. Basil plants began growing as wild perennials on some pacific Islands thousands of years ago and then were brought from India to Europe through the Middle East in the 16th century. Sometime during the 17th century basil made its way over to the Americas.
In historical European culture, basil has been tied to superstition and the scorpion. Many years ago, it was advised to handle basil gently as to “avoid the breeding of scorpions.” Scorpions were believed to seek out basil pots to rest under, and old superstitions said that a basil plant left for too long would eventually turn into a scorpion!
Holy basil also has a long history of religious and medical use in India, where it’s considered one of the most important herbs there is. Holy basil is a sacred herb in the Hindu religion and believed to be protective and healing. Tulsi, “the Queen of Herbs,” is considered legendary, cherished, womanly — and its essential oils are considered powerful at remedying headaches, low energy, stress, disease and sexual dysfunction.
Buying and Cooking with Basil
Today, basil is one of the most important herbs in many cultures and cuisines, including Italian, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese. Basil can be used in a ton of ways: with sautéed vegetables; in sauces; to flavor meat, fish and stews; as part of dressings; in herbal teas; to flavor liqueurs; and even to make mixed drinks.
Some of the most common uses for basil in recipes include making pesto sauce; marinara tomato sauce; or combining it with flavors from olive oil, garlic, cheese, vinegars and nuts. Fresh basil, dried basil and oil-infused basil are all ways to add basil flavor to dishes and experience the benefits of basil.
When buying basil, look for brightly colored leaves that are firm and aren’t wilted. Basil is usually available at farmers’ markets during the summer and early fall, and year-round at most grocery stores. You can also try growing your own basil plants by planting some in any warm space that has a lot of access to sunlight. Store dried, unwashed basil in the refrigerator once you buy it or pick it, wrapped inside a damp paper towel and placed inside of a plastic or paper bag to prolong its freshness. Wash it before using it since basil can carry dirt and feel “gritty.”
Tomato Basil Juice Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes Serves: 2 INGREDIENTS:
1 cup fresh basil
Pinch of sea salt
Add all ingredients to vegetable juicer. Gently stir juice and consume immediately.
Basil Tomato Pesto Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes Serves: 4 INGREDIENTS:
1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated raw cheese
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
Rice, Tomatoes and Basil Recipe
Total Time: 45 minutes Serves: 4 INGREDIENTS:
1 cup brown rice
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup coconut vinegar
2 teaspoons raw honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Black pepper to taste
1 pound heirloom tomatoes
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
Bring two cups of water to a boil and add the rice and salt. Return it to a boil and simmer for 30–40 minutes until rice is cooked and the water is evaporated.
Whisk together the vinegar, honey, coconut oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the rice. Add the tomatoes and basil. Mix and serve.
Remember: At the present time they are allowing arsenic to be used to process Brown Rice. So white rice is better
Side Effects of Basil
Basil essential oil isn’t meant to be ingested and should be diluted when used on the skin due to its potency. Basil in fresh form is considered very safe and is usually well-tolerated since it doesn’t commonly cause allergic reactions or side effects in most people. But there are some risks for certain groups of people.
If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breast-feeding, it’s a good idea to avoid basil since traditionally it’s been known to have anti-fertility effects. Basil essential oils or supplements might also interact with cholesterol-lowering medications and diabetic medications, so if you’re currently taking prescriptions for these conditions, you’ll want to speak with a doctor before taking basil supplements.
If you need help, or your family does, please call us and we can help:
Health and Wellness Associates
Strawberry Banana Pops
Ingredients:2 ripe bananas2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice
Preparation:Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and add possible stick & lids. Freeze overnight. Eat & Enjoy!
Health and Wellness Associates
Idea: Freeze in ice cube trays for a quick snack or for teething babies.
Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?
What’s for dinner? The question is popping up in an unexpected place — the psychiatrist‘s office.
More research is finding that a nutritious diet isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the brain, too. The knowledge is giving rise to a concept called “nutritional (or food) psychiatry.”
“Traditionally, we haven’t been trained to ask about food and nutrition,” says psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University. “But diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.”
It’s not just a problem for adults. Half of all long-term mental disorders start by age 14. Today, childhood mental illness affects more than 17 million kids in the U.S.
Recent studies have shown “the risk of depression increases about 80% when you compare teens with the lowest-quality diet, or what we call the Western diet, to those who eat a higher-quality, whole-foods diet. The risk of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) doubles,” Ramsey says.
A Growing Idea
Just 5 years ago, the idea of nutritional psychiatry barely registered a blip on the health care radar. There had been a few studies examining how certain supplements (like omega-3 fatty acids) might balance mood. Solid, consistent data appeared to be lacking, though.
“A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health,” says Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. “A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”
3 Ways Diet Impacts Your Mental Health
Here are some more details on how good nutrition impacts brain health:
- It’s crucial for brain development.
“We are, quite literally, what we eat,” says Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “When we eat real food that nourishes us, it becomes the protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters that transfer information and signals between various parts of the brain and body.”
- Itputs the brain into grow mode.
Certain nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance.
On the other hand, “a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins,” Jacka says.
- It fills the gut with healthy bacteria.
And that’s good for the brain. Trillions of good bacteria live in the gut. They fend off bad germs and keep your immune system in check, which means they help tame inflammation in the body. Some gut germs even help make brain-powering B vitamins.
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Health and Wellness Associates