Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

Moringa

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS – Telehealth

 

Moringa

 

moringa

Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing tree native to South Asia and now found throughout the tropics. Its leaves have been used as part of traditional medicine for centuries, and the Ayurvedic system of medicine associates it with the cure or prevention of about 300 diseases.

Moringa, sometimes described as the “miracle tree,” “drumstick tree,” or “horseradish tree,” has small, rounded leaves that are packed with an incredible amount of nutrition: protein, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, you name it, moringa’s got it. No wonder it’s been used medicinally (and as a food source) for at least 4,000 years.

The fact that moringa grows rapidly and easily makes it especially appealing for impoverished areas, and it’s been used successfully for boosting nutritional intake in Malawi, Senegal, and India. In these areas, moringa may be the most nutritious food locally available, and it can be harvested year-round.

Personally, I grew a moringa tree for two years and I can attest to the fact that it grows like a weed. For those living in third-world countries, it may very well prove to be a valuable source of nutrition.

However I don’t recommend planting one in your backyard for health purposes as the leaves are very small and it is a timely and exceedingly tedious task to harvest the leaves from the stem to eat them.

The leaves are tiny and difficult to harvest and use, so you’ll likely find, as I did, that growing one is more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, there is no denying that moringa offers an impressive nutritional profile that makes it appealing once it is harvested…

6 Reasons Why Moringa Is Being Hailed as a Superfood

  1. A Rich Nutritional Profile

Moringa leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and more. One hundred grams of dry moringa leaf contains:

  • 9 times the protein of yogurt
  • 10 times the vitamin A of carrots
  • 15 times the potassium of bananas
  • 17 times the calcium of milk
  • 12 times the vitamin C of oranges
  • 25 times the iron of spinach
  1. Antioxidants Galore

Moringa leaves are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. The latter, chlorogenic acid, has been shown to slow cells’ absorption of sugar and animal studies have found it to lower blood sugar levels. As noted in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention:

“The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree have been reported to demonstrate antioxidant activity due to its high amount of polyphenols.

Moringa oleifera extracts of both mature and tender leaves exhibit strong antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to major biomolecules, and give significant protection against oxidative damage.”

Further, in a study of women taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder daily for three months, blood levels of antioxidants increased significantly.

  1. Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Moringa appears to have anti-diabetic effects,7 likely due to beneficial plant compounds contained in the leaves, including isothiocyanates. One study found women who took seven grams of moringa leaf powder daily for three months reduced their fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5 percent.

Separate research revealed that adding 50 grams of moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21 percent among diabetic patients.

  1. Reduce Inflammation

The isothiocyanates, flavonoids, and phenolic acids in moringa leaves, pods, and seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties. According to the Epoch Times:

“The tree’s strong anti-inflammatory action is traditionally used to treat stomach ulcers. Moringa oil (sometimes called Ben oil) has been shown to protect the liver from chronic inflammation. The oil is unique in that, unlike most vegetable oils, moringa resists rancidity.

This quality makes it a good preservative for foods that can spoil quickly. This sweet oil is used for both frying or in a salad dressing. It is also used topically to treat antifungal problems, arthritis, and is an excellent skin moisturizer.”

  1. Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Moringa also has cholesterol-lowering properties, and one animal study found its effects were comparable to those of the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin.   As noted in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology:

Moringa oleifera is used in Thai traditional medicine as cardiotonic. Recent studies demonstrated its hypocholesterolemic effect.

… In hypercholesterol-fed rabbits, at 12 weeks of treatment, it significantly (P<0.05) lowered the cholesterol levels and reduced the atherosclerotic plaque formation to about 50 and 86%, respectively. These effects were at degrees comparable to those of simvastatin.

 The results indicate that this plant possesses antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, and antiatherosclerotic activities, and has therapeutic potential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.”

  1. Protect Against Arsenic Toxicity

The leaves and seeds of moringa may protect against some of the effects of arsenic toxicity, which is especially important in light of news that common staple foods, such as rice, may be contaminated.   Contamination of ground water by arsenic has also become a cause of global public health concern, and one study revealed: 

“Co-administration of M. oleifera [moringa] seed powder (250 and 500 mg/kg, orally) with arsenic significantly increased the activities of SOD [superoxide dismutase], catalase, and GPx with elevation in reduced GSH level in tissues (liver, kidney, and brain).

These changes were accompanied by approximately 57%, 64%, and 17% decrease in blood ROS [reactive oxygen species], liver metallothionein (MT), and lipid peroxidation respectively in animal co-administered with M. oleifera and arsenic.

Another interesting observation has been the reduced uptake of arsenic in soft tissues (55% in blood, 65% in liver, 54% in kidneys, and 34% in brain) following administration of M. oleifera seed powder (particularly at the dose of 500 mg/kg).

It can thus be concluded from the present study that concomitant administration of M. oleifera seed powder with arsenic could significantly protect animals from oxidative stress and in reducing tissue arsenic concentration. Administration of M. oleifera seed powder thus could also be beneficial during chelation therapy…”

Moringa Leaves May Even Purify Water… and More

From a digestive standpoint, moringa is high in fiber that, as the Epoch Times put it, “works like a mop in your intestines… to clean up any of that extra grunge left over from a greasy diet.” Also noteworthy are its isothiocyanates, which have anti-bacterial properties that may help to rid your body of H. pylori, a bacteria implicated in gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer. Moringa seeds have even been found to work better for water purification than many of the conventional synthetic materials in use today.

According to Uppsala University:

“A protein in the seeds binds to impurities causing them to aggregate so that the clusters can be separated from the water. The study… published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces A takes a step towards optimization of the water purification process.

Researchers in Uppsala together with colleagues from Lund as well as NamibiaBotswanaFrance, and the USA have studied the microscopic structure of aggregates formed with the protein.

The results show that the clusters of material (flocs) that are produced with the protein are much more tightly packed than those formed with conventional flocculating agents. This is better for water purification as such flocs are more easily separated.”

There is speculation that moringa’s ability to attach itself to harmful materials may also happen in the body, making moringa a potential detoxification tool.

How to Use Moringa

If you have access to a moringa tree, you can use the fresh leaves in your meals; they have a flavor similar to a radish. Toss them like a salad, blend them into smoothies, or steam them like spinach. Another option is to use moringa powder, either in supplement form or added to smoothies, soups, and other foods for extra nutrition. Moringa powder has a distinctive “green” flavor, so you may want to start out slowly when adding it to your meals.

You can also use organic, cold-pressed moringa oil (or ben oil), although it’s expensive (about 15 times more than olive oil.As mentioned, while I don’t necessarily recommend planting a moringa tree in your backyard (a rapid-growing tree can grow to 15 to 30 feet in just a few years), you may want to give the leaves or powder a try if you come across some at your local health food market. As reported by Fox News, this is one plant food that displays not just one or two but numerous potential healing powers:

“Virtually all parts of the plant are used to treat inflammation, infectious disorders, and various problems of the cardiovascular and digestive organs, while improving liver function and enhancing milk flow in nursing mothers. The uses of moringa are well documented in both the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of traditional medicine, among the most ancient healing systems in the world.

Moringa is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine, moringinine, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and various polyphenols. The leaves seem to be getting the most market attention, notably for their use in reducing high blood pressure, eliminating water weight, and lowering cholesterol.

Studies show that moringa leaves possess anti-tumor and anti-cancer activities, due in part to a compound called niaziminin. Preliminary experimentation also shows activity against the Epstein-Barr virus. Compounds in the leaf appear to help regulate thyroid function, especially in cases of over-active thyroid. Further research points to anti-viral activity in cases of Herpes simplex 1.”

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Foods, Uncategorized

Easy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS – Telehealth

 

Easy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

chocolate-chip-pumpkin-bars

This dessert is super easy to pull together and the flavorful results will win you nothing but rave reviews.

Ingredients

  • 1 package spice cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided

 

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pumpkin; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Fold in 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips. Transfer to a greased 13×9-in. baking pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  • In a microwave, melt the remaining chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Drizzle over bars. Let stand until set.
Nutrition Facts

1 bar: 139 calories, 6g fat (4g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 92mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (16g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Gallbladder Disease — Are You at Risk?

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS – Telehealth

 

Although anyone can develop gallbladder problems, certain factors can increase your chances.

gallbladder.jpg

The gallbladder is a tiny organ located under your liver that most people don’t think too much about. That is, of course, until it develops problems, such as gallbladder disease.

More than 25 million men and women in the United States are affected by gallbladder disease, an umbrella term that includes:

Gallstones Hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. They can range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Gallstones can be painful and cause nausea and vomiting, but often they are asymptomatic and don’t require surgery.

 

Cholecystitis This inflammation of the gallbladder is often caused by gallstones blocking the tube that leads out of your gallbladder. Other causes include bile duct problems, tumors, serious illness, and certain infections. Cholecystitis can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated.

gallbladder2

Gallbladder cancer A form of cancer that starts in the gallbladder with a group of cells that grow out of control. About 9 out of 10 gallbladder cancers are adenocarcinoma — a cancer that starts in cells with gland-like properties that line many internal and external surfaces of the body.

Gallbladder disease can affect anyone, but some people are more vulnerable than others. You are most at risk of having gallbladder problems if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are older than 60
  • Have a family history of gallbladder problems
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have diabetes
  • Take certain medications
  • Are Native American or Mexican American

    Risk Factors for Gallbladder Problems Out of Your Control

    Gender In all populations of the world, women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones, according to research published in April 2012 in the journal Gut and Liver. Pregnant women and those taking hormone replacement therapy are more at risk for gallstones because of higher estrogen levels. Too much estrogen can increase cholesterol in the bile and lessen gallbladder movement, increasing the risk of gallstones. The sex difference narrows with increasing age, but is still prevalent.

Genes According to research published in 2013 in Advances in Clinical Chemistry, the tendency to develop gallstones and gallbladder disease often runs in families, indicating there may be a genetic link. Also, a mutation in a gene that controls the movement of cholesterol from the liver to the bile duct may increase a person’s risk of gallstones. Defects in certain proteins may increase the risk of gallbladder disease in some people.

Age Gallstones are 4 to 10 times more frequent in the older population, especially in people over 60. That’s because as you age your body tends to release more cholesterol into bile, which makes it more likely that stones will form in the gallbladder.

Ethnicity Studies have shown a clear association between race and risk of gallbladder problems that cannot be completely explained by environmental factors. Risk varies widely from extremely low (less than 5 percent) in Asian and African populations, to intermediate (10 to 30 percent) in European and Northern American populations, to extremely high (30 to 70 percent) in Native American populations. Native Americans and Mexican Americans are more likely to develop gallstones than other ethnic groups, probably as a result of dietary and genetic factors.

Risk Factors for Gallbladder Problems You Can Change

Although there are a number of things out of your control when it comes to your risk of developing gallbladder problems, you can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, watching your diet, and paying close attention to how your body reacts to certain medications.

People who are even moderately overweight or obese are at increased risk of gallbladder problems. When you’re overweight, the liver produces too much cholesterol, overloading the bile ducts and increasing the risk for gallstones. Women especially should watch their weight, because studies have found that a lithogenic risk of obesity is strongest in young women; this means they are more likely to develop calculi (buildup of mineral stones in an organ).

Rapid weight loss as a result of fasting or crash diets, and weight cycling — losing and then regaining weight — can increase cholesterol production in the liver, increasing a person’s risk of gallstones. In fasting associated with severely fat-restricted diets, gallbladder contraction is reduced, which can also lead to gallstone formation. But research shows that a shorter overnight fast is protective against gallstones in both men and women.

Diet plays a major role in gallbladder disease because diet influences your weight. People who are overweight and eat a high-fat, high-cholesterol, low-fiber diet are at increased risk of developing gallstones. Exposure to the Western diet (increased intake of fat, refined carbohydrates, and limited fiber content) is a high risk for developing gallstones. And too much heme iron — iron found in meat and seafood — may increase gallstone formation in men.

Coffee consumption seems to lower the risk of gallstone formation, by enhancing gallbladder motility, inhibiting gallbladder fluid absorption, and decreasing cholesterol crystallization in the bile, according to research published in the July–December 2013 issue of the Nigerian Journal of Surgery.

Certain cholesterol-lowering medications, such as Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Tricor (fenofibrate), can increase a person’s risk of gallstones. While these drugs successfully decrease blood cholesterol, they increase the amount of cholesterol in the bile, and thus the chance for gallstones to develop.

Other drugs that may increase the risk of gallstones include Sandostatin (octreotide)and a group of diuretics known as thiazides. Octreotide is used to treat certain hormonal disorders and severe diarrhea caused by cancer tumors. Prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors has been shown to decrease gallbladder function, potentially leading to gallstone formation.

If you are concerned that a medication you are taking may increase your risk of gallbladder disease, talk to your doctor. There may be another medication that will do the same thing without increasing your risk for gallbladder problems.

Other Risk Factors for Gallbladder Problems

In addition to genetic and lifestyle factors, certain medical conditions or surgical procedures can also increase your likelihood of developing gallbladder problems. These include:

Diabetes and metabolic syndrome People with diabetes generally have high levels of fatty acids, which may increase the risk of gallstones. Additionally, gallbladder function is impaired in the presence of diabetic neuropathy, and regulation of hyperglycemia with insulin seems to raise the lithogenic index (risk of developing mineral deposits in the gallbladder that can turn into gallstones). People with diabetes are at risk for developing a type of gallbladder disease called acalculous cholecystitis, meaning gallbladder disease without gallstones.

Crohn’s disease and other medical conditions People with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder, are also at increased risk of gallbladder disease. There are a few reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that if bile salts are not reabsorbed in the ileum (the end of the small intestine), they pass out of the body. This loss of bile salts means that the liver has fewer bile salts to put into new bile. The new bile becomes overloaded with cholesterol, which can in turn result in gallstones.

In addition, cirrhosis of the liver and certain blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, also increase a person’s risk of pigment gallstones, which are gallstones made up of bilirubin instead of cholesterol. Low melatonin levels associated with diabetes could contribute to gallstones as well because melatonin inhibits cholesterol secretion from the gallbladder; melatonin is also an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress to the gallbladder.

Surgery People who undergo bariatric surgery to lose weight are at increased risk for gallstones. Rapid weight loss in general is a risk factor. According to Bariatric Innovations of Atlanta, gallstone formation can be found in as many as 35 percent of weight loss surgery patients. Organ transplant surgery may also increase the risk of gallstones, and it is not uncommon for some doctors to recommend that their patients have their gallbladder removed before they undergo an organ transplant.

Ways to Prevent Gallbladder Problems 

Many factors may increase your risk of developing gallbladder problems. While you can’t do much about your genes or ethnicity, you can watch your weight and eat healthfully: Focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, and lean meats. Maintaining appropriate portion size and limiting processed foods and added sugars is also essential to a healthy diet. A study published in July 2016 in the journal Preventive Medicine found that vegetable protein is associated with lower gallbladder disease risk.

 

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