Category Archives: Wellness

Honey and its many benefits to overall health and wellness

by Aurora Geib 

(NaturalNews) Honey is a popular sweetener produced from nectar, propolis or “bee glue” and enzymes in a bees’ saliva. Other insects produce honey but bee honey is the more popular kind. Honey is composed of simple sugars easily used by the body. It was the earliest reliable sweetener used in baking, enjoyed as spreads and added to drinks. It is also currently used in the manufacturing of certain processed foods like ham.

Light colored honeys are generally milder in flavor while darker ones are more robust. Depending on the bees’ nectar source, the color and flavor of honey may differ. There are currently more than 300 kinds of unique honey in the United States.

Forms of honey

Although honey is normally found in a liquid state, it can also change into a semi-solid state otherwise known as granulated honey. This condition can sometimes happen when glucose, the main sugar in honey, separates from the honey solution creating crystallization; losing its water content. The crystal then forms a framework that places other elements of honey into suspension resulting in the semi-solid state.

The displaced water condenses in some part of the container increasing moisture content; jump-starting the growth of yeast and fermentation. Although honey can sometimes crystallize on its own, dust and pollen or air bubbles can serve as triggers for crystallization of honey. To avoid crystallization, it is essential to store honey properly. Using air tight, moisture resistant containers is recommended when storing honey for long periods of time.

Honey that has crystallized; however, does not need to be thrown out as it has not gone bad. Heating it slowly in a warm bath will dissolve the sugar crystals back to liquid form. Other forms of honey include comb honey, which is honey in its original state, cut comb honey; which is liquid honey with added chunks of honey comb in the jar, liquid honey; which is honey extracted from the honey comb and whipped honey, which is brought to markets in a crystallized state. According to Honey.com, crystallization is controlled so that the honey can be spread at room temperature like jelly or butter. Whipped honey is a popular choice in certain parts of the world and, for breakfast, it is sometimes preferred over liquid honey.

Most of the honey available in the United States is in liquid form.

Uses of honey and its nutritional benefits

Honey is popularly known as a sweetener, but many do not know that it also contains nutritional and medical qualities praised by none other than Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

Nutritional Benefits

According to a Swiss study that discussed the nutritional value of honey, honey is rich in carbohydrates but has a low glycemic index (GI). Its GI varies within a range of 32 to 86 depending on the botanical source. Fructose rich honey, such as acacia honey, has a low GI; lower in fact than sucrose which is pegged at 60 to 110. Foods with low GI release glucose into the blood slowly and steadily; high GI foods cause blood sugar to spike. High GI foods are not suitable for diabetics; but those after a workout or are experiencing hypoglycemia will benefit from its ability to give immediate energy.

Honey contains the following trace minerals: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, iron, copper, iodine and zinc which although marginal, may contribute to the recommended daily intake requirements. It contains choline, a B-vitamin essential for brain and cardiovascular functions, cellular membrane composition and repair; and a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

Medical Benefits

Honey has anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-parasitic effects. Its capacity to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms and fungi is well documented. The low water activity of honey inhibits bacterial growth and honey glucose oxidase produces the anti-bacterial agent hydrogen peroxide.

Depending on its botanical source, honey gives significant anti-oxidant activity protecting against oxidation responsible for chronic diseases. It also has anti-mutagenic, anti-tumor as well as anti-inflammatory qualities that stimulate anti-body production.

Honey is effective in dressing wounds. It has recently been used in clinical settings for treating fist sized ulcers extending to the bone as well as in the treatment of first, second and third degree burns. Complete recovery has been reported with no infections, muscle loss or any need of skin grafts. When the wounds are clean, honey acts as a healer. Garlic honey, which is just a mixture of honey and garlic, can be applied directly to infected wounds to clean the area. Dr. Peter Molan of Waikato University in New Zealand observed that honey was more effective in managing infections on burn wounds than anti-bacterial ointments used in hospitals.

Moreover, in a study conducted by Penn State University, honey was discovered to be better at alleviating cough than over the counter drugs. The study led by Dr. Ian Paul found that a small amount of buckwheat honey, given before bedtime, provided better relief for kids from night time cough and sleep difficulty than the use of dextromethorphan (DM). DM is an over the counter cold medication. This finding is significant in light of a recent Food and Drug Administration advisory that cautioned against giving cough and cold medicine to children below six years old due to its potential side effects ineffectiveness. Incidentally, consumers spend billion of dollars each year for medication not proven to give significant relief.

Who can benefit from honey?

Clinical studies have found that honey sits well with infants. It was observed to increase their weight, haemoglobin content, give them better skin and digestion while increasing their immunity from disease. In fact, honey has been observed to produce a mild laxative effect and is recognized as a treatment for constipation in Eastern Europe.

Athletes will find honey to be an effective source of carbohydrates that can improve their athletic performance. Patients suffering from hepatitis A can benefit from honey’s capacity to cause a decrease in the alanine aminotransferase activity (an increased ALT is indicative of liver damage) and a decrease in bilirubin production (a product breakdown responsible for the yellow color in bruises and urine and increased levels may indicate certain diseases). Among cancer patients undergoing cancer radiation therapy, honey was observed to reduce incidents of radiation mucositis, a common toxicity for head and neck cancer whose consequences include pain, weight loss and micro-nutrient deficiencies.

Side effects

Generally, honey is safe for children and adults even in large qualities. Avoid giving honey to infants under 12 months to avoid the risk of botulism poisoning. Allergic reactions to honey have also been reported in individuals allergic to pollen.

9 Ingredients to avoid in processed foods

If you know me at all, you know that I’m an advocate for whole, unprocessed foods.  However, many of us inevitably turn to packaged or processed foods when we are short on time.  Maybe we grab a frozen dinner or pizza for a quick dinner for our family.  Maybe we grab a quick nutrition bar to satiate our hunger until we can sit down for a real meal.  Or maybe, we just don’t like to cook.  Whether we like it or not, packaged and processed food has become a huge part of our food industry and, as a result, a part of many of our diets.

Although there are some brands that I hugely advocate for, there are many more that border on outright unhealthy and “scary.”  Many packaged foods that seem healthy often contain fillers, preservatives and other ingredients you don’t want in your diet. It is always preferable to choose products that have only a handful of ingredients, all of which should be recognizable.  One test to know whether an ingredient is healthy is to ask yourself whether your grandmother would recognize it.  If not, there is a good chance the ingredient is less natural food and more man-made chemical.  Another good test is whether or not you can easily pronounce the ingredient.  If you feel like you need a science degree to pronounce it properly, chances are the ingredient is worth avoiding.
If you do have to resort to a processed food for a snack or dinner (anything canned, packaged, etc.), try to avoid those that contain the ingredients listed in the following chart.  Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, these ingredients are some of the most highly processed and least healthy of all:
Ingredient Why it is Used Why it is Bad
Artificial Colors
  • Chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color.
  • Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.
Artificial Flavorings
  • Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors.
  • Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma
  • Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid.
Artificial Sweeteners
(Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®,  Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)
  • Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweetenersfound in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.
  • Can negatively impact metabolism
  • Some have been linked to cancer, dizziness hallucinations and headaches.
Benzoate Preservatives

(BHT, BHA, TBHQ)
  • Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.
  • May result in hyperactivity, angiodema,  asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and  urticaria
  • Can affect estrogen balance and levels.
Brominated Vegetable Oil

(BVO)
  • Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks.
  • Increases triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
(HFCS)
  • Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar
  • Sustains freshness in baked goods
  • Blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness.
  • May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat
  • Increases risk for Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer
  • Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver.
MSG

(Monosodium Glutamate)
  • Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and other foods.
  • May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.
Olestra
  • An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.
  • Inhibits absorption of some nutrients
  • Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence.
Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Palm, Soybean and others)
  • Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S.
  • Cheaper than most other oils.
  • Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease.

Have you checked your ingredient lists recently? Do they contain any of the above? Have you tried cutting some of these ingredients out?

Wikio

4 Ways French Women Stay Thin (Without the Gym)

Hate the Gym? How Very French, by Mireille Guiliano

The bestselling author of French Women Don’t Get Fat explains how French women exercise — no spandex required.
By Mireille Guiliano

Photo: Andrew French

2.) Incorporate simple resistance movements into your daily routine. Use your own body weight as resistance wherever possible. Isometric exercises, discreet but effective, are very French. This can be done before you even leave the house in the morning. For example, while waiting in traffic or on the subway, contract your abs for 12 seconds with your back pressed against the seat (it’s better for you than road rage). When reading a magazine at home, try sitting on the floor with your legs stretched and apart in a V and your hands on each side; this is a great stretch for your inner thigh muscles.

3.) Take care of your core. I’m a firm believer that we need to attend to our abdominals as we age. These are the muscles that hold all our vital organs in place; they support good posture and a healthy spine, something we must take care of as we get older. Do a few sit-ups as part of a little stretch/exercise/yoga routine in the morning — it’s never too early or too late to start this ritual.

4.) Acquaint yourself with small to moderate free weights (3-5 lbs.), especially if you’re over 40. A bit of extremely simple resistance training is an antidote to hours spent on gym machines. Short but focused movement with small weights is a good way to preserve upper body tone and bone density and supplement the cardiovascular benefits of an active lifestyle. A little goes a long way, and that only increases the older you get, so don’t let extremism overtake you.

You don’t have to torture yourself on those metal contraptions or run a marathon to stay trim. French women reject the notion of ‘no pain, no gain.’

5.) Get en vélo. Americans tend to see bicycling as recreation, and often either as a child’s pastime or a hobby for only the most serious triathletes. But French and European women see cycling as a mode of transportation. I encourage those who can bike to work or shopping to do so. One of my pleasures in Provence is taking my bike to run errands. Riding my bike is one of my favorite warm weather routines and is, of course, environmentally clean and efficient, so I am happy to see bikes and bike lanes increasing in New York and other cities. Cycling has well-known health benefits: it’s a low-impact, mild aerobic exercise that strengthens your heart and lungs; tones the large (read: fat-burning) muscle groups; keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible; builds stamina; and is generally fun, reducing stress and boosting your mood. And the view from a real bicycle ride beats the view from a stationary bike in a white-walled gym any day of the week.

6.) Yoga. If there was ever a fountain of youth, it might be the practice of yoga. Not only does it reduce stress, improve your posture and help to develop longer, leaner limbs, it also speeds up your metabolism, works nearly every muscle group and promotes an overall bodily wellness that no other sport or class can compete with. I practice yoga religiously, usually in the comfort of my own home. I am no yogi; I do not spend hours upon end on my head — I simply have a handful of mastered poses and movements that make me feel good and keep me limber and trim. Most women can find 20-30 minutes a day to practice if they make it a priority. No equipment necessary.

7.) Vive l’escalier! Taking the stairs whenever possible is one of the main tenets of my philosophy. It always astounds me to see people who live no higher than the fourth floor and with nothing more to carry than themselves taking the elevator. In France, walking up and down stairs is a perfunctory part of our day. We rarely spend an hour stair climbing, but you should know that climbing stairs burns a stunning 1100 calories per hour. Climbing a couple flights a day will surely go a long way. A few times a week I choose to walk up the 15 flights of stairs to my apartment for some healthy fun — and yes, I do enjoy it.

In the end, remember that those who overexert themselves inevitably burn out, but those who know how to stay fit while enjoying life come out ahead, mentally and physically.

Wikio

%d bloggers like this: