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Healthy Alternatives to Wheat

Wheat  today is not the same as many decades ago and today’s wheat was probably the first GMO food. Although it is regarded as a staple food along with rice there are many health issues where the culprit appears to be wheat based. Intolerance to wheat products seems to be on the increase and many people are seeking alternatives. Gluten, which is derived from wheat, barley and oats appears to be affecting more and more people world wide and even when wheat products are advertised as gluten free there are concerns, as in many cases the gluten is replaced with sugar to give back some taste to the wheat flour. There are many healthier alternatives to wheat as this article shows and although some are not readily available in many shops they can be found without too much difficulty.

Amaranth

Amaranth is a good source of both carbohydrates and fibre. A 1-cup serving of the cooked grain contains 46 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fibre. The fibre in the amaranth can also help with weight control as it increases satiety and helps control hunger. Eating more than 14 grams of fibre a day can help you decrease your daily calorie intake by 10 per cent, according to an article in the journal “Nutrition Review.” For better health, women should aim for 25 grams of fibre a day, while men should get 38 grams. For those over 50, the daily need for fibre is 21 grams for women, and 30 grams for men. One cup of cooked amaranth contains 9 grams of protein. Unlike other grains, amaranth is a complete source of protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids — just as meats and poultry do. Protein in foods like amaranth is necessary to help your body build and maintain the proteins found in your cells, muscles and organs

As a whole grain, the amaranth retains its germ, which is a source of healthy unsaturated fats, including the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A 1-cup serving of cooked amaranth contains 4 grams of total fat. Replacing your saturated fat foods, such as red meat and butter, with foods rich in unsaturated fats like those found in amaranth might help lower cholesterol levels.
Amaranth is a good source of a number of essential vitamins and minerals that you need for good health, including B vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc. The B vitamins help your body turn the food you eat into energy, as well as make blood cells. As a good source of calcium, amaranth helps keep your bones and teeth healthy and strong. The iron in the grain assists with the transportation of oxygen throughout your body, and the zinc helps your body heal cuts.

Breadfruit Flour

According to a study from the University of British Columbia, breadfruit contains “a full spectrum of the essential amino acids and are especially rich in phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine and valine. Another nutrient group important to disease prevention are antioxidants. Found in a wide variety of foods, antioxidants prevent and reverse oxidative stress, the damage caused by free radicals to body functions. Free radicals, in addition to being a natural by- product of food consumption can be introduced into the body through over exposure to sunlight, chemicals found in the environment and various other sources, but a diet full of high powered antioxidants can slow and even reverse the damage caused by free radicals.

One research study in the spring of 2016 focused specifically on the antioxidant activity of breadfruit as it relates to the toxicity of cadmium, a common environmental toxin and endocrine disruptor. This particular study investigated the effect of cadmium on alterations in sperm count and activity and found that the tested methanol extract of breadfruit caused significant improvement in sperm count, motility (movement) and hormone levels. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant found in breadfruit. Individuals who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables containing a lot of vitamin C have a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as an extended life span compared to those who do not have a high dietary intake of vitamin C

Due in part to its antioxidant content, in addition to other factors, breadfruit is also great for your heart. It’s been found to contain phytochemicals (chemicals from plants) that protect the heart against atherosclerosis, a heart disease characterized by slowly building pockets of white blood cells in artery walls causing them to thicken. Eventually, atherosclerosis can lead to a blockage of the blood supply to the heart resulting in a heart attack. In 2006, breadfruit was termed as a good prospect to use in medicinal protection against this very common disease. Another way it’s beneficial to your heart is by its ability to combat high cholesterol. Breadfruit is also incredibly high in fibre, offering nearly half the daily recommended intake in just one serving. A high fibre diet is associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, (hypertension) and other diseases associated with the heart..
Breadfruit also contains a fairly large quantity of thiamine, aka vitamin B1. Thiamine helps maintain muscle tone along the walls of the digestive tract, where the majority of the immune system is located. It also assists in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, helping your body fully digest food and absorb the highest amount of nutrients possible. Together, these features make thiamine a valuable nutrient in maintaining a healthy immune system.

Because breadfruit has some incredible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it has been researched as a potential cancer fighting food. A Taiwan study found it to have significant potential in the fight against skin cancer and an extract from this fruit, applied directly to the skin, decreased the number, size and malignancy of skin tumours. Another cancer that may be fought by the powerful nutrients in breadfruit is pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer operates differently from many other types of cancer because it is not as susceptible to “nutrient starvation” as other cancers often are. This means that the cancer drugs that are commonly prescribed to starve cancer cells of nutrients are even less effective than usual against cancer of the pancreas.
Therefore, when studying possible treatments for pancreatic cancer, scientists must focus on things that can kill these cancer cells and prevent them from pulling nutrients from nearby vessels and cells. In 2014, a pilot study investigating the impact of an extract from the leaves of the breadfruit tree found that the chemical compound had 100 per cent “preferential cytoxicity” against human pancreatic cancer cells known as PANC-1 under nutrient-deprived conditions. This means that the extract successfully killed 100 per cent of the pancreatic cancer cells when subjected to a nutrient-deprived environment, which normally would have little to no effect on these cells.

Another study in Asia published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine studied the effect of an extract from the breadfruit plant on liver cancer cells. The findings were also fascinating, as researchers discovered that the extract did not cause traditional apoptosis (programmed cell death) that’s often seen in anticancer nutrients and pharmaceuticals. Instead, when exposed to the breadfruit extract, the liver cancer cells underwent autophagic death. This alternative method of cell death occurs naturally in the body as it processes proteins and breaks down damaged cells and is a more effective method of stopping cancer in certain cases.
For the purposes of cooking or stewing, mature but unripe fruits are preferred. As breadfruit continues to ripen after picked, you can choose when to eat it at its ripest, which is when it gives to thumb pressure. This fruit should never be refrigerated because it can undergo chilling injury at temperatures below 12 Fahrenheit.

Many fans of breadfruit know that it can be used in a huge variety of ways. You can eat it ripe, which may give a taste similar to custard apples. It may also be stewed, fried, baked, broiled or powdered. Generally, you should peel the outer skin, then split the fruit into quarter slices before discarding the central core, after which you can cut it into the appropriate size for whatever dish you plant to prepare. When baked, the taste is more closely related to freshly baked bread (which is how it earned its name).
Breadfruit has incredible potential in many areas, including the creation of a much better-tasting gluten free flour than many other food products.

Cassava Flour

Similar to those mentioned above cassava flour is gluten free. People with celiac disease can readily consume starch or flour from cassava because of this. So they can still enjoy bread or cake made from cassava flour or other savoury dishes which may need flour to thicken the gravy.

The fibre in cassava flour slows down the process of absorption of sugar into the bloodstream thus reducing the spike that would occur from the ingestion of simple carbohydrates. Good news for those suffering from diabetes. Cassava contains some antioxidants which play very important roles in reducing the risk of cancer. These include vitamin C, beta carotene and saponins. These antioxidants are known to help protect your cells from damage by free radicals and repair broken DNA. A study by scientists from Tianjin University found that saponins, which are derived from by plants, may help prevent cancer. Potassium plays a very important role in the reduction of blood pressure and the regulation of heart rate and cassava is very high in this mineral.

Chickpea Flour

Anyone who has gone on a diet knows that hunger pangs can weaken even the strongest willpower. The challenge is to lower your caloric intake without starving yourself. Enter chickpeas. 1 cup contains just 269 calories, but half your daily value of fibre and 30% of your protein, both of which monitor the insulin that causes your body to store fat. So eat a cup of chickpeas for lunch and you will feel full until dinner. That’s why one study found that participants who snacked on chickpeas reported greater levels of satisfaction and ate less snack food in-between meals.

Just 2 cups of chickpeas contain your entire daily value of dietary fibre. Better yet, they are full of both soluble and insoluble fibre, the latter of which helps lower LDL cholesterol. One study even found that chickpeas lowered cholesterol levels even more than other foods with comparable levels of fibre. Fibre helps keep your digestive system working. It is the part of plants that do not dissolve. That’s why doctors suggest 40% of your diet come from fibre-rich foods, which definitely includes chickpeas. Unfortunately, more and more people struggle with type 2 diabetes. If you are one of the millions of people across the world who need to regulate blood sugar, incorporate legumes like chickpeas into your diet. Doctors recommend starchy legumes and vegetables for their phytochemicals and fibre. Chickpeas digest slowly without spiking blood sugar and lower haemoglobin A1C levels. The protein in chickpeas also helps with nervous system health. Protein amino acids affect neurotransmitters in the brain and help them function properly.

Chickpeas are an important source of selenium, a mineral that supports liver enzyme function and detoxifies cancer-causing compounds from the body. Selenium is also very important for good prostate health. Chickpeas are also a source of folate, which helps in formation of cancer preventing cells in the body.

Coconut Flour
Coconut flour’s biggest attraction is its gluten-free status, meaning it contains none of the gluten protein molecules found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is highly allergenic and can even be deadly for people with Celiac disease (a condition where gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients in food). However, growing evidence – particularly that compiled by Dr. William Davis in his 2011 book, Wheat Belly – suggests that gluten is unhealthy for everyone, and is a leading cause of lethargy, bloating, brain fog and more. Fortunately, gluten-free diets are becoming much easier to adopt thanks to the growing availability of gluten-free flours like coconut flour and others mentioned in this article.

A study published in the December 2006 suggests that adding coconut flour to your diets can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease, lower your cholesterol levels and guard you from cancer and diabetes. The researchers, based in the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in the Philippines, claim that these benefits stem from coconut flour’s unusually high levels of dietary fibre, almost, double that of wheat bran.

Since it is derived from the flesh of the coconut, coconut flour retains a large number of the fats for which coconuts are so beloved by health enthusiasts. A 100 gram serving of coconut flour contains 8.7 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are saturated. Most of these fats are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) – essential protective fats with noted anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. MCTs have also been shown to boost the metabolism, making coconut flour suitable for weight loss diets. Because it is high in fibre yet relatively low in digestible carbohydrates compared to processed flours, coconut flour has a gentle impact on blood sugar levels. This makes it an excellent flour for diabetics, pre-diabetics and anyone else who wants to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Though it is free from gluten proteins, coconut flour contains an impressive number of other proteins. In fact, 100 grams of coconut flour contain 19.3 grams of protein or 38 per cent of our RDI (recommended daily intake) far more protein per serving than other leading flours such as wheat, cornmeal or rye. Consequently, coconut flour is a valuable cooking ingredient for vegan or vegetarian. One downside of coconut flour is that on its own it does not bind and needs the addition of some other flour such as millet, cassava, barley, teff or eggs. Coconut flour also absorbs copious amounts of oil or water.

Fonio
Fonio is one of the preeminent African super foods and holds an honoured place in West African, and particularly Sahel, culture. Nutritionally, it rivals the Ethiopian grain teff. There are two types, white and black but both are actually a type of millet. White fonio is grown in the Sahel area that borders the Sahara Desert, and it does well in dry and grassy savannah as well as in richer climates. Black fonio is found in Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo and is less common and more nutritious. Although fonio is found all over West Africa, it is especially prized in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea and Senegal and the Akposso region of Togo and Central Nigeria.

The fonio plant is fast-growing and can mature from seed to harvest in only 6-8 weeks. It doesn’t need a lot or water or rich soil, which makes it a good crop for soil-depleted and dry land areas that border the Sahel. After they are mature, fonio’s tiny grains must be dried and removed from their husk before they are ready to cook. Before machines did this, the fonio was de-husked with a mortar and pestle, where the grains were pounded. Fonio could also be slowly toasted in a large pan until it popped out of its husk, and then pounded to separate the grain from its covering. Fonio is becoming increasingly popular as a gluten free, nutritious grain that can be used in cooking and baking. It has been an important crop in some parts of Africa because it is highly nutritious, it grows very quickly and it can be grown on land where other cereal crops won’t grow. Even though fonio is highly nutritious and is now gaining a reputation as a superfood, up until recently, it had been very difficult to mass produce because, the grain is so small it was too difficult to remove the husk. Now, however, modern technology has found a way, and the grain that is known as “The Hungry Rice” is now far more readily available. Fonio has more nutritional value than most other grains and is rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc. Here are ten.

The essential amino acids that fonio contains, especially cystine and methionine, help to detoxify the liver and the body. They help the liver to function properly and remove unwanted toxins from the bloodstream. Early studies have suggested that eating fonio could help prevent liver disease and colon cancer. Fonio is often recommended in Africa as a food for pregnant women. It has a high concentration of iron, so it helps to stop anaemia developing, and it also contains folic acid and other amino acids that are beneficial for women during pregnancy.

Fonio has a beloved place on West African plates. It is so full of protein that it even has amino acids that other grains don’t, making it a much more complete protein source. Fonio is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese, and has more of these nutrients, serving-per-serving, than other grains It is also very high in fibre, which makes it a good carbohydrate as it releases its sugar slowly into the blood stream, making for consistent, high energy over a longer period of time.

Green Banana Flour

Because the young bananas are picked before they ripen, their sugar content never fully develops, so they’re lower in natural sugars than when they are ripe. Also, unlike other starchy ingredients such as pasta and white bread – which are rapidly digested, get absorbed as glucose into the bloodstream, and spike up insulin levels – the resistant starch in green bananas slows the release of food through the gut. This slows the insulin response and prevents that sugar spike and consequent sugar crash. Resistant starch is not just any fibre, but prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics support the good bacteria present in the gut, bowel, and colon and are far more powerful and beneficial for our bellies than probiotics as they act as a fertilizer for existing good flora, helping them to grow and work more effectively. This can help with everything from poor digestion to IBS, and it can even help you get a flatter stomach.

Lower in calories than most wheat flours and alternatives like oat and almond flour, it’s an excellent choice for those watching their waistlines. Because of its fibre content, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, making you less likely to reach for that packet of biscuits an hour after lunch. It is also great for those suffering with diabetes for this very reason. High in essential minerals and vitamins including zinc, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, green-banana flour is also abundant in potassium – so much so that just two tablespoons contain the same amount as seven whole bananas! It also helps lower cholesterol, boosts heart health, and aids nerve and muscle activity. So if you’re gluten-intolerant, hooray! Green-banana flour is also grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free, making it perfect for vegans.

Millet

Millet is quite similar to wheat when it comes to the structure of its protein. The one glaring exception is that millet is a non -gluten grain. Wheat contains copious amount of this hard to digest plant protein. When plain millet flour is used for baking bread the resulting loaf is light, white, and quite similar in texture to wheat bread. As a result, people who wish to avoid gluten tend to immediately gravitate to millet bread as the most logical and palatable substitute.

While millet may not contain gluten, it does contain goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances in food that suppress thyroid activity and can lead to goiter, an enlargement of this very important gland which resides in the throat. Low iodine intake can also lead to goitre.
Hypothyroidism, is a serious and sometimes debilitating condition that accompanies a weak, under active or enlarged thyroid such as what occurs with goiter. Depression, difficulty losing weight, loss of hair, cold hands/feet, and fatigue are common hypothyroid symptoms. While the goitrogens in foods that contain them are usually reduced by cooking (such as cruciferous vegetables), cooking actually increases the goitrogenic effect of millet! Therefore, when folks begin eating large amounts of millet bread with a wholesale switch over from wheat, the goitrogenic effects of this simple dietary change can be profound. So go easy on the millet.

Despite this side effect millet has many health benefits. It is one of the few grains that alkalize the body. It also hydrates the colon, decreases triglycerides, is low on the glycaemic index and contains magnesium, is a pre-biotic (food for good gut bacteria) and contains serotonin which contributes to your “feel good” mood.

Sorghum/guinea corn

Because it’s gluten-free, sorghum grains offer a safe alternative to wheat if you follow a gluten-free diet. One nutritional highlight of guinea corn is its mineral content. A 1/4 cup serving contains 13 milligrams of calcium, 2.1 milligrams of iron, 138 milligrams of phosphorus and 168 milligrams of potassium. Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals needed for bone health and strength. Adequate intakes of iron support the transportation of oxygen in your body, and help promote cell growth and development.

Potassium helps maintain fluid balance, and high intakes improve blood pressure. Guinea corn contains about the same and sometimes more protein than many other grains. However, the protein is not as readily absorbed because each protein in the grain is surrounded by a tough protein wall that requires more time to digest. About 46 per cent of the protein in the guinea corn is absorbed. Sorghum/guinea corn is full of fibre, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese. It lowers cholesterol, is good for diabetics and according to the University of Missouri it can inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours. It is also said to prevent blood platelets from clumping together by containing a compound called policosanol.

Teff

Teff, which is grown in Ethiopia and used to make injera, the sourdough flatbread, is a small grain with a long list of health benefits. Teff is a gluten-free grain so it can be a great alternative for those living with celiac disease or crohn’s disease, having gluten intolerance or choosing a gluten-free lifestyle.

Along with being gluten-free, high in iron and super tasty, teff has also recently been recognized as a new super-food and in some cases is referred to as the new quinoa. Teff is also known to help with weight reduction and assists with PMS. It is also ideal for vegetarians looking for sources of non-dairy protein. But one thing to bear in mind is that this super grain is not cheap. Teff is high in protein with a great combination of eight essential amino acids needed for the body’s growth and repair. It has high amounts of calcium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, thiamin, and vitamin C, which is not normally found in grains. The iron from teff is easily absorbed and is also recommended for people with low blood iron levels.

If you are diabetic, you might want to consider adding teff to your diet to control blood sugar levels. Teff contains approximately 20 to 40 per cent resistant starches and has a relatively low glycemic index that can help diabetics better regulate their sugar levels. The fibre content in this tiny little grain can help you regulate your bowel movements and keep you feeling fuller longer. Naturally, this grain is very low in saturated fat.

Because it is low in sodiumTeff is also great for those seeking to lower their blood pressure and maintain a heart healthy diet. Unprocessed teff is a better alternative compared with pre-processed, cooked teff which often comes with preservatives or additives that are high in sodium. If you’re worried, always double check nutritional labels. Part of eating a nutritionally adequate diet is being able to incorporate superfoods like teff into all of your meals. Teff is a versatile grain and can be eaten whole, steamed, boiled or baked. Nowadays, teff is found in a variety of products like pancakes, breads, cereals, snack bars and many other foods. Traditionally, it is used to make Ethiopian injera (sourdough bread). Looking very much like poppy seeds, teff has a nutty, grainy taste and texture that can add dimension to your recipes and cooking. Most Ethiopian platters are served on injera bread.

Quinoa Flour

Quinoa, pronounced “keen wah” is one of the world’s most popular health foods. It is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fibre, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various antioxidants. The Incas referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred.
These days, you can find quinoa and products made with it all over the world, especially in health food stores and restaurants that emphasize natural food. It is non-GMO, gluten free and is usually grown organically. Technically, quinoa is not a grain but is generally regarded as such. It is high in fibre. One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of between 10 and 16 grams of fibre, per every 100 grams. This equals 17-27 grams per cup, which is very high, more than twice as high as most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fibre gram for gram, because it absorbs so much water. Most of the fibre is insoluble fibre, which brings different health benefits to the body from soluble fibre.

The health effects of real foods go way beyond the vitamins and minerals we’re all familiar with. There are thousands of trace nutrients in there, some of which are extremely healthy. This includes interesting molecules called flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health. Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are quercetin and kaempferol, and they happen to be found in large amounts in quinoa. In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries.These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies. There are numerous studies showing that soluble fibre can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss. Quinoa is much higher in fibre than most grains, with one source finding 17-27 grams of fibre per cup. Studies have shown that by using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free ingredients like refined tapioca, potato, corn and rice flour, it can dramatically increase the nutrient and antioxidant value of the diet.

Protein is made out of amino acids. Some of them are termed “essential” because we cannot produce them and need to get them from the diet. If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is seen as a “complete” protein.The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as lysine.However, quinoa is an exception to this, because it contains all the essential amino acids. For this reason, it is an excellent source of protein. It has both more and better protein than most grains. With 8 grams of quality protein per cup, quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

The glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. It is known that eating foods that are high on the glycaemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity Such foods have also been linked to many of the chronic, Western diseases that are so common today, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa has a glycaemic index of 53, which is considered low. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it is still pretty high in carbs, so it is not a good choice for a low carbohydrate diet. There are many nutrients in the modern diet that people tend to be lacking in. This is particularly true of some minerals, especially magnesium, potassium, zinc and (for women) iron. Interestingly, quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals. It is particularly high in magnesium with one cup having about 30% of the RDA. The problem is that it also contains a substance called phytic acid, which can bind these minerals and reduce their absorption. However, by soaking and/or sprouting the quinoa before cooking it, you can reduce the phytic acid content and make these minerals more bioavailable. Quinoa is also pretty high in oxalates, which reduce the absorption of calcium and can cause problems for certain individuals with recurring kidney stones.

A human study found that using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas significantly reduced blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. A study on rats found that adding quinoa to a diet high in fructose almost completely inhibited the negative effects of fructose. Quinoa also happens to be very high in antioxidants which neutralize free radicals and help fight aging and many diseases. Allowing the seeds to sprout seems to increase the antioxidant content even further In order to lose weight we need to take in fewer calories than we burn. It is known that certain properties of foods can facilitate this process, either by boosting metabolism (increasing calories out) or reducing appetite (lowering calories in). Quinoa has several such properties. The last one is not a health benefit, but still incredibly important. It is also tasty and goes well with many foods. Depending on the type of quinoa, it can be important to rinse it with water in order to get rid of saponins, which are found on the outer layer and can have a bitter flavour. It should now have absorbed most of the water and gotten a fluffy look. If done right, it should have a mild, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch.

Now that you know what a wide alternative choice there is to wheat flour, you can try some of them to find out which ones best suit your needs by way of taste and health benefits. You may have to shop around a bit or even go on line to get some of them but your health is worth it, isn’t it?

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are not intended to replace a one to one relationship with your health practitioner nor are they meant as medical advice. You are encouraged to do your own research and make your own decisions in partnership with your medical practitioner.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

619-05757728t.jpg Intermittent fastingIntermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. Hence the word intermittent and numerous studies show that it can have powerful benefits for your body and brain. Fasting is a commonplace practice throughout history and has been a spiritual tradition for thousands of years and today modern science has proven that fasting yields several health benefits…..
 It helps promote insulin sensitivity – Optimal insulin sensitivity is crucial for your health, as insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly all chronic diseases especially diabetes.

 Normalizes ghrelin levels, ghrelin being your “hunger hormone”

 Increases the rate of HGH (human growth hormone) production, which has an important role in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process

 Lowers triglyceride levels

 Helps suppress inflammation and fight free radicals.

Typical fast time should range from 14 to 18 hours, and the longest you should ever abstain from food is 36 hours. You may also opt to delay eating and one way to do this is to skip breakfast and eat your lunch and dinner within a six to eight-hour time frame and stop eating three hours before you go to bed. Fasting will help your body adjust from burning carbs to burning fat. Eating on a six- to eight-hour window can take a few weeks and should be done gradually. Once your body has successfully shifted into fat burning mode, it will be easier for you to fast for as much as 18 hours and still feel satiated. Your craving for sugar will slowly dissipate and managing your weight will be easier.

It is not advisable to practice intermittent fasting if your daily diet is filled with processed foods. Addressing the quality of your diet is crucial before you venture into fasting. It’s critical to avoid the wrong calories, including refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose, and grains. Within the six to eight hours that you do eat, you need to eliminate refined carbohydrates like pizza, bread, and potatoes. Fill your diet with vegetable carbohydrates, healthy protein, and healthy fats such as butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and raw nuts.images.jpg Intermittent fasting

In addition, exercising in a fasted state can help counteract muscle aging and wasting, and boost fat-burning. There are many considerations to take note of when engaging in intermittent fasting. It is not a form of extreme calorie restriction but a practice that should make you feel good. If your fasting strategy is making your feel weak, you need to re-evaluate it. On the days that you work out while fasting, it’s best to consume a recovery meal—ideally consisting of fast-assimilating whey protein—30 minutes after your workout. Finding out what schedule works for you may take some trials and errors.

Intermittent fasting is not something you should carelessly undertake. Always pay close attention to your body and your energy levels. Individuals who are hypo-glycaemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.
When you don’t eat for a while, several things happen in your body. For example, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Here are some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:
 Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning.

 The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits.

 The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells. There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.

Type 2 diabetes has become incredibly common in recent decades. Its main feature is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance. Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels, thus lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes. In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31%. One study in diabetic rats also showed that intermittent fasting protected against kidney damage, one of the most severe complications of diabetes.619-03794170t.jpg Dieting

Oxidative stress is one of the steps towards aging and many chronic diseases. It involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules like protein and DNA and damage them. Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of all sorts of common diseases. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels.

When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy. This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time. Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer. Although human studies are needed, promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer. There is also some evidence on human cancer patients, showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy.619-05757741t.jpg Dieting

What is good for the body is often good for the brain as well. Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic features known to be important for brain health. This includes reduced oxidative stress, reduced inflammation and a reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Several studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells, which should have benefits for brain function. Animal studies have also shown that intermittent fasting protects against brain damage due to strokes.

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative diseases and since there is no known medical cure available preventing it from showing up in the first place is critical. A study in rats shows that intermittent fasting may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or reduce its severity. In a series of case reports, a lifestyle intervention that included daily short-term fasts was able to significantly improve Alzheimer’s symptoms in 9 out of 10 patients. Animal studies also suggest that fasting may protect against other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan. Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction. In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In one of them, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who weren’t fasted. Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.

Complete fasting is when you consume nothing but water for 24 hours, midnight to midnight, at regularly recurring intervals. This kind of calorie restriction has well-documented health benefits, including life extension, but the compliance rate for this kind of program is low. It’s just too severe for the vast majority of people. Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of fasting schedules, including the 5:2 approach which involves eating normally for five days and fasting for two. As a general rule however, intermittent fasting involves cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily. Research shows that alternate-day fasting, where you consume about 500 calories on fasting days and can eat whatever you want on non-fasting days, works equally well for weight loss as complete fasting, and it’s a lot easier to maintain this type of modified fasting regimen.article-0-1A83EED3000005DC-883_634x376.jpg Calorie counting

The main problem relates to compliance. If you’re truly eating just 500 calories in a day, you will lose weight but when eating tiny amounts of food multiple times a day (grazing), you’re far more inclined to want more, so the cheat rate dramatically increases.
Alternate-day fasting is very much in alignment with the Paleo lifestyle that seeks to replicate the behaviours of our ancient ancestors to optimize health. In our ancient past, people did not have access to food around the clock. They would go through periods of feast and famine, which modern research shows actually has biochemical benefits.

The reason so many struggle with their weight (aside from eating processed foods that have been grossly altered from their natural state) is because they’re in continuous feast mode and rarely ever go without a meal. As a result, their bodies have adapted to burning sugar as its primary fuel, which down regulates the enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat. Fasting is an excellent way to “reboot” your metabolism so your body can start burning fat as its primary fuel, which will help you shed your unwanted fat stores. It takes about a week to 10 days or so to get used to intermittent fasting but after a week it becomes much easier.

You don’t have to keep on intermittently fasting forever if this is a lifestyle strategy that doesn’t appeal to you long-term. If you need to lose 50 pounds, you’re looking at about six months or so of intermittent fasting, after which you can revert back to eating more regularly, paying careful attention to your food choices. When you do eat, however, you should eat nutrient dense foods like avocado and coconut products which not only make you feel full but deliver health giving vitamins and minerals to your body, in addition to other benefits. Visit Blackhealth Archives for more articles.

 

 

 

 

 

Cannabis and Coconut a Powerful Duo

No one has ever died of a cannabis overdose yet possession is still illegal in many parts of the world and possession of miniscule amounts can sometimes land you in prison. This reality is at odds with the scientific reports on the health benefits of one of nature’s best healers. These scientific reports suggest that marijuana suppresses cancer, reduces blood pressure, alleviate pain, treats glaucoma and inhibits HIV. Marijuana is also a powerful antioxidant, a neuro-protector and anti-inflammatory,
Although this article focuses more on cannabis oil rather than smoking a “joint” it should be noted that even that use of cannabis does not appear to have the extremely adverse side effects that certain sectors of the community promote. I must also make the point that cannabis oil is NOT illegal.4152719166_8fcf72f726_z.jpg cannabis

The Lancet made an observation in regards to schizophrenia: “A declining incidence of treated cases of schizophrenia over the period when cannabis use has increased suggests, however, that cannabis use is unlikely to have caused cases of schizophrenia that would not otherwise have occurred.” In other words cannabis was not the culprit as those affected would most likely have developed schizophrenia anyway.

The natural compounds found in cannabis essential oil, including the famed THC, which is what gives cannabis the distinction of a drug in many countries, are very good for releasing pleasure hormones and relaxing the mind, reducing stress and inducing a sense of calm and relaxation. Other benefits are listed below.

Appetite Booster: It is well known that people who consume cannabis in other forms notice an increase in appetite famously called “the munchies”. However, cannabis essential oil can help regulate your appetite and induce hunger, while also stimulating your digestive system to operate at a more regular level. This can help people who want to gain weight quickly, particularly after an extended illness or injury recovery.

Cancer Prevention: Although there is still some controversy over this, and a great deal of research is still ongoing, early reports have shown that the active ingredients in cannabis essential oil can have preventative effects on cancer, and can also cause reduction in tumour size, thereby making it easier to effectively beat cancer. A 2008 study by Spain, Italy and France and published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that the active ingredient in marijuana (THC) can function as a cure for brain cancer. The study also concluded that via the same biological process THC could terminate many types of cancers affecting various cells in the body. Apparently, unlike chemotherapy, cannabinoids do not affect healthy cells.images.jpg cannabis plant

Glaucoma: In terms of eye health, cannabis and cannabis essential oil have been linked to a reduction in glaucoma and a prevention of macular degeneration. Eye health is one of the major reasons why people turn to cannabis essential oil as they age.

Skin Protection: The powerful components of cannabis essential oil are also used to protect the skin, and can be consumed or applied externally to achieve important results. It can stimulate the shedding of dead skin and faster re-growth of glowing skin. It is also known to prevent eczema and psoriasis. Although there are many recipes which demonstrate the versatility of cannabis, it is at its most potent when used in its raw state as heat destroys certain enzymes and nutrients, whereas raw allows the body to absorb more of the said enzymes and nutrients that would have been lost through cooking. Raw cannabis is considered by many experts as a dietary essential. As a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, raw cannabis may be in the same league as garlic and turmeric.

Coconut Oil

No longer vilified and now regarded as possibly the best oil for cooking, among other things coconut oil has been credited with a plethora of health benefits, to the extent that it could be considered a panacea. To my mind it is simply the best oil there is, considering what it does in the human body. Imagine then what the result would be if you were to use it in conjunction with cannabis oil which comes with its own vast array of health giving properties. Here is an in depth look at coconut oil.

Heart diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. In reality, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Coconut oil does not lead to increase in LDL” bad cholesterol” levels, and it reduces the incidence of injury and damage to arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.SONY DSC

Weight loss: Coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight by reducing abdominal obesity. It is also easy to digest and helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Further, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy, hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who use coconut oil every day as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.
Immunity: Coconut oil strengthens the immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids (fats), lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which research has supported as an effective way to deal with viruses and bacteria that cause diseases like herpes, influenza and even HIV. Coconut oil also helps in fighting harmful bacteria like listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Digestion: Coconut oil helps to improve the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion-related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can cause indigestion. Like the avocado it also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Candida: Candida, also known as Systemic Candidiasis, is a tragic disease caused from excessive and uncontrolled growth of yeast called Candida Albicans in the stomach. Coconut provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida, both externally and internally. Its high moisture retaining capacity keeps the skin from cracking or peeling off. Capric acid, Caprylic acid, caproic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid found in coconut oil help in eliminating Candida albicans.images.jpg coconut oil

Unlike pharmaceutical treatments for candida, the effects of coconut oil are gradual and not drastic or sudden, which gives the consumer an appropriate amount of time to get used to the withdrawal symptoms which occur when the body ejects toxins. When applied to infected areas, coconut oil forms a chemical layer that protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and viruses. It is highly effective on bruises because it speeds up the healing process of damaged tissues. According to the Coconut Research Centre, coconut oil kills the viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, and other serious health risks. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhoea.

Finally, coconut oil is also effective in the elimination of fungi and yeast that cause ringworm, athlete’s foot thrush, and diaper rash.
The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases because they are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing its work load and also preventing accumulation of fat. Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases, helps to dissolve kidney stones and is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Applying coconut oil to the head, followed by a gentle massage, helps to eliminate mental fatigue.

According to research virgin coconut oil gives relief from stress and has antioxidant properties. Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes. As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for the development of bones. Calcium is an important component of our teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in developing strong teeth and also prevents tooth decay. Recent research suggests that coconut oil is beneficial in reducing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.

Coconut oil is often used by athletes, body builders and dieters because it contains fewer calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy, and it does not lead to an accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps boost energy and endurance, and generally enhances the performance of athletes. There is also an abundance of anecdotal information about coconut oil’s effect on Alzheimer’;s disease suggesting that it has the ability to cross the “blood/brain” barrier and energize cells which are lacking in glucose.coconut_coconuts_exotic_222196

Coconut oil as Carrier Oil: Carrier oils are those oils, which easily penetrate or absorb into the skin and thus facilitate seepage or absorption of other oils (such as essential oils) and herbal extracts through the skin when mixed into it. Coconut oil is easily absorbed through the skin’s pores and thus is used as carrier oil. Furthermore, being one of the most stable oils, it doesn’t go rancid, nor does it let the other oils, herbal extracts, or medicines spoil inside of it. Coconut oil does not alter the properties of the oils and herbs mixed within it. Coconut oil also protects the herbs and oils from microbial or fungal interactions.

If you are using coconut oil for topical purposes, especially hair care, just melt the oil (if it is solid) by keeping the bottle in the sun or soaking it in warm water. You can also take some coconut oil out and put it in a small bowl and heat the bowl over a flame (don’t use a microwave). Then, take the oil on your palm and apply it to your hair. If you want to use it for internal consumption, simply replace butter or vegetable oils with coconut oil in your recipes. Remember coconut oil is anti-allergenic, meaning that very few people are allergic to it. Most people who shy away from it do so mainly because they dislike the smell.

Given the above, ask yourself what health benefits would be derived if you were to combine both of these oils in your daily diet. Firstly you cook with the coconut oil and then you add a teaspoon or less of cannabis oil on your salad instead of olive oil. Alternatively if you are vegan or even vegetarian you could use it on your main meal. Imagine using two of the best oils together in one meal.

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Rev up Metabolism to Lose Weight

Summer is almost here and you want to look and feel your best. You want to lose weight and be full of energy. You want to get into smaller clothes, look sharp, get those admiring looks and feel good within yourself. The quickest, easiest and longest lasting way to do this is by reving up your metabolism.

What is this metabolism and why should we want to “rev it up”? Metabolism is the name given to all the chemical processes that go on continually in your body to keep you alive and your organs functioning normally, such as breathing, repairing cells, and digesting foods. It is affected by age, gender, physical activity, food intake and body composition. Studies have shown that overweight people do not necessarily have slow metabolism but the opposite. This has to do with the amount of energy required to maintain a larger body. Research has also shown that people tend to eat more than they think they do. When it comes to boosting your metabolism nutrition is the first thing you should address and there are many nutrients that can help in this regard; nutrients such as folate, vitamins C, B12 and E, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc to name a few.indexblack couple exercising

Exercise is the best way to build muscles, which in turn drives your metabolic engine and we know that muscle burns twice as many calories as fat. However, as you cannot exercise all day, and your age may prevent you from engaging in some physical exercises you have to answer the question as to how you keep the metabolic fire switched on, even when you are cannot exercise. Here are ways to rev up your metabolism.

Sleep is of paramount importance and when you do not get enough your body increases the production of stress hormones, one of which is cortisol. This results in an increase in your appetite meaning that you eat more and as a result you put on weight. Lack of sleep also makes it difficult for the body to metabolize carbohydrates which can lead to high blood sugar levels which cause an increase in insulin production. This is a signal to the body to store unused energy as fat. People who continue to sleep poorly have a higher chance of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss.

Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest and helps your body eliminate waste and toxins that accumulate from ordinary eating and drinking. This cleansing of your internal organs helps to increase your metabolism. After you have fasted for eighteen hours your body releases human growth hormone which allows it to burn fat and maintain muscle. This is what makes intermittent fasting so beneficial.images collection of spices 1

It has been suggested that spices can boost your metabolism by up to 50%. This means that if you cannot get to the gym for a physical work out and you do not engage in brisk walks for half an hour each day you can still improve your metabolism by adding certain herbs and spices to your diet. Some of these will benefit your metabolism and overall good health in different ways. Turmeric, for instance, is a thermogenic herb (tending to produce heat) which not only helps with digestion but also increases the production of bile which helps to break down fats. It also helps in the removal of toxins from the liver. Ginger not only raises body temperature but also helps the cells in muscle tissue use more oxygen and cinnamon and garlic help boost blood circulation. Another herb with superior thermogenic properties is cayenne pepper which is said to increase metabolism by up to 25%. Chillis also have the same effect due to the compound capsaisin, which gives them their “bite”. Hot peppers also reduce your cravings for food. Green tea, a thermogenic herb also has a positive effect on metabolism among its other health giving properties. Three cups a day with added lemon or lime and a dash of cayenne pepper can increase metabolism by about 10 %. Black pepper is said to improve digestion, help with the absorption of nutrients and burn as much calories as a 20 minute walk. Remember, when walking, speed up for about 30 seconds then go back to normal. Do this repeatedly for greatest effect. Other herbs that have a positive effect on metabolism are cinnamon and oregano.

Water makes up more than half of your body weight, about 50% to 60% for women and 60% to 65% for men. Every day you lose water through perspiration and the elimination of waste. If this water is not replenished, dehydration sets in, which compromises your metabolic process and slows down your cellular functions.free_8899134.jpg Water Women need about 2.7 litres of water a day and men about 3.5 litres. About 20% of this requirement comes from foods you eat and the remainder comes from drinking water and other beverages. Tests have shown that those who drank about two litres of water per day burnt more calories at a higher rate than those who drank less and this while resting. Drinking water also increases thermogenesis, the process of heat generation in humans. Water, itself, does not directly increase metabolism. The increased hydration which comes from drinking water increases the volume of blood, which in turn facilitates the transport of oxygen to the cells and also the transport of waste out of the cells, which increases the efficiency of the cells themselves. Drinking two litres of water will increase your metabolism by 30%.

Eating more frequently may not be practical due to work routines but every time you eat your body experiences the thermic effect of food, which causes increased metabolism. Eating something small every three hours, a concept known as grazing, can keep your metabolism raised but avoid energy drinks, caffeine, trans- fats, sodas and alcohol.index.jpg Coconut oil in jar
However, when you think of foods that speed up metabolism and assist with permanent weight loss the first that should come to mind is coconut. Coconut consists of medium chain fatty acids which are burnt by the liver immediately and do not get stored as fat. It is very easy to add coconut to your daily regime and enjoy the other numerous health benefits of perhaps the best fruit there is. Grapefruit is also a very effective food item for speeding up metabolism but should not be eaten by anyone who is taking statin drugs or warfarin, the blood thinning drug. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids, omega 3, B vitamins and chromium and for this reason are important with regard to metabolism. Brown rice and quinoa are complex carbohydrates and like all other carbohydrates they release their energy slowly over a period of time. The result of this is that you feel fuller for longer and do not suffer the spikes that are associated with simple carbohydrates. Because you are feeling fuller for longer you are therefore inclined to eat less which results in weight loss.Fibre

Protein has a very high thermic effect and your body will burn more calories to digest it than it would with carbohydrates. Whether the protein comes from animal sources or plants does not matter. If your protein comes from animal sources ensure that the animals have been grass fed and not battery farmed. If, however, it comes from plant sources like beans and legumes make sure you are eating a wide variety to ensure you are getting the full spectrum of amino acids.