Category Archives: Balanced diets

Importance of Dietary Fiber and its Benefits

How important is fiber to the proper function of our bodies? In this article we look in deep about the different types of fiber and what their roles are.

Lots of importance is placed on vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies for our everyday supplementation, but one of the fundamental elements to good health lies in the amount of fiber we eat.

The fiber we consume, called roughage, come from grain husks, the skins and flesh of fruit and the tough, fibrous material in vegetables. It is unable to be broken down by digestive enzymes and is not able to be absorbed into the system as it passes through the stomach and intestine. Fiber has few, if any, calories or nutrients, and is usually processed out of the many packaged foods consumed today.

There are two different types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber play important roles in keeping your digestive system running right. No single food, not even popular bran, is a good source of all the beneficial types of fiber.

Insoluble Fiber – Found in whole grain products, seeds, fresh fruits and veggie – provides bulk, making movements easier and helping to avoid constipation. Scientists studying diets high in fiber and low in fat speculate that insoluble fiber may avoid various gastrointestinal difficulties and could reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber has been proven to help lower cholesterol. Found in oat bran and dried beans, it tends to slow down the release of food from the stomach, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable so that you can avoid the feeling of fatigue and weakness connected with low blood sugar levels.

How Dietary Fiber Works

Fiber is an essential part of our diets. High fiber foods are filling, but low in calories, so they aid in the management of weight. Fiber has a very important role to play in maintaining a healthy body. By increasing the bulk of fecal material, it aids in the efficient passage of waste products through the intestine. It also draws in water from the surrounding blood vessels, which softens the stools, making elimination more regular and easier, thus helping to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. By reducing the absorption of digested fats, blood cholesterol levels are lowed, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

Every adult should eat about 25-30 grams of fiber a day. However, the people nowadays eating the typical Western diet high in animal fats and refined carbohydrates, consumes only about half the amount needed. The National Academy of Sciences recently upped its fiber guidelines to 25g daily for women and 38g daily for men. For children add 5g to your child’s age for the proper amount.

In summary of the benefit of fiber as below:

–  Fiber absorbs and holds moisture in the digestive system, acting like a sponge and making the contents of the colon softer and more bulky. This reduces the amount of time waste materials stay in our 30 foot span of intestinal tract and also eases their passage, lowering the pressure in the colon.

 

–  Fiber reduces problems from constipation and diverticulitis which is a weakening if the wall of large intestine caused by pressure from hard stools and is usually accompanied with infection. Fiber cleans the intestines by means of its natural scrubbing action.

 

–  By increasing the transit rate of materials through the colon, fiber lessens the chance of harmful effects from a number of drugs, food additives and chemicals. It also helps remove toxins released during digestion.

 

–  A diet high in dietary fiber may lower blood cholesterol levels simply by reducing the transit time of dietary cholesterol through the gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the absorption of cholesterol from foods.

How to lower Cholesterol naturally?

Our heart is an amazing muscle. It supplies nutrients and oxygen to all our vital organs and body parts. It beats on average 100,000 times a day and pumps the equivalent of 2,000 gallons of blood each day. With all the work our hearts do it seems only logical we should take care of it as well as it takes care of us. Yet in most of the country, the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death is coronary heart disease also known as coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs when a substance made up of cholesterol deposits called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, pretty much the same as what happens to our home plumbing pipes. When this happens, your arteries can narrow over time, this is called atherosclerosis. A heart attack occurs when plaque totally blocks an artery carrying blood to the heart.

We eat foods high in saturated fats, like fast food instead of natural home cooked meals. We drink soft drinks or sports drinks instead of water. We pass over the veggies for starchy foods or end up slathering them in high fat dip. We eat until our stomachs feel like they are going to burst or continue to eat 3 or more helpings in the buffet line. We even choose candy bars and other sweets instead of reaching for fruits to satisfy our cravings. In moderation and with limitations these “treats” are not necessarily bad for us; but the amounts we consume on a normal basis are usually larger portions than we need. It is also contributing to one of the unhealthiest societies where teenage obesity is up along with childhood diabetes.

We can change how and what we eat; we can choose the healthier foods and smaller portions sizes. We can cut back on alcohol and get reasonable amounts of exercise. Quitting smoking and eating a diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fish, non-fat or low-fat dairy products and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can also make a significant difference. Some things we cannot change; such as, older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD (cardiovascular disease) but we may be able to impact these areas in beneficial ways.

Studies have shown the maintaining of normal cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure and including vitamin D, CoQ10, garlic, magnesium, fiber and Omega fatty acids in our diets promote cardiovascular health. Important helpers are magnesium and vitamin D. Why are these supplements important?

  • CoQ10 – Helps produce energy in each cell, particularly those in the heart and other major organs. Since it has powerful antioxidant properties, it helps prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation. Although the human body can synthesize CoQ10, in some situations the body’s capacity to produce CoQ10 isn’t sufficient to meet its needs. CoQ10 levels reach their peak in the human body by age 20 and fall slowly thereafter.

 

  • Garlic – Studies show that garlic promotes cardiovascular health by helping to retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally when used as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol.  Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has been shown to be  responsible for many beneficial actions, including the support for the maintenance of healthy levels of beneficial microorganisms.

Source of fiber

  • Fiber – There are two types of fiber in foods and we need both. Insoluble fiber, found in the outer layer of grains such as wheat bran, promote a healthy digestive system and colon health. Heart health benefits come from soluble fiber, the type of fiber found in oats and apples. Increasing soluble fiber intake helps naturally lower blood cholesterol and blood-sugar levels.

 

  • Omega fatty acids – Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Research also shows that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health and help retain normal blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Omega-3s also support healthy brain, vision, and joint function.

  

  • Magnesium – A major helper in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscular activity, temperature regulation, detoxification reactions, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth. Magnesium also increases oxygenation of the heart muscle by improving how it contracts and moves and is involved in energy production and the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

 

  • Vitamin D – Researchers have linked low vitamin D intakes to osteoporosis or brittle bones, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and certain cancers. As such, the scientific community is advocating higher intake of vitamin D to address the suboptimal vitamin D blood levels found in many Americans.

 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends adding 2,000mg of PHYTOSTEROLS to your diet each day to lower cholesterol levels naturally. Plant phytosterols have been clinically proven by more than 80 studies to lower LDL cholesterol.  Phytosterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestines, leaving cholesterol behind. This means the more Phytosterols you have; the less cholesterol is absorbed by the body and the better your chances for lowering your LDL cholesterol.

Shaklee PHYTOCOL-ST is a proprietary formulation with clinically proven ingredients that help block the absorption of cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. It made with a powerful blend of phytosterols, which are found naturally in plants, fruits, vegetables, and grains. It delivers 2,000 mg of plant phytosterols daily or 100% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommendation for phytosterols.  It has no added preservatives, colors, flavors or sweeteners.

Being healthy isn’t something that just happens; we have to work at it. Finding the right kind of help can make all the difference in how we live and feel. Reducing cholesterol naturally by watching what we put into our bodies will go a long way in our overall level of health.

Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic has been used by people for centuries. From Mesopotamia to ancient Egypt to Babylon, the Greeks to Medieval times and up through our modern era its benefits have been observed and scientifically proven. Medical history records the medicinal effects of garlic have been consistent and in use as medicine as a diuretic, digestive aid, antibiotic, anti-paracitic, anti-congestant, to soothe continuous coughing, clearing arteries, treat asthma, colds, edema, and cancer prevention among other uses.

References to garlic can be found throughout history but in 1562 the first valid work on herbs by William Turner, herbalist to Queen Elizabeth I, was published as William Turner’s New Herbal. In 1812 garlic was used extensively by doctors in England and can be found in Jonathan Stoke’s, A Botanical Materia Medica. It lists comments on garlic from over forty medical books of the time. If garlic did not work well, it would have fallen out of the historical record some time ago. Instead, it has cemented itself in medical and human history, truly withstanding the test of time.

Since around the time of the Industrial Revolution the search for the chemical constituents of plant medicines began to appear. We got morphine from the opium poppy, quinine from chichona bark and aspirin from the willow.  This is also the time work on garlic started.

Scientists wanted to know why it worked and what made the distinct smell of garlic when it was cut or crushed. They found in the garlic bulb there is alliin and alliinase in a non-reactive state. When the bulb is crushed or cut the components combine to form allicin which has health enhancing properties.

Allicin can then break down into ajoene and the some 70 sulfur-containing garlic oils, most of which can help our health in a different way than allicin. These eventually break down into a mixture of polysulfides which have no health or medical value. This means in a few weeks or months extracts will lose all their power unless protected in some way. Fresh garlic contains the most health benefits. Boiling garlic completely removes all benefits.

 These compounds make up a tiny fraction, only 0.1% to 0.36% of the total weight of a garlic bulb. Other compounds include: water, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins 1,2 and 3, vitamin C, zinc, calcium, manganese, germanium, selenium, copper, iron, adenosine (a nucleic acid).

A few points on these compounds: B1 is bound to the allicin, very rare in the plant kingdom. The combination called allithiamine is extremely easy to absorb and is used in Japan in nutritional supplements. Adenosine is a nucleic acid, a building block of DNA and RNA which contributes to garlic’s beneficial effects on the blood; plus garlic contains more of this substance than any other plant food.

Germanium and selenium minerals are both present in significant amounts which have been discussed in literature as being anticancer substances. The carbohydrates consist of at least 10 different sugars. One of these, scordinin, is regarded by the Japanese as a basic health enhancer.

The Evidence Mounts

With more than two decades of use as a supplement, you can imagine that the tiny herb and cooking spice has been studied constantly. Its power over cholesterol seems to hold up over and over again!

A study took 220 individuals, divided into two groups. One group took 800 milligrams of powered garlic for a period of four months. The other group took an inert placebo.

The group with the active garlic supplement experienced a 12 percent drop in their lipid levels. The group that took the placebo, by the way, experienced no significant change in their lipid levels.

Interestingly, garlic is so effective at reducing cholesterol that it’s considered a licensed medicine in Germany for the treatment of atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries.

In a German study, a group of individuals were placed on a low-fat diet. Their cholesterol count fell by 10 percent before it stabilized. The researchers then added a garlic supplement to their daily habits. This prompted another 10 percent drop in their cholesterol.

In another study, this one conducted at Tulane University of Medicine in New Orleans, 42 individuals were divided into 2 groups. Each group had elevated cholesterol levels. One received 900 mg of garlic extract — divided among three capsules daily. The second group received a placebo.

At the end of 12 weeks, those who took the garlic had a six percent drop in total cholesterol. On average, total lipid counts went from a high of 262 mg/dL to 247 mg/dL. Specifically, the bad cholesterol dropped about 11 percent, from 188 to 168 mg/dL.

This compared with those participants who took the placebo, whose total cholesterol fell no more than three percent. If you decide to take a garlic supplement, you can expect to experience a drop of close to 10 percent in your total cholesterol.

Because of garlic’s recognized importance as a fantastic aid to health through all of history and its newly discovered significance for our generation, garlic’s chemistry has been well researched. Literally hundreds of compounds interact within garlic to make it one of the best health foods of history and modern times. The sulfur compounds work to interfere with many bad compounds that cause viral and bacterial infections, cancers, cholesterol, blood clots etc.

Eating raw garlic is the best way to get the benefits but garlic breath can cause the loss of friends, relatives and others close to you. Some people can get a temporary upset tummy from consuming raw garlic while others can get a rash from handling raw garlic. The garlic in the stores is not fresh, it is usually harvested between July and November, the freshest garlic is the best for you. To get consistent potency and a measured delivery of the beneficial materials garlic should be consumed in a food supplement form.

Look for a pure, natural and pesticide free garlic product, preferably one that uses the cool-dry process. This will preserve as much of the active ingredients as possible. The label should state how much dried and fresh garlic is in each capsule or tablet. It should also tell you how many pills equal one clove of garlic; 1-2 cloves is usual for prevention of circulatory problems, 3 cloves is minimum for therapeutic effects such as antibacterial. It is also vital that the garlic you use has the distinct smell of garlic; the smell should be apparent when you break open a pill or capsule and/or put it into water.

Shaklee’s Garlic Complex combines the health benefits of garlic with the antioxidant properties of spearmint and rosemary. This supplement helps with cholesterol and healthy levels of microorganisms among other benefits.

Studies show that garlic promotes cardiovascular health by helping to retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally when used as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol.  Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has been shown to be responsible for many beneficial actions, including the support for the maintenance of healthy levels of beneficial microorganisms.

Garlic Complex

  • Helps retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels*
  • Promotes cardiovascular health*
  • Helps maintain healthy levels of beneficial microorganisms*
  • Unique Shaklee formulation
  • Combines the health benefits of garlic with the antioxidant properties of spearmint and rosemary*

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

10 things you can do to promote strong and healthy heart

Did you know, heart disease is the number one killer among Malaysian and is two and a half times as common as dying from all cancers combined as reported by the National Heart Association of Malaysia. The good news is more is known today about how to prevent heart disease from happening in the first place. You are able to reduce your risk for heart disease. Taking care of our overall health, is one way to take care of our hearts. It’s all about diet and lifestyle.

Here are top 10 things you can do to promote a strong and healthy heart:

1. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains

One of the best weapons for fighting off heart disease is eating a healthful diet. So forgot the hamburger and French fries and fuel up on whole grains and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

2. Lose weight, especially belly fat

Excess belly fat has been linked to high cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Losing just 5% – 10% of your body weight can make a big difference in reducing heart disease risk.

3. Boost your vitamin D intake

Vitamin D helps build and maintain strong bones, but recent research suggests it may also play a role in heart health. If you’re like most Americans and not getting enough from your diet or sun exposure, supplements can be a great option.

4. Consume more fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high triglycerides and high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends consuming two servings of fish per week. Consider fish oil supplements, especially if you don’t eat fish.

5. Consider CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like substance vital for energy production especially in the heart. As an antioxidant it also helps promote healthy arteries. While your body does make CoQ10, factors such as aging, poor diet and the use of statin drugs for cholesterol lowering may increase the body’s need for CoQ10.

6. Move more – aim for 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days of the week

Regular physical activity promotes a healthy heart. It helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, helps control weight, reduces anxiety, and improves blood circulation.

7. If you are a smoker, get help to stop today!

Cigarette smoke can damage your heart and blood vessels as well as increase your risk for many cancers. When it comes to heart disease prevention, any amount of smoking is bad.

8. Don’t forget regular health screenings

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar are all risk factors for heart disease. Talk to your doctor today about these important health screenings.

9. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation

Moderate alcohol intake may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for a woman and two drinks a day for a man.

10. Take time to de-stress

Over time, chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies – slowing digestion, weakening immune function and increasing the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. So take time to de-stress your life. Think about what you truly must get done, set priorities, and learn to say “no.”

 

 

More Free Radicals Now Than In The Past

Our bodies produce free radicals all the time as a natural process of our cells using oxygen. There is no problem as long as there is a balance of antioxidants to free radicals in our system. When our bodies fall out of balance there is nothing to stop the hungry charge of free radicals as they seek to replace what they have lost and as a result many enzyme systems are affected.

It is estimated that 80%-90% of all degenerative diseases involve free radical activity. Antioxidants lessen free radical damage. The list is growing daily on the studies which have identified more than 60 health conditions that may be prevented or treated with antioxidant supplementation.

In generations past food was eaten as fresh as possible or it would rot. The nutritional value or composition of the food was not altered by synthetic or artificial compounds like it is today. Almost everywhere we look there is processed food and with that free radical oxidation. This contributes to the health or “unhealthy” crisis we are dealing with right now as a nation.

There are more free radicals in today’s day than in the past for many reasons. The main two are: the over processing of our food which leads to the depletion of antioxidants, and the environmental toxins we come in contact with on a daily basis. In addition to the free radicals we produce in a normal day, we also produce more during exercise, after physical trauma, after any injury, during infections and emotional stress, after strokes and heart attacks and with those who smoke, take most any drug, drink lots of alcohol, and during exposure to both solar and background radiation.

The other main “new” source of free radicals is the amazing number and diversity of chemicals we now have in our water, air and food. Did you know that there are over 80,000 synthetic chemicals used in industry today? The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has full toxicity data on less than one-quarter of them and manufacturers are bringing new chemicals to market at the rate of almost 1,000 per year. Tragically, only around 500 have been tested to see if they cause cancer and most provide little data on what health impacts these compounds have. Practically none are tested to discover oxidative potential.

Here are some facts to be aware of. At least 70% of the processed foods in your grocery store contain at least one genetically engineered ingredient that has never been tested for its potential harm and most have more than one altered compound. There are more than 3,000 synthetic chemicals that are regularly added to U.S. food products; hardly any have been tested for their interactive toxin-producing effects in the human body. Most vitamins and supplements sold in stores that advertise themselves as organic, holistic or natural are actually synthetic chemical concoctions that contain coal tar, preservatives, artificial colours, and a vast range of other potentially harmful additives, some of which they don’t “technically” have to put on the label.

Think about this, in the 9 or so vaccines given to your children before they enter school are harmful additives and preservatives, including mercury, aluminum, MSG, formaldehyde and others linked to disorders ranging from brain and nerve damage to autism and ADD. Medical evidence is coming out that suggests the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may cause brain tumours, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The numbers get higher if you include pepperoni at the same time, say on a pizza. The occurrence of these diseases has risen dramatically in proportion with the expanded use of synthetic sweeteners and food additives

Chemical hazards we come in contact with include pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and other animal drugs, cleaning supply toxins as well as naturally occurring toxins, food additives, allergens and toxic chemicals that can get into food through the process of manufacturing. Think of the processing aids added to food so it keeps its colour and texture longer. Smog is a storehouse of oxidant particles. There are over 20 chemical compounds in smog that promote oxidation reactions; such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides.

A once pristine area can be so altered by environmental change that we hardly recognize it or remember what it used to look like. Think of metapolitan ; where once was clear, pure air now people with breathing problems are asked not to live there for health reasons. We are exposed to oxidant-producing chemicals on a level unheard of in the history of our planet. Most of this stuff is new to recent generations and all of it has to be broken down by the body as it detoxifies itself. During the detoxification process our bodies literally become a free radical factory, releasing free radicals on a massive scale.

The only way to prevent total damage is to ingest more antioxidants and limit oxidant exposure. Eating fresh deeply coloured fruits and vegetables on a consistent, daily basis will help. Incorporate these foods into your normal dishes; buy vegetables and use them to cook stew or chop up cabbage and kale or eggplant and fry them with ground hamburger meat to make sloppy Joes or tacos or Sheppard’s pie. Buy as many colourful veggies as you can, chop sauté and season, add some tomatoes, season again, and blend until mostly smooth to make your own spaghetti/pizza sauce. You will never go back to store brand again.

Another way to get more antioxidants is to take good, reputable supplements. Make sure you check on the manufacturer before you buy anything, they should have information about themselves around the web. Many companies have had to deal with recalls, so you will want to do your homework. You also want to limit exposure to toxins. Go green with tough natural cleaning products. Shaklee’s products has no toxins, is biodegradable, and will get rid of all the nasty chemicals you have floating around your home.

 

 

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