Our Need for Choline; Reconsider the Egg

Choline is a critical nutrient for our health, but many people are deficient in it. It might just be time to reconsider eggs, a natural source of choline, in our diets.

— Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

Choline doesn’t get a lot of press, but just like the nutrients, we hear a lot about (vitamin C, iron, and folic acid) it is vitally important to our health. Essential for helping to maintain memory, cognition and muscle control, fend off fatty liver disease, and ensuring proper development in the womb, our need for choline begins even before we are born.

Choline and Pregnancy

Studies suggest that choline may be a very important partner for folic acid (another nutrient essential in prenatal nutrition) in reducing the risk of birth defects, such as spina bifida. Both folic acid and choline are important for the closure of the neural tube during the early weeks of pregnancy, setting the stage for the proper development of the spinal cord and brain.

Choline, like omega 3 fatty acids, also appears to give the brain a boost during the third trimester of pregnancy, enhancing the ability of the child to learn and retain information. But when it comes to choline in pregnancy, the area that intrigues me the most is the possibility that this nutrient helps protect the baby from maternal stress, actually changing the expression of epigenetic markers associated with the regulation of stress hormones in the developing baby. When babies are subjected to high maternal levels of stress hormones, it can increase the risk of preterm birth and likelihood of depression, anxiety, hypertension, and diabetes later in the child’s life. While it is too soon to know for certain, ensuring adequate choline intake during pregnancy may offer the child a lifelong edge against stress driven disorders. Unfortunately, studies show that many pregnant women do not meet the RDA of 450 mg per day of choline. And if you are breastfeeding your baby, the RDA is 550 mg per day!

Choline and Liver Health

Our dependence on choline, however, is really just getting started after we are ushered into the world. Once the fats and cholesterol we’ve consumed in our diet have made their way to the liver, they get repackaged in the form of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and carried off to other parts of the body for use. However, choline is needed to produce VLDL. Without adequate choline, fats build up in the liver, leading to a condition known as the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD. It is estimated that roughly 1 in 5 American adults have NAFLD, which can lead to cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Treatment is possible but your best bet for liver health is definitely prevention.

Where to Find Choline

So where to get this relatively unknown yet vital micronutrient? Fortunately, choline is surprisingly easy to add to the diet. Specifically beef, wheat germ, scallops, salmon, chicken, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, peanuts, and milk all contain choline, but the goldmine source is eggs, which contain a choline-rich yolk center. Many of you know I raise my own chickens and I love enjoying their free-range, omega 3-rich eggs. One whole egg contains about 30-40% of the recommended daily intake of 425mg of choline per day for adult women, and there is as much choline in one egg as there is in a whole pound of cauliflower! Famous for being on the “on this list, off the list” health guidance, in my opinion, the egg has gotten a bad rap. Knowing what we know about choline’s lifelong benefits for our bodies, I think it’s time we put eggs back on the menu.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19593156 http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/choline FASEB J. 2012 Aug; 26(8):3563-74. Lazo M, et al. Am J Epidemiol 2013; 178(1):38-45.

Comment:

From Harvard School of Public Health, “A solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet. Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet.” And the US government is considering dropping its recommendation to limit cholesterol in the diet, as many other European countries have. I would say that the jury is not completely in when it comes to those who already have established heart disease and diabetes. If you fall into one of those categories, it still might be wise to limit egg yolks to 3-4 per week.

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The Ultimate Candida Diet Program

Ten years ago, few people knew about the significance of candida overgrowth, let alone the health benefits of embarking on a candida diet program. But today, thanks to new attitudes on the detriments of excess sugar consumption, and a growing interest in natural health and nutrition, more and more people are asking about diet as a way to cleanse candida. Here we’ll explain everything you need to know about candida and candida diets so you can determine if a candida diet is right for you.

What Is Candida?

Candida is a type of fungus (a yeast to be exact) that resides in your body’s microbiome—which includes the intestinal tract, skin, mucosa, and genitals. There are many strains of candida, but the most common is Candida albicans.

Candida is nothing new—nor is it necessarily something to be feared. Candida is not a “bad” thing in and of itself. In fact, every living person is harboring multiple strains of candida at all times. Candida becomes an issue when it overgrows and crowds out other beneficial microbes. When this happens, it disrupts the balance of beneficial bacteria, fungus, and yeasts in your gut microbiota, resulting in a slew of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

What Causes Candida Overgrowth?

The main factors that lead to candida yeast overgrowth include:

  • A weak immune system
  • Antibiotic use
  • Steroid use
  • Chronic stress
  • Overconsumption of sugar and starches
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Diabetes
  • Surgery and time spent in an intensive care unit.
  • Use of the birth control pill

Common Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth in Men and Women

Sugar cravings are the most common symptom of candida overgrowth, and the reason is that sugars and refined starches(AKA carbohydrates) are candida’s preferred source of fuel. Other common symptoms include:

  • Fungal infections of the skin, throat, esophagus, and blood
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Chronic yeast infections
  • Mood swings and mental health issues (due to the disturbance of the gut bacteria)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Psoriasis and eczema

The Candida Diet Plan: Your Best Defense Against Candida Overgrowth

The best natural way to overcome candida overgrowth and restore balance is to abide by a candida diet plan coupled with specific natural remedies. The candida diet is a simple, sugar elimination diet that restricts sugars, starches, and a few other foods, while still offering a great variety to choose from.

The candida diet works by “starving” the excess candida and taking away their primary food sources (namely sugars), while simultaneously rebuilding your gut microbiota with nourishing, probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods. Although you won’t go hungry on this diet, there are some foods that you’ll need to avoid. Let’s take a look at some of those foods.

Candida-Diet_infographic_final-mobile-1

The Candida Diet Plan Part 1: Foods to Avoid

Though there is much to be said about bending the rules when it comes to traditional “dieting” (a practice I don’t recommend), in a candida diet these rules must be followed to achieve results. When you’re done with the diet and your candida is in check, you can go back enjoying a more flexible eating routine.

1. All Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Since sugar is candida’s preferred food source, removing sugar is the most vital key to your success. The same goes for artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are not allowed as they often contain harmful chemicals or allergens. They have been linked to a slew of health issues including weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. The list of sugars and artificial sweeteners to avoid includes:

  • All artificial sweeteners, including sugar alcohols
  • Barley malt
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Honey (raw or otherwise, which I normally recommend, but not when it comes to candida)
  • Maple sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Palm syrup
  • Panela sugar
  • Rapadura sugar
  • Sucanat
  • Sugar-containing foods including sauces, beverages, etc.
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Turbinado sugar
  • White sugar

2. Gluten and Gluten-Containing Grains

Though some experts recommend removing all grains while on a candida cleanse, I allow gluten-free grains because of their nutritional value. The gluten-containing grains to avoid include:

  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Kamut
  • Oats (unless they’re gluten-free)
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Teff
  • Triticale
  • White and whole wheat

Some grains are approved for the candida diet, and we’ll cover those later on. Additionally, watch out for products that contain gluten, such as soy sauce, cereals, prepared and packaged sauces, and other packaged goods. Look for labels that indicate the product is gluten-free.

3. Refined Vegetable Oils

Though fats do not feed candida, the following types of fat are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids, when consumed in excess, can cause inflammation which has been shown to irritate the digestive tract and delay healing, leading to more candida overgrowth. The following processed, highly refined oils should be avoided while on the candida diet (if not all the time):

  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats
  • Margarine or fake butter spreads
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Walnut oil

4. Non-Cultured Dairy Products

Dairy products, including milk, cream, and cheese, contain the milk sugar known as lactose, another food source for candida. I recommend staying away from most dairy during this cleanse, and in general. However, there are some allowable dairy products on this diet for those without dairy sensitivities which I’ll cover in another section.

5. Alcohol

Alcohol contributes to candida overgrowth and is therefore not allowed on the candida diet.

6. Peanuts, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, or Pistachios

Though other nuts are allowed on the program, these five are known to contain molds and fungus which can exacerbate candida.

7. Coffee

Since coffee can irritate the gut lining it is best to eliminate it from your diet. However, if one cup of coffee a day (without sugar or cream) is enough to keep you going on this diet, go ahead and have it with the goal of phasing it out week-by-week. Keep in mind that once you get through that first week or two, you will have gained back so much energy you likely won’t miss the coffee. If you’re ready to go cold-turkey, we’ll cover some alternatives in the next section.

The Candida Diet Plan Part 2: Allowed Food

Now that the “can’t” foods are out of the way, let’s get to the good news: what you can eat on the candida diet.

1. Gut-Supporting Superfoods

Success in your candida diet is as much about what you take out of your diet as what you put back in your body. The following fermented foods will help replenish your microbiome with good bacteria in the form of probiotics and prebiotics:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Cultured vegetables
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Naturally fermented, non-alcoholic beverages
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Beet kvass

2. Gluten-Free Grains

As mentioned above, certain gluten-free grains are allowed because they contain nutrients, protein, and fiber, which will keep your colon moving.

Look for these gluten-free grains flours in the gluten-free aisle of the grocery store:

  • Quinoa (whole grain and flour)
  • Millet (whole grain and flour)
  • Buckwheat (whole grain and flour)
  • Tapioca flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Almond meal (though not a grain, I am listing it here as it is a great grain alternative for breading, baking, etc.)
  • Amaranth (whole grain and flour)

3. Healthy Fats and Oils

Despite their controversial reputation, new research has confirmed healthy fats are not the enemy and play an essential role in keeping us full, synthesizing key vitamins, and keeping our hormones in balance.

Thus, you may enjoy the following healthy fats on the candida diet:

  • Avocado oil
  • Avocados
  • Butter (preferably organic, pasture-raised butter)
  • Coconut oil (which contains anti-fungal properties and has been shown effective against Candida)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Ghee
  • Omega-3 rich oils like fish oil, krill oil, and evening primrose oil

4. Vegetables

You can enjoy unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables while on the program. While some programs recommend staying away from starchy vegetables, I allow them as they contain a wealth of nutrients and fiber and are alkalizing to your system. Don’t forget about sea vegetables, which are rich in minerals and iodine.

5. Fruit

Though there is some debate over whether fruit should be included on the candida diet, I wholeheartedly recommend consuming fruit while on the candida diet, provided you eat it in conjunction with your body’s biological rhythms.

By that, I mean that fruit should be eaten by itself in its whole, fresh state (do not combine it with other non-fruit foods), and wait thirty minutes to one hour before eating anything else.

This is important because consuming fruit sugar alone causes it to alkalize your bodily fluids while providing essential nutrients, which helps kill candida overgrowth. Conversely, if fruit is consumed with other foods, such as starches or proteins, it turns to glucose which feeds candida.

In a nutshell: fresh, whole fruit eaten by itself in the morning is anti-candida; fruit eaten with other foods feeds candida. Be sure to avoid fruit juice, canned fruit (which typically has added sugar), and dried fruit (which have a concentrated sugar content).

6. Healthy Proteins

Protein provides the building blocks for growth and repair and is therefore important while on the candida diet. The key with protein is choosing quality over quantity. I prefer vegan sources of protein. Beans and legumes are allowed (except for peanuts, which are a legume). However, pay attention to how your body feels as the sugars found in beans can feed in some cases candida, especially in the early stages.

If this is an issue, substitute other high-protein foods like quinoa, millet, hemp protein powder, nuts and seeds, and cultured soy products like tempeh (since the culturing breaks down sugars).

If you choose to eat meat, consume only non-processed, organic, grass-fed sources, such as grass-fed red meats (beef, bison, etc.), chicken, turkey, organic eggs, and wild-caught, low-mercury fish like wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, and herring.

7. Dairy and Milk Products

Though I recommend avoiding most dairy products while on the candida diet, cultured organic dairy products (ideally from pasture-raised cows, goats, or sheep) are allowed, as the culturing process naturally reduces the milk sugar, lactose while adding probiotic value.

Non-dairy milk products are also allowed (except cashew milk and soy milk), provided they are unsweetened:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Cultured butter
  • Cultured cheeses
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened hemp milk

8. Nuts and Seeds

Enjoy all nuts and seeds, preferably raw, soaked, or sprouted, except for peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios which commonly contain mold and fungus. Nut butters are fine, provided they do not contain any added sugars. Remember that chia and hemp seeds are a great source of healthy fats and protein.

9. Beverages and Coffee Substitutes

Staying hydrated is one of the key components for success when you’re following the candida diet. Aim for half your weight in ounces per day to speed elimination and promote efficient cleansing. You can also add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to the water to help alkalize the body and promote healthy detox.

Replace alcoholic beverages with probiotic-rich beverages like kombucha or kefir water. Again, water should be the main thing you consume but for a little variety, try unsweetened cranberry juice mixed with water and a bit of stevia or homemade stevia lemonade. Just mix the juice of 1 lemon or lime with 8 ounces of water and stevia to taste.

In place of coffee, try green tea or yerba mate, which contains a little caffeine and loads of antioxidants. Chicory coffee is another popular coffee substitute. A lot of people also enjoy herbal teas. Peppermint and nettle provide a natural, refreshing boost, while Pau d’arco, cinnamon, and turmeric teas will help support normal candida balance.

How Long Should You Follow the Candida Diet?

How long you should follow the candida diet depends on your symptoms, health history, the severity of the candida overgrowth and how faithfully you follow the diet and supplement recommendations.

The general recommendation is one-month minimum, then slowly reintroduce foods and see how your body reacts. If your issues flare up again, go back on the diet for another two to four weeks or consult your healthcare practitioner.

How to Maintain Candida Balance for Life

Since it exists naturally in our bodies, candida is always going to be part of our lives. The key to living with it healthfully is to prevent overgrowth from happening in the first place.

  • Avoid antibiotics as much as possible, and if you must take them go on the candida diet afterward and take plenty of probiotics and prebiotics
  • Eat a sensible diet that’s low in sugar, refined grains, and processed foods
  • Nurture your gut’s bacterial balance by eating probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods regularly
  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation, or, better yet, avoid it entirely
  • Keep your stress levels in check
  • Get enough sleep
  • Nurture your immune system

Have you used diet to remedy a candida balance? What tips and insight can you provide? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

Super Saccharides & Aloe Vera For The Immune System

In order to understand the role that super saccharides (complex sugars) play in our body and how they benefit the immune system, it is necessary to touch on a little biochemistry. Don’t worry; I’ll stick to the basics.

Carbohydrates

All biological processes in the human body are effected through four main groups of biologically active molecules. These four groups are fats, proteins, nucleic acids (RNA & DNA), and carbohydrates. In this report, our focus is on the carbohydrates.

Essentially, carbohydrates are compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in the proportions 6:12:6. They are burned during metabolism to produce energy, liberating carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). The carbohydrates in the human diet can be divided into three groups:

  1. Monosaccharides, e.g. glucose, fructose, galactose;
  2. Disaccharides, e.g. sucrose (table sugar), lactose, maltose;
  3. Polysaccharides, which are linear or branched polymers of monosaccharide units linked by glycosidic bonds and include starch, glycogen (animal starch), and fiber/cellulose.

At one time, carbohydrates were thought to serve mainly as an energy source for the body, but it is now recognized that many carbohydrates play key roles in enhancing immune function and in facilitating cellular communication.

Carbohydrates and the Immune System

Most cells in the body have carbohydrate molecules on their surface. These carbohydrates are often attached to proteins or to fats and act as receptors for bacteria, viruses, or antibodies. The invaders actually use these sugars as fuel to grow, multiply, and attack the cell itself.

carbohydrates called mucopolysaccharides

A small group of very special carbohydrates called mucopolysaccharides, however, actually work to prevent bacteria and viruses from finding binding sites. In fact, they literally trap and destroy them. In addition, they also work to trap and destroy antibodies; thus halting infection caused disease and autoimmune diseases in their tracks.

autoimmune disease

Mucopolysaccharides to Enhance the Immune System

Mucopolysaccharides, now more commonly called glycosaminoglycans, are a special form of polysaccharide. They are made in the human body and perform many key functions in our health, including promoting growth and enhancing the immune system. Unfortunately, after puberty, we cease manufacturing these polysaccharides and must obtain them from outside sources.

Mucopolysaccharides are found in many of the foods that we call “miracle foods” including aloe vera, medicinal mushrooms, and nutritional yeast. Since we have already discussed the benefits of the mucopolysaccharides found in the medicinal mushrooms (reishi, maitake, and cordyceps).

The Power of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an amazing mixture of more than 200 constituents, including polysaccharides, enzymes, glycoproteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Although aloe is almost legendary for its healing and regenerative powers, it’s true potential was merely waiting to be tapped. The problem has always been that aloe’s key active ingredients were so diluted in liquids and gels and so destroyed in processing (especially in dried aloe concentrates) that only tiny amounts were ever available for use by the human body. It is almost miraculous that even with these limitations, aloe was as effective as it was. It is only within the last decade, however, that scientists have learned how to concentrate the active ingredients in aloe to levels far, far, far beyond what was possible before – while at the same time preserving the integrity of the key ingredients. And then, within just the last year, that process has been significantly enhanced to almost unimaginable levels; and that’s why we’re talking about aloe today.

The active polysaccharide fractions in aloe are called galactomannans or beta-glucomannans. These polysaccharides have been shown in laboratory studies to act as a bridge between foreign proteins (such as virus particles) and macrophage cells in the human body, facilitating the destruction of the invading the protein by the macrophage. Activating the receptor sites of the macrophages is also a key to the overall boosting of cell-mediated immunity, which, significantly, is deficient in HIV infection and other immune disorders. In addition, aloe polysaccharides also protect the bone marrow from damage by toxic chemicals and drugs.

These various effects, while seemingly widespread and unrelated, are in fact due to one simple process that occurs at the cell membrane. Acemannan (the name often used for aloe beta-glucomannans, acetylated polymannans and mucopolysaccharides) is a long chain sugar that interjects itself into all cell membranes. This results in an increase in the fluidity and permeability of the membranes allowing toxins to flow out of the cell more easily and nutrients to enter the cell more easily. This results in improved cellular metabolism throughout the body and an overall boost in energy production.

Following are a few of the vital functions Acemannan and the other constituents of aloe have been found to perform. They…

  • Make cells more resistant to viruses and pathogenic bacteria, by incorporating themselves into cell walls
  • Improve overall cellular metabolism and functioning
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Provide critical lubrication of joints; helping to prevent arthritis and to heal it once it has developed
  • Aid in the absorption of water, minerals, and nutrients in the GI tract
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve vascular flow
  • Reduce scarring
  • Improve macrophage activity as much as tenfold
  • Enhance macrophage effectiveness in modulating the entire immune system
  • Enhance macrophage effectiveness in stimulating, producing, and releasing antibodies
  • Increase the body’s own production of interferon, interleukins
  • Increase the number of antibody forming T-cells in the spleen
  • Increase the number and activity of killer T-cell and increase monocyte activity
  • Fight fungal infections, such as: Athlete’s foot, Ringworm, Pruritus anivalvae, Balnea, Essential Pruritus, and Vaginal yeast infections
  • Help heal athletic injuries such as: Muscle cramps, Sprains, Strains, Bruises, Swelling, Soreness, Tendonitis, and Bursitis.
  • Soothe and promote the healing of intestinal disorders such as: Indigestion, Heartburn, Hyper-acidity, Peptic and Duodenal Ulcers, Colitis, and Hemorrhoids
  • Promote the healing of kidney disorders
  • Help with diabetes
  • Kill parasites such as: Pinworms and Threadworms
  • Speed wound healing by as much as 35%
  • Reduce allergic reactions
  • Stimulate bone marrow activity
  • Stimulate fibroblasts to release collagen and elastin to make new tissue

The bottom line is that concentrated aloe fractions enhance the functioning of the entire immune system, detoxify the body, promote the repair of a wide range of tissues and organs, improve digestive functions, and help with the destruction and elimination of invading bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Concentrated Acemannan in Aloe Vera

Traditionally, the problem with aloe vera products is that the key active ingredients, the mannan sugars, are not particularly concentrated in the aloe plant, and are not particularly stable. In addition, they are easily destroyed both in the harvesting process and in the concentration process. It is only in the last few years that these limitations have been overcome and supplements with meaningful amounts of mannan sugars have been produced. And now, a brand new proprietary process has been discovered that allows for the dehydration and concentration of aloe at low temperatures (never exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit). This is significant since it preserves the integrity of the mannan sugars – not to mention the enzyme activity of the aloe constituents. This process produces a product that contains all of the complex carbohydrates contained in whole aloe leaf at powerfully high levels of concentration – as high as 200:1.

Beta Glucans

Aloe vera is not the only source of beneficial mucopolysaccharides, and Acemannan is not the only super immune enhancer. Certain Beta- glucans also qualify as “super saccharides.”

Oriental healers have known for hundreds of years that something inside yeast and mushrooms has the ability to dramatically enhance your immune system. Scientists have now identified that something as a long chain of polysaccharides called Beta glucans. In fact, the real discovery came when scientists discovered which particular kinds of glucans (Beta 1,3 and 1,6) provide most of the benefits.

Since the 1940’s, researchers have investigated the nutritional benefits of Beta glucans. Derived from the broken cell walls of yeast and from mushrooms, barley, and oats. Beta glucans are capable of reducing unhealthy amounts of serum cholesterol and boosting the immune system. (Note: Beta-glucan is the only glucan found effective in preventing coronary heart disease by significantly lowering LDL blood cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. In fact, the FDA has approved Beta glucan supplementation for preventing coronary heart disease.)

As just mentioned, Beta-glucans are a powerful immune stimulator, activating the macrophages in the immune system. Keep in mind that your macrophages are your immune system’s first line of defense against viral, fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections. In addition, macrophages play a major role in recognizing and eliminating aberrant (cancerous) cells from the body.

There have been over 1,000 research papers on Beta glucans since the 1960’s. Research backed by prestigious institutions such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Harvard, Tulane, Baylor, McGill, University of California, Duke, Washington, the Armed Forces Radiology Research Institute, and other institutions all demonstrate the high immune activating properties and cholesterol lowering properties of Beta glucans.

Beta-glucans have been clinically proven to enhance macrophage production dramatically and to increase nonspecific host resistance to a variety of bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections, including:

  • Sinus Infections
  • Allergies
  • The common cold
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Candida
  • Diabetes
  • Herpes
  • Mononucleosis
  • Osteoarthritis

In addition, “The broad spectrum of immunopharmacological activities of glucan includes not only the modification of certain bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections but also inhibition of tumor growth.” Nicholas DiLuzio, Ph.D., Department of Physiology Tulane University School of Medicine. Which leads us to…

Cancer and AIDS

It is important to understand that although there are a number of animal studies and cell studies (and a great deal of anecdotal evidence) available that indicate that “super saccharides” may play a significant role in protecting against cancer and AIDS; there are NO significant, valid human studies that prove this to be so at this time.

For example, if you search on the Internet, you will find references to remarkable studies by Drs. McDaniel and McAnalley concerning the effect of aloe fractions on the status of patients with ARC (AIDS Related Complex). They gave the polysaccharide fraction of aloe orally (250 milligrams four times a day) to 8 patients with ARC, with Walter Reed staging from 3 to 6. Eight of eight patients showed improvement within 90 days of therapy with an average reduction of 2 Walter Reed stages.

The problem is that as exciting as these studies are (and as frequently cited as they are), they were conducted on too small a group of patients and without proper controls, which makes their results merely interesting, not proven.

The bottom line is that you certainly have nothing to lose by supplementing with “super saccharides” if you are concerned about cancer or AIDS, but again, understand, nothing is proven – yet.

Usage

The normal recommended dosage for concentrated aloe fractions ranges between 450-1,000 mg a day. The recommended dosage for Beta glucans runs the gamut from 20 to 500 mg a day. However, when you combine the two, they work together and reinforce each other.

My recommended dosage is 500 mg of concentrated aloe fractions a day, along with 20 mg of Beta-glucans for maintenance purposes. Double it if you wish to use the combination more aggressively.

Warning

There is really only one minor warning. Concentrated aloe fractions can stimulate increased bowel function (a good thing), but it’s recommended that you start slowly and increase your intake of these fractions gradually to avoid intestinal cramping.

Resources:

There are mountains of research on the immune-related benefits of aloe’s key bio-chemicals and beta-glucans, but this should get you started.

Natural Fuel for Sustained Energy: A Different Kind of Shake

We’re going to talk about a shake whose primary virtue is sustained energy, making it perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or to sustain an athlete on a long-distance run or when climbing a mountain. But by very virtue of its ability to sustain you for hours, it will help you lose weight by killing the need for between-meal snacks to keep you going throughout the day.

For years, the standard diet shake was the low-fat, high-sugar, shake-powder, “boosted” with a complement of synthetic vitamins and indigestible fiber. The idea was that you’d mix the powder with a glass of milk and replace one or two meals a day and eat sensibly for your other meal(s). And it worked, in that it could significantly decrease your calorie intake.

Some time ago, though, the ideal shake shifted from low-fat, high-sugar mix to a low-sugar, high-protein formula. Dieting on high protein shakes makes use of a quirk in the body’s metabolism to force it to live off its own fat. The primary source of energy for the human body is glucose, and most of our glucose intake is from carbohydrates. With high protein diets, though, you abnormally restrict your intake of carbohydrates (carbs that would normally fuel your blood sugar metabolism cycle) in order to force your metabolism to switch from burning carbohydrates to burning stored fat (or ketones) for energy. The result is a state of ketosis: high energy, coupled with a rapid metabolism of stored fat. And it works. It also helps lower blood-sugar levels and lower blood-pressure and cholesterol levels. However…

There are problems with the program. As the old saying goes: “In for a penny, in for a pound.” That means you must be rigorous. Any intake of high-glycemic carbs turns off the metabolism switch. Now you get none of the benefits and all of the problems, which include among other things:

  • protein powderToo much protein puts stress on the liver and kidneys, lowers body pH which contributes to osteoporosis and cancer, creates a state of dysbiosis in the intestinal tract which leads to, among other things, a compromised immune system and an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Heavy doses of antibiotics and growth hormones in the high levels of non-organic protein consumed (assuming you’re not buying in a health food store).
  • Increased allergies and autoimmune diseases resulting from the high consumption of dairy and/or soy. And keep in mind that milk allergy is not just based on an intolerance of lactose sugars. It is actually caused by the immune system’s response to one or more of the proteins found in cow’s milk. There are many protein allergens in cow’s milk that cause allergic reactions, which is why cow’s milk is one of the most frequent causes of food allergens in our diets. Casein and whey are the two main protein components of dairy and, coincidentally, the two main sources of protein in diet shakes (outside of soy).
    • Casein (sodium caseinate) accounts for 80 percent of the protein in milk and is the most important allergen found in milk and cheese. It is worth noting that casein was at one time a key component in many glues and is not tolerated well at all by the human body. Too much casein over too long a time is a health problem for everyone. (And surprise, they add casein to tofu cheese and other “non-dairy” products.)
    • Whey accounts for the other 20 percent of milk proteins. It is much better tolerated than casein, but again, if used in excess and for too long, still produces excessive Circulating Immune Complexes in the bloodstream. Whey consists of two primary allergenic proteins:
      • alpha-lactalbumin
      • beta-lactoglobulin
    • And soy, of course, has even more protein allergens than dairy. At least 16 IgE-binding soy proteins with molecular masses from 7.5 to 97 kD may be involved in clinical allergy.1

An Alternative

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in exercise and balanced meals combined with nutrient-dense food for managing weight. But that said, I also understand that people often need a helping hand. In any case, several years ago, I turned my attention to rethinking shakes and weight-loss to see if there was a different way to approach it.

Instead of trying to create a substitute meal with lots of added protein and a bunch of synthetic vitamins, I thought it might be possible to instead create an energy shake that literally fueled the body for hours with ultra-long-chain carbohydrates–making it feel energized and satiated for 3-4 hours at a time–but without the jittery stimulant effect you get from coffee and energy drinks. This would kill two birds with one stone.

  • It would work as a healthy, sustaining energizing boost that would be perfect for both athletes and anyone looking to remain vibrant throughout the day.
  • And since it would keep you feeling energized and satisfied for hours at a time, it would help you lose weight since you wouldn’t feel the need for “extra” snacks to keep going.

Good Carbohydrates for Energy

carbohydrates for energyUnderstand that your body can only use glycogen as energy. Everything must get broken down to this first. Glycogen is the simplest form of sugar in your blood. If there is too much (hyperglycemia), your pancreas produces insulin to shuttle the sugar out of your blood and into your cells, if there is too little (hypoglycemic), your body produces glucose, which gets rid of the insulin so you can build up more sugar in your blood. Hyper- and hypoglycemia are the extreme conditions of high or low blood sugar, respectively.

The bottom line is that you need carbohydrates for energy. They power every part of your body and energize it to work, run, jump, think, breathe, and more. As long as you’re using your body, you need glucose. When you are hungry, you find it hard to think and work. That’s because you’re running out of glucose, and your brain needs more fuel.

The key to how carbohydrates are used in the body is how quickly they break down in the digestive tract. This is largely determined by their fundamental structure.

  • Simple, or short-chain, carbohydrates don’t need to be broken down at all. They are instantly available to the body. These are the sugars. To say that all sugars are bad, as is often now stated, is an oversimplification of the problem. There are many times that your body truly needs an instant influx of energy foods. There are many sugars such as mannose that play a key role in our immune systems. However, there is no question that, in general, a sustained high-level intake of sugars spikes insulin levels and eventually contributes significantly to major health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and diabetes.
  • Complex, or long-chain, carbohydrates cannot be utilized by the body until they are broken down. Complex carbohydrates consist of hundreds or thousands of sugar units linked together in single molecules. Theoretically, since they are not instantly available to the body, they should raise glucose levels more slowly and be healthier than simple sugars. But that is not always the case. Some long-chain carbs, such as, potatoes, bananas, all refined grains (in point of fact, many whole grains too), and maltodextrin (which is frequently added to processed foods) break down very quickly and are virtually indistinguishable from straight sugar in their effect on the body. There are two qualifiers for this.
    1. Fiber. Fiber cannot be digested by human beings. It has no calories because the body cannot absorb it. The more fiber present in the food, the more slowly the carbohydrates bound to that fiber break down. That’s why high fiber fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and prunes and berries tend to be very low on the glycemic index. In general, these foods, although they are pure carbohydrates, can be eaten abundantly on any low-carb program.
    2. Branching. If the simple sugars in a complex carbohydrate are not assembled in a straight line but include many branches, it slows the breakdown of the carbohydrate dramatically because the enzyme amylase does not work on branches. Examples of branched carbohydrates include the gums such as guar and xanthan.

Whichever form of carb you take, after digestion, it appears in the circulatory system as glucose, on its way to the cells where it is used for energy. The key is how long that process takes. If spread out over several hours:

  • There is no spike in blood sugar and insulin levels
  • The body does not store fat
  • You get sustained energy over a prolonged period of time

In the end, it became obvious to me that the ultimate diet/energy shake should not be built out of protein and fat, but out of long-chain, slow-energy-releasing superfood carbohydrates. However, before I could finalize the shake, there were a couple of other issues that had to be dealt with.

Superfood Shake for The Real World

smoothiesFirst, I had to acknowledge how the shake would truly be used in the “real world.”

Ideally, this superfood powder would be mixed with freshly squeezed vegetable juice, thereby providing sustenance and energy for several hours with no chance of an insulin spike. But I also realized that we live in the real world. Very few people who need to lose weight are likely to be disciplined enough to drink large amounts of freshly squeezed vegetable juice every day. They would much rather mix their superfood with high glycemic sweet juices and fresh fruit. This, of course, would defeat the purpose.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the glycemic index (GI) measures how foods containing carbohydrates raise blood glucose. It is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Also known as “blood sugar,” blood glucose levels above normal are problematic and can cause blindness, kidney failure, or increase cardiovascular risk. Foods low on the glycemic index (GI) scale tend to release glucose slowly and steadily. Foods high on the glycemic index release glucose rapidly. Low GI foods tend to foster weight loss, while foods high on the GI scale help with energy recovery after exercise, or help offset hypo- (or insufficient) glycemia–but again are problematic under normal circumstances.

What this means is that long-distance runners would tend to favor foods high on the glycemic index while racing, while people with pre- or full-blown diabetes would need to concentrate on low GI foods. Why? People with diabetes can’t produce sufficient quantities of insulin–which helps process blood sugar–which means they are likely to have an excess of blood glucose. The slow and steady release of glucose in low-glycemic foods is helpful in keeping blood glucose under control. In general, carbohydrates tend to rank higher in the glycemic index than fats or proteins. In fact, foods are ranked on the GI according to how they compare to a carbohydrate reference food which is either glucose or white bread. Glucose and white bread are both given a GI rating of 100.  Carbohydrate-containing foods are typically ranked:

  • High GI (70 or more)
  • Medium GI (56-69)
  • Low GI (55 or less).

Most carbohydrates fall in the high or medium range. Barley is a notable exception with a very low glycemic index of around 25.

“One of the oldest cultivated cereals, barley is nutritious and high in soluble fibre [sic], which helps to reduce the post-meal rise in blood glucose–it lowers the overall GI of a meal. In fact, pearl barley has one of the lowest GI values of any food that we have tested.”

The Ingredients

I singled out barley’s exceptional glycemic index value because a special form of barley is actually the key ingredient that drives this formula, and we’ll talk more about it in a moment. But the formula also contains certain herbs that help to reduce the glycemic response when people blend it with fresh fruits and juices. Again, the purpose of the formula is to use slow release carbohydrates that allow the body to be smoothly energized with no jitters and feel satiated for several hours so as to eliminate the need for unhealthy snacking. Along the way, you’ll notice that each of the ingredients used in the formula also has other profound health benefits that range from inhibiting cancer to ameliorating HIV infections.

Pre-Sprouted Barley

sprouted barleyAs I mentioned, a special form of barley is the key ingredient that drives this formula, and that is pre-sprouted barley (AKA Activated Barley). But before we get into the details of pre-sprouted barley, we need to look briefly at barley in general. As was hinted at by its remarkable GI number of 25, it’s an exceptional grain. Incidentally, that GI number is 22 percent less than skim milk!

Historically, barley has been used for thousands of years. The Roman army marched on it. It was the primary staple of their diet. They picked up that trick from the Greek gladiators who trained on it and were known as “barley eaters.” (So much for meat being the food of choice for macho men.)

In ancient Rome, a food made from sprouted barley, honey, and colostrum was used to sustain infants whose mothers had died in childbirth. In more recent years, that same formula has been used by the UN to prevent starvation in Third World countries.

Nutritionally, barley has high concentrations of tocotrienols and antioxidant compounds that work to suppress the activity of the rate-limiting activity of the HMG-CoA Reductase enzyme in the liver, thus reducing cholesterol synthesis. And barley is one of the highest known sources of beta-glucans, which are carbohydrates (there’s that word again) that have remarkable immune boosting properties and have been shown to improve blood glucose and lipid levels among diabetics in clinical trials. In fact, research conducted in Canada, the United States, and Australia has shown that barley can play a significant role in lowering blood cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Other studies have shown that non-insulin dependent diabetics (Type II) had improved blood glucose levels as a result of including barley in their diet.

And sprouting barley renders all of barley’s nutrients and health benefits more bio-available. Sprouting also reduces both the amount of starch and gluten in the barley, while at the same time increasing the amount of amylase, which helps break down the remaining carbohydrates.

The problem with using sprouted barley in a formula is that it’s extremely gelatinous. All attempts to dry it and package it for commercial distribution failed until a company in Sweden figured out a way to use low-temperature steam (produced in a partial vacuum) to take the barley just up to the point of sprouting — before it turns gelatinous, but after the point where all the proteins and carbohydrates have been converted, and at a temperature low enough so that no enzymes are damaged.

This turns out to be a remarkably interesting point. It’s like the food is placed in a state of suspended animation at the point where all of the energy of the grain has been marshaled to sprout — but has not yet expended that energy in the act of sprouting. The result is a brand-new superfood with unbelievable properties. It has been called Activated Barley. Think of it like a bullet in a gun.

  • The bullet in the chamber is like the dry barley pearl. All the energy is dormant–unavailable.
  • The bullet, after it has fired and left the gun, is like the barley sprout. All of the energy has been expended in the act of making the bullet shoot out of the gun–or in this case, making the barley sprout. The energy has been used up. Once again, it is no longer available.
  • But pre-sprouted barley is different. It’s like being able to freeze time at the moment the gunpowder has fired and before the bullet has left the gun. A huge amount of energy is now locked in the chamber, available in an easily used form, just waiting to be directed in any way you want. What if you could take that energy and use it for things other than making the bullet fly? What if you could use the energy locked in the pre-sprout phase to nourish the body rather than make the barley sprout? That would be a true superfood.

The Properties of Pre-Sprouted Barley

  • Like regular barley, it ranks incredibly low on the glycemic index.
  • It has all of the nutritional value of barley — high levels of tocotrienols and beta glucans. In fact, pre-sprouting increases beta glucan levels by some 77% according to tests performed by AnalyCen in Sweden.
  • It contains 1,000s of active enzymes.
  • It is an ultra-long-chain carbohydrate that takes up to 4 hours to break down in the digestive tract — thus providing a slow, sustained release of energy and insulin.
  • Because the release is so slow, it actually lowers the body’s insulin response.
  • It provides over 400% more energy per calorie than any other food calorie known. (Despite what the FDA may tell you, not all calories are created equal.) As it turns out, there are two different ways to test for caloric value. The traditional way is by burning the product to determine the energy released. This is the FDA approved standard. However, a more meaningful test is to measure the metabolic calorie value–that is: how much energy the BODY can actually use or produce the food in question. For activated barley, the metabolic calorie value is 400% higher than a standard calorie such as fat. Or to look at it another way, with pre-sprouted barley you get the same energy on 1/4 the calories VS standard calories.

The Studies

Barley contains high levels of beta-glucan which have been studied for its cholesterol-lowering potential on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) and apolipoprotein B (apoB) for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction. The conclusion of a 2016 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition was that pooled analyses show that barley β-glucan has a lowering effect on LDL-C and non-HDL-C. The inclusion of barley-containing foods, then, maybe a strategy for achieving targets in CVD risk reduction.

So, what exactly is ß-glucan? It is the predominant soluble fiber found in oats and barley and has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol and improve post-prandial insulin and glucose responses in healthy and diabetic adults. In fact, it is likely that these health benefits are the result of a synergistic effect of the fiber and the constituent phytochemicals found in barley and oats. The major bioactives in barley include phenolics, tocols (the fundamental unit of vitamin E tocopherols), and folate, while those in oats include actual tocopherols and tocotrienols, phenolic acids, sterols, selenium, and avenanthramides.

In addition, barley contains several plant-based protease inhibitors (PIs). In the past, PIs have primarily been considered as protein-degrading enzymes. However, this view has significantly changed, and PIs are now considered to be very important signaling molecules in many biological activities such as inflammation, apoptosis, blood clotting, and hormone processing. In recent years, PIs have been examined extensively as therapeutic agents, primarily to deal with various human cancers. Interestingly, many plant-based PIs are also found to be effective against cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, inflammatory diseases, and neurological disorders. The PI content of such foods, then, likely has a significant influence on human health disorders. Barley contains several PIs of the chymotrypsin family that interact with a range of proteases from human plasma, leukocytes, the pancreas, a fungal trypsin, and three subtilisins (bacterial proteases)–in addition to inhibiting several coagulation factors such as thrombin, plasma kallikrein, Factor VIIa and Factor Xa.

Stabilized Rice Bran

Stabilized rice bran is one of the world’s great superfoods and is the other main ingredient in this formula. It’s high in fiber, obviously, but also high in protein and is one of the premier sources of antioxidants — containing over 100 of them. Major health components of stabilized rice bran include:

  • Hypoallergenic protein with all essential amino acids
  • Rich in E complex vitamins (contains the highest natural source of tocopherols and tocotrienols in nature)
  • Rich in B complex vitamins
  • IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate)
  • The only source of Gamma-Oryzanol in nature
  • Minerals (including high amounts of potassium, magnesium and manganese) and trace minerals
  • Polyphenols, phytosterols, and sterolins (high quantities of Beta-sitosterol and Beta-sitosterolin)
  • Mixed carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin
  • Dimethylglycine (DMG)
  • Trimethylglycine (TMG)
  • Lecithin (phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl serine)
  • Ferulic Acid
  • CoQ10
  • Squalene
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
Rice bran, a byproduct of the rice milling industry, is a rich source of nutraceuticals and nutrients. However, its usefulness was traditionally limited due to the presence of lipase and lipoxygenase which quickly initiates rancidity. Several years ago, it was learned that you could stabilize the rice bran and prevent rancidity by treating the milling with either infrared heat or enzymes that completely inactivate lipase along with significantly reducing lipoxygenase activity. After stabilization, the nutraceutical molecules like γ-oryzanol, α-tocopherol, and polyphenols are retained in the range of 68 to 110%, and the total antioxidant activity is actually improved. In addition, other enzymes used in the treatment improve the soluble fiber content. Nutrition is further enhanced by the conversion of complex carbohydrates into bioavailable, energy-producing sugars: glucose (approximately 70%), cellobiose (approximately 20%) and cellotriose (approximately 10%). Stabilized rice bran also has an enhanced prebiotic effect, which means it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. And finally, beneficial nutrients such as acetic acid and propionic acid as well as the full range of B vitamins are either enhanced or demonstrate maximum retention.

The Studies

Mitochondrial dysfunction plays an important role in brain aging and has emerged as an early event in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), contributing to neurodegeneration and the loss of physical abilities seen in patients suffering from this disease. As a result, the mitochondria in these cells display impaired energy metabolism, low ATP levels, and decreased mitochondrial respiration inside your body’s cells.

But studies have shown that stabilized rice bran extract (RBE) protects from mitochondrial dysfunction. A 2013 study published in Pharmacological Research, for example, found that overall respiration and mitochondrial coupling were significantly enhanced in isolated mitochondria in RBE fed animals. This suggests an improved mitochondrial function in the brains of RBE fed animals. Cells isolated from the brains of RBE fed animals show significantly higher mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels after being “challenged” by the introduction of sodium nitroprusside, indicating resistance against mitochondrial dysfunction. Astonishingly, experimental evidence even indicates an increased mitochondrial mass in guinea pig brains after RBE ingestion. Thus, RBE represents a potential nutraceutical for the prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in brain aging and the resulting neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

And then, of course, rice bran has been shown to be cancer protective–so much so that researchers have worked to isolate its cancer-inhibiting components. Specifically, researchers have known that food-derived bioactive peptides from RBE promote functional activity against diseases and present as nutraceutical agents. A 2010 study published in Peptides, was designed to isolate and fully characterize the peptide(s) derived from rice bran that has anti-cancer properties. Ultimately, they isolated a novel pentapeptide from rice bran that possesses cancer growth inhibitory properties on colon, breast, lung, and liver cancer cells. They concluded that this peptide could serve as a nutraceutical agent against cancer.

Wheatgrass, Alfalfa Leaf, and Oat Grass

First, let me address why I did not include spirulina or chlorella. I love spirulina and chlorella. I use them both in my superfood formula.  But they have a pronounced smell and taste. And when designing a mainstream shake for energy and/or weight-loss, taste and smell are crucial. If the people who need it won’t use it, it is a failed formula no matter how effective it might be.

So instead, I turned to the grasses. They too have a distinctive taste, but nowhere near as pronounced. And when used in support of the rice bran and pre-sprouted barley, you can hardly taste them at all. The three I decided to use were wheatgrass, alfalfa, and oat.

Wheatgrass

wheatgrassWheatgrass, the young grass of the common wheat plant Triticum aestivum, has been called one of nature’s finest medicines. It contains chlorophyll, flavonoids, enzymes, vitamins such as C and E, and nutrients that are essential for a healthy body. The benefits of wheatgrass are enormous. These include correcting blood sugar imbalances, purifying the blood, enhancing hemoglobin production, neutralizing toxins, purifying the liver, and removing heavy metals from the body.

Forms of wheatgrass include fresh juice, frozen juice, tablets, and powders, with compositions varying according to their production processes, as well as to the growing conditions of the wheatgrass. Laboratory in vitro studies, mostly using the fermented wheat germ extract, have demonstrated anti-cancer potential and have identified apoptosis as a possible mechanism. In animal experiments, wheatgrass demonstrated benefits in cancer prevention and as an adjunct to cancer treatment, as well as benefits to immunological activity and oxidative stress. Clinical trials show that wheatgrass may induce synergistic benefits to chemotherapy and may attenuate chemotherapy-related side effects, as well as benefit rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, hematological diseases, diabetes, obesity, and oxidative stress.

The Studies

A 2006 study gave wheatgrass juice to 400 terminally ill cancer patients for 6 months. Hemoglobin, total protein, and albumin levels improved significantly. Perhaps even more notable was the fact that the patients’ performance status was improved from 50% to 70% after wheatgrass treatment. As the study concluded, “Wheatgrass juice is an effective alternative to blood transfusion. Its use in terminally ill cancer patients should be encouraged.” And that study does not stand alone. Other studies also indicate that wheatgrass juice plays a large role in creating healthier blood. A 2004 study of patients with thalassemia (a hereditary blood disorder caused by faulty hemoglobin synthesis) reduced their requirements for blood transfusion while on wheatgrass. In nearly all patients, the mean interval between visits increased, and the blood transfused decreased during the wheatgrass period. Additionally, a 2009 study with intermediate thalassemia patients was even more striking. It found that 80% of the 200 patients given wheatgrass juice becoming transfusion independent.

Meanwhile, a 2007 study published in Nutrition and Oncology found that wheatgrass juice taken during chemotherapy may reduce myelotoxicity, dose reductions, and the need for immune system support, without diminishing the efficacy of chemotherapy.

And finally, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research suggests that fermented wheatgrass extract “exerts significant antitumor activity.” The study concludes that the extract requires further evaluation as a candidate for clinical combination drug regimens.

Alfalfa Leaf

alfalfa leafRevered as the “father of all foods,” alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has been eaten for centuries by people seeking a rich source of essential minerals and vitamins. Alfalfa Leaf helps the body assimilate protein, calcium, and other nutrients. It is a rich source of chlorophyll and is the richest land source of trace minerals. And it is high in fructooligosaccharides which promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and neutralize bad bacteria overgrowth such as Candida.

Alfalfa has been used to cure a wide variety of ailments. Pharmacological reports revealed that it is used as a neuroprotective, a hypocholesterolemic, an antioxidant, an antiulcer, an antimicrobial, a hypolipidemic, an estrogenic, and in the treatment of atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and menopausal symptoms in women.  Additionally, studies have shown that consumption of alfalfa extract significantly reduces glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels while at the same time enhancing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. In addition, the same study found that alfalfa supplementation reduces ALT and AST liver enzyme levels in the blood as well as promoting the reconstruction of damaged liver tissue and enhanced Langerhans islets’ diameter in pancreatic tissue as well as a concomitant multifold increase in insulin secretion.

The bottom line is that high consumption of flavonoids such as are found in alfalfa has been associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Alfalfa leaves have been widely used in traditional medicine and are currently used as a dietary supplement because of their high nutrient content. But alfalfa leaf extracts have also demonstrated cytotoxic activity against several sensitive and multidrug resistant tumor cell lines. And now, studies have shown that medicarpin and millepurpan, two flavonoids isolated from alfalfa leaves, induce apoptosis and overcome multidrug resistance in leukemia P388 cells.

Oat Grass

oat grassOat grass has a relaxing and stimulating action that nourishes and strengthens the nervous system and has been reported to be helpful for arthritis, rheumatism, stress, depression, exhaustion, tremors, epilepsy, palpitations, nervous headache, nervous stomach, nervous breakdown, cholesterol levels, herpes, and menopause symptoms. Oat grass is also used for thyroid and estrogen deficiency, for degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and for colds–especially if recurrent or persistent. Oat grass is extremely rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols and one powerful antioxidant called tricin, a flavone compound that exerts smooth muscle relaxing properties, making it beneficial in gastrointestinal cramping. Green oats are also high in beta-glucan, which helps stimulate immune functions.

As previously stated, ß-glucan is the predominant soluble fiber found in oats and barley and has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol and improve postprandial insulin and glucose responses in healthy and diabetic adults. In addition, the major bioactive in oats include tocopherols and tocotrienols, phenolic acids, sterols, selenium, and avenanthramides.

Banaba Leaf

banaba leafThe blood sugar regulating properties of Banaba leaf (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) have been demonstrated in cell culture, animal, and human studies. In isolated cells, the active ingredient in Banaba leaf, corosolic acid, is known to stimulate glucose uptake. In diabetic mice, rats, and rabbits, Banaba feeding reduces elevated blood sugar and insulin levels to normal. In humans with type II diabetes, Banaba extract, at a dose of 16-48mg per day for 4-8 weeks, has been shown to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels 5%-30% and in maintaining tight control of blood sugar fluctuations. An interesting “side-effect” of tighter control of blood sugar and insulin levels is a significant tendency of Banaba to promote weight loss (an average of 2-4 lbs. per month) — without significant dietary alterations.

Banaba leaf has been used in traditional Oriental medicine to treat diabetes in the Philippines. The active ingredient, corosolic acid (CA), is a triterpenoid compound which has a hypoglycemic effect. Studies have shown that CA improves hyperglycemia after an oral administration of sucrose and significantly reduces the digestion of sucrose in the small intestine. These results suggest that the hypoglycemic activity of CA is derived, at least in part, due to the inhibition of the chemical breakdown of sucrose.

And then there’s diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) –one of the major complications of diabetes mellitus. Studies have shown that corosolic acid helps ameliorate the renal damage associated with diabetes (including glomerular hypertrophy, mesangial expansion, and fibrosis), as well as the mechanisms behind these effects.

Studies have also shown that corosolic acid works as an anti-inflammatory by regulating the phosphorylation (a process used by the body to regulate enzymes) of interleukin receptor-associated kinase (IRAK)-2 via the NF-κB cascade.

And finally, as an interesting side note, Banaba leaf also contains both ellagic acid and gallic acid. We talked a number of years ago about the anticancer benefits associated with ellagic acid, but it turns out, it also is effective as an HIV inhibitor, along with gallic acid. Specifically, a 2013 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research demonstrated that Banaba leaf has a novel anti-HIV activity. Its gallic acid content shows an inhibition in reverse transcriptase, whereas its ellagic acid content inhibits the HIV-1 protease activity. The bottom line is that Banaba leaf extracts show a dose-dependent inhibition of HIV-1-infection.

European Blueberry Leaf

european blueberry leaf bilberry leafEuropean blueberry leaf, also known as bilberry leaf (Vaccinium myrtillus), contains significant pharmaceutical amounts of both chlorogenic and caffeic acids (20%). New studies have shown that taken together, the unique compounds in bilberry leaf help to simultaneously reduce glucose absorption in the intestines, decrease glucose synthesis in the liver, and speed up the rate of glucose metabolism. Residents of the Caucasia region of the former Soviet Union have traditionally taken medicinal teas infused with leaves of the European blueberry plant as a self-treatment for blood sugar imbalances, diabetes, and hypoglycemia. Bilberry leaf extract is also proven to reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels and is beneficial as a food for the pancreas while helping relieve the problems associated with the kidneys and gallbladder.

Historically the leaves and fruits the European blueberry have been used to treat diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and cancer. The antidiabetic properties of the plant are attributed mostly to the content of anthocyanins and polyphenols. These compounds have proven their antidiabetic potential in various studies. Their mechanism of action is to:

  • Increase insulin secretion (anthocyanin pelargonidin)
  • Reduce insulin resistance (anthocyanin cyanidin-3-glucoside)
  • Promote glucose absorption out of the bloodstream and liver and into muscle tissue
  • Protect pancreatic beta cells from glucose-induced oxidative stress.

Besides these effects, the anthocyanins in bilberry leaf contribute to the improvement of the lipid spectrum and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective activities.

Guarana

guarana seedsWhen you see guarana in the formula, you might think that’s where the energy comes from. As it turns out, you would be mistaken. At best, it provides a slight edge to the energy you get from the long chain carbs.

It is true that the active ingredient in guarana (guaranine) is chemically identical to caffeine — but with one huge difference. In its natural form, it is bound to the fiber of the guarana seeds. That means its stimulating component is released gently, slowly, giving you up to 5 hours of refreshing vitality.

And yes, as a dietary supplement, guarana can be an effective stimulant. Its seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guarana seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee seeds). However, the amount of guarana per serving in this formula (200 mg) means that the caffeine hit, which would only be 5-10 mg at 2-4%, is far, far less than is found in a typical cup of coffee (100 mg). You’d need to have 10-20 shakes to get the same caffeine you get from one cup of coffee–and remember, its release is spread out over 3-4 hours. The bottom line is that the vast majority of the “energy lift” from this formula, comes from the ultra-long-chain carbohydrates, not from the caffeine in the guarana. Again, for lack of a better way of explaining it, the 5-10 mg of caffeine found in a serving of this formula merely give an edge to the energy produced by the long chain carbs. And because of the slow release of both the carbs and the guarana, that energy is accessible for a number of hours without excessive stimulation.

So, unlike coffee which is harsh, quick acting, short lasting, and can increase headaches, exhaustion, and dehydration, the energy boost from guarana is:

  • Gentle
  • Slow acting
  • Long lasting
  • No headaches
  • Provides stamina
  • And endurance

Stevia

steviaStevia is used in this formula both to sweeten it and for its nutraceutical value.

That said, two problems prevented stevia from becoming the primary alternative to sugar years ago:

  1. First, for years, the FDA only authorized its use as a supplement, not as a sweetener.
  2. And second, although very sweet and far safer than the standard commercial alternatives most commonly used (aspartame and sucralose), it had an aftertaste that many people didn’t like.

Problem 1 went away when the FDA approved stevia’s use as a sweetener in 2008 to accommodate Coke and Pepsi. And problem 2 went away when food technologists finally learned how to isolate Reb-A from stevia. As it turns out, most of the aftertaste is in the stevioside part of stevia’s sweet taste, not the rebaudioside part.

Rebaudioside A, or Reb A as it is commonly known, is the sweetest of all the natural compounds in the stevia leaf. Also, as just mentioned, it has very little of the problematic aftertaste and is 200 times sweeter than sugar–so very little goes a long way. Recent versions of Reb A available for use as a sweetener actually achieve 98% purity.

In addition to its use as a sweetener, stevia has the wonderful ability to help the body regulate blood sugar. Several researchers have reported that stevia seems to correct both high and low blood sugar–primarily as a result of its ability to re-vitalize beta cells in the pancreas. Other scientists have stated that stevia appears to lower blood pressure, but does not seem to affect normal blood pressure.

Final Energizing Shake Formula

The end result of this formulation is a shake powder that:

  • Tastes great
  • Mixes beautifully
  • Nutritionally supports your body’s ability to control the glycemic response even when mixed with blended fruit or fruit juices
  • Creates a sense of fullness and satiety that lasts for 3-4 hours
  • Loaded with hundreds of antioxidants and phytochemicals that support and nourish the body, as noted above
  • Helps you lose weight quickly, easily, and sustainably
  • And most importantly, provides a sustained energy release that lasts for 3-4 hours

This truly is a different kind of shake.

Resources:

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  • Tosh, S.M. “Review of human studies investigating the post-prandial blood-glucose lowering ability of oat and barley food products.” Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2013, 67, 310–317. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23422921
  • Othman RA, Moghadasian MH, Jones PJ. “Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat ß-glucan.” Nutr. Rev. 2011, 69, 299–309. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21631511
  • Vitaglione P, Mennella I, Ferracane R, et al. “Whole-grain wheat consumption reduces inflammation in a randomized controlled trial on overweight and obese subjects with unhealthy dietary and lifestyle behaviors: Role of polyphenols bound to cereal dietary fiber.” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2015, 101, 251–261. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/101/2/251.long
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  • Kannan A, Hettiarachchy NS, Lay JO, Liyanage R. “Human cancer cell proliferation inhibition by a pentapeptide isolated and characterized from rice bran.” Peptides. 2010 Sep;31(9):1629-34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20594954
  • Alitheen NB, Oon CL, Keong YS, et al. “Cytotoxic effects of commercial wheatgrass and fiber towards human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL60).” Pak J Pharm Sci. 2011 Jul;24(3):243-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21715255
  • S. Dey, R. Sarkar, P. Ghosh, et al. “Effect of wheat grass juice in supportive care of terminally ill cancer patients– A tertiary cancer centre [sic] experience from India.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 24, no. 90180 (June 2006) 8634-8634. http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/jco.2006.24.90180.8634
  • Marwaha, R., Bansal, D., Kaur, S., Trehan A. “Wheat grass juice reduces transfusion requirements in patients with thalassemia major: a pilot study.” Indian Pediatric 2004 Jul;41(7):716-20. http://www.indianpediatrics.net/july2004/july-716-720.htm
  • S. Mukhopadhyay, J. Basak, M. Kar, S. Mandal, A. Mukhopadhyay. “The role of iron chelation activity of wheat grass juice in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome.” jco.2009.27.15s.7012. http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/jco.2009.27.15s.7012
  • Bar-Sela G, Tsalic M, Fried G, Goldberg H. “Wheat grass juice may improve hematological toxicity related to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients: a pilot study.” Nutr Cancer. 2007;58(1):43-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17571966
  • Mueller T, Jordan K, Voigt W. “Promising cytotoxic activity profile of fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar®) in human cancer cell lines.” J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Apr 16;30:42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3104483/
  • Amraie E, Farsani MK, Sadeghi L, et al. “The effects of aqueous extract of alfalfa on blood glucose and lipids in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.” Interv Med Appl Sci. 2015 Sep;7(3):124-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609025/
  • Gray AM1, Flatt PR. “Pancreatic and extra-pancreatic effects of the traditional anti-diabetic plant, Medicago sativa (lucerne).” Br J Nutr. 1997 Aug;78(2):325-34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9301421
  • Gatouillat G, Magid AA, Bertin E, et al. “Cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced by alfalfa (Medicago sativa) leaf extracts in sensitive and multidrug-resistant tumor cells.” Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(3):483-91. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24628411
  • Gatouillat G, Magid AA, Bertin E, et al. “Medicarpin and millepurpan, two flavonoids isolated from Medicago sativa, induce apoptosis and overcome multidrug resistance in leukemia P388 cells.” Phytomedicine. 2015 Dec 1;22(13):1186-94. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26598918
  • Takagi S, Miura T, Ishibashi C, et al. “Effect of corosolic acid on the hydrolysis of disaccharides.” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2008 Jun;54(3):266-8. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jnsv/54/3/54_3_266/_pdf
  • Li XQ, Tian W, Liu XX, et al. “Corosolic acid inhibits the proliferation of glomerular mesangial cells and protects against diabetic renal damage.” Sci Rep. 2016 May 27;6:26854. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882506/
  • Kim SJ, Cha JY, Kang HS, et al. “Corosolic acid ameliorates acute inflammation through inhibition of IRAK-1 phosphorylation in macrophages.” BMB Rep. 2016 May;49(5):276-81. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5070707/
  • Nutan, Modi M, Goel T, Das T, et al. “Ellagic acid & gallic acid from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. inhibit HIV-1 infection through inhibition of HIV-1 protease & reverse transcriptase activity.” Indian J Med Res. 2013 Mar;137(3):540-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705663/
  • Cherian S, Kumar RV, Augusti KT, Kidwai JR. “Antidiabetic effect of a glycoside of pelargonidin isolated from the bark of Ficus bengalensis Linn.” Indian J Biochem Biophys. 1992 Aug;29(4):380-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1427968
  • Fratantonio D, Cimino F, Molonia MS, et al. “Cyanidin-3-O-glucoside ameliorates palmitate-induced insulin resistance by modulating IRS-1 phosphorylation and release of endothelial derived vasoactive factors.” Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Dec 21;1862(3):351-357. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28011403
  • Takikawa M, Inoue S, Horio F, Tsuda T. “Dietary anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract ameliorates hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity via activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in diabetic mice.” J Nutr. 2010 Mar;140(3):527-33. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/140/3/527.long
  • Himanshu Misra, Manish Soni, Narendra Silawat, et al. “Antidiabetic activity of medium-polar extract from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana Bert. (Bertoni) on alloxan-induced diabetic rats.” J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Apr-Jun; 3(2): 242–248. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3103919/
  • Abdula R, Jeppesen PB, Rolfsen SE, et al. “Rebaudioside A potently stimulates insulin secretion from isolated mouse islets: Studies on the dose, glucose and calcium dependency.” Metab. 2004;53:1378–81. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15375798
  • Paul Chan, Brian Tomlinson, Yi-Jen Chen, et al. “A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension.” Br J Clin Pharmacol. Sep 2000; 50(3): 215–220. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2014988/

Note:

As you probably figured out, I do not sell products so you won’t see product names such as “Accelerator” here because we are just discussing what formulas, in general, improve health. You just need to look at the ingredients of any manufacturer you buy from.

In Essence…

About Essential Oils…

IN ESSENCE…

    • Essential oils are organic, volatile, liquids that are secreted by tiny structures in a plant’s various parts such as the seeds, leaves, fruits, flowers, resins, and woods.
    • An essential oil gets its name from the plant from which it is derived.
    • These oils were given the name “essential,” because they were believed to capture a plant’s essence, that is its odor and flavor. They lend plants their distinctive fragrance.
    • Essential oils act as their original plant’s defense mechanism and are more powerful due to the concentration of healing compounds collected in the oil.
    • The specific ratio of the constituents in an essential oil gives it its specific wellness-enhancing and therapeutic qualities.
    • Fragrance oils are artificial and synthetically created by chemists, thus they do not contain the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils.
    • It is best to avoid essential oils under specific circumstances, especially when they are undiluted, and when a user is pregnant or on medication.
    • To ensure that an essential oil is of the highest quality, check for a “Canada Organic,” “United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified,” or “Organic Certified” seal.
    • Essential oils should be stored in cool, dark, dry areas.
  • Essential oil prices depend on crop and growing conditions, suppliers’ and each company’s resources, and their process and production practices.

HISTORY OF ESSENTIAL OILS

Due to the worldwide usage of essential oils for centuries, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which culture began using them first, but the first records of essential oils allegedly come from ancient India, Persia, and Egypt. Greece and Rome also engaged in the widespread trade of aromatic oils and ointments with Eastern countries. Each culture had various uses for them ranging from health treatments to spiritual practices. Their herbal preparations included incense, perfume, clothing and fabric fresheners, medicine such as pills, powders, and suppositories, ointments, scented baths, and aromatherapy massages. In many cultures, aromatic oils were believed to create a union with the gods and were held in such high regard that they were used only by a select group of privileged people, such as priests.

Arabs were the first to develop the technique of plant distillation to extract essential oils. They were able to replace the fatty oils that were used as solvents for extraction with a new solvent that they created by distilling ethyl alcohol from fermented sugar. During the Middle Ages, this knowledge of the distillation technique spread to Europe and its pharmacies specialized in distilled products.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils are organic, concentrated, highly volatile, hydrophobic liquids that naturally occur within and are secreted by tiny structures located in a plant’s various parts – the seeds, grasses, roots, barks, stems, leaves, fruits, flowers, resins, zest and wood of plants. They are also referred to as volatile oils, ethereal oils, or aetherolea. Despite the word “oil,” they feel less viscous than oil, having more of a watery texture.

Inhaling the scent of a flower equates to experiencing its essential oil’s aroma. These oils were given the name “essential,” because they were believed to capture a plant’s essence, that is its odor and flavor. The nature of an oil depends on the plant itself and on the botanical family and species to which it belongs. An essential oil gets its name from the plant from which it is derived. For example, the essential oil from the Lavender flower would be called Lavender Oil.

The oils contained within the plants are aromatic, lending plants their distinctive fragrance while also promoting their self-protection and pollination; it is likely that oils from a plant’s wood, leaves, and roots help the plant guard itself against attacks from parasites and animals and allow them to adapt to their environments, which are sometimes harsh. A pure essential oil than is the plant’s defense mechanism and is more powerful than the botanical itself due to the concentration of healing compounds collected in the oil.

As already mentioned, an essential oil is an aromatic compound that is volatile in nature, which is to say it is a molecule that rapidly changes states from solid or liquid to a gas at room temperature. The speed with which it changes states is the reason for the name “volatile.” In chemistry, this refers to a substance’s tendency to vaporize readily. This is what quickly transports the aroma of an essential oil through the air, causing it to activate olfactory sensors in the nose. The volatile aromatic compounds also govern the physiological benefits offered by an oil – this is precisely what makes essential oils ideal for use in aromatherapy, a holistic practice that promotes a sense of well-being and harmony of body and mind through the power of scent.

COMPOSITION OF ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are comprised of a complex mixture of constituents, a single essential oil sometimes containing hundreds of them. The specific ratio of the constituents gives the oil its specific wellness-enhancing and therapeutic qualities. The most commonly found classes of essential oil constituents include: Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Diterpenes, Alcohols, Phenols, Aldehydes, Ketones, Esters, and Oxides. Due to the health-supporting and cleansing properties that many of the constituents share, almost all essential oils are antiseptic and many also have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities.

The appearance of essential oils ranges from being colorless to be any color of the rainbow, and sometimes the color of the oil points to its therapeutic qualities. For example, being blue in color, Chamomile Oil is useful for aromatherapy massage on a person experiencing “red hot” emotions, as the blue represents its classic “cooling and soothing” effect and counteracts any negative physical and psychological feelings. Oils such as Patchouli, Orange, and Lemongrass are amber or yellow in color and their bright happy colors can easily help a person determine what they are best used for – as mood boosters! Younger plants yield more essential oils than older plants, but the latter produce oils that are more resinous and darker in color due to the continuous evaporation of the oil’s lighter fractions. Sometimes their colors are a result of the extraction method while at other times the color of the plant material affects the color of the final product. While Chamomile is not blue, it contains a component called Chamazulene, which turns the oil an inky blue color during the distillation process.

EXTRACTING ESSENTIAL OILS

A single drop of an essential oil can be potent enough to have powerful health benefits. Microdroplets of oils are stored in a plant’s glands. After these droplets are diffused through the gland walls, they spread out over the plant’s surface and then evaporate, filling the air with a pleasant aroma.

Plants with the strongest scents are usually found in tropical regions where there are higher temperatures, which causes plants to produce more biogenic volatile organic compounds while also extending the growing period throughout which their fragrant compounds are generated. Typically, it takes many pounds of plant material to produce a small amount of essential oil. In the case of Rose Oil, 65 pounds of rose petals are required to make only 15 mL of oil.

The following methods are the ways to extract essential oils: EnfleurageExpression, Steam Distillation, Solvent Extraction, Carbon Dioxide Extraction, Fractional Distillation and Percolation, Phytonic Process, Maceration, Mechanical Pressing, and Distillation.

 

EXTRACTION METHOD PROCESS
Enfleurage Delicate plant parts like flowers, roots, and leaves are soaked in fatty oils to extract their essential oils
Expression A rotating mechanical device with spikes punctures the fruit rind to release its essential oils. This method is also called “Cold Pressing.” It is specifically meant for citrus essential oils (Lemon, Bergamot, Orange, etc).
Steam Distillation A current of steam is injected into the still containing botanical material, usually at high pressures and temperatures.
Solvent Extraction One of the components of botanical material dissolves in a particular liquid (solvent) and the non-volatile components, such as waxes and pigments, are separated/removed by filtration. This method is also called “Liquid-liquid Extraction.” It encompasses Enfleurage, Maceration, and Carbon Dioxide Extraction.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction Pressurized CO2 turns into a “supercritical” liquid that is pumped into a chamber containing plant material. Despite being a gas it has liquid properties, which allows it to act as a solvent that pulls out the plant matter’s essential oils.
Hydro-Diffusion (Hydrofusion) Extraction This method is similar to steam distillation except that the steam enters through the top of the chamber rather than the bottom. The plant material lies on top of a grill, so the steam “percolates” down through the plant material, much like coffee passes through a filter. This method is also called “Percolation.”
Phytonic Process This method uses non-chlorofluorocarbons (non-CFCs) as a solvent. The oils produced are called Phytols. The extraction occurs at or below room temperature, which means the oil is not degraded by high temperatures. These oils are pure and as close to the natural plant properties as possible. This method is also called “Florasol Extraction.”
Maceration A solvent (Menstruum) is added to cut/ground/crushed plant material and the mixture is allowed to stand for a certain period of time. The liquid is strained and the solid residue is pressed for any remaining liquid. Both strained and expressed liquids are mixed then filtered.
Oil Soak Plant material is soaked in a carrier oil. After 2 weeks, the solids are strained the remaining infused oil is the final product.
Water Distillation Plant material is submerged in water that is heated until the plant material becomes soft. The oil vapors rise, enter a condensation chamber, and cool off. Here, the steam becomes water again, but the vapors become the oil. The oil is then separated from the water component, which becomes the “floral water” (hydrosol).

 

The most popular extraction method for essential oils is steam or water distillation of the roots, bark, stems, leaves, flowers or other parts of a plant. With the aid of steam, this process separates the plant’s healing oil-based compounds from the water-based compounds to produce a single, concentrated aromatic oil.

ESSENTIAL OIL CONTRAINDICATIONS

Generally, when aromatherapy is approached with the proper cautions it does not lead to any adverse side effects and can promote well-being both physically and mentally. On the other hand, due to their powerful potency and their capacity to act as natural medicine, essential oils are best avoided under the following circumstances: when uninformed about essential oil properties, when undiluted, when pregnant or when pregnancy is suspected, while on medication, near open flames, near eyes, when exposed to sunlight or tanning booths, near children and pets, if prone to allergies or sensitivities, when room lacks proper ventilation.

ESSENTIAL OILS VS. FRAGRANCES

The terms “essential oil” and “perfume (oil)” are often used in place of each other due to their aromatic qualities, but there are significant differences between them. Essential oils are natural, volatile, aromatic compounds extracted from botanicals. Fragrance oils are artificial and synthetically created by chemists, who reproduce the chemical composition of a plant’s components; however, they do not contain the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils, and thus they are not used in aromatherapy, as the body does not absorb the structures of the synthetic molecules in the same way it absorbs natural molecules. The similarity between essential oils and fragrance oils is that both types of oils can be found in cosmetics such as moisturizers, soaps, and of course perfumes as well as odorant products used around the house, such as scented candles, diffusers, and sachets for laundry.

Sometimes the term “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” is used to refer to essential oil blends, which are combinations of several essential oils even though essential oils are not artificially made. The advantage of using essential oil blends is that money will not be spent on purchasing individual oils, but the downside is that the oils contained in a blend will not be customized to the individual’s preference.

WHAT AFFECTS ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY?

It is beneficial and advisable to purchase quality essential oils from a reputable source that specializes in supplying essential oils that are therapeutically active in order to receive their health benefits. Because the purpose of an essential oil in aromatherapy, it is best to avoid using commercial grade oils, which are usually better suited to the industries of perfumery or flavoring. For an essential oil that is 100% pure and natural, and ready to be used in aromatherapy, it should not have anything added to it, as this will compromise its therapeutic properties.

Regardless of how pure an oil claims to be, its composition can vary and is determined by the following factors, all of which impact the final quality of the oil: the scarcity of the botanical, the country of origin, the year the crop is grown, the season, the weather, the geography of the land, the method and duration of distillation, the distiller’s quality standards and how much oil the botanical yields.

The quality of an oil may be identifiable by its label, but it is important to keep in mind that Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration do not regulate essential oils, thus there is no way to validate the truth of the claims on the bottle label. One hint that points toward an essential oil possessing a good quality is the printed Latin name of the botanical from which the oil was extracted. Also, despite the chance that a label could mislead with the claim of being a “pure” or “100%” essential oil if a label claims this there is a better chance that it is of high quality. Oils with the terms “fragrant oil” or “potpourri oil” on their labels are synthetic, so while they may smell like essential oils, their effects will not be therapeutic and may instead cause an allergic reaction.

To ensure that an essential oil can be used for therapeutic purposes, check for a “Canada Organic,” “United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified,” or “Organic Certified” seal. For more information about the quality that these seals guarantee, have a look at our article titled “Safe Cosmetics.” All of the Organic Essential Oils at New Directions Aromatics are NOP/USDA certified. This means they are 100% pure, natural, and free of herbicidal residue, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers.

STORING ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are typically sold individually in small, dark individual glass bottles that prevent exposure to light, which would cause them to oxidize and diminish their fragrances as well as their therapeutic properties. The oils may even evaporate. The most common bottle colors are amber and cobalt blue. Oils will cause plastic bottles of any color to deteriorate if they are not PET AND HDPE plastics.

The bottles must be tightly sealed by their caps, as exposure to air will also lead to oil oxidization. The caps should only be taken off when the oil is in use and then it should be recapped immediately afterward. Screw-on bottle caps are recommended over lids with droppers and bulb because despite the rubber droppers making application easier, the rubber will eventually deteriorate and possibly leak into the oil. Oils should not be stored on surfaces that are easily damaged such as paper, plastic, or painted or polished surfaces, as oils can stain these materials.

The ideal spot for storing essential oils is in a cool, dry place with a stable temperature away from direct sunlight, as sunlight will cause oxidization. Oils may be stored inside a refrigerator to prevent exposure to air, direct sunlight, and fluctuating temperatures, and in this case, the optimal temperature is between 5 and 10 áµ’C (41 and 50 áµ’F). Although the oil might coagulate, this will not have an unfavorable effect on the quality of the oil, which should return to its liquid state after thawing outside the refrigerator and returning to room temperature. Oils should not be kept in the freezer, as freezing may damage the oil quality. Due to their flash points – temperatures at which a liquid’s flammable vapors mix with air and ignite when exposed to heat – essential oils should be kept away from heat sources such as stovetops and candles or they may catch fire.

To ensure safe use of an essential oil so that it will not cause a reaction, it is important to check the “best before” date.

TYPES OF ESSENTIAL OILS & CONSTITUENT CONCENTRATIONS

The following chart highlights the various essential oil concentrations along with a few examples of the numerous oils that fall into the category of the specified oil type:

 

OIL TYPE/MAIN CONSTITUENT BENEFITS ESSENTIAL OILS
Citrus Oils These oils are believed to be uplifting and thus supportive of the immune system. Lemon

Bergamot

Blood Orange

Monoterpene-rich Oils These oils are known to be airborne deodorizers. Frankincense

Lime

Juniper Berry

Aldehyde-rich Oils These oils are believed to combat fungus and to soothe and cool the skin. Lemongrass

Mandarin

Myrrh

Ester-rich Oils These oils are sedative, promoting a sense of relaxation and stress-relief. Clary Sage

Sweet Marjoram

Valerian Root

Oxide-rich Oils These oils are reputed to be decongestive and mentally motivating. Eucalyptus

Rosemary

Peppermint

Monoterpenol-rich Oils These oils have traditionally been used to nourish the skin and to soothe inflamed skin. Geranium

Palmarosa

Tea Tree

Ketone-rich Oils These oils are believed to be mucolytic and, when applied topically, are known to be cooling. Dill

Fennel

Lavender

Phenol-rich Oils These oils are reputed to be anti-infectious. Oregano

Spearmint

Thyme

Sesquiterpene-rich Oils These oils are ideal for inflammation and pain issues. They are believed to promote a sense of calm and focus. Cedarwood

Vetiver

Spikenard

Sesquiterpenol-rich Oils These oils are believed to show sedative and anti-inflammatory activities. Carrot Seed

Patchouli

Sandalwood

PRICING OF ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oil prices depend on crop and growing conditions and both the suppliers’ and each company’s resources, and their process and production practices, which give insight into their quality and control standards. A buyer should be cautious about avoiding buying only the cheapest oils, as they may not necessarily have the same therapeutic properties as more expensive oils. One company’s high prices might be due to the care given to their distillation, shipment, and storage of their oils. Certified organic oils are also more expensive than non-organic or “conventional” oils. The prices for fragrance oils tend to remain steadily reasonable. Though there are some essential oils with lower prices than their synthetic versions, they are also more volatile. These oils include Lemon, Orange, Pine, and some varieties of Lavender.

Omega-3 Intake Through Mother’s Breast Milk May Lower Type 1 Diabetes Risk

New research suggests that an early intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids through the mother’s breast milk may lower the risk of type 1 diabetes in infants.
Research shows that dietary intake of omega-3 in the mother may prevent type 1 diabetes in the infant receiving her breast milk.

Type 1 diabetes affects more than 20 million people across the globe, and more than a million people in the United States have been diagnosed with the disease.

The condition is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s own immune cells attack the so-called beta cells. Beta cells are responsible for producing insulin, which, in turn, is needed to decrease the levels of sugar in the blood. Therefore, in type 1 diabetes, the body cannot produce insulin, and patients with this condition must have it administered artificially in order to survive.

Type 1 diabetes used to be called “juvenile-onset” diabetes, as the disease tends to be diagnosed when the patient is in their mid-teens. In fact, studies have shown that between 2001 and 2009, the number of cases of type 1 diabetes increased the most between those aged 15 to 19.

A new study suggests that something could be done to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes. Dr. Sari Niinistö, of the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, and the team set out to investigate whether or not maternal intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can help to prevent type 1 diabetes in infants.

Omega-3 fats are a subtype of polyunsaturated fats – that is, the “good” kind of fat – and are found most commonly in fish and fish oil, although they can also be found in nuts, leafy vegetables, and other vegetable oils.

The findings were published in the journal Diabetologia.

Studying the link between omega-3 serum levels and autoimmunity

Dr. Niinistö and team used data from the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study. They examined whether particularly high serum levels of omega-3 during infancy are associated with autoimmunity development in children who already had a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

The researchers examined 7,782 infants between 3 and 24 months old who were at genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes. They monitored their islet cell autoantibodies, taking blood samples regularly. Blood samples were also taken up to the age of 15.

Pancreatic Islets are clusters of cells that contain the insulin-producing beta cells.

The researchers also used food questionnaires and diaries to track the use of breastfed milk and formula – which are the two main sources of fatty acids for infants.

Of these newborns, 240 infants, together with 480 controls, developed islet autoimmunity. The researchers analyzed the samples of serum fatty acids that had been collected at 3 and 6 months old.

The researchers also looked for insulin and glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies in these patients – both markers of type 1 diabetes.

Omega-3 from breast milk lowers risk of type 1 diabetes autoimmunity

The results revealed that high serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids correlated with a lower risk of insulin autoimmunity.

Specifically, high levels of docosahexaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid seemed to lower the risk. However, a high ratio of alpha-linolenic acid to docosahexaenoic acid, as well as a large ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, were associated with a higher risk of autoimmunity.

Additionally, the researchers found a correlation between fatty acids and the type of milk feeding.

Infants who had been breastfed had increased serum levels of fatty acids – such as pentadecanoic acid, palmitic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid – and had a lower risk of autoimmunity, compared with infants who were fed cow’s milk-based formula.

By contrast, a higher intake of formula correlated with an increased risk of autoimmunity. Dr. Sari Niinistö and colleagues summarize their findings:

[Our] findings support the view that breastfeeding, or some components of breast milk, including fatty acids, are protective, particularly with early autoimmunity [and] that long-chain omega-3 status during the early months, at a time when the immune system is maturing and being programmed, is critical.”

Prenatal Yoga Center

Deb Flashenberg is the owner, founder, and director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. In addition to teaching yoga to the prenatal and postnatal communities, Deb is a DONA-certified doula, Lamaze-certified childbirth educator, and has a wealth of knowledge in helping to educate and support women during and after pregnancy.

“I have a dance background and was introduced to yoga by a choreographer I was working with, and I immediately took to it,” Deb told MNT. “I slowly started to transition from dance class to yoga and never went back. After several years of teaching prenatal yoga and building a reputation and presence in the field, I started to get requests for online classes from people who lived outside of NYC [New York City].”

“Adding online classes allowed those not in the area to be part of the Prenatal Yoga Center community. Now we are blessed to have people from all over the world watch these videos and benefit from the practice of prenatal yoga.”

Deb and her team of highly trained and educated instructors use a three-pronged approach to teaching yoga. First, they focus on physical comfort and addressing the aches and pains of pregnancy. Next, the team nurtures a supportive community of friendship. Finally, they ensure that childbirth education themes and birthing trends are interwoven into classes.

The Prenatal Yoga Center offers a selection of yoga videos that help to alleviate some of the uncomfortable symptoms that result from the physical changes that occur during pregnancy. There are sequences to relieve lower back pain and ease carpal tunnel, as well as quick stretch therapies for aching legs and feet.

“I believe it is vitally important for women to mentally and physically prepare for labor, no matter if they want a medicated, unmedicated, or cesarean birth,” explained Deb. “When women have the tools they need to cope with labor, fear lessens and their labor improves.”

“In class, we focus on diaphragmatic breathing within the flow of poses while creating strength and flexibility in the whole body. We work on balancing the pelvis and pelvic ligaments and muscles to encourage the baby into optimal fetal position, and we teach the mothers how to strengthen and use their transverse abdominals, which will help them in the pushing stage. We also address common aches and pains of pregnancy and aim to alleviate them through asanas and specific yoga modifications.”

Yoga by the Prenatal Yoga Center can be viewed on their website or via their YouTube channel.

Here are Prenatal Yoga Center’s top three most popular yoga workouts:

  1. Alleviating back pain
  2. Breathing techniques for labor
  3. Helpful hip openers

As with any sport or physical activity, yoga will challenge the body to do things it may not have done before, which may cause injury. Never push yourself too hard and make sure you follow guidelines and precautions. If you are pregnant or have a medical condition or injuries, be sure to consult a doctor before practicing yoga.