The Microbiome: A Key to Your Health

Abigail McShinsky
MegaFood Training and Education Specialist

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of probiotics. Perhaps you even take them, as a supplement, yourself. The research and information demonstrating their vital importance to our health is growing, and it’s remarkable. Probiotics comprise what we refer to as the human microbiome – the vast collection of beneficial bacteria that inhabit, and form a deeply symbiotic relationship with, us.

Our digestive tracts are home to over 5,000 different species of beneficial bacteria, all of whom perform specific functions within our body (LiveScience). In addition to aiding in the digestion of food and nutrient assimilation, they are our biggest defense against illness – over 70% of our immune response resides within our gut!

Beyond this role, however, science continues to link the health of our microbiome to things such as allergies, and even lend credence to the phrase “gut reaction,” demonstrating a link between the health of our friendly crusaders and the brain! It begins to make sense, then, why these helpful bacteria, so important to our health and well-being, are called what they are – probiotic – literally meaning for life!

Unfortunately, modern diet trends and a focus on refined foods do not make for a strong microbiome. The Standard American Diet lacks diversity and an emphasis on fresh, whole, and fermented foods that nourish and grow our probiotic army. In addition, our frequent antibiotic use decimates these good guys and lowers our defenses further.

There is, of course, good news at the end of all of this. There are great ways to get probiotics back into your diet, and of course, into your gut, where they belong!  One thing to consider is foods that are rich in probiotics. Traditionally, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickles are great options to start including in your daily diet. Just be sure they are the real deal – look for the words ‘fermented’ or ‘traditionally fermented’ on the label, and make sure they come from the refrigerated section, as probiotics are living, and many strains require cooler temperatures to stay alive (they can actually be damaged by heat!)

There are, of course, less-familiar options to look into as well – foods such as kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are delicious and healthy ways to get probiotics into your child’s diet, not to mention helping them create healthy eating habits for years to come.

In addition to fortifying the diet with these good-for-the-gut foods, a probiotic supplement is another convenient choice. Seek formulations that deliver a wide-range of flora strains rather than just one or two, and one that requires refrigeration, to ensure you are getting viable, living strains.

Maximize Your Magnesium for the Heart of the Matter

MagnesiumBy Shannon Morehouse, MA CHHC

Magnesium is often referred to as the miracle mineral. Some statistics indicate that more than 75% of us are deficient in this incredibly valuable mineral.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms include: leg cramps, eye twitching, fatigue, constipation, insomnia, anxiety, racing heart, and chest pain. Magnesium is a natural relaxant; research shows that it can help keep insomnia at bay, relieve muscle cramps, get things moving through your digestive tract, ease anxiety, and can even lower your risk for diabetes. Another important fact about magnesium is that it provides amazing benefits for your heart. In honor of National Heart Health Month, we would like to share with you some facts about magnesium submitted by renowned doctor Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. If you find her facts interesting, she has many more facts on magnesium available in a free downloadable guide at http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org.

  • The heart is a very large muscle. Calcium causes muscles to contract and magnesium causes them to relax. If the body is deficient in magnesium, the heart can go into spasm causing a fatal heart attack; beat erratically causing arrhythmia; or beat too slowly (bradycardia) or too quickly (tachycardia). Magnesium balances calcium.
  • Magnesium prevents blood clot formation and muscle spasms of the heart’s blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack. One major cause of angina is spasming of the heart’s coronary arteries that are lined with smooth muscles that react to a deficiency of magnesium.
  • Magnesium prevents muscle spasms of the peripheral blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease.
  • Magnesium prevents calcium buildup and cholesterol plaque in arteries, which leads to clogged arteries.
  • Your body requires magnesium to maintain healthy elastin, which provides essential elasticity in your arteries. Loss of elasticity is a risk factor for heart disease. Loss of elasticity causes inflammation of heart blood vessels, which interferes with blood flow and leads to heart disease.
  • High blood pressure can cause stroke and heart attack. Tension in the smooth muscle of blood vessels throughout the body due to magnesium deficiency is a major cause of high blood pressure.

The Benefits of a High-Quality Fish Oil Supplement

By The Natur-Tyme Wellness Team148266535

Fish oil. It’s no longer the foul tasting oil of your youth. Not only do high-quality fish oils smell and taste good, they provide the nutrients, thus health, the body craves—literally!

The nutrients in question are the Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Extensive research connects DHA and EPA deficiencies to heart disease; brain disorders, such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s; diabetes; stroke; depression; arthritis; allergies; circulation problems; skin disorders; and gout just to name a few. By simply adding high quality fish oil to your health regime, you can vastly improve the health of your eyes, skin, digestive and immune systems, joints, and especially your heart and brain.

Our highly processed Western diet has drastically changed America’s nutritional landscape. The use of vegetable oils in processed foods caused an enormous increase in Omega-6 fatty acid consumption, elevating the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio from its ideal 2:1 to an estimated 20:1. In some cases, it’s even as high as 50:1. Omega-3s can reduce inflammation, while Omega-6s may increase inflammation. Omega-3s can prevent excessive blood clotting, while Omega-6s may promote clotting. Omega-3s can moderate immune system reactions, while Omega-6s may often make it over-react. So you can see how an imbalanced intake can create imbalance in the body, leading to disease.

A fish oil supplement can help create that needed balance. In regard to cardiovascular disease, the benefits of Omega-3s are so well understood and accepted that the American Heart Association published statements recommending increased fish intake and/or the use of fish oil supplements. One study even showed that the Omega-3s in fish oils cut your risk of sudden death from heart disease in half.

At least one epidemiologic study has shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have significantly lower levels of Omega-3s than healthy seniors. Researchers report that older people can reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by increasing their intake of fish and fish oil (DHA).

Omega-3s from fish oil are also a great choice for optimal nutrition during pregnancy, not only for fetal development, but for the mother as well. DHA is the most abundant Omega-3 long-chain fatty acid in breast milk and studies show that breast-fed babies have IQ advantages over babies fed formula lacking DHA. Research also shows that by adding DHA to her diet, a new mother can significantly decrease the possibility and/or effects of postpartum depression.

OTHER BENEFITS INCLUDE

  • Protection against symptoms of hay fever, sinus infections, asthma, food allergies, and allergic skin conditions, such as hives and eczema
  • Inhibition of the production of the inflammatory compounds related to psoriasis and improvement of the health of skin, nails, and hair
  • Reduction in insulin resistance
  • Improvement of immune function (research links the intake of fish oil to a lowered risk of breast and prostate cancers)
  • Lowered risk of age-related macular degeneration—an eye condition which is the leading cause of severe visual loss in people over age 50
  • An anti-inflammatory effect on inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)

When selecting a supplement, choose a product that delivers a high concentration of DHA and EPA per serving. Finally, be sure to look for oils that are clean. Some brands that we recommend for their high-quality fish oils include: Nordic Naturals, Carlson Labs, and NutriNeeds.

 

Probiotics Offer Benefits to Most

By the Natur-Tyme Wellness Team166674176

Probiotics are microorganisms that exert beneficial effects in humans and have been the subject of many recent scientific studies. They benefit us in wide variety of ways, including averting harmful organisms from growing (such as yeast), preventing food and environmental allergies, enhancing the immune system, assisting in the digestion of foods, and promoting the degradation of toxins. Some strains of probiotics have also been shown to bind mercury and other heavy metals, preventing their absorption into the body. Also, probiotics have been shown to prevent and inhibit the growth of colon, liver, and breast cancer. The health benefits of these organisms are so profound; it is one of the few supplements we recommend that almost all people include as part of their daily regimen.

Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, including cheese, yogurt, butter, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. However, most of us can’t or don’t eat these foods in sufficient enough quantities to counteract the challenges of modern life. The proper balance of these microflora can be thrown off by a diet high in meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other processed foods. Also, constipation, diarrhea, stress, birth control pills or other forms of estrogen replacement therapy, chlorinated water, and antibiotics in the food supply also readily off-set the balance of these beneficial organisms.

So, supplementation is necessary. There are many probiotic products to choose from.

Someone who has difficulty swallowing capsules should consider the tiny Acidophilus Pearls from Enzymatic Therapy; because these do not need to be refrigerated, they are also great for when you travel.

Ideally, infants and toddlers should have primarily Bifidobacterium in their intestines to help prevent and stop diarrhea and to aid in the prevention of allergies. Supplementing with a powdered form of Bifidobacterium, either by itself or with a small percentage of Acidophilus, is easy with infants by dipping your fingertip in the powder and having your child suckle it. Adding one-eighth teaspoon to food, such as applesauce, is a great way to provide the Bifidobacterium to toddlers. Children older than two can be given combinations with higher percentages of Acidophilus.

In order to acquire the most significant benefits that probiotics can provide, maintenance is essential. For maintenance, we suggest the use of products that have a multitude of probiotic strains present to provide broad coverage, such as Flora Biotic Plus from Nutrineeds or Garden of Life’s Primal Defense.

One of the principal foundations of good health is maintaining a vigorous digestive tract. Probiotics are fundamental to this and have been shown to have so many immediate and long-term positive health effects. They inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress, improve digestion of food and absorption of vitamins, stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanism – the immune system, and help make vitamins needed by the body. With all of these outstanding health benefits, you should consider the importance of working them into your daily routine.

Let’s Get More RAW!

By Laurel Sterling, MA, RDRawVeggies

With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to try adding more raw foods into our diets. Raw foods include foods with no application of heat of any kind. That means no cooking, grilling, or steaming the foods. Raw foods are never heated above 110-116 degrees F. Methods of preparing raw foods include: juicing, sprouting, dehydrating, freezing, or fermenting. Raw foods are digested easily and quickly in 24-36 hours vs. 48-100 hours for cooked foods, and it keeps enzymes and nutrients intact.

Adding more raw foods into your diet is quite simple actually. A gradual change toward more raw food in one’s diet is better for people who are used to consuming most of their meals cooked. A semi-raw diet of 50% or more can be your final goal for a healthier diet, or you can use it to help you move toward a more significant change.

Always consider how you can add fruit, vegetables, or nuts to what you are preparing. Instead of cooking vegetables out of habit, find out if there’s another way of preparing them. For example:

  • Marinate kale, broccoli, mushrooms, or other foods that are typically cooked to give them a soft, tender texture.
  • Raw corn, scraped off the cob, makes a tasty salad that goes well with tomatoes, fresh herbs, peppers, or zucchini.
  • To make a raw tomato sauce, simply blend ripe summer tomatoes with fresh herbs and a touch of garlic or onion.

Look also for ways to add chopped, raw vegetables to meals you already eat. Whether you add in one fresh juice a day or a salad to your dinner, you are on the right path for getting more raw foods into your diet for a healthier lifestyle.

Let’s JUICE it UP!

Cafe_Group_EditBy Laurel Sterling, MA, RD

The nutritional benefits of juicing are immense. Juicing can pack a tremendous amount of nutrients in just one delicious cup. Fresh juice, not from a bottle or concentrate, is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, and so much more!

Because juice is assimilated with very little effort from the digestive system, the body can easily make use of all the nutrition it offers. Juicing combined with a nutritious and balanced diet is ideal.

So whether your health is at a low point right now or even if you are feeling very healthy, juicing is excellent for your health and energy. This is a great gift you can give to your body all year-round!

Here at Natur-Tyme’s Tyme-Out Café, we have several great ones to choose from:

  • CNY Yogi is a very refreshing drink. It’s a perfect choice for its cooling and detoxifying properties. Rich in nutrients that aid the body in ridding excess fluids as well as toxins, what a great choice for someone who is looking for a jumpstart on cleansing!
  • Lightening Bug is rich in antioxidants, and loaded with vitamin C. This is a wonderful choice any time of the year due to its immune-enhancing properties!
  • Popeye’s Punch is a great option for those looking to decrease systemic inflammation. This is in part due to the alkalinity of the fruits and herbs within. This is another one I love!
  • Ginger-Snap is packed full of vitamin A, which enhances immunity, and with the addition of warming ginger, it has an added benefit of being anti-inflammatory as well.
  • The Blue-Green Elixir is filled with minerals, antioxidants, and also protein from the algae. This elixir can assist with energy as well as immunity.
  • Transfusion is a power-packed juice! This combo of fruits, veggies, and spices will give your body a transfusion of several nutrients to aid in cleansing, detoxifying, and decreasing inflammation. This one is my personal favorite!
  • Re-Fresh is a lovely cooling and cleansing drink that assists in detoxifying as well as having diuretic properties. A perfect juice choice in the summer to cool down! The simplicity of this juice appeals to many juicing novices.
  • Wheatgrass is a very rich nutritional food that is filled with vitamins, mineral, and trace elements. According to Dr. Anne Wigmore, founder of Hippocrates Health Institute, one pound of wheatgrass is equal in nutritional value to 25 pounds of choice vegetables. Come in and try one of our wheatgrass shots!
  • This warming Ginger shot can assist in digestion, decreasing inflammation, cleansing, and alkalizing the body. What more can you ask for in one shot! This is great during those long cold winter months we have here in Syracuse.

So come in, sit down, relax, and try one of our juice combo drinks or juice shots. You will be sure to fall in love with them! Enjoy!

Warm up at the Tyme-Out Café with Mexican Hot Chocolate

By Deborah SorrentinoChocolateCayenneBlog

These cold winter months of shivers and chills spark our instincts to turn to warm, delicious beverages. May we recommend Tyme-Out Café’s Mexican Hot Chocolate?

Our version of this beverage is not just another pretty taste. There is a therapeutic method to our madness.

The key components of our recipe are raw cacao powder, maple syrup, cinnamon, and last but not least, cayenne pepper.

Raw cacao, the darkest of dark chocolates, is rich in magnesium, and one of the world’s best sources of antioxidants.

Not all sweeteners are created equal. Maple syrup contains polyphenols, antioxidants that quell inflammation, which is linked to a slew of health conditions from cancer to arthritis.

Obtained from the inner bark of several trees in the genus, cinnamon, is a spice used in both sweet and savory recipes. Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have long revered cinnamon as a superpower used to treat things such as colds, indigestion, and cramps and also believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation. One-half teaspoon of cinnamon daily can lower LDL (bad cholesterol). It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood. Cinnamon can also help stabilize blood sugar, which helps with weight loss. A couple of dashes in your morning cereal or beverage are all it takes! When added to food, it acts as an inhibitor of bacterial growth and food spoilage. Just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.

Cayenne pepper is somewhat of a miracle ingredient. Cayenne may have the ability to ease stomach upset, ulcers, sore throats, spasmodic and irritating coughs, and diarrhea. It aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus. Once mucus begins to leave the body, relief from cold and flu symptoms generally follows. Cayenne may aid in the prevention of migraine headaches. This may be related to the pepper’s ability to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus redirecting the brain’s attention to the new site. Cayenne’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great herb for arthritis, diabetes, psoriasis, and herpes-related nerve damage. It is also credited with stimulating the production of saliva, an important key to excellent digestion and optimal oral health.

With all of these benefits hidden in a rich and deeply delicious drink, could you ask for anything more? Indulge yourself with a Mexican Hot Chocolate and know you are doing something wonderfully beneficial for your body and soul.

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