Why Folic Acid Is Important for Pregnancy

folic-acid

Folic acid, or folate,  is a B vitamin that the cells in our body need in order to properly grow and develop. Studies have shown that women of childbearing age who take 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday before and during pregnancy will help reduce their baby’s risk of developing various birth defects.

Why Folic Acid Is Important

Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)

The neural tube is the part of the baby’s developing body that later becomes the brain and spinal cord. When this tube does not close completely, it can lead to neural tube defects. These birth defects therefore affect the brain and spine, and include such conditions as spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele, all of which occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy – before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

Proper Cell Growth

Folic acid is needed by the body to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia. Our bodies also need folic acid for the production, repair, and proper functioning of our DNA – the basic building blocks of cells. Folic acid is especially important for promoting proper cell growth and development, as well as tissue formation of the placenta and baby.

Preeclampsia

Some studies have shown that taking folic acid during the second trimester of pregnancy can reduce a woman’s risk of preeclampsia – a complex disorder that affects about 5 percent of pregnant women.

Health Issues for Baby

Folic acid may also protect your baby from various health issues like cleft lip and palate, premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, and poor growth in the womb.

Health Issues for Mom

Folic acid has also been found to reduce a woman’s risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs of Folic Acid Deficiency

Signs of a folic acid deficiency include: hemolytic and megaloblastic anemia, in which red blood cells are large and uneven in size, have a shorter life span, or are likely to have cell membranes rupture; irritability; weakness; lack of energy; sleeping difficulties; paleness; soreness, red tongue; mild mental symptoms.

How To Get Enough Folic Acid

The recommended daily amount of folic acid for women of childbearing age is 400 micrograms (mg). Folic acid should be taken before and during pregnancy, as well as when breastfeeding.

Good food sources for folic acid include leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, beef liver, beans and lentils, peanuts, and citrus fruit. However, most women don’t get enough folic acid from foods and will also need to take a supplement.

Where to Buy Folic Acid

folic-acid-bottleFolic acid is found in just about every pharmacy, drug store, vitamin shop, and natural health foods store. This month, Healthy Planet has the Jamieson Folic Acid 100 tablets on sale for just $3.99 – that’s 15% off the regular price!

 

Sources

http://www.babycenter.com/0_folic-acid-why-you-need-it-before-and-during-pregnancy_476.bc
http://www.webmd.com/baby/folic-acid-and-pregnancy
http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/take-folic-acid-before-youre-pregnant.aspx

Image: antpkr / freedigitalphotos.net


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Milk Thistle for a Healthy Liver and More

Milk Thistle Liver Health Benefits

Milk thistle is an ancient plant that dates back to the first century and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, particularly those affecting the liver, kidney, and galbladder. It’s native to the Mediterranean region but can now be found growing throughout many parts of Canada, the US, and the world.

Milk thistle gets its name from the white sap that is produced when its wide leaves are crushed. The flowers are a reddish-purple, and the fruit (commonly referred to as the seed) is hard, brown, and shiny. The active ingredient, which is extracted from the seeds, is silymarin – a group of flavonoids with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Although milk thistle as a healing plant became less common during the 20th century, it seems to be making a comeback as more people are looking for natural remedies for their ailments and health issues. The most common use of milk thistle is to promote liver health, but there are some other less known health benefits from this healing plant.

Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

Liver Health – During the 1980s, researchers found that silymarin helps liver cells regenerate through a bodily process known as protein synthesis. Silymarin has also been found to help repair liver cells damaged by toxic substances such as alcohol or poisons. It also keeps new liver cells from being destroyed by these same toxins, as well as preventing liver damage if taken before toxin exposure.

Cancer – Silymarin not only stops cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, it also shortens the life span of the cells and reduces the blood supply sent to the tumors. Silibinin (a flavonoid in milk thistle) has been specifically shown to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth and induce cell death in human colon cancer cells.

Hepatitis C – Silibinin has been shown to have antiviral effects and improve liver function in patients with Hepatitis C. This study concluded that orally-administered silibinin is a potent anti-viral agent in patients with chronic Hepatitis C who are otherwise no longer responding to traditional forms of therapy. Silymarin has also been found to improve symptoms of acute clinical hepatitis.

Osteoarthritis – Silymarin’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great contender to replace conventional medications for osteoarthritis of the knee, as shown in this study. When compared with 2 major osteoarthritis drugs, silymarin significantly reduced serum levels and complement proteins when used alone.

In general, anyone with a liver-based health issue including cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, damage from alcohol or drug abuse, or liver poisoning from other foreign chemicals can benefit from the healing effects of the milk thistle plant.

How to Take Milk Thistle

Milk thistle comes in a variety of forms, including capsules of dried herbs, liquid extracts, and tinctures. From Mother Earth Living:

For preventive care, take 420 mg of silymarin divided into three doses for six to eight weeks, after which the dose can be reduced to 280 mg per day for an indefinite period. Look for preparations that are standardized to 80 percent silymarin.

If you have a liver condition and are considering adding milk thistle to your health care regimen, please consult your doctor, as liver disease can be life threatening and should be managed under the care of a health care professional.

There are no studies showing whether it’s safe to give milk thistle to a child, so it’s best to speak with your child’s doctor before giving this or any herb to your child.

Where to Buy Milk Thistle

milk thistle bottleMilk thistle can be found at your local natural and health food store, like Healthy Planet. You can also order it online from Healthy Planet, and this month until July 3rd, 2013 you can purchase the Organika Milk Thistle 250 mg 90 Capsules for just $8.79 – that’s almost 20% off the regular price!

Have you experienced the healing effects of the milk thistle plant? How has it helped you on your journey to health?

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_thistle
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/vitamin-supplements/milk-thistle.htm
http://www.naturalnews.com/032170_milk_thistle_liver.html
http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/milk-thistle-therapy.aspx
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/milk-thistle-000266.htm

Image: Eran Finkle


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Maca Root: Ancient Superfood of the Incas

Maca Root Powder - Health Benefits and Usage

Maca is a root that belongs to the radish family and is grown in the mountains of Peru. It’s often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” for its ability to help increase stamina, energy, and sexual function. It’s also believed to improve fertility and help with menopausal symptoms.

Nutritionally speaking, maca is very rich in essential minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. It’s high in important vitamins, especially B12, and protein, making it an excellent supplement for vegans. Maca is also a great source of iron, helping to restore red blood cells, and making a good supplement for anemics and those with heart disease.

Health Benefits of Maca

In addition to the beenfits already mentioned, maca root has also been shown to aid in the following conditions:

Skin – Maca can help clear up acne and blemishes and may also decrease sensitivity, allowing the skin to withstand hotter or colder temperatures.

Energy – Maca can increase energy, stamina, and endurance and is used by athletes to increase their peak performance.

Women’s Health – Maca helps relieve symptoms in menstruating and menopausal women. It’s been shown to alleviate cramping, hot flashes, anxiety, and even depression. Maca is also known as an adaptogen, capable of balancing hormones naturally. It’s also been shown to promote healthy sexual libido.

Men’s Health – Maca has been shown to enhance hormone and testosterone levels, as well as improve sperm fertility. A small study showed maca to increase semen volume, sperm count, and sperm motility. It has also been shown to alleviate sexual dysfunction in both men and women who are taking medications (SSRIs) for depression.

Different Types of Maca

Maca comes in various colors, each of which has distinct potential health benefits:

Red Maca – known for its higher concentration of antioxidant properties and for better prostate health.

Yellow Maca – known for its beneficial effects on female fertility and menopausal symptoms. Yellow maca root is the maca most used by Peruvians in daily life.

Black Maca – known for its positive effects on memory, latent learning and spermatogenesis.

Raw Maca – simply a blend of red, yellow, and black maca. This option is for those who wish for a less directed, wider spectrum of benefits.

How to Take Maca: Dosage and Precautions

Maca comes in powder, liquid, or pill form. The powder can be added to smoothies, juices, shakes, yogurts, salads, and cooked foods. Just don’t add it to anything that’s too hot, otherwise it will lose it’s nutritional benefits.

There is no specific dosage for maca, as it varies depending on many factors, and different herbalists, naturopaths, and practitioners will have different guidelines. The general recommended dose will be somewhere between 300-550 mg 2-3 times per day. It is however important to start out slowly with smaller doses (about 1/4 the recommended dose) to see how your body handles it, then slowly work your way up to the full dosage.

Maca should not be used in high doses or for long periods of time. Breaks of 1 week every 3 weeks are recommended. It’s not know whether maca may have harmful effects when combined with other medications, especially for heart conditions or high blood pressure, so one should definitely use maca only under the care and guidance of a health professional. Maca should also not be used by women who are pregnant or nursing due to it’s effects on hormones.

Where to Buy Maca Products

yellow maca bagMaca root can be found at most health food stores, like Health Planet, and online at HealthPlanetCanada.com. This month, until July 3rd, 2013, you can buy the Ecoideas Organic Yellow Maca 500g bag for just $19.93 – that’s 10% off the regular price!

Have you used maca root before? How have you incorporated into your diet? What kinds of health benefits have you enjoyed from this healthy supplement?

Sources:
http://www.vegkitchen.com/nutrition/7-top-health-benefits-of-maca/
http://www.highonhealth.org/what-nobody-tells-you-about-maca-root-powder-dangers-and-side-effects/
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/maca.htm
http://mr-ginseng.com/en/maca/

Image: pr_raven


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

5 Reasons to Eat Goji Berries

goji berries bag

Native to the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia, goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Tibet and China as a food and medicine. Goji berries are considered the “most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth!” They’re very high in antioxidants, protein, vitamin C, and iron. This superfood (and superfruit!) is also a complete protein and contains all essential amino acids, making it very unique among fruits.

A 1 oz. serving of goji berries contains about 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 140% of your daily value of vitamin A, 20% of vitamin C, and 10% of iron.

Although they’ve been used in the far East for over 2,000 years, goji berries have only just recently begun to gain popularity among the natural health community in the West – and for good reason! Here are 5 reasons why you should join the club and try adding goji berries to your diet:

  1. Energy and Strength
    Known as one of Asia’s most powerful adaptogens, goji berries are reported to increase stamina and endurance, and helps to eliminate fatigue, especially when recovering from illness. Their high vitamin content, specifically B1, B2, B6 and E, help the body in breaking down amino acids and fats, and converting carbs into energy.
  2. Kidney Health 
    Goji berries have long been used to support healthy kidney function. They reduce the amount of stress put on the kidney as the body flushes wastes and toxins from the body. Goji berries are also antibacterial, which helps the kidney resist damage caused by free radicals and other toxins that can accumulate in the body when kidney function is compromised.
  3. Heart Health 
    Goji can lower bad cholesterol levels and protect the heart from disease. The high antioxidant content may contribute to keeping cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaque and the flavonoids support healthy circulation. Research is also being done on how the master molecule polysaccharides in Goji berries may help to keep blood pressure within the normal range.
  4. Vision
    Since ancient times Goji berries have been very popular for supporting normal vision health. They are a great source of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by the liver. Beta-carotene has been shown to improve the eye’s ability to adapt to dim light and prevent cataracts.
  5. General Health Support
    Superoxide is one of the most damaging free radicals in the body and can only be neutralized by the enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD). As we get older, we produce less SOD and thus, must supplement our bodies with this enzyme. Goji berries have been shown to actually increase SOD activity in the body, making them very important for replenishing the body’s antioxidant defenses.

How to Eat Goji Berries

Goji berries are dried fruits that resemble raisins in texture. They’re mildly tangy with a slight sweet and sour taste. They’re a great snack food, either to be eaten on their own or sprinkled on top of yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or trail mix. They can also be added to muffins, cookies, pancake or waffle batter, or any place you would normally use raisins.

The recommended daily serving is about a handful of berries, so as with anything, don’t go overboard and moderation is key.

Where to Buy Goji Berries

goji berriesGoji berries have gained much popularity in recent years and can be found in many local markets, especially Asian markets. They’re admittedly a bit on the expensive side, but a little goes a long way, so a bag will last you quite a while. Your local health food store, like Healthy Planet, will also carry them. You can also order them online at Healthy Planet, and this month until June 5th, 2013 you can buy the Ethnoscience Organic Gojii Berries 500g bag for just $19.99 – that’s 20% off the regular price!

Have you discovered the wonderful world of goji berries yet? What’s your favorite way to use this tasty superfruit? 

Sources:
http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/the-health-benefits-of-goji-berries/
http://www.zest.co.uk/healthy-body/the-health-benefits-of-goji-berries/5094.html
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/completeazindex/a/goji.htm
http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/spotlight-on-goji-berries-health-benefits-tips-and-recipes
http://www.ehow.com/about_5325400_effect-goji-berries-kidneys.html

Image: Praisaeng / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

How to Add Chlorella to Your Diet

How to Add Chlorella To Your Diet Health Benefits

Last week, we talked about the amazing health benefits of chlorella. This green algae is not only a superfood, it’s also considered “nature’s multivitamin” because of the numerous benefits it has for our health and well-being. It contains vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients, like magnesium and iron, and it’s a wonderful source of plant-based protein!

Once  you’ve gotten your chlorella powder, capsules or tablets, naturally the next question is “what am I supposed to do with this stuff?” We understand it can be a little daunting when jumping into something new like taking green algae supplements, so we’ve put together a little guide to get you on your way.

How Much to Take Per Day

Your supplement should have your daily recommended dosage listed right on the label, but as a general guide, depending on which form you’re taking:

Powder
Adults: 1-2 teaspoons (3-4 g)
Children: 1 teaspoon (1-2 g)

Tablets (500mg)
Adults: 6-8 tabs
Children: 2-4 tabs

Capsules (600mg)
Adults: 5-7 caps

How to Take Chlorella

If you’re taking the tablets or capsules, your work is already done. Just take them with some water or juice, about half an hour before meals.

If you’re opting for the powder form, there are many ways in which to add chlorella to your daily regimen. You can either add the powder to water or juice, or add it into your smoothie or green juice. You may also sprinkle it right onto your salads, yogurt, or cereal.

Some people like to use both the powder and the pills together, using the powder in their morning smoothie/juice and taking the pills with them to work or school to eat throughout the day.

Some Tips and Precautions

  • When first adding chlorella to your diet, it’s recommended to do so gradually, working your way up to the daily recommended dosage.
  • Do not take vitamin C with chlorella because it can loosen the binding of the heavy metals the chlorella is holding. These toxins can go right back into your tissues rather than being eliminated. Do not take vitamin C within 3 hours of a chlorella protocol dose.
  • Chlorella is best when spread out into multiple doses throughout the day (about half hour before meals) to help the body absorb all the nutrients. If taking the entire dose all at once, it’s recommended to do so around breakfast time.
  • Do not add chlorella to hot drinks or anything that will be heated, cooked, or baked, as the heat will destroy its nutritional value. Instead, add it to cold drinks, cereal, yogurt, or raw desserts.
  • Due to the cleansing and detoxifying nature of chlorella, you may experience a mild headache, diarrhea, or gas when first adding it to your diet. These symptoms are normal and should subside within a few days. If you experience these symptoms, try cutting the next dose in half. If the symptoms persist, discontinue use immediately and consult your health care physician.

Where to Buy Chlorella Supplements

Healthy Planet carries a wide variety of chlorella supplements, including the powder, capsules, and tablets. Remember, this month until June 5th, 2013 the Organic Traditions Chlorella Powder is on sale for $13.99 – that’s 13% off the regular price!

So what is your favorite way to take chlorella? Do you prefer the powder or pill form? What health benefits are you enjoying from taking chlorella supplements?

Sources:
http://www.chlorellafella.com/pages/chlorella-powder.html
http://www.chlorella-europe.com/product_info/suggested_use.html
http://www.peak-health-now.com/chlorella-protocol.html
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/chlorella.php

Image: Martina Lukacova


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

The Health Benefits of Chlorella

Health Benefits of Chlorella

Chlorella is a green single-cell algae that packs a huge nutritious punch and is one of the most powerful healing foods on Earth! Do I have your attention yet? I hope so! This simple, tiny algae (3-8 micrometers in diameter) boasts an impressive package of complete nutrition and helps fight numerous diseases and conditions.

This superfood is packed with protein and is actually a viable protein source for vegetarians and vegans, or anyone looking to reduce their meat consumption while still getting an adequate amount of protein from plant-based sources. It contains an incredible amount of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Chlorella is also packed with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and essential minerals such as iron and magnesium.

The most interesting thing about chlorella is that it contains such a high level of chlorophyll, which boasts even more health benefits! The chlorophyll in chlorella is packed with healthy, beneficial bacteria, including lactobacillus, which helps keep the digestive system healthy and balances the bacteria in the intestines and bowels.

In addition to its impressive nutrition profile, chlorella has been found to treat and prevent numerous diseases and conditions:

Heart Disease

Chlorella contains a high amount of various carotenoids, which can protect against heart disease. Since cholesterol cannot clog arteries until it oxidizes, carotenoids are a great way to prevent this process from occurring since they act as an antioxidant. Chlorella is also a rich source of magnesium. It’s no secret that the North American diet is very much lacking in magnesium, among other minerals; and this shortage may be one of the main causes of our epidemic of heart disease. Studies have also shown that chlorella can improve triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, and may also benefit those with high blood pressure.

Immune Booster

Chlorella is also a powerful immune booster. Clinical trials from the 1980’s attempted to show whether chlorella could boost cancer patients’ immune systems. According to researchers, chlorella didn’t shrink or eliminate their tumors, but it did help boost patients’ immune systems so they were able to resist infections.

Cancer

The natural carotenoids in chlorella and their antioxidant effects may also help protect against cancer. A recent study from China showed that when people with precancerous cells were given natural carotenoids like those in chlorella, the precancerous cells turned back to normal. On the other hand, when they were given synthetic beta carotene, there was no benefit or improvement.  Because of its natural detoxifying nature and ability to nourish the immune system, chlorella can be a natural way to prevent cancer.

Diabetes

Preliminary studies have shown chlorella’s ability to possibly improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels over time, which can prevent and improve conditions like diabetes and insulin resistance. Chlorella may also help protect against side effects of diabetes such as vision loss.

Detoxification

Chlorella has the ability to bind with toxins and move them swiftly out of the body, making it a great addition to any diet. Because of it’s very small size, it’s able to bond to metals, chemicals and some pesticides found in the digestive tract. But chlorella is very unique in that it only binds to the toxins, and not the minerals that your body actually needs to function properly, like calcium, magnesium, or zinc. It is as though chlorella knows exactly which minerals your body needs, and which toxins need to be removed from the body.

Where to Buy Chlorella

chlorella powderChlorella comes in either tablet or capsule form, as well as a very fine powder. It can be found at your local health food store, including any of Healthy Planet‘s locations, or ordered online at Healthy Planet’s website. This month, until June 5th, 2013, Healthy Planet has the Organic Traditions Chlorella Powder 150g packs on sale for just $13.99 (both online and in-store!) – that’s over 13% off!

Have you used chlorella before? How has it helped improve your health since using it? How would you like to see it improve your health if you haven’t yet tried it?

Sources:
http://www.evolutionhealth.com/free_report_chlorella.htm
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/wellbeing/6028408/Chlorella-the-superfood-that-helps-fight-disease.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/027384_chlorella_health_benefits.html
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/01/is-this-one-of-natures-most-powerful-detoxification-tools.aspx
http://www.chlorellafella.com/chlorella-health-benefits/

Image: Martina Lukacova


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Photo courtesy: sweetbeetandgreenbean / Flickr

Chia seeds are native to South America and have been part of the Aztec and Mayan diet for hundreds of years. In recent years, the natural health foods community has become very much interested in this ancient superfood for its powerful health benefits.

Chia seeds are very rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and provide energy, strength, and endurance, making them a favored health food among runners and other athletes. They’re naturally gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and very easy to digest – even in raw, whole form. Chia is also a complete source of protein, containing twice the amount of any other seed or grain.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids, making them great for reducing inflammation and enhancing cognitive performance. They’re also very high in fiber – 2 tablespoons contain 10 grams of fiber, which is one-third of the daily recommended fiber intake!

Weight Loss

Chia seeds not only provide energy and strength, but they also curb appetite due to the high protein and fiber content. The seeds’ soluble fiber also allows them to absorb water and expand to become gel-like, increasing the size and weight of the seeds, and therefore making you feel fuller, longer.

Diabetes

This gel-like consistency that chia seeds obtain may also occur in the stomach, slowing down the body’s conversion of starches into sugars, and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Hydration

Since chia seeds can absorb large amounts of water quickly, making them hydrophilic, they can hold 10 times their weight in water. This makes them a great tool for hydrating our bodies, which can be very useful for athletes or anyone looking to improve their day to day endurance.

Heart Health

The balance of high essential fatty acids  in chia seeds means they can reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. The can also lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol, making them a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Colon Health

The soluble fibre in chia, giving it that gelatinous coating, keeps the colon hydrated, helps to eliminate accumulated waste and helps to regulate bowel movements.

Egg Replacer

Because chia seeds expand when mixed with liquids, they can be used in place of eggs in various foods and baked goods, making them a great substitute for vegans and those with egg allergies. You can make the egg replacement by mixing 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and letting it sit for 15 minutes, then use in your recipe.

How to Use Chia Seeds

Because chia seeds have a neutral flavor, they can be added to just about anything without altering the flavor of the food. Keep in mind that heat destroys essential fatty acids, so using chia seeds in anything that will be cooked will kill the EFAs, although there are still many other health benefits that can be achieved. Some ideas for incorporating chia seeds into your diet include:

  • Eat them raw
  • Add to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt.
  • Add to baked goods
  • Sprinkle on salads
  • Add to stir fries
  • Stir it into juice

Where to Buy Chia Seeds

Chia seeds come in both black and white variety, although there is no known difference between the two. Right now until May 1, 2013, Healthy Planet has the Ecoideas Organic Black Chia Seed on sale for $12.99 – that’s 13% off!

We also carry a wide variety of other chia seeds and chia seed products, including milled chia, chia powder, sprouted chia, and chia cereals.

Sources:
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-pirello/change-your-life-with-chi_b_446413.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/polly-noble/chia-7-reasons-to-eat-chia_b_1336652.html
http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/wellbeing/healthy-eating/the-powerful-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds.php#.T0uszde1FBA.t
http://www.goodness.com.au/blog/2010/12/02/chia-seeds-the-raw-truth/


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

The Health Benefits of Hemp

Health Benefits of Hemp - Nature's Perfect Food

Photo: skhakirov / Flickr

You may have heard of hemp foods within the natural health community over the past couple years, but are you aware of where hemp comes from and its health benefits?

Hemp comes from the Cannabis sativa plant; but unlike its cousin, marijuana, hemp does not contain the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that are responsible for producing a high. Hemp has numerous industrial uses, including clothing, food, fuel, and other building products.

Adding hemp seeds to your diet can be very beneficial to your health, as it’s one of nature’s perfect foods – a super food! Hemp is a complete protein and boasts a perfect ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains many vitamins and enzymes needed for all around optimal health!

Heart Health

Hemp products are known to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, which means the heart doesn’t have to work as hard in order to force blood through the blood vessels. The essential fatty acids found in hemp can also help reduce plaque buildup, leading to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

Digestive Health

Hemp products are high in fiber and easily digested. There are no known allergies to hemp products, making them a great choice for those unable to consume gluten, lactose, sugar, meat, or nuts. Chronic digestive problems like constipation or bloating can also be managed by adding hemp seeds to the diet.

Brain Health

A large part of the brain is made up of the same essential fatty acids that are found in hemp. Many brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, have shown evidence of a loss of essential fatty acids in the brain. Adding hemp seeds to the diet can help reduce or delay the effects of these types of diseases, and improve memory function and quality of life. Hemp has also been shown to improve moods, and reduce stress and anxiety.

Skin Health

Hemp seed oil can be found in numerous hair and skin products, including soaps, shampoos, lotions, conditioners, and lip-balms. The essential fatty acids in hemp make it a highly effective product in this regard because it penetrates deep in the skin to nourish cells directly and promote new cell growth.

Weight Loss

A natural appetite suppressant, hemp helps you feel fuller longer. Consuming the healthy fats from hemp at the start of the day will help curb cravings for the rest of the day. Hemp also gives a big boost of energy (from the combination of calories, complex carbs, and protein), leading to more exercise and other physical activity.

Diabetes Health

Hemp seeds can help control blood sugar levels, which is very important for people with diabetes (or at risk for diabetes). Since the healthy fats in hemp seeds help the body to absorb glucose and turn it into energy, cravings for sweets are decreased and energy levels are increased.

Where to Find Hemp Products

Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts

Hemp products come in many forms, most common are hemp seeds, hemp protein powder, and hemp seed oil – all of which can be found on the Healthy Planet website. Right now until May 1, 2013, Healthy Planet has the Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts on sale for $10.99 – that’s 15% off!

Other hemp products include hemp seed flour, hemp seed butter, and hemp milk.

Interesting Hemp Facts

(Taken from NaturalNews.com)

  • Hemp is the world’s oldest and most versatile crop. In fact there are more than 25,000 known uses for it.
  • Hemp can grow anywhere and doesn’t require pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Evidence suggests that it can lift heavy metals from polluted soil.
  • Hemp fibre is stronger and more versatile than any other plant derived fibre, including cotton and wood. Hemp could also potentially replace petroleum products including plastics.

Sources:
http://www.3fatchicks.com/7-health-benefits-of-hemp/
http://www.naturallysplendid.com/hemp-health
http://www.naturalnews.com/023839_hemp_health_environmental.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/154639-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-hemp-hearts/


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

10 Ways to Use Oil of Oregano

oil of oregano health benefits and uses

We all know oregano as the humble herb used to add extra flavor to pizzas, pasta, and even salad. But there’s so much more to the oregano plant than just a tasty topping. The wild oregano plant, which grows naturally in the remote mountainous regions of the Mediterranean, is a member of the mint family. The leaves and flowers of the plant are harvested when the oil content is at its highest and used to make what we know as oil of oregano, or oregano oil.

Nature’s Antibiotic

Oil of oregano is pretty remarkable in that it’s known as being nature’s antibiotic. It can kill bacteria, fungus, yeast, parasites and viruses, and is quickly becoming a popular alternative to common antibiotics, without the unwanted side effects. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain killer, antiseptic, and preservative which can halt the growth of microbes. Dr. Cass Ingram, in his book The Cure Is In The Cupboard, lists over 170 conditions for which oil of oregano can be useful in treating, including eczema, diarrhea, sinusitis, and can even reduce the effects of measles and mumps.

How to Use Oil of Oregano

*Oil of oregano should be diluted prior to use.
For topical application: Make a 50/50 mixture of oregano oil and olive oil and store in a dropper bottle to use as directed below.
For internal application: Mix 1 to 5 drops in milk, water or juice and drink as directed below.

  1. Alleviate Migraine/Sinus Headaches: Rub the 50/50 mixture on the temples and forehead, between the eyebrows, or on the sides of the nose. Be careful not to get it into your eyes. It can also be sniffed full strength from the bottle to allow the fumes to get up into the sinuses and head.
  2. Insect Bites & Stings: Apply 50/50 mixture to bites and stings to help neutralize and pull out toxins, and help them heal.
  3. Burns: For painful and blistered burns, mix 1 drop of oregano oil into 1 teaspoon of olive oil and apply gently to the affected area. If applied immediately, it can prevent blisters from forming.
  4. Toothaches & Mouth Sores: Rub 50/50 mixture around the infected tooth or gums to pull out toxins and reduce pain. If mixture is too strong, dilute with more olive oil.
  5. Digestion: Oil of oregano helps to stimulate the flow of bile, which aids in digestion. To relieve digestive problems, take oregano oil internally 1 to 3 times a day.
  6. Skin Infections: Mix 1 drop of oregano oil into 1 teaspoon of olive oil and apply to itches and skin infections.
  7. Colds & Sore Throats: Take 3 drops internally once per day, for up to 5 days until symptoms are gone.
  8. Ear Infections: Rub 50/50 mixture around the outside of the ear. May need to be diluted more for younger children. Never put oil of oregano directly into the ear canal.
  9. Laryngitis: Use internally or by rubbing 50/50 mixture on the chest or throat. You may also heat water with oregano oil and inhale the vapours to help kill bacteria and ease the throat.
  10. Warts: Mix 1 drop of oregano oil into 1 teaspoon of olive oil and apply directly to the wart and cover with a bandage. Add more oil and replace the bandage every day for up to 1 to 2 weeks.

Side Effects and Cautions

While oil of oregano is not dangerous in itself, it can have side effects that should be noted and considered prior to use. As always, please consult your doctor before starting any long term regimen.

  • It may affect the body’s ability to absorb iron, so an iron supplement should be taken along with any regular internal oregano oil regimen.
  • Pregnant women are not advised to use oregano oil since it may cause bleeding, especially for those in early pregnancy or prone to miscarriages.
  • People with allergies to mint, thyme, sage, or any other member of the mint family should take precaution and discontinue use immediately if rash, irritation, or vomiting occur during use.

Where to Buy Oil of Oregano

Oil of Oregano can be purchased from any health food store, like Health Planet. This month, Healthy Planet has the high quality Hedd Wyn Oil of Oregano on sale for 15% off, until April 3rd, 2013!

Have you used oil of oregano before to treat any ailments? What would you add to this list?

Sources:
Oil of Oregano: A Powerhouse for the Alternative Medicine Cabinet – Natural News
Oil of Oregano – Healing Naturally By Bee
5 More Uses of Oregano Oil! – Natural Factors
Oil of Oregano Health Benefits – Home Remedies Web


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

10 Ways to Use Castile Soap

One of my favorite products in my green-cleaning arsenal is castile soap, a vegetable oil-based soap (as opposed to animal fat-based) which gets its name from the Castile region of Spain. Castile soap is also one of the most simple and ecological-friendly soaps on the market. It’s completely free of harsh chemicals and synthetic detergents which can end up in the waste stream and slow down biodegradability.

My castile soap of choice is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. They are completely biodegradable and vegetable-based, and made from certified organic and fair trade oils like organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, together with pure essential oils. They come in both liquid and bar form and a variety of scents to suit different needs, along with an unscented version as well.

Dr. Bronner’s claims “18-in-1 Uses” on their bottles, but people all over have found even more ways to use these truly magic soaps! Here are the top 10 uses for castile soap:

  1. Hand Soap: Fill up your foaming soap dispenser with 4 parts water and 1 part castile soap.
  2. Body Wash: Squirt the soap directly on your wet sponge or wash cloth and lather your body, then rinse. Alternately, mix up a larger batch of 1 part water and 2 parts castile soap.
  3. Shampoo: Pour a small amount into your hand, work into a lather, then apply to hair. You can also mix up a batch of 1 part castile to 3 parts water and keep in an old shampoo bottle. Rinse and condition either with your favorite conditioner or some vinegar diluted in water. 
  4. Shaving Cream: Apply directly to skin for a smooth, silky shave.
  5. Toothpaste: Apply a few drops to your wet toothbrush and brush as normal. The taste will take some getting used to, but it’s much healthier than all the chemicals present in commercial toothpaste.
  6. All-Purpose Cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with mostly water and add a few tablespoons of castile soap to use as an all-purpose cleaner. You can also add some baking soda for extra scrubbing action.
  7. Laundry Detergent: Use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for a regular load. You can also use it to make up a batch of either liquid detergent or powdered detergent!
  8. All-Purpose Cleaning Scrub: Fill a spray bottle with 3 parts water and 1 part castile soap. Sprinkle baking soda on the area to be cleaned, then spray the castile solution over it, and scrub away with a brush or sponge. This works great for toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and stovetop messes.
  9. Veggie Wash: Fill a spray bottle with 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon castile soap. Keep next to the sink to wash fruits and veggies quickly and easily.
  10. Dog Shampoo: Use the same ratio as the body wash for an all-natural, chemical free dog shampoo.

This month (until April 3rd), Healthy Planet has the small 472mL bottles of Dr. Bronner’s soaps on sale for 10% off! The small size bottles are great for those wishing to try these soaps and experiment with different scents to find which one they like best.

Sources:
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
The Magic and Reality of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
12 great ways to use castile soap


About the Author:

author

Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.