Detox with Broccoli Tea

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

The impact of air pollution on health is undeniable. It's linked to diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and the World Health Organization estimates it kills 7 million people yearly across the globe.1,2

Although the United States has pretty good air quality compared to other countries, experts think it’s only a matter of time before conditions get worse here and around the world.

With environmental toxins constantly on the rise, it makes a lot of sense to implement ways to protect yourself. And according to a recent study, a tea composed of broccoli sprouts - believe it or not - may do that and more.

Broccoli Sprouts Detoxify your Body from Air-Borne Pollutants

Scientists recruited 291 volunteers who lived in a heavily-polluted area of China. They were assigned one of two treatments. One group drank a tea composed of water, pineapple and lime juice. The other group drank the same tea with the addition of freeze-dried broccoli sprouts containing glucoraphanin and sulforaphane.

Urine and blood samples were taken before and during the trial to measure levels of crotonaldehyde, benzene (a carcinogen), and acrolein. All are toxic byproducts of air pollution.

Compared to the placebo group, participants drinking the broccoli sprout tea were able to excrete 61% more benzene conjugates and 23% more acrolein from their bodies.3

Eat More Cruciferous Vegetables (or Supplement) to Detox

The key ingredients in the tea administered to the treatment group were glucoraphanin and sulforaphane. They assist the liver in detoxifying reactions and have anti-cancer properties.

Sulforaphane is found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts. It converts to glucoraphanin when the plants are chewed or damaged. Both are available in dietary supplements.

Decrease your Exposure to Pollution

There are steps you can take to minimize your exposure to air pollution. For one, you may want to stay indoors on a “bad air day”.

The government actually has a system in place which classifies the level of air pollution on any given day. It’s called the Air Quality Index. It measures common pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Check your local air quality by clicking here.

When walking outside, stay away from roads or major highways. This way you avoid breathing in exhaust fumes from other cars (a major source of air pollution).

When driving, keep your windows closed and set your air setting to recirculate. This can significantly reduce your exposure to pollutants as well.

Improve the air quality of your home by installing air filters and vacuuming with a HEPA filter. They’re more effective at reducing air pollutants such as dust, lead, and other air-borne toxins than regular filters.

References:

  1. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/. Accessed June 20, 2014. 
  2. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/. Accessed June 20, 2014. 
  3. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Jun 9. pii: canprevres.0103.2014.

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Arginine Reduces Belly Fat

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Aside from being unattractive, belly fat also has detrimental effects on your overall health. Its inflammatory nature makes it particularly harmful.

Compared to other types of fat in the human body, research shows the fat in your midsection may increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1-2

Interestingly enough, L-arginine may be a potential solution. Why? Because according to a recent study, L-arginine supplementation helped women lose inches off their waist.

Arginine Decreased Waist Size by Two Inches

A total of 20 obese women between the ages of 18–40 were recruited for the study. They were administered 3 grams of L-arginine three times daily for 12 weeks. They also received lifestyle counseling. 

The women tolerated the arginine supplements well without harmful side effects. On average, waist size decreased by two inches, and they lost an average of 6 pounds.3

Arginine stimulates key genes that are needed to oxidize fat and glucose.4 It promotes lipolysis,4 which is the breakdown of fat, and it supports the build-up of lean muscle tissue.5

Supplement with Arginine

The richest sources of L-arginine are found in animal proteins and dairy products. It’s also found in hemp seeds, nuts, and is available as a dietary supplement.

That being said, the best way to get the benefits of arginine is through supplementation. Just note that when taken along with other amino acids, the absorption of arginine may be compromised.

As such, supplementing with arginine on an empty stomach is the only way to ensure optimal absorption.

Arginine Lowers Blood Pressure and Boosts Immune Function

Apart from arginine’s waist-slimming effects, it offers a variety of health benefits. L-arginine supplementation has been shown to boost immune function, increase growth hormone response, support wound healing, and even lower blood pressure.6-10

L-arginine is an immediate precursor to nitric oxide, a gas our body produces, that dilates blood vessels and maintains healthy circulation.

A Slim Belly Takes More Than a Pill

Although supplements may help, a good diet and a consistent exercise program are still the key to maintaining a slim waist. In addition, the importance of healthy blood sugar levels definitely should not be overlooked.

Sugary foods and processed carbohydrates contribute to insulin spikes which encourage the body to store belly fat. These must be limited to maintain a lean center. Your best bet is a diet composed of vegetables, fish, and fruits (especially blueberries), which are all quite waist-friendly.

References:

  1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1118-9. 
  2. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Sep 3;62(10):921-5.  
  3. J Diet Suppl. 2014 Mar;11(1):40-52. 
  4. J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):714-21. 
  5. J Nutr. Feb 2009; 139(2): 230–237. 
  6. Amino Acids. 2009 Jul;37(2):323-31. 
  7. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Jan;11(1):50-4. 
  8. Nutr Clin Pract. 2005 Feb;20(1):52-61.

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Rosemary Boosts Brain Power

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

It’s no coincidence that the smell of coffee wakes you up in the morning or that the scent of lavender relaxes you.

And it's no secret that scents can have a powerful effect on the body, and rosemary is no exception.

According to the results of a study, the scent of rosemary may help to boost your cognitive function.

Captured your attention? Then please keep on reading!

Rosemary Enhances Cognitive Function

Scientists recruited 20 healthy participants and placed them in an area where rosemary essential oil was being diffused. The volunteers were not aware of the true nature of the study. They were told it was to examine the effect of mood on cognitive function.

They were given different tests to measure their mental speed, accuracy, and mood. A component of rosemary essential oil called 1,8-cineole was measured in their blood.

People with higher blood levels of 1,8-cineole performed better on cognitive tests. Both the speed and accuracy of mental performance improved and an effect was observed on mood1.

This isn’t the first study to show rosemary boosts cognitive function. Previous studies show similar results.

Rosemary Inhibits Acetylcholinesterase

The active component of rosemary essential oil, 1,8-cineole, is absorbed into the blood through inhalation where it is able to cross the blood-brain-barrier and enter the brain. It inhibits acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine plays an important role in memory and cognitive function. Certain neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s are linked to low levels of acetylcholine in the brain. A medication that treats Alzheimer’s called Aricept works by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase.

Try Rosemary at Home!

How does all of this apply to you? For one, you could try diffusing rosemary essential oil at work or at home when faced with a difficult mental task. Students can also try it while studying. After all, there's no better way to test something than by giving it a shot yourself.

Not into the scent of rosemary? Other herbs contain 1,8-cineole too. They include sage and eucalyptus.

The Bottom Line

It seems that most of us are looking for some kind of cognitive boost, in some shape or form. With all of our present day demands, a little bit of extra brain power can really go a long way.

What's your natural "pick-me-up" of choice? Please share in the comments!

References:

  1. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. Jun 2012; 2(3): 103–113.

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Can Water Improve Your Mood?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Cranky? You may actually be just thirsty.

According to a new study, being slightly dehydrated can increase your risk for being in a poor mood.

Since summer is here, we thought we’d highlight the importance of staying well hydrated. And what better way than by bringing this study to your attention.

Who knows? A few extra glasses a day may actually have an impact on your mood.

Dehydration Takes a Toll on Your Mood

For the study, researchers had high volume drinkers (people who normally drank 2.5 liters daily) decrease their water intake to 1 liter daily. Low volume drinkers (people who normally drank less than 1.2 liters daily) were asked to increase their intake to 2.5 liters. Different mood scales were administered throughout the study.

In the beginning of the study, moods were comparable in both groups. However, as the experiment progressed significant mood changes were seen.

The formerly high volume drinkers reported less contentedness, calmness, positive emotions, and activity. On the other hand, the low volume group felt less sleepy, fatigue, confusion, and thirst.

All in all, the study showed increased hydration had a positive effect on mood, while drinking less fluid was correlated with a poor mood.1

Eight Cups of Water a Day?

It depends on different factors such as your climate, body weight, and level of physical activity. But for the most part, most people don’t really have to drink eight cups a day to stay hydrated.

Much of the water (more than a third) we obtain in our diet actually comes from food, with fruits and vegetables being the most hydrating foods. However, unless you have a medical condition which limits your intake, it probably doesn't hurt to stick to eight cups. It’s a nice rule of thumb.

Also, don’t wait to feel thirsty before you reach for that cup of water. By the time you feel thirst, you may be slightly dehydrated. Also, the sensation of thirst isn't always dependable. It decreases in people over 50 and in people with certain health conditions (diabetes). Just make it a point to drink liquids throughout the day.

One way to evaluate your hydration status is to look at the color of your urine. For the most part, light colored urine means a person is well hydrated. Darker colors (think apple juice) indicate dehydration.

Try Flavored Water

I don’t know about you, but some people like to dress up their water a bit.

While drinking it "plain" is the way Mother Nature intended, it doesn't hurt to get a little creative as well. For some, it just may just increase the odds of staying well-hydrated.

Recipe: Blackberry and Sage Natural Flavored Water

Here’s a refreshing recipe, courtesy of TasteBook. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup blackberries,  4-5 sage leaves

Directions:

Place sage at the bottom of a jar and bruise with a muddler. Add the cup of blackberries and press down on them to release the juice. Fill jar with ice to the top and water to the top. Put the lid back on and refrigerate!

References

  1. Available at: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0094754. Accessed June 1, 2014.

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5 Home Health Remedies Backed by Research

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Before there were prescription medications and fancy trips to the doctor, there were home remedies. Tested through time, most have been passed down from generation to generation.

Chances are you’ve tried a home health remedy or two. And while you may have noticed that some are totally bogus, some of them really do work.

Below are some of our favorite home remedies, all of which have some evidence to back them up. Stay tuned and take notes. Perhaps you’ll see your favorites on this list.

Home Remedy #1: Sage for a Sore Throat

An herb primarily used in cooking, sage has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Its astringent properties make it particularly useful for alleviating sore throats.

In a clinical trial, a 15% concentration sage spray was found to ease throat pain better than a placebo. Results were felt in as little as 2 hours.1

Want to make your own remedy? Add sage leaves to a boiled cup of water. Steep for 5 minutes and enjoy. Save a portion to gargle with.

Home Remedy #2: Licorice for Indigestion

You've probably had licorice candy, but have you ever used it medicinally? Licorice contains mucilage, a gel-like substance that coats and soothes the stomach.

Next time you have indigestion, try licorice and other herbs such as peppermint, caraway, bitter candytuft, matricaria flower, and lemon balm. In combination, they've been shown to help.2

Home Remedy #3: Vitamin C and Magnesium for Constipation

Nothing beats a fiber-rich diet for maintaining regularity but every once in a while, the body needs extra help.

Laxatives provide immediate relief but aren’t always the best option. With continual use, they can lead to a sluggish gut. A better short-term remedy is magnesium and vitamin C. In higher doses, they stimulate the bowel to contract.

Interested in learning more? Check out our full health protocol on constipation here.

Home Remedy #4: Eucalyptus for Asthma

Eucalyptus was used traditionally by Australian Aboriginals to treat fever and fight infections. Today, it’s used by people around the world.

Research shows eucalyptus essential oil helps to alleviate congestion. And not only that, it can help asthmatics breathe easier too.3

Want to enjoy the benefits at home? Add several drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of steaming, hot water and inhale for ten minutes.

Home Remedy #5: Arnica for Bruises and Injuries

Arnica is a wildflower that grows in the mountains of Europe and North America. It was used by Native Americans to treat injuries.

Arnica has been shown to alleviate pain, bruising and inflammation.4-6 Its active ingredient, thymol, stimulates circulation, making it useful for alleviating injuries.

What About You?

Do you have any favorite healthy home remedies to share? Tell us about them in the comments!

References:

  1. Eur J Med Res. 2006 Jan 31;11(1):20-6. 
  2. Digestion. 2004;69(1):45-52. Epub 2004 Jan 30. 
  3. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Apr;15(1):33-47. 
  4. Eur J Sport Sci. 2014;14(3):294-300. 
  5. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Sep;163(3):557-63. 
  6. Biol Chem. 1997 Sep;378(9):951-61.

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