Tag Archive | Anti-Inflammatory

Sweet As Sugar: Health Benefits Of Stevia And Xylitol

Sweet As Sugar: Health Benefits Of Stevia And Xylitol

By Robert Iafelice
***SEE REPOSTERS Note after References if sugar/carbs are causing deterioration in your health***

In 1991, reacting to an anonymous trade complaint, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed the sweetener stevia unsafe and issued an Import Alert, banning all stevia from entering the United States.1-3 While the FDA cited inadequate toxicological evidence of its safety, the ban was not based on any consumer complaints or reported adverse effects.2

Extracts of the South American stevia plant, called steviol glycosides , are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and have little aftertaste, zero calories, and no effect on blood sugar.3 At the time of the FDA ban, supporters of stevia argued without success that stevia, with its long history of food use, should qualify as having GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the same manner as coffee, tea, sugar, fruit, etc. A history of safe use is one condition that must be met to qualify for GRAS, and this was actually acknowledged in the FDA’s Import Alert for stevia!4 The FDA not only banned a safe and natural sweetener in stevia, but one that appears to provide health benefits as well, most notably for regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.3,5

The controversial ban on the importation of stevia in the US continued until 1995 when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 forced the FDA to allow stevia to be imported and marketed as a dietary supplement, but not as a sweetener or other food additive purpose.1 The FDA’s policy to classify stevia to be safe for consumption as a “supplement,” but potentially harmful as a sweetener just added to the controversy and confusion.

In 2008, after a rigorous review of the scientific evidence, the FDA granted stevia sweeteners GRAS status.6 It was also approved by the European Union in 2011.7

Today, hundreds of foods and beverages throughout the world are sweetened with stevia sweeteners. Among these are Vitamin Water®, Coke Zero®, Sprite Green®, Gatorade’s G2® and Crystal Light®. Coca-Cola® and Pepsi Cola® have both disclosed their intentions to use rebaudioside A, the sweetest stevia extract, as a zero-calorie soft-drink sweetener in the US.3

Stevia May Help Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels

Health Benefits

While stevia has been documented to have medical purposes as an antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, anti-tumor, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory actions, the scientific evidence is strongest, and its use is most promising for two indications: (1) high blood sugar/insulin resistance and (2) high blood pressure.3,5,8

Stevia May Help Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels

Extracts from stevia leaves have been used for centuries as a medicinal herb in the traditional treatment of diabetes in South America.5,9 Today, scientific evidence on stevia supports its historic precedent in the regulation of blood sugar and insulin.

Avoiding excess elevation of blood sugar and insulin after meals is perhaps the most important dietary measure you can take to reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and other age-related disorders. In a recent study in type II diabetic subjects, stevioside, one of the stevia extracts, reduced after-meal blood glucose levels by an average of 18%.10

When compared to sugar, stevia consumption before meals results in far lower after-meal glucose and insulin levels.11 Even when compared to aspartame, stevia resulted in lower post-prandial insulin levels.11 The comparison with aspartame is more impressive because the change in glucose and insulin levels cannot be due to a difference in calories, as with sugar. A key finding from this study was that participants eating stevia felt satisfied with fewer calories and did not eat more food throughout the day to compensate.11 This is an indication of stable blood sugar and insulin levels.

At the root of many cases of chronically elevated glucose and insulin levels is insulin resistance. In rats fed a fructose-rich diet for four weeks to induce insulin resistance, stevioside lowered high blood glucose levels in a dose-dependent manner and delayed the development of insulin resistance.12

Studies have evaluated the effects of stevioside on animal models of both type I and type II diabetes: elevated blood glucose levels were lowered, and less insulin medication was needed for the same effect. This research clearly demonstrates that stevia has the ability to increase cellular insulin sensitivity and help reverse insulin resistance.12,13

Interestingly, the mechanism for stevioside’s hypoglycemic effect in the latter group of rats with insulin dependent type I diabetes was determined to be slowing down gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of glucose in the liver from non-carbohydrate sources).13 Another plant compound very familiar to readers of Life Extension magazine®, chlorogenic acid from coffee beans, also down-regulates gluconeogenesis. Coffee sweetened with stevia may pack quite a one-two punch for blood sugar control!

The effect of stevia on blood sugar has only been observed when plasma glucose levels are elevated. It does not lower normal blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.5

Stevia is not just a safe sugar substitute, but a natural insulin sensitizer that may help maintain normal sugar and insulin levels in diabetics and nondiabetics alike. Since stevia extract also decreases oxidized LDL cholesterol14 and triglycerides,15 and lowers high blood pressure3,5—all metabolic risk factors—it has great potential for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Stevia May Lower Blood Pressure

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that oral stevioside taken at doses of 250 mg, three times a day for one year resulted in significant, lasting decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension.16 A longer, subsequent study by the same research team that lasted two years and with an increased dose of stevioside ( 1,500 mg) replicated the decreases in blood pressure found in the initial study.17

The stevioside treatment was well-tolerated and no side effects were reported or detected. Moreover, the stevioside treatment group reported significantly higher quality of life scores than the placebo group.17 On the other hand, it was noted that more patients in the placebo group developed left ventricular hypertrophy,17 an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle often caused by high blood pressure.

Though the effect of stevioside was not better than drugs, it appears comparable and nearly everyone taking stevioside had significant lowering of blood pressure. As in the case of blood sugar, stevioside lowers elevated blood pressure, but not normal blood pressure.5

As a natural plant compound with no demonstrated side effects, stevia may offer an alternative or supplementary therapy for high blood pressure, and with possibly better compliance.

Xylitol: A Sweetener That’s Good For Your Teeth

Another sugar substitute with beneficial health properties that is growing in popularity is xylitol. While xylitol is a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables, it is also naturally produced in our bodies during normal carbohydrate metabolism. An average-size adult makes up to 15 grams of xylitol daily.18,19

Xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol (like sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, etc) because its chemical structure partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol.20 It is actually a carbohydrate that looks and tastes remarkably like table sugar with 40% fewer calories and practically no aftertaste.21 It is used as a sweetener in chewing gums, mints, beverages, sweets, toothpaste and in tabletop granular form. It has been approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products in more than 35 countries worldwide, including the US.21

History Of Stevia

Stevia is a perennial shrub with over 200 species belonging to the Aster (sunflower) family and indigenous to South America.46 For centuries, the Guarani tribes of Paraguay and Brazil used the leaves of stevia, which they called ka’a he’e (“sweet herb”) to sweeten yerba mate tea and various foods. It was also used medicinally as a treatment for diabetes,47 hypertension, and obesity.5

Stevia has been used in Europe and Asia since the sixteenth century when it was discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors.48 The particular species used as a sweetener, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, was named after botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni, who “rediscovered” stevia and scientifically classified the plant in 1899, describing its sweet taste in detail. The compounds in the stevia leaf that give the plant its sweet taste, stevioside and rebaudioside A, were isolated in 1931 by French chemists.2

During World War II, England began to investigate stevia as an alternative to sugar, which was in short supply.49 In the 1970s, the Japanese began to use stevia to replace the banned artificial sweetener, saccharin. It became their chosen sugar alternative to sweeten food and beverages, so much so that Japan is now the largest consumer of stevia.2 Today, stevia can be found growing in China, South America, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Israel, and is used in many countries around the globe.

Xylitol Fights Cavities

Though largely preventable, tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among both adults and children, with 1 in 5 Americans reported to have untreated cavities according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).22 In 2010, roughly $108 billion dollars were spent on dental services in the US.23

By providing fuel for acid-forming bacteria in the mouth, sugar consumption sets up an ideal acidic condition that promotes decay and demineralization of teeth. Xylitol, conversely, is non-fermentable and does not feed acid-forming oral bacteria. Regular use of xylitol causes cavity-forming bacteria, most notably Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans ), to starve and die off by as much as 73%, decreasing the level of acidic byproducts formed when bacteria ferment sugars.24 Xylitol also increases salivary flow which helps to buffer these acids.25 A more alkaline environment is created, leading to less tooth decay and plaque, and enhanced tooth remineralization. Untreated cavities, especially small decay spots, can harden and become less sensitive from exposure to xylitol.26

Considerable research conducted since the early 1970s has established that consuming xylitol products results in reduction in tooth decay rates ranging from 30% up to levels in excess of 80%.27 What’s more, the protective effects of xylitol are long-lasting. In a study of nearly 300 children who chewed xylitol gum habitually for over two years and then stopped, some experienced a reduction in their tooth decay rate over the next five years.28 Xylitol-sweetened gum even reduces transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child.29

According to newer research, the number of exposures to xylitol throughout the day is more important than the quantity of xylitol.30 Consider chewing xylitol gum after each meal, sweetening your tea or coffee with xylitol granules and using xylitol toothpaste once or twice a day. Several dental associations, including the American Dental Association31 and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry,32 support the use of xylitol in caries control and prevention.

Xylitol Benefits Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome

Because xylitol is slowly emptied from the stomach, and only about 50% of it is absorbed, it has neglible effects on blood sugar and insulin secretion.33,34 Xylitol has a considerably lower glycemic index (13) when compared with sucrose (65) and glucose (100).33 It even compares favorably with foods such as legumes and milk.35

In a recent animal study examining the antidiabetic potential of xylitol, animals fed xylitol had significantly better glucose tolerance (more stable blood sugar levels), less weight gain and significantly lower food intake (suppressed appetite) than both the sugar and control groups.36 Data from this study and others confirm that xylitol is an ideal low-calorie sweetener for people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.34,36,37

Of course, like stevia, xylitol can be used by anyone to help maintain low blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing risk of age-related disease.

Xylitol Helps Prevent Ear And Upper Respiratory Infections

Xyitol not only suppresses S. mutans, the cavity-promoting bacterium, but it also inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), a major cause of middle ear infections and sinusitis.38,39 Owing to its unique structure, xylitol also has the ability to interfere with S. pneumoniae’s ability to stick to tissues and form colonies of bacteria called biofilms, making the germ more vulnerable to treatment.40

In clinical trials, xylitol given in the form of chewing gum or syrup reduced middle ear infections in daycare children by 30-40%.38,41,42 This safe and great-tasting sweetener offers the possibility of preventing ear infections in children and thus lessening the need for antibiotics.

Xylitol Strengthens Bone

Since xylitol appears to induce remineralization of tooth enamel, researchers are also now investigating its ability to remineralize bone tissue. Several animal studies show that xylitol increases bone density,43-45 suggesting that xylitol shows promise in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis. Clinical trials are needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Summary

Stevia and xylitol are not only safe and tasty sugar alternatives, but also potent natural compounds that provide multiple health benefits.3,5,8,27,34,36-38,43-45 While both sweeteners improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin needs, stevia can also lower elevated blood pressure while xylitol can help prevent cavities and ear infections, and possibly strengthen bones.3,5,8,27,34,36-38,43-45

Add some stevia to your favorite beverage and chew xylitol gum after meals. Enjoy the sweet taste and gain important health dividends as well.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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  8. Goyal SK, Samsher, Goyal RK. Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Feb;61(1):1-10.
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  10. Gregersen S, Jeppesen PB, Holst J. Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects. Metabolism. 2004;53(1):73-6.
  11. Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, et al. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55(1):37–43.
  12. Chang JC, Wu MC, Liu IM, et al. Increase of insulin sensitivity by stevioside in fructose-rich chow-fed rats. Horm Metab Res. 2005;37(10):610-6.
  13. Chen TH, Chen SC, Chan P, et al. Mechanism of the hypoglycemic effect of stevioside, a glycoside of Stevia rebaudiana. Planta Med. 2005;71(2):108-13.
  14. Geeraert B, Crombe F, Hulsmans M, et al. Stevioside inhibits atherosclerosis by improving insulin signaling and antioxidant defense in obese insulin-resistant mice. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Mar;34(3):569-77.
  15. Park JE, Cha YS. Stevia rebaudianaBertoni extract supplementation improves lipid and carnitine profiles in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 May;90(7):1099-105.
  16. Chan P, Tomlinson B, Chen YJ, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000;50(3):215-20.
  17. Hsieh MH, Chan P, Sue Y.M, et al.Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension, a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Clin Ther. 2003;25(11):2797-808.
  18. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-XYLITOL.aspx?activeIngredientId=996&activeIngredientName=XYLITOL. Accessed November 21, 2013.
  19. Available at: http://www.xylitol.org/questions-about-xylitol. AccessedNovember 21, 2013.
  20. Natah SS, Hussien KR, et al. Metabolic response to lactitol and xylitol in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;65:947-50.
  21. Available at: http://www.caloriecontrol.org/sweeteners-and-lite/polyols/xylitol. Accessed October 30, 2013.
  22. Available at: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/05/31/1-in-5-americans-has-untreated-cavities-cdc. Accessed October 29, 2013.
  23. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/doh.htm. Accessed October 29, 2013.
  24. Bahador A, Lesan S, Kashi N. Effect of xylitol on cariogenic and beneficial oral streptococci: a randomized, double-blind crossover trial. Iran J Microbiol. 2012 Jun;4(2):75-81.
  25. Soderling E. Controversies around xylitol. Eur J Dent. 2009 April 3(2):81-2.
  26. Mäkinen KK, Mäkinen PL, Pape HR Jr, et al. Stabilisation of rampant caries: polyol gums and arrest of dentine caries in two long-term cohort studies in young subjects. Int Dent J. 1995 Feb;45(1 Suppl 1):93-107.
  27. Makinen KK. The rocky road of xylitol to its clinical application. J Dent Res. 2000 Jun; 79(6):1352-5.
  28. Hujoel PP, Makinen KK, Bennett CA, et al. The optimum time to initiate habitual xylitol gum-chewing for obtaining long-term caries prevention. J Dent Res. 1999;78(3):797-803.
  29. Isokangas P, Soderling E, Pienihakkinen K, et al. Occurrence of dental decay in children after maternal consumption of xylitol chewing gum, a follow-up from 0 to5 years of age. J Dent Res. 2000 Nov;79(11):1885-9.
  30. Milgrom P, Ly KA, Roberts MC, et al. Mutans streptococci dose response to xylitol chewing gum. J Dent Res. 2006 Feb;85(2):177-81.
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  32. Available at: http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/P_Xylitol.pdf.Accessed October 30 , 2013.
  33. Livesey G. Health potential of polyols as sugar replacers, with emphasis on low glycaemic properties. Nutr Res Rev. 2003 Dec;16(2):163-91.
  34. Salminen S, Salminen E, Marks V. The effects of xylitol on the secretion of insulin and gastric inhibitory polypeptide in man and rats. Diabetologia. 1982;22(6):480-2.
  35. Available at: http://www.xylitol.org/xylitol-nutritional-info-professional.Accessed October 31 , 2013.
  36. Islam MS. Effects of xylitol as a sugar substitute on diabetes-related parameters in nondiabetic rats. J Med Foods. 2011 May;14(5):505-11.
  37. Hassinger W, Sauer G, Cordes U, et al. The effects of equal caloric amounts of xylitol, sucrose and starch on insulin requirements and blood glucose levels in insulin-dependent diabetics. Diabetologia. 1981;21:37-40.
  38. Uhari M, Tapiainen T, Kontiokari T. Xylitol in preventing acute otitis media. Vaccine. 2000;19:S144-7.
  39. McEllistrem MC, Adams J, Mason EO, Wald ER. Epidemiology of acute otitis media caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae before and after licensure of the 7-valent pneumococcal protein conjugate vaccine. J Infect Dis. 2003 Dec 1;188(11):1679-84.
  40. Available at: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/eccmid20/abstract.asp?id=84998. Accessed November 21, 2013.
  41. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Koskela M, et al. Xylitol chewing gum in prevention of acute otitis media: double blind randomized trial. Br Med J. 1996;313:1180–3.
  42. Uhari M, Kontiokari T, Niemela M. A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 1998;102:879–84.
  43. Sato H, Ide Y, Nasu M, et al. The effects of oral xylitol administration on bone density in rat femur. Odontology. 2011 Jan;99(1):28-33.
  44. Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Pokka P, et al. Dietary xylitol protects against weakening of bone biomechanical properties in ovariectomized rats . J Nutr. 1998 Oct;128(10):1811-4.
  45. Mattila PT, Svanberg MJ, Knuuttila ML. Increased bone volume and bone mineral content in xylitol-fed aged rats. Gerontology. 2001 Nov-Dec;47(6):300-5.
  46. Available at: http://www.parc.gov.pk/articles/sugar_leaf.htm. AccessedNovember 22, 2013,
  47. Abudula 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. Metabolism. 2004 Oct;53(10):1378-81.
  48. Available at: http://www.holisticmed.com/sweet/stv-faq.txt. Accessed October 28, 2013.
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*****REPOSTER’S NOTE

Thank You to  Life Extension Magazine February 2014    for this article – Well Done

Dietary Intake of  refined sugars and starches has increased dramatically during a time when physical activity has reduced significantly. We are seeing the North American population in particular.

This in combination with other lifestyle changes over the past 100 years of progress is leading to an overall reduction in health and wellness. Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Cardiopulmonary Disease are now very common detractors to what should be more enjoyable lifestyles.

Our societal sweet tooth is doing more to shorten lifespans and quality of life than anyone could have anticipated 100 years ago. Natural substances such as Stevia, Xylitol and Monk Fruit are gaining popularity as healthy natural sugar replacements.

They are a step in the right direction. Real progress will need us to move away from our high calorie, sedentary, sleep deprived  behaviors we as a majority are currently engaged in.

To combat the effects of the typical North American Lifestyle, we have chosen to add a nutritional supplement to our daily routine that employs Stevia, Xylitol and Monk fruit.  On  their own they provide healthy benefits but when combined with other needed and beneficial nutrients They Can Literally Save  Lives. Consistent use reverses damage caused by the typical North American lifestyle.

Take a look at this link only if you are interested actively pursuing a path to better health. It just requires a few moments a day consistently. This solution is just one part of the equation for far better health and wellness but to us, a very important one. So important that I chose to become a sales rep so I could help friends and family.

Should you decide that this is also for you, my name is Deb St Jean and my ID number is 1309426. Please contact me through comments for consumption guidelines.

You don’t have to be perfect to be healthy – and you don’t have to be deprived. A few good choices can change every outcome.

Health Benefits of Cabbage & Sauerkraut

sauerkraut

***Reposters Note. Cabbage in whatever form offers numerous benefits. Sauerkraut was a staple in many cultures before the advent of processed and fast foods. I would encourage  readers to incorporate the unique flavor into you meals for variety as well as the numerous dietary benefits***

(NaturalNews) Sauerkraut combines the health benefits offered by all cruciferous vegetables (a category which includes cauliflowers and brussel sprouts as well as cabbage) with the probiotic advantages derived from the fermentation process.

Cabbage offers a host of health benefits. It is high in vitamins A and C. Studies have shown the cruciferous vegetables can help lower cholesterol levels. Cabbage also provides a rich source of phytonutrient antioxidants. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and some studies indicate it may help combat some cancers. However, this already helpful vegetable becomes a superfood when it is pickled.

The fermentation process used to make sauerkraut was probably first developed centuries ago simply as a means of preserving vegetables for easy consumption throughout the winter. The health benefits derived from pickling vegetables were already well-known to early civilizations. Historical evidence suggests laborers on the Great Wall of China consumed a version of the pickled cabbage dish 2,000 years ago.Traditional Chinese has long prescribed sauerkraut juice as a home remedy for many common ailments . The armies of Genghis Khan most likely first brought the dish to Europe. The Roman army traveled with barrels of sauerkraut, using it to prevent intestinal infections among the troops during long excursions.
In periods and cultures when natural healing methods fell into disuse, people consumed fewer fermented foods and were subject to more illness. Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) killed many British sailors during the 1700s, especially on longer voyages. In the late 1770s, Captain James Cook circumnavigated the world without losing a single sailor to scurvy, thanks to the foods his ship carried, including sixty barrels of sauerkraut.Mainstream health experts began to pay renewed attention to sauerkraut after a study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002. Finnish researchers reported that in laboratory studies,a substance produced by fermented cabbage, isothiocyanates, helped prevent the growth of cancer.Even before the laboratory study, however, alternative health experts extolled the healing benefits of sauerkraut because of the lactic acid bacteria produced as a side-effect of the pickling process.Healthy human colons contain many beneficial bacteria which feed on the waste left over from our digestion, creating lactic acid. Without these beneficial bacteria the human digestive system becomes home to harmful parasites and yeasts, resulting in the condition of candida.

Sauerkraut provides a high density source of a wide range of beneficial live bacteria which assist in the digestive process. Consuming a serving of sauerkraut can give your body as much of a health boost as many of the expensive probiotic drinks and supplements sold in stores. However, most commercially sold sauerkraut have lost most of their beneficial bacterial organisms. To gain the most benefits from sauerkraut, you may want to purchase it freshly made, or learn how to make your own.If you want to explore recipes for making sauerkraut and other fermented dishes, an excellent place to start is with Sandor Ellis Katz’s Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live Culture Foods.In his book, Katz points out that “Fermentation not only preserves nutrients, it breaks them down into more digestible forms.” Katz, who also wrote The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements, recommends not only eating sauerkraut but drinking the juice which he calls “a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic.”Sources for this article include:

Thank You to Lifestyle Philippines, Natural News and Oasis Advanced Wellness for contributions to this post.

Black Seed – Remedy For Everything But Death

Another gift from Nature. Below is an excellent article on Black Seed. It looks to me,that adding this to our diet,
could go a long way to helping the body function at it’s very best.

Black Seed – ‘The Remedy For Everything But Death’

Black Seed – ‘The Remedy For Everything But Death’

This humble, but immensely powerful seed, kills MRSA, heals the chemical weapon poisoned body, stimulates regeneration of the dying beta cells with the diabetic’s pancreas, and yet too few even know it exists. 
The seeds of the annual flowering plant, Nigella Sativa, have been prized for their healing properties since time immemorial. While frequently referred to among English-speaking cultures as Roman coriander, black sesame, black cumin, black caraway and onion seed, it is known today primarily as black seed, which is at the very least an accurate description of its physical appearance.
The earliest record of its cultivation and use come from ancient Egypt. Black seed oil, in fact, was found in Egyptian pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb, dating back to approximately 3,300 years ago.[i] In Arabic cultures, black cumin is so known as Habbatul barakah, meaning the “seed of blessing.” It is also believed that the Islamic prophet Mohammed said of it that it is “a remedy for all diseases except death.”
Many of black cumin’s traditionally ascribed health benefits have been thoroughly confirmed in the biomedical literature. In fact, since 1964, there have been 458 published, peer-reviewed studies referencing it.
We have indexed salient research, available to view on GreenMedInfo.com on our Black Seed (Nigella Sativa) page, on well over 40 health conditions that may be benefited from the use of the herb, including over 20 distinct pharmacological actions it expresses, such as:
Analgesic (Pain-Killing)
  • Anti-Bacterial
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Anti-Ulcer
  • Anti-Cholinergic
  • Anti-Fungal
  • Ant-Hypertensive
  • Antioxidant
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antiviral
  • Bronchodilator
  • Gluconeogenesis Inhibitor (Anti-Diabetic)
  • Hepatoprotective (Liver Protecting)
  • Hypotensive
  • Insulin Sensitizing
  • Interferon Inducer
  • Leukotriene Antagonist
  • Renoprotective (Kidney Protecting)
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Inhibitor
These 22 pharmacological actions are only a subset of a far wider number of beneficial properties intrinsic to the black seed. While it is remarkable that this seed has the ability to positively modulate so many different biological pathways, this is actually a rather common occurrence among traditional plant medicines.
Our project has identified over 1600 natural compounds with a wide range of health benefits, and we are only in our first 5 years of casual indexing. There are tens of thousands of other substances that have already been researched, with hundreds of thousands of studies supporting their medicinal value (MEDLINE, whence our study abstracts come, has over 600,000 studies classified as related to Complementary and Alternative Medicine).
Take turmeric, for example. We have identified research indicating its value in over 600 health conditions, while also expressing over 160 different potentially beneficial pharmacological actions. You can view the quick summary of over 1500 studies we have summarized on our Turmeric Research page, which includes an explorative video on turmeric. Professional database members are further empowered to manipulate the results according to their search criteria, i.e. pull up and print to PDF the 61 studies on turmeric and breast cancer. This, of course, should help folks realize how voluminous the supportive literature indicating the medicinal value of natural substances, such as turmeric and black seed, really is.
Black seed has been researched for very specific health conditions. Some of the most compelling applications include:
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Two grams of black seed a day resulted in reduced fasting glucose, decreased insulin resistance, increased beta-cell function, and reduced glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in human subjects.[ii]  
  • Helicobacter Pylori Infection: Black seeds possess clinically useful anti-H. pylori activity, comparable to triple eradication therapy.[iii]  
  • Epilepsy: Black seeds were traditionally known to have anticonvulsive properties. A 2007 study with epileptic children, whose condition was refractory to conventional drug treatment, found that a water extract significantly reduced seizure activity.[iv]  
  • High Blood pressure: The daily use of 100 and 200 mg of black seed extract, twice daily, for 2 months, was found to have a blood pressure-lowering effect in patients with mild hypertension.[v]  
  • Asthma: Thymoquinone, one of the main active constituents within Nigella sativa (black cumin), is superior to the drug fluticasone in an animal model of asthma.[vi] Another study, this time in human subjects, found that boiled water extracts of black seed have relatively potent antiasthmatic effect on asthmatic airways.[vii]  
  • Acute tonsillopharyngitis: characterized by tonsil or pharyngeal inflammation (i.e. sore throat), mostly viral in origin, black seed capsules (in combination with Phyllanthus niruri) have been found to significantly alleviate throat pain, and reduce the need for pain-killers, in human subjects.[viii]  
  • Chemical Weapons Injury: A randomized, placebo-controlled human study of chemical weapons injured patients found that boiled water extracts of black seed reduced respiratory symptoms, chest wheezing, and pulmonary function test values, as well as reduced the need for drug treatment.[ix]  
  • Colon Cancer: Cell studies have found that black seed extract compares favorably to the chemoagent 5-fluoruracil in the suppression of colon cancer growth, but with a far higher safety profile.[x] Animal research has found that black seed oil has significant inhibitory effects against colon cancer in rats, without observable side effects.[xi]
  •  MRSA: Black seed has anti-bacterial activity against clinical isolates of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.[xii]  
  • Opiate Addiction/Withdrawal: A study on 35 opiate addicts found black seed as an effective therapy in long-term treatment of opioid dependence.[xiii]
Sometimes the biblical reference to ‘faith the size of a mustard seed moving mountains’ comes to mind in connection with natural substances like black seeds. After all, do seeds not contain within them the very hope for continuance of the entire species that bore it? This super-saturated state of the seed, where life condenses itself down into an intensely miniaturized holographic fragment of itself, promising the formation of future worlds within itself, is the very emblem of life’s immense and immortal power.
If we understand the true nature of the seed, how much life (past, present and future) is contained within it, it will not seem so far-fetched that it is capable of conquering antibiotic resistant bacteria, healing the body from chemical weapons poisoning, or stimulate the regeneration of dying insulin-producing beta cells in the diabetic, to name but only a fraction of black seed’s experimentally-confirmed powers.
Moving the mountain of inertia and falsity associated with the conventional concept of disease, is a task well-suited for seeds and not chemicals. The greatest difference, of course, between a seed and a patented synthetic chemical (i.e. pharmaceutical drug), is that Nature (God) made the former, and men with profit-motives and a deranged understanding of the nature of the body made the latter.
The time, no doubt, has come for food, seeds, herbs, plants, sunlight, air, clean water, and yes, love, to assume once again their central place in medicine, which is to say, the art and science of facilitating self-healing within the human body. Failing this, the conventional medical system will crumble under the growing weight of its own corruption, ineptitude, and iatrogenic suffering (and subsequent financial liability) it causes. To the degree that it reforms itself, utilizing non-patented and non-patentable natural compounds with actual healing properties, a brighter future awaits on the horizon. To the degree that it fails, folks will learn to take back control over their health themselves, which is why black seed, and other food-medicines, hold the key to self-empowerment.