Posts tagged: healthy living

4 Silent Signs You May Have Clogged Arteries And The Best Foods To Eat To Prevent It

What are clogged arteries? The central portion of the arteries – also known as the intima media – can, through various causes, become inflamed and gradually clog up with arterial plaque. This plaque is essentially “sludge” comprised of oxidized fats, immune cells, and their debris). This leads gradually to blocked arteries – a potentially fatal condition.

There are some surprising ways to recognize this condition. The human body is a highly advanced system with various warning signs that indicate the stages of serious disease. However, some of those signs are less obvious than others. Learning to recognize them and take appropriate action could save your life, since clogged arteries are a principal form of cardiovascular disease, aka heart disease – which is regarded as the cause of around 30% of all deaths!

So pay close attention to this tutorial because it might keep you alive.

4 Silent Signs Of Clogged Arteries:

1. Leg Pain And Numbness:

Pain or numbness in the calves while you walk can mean clogged arteries. [1] A notable hallmark of this condition is that you get relief from said pain and numbness when you put your feet up to rest, also called intermittent claudication.

2. Erectile Dysfunction:

Numerous studies have demonstrated that erectile dysfunction in men can be an indicator of an impending cardiovascular disease. [2] If you can’t get it up when you normally could, it might be time to consider that there could be an underlying health reason – instead of pinning the whole thing on mood or anxiety and popping a blue pill.

3. Hair Loss:

Losing hair, which is typically attributed to aging, may also indicate high levels of triglycerides in the blood stream. [3] High triglycerides (aka bad fats) in the blood stream may be impeding proper circulation and this can be a cause of hair loss – in both men and women.

4. Diagonal Earlobe Crease:

Most people don’t know about this one. A diagonal earlobe crease (DEC) isn’t a definite sign of clogged arteries. You could be born with it. However, a 2018 population-based study with 3,359 participants found that diagonal earlobe crease in one or both ears was associated with coronary artery calcification and a higher overall cardiovascular risk profile.

Participants with DEC were also found to have more frequent diabetes (26% vs. 17%, p<0.0001).

Check your earlobes and especially take note of a developing diagonal crease, because the study concluded that DEC in one or both ears “may serve as an excellent clinical marker of cardiovascular risk”. [4]

Best Food Choices To Prevent Clogged Arteries:

Studies have found that clogged arteries may be preventable and even reversible through healthy lifestyle and dietary choices.

“Prevention is always better than cure”, as they say, and some modifications to your diet may help you avoid arterial plaque and heart disease. Looking through the science, here’s what we found:

1. Say Goodbye To Soda

Sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked by science with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension (aka high blood pressure), and significantly elevated cholesterol deposits. [5] All these conditions lead to arterial inflammation, hardening, or clogging. So cut sugared beverages out of your daily diet altogether and you’ll no doubt see a positive change in your health.

Try swapping out sugary drinks for filtered or still mineral water. You can add a squeeze of fresh juice – but if the drink has added sugar, it has to go.

2. Green And Black Teas

Consider replacing unhealthy soda with healthy tea instead. Flavonols and anthocyanins found in black, purple and oolong teas have been found by researchers to protect the heart and blood vessels. [6]

Tea may also lower blood pressure and prevent hardening and plaque buildup in the arteries. Numerous studies have confirmed that a high intake of black and green teas are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease: A 2014 meta-review of controlled trials that studied the effect of tea on blood pressure, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, determined that long term ingestion of tea could result in a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. [7]

The effects of tea on cardiovascular disease risk are regarded as long-term, with 2 or more cups per day over a prolonged period of time being suggested.

Note of course that for optimal health benefits tea should be taken without sugar!

3. Organic Vegetables And Fruits

Increasing both the quantity and variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet may have outstanding cardiovascular benefits. Dietary antioxidants – of the kind found in a variety of fruit and veg, have been strongly linked to a reduction in oxidative stress and hardening of the arteries. [8]

However the effect has been found to be enhanced for organic produce: A 2014 review of 343 peer-reviewed studies, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found “overwhelming evidence” [9] that key antioxidants are up to 20–40 % (and in some cases over 60%) higher in organic produce than non-organic. This increase over conventional fruit and veg is equivalent to consuming an additional 1 to 2 daily servings – with 5 being generally recommended as the target. [10]

This increase may have excellent health benefits because the overall quantity of fruit and vegetable intake has been found more important to arterial health than variety: A large-scale study of over 100,000 participants, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the highest quintile of overall fruit and veg intake, with over 7 servings per day, had a 17% lower risk of coronary heart disease. [11]

That’s a lot of lives saved – so get that organic fruit and veg in!

4. Pomegranate Juice

This gets a special mention owing to an astonishing human trial reported in Clinical Nutrition journal which found that just one 50ml shot of pomegranate juice per day for a year reversed arterial plaque, improved blood pressure, reduced oxidative stress, improved LDL cholesterol factors and reversed clogged arteries in patients aged 65-75. [12]

The researchers administered pomegranate juice over the course of a year and found that it reversed plaque accumulation in the carotid arteries of patients with severe, though symptomless, carotid artery stenosis (which is defined as a 70-90% blockage in the internal carotid arteries).

In the study, the intima media thickness of the left and right common carotid arteries “was reduced after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of pomegranate juice consumption by 13%, 22%, 26% and 35%, respectively, in comparison to baseline values.”

This is an amazing result.

5. Herbs And Spices

Good news for herbalists: Scientific research is finding that many of the herbs and spices in the kitchen rack may be good for the cardiovascular system!

A 2014 human trial conducted by researchers in Pennsylvania State University found that the addition of spices and herbs to meals significantly decreased insulin (21%) and triglycerides (31%).

Make a note of the herbs and spices used in the study: Black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, garlic powder, ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary and turmeric.

Of particular note was cinnamon. Cholesterol in the blood decreased by 7% to 30% just by adding 6g of cinnamon to the subjects’ daily diet. [13] That’s actually quite a lot of cinnamon.

Other studies have noted similar effects, as confirmed by a 2021 review [14] – however more research is still needed on long term benefits of increased spice consumption. However, work is being done: A clinical trial published in 2022 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that four weeks of a medium spice diet led to a reduction in inflammatory cytokines in adults at risk of cardiometabolic disease. [15]

6. Omega-3 Rich Fish

Regular consumption of fish and seafood has been consistently associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that the omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in fatty fish can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3s help eliminate arterial blocks and improve cardiovascular health. [16]

Fatty fish include: anchovies, herring, mackerel, black cod, salmon, sardines, bluefin tuna, whitefish, striped bass and cobia.

The American Heart Association recommends 2 servings of fatty fish per week, with a serving being designated as 3/4 of a cup of flaked fish. [16]

You can also obtain omega-3s supplements, typically in the form of fish oil capsules.

That’s it! Be good to your heart, take care of your health – and follow Herbs, Health & Happiness for more free tutorials!

4 Silent Signs You May Have Clogged Arteries And The Best Foods To Eat To Prevent ItImage (under license) – © shutterstock.com

References:

[1] What is Peripheral Arterial Disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad

[2] A Systematic Review of the Association Between Erectile Dysfunction and Cardiovascular Disease. European Urology. https://www.europeanurology.com/article/S0302-2838%2813%2900851-8/fulltext/a-systematic-review-of-the-association-between-erectile-dysfunction-and-cardiovascular-disease

[3] A Comparative Study of Dyslipidaemia in Men and Women with Androgenic Alopecia. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mjl/adv/2010/00000090/00000005/art00009

[4] Association of Diagonal Earlobe Crease With Traditional Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Coronary Artery Calcification in the General Population: Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study. Circulation, 2018. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/circ.130.suppl_2.19064

[5] Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Cardiovascular Disease. Current Nutrition Reports. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-012-0013-3

[6] Flavanols and Anthocyanins in Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/11/4/1679/pdf

[7] Effects of tea intake on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (British Journal of Nutrition, 2014) https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/effects-of-tea-intake-on-blood-pressure-a-metaanalysis-of-randomised-controlled-trials/AD10B8AF38E3184FCFDDC9778F833835

[8] Cardiovascular diseases: oxidative damage and antioxidant protection. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. https://www.europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/3091-3096.pdf

[9] Organic vs non-organic food. Newcastle University Press (2015). https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2015/10/organicvsnon-organicfood/

[10] Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops. Br J Nutr (2014). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4141693/

[11] Quantity and variety in fruit and vegetable intake and risk of coronary heart disease. American Society for Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3831537/

[12] Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clinical Nutrition (2004). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15158307

[13] Spices and Herbs May Improve Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Nutrition Today. https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Citation/2014/09001/Spices_and_Herbs_May_Improve_Cardiovascular_Risk.6.aspx

[14] The effect of herbs and spices on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases: a review of human clinical trials (Nutr. Rev. 2022). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34080628/

[15] Four weeks of spice consumption lowers plasma proinflammatory cytokines and alters the function of monocytes in adults at risk of cardiometabolic disease. Am J Clin Nutr. (2022) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34601551/

[16] Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/fish-and-omega-3-fatty-acids

Detox Your Body

Detox Your Body ChartImage – © herbs-info.com. Photo – © Von Schonertagen – Fotolia.com (under license)

Although modern medicine tends to cast a cynical eye at detoxification practices such as fasting and colon washing, nobody can deny that the human body is exposed to a lot of toxins, and that bioaccumulation is real. Relief from such toxins can only bring benefits.

Unsurprisingly, the most common organs targeted by detox protocols are the ones directly responsible for dealing with the toxins that enter the body: the liver, the kidneys, and the intestines or colon.

Here are some science-supported ways you can clean up your body and feel better, stronger, and healthier through the consumption of detoxifying foods:

Liver: The liver is The Great Detoxifier. It is the part of the body that takes all those noxious chemicals and fats that we ingest, and then turns them into something that can be excreted by the body. [1] But that doesn’t mean the liver can’t use a little detoxifying itself.

Alcohol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and diabetes are just some of the liver’s top enemies. These can all cause injury and inflammation to the liver, preventing this organ from doing its job properly.

One lesser-known natural food item that can detoxify the liver from the effects of alcohol, NSAIDs, and diabetes is bitter gourd. This fruit reduces liver oxidation and inflammation caused by alcohol consumption, [2] stimulates the scavenging of liver free radicals caused by diabetes, and increases glutathione levels, which alleviate liver inflammation caused by NSAIDs. [3][4]

Other natural food items that have been scientifically proven to detoxify or rejuvenate the liver include lemons, [5] avocados, [6] apples, [7] dandelion leaves, [8] and garlic. [9]

Kidneys: The kidneys are blood filters. It is their job to collect and eject toxins from our blood. But the kidneys themselves can be vulnerable to toxins such as drugs, microorganism infections, and even excessive calcium or blood sugar. [10]

For detoxifying the kidneys, few natural food items are as well known as cranberry juice. Research has proven that cranberries do help clear the kidneys of viral infections [11] and calcium deposits. [12]

You probably didn’t know that onions have been reported by scientific research to show effectiveness in counteracting kidney toxicity from cadmium intoxication. [13] They are also useful support for renal Toxoplasma gondii infections. [14] Red onions are considered healthier than white overall and this is a valuable health switch to make.

Intestines After our food has been mashed up into liquid form by the stomach, the small intestines absorb the food nutrients and send them out to the bloodstream to be delivered to the rest of the body. The unusable parts – the wastes – are then pushed into the large intestines / the colon.

In other words, the colon is like the body’s trash can. Imagine how disgusting it can get if it isn’t regularly emptied. A lot of bacteria-filled waste material can be left behind to wreak havoc in our body. Lentils have shown effectiveness in helping eliminate this material from the colon, and that makes them an excellent colon detoxifier. [15]

Now if you feel like washing out the colon for good measure, there’s no need to go for a colonic irrigation. (In any case, many doctors do not recommend colonics anyway, because it heightens our risk of bowel perforation, infection, and electrolyte imbalance.) [16]

Instead, try drinking pineapple juice! This vitamin and fiber-rich liquid is so good at clearing the bowels, it has been consumed to help clear the colons of patients who are about to undergo a colonoscopy procedure. [17]

Finally, don’t forget to encourage the healthy growth of beneficial microorganisms in your colon. One proven way of doing that is by eating globe artichokes. [18]

Indeed, though modern medicine may pooh-pooh the benefits of faddish “detoxification” methods, we find rich scientific evidence supporting common-sense ways of detoxification: eat healthy food and avoid unhealthy ones.

Some foods, though, have been proven healthier and more powerful detoxifiers than others, and since we can only eat so much, it is good to know which foods confer the greatest benefits.

After all, with all the toxins around us in our modern world, our body can use all the help it can get…

References:

[1] https://stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=anatomy-and-function-of-the-liver-90-P03069

[2] https://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c3fo60449g

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19795081

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15927932

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24754177

[6] https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmid/24860825/

[7] https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0308-8146(12)01542-7

[8] https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0278-6915(13)00256-1

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24646302

[10] https://kidney.org/kidneydisease/howkidneyswrk.cfm

[11] https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.200600276

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14616463

[13] https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10534-008-9148-5

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24312764

[15] Effect of green lentils on colonic function, nitrogen balance, and serum lipids in healthy human subjects

[16] https://mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/expert-answers/colon-cleansing/faq-20058435

[17] https://karger.com/?DOI=10.1159/000354094

[18] https://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0007114510001571

How To Make Probiotic Lemonade

How To Make Probiotic Lemonade
Graphic – herbs-info.com Photo © shutterstock.com (under license)

When it comes to flavor and refreshment, nothing beats a cold glass of fresh homemade lemonade. Store-bought brands are often filled with sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. So when it comes to your drink, it’s always better to go natural. Lemons are already packed with vitamin c, antioxidants, and potassium to keep our body healthy… but imagine if we can make an awesome drink even more awesome. [1]

A great way to boost the health benefits you can get from your beverage is to add a dose of probiotics extracted from yogurt. Probiotics are often called “good bacteria” since they have been linked to improvements in mood, digestion, and immunity. [2][3] Best of all, the natural tart taste of lemons makes it a perfect complement to the sour flavor of the whey from yogurt.

Here are the steps to make your own probiotic lemonade at home.

For this recipe you’ll need:

Ingredients
• 12 Organic lemons
• 1 cup of fresh whey from yogurt
• 1/2-1 cup of organic cane sugar (adjust according to taste)

Things you’ll need
• A thin cheesecloth
• Rubber bands
• A gallon jar

1. Extract the whey. We start with the process of extracting whey from store bought whole milk organic yogurt. To do this, simply drape your cheesecloth into a bowl and add the yogurt. Tie it with a rubber band and hang it up to strain the liquid. After a few hours transfer the liquid into a measuring cup and you now have around 1 cup of whey for your drink.

Tips:
You can use the leftover yogurt as an ingredient for dips, spreads, and fillings.
Use the thinnest cheesecloth as possible. A think cheesecloth can absorb the whey rather than strain it from the yogurt.
You can save the whey for other recipes, just make sure to keep it refrigerated.

2. Now it’s time to squeeze the juice out of the lemons. You can use a lemon press or any lemon juicer of your choice.

Tip:
Roll the lemon first on your counter top to maximize the amount juice you’ll get.

3. Mix the whey and lemon juice in a gallon jar. Now add the amount of water and sugar to the taste that you want.

Tip:
It is best to use at least 1/2 cup of sugar so that the probiotic can use it for fermentation. This will make the sweetness a little weak after fermentation.

4. Wait. Once finished mixing. Tightly close the jar and leave it on your kitchen counter at room temperature for 2 days.

5. Enjoy! After 2 days, transfer the mixture to a glass pitcher and you now have a refreshing and healthy probiotic drink your family will enjoy.

References:

[1] Natural bioactive compounds of Citrus limon for food and health. (2017)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19748198 https://gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)35557-9/pdf

[2] Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28483500

[3] Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. (2017) https://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/105/3/758