Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flaxseed (Not Flax Oil) Benefits Prostate Cancer

In the study, prostate cancer patients who added about 3 heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily to their diet had more slowly-dividing tumor cells and a greater rate of tumor cell deaththan men who did not follow this diet, after about 5 weeks.

The investigators found no significant difference in levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein in the blood that indicates prostate cancer progression, between the two groups -- although men in the early stages of the disease experienced a trend toward lower levels.

Flaxseed was commonly used in cereals and breads in the Middle Ages, but has not been a staple in the modern diet since the industrial age. It is rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which may affect levels of hormones that are involved in the progression of cancer.

Flaxseed also contains a fiber-like compound, lignan, which is thought to bind to testosterone and possibly help remove it from the body. This could, in turn, help suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, excluding skin cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 198,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2001. While the cancer will be diagnosed in about 1 in 6 men, about 1 in 30 will die of the disease.

Ground flaxseeds are a useful addition to most peoples' diets. The unfortunate problem though with using them for most people is that when one has elevated insulin levels, the delta six desaturase enzyme is severely inhibited.

This enzyme is responsible for converting the alpha linolenic acid (ALA) in flax to longer chain fats (like EPA and DHA) and it is easy to develop an excess of ALA in one's system, which is counterproductive.

Who has elevated insulin levels?

Most Americans, as just about anyone who is overweight (60% of the US population) has excess insulin, as do most of those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

So the flax should be used sparingly and probably alternated with other ground grains, like sunflower, sesame and pumpkin, which will help to balance the omega six and omega three ratios.

Pumpkin seeds have other fats in them which are likely to be particularly beneficial for prostate health.

The seeds should be freshly ground in a coffee grinder and I prefer to have them in my freshly produced vegetable juice pulp. Most people who juice throw away the pulp, but I am convinced it is a valuable source of nutrients and should be consumed like a porridge while drinking your fresh vegetable juice.

Drink your juice and eat your pulp.

I don't recommend the use of flaxseed oil however, particularly because of its instability. Five years ago, I used to recommend it to nearly all my patients and I noticed the majority of them could not tolerate it. 

This is despite the fact that they were using two of the best brands of flax oil in the country (Omega Flow and Barleans). I came to the conclusion that the nausea they were experiencing was a giant clue from their body and subsequently concluded that most people do not do well with flaxseed oil, which is why I no longer recommend it.

See Dr. Mercola's site for more articles like this

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Is This More-Dangerous-than-Aspartame Sweetener Hiding in Your Food?

One of the more recent toxic additions to our food supply is the artificial sweetener called Neotamei.
In the European Union, where it was approved as a flavor enhancer as of November 2010, it is known by its “E number,” E961ii.
Made by NutraSweet (a former division of Monsanto and the original manufacturer of aspartame), neotame is 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar, and about 30 times sweeter than aspartame.
It’s based on the aspartame formula—despite the fact that 80 percent of all FDA complaints pertain to adverse reactions from aspartame.
Neotame is essentially aspartame plus 3,3-dimethylbutyliii--the presence of which ends up reducing the production of phenylalanine, which allegedly makes it safe for those suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU).
(Hence neotame does not need to bear a PKU warning label like aspartame.)
Unfortunately, it may actually be an even more potent and dangerous neurotoxin, immunotoxin and excitotoxin than aspartame.
Proponents of neotame claim that increased toxicity is of no concern because less of it is needed to achieve the desired effect.
Still, Monsanto's own pre-approval studies of neotame revealed adverse reactions, and there were no independent studies that found neotame to be safe.
On August 16, 2000, the law firm of Hartman & Craven filed comments on the neotame docket pertaining to the lack of safety data submitted in support of neotameiv, stating in part:
“A food additive petition has been submitted to the FDA for the artificial sweetener neotame. In that petition, the sponsor claims the data presented demonstrate that the compound produces no adverse effects at a dose of 1000 mg/kg/day in the rat. The sponsor also claims that the product should be safe for patients with diabetes. A review of the data submitted to the FDA does not support these conclusions.
In fact, no safe human usage level can be determined based on the submitted data. The animal experimental evidence indicates a toxic effect on growth. The clinical evidence raises concerns about glucose control in patients with diabetes.
Searches for an explanation resolving the adverse findings leave no clear acceptable answers that would insure the safety of the public but does stimulate speculation on questions relating to possible liver effects.”

Is Neotame Allowed in Organics?

While some writers have made the claim that neotame is allowed in organic foods, there does not appear to be any supporting evidence for this. Ditto for the rumor that it doesn’t have to be listed on the label. For example, according to a recent article on Sott.netv:
“Neotame was approved by the FDA for general use in July 2002 ... The FDA loosened all labeling requirements for Neotame as part of a large-scale effort to make it a near-ubiquitous artificial sweetener, to be found on the tabletop, in all prepared foods, even in organics. It simply does not have to be included in the ingredient list.”
The Cornucopia Institute wrote a rebuttal to this internet rumor last year, statingvi:
“Organic foods cannot contain synthetic additives, unless these additives have been petitioned and approved to appear on the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances (7 CFR 205.605). Emily Brown Rosen, Standards Specialist at the USDA’s National Organic Program, writes about neotame: “For organic food, all additives must appear on the National List.” Neotame has never been petitioned or approved for inclusion on the National List, and therefore cannot legally be added to organic foods.
We see no evidence, and see no reason to suspect, that any organic certifying agents would allow organic food manufacturers to violate the federal standards by adding this synthetic sweetener.
Moreover, as a direct food additive, neotame must be listed on the ingredients label, contrary to suggestions that this could be added to food in a stealth-like manner (21 CFR 101.100). We have not seen any evidence to suggest that neotame is being added covertly to organic foods. Not only would organic manufacturers be breaking the law by adding this synthetic sweetener to organic foods, they would also be breaking the law by not including Neotame on the ingredient label.”

Why is Neotame Dangerous?

That said, my recommendation for neotame is similar to that for aspartame, which is: avoid it at all costs if you care about your health. Neotame is like aspartame on steroids, so while you want to avoid both, neotame appears to be more toxic. One way of avoiding all artificial sweeteners is to purchase foods bearing the USDA 100% Organic label. I don’t believe there’s any reason to suspect organic foods will contain neotame.
I’ve previously expounded on the many health dangers of aspartame, and all of those dangers apply equally to neotame. But as if aspartame wasn't bad enough, NutraSweet “improved" the aspartame formula by adding 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde, which blocks enzymes that break the peptide bond between aspartic acid and phenylalanine, thereby reducing the availability of phenylalanine. This eliminates the need for a warning on labels directed at people who cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine.
Neotame is also more stable at higher temperatures than aspartame, so it’s approved for use in a wider array of food products, including baked goods.
However, one of the byproducts your body creates by breaking down aspartame is formaldehyde, which is extremely toxic to your health even in very small dosesvii. Furthermore, in a search of, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which has over 11 million medical citations, neotame fails to include any double-blind scientific studies on toxicity in humans or animals. If neotame was indeed completely safe to ingest, you would think the NutraSweet Company would have published at least one double-blind safety study in the public domain?
Well, they haven't... Why not?
In and of itself, 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde is categorized as both highly flammable and an irritant, and carries risk statements for handling including irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory systemviii. Does this sound like something that belongs inside your body?

How Did these Chemicals Get Approved for Human Consumption?

Today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could rightfully be accused of being a “subsidiary" of the Monsanto Company. When you realize just how many Monsanto executives and employees who have migrated into positions of power within the FDA and other government agencies, a truly disturbing picture emerges of the foxes guarding the henhouse.
The FDA is packed by pro-business, pro-corporation advocates who often have massive conflicts of interest when it comes to protecting the health of the public. In fact, the revolving door between private industry and government oversight agencies is so well established these days, it has become business as usual to read about scandal, conflicts of interest and blatant pro-industry bias, even when it flies in the face of science or the law.

Aspartame and Neotame—a Dieters WORST Enemy?

One of the most effective marketing and PR tactics for artificial sweeteners has been the claim that they help in the battle against obesity. Unfortunately, they don't. In fact, the research and the epidemiologic data suggest the opposite is true, and that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and neotame tend to lead to weight gain.
As I've often said, there's more to weight gain or weight loss than mere calorie intake.
One reason for aspartame and neotame's potential to cause weight gain is because phenylalanine and aspartic acid – the two amino acids that make up 90 percent of aspartame and are also present in neotame -- are known to rapidly stimulate the release of insulin and leptin; two hormones that are intricately involved with satiety and fat storage. Insulin and leptin are also the primary hormones that regulate your metabolism. So although you're not ingesting calories in the form of sugar, aspartame and neotame can still raise your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels, in turn, are two of the driving forces behind obesity, diabetes, and a number of our current chronic disease epidemics.
Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant to it, just as your body can become resistant to insulin, and once that happens, your body can no longer "hear" the hormonal messages instructing your body to stop eating, burn fat, and maintain good sensitivity to sweet tastes in your taste buds. So, you remain hungry; you crave sweets, and your body stores more fat... Leptin-resistance also causes an increase in visceral fat, sending you on a vicious cycle of hunger, fat storage and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and more.

Neotame Added to Cattle Feed to Fatten Livestock...

If you want more proof that artificial sweeteners like neotame are not a dieter’s best friend, consider this: neotame is actually used as a substitute for molasses in cattle feed. The product is marketed as “Sweetos” in India.  The makers of Neotame, in partnership with an Indian health care company called EnSigns Health Care Pvt Ltd, introduced the neotame-laced cattle feed sweetener back in October 2010ix. According to the press release:
“Sweetos is an economical substitute for molasses. Sweetos guarantees the masking of unpleasant tastes and odor and improves the palatability of feed. This product will be economical for farmers and manufacturers of cattle feed. It can also be used in mineral mixture,” said Craig Petray, CEO, The NutraSweet Company, a division of Searle, which is a part of Monsanto.
... “We are in talks with the animal husbandry department to reach out to farmers and are trying to tie up with extension services with co-operative societies as well. Cattle consume more fodder when mixed with Sweetos. This product has great export potential as well," said Mohan Nair, chairman, Ensigns Health Care.” [Emphasis mine.]
This brings up several disturbing facts... Not only are some countries now producing animal products that are potentially laced with neotame residues, but they’re clearly stating that the “diet” sweetener increases the amount of fodder consumed by the animals, so how exactly is it supposed to help you lose weight? Loss of appetite control is never a good thing when you’re trying to lose weight, and the statement made about Sweetos fodder speaks volumes about neotame’s impact on your appetite.

How to Report Adverse Reactions to Aspartame or Neotame

Did you know that only a fraction of all adverse food reactions are ever reported to the FDA? This is a problem that only you as the consumer can have an impact upon. In order to truly alert the FDA to a problem with a product they've approved, they must be notified – by as many people as possible who believe they have experienced a side effect. This mean you can take action against the manufacturers of these chemicals that continue to put your optimal health at risk, if you feel you have had a bad reaction to their product.
I urge you, if you believe you have experienced side effects from aspartame or neotame, let the FDA know about it!
Please go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page, find the phone number listed for your state, and report your adverse reaction.
There's no telling just how many reports they might need before considering taking another look at the safety of aspartame or neotame, but the only way to press them is by reporting any and all adverse effects. And in the meantime, do your health and the health of your family a favor and treat all foods and drinks that contain aspartame or neotame as if they were deleterious to your optimal health. Because, in my opinion, they are.

Follow link for more articles like this Article by Dr. Mercola.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Antioxidant Monsters

Today I celebrated National Nutrition Month with 4-year olds, making antioxidant rich monsters: cookie monster, elmo, and oscar! The photos were made by little hands. Below are the instructions so you can make your own fun monsters out of fruit and vegetables!

While they were making the snacks, we talking about the health benefits from colorful fruits and vegetables:

Red: lycopene, helps the heart!

Orange/ Yellow: beta-carotene, help the eyes!

Green: colored by chlorphyll, broccoli has indoles which prevent certain types of cancer!

Blue/Purple: Anthocyanins, help promote memory!

Cookie Monster
For the face: Blueberries
For the mouth: Blackberries
For the eyes: Two small cups with vanilla yogurt and a blueberry for the center

For the face: Watermelon
For the nose: Cantaloupe
For the mouth: Blackberries
For the eyes: Two small cups with vanilla yogurt and a blueberry for the center

Oscar the Grouch
For the face: Broccoli
For the mouth: Sliced black olives (pits removed)
For the eyebrows: Yellow and red pepper strips
For the eyes: Two small cups with ranch dressing and an olive for the center

Then after the snacks were made all of the little ones snacked! YUM!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some is good, more is not better

Supplement: A substance taken to remedy the deficiencies in a person's diet. When it comes to considering a supplement, think: food first, supplements second. Just as the definition states, a supplement is to make up the difference of what is missing in the from your eating routine. If you're an overall healthy person and eat a variety of foods, you may not need to take a supplement every day.

Before you go to the supplement aisle and get overwhelemed by the claims touted on the bottles and all of the varities, talk with your health care provider and a registered dietitian to understand what is right for YOU. If you are currently taking supplements, take them with you to your appointment for an expert to review them.

When it comes to most things in life, and this holds true for supplements... if some is good, MORE IS NOT BETTER! This goes for vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements.

Let's take selenium for example, it is a trace mineral that is essential for health that can prevent damage to cells and plays a role in the immune system. Deficiency of selenium is RARE in the U.S. What foods provide selenium? Food sources include: Brazil nuts (1 ounce = 544 mcg), Tuna (3 ounces = 68 mcg), Turkey (3 ounces = 27 mcg), Sunflower seeds (1 ounce = 23 mg).

Again, selenium deficiency is RARE. If you are going to take a supplement, ensure doses that do not exceed the tolerable upper level of 400 mcg per day. Click here for more details on what amount is right for you, as with most vitamins and minerals, recommended amounts vary by age (e.g. 9-13 year olds, 280 mcg of selenium is the tolerable upper level).

Why worry? Vitamins and minerals can negatively impact health when taken in excess. With selenium for example: toxicity can develop with symptoms including: vomiting, fatigue, and weight loss and there are reported accidental deaths due to selenium toxicity related to cariac failure. It can also interact with some medications, including Coumadin (Warafin) by increasing its activity and prolonging bleeding time.

Keeping all of this in mind....Before you select a supplement, talk to your health care provider and a registered dietitian to determine what you really need to be supplementing your diet with!

2. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Data Base. Copyright 1995-2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The "Antioxidant Superstar" Chinese People Eat Daily

By Dr. Mercola
Steve Farrar has a Masters Degree in Horticulture from the Washington State University and has worked and studied mushrooms professionally for the last 30 years.
The first 20 years he spent growing them and working primarily with gourmet chefs, but in the past decade, he's started applying his expertise of mushrooms to health purposes.
According to Farrar, Americans consume about 900 million pounds of mushrooms a year, but 95 percent of that just one species: the common button mushroom and its relatives, the Crimini and the Portabello mushrooms.
In more recent years, mushrooms have received a lot of attention, both in gourmet cooking and in the pharmaceutical industry.
As you will soon learn, mushrooms are a largely untapped resource that can help increase your health and well-being.

The Unique Nutritional Properties of Mushrooms

"Mushrooms are defined as a fungus that forms a fleshy above-ground reproductive structure called the' mushroom fruit body,'" he explains.
Mushrooms should not be confused with mold and fungi however, which do not form fleshy fruit bodies. To learn more about the details of how mushrooms grow and propagate, please listen to the interview or read through the transcript. The common button mushroom, while not as 'interesting' as its more exotic cousins, is an excellent low-calorie food, especially for diabetics. It contains a number of valuable nutrients, including:
  • Protein
  • Enzymes
  • B vitamins (especially niacin)
  • Vitamin D2
However, Farrar's focus has been on growing various gourmet mushroom species, particularly the wood decaying mushroom species, which differ greatly from your average button mushroom in terms of biology, nutrition and medicinal value, as well as in the production and methodology of growing them.
"By virtue of them being primary decomposers, they have some unique nutritional and also health benefits to them," Farrar explains. "I tended to focus on species like Maitake, Shiitake, Enokitake, oyster mushrooms, brown beech mushrooms; mushrooms that people over the last 20 years were not really that familiar with."
The wood decaying mushrooms, which are preferred in Asia and parts of Europe, are quite different in terms of flavors and textures. They also tend to have valuable medicinal properties that differ from the button mushroom. And we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to understanding the value and importance of mushrooms as we've only classified about 10 percent of all available species.
"I'm continually humbled by my ignorance of what's going on in this incredible complex world of fungi," Farrar says. "It's just mind boggling. Even with the well-studied species, nearly every week they're finding a new bioactive component… Maybe it's a polysaccharide, maybe it's an enzyme, a protein, an antioxidant. They are continually finding new things that have profound effects when we consume them as a food or as a dietary supplement."

Mushrooms are "Superfoods"

According to Farrar, the effect mushrooms can have on human health is multifaceted, but they're most well-known for their immune-boosting properties. Long chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms' beneficial effect on your immune system.
"They're host mediated responses, meaning that they are not going in like a pharmaceutical medicine and [like] a sledgehammer forcing your body in a particular way. They interact through your immune system itself by stimulating it and making it ready and efficient," he explains.
Mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants in general as they contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world. But they also contain antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a 'master antioxidant.' Interestingly, it's an amino acid that contains sulfur, and if you listened to my interview with Dr. Seneff on the highly underestimated importance of sulfur, you may recognize why this particular antioxidant may be of particular importance for human health, as many are severely deficient in sulfur.
"[I]t's one of the only antioxidants identified so far that our cells [use as] a transport system to actively take ergothioneineacross the cell membrane into the cell, to the points of oxidative stress," Farrar explains. "It's a very significant antioxidant. It's probably eventually going to be called a vitamin… they barely even found ways to quantify it effectively. Mushrooms are an excellent source of this antioxidant. We can only get it from our diet. It's only produced by fungi and certainly soil inhabiting bacteria."
2009 study in the journal Nature discusses the importance of ergothioneine, describing it as "an unusual sulfur-containing derivative of the amino acid, histidine," which appears to have a very specific role in protecting your DNA from oxidative damage. So, if Farrar's assertions that your body needs ergothioneine, which is fairly exclusive to mushrooms, to effectively transport ergothioneine into your cells, it's easy to see how mushrooms may be an important part of an optimal diet. If you don't like to eat them whole, you can also find them in supplement form, either as an extract or whole food supplement, which I'll discuss more in a moment.

The Immune Enhancing Effects of Mushrooms

According to Farrar, many of the immune benefits obtained from mushrooms are due to the glyconutrients (complex sugars) contained in the fruit body and the mycelia.
"The vital information that can be contained in these sugars is astounding," he says. "…The way they communicate is… through receptor sites on your cells. It's described as a lock and a key. There are receptor sites depending on the physical structure of the polysaccharides, the side branches, and the substitutions on it, [and] they will lock on to certain components of your immune system and activate it much like they would be activated by coming into contact with the bacteria.
It's very profound effects, and we don't fully understand them… But it's really these long chained polysaccharides (that are immense complex structures), a lot of times bound with proteins or amino acids or different side chains, that have the effect on your immune system."
From a practical standpoint, what this means is that you can effectively elicit a very broad-based immune response by consuming a variety of different mushrooms of different species. Most likely, this is exactly what our ancestors used to do, and by eating a diverse variety of foods within each food group, you're giving your body everything it needs, thereby optimizing your genetic expression.

How Mushrooms Helped Win a Kentucky Derby

Now, some may argue that you typically would not consume the mycelia of the mushroom—which is the thread-like vegetative part of the mushroom that branches through the soil—because if you were to pick it in the wild, you'd typically snap off the top (the fruit body and stem), leaving the rest in the ground. However, Farrar points out that there's compelling evidence indicating that the mycelia have very valuable health properties.
Studies involving thoroughbred race horses, for example, offer a glimpse into what benefits mushroom products that include the mycelia might harbor. Farrar tells the story of how, in 2007, they convinced an East Coast trainer to put all the horses in his stable on a mushroom blend product developed by Farrar and his team.
"It contained a lot of the Cordyceps species, which is widely recognized as a performance mushroom, enhancing energy production. It had a number of other species and it helped with muscle recovery after strenuous exercise.
Basically, the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner 'Street Sense' was a horse that was on our product. The owner and trainer attributed a lot of the success to that. Interestingly enough, part of that was the performance energy component… another part of it was basically a behavioral aspect. It was totally unexpected on our part. The trainer said that [when the horse was] given this blend of mushroom… it was [like] a different horse… racehorses tend to be very fidgety and very high strung and they can be distracted. It's very difficult to focus their attention. They said once they started along this regimen of a daily dose of this mycelial blend of mushrooms, its trainability and focus [improved]; it was a different animal.
So instead of a lethargic sort of calming effect, it was more like an alert focus... That combined with the performance aspects, the muscle recovery, and the energy generation, was enough to make a difference they thought. Since then they have been spokesman for our products."
Others have found the same effects giving Farrar's product to their pets. Owners of elderly dogs in particular have reported that their dogs start acting like puppies again when taking it.

Usage and Dosage Recommendations

When it comes to mushroom supplements, there are two primary types:
  • Mushroom concentrates or extracts—Most of these are so-called hot water extracts, where either the mushroom mycelia or fruit body is boiled for extended periods of time to extract the long chain polysaccharides. Farrar explains: 

    "What you get basically is a concentrated form of these beta glucans. But the enzymes, the proteins, the amino acids, the dietary fiber, mostly the antioxidants, are either denatured, destroyed, or simply discarded.

    While you do get a very concentrated amount of these – generally, they also try to purify it to get them down to a minimum of variation [so] they can standardize it… Not to say that those aren't valuable products. In extreme cases of advanced cancer, tumors, all sorts of things, that is a very appropriate thing… Particularly as a complimentary therapy."
  • Whole food/Raw mushrooms—Consuming the mushrooms raw or using a whole food mushroom (powdered pill) product is generally a better alternative if you're reasonably healthy and looking to maintain optimal health, as they help maintain ideal function of your various systems as opposed to imparting a direct effect. Most of the knowledge about mushrooms come from ancient Chinese medicine where mushrooms are regarded as tonics. Tonics are considered to have non-specific beneficial effects across several systems of your body that do not decline over time. 

    If you choose to eat your mushrooms raw, make sure they are organically grown, as their flesh easily absorb air and soil contaminants. Likewise, you'll want to make sure any product you buy is certified organic for the same reason. 

    Furthermore, Farrar points out that whole mushrooms also provide healthful dietary fiber that act as "prebiotic platforms for the growth of probiotic organisms in your gut," which is very important for digestive health. This is yet another reason to opt for a whole food mushroom product.
There are no toxicities or resistance build-up associated with mushrooms, Farrar says. Your body will simply use what it needs and expel the rest. One of the most famous medicinal mushrooms is Reishi, revered as "the mushroom of immortality" by the Chinese, who typically take it every day.
"If you take a massive dose of these mycelial products, you're not going to overdose on them… You can't overdose," he says."Typically when people start on these products, for the first seven to 10 days we recommend a double dose of it to load your system, and thereafter a moderate dose of one to a couple of grams a day. It's all that's needed.
When you're talking about the isolates of mushrooms, the active ingredients, you're talking about milligram dosages. If you're talking about the raw whole food, anywhere from one gram up to 30 grams for very severe cases of cancer cases. People are taking relatively massive doses of it and have had phenomenal effects."  
Typically, one to two grams is enough for a tonic effect, taken on a daily basis. Farrar recommends taking the product on an empty (or nearly empty) stomach, but it can be taken with moderate amounts of food or liquids.

How to Identify a High Quality Product

In the interview, Farrar describes the techniques used within his industry to produce different kinds of mushroom products, so for more information, please listen to the interview in its entirety or read through the transcript.
One way involves a fermentation process, which can be used for both the fruit body and the mycelia. The cells walls are different in the mycelia compared to the fruit body; they're more easily digested, making it easier to reap the benefits from the bioactive compounds therein. The technique involves the use of oats, which may raise concerns about gluten content. However, Farrar allays such fears stating that gliadin cannot be detected in the final fermented product. So in its finished form, it's a gluten-free product.
In a nutshell, when evaluating mushroom supplements, the points of differentiation between products can be broken down to:
  • Isolates versus whole foods
  • Solid state fermentation versus submerged technology
  • The type of substrate (grain) used for the fermentation
  • Percentage of fruit body to mycelium
  • Conventionally grown versus organic
Solid state fermentation is superior to submerged technology when growing the mycelia. Particularly if you're looking for a complex matrix of nutrition and bioactive compounds.
So-called 'submerged fermentation' is typically used by companies focused on extracting particular isolates, and this accounts for up to 70 percent of the products on the market. It's a more 'drug-based' approach that can be beneficial for certain health ailments. However, for a more comprehensively beneficial effect, you'll want to look for a product using 'solid state fermentation,' which is based on the whole food approach where the final product contains more or most of the original compounds and co-factors.
Within the whole food approach, manufacturers may use a variety of different substrate grains for the fermentation process, such as oats, rye, rice, millet, or milo. Farrar tends to favor those using oats, as they tend to have better nutrition than those using rice.
As for the ratio of fruit body to mycelium, Farrar recommends opting for products that contain more of the mycelium. "There is more research directly with the mycelial stage of the mushroom, by far, than the fruit body stage," he explains. He also discusses several other reasons for opting for mycelium, such as:
  • The mycelia stage of the mushroom is easier to standardize and keep contained
  • Mushrooms grown to the fruit body stage for harvesting opens it up to environmental factors that can be more difficult to control, so there's more variation in the quality
  • Mushroom fruit bodies attract airborne contaminants, both biological and industrial, so there's greater risk for contamination
Last but certainly not least, you have the option of simply eating the mushrooms raw, or very lightly cooked. Excellent choices include maitake, shiitake, and king trumpet.
"They are so versatile. You can eat them in anything," Farrar says. "In the United States, our annual per capita consumption of mushrooms is about four pounds a year. In parts of China and Japan, it's 20, 25, 30 pounds! Even Canada has twice the consumption of mushrooms that we have. Mushrooms should be a bigger part of our diet."

Visit Dr. Mercola's website for more info on mushrooms:

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Favorite Fruit: Mango

If I had to choose a favorite fruit, it would be mango! It is absolutely declicious and full of flavor.

Mango selection tips: If the mango feels a little bit soft to the touch, it's just right! If it the mango feels firm, then you will have to wait a few days for it to ripen.

How to prepare a mango: First wash the mango. Then carefully slice the two 'cheeks' off from the fruit (pictured to the right). Next slice the fruit into strips, with the peel. Then take a teaspoon and slip the peel away from the fruit and serve in long strips or cube into bitesize pieces.

For a time saving tip: Look for bags of frozen mango, which are perfect to adding to smoothies, salsas, or yogurt.

Click here to try my yummy mango smoothie recipe! A perfect start to the day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can Juicing Really Lead to Happiness?

Do you want more energy? Maybe drop a couple of sizes?  Do you want to improve your health? Look years younger? Give your immune system a boost? If so, then it’s time to consider juicing. 
I have previously written an extensive guide to juicing  but Cherie Calbom, the original Juice Lady, released the third edition of her best-selling book The Juice Lady's Guide To Juicing for Health: Unleashing the Healing Power of Whole Fruits and Vegetables in October 2008.  
I recently spoke with her about what she learned in preparation for her new book. The most remarkable news from the juicing world is in the area of clinical research, offering mounting scientific evidence for juicing’s health benefits. 
One notable study explored the effects of beetroot juice on blood pressure. Those who consumed 20 ounces of beetroot juice started to show reductions in blood pressure after just one hour. After about 2.5 hours, all participants who had the juice began to show significant reductions in both their systolic and diastolic readings. 
Another significant study called the Kame Project concluded that fruits and vegetables might play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. People who drank juices (fruit and vegetable) more than three times per week, compared to less than once a week, were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.  
Many more studies have yielded positive findings, which are nicely outlined in Cherie’s book. The research is just confirming what you already know—that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can greatly improve your fitness and vitality.  

Why Should You Juice? 
You might think that you can get the same benefits by eating your veggies whole, why go through the trouble of juicing them? 
According to Cherie, juice is therapeutic. It is a nutrient-dense “living” broth that is absorbed almost instantly, requiring little effort by your body. It is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that goes right into your system without having to be broken down. Since it can be utilized by your body immediately, those who juice report feeling the “kick” of energy almost instantly.  
This is not to suggest replacing all your veggies and fruits with juice. Juicing is a supplement to your diet, and you need the insoluble fiber from whole foods as well. But juicing is a fantastic way to pack in more vegetables than you would ordinarily eat.  
Speaking of fiber, you might be surprised to know that juice actually contains some fiber—of the soluble variety. Soluble fiber is present in juice in the form of pectin, gums, and mucilage. This soluble fiber helps lower your cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and encourages good bowel bacteria. 
Juicing concentrates the most nutrient-dense parts of the plants in the juice. In the past, some have claimed that a significant amount of nutrients remained in the fiber after juicing, but that theory has been disproved. The Department of Agriculture analyzed twelve fruits and found that 90 percent of the antioxidant activity was in the juice, rather than the fiber. 
Making your own juice allows you to use a wider variety of vegetables, leaves, and stems that you might not otherwise eat, expanding your range of nutrients.   
Raw juice also contains something very special—biophotonic light energy—which revitalizes your body. Fresh, raw juice is a “live food” with a full complement of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and enzymes. Commercially processed, canned, bottled, frozen or otherwise packaged juices have been pasteurized, meaning the juice has been exposed to high temperatures, and many of the vitamins and enzymes have been killed or removed.  
The light of “living juice” has actually been seen with Kirlian photography. Kirlian photos of cooked vegetables and pasteurized juice reveal very little “light” emanating from them.  
One very important benefit of juicing has to do with alkalizing your body. Most people’s bodies are too acidic. Nearly all who suffer from chronic illness have this acidity problem. Vegetables are alkaline, so when you juice, it will raise the pH of your body to a more beneficial level.  
Remember, as good as juicing is, you still need to pay attention to your nutritional type, in terms of how much juice to consume daily, and what kind. You might want to review my guidelines about juicing for each nutritional type before employing juicing into your food plan. For tips on choosing a juicer, my juicer page might helpful. 

The Top Three Benefits of Juicing 
Cherie shared her thoughts about what she considers to be the top three benefits of juicing: 
1.    Weight management
2.    Increased energy
3.    Boosted immune system 
Over the years, thousands of readers have emailed the Juice Lady with their personal stories and experiences of juicing. One of the things she has been most struck by is the “side effect” reported in literally hundreds of emails—significant weight loss.  
This weight loss is experienced not only by people who have that as a goal, but also by those who do not. Many—in fact, the majority—of people start juicing as a way to improve their health and energy. But even these folks have noticed the pounds “falling off,” as she described it. People from all over the world have written her about this phenomenon. 
She suggests this may be a result of the fact that acids are stored in fat cells, and when the pH becomes better balanced with alkaline foods such as vegetable juices, your body will let go of fat cells and the acids they contain. I would also add that people who are juicing are likely eating less processed food and junk food, feeling better and having more energy, and as a result are more active, which would contribute to shedding excess pounds. When your body has an abundance of the nutrients it needs, and the pH is optimally balanced, you do feel energized.  
Juicing can supercharge your immune system with its concentration of beneficial phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are the substances plants contain that protect them from disease, injury and pollution. For example, the average tomato contains up to 10,000 different types of phytochemicals, the most famous being lycopene, which has been shown to lower the risk of stomach and prostate cancer. 
Research has shown that people whose diets are highest in phytonutrients (ie, plants) have the lowest incidence of cancer and other diseases, and raw juices give you these vital substances in concentrated form. Here are just a few of the immune-boosting plant heroes and what they do for you: 
  • Allyl sulfides, found in garlic and onions, have been found to lower your risk for stomach cancer
  • Curcumins, present in ginger and turmeric, stimulate the activity of glutathione S-transferases, which are thought to be cancer inhibitors
  • Ellagic acid, found in grapes and strawberries, neutralizes carcinogenic agents, preventing them from altering cellular DNA (a first step in the development of cancer)
  • Gingerol, from ginger, has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and heal ulcers
  • Monoterpenes, found in cherries, have been found to lower the risk of breast, skin, liver, lung, stomach, and pancreatic cancer
Choose Organic Produce 
The popularity of organic produce has increased dramatically over the years, and for good reason. Not only do you avoid the health-damaging pesticides and herbicides--which get concentrated in your juice just as the good nutrients do--but organic produce has now been shown by a number of studies to be more nutritious than inorganic produce. 
$25-million four-year study of organic food, funded by the European Union, found that organic fruits and vegetables contain up to 40 percent more antioxidants. Organic produce had higher levels of beneficial minerals like iron and zinc. In fact, the milk from organically raised cows contains 60 percent more antioxidants and fatty acids than ordinary milk.  
Another study, this one a doctoral dissertation by Virginia Worthington at John Hopkins University in 2001, revealed: 
  • 27 percent more vitamin C in organic produce than in the conventionally grown vegetables
  • 21 percent more iron
  • 29 percent more magnesium
  • 13 percent more phosphorous, and
  • 15 percent fewer nitrates
There should be no remaining doubt that buying organic produce is well worth the effort and additional cost. If you can’t buy all organic, be sure to at least avoid the “Dirty Dozen.”  
Juicing = Happiness 
Cherie reports that her greatest “surprise” over the years has been the number of emails she receives from people reporting that juicing has led them to greater happiness. Letter after letter comes in with comments about how much happier people are since incorporating a juicing lifestyle. 
And it makes perfect sense. If you are healthy, you feel good. If you feel good, life is more enjoyable—and an enjoyable life is a happy life.
Article by Dr. Mercola, you can visit his site via this link: