JA N U A RY 2019
timing is everything
Herbal sweeteners Pet health Diet trends
health by the hour
12/3/18 7:41 AM
ÂŠ2018 Source Naturals, Inc.
8/31/18 1:39 PM
January 2019 vol. 15 no. 1
the state of the diet: 2019 The hottest trends for the coming year.
4 From the Editor’s Desk 7 Health Pulse
Ginger for weight control • Omega 3s may thwart premature birth • Meditation to manage chronic pain • More
Timing may be the key to productivity.
15 Everyday Remedies
Get relief from back pain, naturally.
16 Supplement Spotlight Keep pets healthy as they age.
23 Healthy Glow
Skin issues? Ayurveda can help.
26 Sports Nutrition
Amino acids may help boost sports performance.
29 Herbal Healing
Discover sweet alternatives to sugar.
A source for news, information, and ideas for your healthy lifestyle. remedies-and-recipes.com
@RemediesRecipes January 2019
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from the editor ’s desk
New year, new you? Actually, I like the old me pretty well (although I’ve updated my photo here.) Happy new year, and yes, let’s see what we can do about some personal upgrades. This issue of remedies offers several starting points, with articles about diet trends, “timing,” amino acids for sports recovery, herbal alternatives to sugar, and winter skin care. So allow me to lay out my own resolutions. n Read more. Hard to fathom, since I spend nearly all of my waking hours reading one thing or another (or writing something). So maybe this should be “read differently.” I do too much online reading, jumping back and forth from site to site to check political developments, sports scores, and videos of cute puppies on Twitter. I have stacks of books in my office and at my bedside, waiting for just the right moment. . . . n Eat better. I do all right on this one, but too many sweets and empty calories sneak in. For 2019: more fruit and vegetables. More fish. Less of everything else. n Exercise more. There’s a pattern here: Make better use of my time. I exercise daily, but need to factor in more yoga and stretching. An aging body needs a little less pounding and a lot more care. That isn’t all I hope to accomplish, of course, but those three things will be a good guide. Best wishes for your own fresh start.
Chief Content Officer and Strategist Lynn Tryba Contributing Editor Rich Wallace Assistant Editor Kelli Ann Wilson Art Director Michelle Knapp Graphic Designer Ronna Rajaniemi Custom Graphics Manager Donna Sweeney Business Development Director Amy Pierce Customer Service firstname.lastname@example.org Client Services Director—Retail Judy Gagne 800-677-8847 x128 Client Services Director—Advertising and Digital Ashley Dunk 800-677-8847 x190 Western Brand Promotions Director Shannon Dunn-Delgado 415-382-1665 Group Brand Promotions Director Bob Mucci 978-255-2062 Executive Director of Retail Sales and Marketing Anna Johnston (Anna.Johnston@TasteforLife.com) Retail Account Manager Kim Willard Founder and Chief Executive Officer T. James Connell
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS, professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University; Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council, editor/publisher of HerbalGram, senior editor, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, research geochemist, author, Natural Asthma Relief and Prevent, Treat, and Reverse Diabetes; Steven Foster, photographer, herbalist, and senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, author of 101 Medicinal Herbs, A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine and more, associate editor of HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council; John Neustadt, ND, founder of Montana Integrated Medicine, coauthor, A Revolution in Health Through Nutritional Biochemistry; Lisa Petty, RHN, RNCP, holistic nutrition consultant, author of Living Beauty and host of the health talk radio show Lisa Live; Dana Ullman, MPH, author of The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy and other titles on homeopathy; Marc Ullman, partner at Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, chairman, Legal Advisory Counsel, Natural Products Foundation; Amber Lynn Vitse, CN, is certified in Integrative Nutrition, a fusion bodyworker, and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and writes on health issues. remedies is published monthly by Taste for Life, 149 Emerald Street, Suite O, Keene, NH 03431, 603-283-0034 (fax 603-283-0141); ©2019 Connell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. This magazine is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health conditions, nor to replace recommendations made by health professionals. The opinions expressed by contributors and sources quoted in articles are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Advertisers and advertising agencies assume liability for all content of advertising and for any claims arising therefrom. Information appearing in remedies may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express permission of the publisher.
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ginger extract may curb weight gain . . . A ginger extract inhibited weight gain and lowered inflammation in subjects on a high-fat diet. Researchers attributed the effects to oils called gingerols and shogaols, which give ginger its distinct aroma. The trial lasted 10 weeks. Laboratory rats were fed a high-fat diet, with some also receiving one of two types of ginger extract. The authors concluded that a ginger extract produced via a lowtemperature extraction method “may have beneficial effects on obesity and inflammation.”
...b ut cleaning products may cause it
Being too clean might not be the best option for kids’ health. The use of antimicrobial cleaning products in the home may increase the risk of childhood obesity, according to new research in the Canadian Medical Associa“Ginger extract ameliorates obesity and inflammation . . .” by S. Kim et al., Nutrients, 10/23/18 l “Ginger extract may inhibit obesity, inflammation, tion Journal. The study found that infants from suggests study . . .” by Adi Menayang, www.NutraIngredients-USA.com, 10/29/18 households that used such products weekly were twice as likely to have increased levels of gut bacteria that have been linked to higher body fat and insulin resistance. After age 3, those same kids were more likely to have a higher body mass index than children from homes where disinfectants were used less frequently. The use of eco-friendly products was associated with lower odds of overweight or obese children. “Concerns over the potential for antibacterial products to be too effective or even toxic has motivated use of ‘green’ or eco-friendly alternatives,” the researchers wrote. Lead author Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, recommended vinegar-based cleaning solutions. “Are household disinfectants making kids overweight?” by Fiza Pirani, Atlanta JournalConstitution, www.ajc.com, 9/17/18 l “Postnatal exposure to household disinfectants, infant gut microbiota and subsequent risk of overweight in children” by M.H. Tun et al., CMAJ, 9/17/18
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omega 3s lower premature birth risk New research confirms that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of premature birth. Longer pregnancies improve a baby’s health and lower the risk of death. “There are not many options for preventing premature birth, so these findings are very important for pregnant women, babies, and the health professionals who care for them,” said researcher Philippa Middleton, PhD. Her team analyzed 70 studies that compared omega 3s (from supplements or foods) during pregnancy with a placebo or no interventions. They looked particularly at the omega 3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fatty fish or fish oil. The scientists concluded that for pregnant women, increasing the daily intake of omega 3s lowers the risk of having a premature baby (less than 37 weeks) by 11 percent; lowers the risk of having an early premature baby (less than 34 weeks) by 42 percent; and reduces the risk of having a small baby by 10 percent. The new review is an update of a 2006 review, which did not find enough evidence to support omega-3 supplementation. The updated review found high-quality evidence for supplementation. “New research finds omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of premature birth,” www.Cochrane.org, 11/18 l “Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy” by P. Middleton et al., Cochrane Systematic Review, 11/15/18
meditation eases chronic pain Meditation and mindful breathing proved to be very effective for managing chronic pain in a new study. In some cases, the practices reduced the need for medication such as opioids. “Approximately 70 percent of individuals who use opioids on a long-term basis have a musculoskeletal disorder, such as low back pain or arthritis,” said Maggie Wimmer of New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery. The hospital recently implemented a pain and stress management program that encourages complementary practices as alternatives to medication. Patients attended a monthly meditation workshop and participated in a weekly meditation conference call. They also engaged in mindful breathing techniques. Nearly all of the 122 participants were satisfied with the program, and about a third reported using the techniques five or more times in the previous week instead of medication, and 11 percent used it three or four times. More than half of the participants said mindful breathing helped them manage chronic pain and stress. “Complementary approaches such as meditation help patients manage chronic pain,” Hospital for Special Surgery, 10/24/18
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IBS? Consider probiotics The negative physical impacts of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been linked to depression. A recent study in the journal Food & Nutrition Research offered a chance for a brighter outlook. Researchers determined that a shelf-stable probiotic supplement can reverse symptoms of depression in patients with IBS. Participants had both IBS and major depressive disorder. Half of them received the probiotic bacteria Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 for 90 days and the others were given a placebo. Those who took the probiotic reported improvements in symptoms of depression. Some also reported better sleep. “Research links probiotics to depression relief in those with IBS,” WholeFoods Magazine, 10/18
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improve your life with the science of timing
Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about about how to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. For optimal results, it turns out we should be spending at least as much time considering when we’re going to do things.
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Author Daniel Pink scrutinized scientific, psychological, educational, and economic studies to determine if the timing of events matters. It turns out it does . . . a lot. His findings are captured in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing ($28, Riverhead Books, 2018). Some of his book’s main ideas are outlined below, along with tips to help you better navigate your day.
What’s Your Type? Pink believes there are three major chronotypes that describe how people experience their days: Larks love waking up before everyone else. They experience their emotional highs and lows a few hours ahead of most people’s schedule. Owls hate getting up early. Their appetite for work kicks in around 9 p.m., when they start doing their best thinking. The rest of us move through the days in three distinct stages: peak, trough, and recovery.
Morning Peak Most people’s focus is freshest in the morning, so this is the time to schedule demanding analytical work. Avoid doing routine emails or any work that fritters away your best energy of the day. If you need to set a healthcare appointment, mornings may be best. Research shows that healthcare performance declines in the afternoon. Hospital handwashing drops dramatically. Anesthesia errors are three times more likely to occur. Fewer polyps are found during afternoon colonoscopies as compared with morning procedures. (That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule. One large study showed better outcomes for aortic valve replacement surgery scheduled in the afternoons.) The morning is also best for exam taking—the earlier students take tests, the better they do. Time of day even “explains about 20 percent of the variance in our performance on workplace tasks,” says Pink.
Afternoon Trough Between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., the average person’s mood and stamina start to decline. This is when to tackle routine administrative tasks, like filling out expense reports and answering emails. It’s also an ideal time to nap. For best results, drink coffee right before you nap, Pink advises. Because it takes about 25 minutes for caffeine to kick in, that pre-nap java will do the work of waking you up! If you can’t nap, Pink advises a 10-minute lunch-break walk. People who take regular breaks throughout the day seem to be the strongest performers, according to Pink. One DeskTime study that used millions of data points found that the ideal break—as determined by resulting quality of work—is 17 minutes for every 52 minutes of work. If that is a no-go for you, just getting up from your desk for five minutes every hour to walk around, get some fresh air, or drink water can significantly improve productivity.
Recovery Most people’s energy starts picking up again during the late afternoon and early evening. This tends to be a good time for creative activities. —Lynn Tryba “Daniel Pink’s ‘When’ shows the importance of timing throughout life,” www.NPR.org, 1/17/18 l “Daytime perioperative myocardial injury in cardiac surgery . . .” by D. Montaigne et al., The Lancet, 1/6/16 l “The science of when: Hack your timing to improve your life” by Caitlin Harrington, www.Wired.com, 12/13/17 l “Timing is everything” by Gareth Cook, www.ScientificAmerican.com, 1/9/18
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10/1/18 2:06 PM
e ve r y d a y r e m e d i e s
back pain What is it? Discomfort in the back ranging from muscle aches to shooting or stabbing pain; may worsen with activity and improve when reclined. What causes it? The most common causes are acute injury, arthritis, osteoporosis, strained or weak muscles and ligaments, or disc disease.
Lifestyle: Apply heat (compresses, hot baths, or massage); stretching, yoga, or chiropractic manipulations may help; always lift properly (from the waist) and immediately stop any action that causes pain.
Food: Blueberries, chili peppers, ginger, mint, olive oil, red wine, salmon, tart cherries, turmeric.
Supplements: Chondroitin, curcumin, glucosamine,
Herbal therapy: Boswellia, butterbur, cherry, devil’s
Homeopathy: Belladonna, Bryonia, Kali, Pulsatilla,
claw root, feverfew, willow bark.
MSM, multivitamin/minerals, nattokinase, SAM-e.
“10 foods that fight pain,” 7/3/18; “Natural pain relief: Supplements for chronic pain” by Kara Mayer Robinson, 10/28/17, www.WebMD.com l “Backaches,” National Center for Homeopathy, www.HomeopathyCenter.org l “Back pain,” www.MayoClinic.org, 8/4/18
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golden years consider these supplements for senior pets
Our best friends grow old too quickly. By age seven, dogs and cats are considered “senior” pets, and just like their human companions, they begin to experience symptoms of aging–joint pain, reduced stamina and range of motion, physical weakness, digestive problems, and confusion or cognitive decline. 16 remedies
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How can we make their lives more comfortable? A sensible starting place is the diet. Aging dogs require higher quality protein than younger dogs, and older cats as well as dogs may have trouble digesting and absorbing nutrients from food. Digestive enzymes release micronutrients in food, improving their assimilation. Protease breaks down proteins, lipase digests fat, and amylase processes carbohydrates. Because heat processing destroys the enzymes that occur naturally in food, enzyme supplements can improve digestion in dogs and cats, especially those who eat a commercially prepared diet.
Slowing down Most dogs and cats slow down physically as they age, and the symptoms of osteoarthritis include limping, having difficulty sitting or standing, sleeping more, hesitating to jump or run or climb stairs, weight gain, decreased interest in play or other activity, and behavioral changes, including increased irritability. Some of the most widely prescribed supplements for older pets include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help relieve arthritis symptoms. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E may also make a difference. Because over-the-counter and prescription drugs can have significant side effects for pets, many holistic veterinarians prefer herbal supplements such as boswellia, devil’s claw, ginger, licorice root, or turmeric, all of which have been shown to address the underlying causes of pain and discomfort with few complications. Most pet supply stores and natural food markets carry a variety of products labeled for pet use that contain these and other ingredients for joint pain.
Gut instincts During the past decade, much research involving dogs, cats, and humans has focused on the microbiome, an umbrella term used to describe communities of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes in the body. Because a healthy microbiome destroys harmful pathogens, including disease-causing viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites, it is the immune system’s first line of defense. A healthy microbiome improves
digestion, creates some nutrients including vitamins and short-chain fatty acids, and helps regulate the body’s endocrine system. Simple ways to improve pets’ microbiomes include feeding them fresh, whole foods, avoiding antibiotics and prescription drugs as much as possible, and supplementing their diets with probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep the digestive tract healthy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria, while prebiotics feed beneficial bacteria. Products labeled for pet use containing one or both are sold as digestive aids, skin and coat conditioners, immune system support, and senior-care supplements.
Staying sharp Senility in elderly dogs and cats has been a growing concern since laboratory tests developed in the 1990s detected brain changes in dogs similar to those seen in humans with Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequent laboratory tests examined learning and memory deficits in older and younger dogs. Studies of older and younger cats are now under way. Several products designed to treat Canine Cognitive Dysfunction—and its feline equivalent—are now available, containing calciumbinding proteins derived from jellyfish, combinations of medicinal herbs and vitamins, and other nutraceuticals. Do they work? The evidence supporting individual products is limited and often weak because few are placebo-controlled, doubleblind studies, most studies are sponsored by manufacturers, and the results are not always statistically significant. Anecdotal reports from veterinarians and pet owners suggest that these supplements do help many pets. With help from supplements, an improved diet, and a comfortable exercise routine, your elderly dog or cat can enjoy a long and comfortable old age. —CJ Puotinen “Arthritis in senior dogs—signs and treatment” by S. Gibeault, 6/14/18; “Nutrition and supplement tips for senior dogs” by S. Gibeault, 3/15/17, American Kennel Club, www.akc.com l “Herbs offer safe, effective pain management” by I. Basko, Journal of Innovative Veterinary Care, 6/16/15 l “Nutritional needs of older cats,” www.PetMD.com l “Senior pet care (FAQ),” American Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA.org, 2018 l “Senior supplements: These neutraceuticals may offer hope for treating Canine Cognitive Dysfunction” by M. Straus, Whole Dog Journal, 11/12
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By Cameron Hendrix
the state of the diet: 2019 trends that might just last
Everything you think, do, and say Is in the pill you took today —“In the Year 2525” (Zager and Evans, 1969)
Or maybe it’s in the broccoli. Trendy diets come and go. Dietary staples tend to stay with us. Of the many innovations certain to emerge or expand in 2019, here are a few that are worth watching (and trying).
Plants, plants, plants In snack foods, main courses, and entire dietary plans, plant-based nutrition continues to shine. Look for familiar foods with added plant-based protein, such as shakes, power bars, legume pastas, nondairy milks, and breads. Plants are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Veggie burgers continue to evolve, and that market is quickly expanding into bacon and other meatless alternatives. Mushrooms are big players in this sector. continued on page 21 18 remedies
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Back to basics
Sea vegetables—in snacks, salads, and jerkies—are more available than ever. And the ice cream market has moved forward in interesting ways, too, with avocado, hummus, and coconut among the ingredients finding a place in the frozen-snack aisle.
An indigenous population in the Bolivian Amazon has been found to have “the healthiest hearts ever studied,” according to the authors of a new study. So the obvious question is, What are they eating?
On our radar Several trend watchers expect to see a continuation of the tasty fusion experiences we’ve seen in recent years. Influences from the Middle East are rapidly arriving, which means more use of spices and herbs like cardamom and mint. Indian cuisine will also continue to grow in popularity. Locally sourced foods will be highly sought, extending the welcome leaning in that direction. And the lowly potato? Writing for the Food Network, nutritionist Dana Angelo White praised the simple spud for its nutrient-rich carbohydrates and easy digestibility. She said to watch for it in burritos, rice bowls, and muffins “to help fire up muscles for exercise and aid in recovery activity.”
Tried and true The Mediterranean diet has been widely touted, with its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, modest servings of fish, and the occasional glass of red wine, if desired. People who adhere to this style of eating have been found to have lower-than-average risks of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It’s stood the test of time so far. In fact, US News & World Report rated it at the top of its list of diets for healthy eating, tied with the similar DASH diet. The flexitarian, TLC, Mayo Clinic, and MIND diets also scored high.
“6 food trends to watch for in 2019” by Keri Gans, https://health.USNews.com, 11/6/18 l “12 trends in foods that will triumph in 2019,” www.VisitYogurtLab.com, 4/14/18 l “How the top nutrition trends of 2019 will impact your training” by Pamela Nisevich Bede, www.RunnersWorld.com, 11/8/18 l “These are the nutrition trends coming your way in 2019” by Dana Angelo White, www.FoodNetwork.com, 11/18 l “The top 10 healthy food trends for 2019,” http://HealthyLifeDiet.net, 11/21/18
About two-thirds of the Tsimane people’s diet comes from complex carbohydrates, particularly plantains and rice. They eat more than 40 species of fish as well, and a small amount of wild game. Their diet is high in fiber and low in fat. Very little of their food comes from markets. Their intake of key minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and selenium is much higher than typical Western diets. Hypertension and obesity are rare in the Tsimane, who are known to be very physically active. “Food for thought,” University of California, Santa Barbara, 11/2/18 l “Nutrition transition in 2 lowland Bolivian subsistence populations” by T.S. Kraft et al., Am J Clin Nutr, 10/31/18
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l January 2019 12/4/18 10:09 AM
learn to make an all-natural anti-acne and anti-aging facemask
Excerpted from The Ayurveda Way, © by Ananta Ripa Ajmera, photography by © Liz Daly, used with permission from Storey Publishing. As someone who tried every product out there to combat acne-prone skin prior to encountering Ayurveda, I’m delighted to share one of my favorite Ayurvedic skin care recipes. It’s made from wonderful ingredients that are just as good for you when applied to your skin as they are when cooked and eaten. This is a great skin care treatment if you’re looking to prevent acne and keep your skin looking and feeling youthful and fresh. All four ingredients in this DIY facemask (masoor dal, sandalwood powder, turmeric, and saffron) are stars in promoting healthy skin. The time I spend making and applying my facemask is a special self-care home spa time—and is much less expensive than going to a professional spa! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Sandalwood powder. This pleasantly scented powder is cooling and soothing, making it a go-to herb for bleeding and burning conditions in the body. Blood-purifying, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and intellect-promoting, sandalwood is also believed to promote happiness (ahladana in Sanskrit). No wonder it’s one of the most popular Ayurvedic beauty herbs.
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Turmeric. Turmeric improves the complexion, tone, and texture of your skin. It’s also an antiallergenic, antimicrobial, antioxidant herb that builds immunity, especially when consumed internally as part of many healing Ayurvedic recipes. Turmeric, like sandalwood, is a terrific blood purifier. Turmeric’s beautifying quality is so famous among Indians that brides dedicate an entire ritual to applying turmeric-based skin care recipes to their skin the day before their wedding. Saffron. A wonderful rejuvenating herb, saffron helps heal headaches when applied externally with ghee and consumed internally in warm milk. It’s used in a great variety of cosmetics. Masoor dal (optional). This is a superstar reddish-orange lentil that you can buy at any Indian store and many natural food stores. It’s highly beneficial for fevers when cooked and consumed as food, and Ayurveda believes it’s also a great blood purifier when used internally and externally. —Ananta Ripa Ajmera Ananta Ripa Ajmera is an Ayurveda practitioner and yoga instructor who studied with Acharya Shunya, an eminent traditional Vedic teacher whose lineage stems back to ancient India. She has taught Ayurveda and yoga at Stanford University, Stanford Health Care, California Probation Departments, ABC News, and leading business conferences. Learn more about her book, The Ayurveda Way, at www.wholeyoga-ayurveda.com.
Anti-Acne and Anti-Aging Facemask Ideally, you should apply this mask in the morning, on an empty stomach. You can use it daily if you wish, but note that turmeric may leave a slight yellow stain on the skin; the stain will fade in a day.
1 c masoor dal
2 tsp turmeric powder
10–20 strands saffron
1 tsp sandalwood powder
1. Place the masoor dal, turmeric, saffron, and sandalwood powder in a blender. Blend until the mixture becomes a fine powder, 1 to 3 minutes. 2. Place a spoonful of the powder in a small bowl and mix it with a bit of water to create a paste. Spread the paste onto your face and keep it there for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it dries up and tightens your facial muscles. 3. Rinse the facemask off with cool water, ideally in the shower.
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performance review boost your workouts and recovery with amino acids Everyone knows we need protein for energy and growth, but we also need it to obtain amino acids. Our bodies use amino acids to break down food, reduce fatigue, and repair tissue and muscles, among many other functions. 26 remedies
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Several recent studies have demonstrated the value of supplemental amino acids for athletes. n L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid. Nearly all of the L-carnitine in the body is found in muscle tissue, and its main role is to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells so that it can be burned for energy. L-carnitine has been linked to beneficial effects on sports performance, especially with long-term use. A recent review of studies found that L-carnitine may aid in recovery after high-intensity exercise. Researchers also determined that L-carnitine eased muscle soreness and increased blood flow. It also helped reduce body weight and physical and mental fatigue in older adults. Previous research indicates that L-carnitine may boost maximum oxygen consumption and power output. n Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is indirectly involved in supporting muscle endurance during periods of high-intensity exertion. It’s produced naturally in the body and can also be found in fish, meat, soybeans, and poultry, as well as in dietary supplements. A recent study found that beta-alanine supplementation boosted exercise capacity and eliminated executive function declines typically induced by endurance exercise in healthy adults. An earlier review of randomized trials found that beta-alanine may increase power output and working capacity while decreasing feelings of exhaustion and fatigue. Based on the results of that review, researchers determined that supplementation with beta-alanine may increase athletic performance.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are one group of essential amino acids that may help boost sports performance. BCAAs are commonly used to fight fatigue and aid muscle recovery after exercise. Valine is involved in energy production and helps grow and regenerate muscle tissue; leucine aids the body in synthesizing protein and helps repair muscles; isoleucine is concentrated in muscle tissue and helps regulate energy consumption. A recent study found that young men who received BCAA supplements either before or after exercise experienced significantly improved delayed onset muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle damage. The study also confirmed that supplementing with BCAA before exercise is more beneficial than after. A 2017 meta-analysis of eight trials found that BCAAs were more effective at reducing soreness and muscle power loss after exercise than passive recovery or rest. Previous research found that BCAAs also reduce perceived exertion and mental fatigue, and improve anabolic response during the recovery period. —Kelli Ann Wilson “Beta-alanine supplementation increased physical performance and improved executive function following endurance exercise in middle aged individuals” by T. Furst et al., J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 7/11/18 l “Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and exercise-induced muscle damage in exercise recovery . . .” by M.H. Rahimi et al., Nutrition, 10/17 l “Effect of BCAA supplement timing on exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage . . .” by S.G. Ra et al., J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 11/18 l “The effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance . . .” by J.J. Quesnele et al., Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2/14 l “Effects of branched amino acids in endurance sports” by M.E. Salinas-Garcia, et al., Nutr Hosp, 11/16/14 l “Essential amino acids: Definition, benefits, and food sources” by Jillian Kubala, www.Healthline.com, 6/12/18 l “L-carnitine—a review of benefits, side effects, and dosage” by Rudy Mawer, www.Healthline.com, 11/6/18 l “L-carnitine supplementation in recovery after exercise” by R. Fielding et al., Nutrients, 10/18
Life’s building blocks Scientists have classified amino acids into three groups—essential, nonessential, and conditionally essential (sometimes called semiessential)—and we need them all. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, so we must get them through diet. When we consume protein, our bodies break it down into amino acids and then use those amino acids to build the specific proteins we need. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. All nine can be found in soy products, meat, fish, seafood, milk, and eggs. Plant foods, such as vegetables and legumes, also contain some of the nine but not all of them. Essential amino acids are widely available as dietary supplements.
Did You Know? Your body needs 20 different amino acids to stay healthy, though you don’t need to eat all of them at every meal. It was previously thought that incomplete, plant-based proteins (like those in beans and rice) needed to be eaten together, but experts now believe pairing proteins is not as important as eating a balance of essential and nonessential amino acids throughout the day. “Amino acids,” https://MedlinePlus.gov, 1/26/17
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herbal alternatives to sugar
For health-conscious shoppers with a hankering for something sweet, the sweetener aisle can be a bit overwhelming. What’s all natural, healthier than sugar, and actually tastes good? Fortunately, you have more than one option to satisfy your sweet tooth. Zero calories Stevia and lo han are so sweet they almost taste fake, yet they contain no calories or carbohydrates, making them safe for diabetics. They do not increase blood sugar or hunger, especially when consumed with regular food—performing better than artificial sweeteners in several studies. Taking them on an empty stomach may drop blood sugar though, so use them as part of a meal, replacing caloric sugars with a small serving of these super-sweet herbs. For better flavor, consider replacing just half the sugar in a recipe with these herbs. Start with just a tiny bit.
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Stevia: The leaves of this South American plant taste 40 times sweeter than sugar in their crude, unprocessed green form (I prefer its flavor, and it’s easier to dose even though it doesn’t dissolve). A scientific review of stevia confirmed a general benefit for blood sugar stability without negative impacts on the microbiome as seen with artificial sweeteners. Unlike sugar, stevia has antimicrobial effects and may prevent dental cavities and plaque formation. Other potential benefits include reductions in blood pressure, inflammation, and cancer risk. Check the ingredients label to see what, if any, fillers have been added to white powder products. Lo han (monk fruit): At 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, this gourd-family fruit is safe, zero calories, and intensely sweet with a bit of a funny aftertaste. It’s harder to grow and therefore more costly and harder to find than stevia.
FOS prebiotic sweet syrups Made from root vegetables, these rich, sweet syrups are reminiscent of molasses, caramel, or honey and are quite enjoyable. They’re relative newcomers to the sweetener scene with limited research. When minimally processed, they contain complex, prebiotic high-fiber starches called fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which reduce their carbohydrate (glycemic) load, feed beneficial gut bacteria, satiate, and balance blood sugar. Large amounts of FOS may cause gas and bloating, especially in people who are sensitive to high FODMAP foods, though a lower dose may be tolerated and beneficial. Heating the syrup, such as in baked goods, will convert more of the FOS to fructose, limiting its benefit. Yacon syrup: In an impressive study on the syrup from this sweet potato-like tuber, obese women who took yacon syrup (at a dose of 10 grams of FOS) one hour before meals along with their normal diet lost 33 pounds over the course of four months versus the control group (which gained 3.5 pounds). They also reduced their waist circumference, felt more satisfied, and improved insulin levels and LDL cholesterol levels. Brands differ, but yacon contains about 20 calories per tablespoon.
Jerusalem artichoke (sunroot) syrup: The root of this sunflower-family wildflower—sometimes called sunchoke— is rich in inulin starch, producing a syrup that’s 35 to 65 percent higher in FOS than yacon. Some companies opt to produce the syrup in a different manner, yielding higher fructose levels. One tablespoon provides 65 calories (sugar has 50 calories).
Other options These herbal sweeteners rank high, but other all-natural choices include low-glycemic yet high-fructose options like agave nectar and coconut sugar; sugar-free sugar alcohols like xylitol and erythritol; and more traditional, less processed (and higher glycemic and calorie) sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, molasses, and dates. Ultimately, we’re better off eating fewer sweeteners and focusing more on whole foods, including fruit. You can also use sweet-tasting herbs and spices such as cinnamon, fenugreek, licorice, fennel, anise, anise hyssop, star anise, and Korean licorice mint in tea and recipes. But for special occasions and some sweet indulgence, these herbal sweeteners fit the bill. —Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG) Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), best-selling author of Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self Care and the forthcoming Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies, sees clients and teaches in New Hampshire. Learn about herbs, her books, distance consults, online classes, and more at www.WintergreenBotanicals.com.
“7 reasons why stevia is better than refined sugar” by Edward Group, www.GlobalHealingCenter.org, 6/19/14 l “Alternative sugars: yacon syrup (nectar)” by Elaine Gardner, www.Nature.com, 11/10/17 l “Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia-, and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy intake” by S.L. Tey et al., International Journal of Obesity, 2017 l “Everything you need to know about monk fruit sweeteners,” www.FoodInsight.org, 8/7/18 l “Intense sweeteners, food intake, and the weight of a body of evidence” by A.G. Renwick, Physiology & Behavior, 3/25/93 l “Monk fruit vs. stevia: pros and cons” by Annette McDermott, www.Healthline.com, 4/15/16 l “Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies” by M.B. Azad et al., CMAJ, 7/17/17 l “Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni and its effects in human disease: Emphasizing its role in inflammation, atherosclerosis, and metabolic syndrome” by E. Rojas et al., Curr Nutr Rep, 7/11/18 l “Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) as a food supplement: Health-promoting benefits of fructooligosaccharides” by B.F.R. Caetano et al., Nutrients, 2016 l “Yacon syrup: Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans” by S. Genta et al., Clinical Nutrition, 1/26/09
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