The next time you fry an egg, use ghee—the cooking butter of choice, thanks to it’s low smoke point. Unsplash/Caroline Attwood
Much like coconut oil and bone broth, ghee is a multi-hyphenate: think cooking BFF, snack o’dreams (Kourtney Kardashian reportedly eats it by the spoonful), and skin transformer. This centuries-old Ayurvedic staple is also a digestive powerhouse. “Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid that promotes a positive immune response within the body, to support healing of inflammation and optimal digestion,” Natural Food Chef Danielle Shine told Observer. Which is all to say, that ghee is a “good” fat. And when fats are good, they are absorbed quickly in the body, making them a potent source of energy.
But how’s it made? Isn’t it just butter?
Ghee is cow’s milk butter transformed into a fat source by removing its water and milk proteins through a process of boiling, skimming and straining. Apart from being cited as a digestive cure-all, it’s also been touted as a salve for a plethora of emotional ailments. In the Ayurvedic community, ghee’s golden hues are considered as balancing to the body. In fact, the Susruta Samhita, a Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery, claims ghee is the remedy of remedies for problems stemming from the pitta dosha, namely chronic-disease inducing inflammation.
Famed LA-based Ayurveda practitioner Martha Soffer, the woman who converted Kardashian, told Observer that “ghee helps cultivate ojas, the subtlest essence of life, the connection between the physical and spiritual in our own bodies, and really, in Ayurveda, our own ultimate source of health and well-being.”
Fourth & Heart founder Raquel Tavares Gunsagar who’s dived into the making of artisanal gourmet flavored ghee—like white truffle salt, California garlic, and Madagascar vanilla bean—is at the forefront of the U.S ghee explosion. ”Ghee is an ancient butter gone modern. It’s like the, ‘where have you been all my life?’ of not only Indian healthcare but truly all of our healthcare. In fact, I’d say ghee is now being reinvented here in the U.S.,” she told Observer.
From a cooking standpoint, its low smoke point is significant. Scientists have long warned against the dangers of cooking with vegetable oils that release toxic cancer-causing chemicals. In numerous studies including a 2010 one on the Elevated Levels of Volatile Organic Carcinogen and Toxicant Biomarkers in Chinese Women Who Regularly Cook at Home, it was found that when an oil exceeded its smoke point, the number of toxic fumes increased significantly.
“This is crucial to remember when choosing a cooking aid,” Shine told Observer, “and ghee’s makes it a much safer choice when sautéing or frying foods.” Think of ghee then, as a superfood that not only has nutritional benefits, but also preventative ones. “Ghee is well on it’s way to becoming the cooking butter of choice,” says Tavares Gunsagar, “as not only is it an easy to use, versatile ingredient that’s shelf stable, it’s also dairy free which is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.”
What’s more, ghee makes a case as a potent salve for massages, aches, and sprains according to the 5,000-year-old wellness tradition that is Ayurveda. Try using ghee to massage the feet to improve circulation, memory and emotional wellbeing. “Its high concentration of vitamins A, E, as well as carotenoids—antioxidants that boost the immune system and help to neutralize free radicals, will help skin heal too,” says Shine.
The takeaway? Get experimenting! Stir its unctuousness into winter’s beautiful vegetable bounty, press it with buttery fingers into mashed avocado, or use a spoonful in your bulletproof coffee instead of coconut oil. And if you’re feeling daring, get au fait with Indian cuisine and see how it compliments the country’s most revered dish, dal.
Kayla Jacobs is a British New York City-based freelance writer who has previously written for Vogue, Tatler, Glamour, Refinery29, Conde Nast Traveller, The New York Times, Mindbodygreen, VF Agenda and Live The Process, among others. Follow her olfactory obsessed adventures on Instagram @kaylasthread.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen are widely used to treat pain and don’t require a prescription. But recent studies suggest that when taken regularly, these medicines can have serious side effects. They’ve been linked to kidney, bone, hearing and cardiovascular problems—including, most recently, an increased risk of heart attack.
For healthy people with occasional aches, there’s nothing wrong with taking an Advil or an Aleve to relieve discomfort, says Dr. Jyotsna Nagda, a pain specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. But “long-term use of anti-inflammatories is not a good idea,” she says, especially when alternatives are available.
Plus, says Alban Latremoliere, a pain physiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, NSAIDs don’t always work well—which could prompt people to take higher and higher doses when they should be turning to other treatments. “Instead of looking for a pill that works for every type of pain, we need to be thinking about combination approaches that treat the underlying problems,” he says.
If you’re concerned about the level of pain medicine you’re taking, here are a few things you might try instead.
Unlike ibuprofen, over-the-counter acetaminophen has not been linked to heart problems. Nagda recommends it to some of her patients—especially elderly ones—who aren’t good candidates for anti-inflammatory medicines.
Still, the drug is not without its own risks. “We recommend it on an as-needed basis, rather than an around-the-clock regimen,” says Nagda. “People should still be careful about the doses, and if they need it somewhat regularly, they should talk to their primary care physician about having their liver function tested.”
Aspirin is another option. While it is an NSAID, studies of regular aspirin use suggest a protective cardiovascular effect, rather than increased risks. (It can, however, cause stomach bleeding and ulcers.) “If someone has regular pain and they’re planning on doing something more strenuous than normal, I might tell them to take an extra-strength aspirin beforehand,” says Nagda.
Omega-3 fatty acids
For arthritis and related conditions, studies show that omega-3 fatty acids—found in fish, fish oil supplements, nuts and seeds—may help reduce pain and inflammation. The Arthritis Foundation recommends taking fish oil capsules with at least 30% omega-3s.
Latremoliere says that following a diet rich in fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains may also ease pain throughout the body, although it won’t likely take the place of pain medicines entirely. “If you make a habit of avoiding foods that promote inflammation and eating foods that help reduce it, it can definitely be helpful,” he says.
Despite a recent review that called into question the benefits of curcumin—the active compound in turmeric—Nagda says that people seeking pain relief may still want to try adding the yellow spice to their diet.
“It has anti-inflammatory properties, and there are some small studies that show benefits for patients with rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis,” she says. It’s safe in quantities used in cooking and flavoring food, so as long as you don’t mind the taste, there’s little downside.
Traditional Chinese medicine technique may help reduce pain associated with back pain, neck pain, arthritis, headaches, fibromyalgia pain after surgery, according to research. Not everyone who tries acupuncture improves, says Nagda, but “when you look at risks and benefits compared to other methods like NSAIDs, acupuncture comes out on top with minimal risks.”
While acupuncture’s cost can be prohibitive for many pain sufferers, it is increasingly covered by health insurance—at least in part—as its benefits become clearer. Massage is another approach that’s been shown to to relieve chronic lower back pain.
Exercise and mindful movement
Regular exercise is a good way to ward off chronic pain and to reduce symptoms if it does develop. But certain types of movement may be more beneficial than others.
Tai chi has been shown to benefit people with fibromyalgia, for example, and yoga may help with back pain and arthritis. “Even if these techniques don’t necessarily decrease pain, they may help people cope with it better,” says Nagda.
Nagda also recommends swimming to many of her pain patients, as a way to stay active and flexible without stressing their joints. And for injuries, she stresses the value of using heat and ice and seeing a physical therapist, rather than masking pain with a pill.
In one 2016 study, people who practiced seated meditation for 20 minutes a day had less reaction to a painful stimulus than those who sat and read a book. The research didn’t include people with chronic pain, but the authors say meditation could have potential as an alternative to painkillers like opioid drugs. Other research has shown that mindfulness can reduce a person’s experience of physical pain (and emotional pain, too).
“If you meditate, you’re helping your brain relax and get into a state where some of its regions can be slowed down,” says Latremoliere. “That might help reduce focus on pain or attention to stimuli, so it makes sense that it might help people feel better.”
More sleep (or coffee, in a pinch)
Latremoliere’s own research in mice, published recently in Nature Medicine, has shown that chronic sleep deprivation can enhance pain sensitivity—and that a dose of caffeine can temporarily reverse those effects. Studies in humans have also suggested that staying awake for long periods of time can lower people’s thresholds for pain, and that the equivalent of a few cups of coffee before a workout can reduce perceived muscle pain.
“Our research suggests that if you have chronic pain and you’re not sleeping enough, your pain is probably greater because of that,” says Latremoliere. People should be wary of relying on caffeine to get by, however. “Coffee in the morning might help reduce pain and get you through the day,” he says, “but if you have it too late in the day it could make your sleep, and your pain, even worse.”
- By Baxter Dmitry, yournewswire.com
High fructose corn syrup is a killer. Since humans started consuming it, obesity rates have more than tripled and diabetes incidence has increased more than seven fold since. Even when used in moderation it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more.
So what does the FDA do about this silent killer? It allows food producers to change the name of the infamous sweeter in order to trick consumers into thinking they are not eating high fructose corn syrup.
That’s right, high fructose corn syrup now goes by a new, deceitful name – “Natural Sweetener” – designed to trick customers into making ill-informed choices that will impact on their health.
Consumers are finally catching on to the fact that what we put in our mouths effects our waistline as well as our health. Since consumers have become much smarter and finally waking up to these realities, they are demanding healthier food choices. Every food company is smearing 100% natural on every box of anything regardless of whats inside the box.
Now we have to know the new sneaky name to know whether or not we are consuming High Fructose Corn Syrup or not. Obviously the best way to avoid this mess is to buy from companies you really trust.
Big food companies are hiding ingredients they know we really don’t want to consume in their products. This time it’s the presence of a new version of high fructose corn syrup. But this is not the innocuous fructose that has sweetened the fruits humans have eaten since time began. This is a questionable ingredient with many names that could be causing all sorts of health problems.
The product is General Mills’ Vanilla Chex, an updated version of the Chex cereal sold in most conventional grocery and discount stores for many years. The front of the box clearly states that the product contains “no high fructose corn syrup” (HFCS), but turn it over to read the ingredient list and there it is – the new isolated fructose.
Why is that a problem? According to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), there’s been a sneaky name change. The term ‘fructose’ is now being used to denote a product that was previously known as HFCS-90, meaning it is 90 percent pure fructose. Compare this to what is termed ‘regular’ HFCS, which contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose, and you will know why General Mills is so eager to keep you in the dark.
“A third product, HFCS-90, is sometimes used in natural and ‘light’ foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness. Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label [anymore], they will state ‘fructose’ or ‘fructose syrup’.”
And the way that they get away with this is fairly simple:
“Simply eliminating the high fructose corn syrup designation for the laboratory sweetener that’s nine-tenths fructose and calling it what it really is: fructose. And that’s how a processed-food product like Vanilla Chex that contains “fructose”, a substance that, according to the corn refiners, used to be called HFCS-90, can now declare itself to be high fructose corn syrup-free.”
NO ONE should eat the chemical mess that store bought mayo has become. It is made with soy oil (it’s cheap!) You should make your own. Just replace half of the oil in your homemade mayo with avocado.
Mayo is one of those love it or hate it condiments. Some folks put it on everything; others can’t be within arm’s length of the stuff. But what about avocado mayo?
Made with avocados and olive oil, this earthy green spread is honest-to-goodness good for you.
The recipe, created by Lauren Gallucci of Sweet Laurel, is super easy. Furthermore, it’s slim on ingredients, and on steps. Additionally, it’s lower on calories than regular mayo. And, because of the addition of lemon juice, a jar of this creamy heaven will last for up to a week in your fridge.
Furthermore, it’s egg-free, but still a great source of healthy fats. You can check out the full recipe over at Sweet Laurel.
Put it on your sandwiches, in your deviled egg mix, on bruschetta, in tuna salad, chicken salad… anywhere you’d usually use mayo, use this instead. Gallucci also recommends using it as a veggie dip, salad dressing, or burger spread. She writes:
“This mayo doubles as salad dressing, veggie dip, toast topper, you name! Enjoy this avo mayo as a condiment any day of week! I love it on a lettuce wrapped bison burger. Delish!”
So give it a try. Your taste buds will probably thank you.
Michigan State University researchers have shown that sunflower seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin produced by molds and pose an increased health risk in many low-income countries worldwide.
In the current issue of PLoS ONE, the team of scientists documented frequent occurrence of aflatoxin — a toxin produced by Aspergillus molds that commonly infect corn, peanuts, pistachios and almonds — in sunflower seeds and their products. This is one of the first studies to associate aflatoxin contamination with sunflower seeds.
The study was conducted in Tanzania, but the problem is by no means isolated there. Chronic exposure to aflatoxin causes an estimated 25,000-155,000 deaths worldwide each year, from corn and peanuts alone. Since it is one of the most potent liver carcinogens known, the research to detect and limit its presence in sunflower seeds and their products could help save lives and reduce liver disease in areas where sunflowers and their byproducts are consumed, said Gale Strasburg, MSU food science and human nutrition professor and one of the study’s co-authors.
“These high aflatoxin levels, in a commodity frequently consumed by the Tanzanian population, indicate that local authorities must implement interventions to prevent and control aflatoxin contamination along the sunflower commodity value chain, to enhance food and feed safety in Tanzania,” he said. “Follow-up research is needed to determine intake rates of sunflower seed products in humans and animals, to inform exposure assessments and to better understand the role of sunflower seeds and cakes as a dietary aflatoxin source.”
Smallholder farmers in Tanzania grow sunflowers for the seeds, which are sold to local millers who press the seeds for oil and sell it to local consumers for cooking. The remaining cakes are used as animal feed.
The seeds become infected by Aspergillus flavus or Aspergillus parasiticus, molds that produce aflatoxin. This contamination has been well studied in other crops, but there is little research published on sunflower seed contamination.
Juma Mmongoyo, a former MSU food science doctoral student and lead author of the study, analyzed aflatoxin levels of seeds and cakes in seven regions of Tanzania in 2014 and 2015. Nearly 60 percent of seed samples and 80 percent of cake samples were contaminated with aflatoxins.
In addition, 14 percent of seeds and 17 percent of cakes were contaminated above 20 parts per billion, the level considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some samples had levels of several hundred parts per billion.
“Billions of people worldwide are exposed to aflatoxin in their diets, particularly in places where food is not monitored regularly for contaminants,” said Felicia Wu, the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at MSU and study co-author. “Our previous work with the World Health Organization on the global burden of foodborne disease showed that aflatoxin is one of the chemical contaminants that causes the greatest disease burden worldwide.”
To help solve that problem, Wu founded the Center for the Health Impacts of Agriculture. The center tackles global issues, such as antibiotics given to livestock and poultry that seep into soil and nearby bodies of water, and the association between malaria incidence and irrigation patterns in sub-Saharan Africa.
MSU scientists John Linz, Muraleedharan Nair and Robert Tempelman contributed to this study. Jovin Mugula of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania) also contributed to this research.
Note from Millie- It is better to address the causes of the heartburn, rather than putting a Band-Aid on the symptom. Causes can be leaky gut, food intolerances, too much processed food, poor nutrition.
(Reuters Health) – People who take popular heartburn pills known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may be more likely to develop intestinal infections than people who don’t take these medications, a Scottish study suggests.
The pills work by stopping cells in the stomach lining from producing too much of the acid that can cause ulcers and reflux symptoms such as heartburn.
Researchers examined data on about 188,000 people who used these drugs and about 377,000 similar individuals who didn’t take PPIs. Compared to people who didn’t use the drugs, those who did were at higher risk for a severe form of diarrhea caused by the Clostridium difficile bacteria. Their odds of this infection were 1.4 times higher when they were hospitalized and 1.7 times higher when they weren’t in the hospital.
In addition, PPI users had a 4.5 times greater risk of getting Campylobacter infections, a common form of food poisoning, if they were hospitalized and a 3.7 times higher risk when they weren’t hospitalized.
“Reducing stomach acid, which acts as a barrier to infection, increases the chance of getting a GI infection,” said senior study author Dr. Thomas MacDonald, a pharmacology researcher at the University of Dundee in Scotland.
“The main risk of PPIs are gastrointestinal infections,” MacDonald added by email.
MacDonald and colleagues analyzed data on stool samples collected from patients in Scotland between 1999 and 2013.
Overall, there were 22,705 positive test results for bacterial infections. This included 15,273 people with C. difficile and 6,590 cases of Campylobacter, the authors reported in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Researchers also tested for Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia coli, or E. coli, but didn’t find an association between PPIs and these infections.
One limitation of the study is that it only included data on people who took PPIs with a prescription, even though these drugs have been available in Scotland since 2004 without a prescription, the authors note. Researchers also lacked data on other factors that can influence the risk of bacterial infections such as obesity, smoking and alcohol use.
Previous research on PPIs and infections has produced mixed results, with some studies suggesting an association and others failing to establish a connection, noted Dr. Wojciech Marlicz, a gastroenterology researcher at Pomeranian Medical University in Poland who wasn’t involved in the study.
Millions of people worldwide take PPIs, which are available without a prescription in Europe and the U.S., which means even a slight increase in the odds of bacterial infections can still impact a lot of patients.
“The main problem with PPI use is their general overuse,” Marlicz said by email. “These drugs are very potent and safe when used according to indication.”
“Some patients will gain clear benefits from PPIs as they have stomach problems, such as ulcers which will heal better with less acid,” said Dr. Claire Steves, a researcher at King’s College London who wasn’t involved in the study.
“However other patients may take these as preventatives, or for mild symptoms,” Steves added by email. “This study would prompt us to reassess the risk and benefit for each individual, and in some cases alternatives – such as changing diet or lifestyle – may be better options.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2ifBGbp British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, online January 5, 2017.