Saturday, July 29, 2006

Licorice Root for Ulcers

A friend of mine tell me that she suffer from frequent bouts of gastritis and a history of ulcers. She take Tagamet but it makes her feel tired all day. I tell her to try an herbal remedy, such as extract of licorice root.
First we've learned that a bacteria called H. pylori is implicated in many cases of ulcers once thought to be due to stress or excess stomach acid. The presence of this bacteria can usually be determined with a simple blood test, and antibiotics can cure the condition.
In cases where H. pylori is not present, or where symptoms are mild, the use of an herbal remedy, an extract of licorice root called DGL, can be effective. This form is deglycyrrhizined, which means that a component with a potent cortisone-like effect is removed. DGL, therefore, does not cause side-effects such as high-blood pressure, which regular licorice can trigger. I have seen long standing stomach problems clear up completely with this herb. It works by increasing mucus production in the stomach, thus protecting the lining. It is also anti-inflammatory.
Two other plant medicines are helpful as well. Ginger root is known to increase mucus production, and aloe vera juice is a great healer, soothing the entire gastrointestinal tract when it is taken daily.
Licorice Root (Glandular) has a long history of use by cultures throughout the world. Licorice was so valued in ancient Egypt that even King Tutankhamen was buried with a supply. Licorice is included in most Chinese herb combinations to balance the other herbs and to promote vitality. It is widely used as a flavoring, not only for candy (although most modern licorice candies are flavored with anise) but also in cough drops, syrups, tonics and laxatives. It flavors certain kinds of beer, frozen dairy desserts, gelatins, puddings and meat products. The sweet root can be chewed as a special treat.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Eating to lower cholesterol (3) -- Nuts

The 3rd categories of cholesterol-lowering foods are nuts. Nuts rich in a compound called monounsaturated fat, which can lower the bad LDL cholesterol and modestly raise the good HDL cholesterol. (Nuts contains some viscous fiber, plant sterols as well.) Monounsaturated fats are also rich in seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.), avocados and various oils, such as vegetable, olive, safflower, sunflower and canola.

Studies have shown that people who ate about a handful of almonds a day (or 1 ounce) lowered LDL cholesterol by 4%; those who ate two handful lowered it by 9%.

How to do it ? Eat a variety of nuts, including walnuts, which pack in the most omega-3 fatty acids. Snack on nuts instead of pretzels or chips; toss chopped nuts into your oatmeal, salads and stir-fries. Remember foods rich in fats are also calorie heavy, so limit your serving size - eat no more than an ounce of nuts at one sitting.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Eating to lower cholesterol (2) -- Plant sterols

The 2nd categories of cholesterol-lowering foods are food rich in plant sterols, such soybeans or certain vegetables. Plant sterols are compounds so similar in structure to cholesterol that they compete in our intestines. That means less of the real cholesterol is absorbed.
Also based on the recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 83, No. 3, 582-591, March 2006) report, eating 2 grams of plant each day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%. But you need to consume them every day for the cholesterol-controlling benefits to continue.
How to do it ? Look for plant sterols-fortified product since plant sterols are typically extracted from soybeans or certain vegetables. Use margarine-type of spreads (Benecol, Take Control and Smart Balance). Some brand of orange juice, yogurt, cheese, salad dressings,granola bars and chocolate are also rich in plant sterols. You can also directly eat soy products for intake of plant sterols - soy milk, soy nuts, soy ice cream and cereals, crackers and chips made with soy protein.

Eating to lower cholesterol (1) -- Viscous fiber

There are 3 categories of cholesterol-lowering foods. One of them is viscous fiber - the 'sticky' type of soluble fiber found in oats, barley and beans, and certain vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Viscous fibers help binding the cholesterol in your digestive tract and sweep it out of your body. In another word, soluble fiber act as a sponge, absorbing cholesterol and carrying it out of your system. People at less-developed countries (such as China) are less prone to having high blood cholesterol because their diet are high on viscous fiber.
According to the recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 83, No. 3, 582-591, March 2006) report, eating 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal a day typically produces cholesterol-lowering results. Including 10 grams of viscous fiber a day has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol by about 5%.
How to do it ? Start the day with oatmeal or psylliu-enriched cereal (I always add a bit of sugar to it). Try bean and barley-based soups, marinated bean salad, hummus sandwiches, black bean burritos and roasted eggplant. Flax is good, too. Not only does it have soluble fiber, but it's high in omega-3 fatty acids and lignans-also good for cholesterol.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Eating to lower cholesterol - research note

1) recent research indicated that culprits of high blood cholesterol, in terms of food intake, are saturated and trans fat; Cholesterol we eat is not the greatest influence on the cholesterol in our blood.
2) recent studies have shown that eating up to one egg a day didn't raise cholesterol levels or increase the risk of heart disease in healthy people. If you already have elevated cholesterol levels, 3-4 eggs per week are generally allowed. Eggs may be high in dietary cholesterol, but they don't contain much saturated fat. That also true for cholesterol-laden shrimp and other shellfish, which typically are OK in moderation as long as they're not soaked in butter or deep-fried. It looks like to me that nature has its way to package dietary cholesterol existing in eggs or shrimps, so it get digested easily by human without any harm.
3) a new study found that adding a specific combination of heart-healthy foods brought down cholesterol levels as much as first-generation statin drugs - 20% or more. This experiments shown that if a "portfolio" of foods (rich in viscous fiber, plant sterols, monounsaturated fat, see my previous three posts) - each with its own minor cholesterol-lowering benefits - could have a larger effect when eaten together.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Functional beer for menopausal women

Czech Republic's national per capita beer consumption is the world's largest. Recently scientists at the country's Research Institute for Brewing and Malting have created a non-alcoholic beer with 10 times the normal amount of the hormone phytoestrogen that they hope will help menopausal women keep their hormone levels up, thus easing the transition into post-reproductive life. The new drink is considered a breakthrough in the thriving field of "functional beer".