Author: Yvonne Black

Congenital Heart Disease – A Conundrum

To reduce your chances of heart disease, you can eat a low-fat diet high in Omega 3, take regular exercise, lose weight and do all those other things the doctors tell us. That said, consider this family:  

 
Paternal Grandfather – first heart attack in his fifties, eventually died of a stroke at the unripe age of 67. 
 
Maternal Grandfather – first heart attack in his forties and died of a heart attack again aged 67. 
 
Father – died very suddenly at the tender age of 65 – you guessed it – from a massive heart attack having never shown any sign of heart trouble until that point. 
 
Mother – suffered from acute angina since her late forties. She is now 60 and takes a cocktail of drugs daily to control the symptoms 
 
Maternal Uncle – suffered a heart attack at the age of forty and has been effectively disabled ever since. 
 
There is nothing we can do about any of these factors. and yet hereditary factors are thought to play a significant part in the development of the disease. After the death of the father in 2002, this person really began to question their lifestyle and turned into a health-obsessed individual. The stress of this took their blood pressure to 140 over 90 and they was doing more harm to my body than good. They had to re-examine the whole situation. 
 
The big question is this: Should we eat ultra-sensibly, exercise rigorously, cut out the alcohol, and eat our way through a forest of plant sterols and generally be miserable? Or should we bow to the inevitable and enjoy whatever time we have left before our hearts pack in? 
 
Most doctors say we should be sensible and do the former, but many of us are more inclined to live our lives to the fullest. The trick is to strike a balance with what you’re comfortable with and what your doctor recommends.  
 
Take heart! Be sensible not obsessive. Get checked regularly. 

Another Nutrient You’re Probably Not Getting Enough Of

We all know we don’t get enough of some key nutrients. From vitamin B-12 to Potassium, Calcium to Iron, most of us have some work to do when it comes to eating a wholesome diet. Unfortunately, new research has added yet another nutrient to that list. In this case, it’s one you may not have heard of. 

It’s called choline, and we’re apparently pretty bad at consuming it. 

Choline was recognized by the Institute of Medicine as an essential nutrient in 1998. The nutrient is present in eggs, dairy, and meat. For the past 12 years, the Institute of Medicine has left the recommended daily choline intake at 550mg per day for men and 425mg per day for women. That amount of choline isn’t too difficult to achieve – one egg has around 115mg of choline, and it is abundant in other animal products.  

However, recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that around 90 percent of children, pregnant women, and adults are not getting enough. Go figure.  

What is Choline Good For? 

Choline is essential to brain and nervous system function, as it helps regulate essential functions like memory, mood, and muscle control. The nutrient is also needed to form membranes in the body’s cells. Human bodies naturally produce choline, specifically in the liver, but most choline we need comes from the food we eat. 

Where is Choline Found? 

Choline occurs naturally in egg yolks, fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon), most meats, and dairy. Eggs are often cited as the best source of the nutrient, as one large egg can provide around 25 percent of the daily recommended dose of it in adults. 

So, What’s the Problem? 

In the recently published data, the rise of plant-based diets has worsened the choline deficiency, especially in children and pregnant women. Choline is transported to the fetus in utero, and it aids in the development of the brain and spinal cord. Without it, the cognitive development of a fetus may be affected. The body does not produce enough choline on its own to supplement the growing child. This is kind of a big deal; recent research finds that less than 9 percent of pregnant women meet the minimum daily choline requirement.  

What to Do 

If you’re reading this as a vegan or vegetarian, you’re probably freaking out. Don’t worry – there are other ways to get choline besides animal products. Cruciferous vegetables, like brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, as well as wheat germ, peanuts, and many types of beans, include choline. Half a cup of broccoli has just over 30mg of the nutrient. It’s not great, but it’s something.  

There are also nutritional supplements on the market to aid in achieving your daily recommended dose. If you are a vegan, be sure to find a supplement that is plant-based. However, it is not a very common ingredient in multi-vitamins, so double-check to ensure it’s present. 

Everything You Need to Know About Milky Oats

If you spend any time in the natural health space, you’ve probably heard the term “milky oats.” If you’ve spent any time in the Instagram natural health community, the term is likely accompanied by a picture of bright green and white wild oats. This plant, Aneva sativa, is known to have many benefits in the natural health world, but how much stock should you place in this trendy remedy?  

As it turns out, quite a bit. 

To introduce you, we’ve put together this “milky oats guide” to answer any and all questions you may have. The plant makes an excellent salve for itchy skin and can help with anxiety. However, if you experience any of these conditions chronically, we recommend seeking out a health professional to better control symptoms.  

What Makes Milky Oats So Special? 

The entire plant is rich in silica, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, iron, alkaloids, protein, iron, several vitamin Bs, vitamin A, and vitamin C. If this sounds like a plant designed to calm nerves and aid in sleep and digestion, you’re right! Oats are considered to be one of the best remedies for “feeding” the nervous system when experiencing anxiety and general exhaustion. Milky oats help mellow your mood, ease anxiety, and resolve sleeplessness. It’s almost like a better-researched CBD alternative. 

However, milky oats are for more than ingestion. The white sap inside is an excellent relief for itchy skin conditions, like poison ivy and chicken pox. That said, if you have a more intense skin condition, like eczema, this might not be strong enough.  

Milky oats and oatstraw, the green stem oats grow from, are safe for almost everyone, including babies, expecting parents, and the elderly. However, if you have celiac disease, this might not be the natural medicine for you. 

How to Identify Genuine Milky Oats 

Milky oats are the oat tops harvested while in their “milky” stage, or when the oat tops release a white, milky sap when squeezed. The stage lasts only about one week and often occurs after the oat begins to flower but before the seed hardens into the grain we know so well – the one that goes into breads and oatmeal.  

While milky oats are only harvestable for a week out of the year, tincturing the plant while fresh will preserve its potency. The oats can also be dried and used in tonics and tea blends. 

Growing and Harvesting Oats 

One of the best things about milky oats is the ease with which you can grow them at home. Spring is the best time to sow the plant; oats planed in the spring do well for a mid-to-late summer harvest. Here’s a quick, step-by-step guide to getting your little oat plot up and running. 

  1. Rake the soil to loosen the dirt. 
  2. Plant the oat seeds by hand. Keep the seeds very close together to suppress weed germination. 
  3. Rake the seeds into the soil and/or cover them with one inch of soil. This will protect them from birds. 
  4. Water regularly. 

When seed heads begin to appear, squeeze their tops daily to ensure you don’t miss the milky stage. To harvest, simply pinch the stem between two fingers and slide up; the grains will pop off one at a time.  

Winter is Coming… So Stock Up on Primrose

Winter is on the horizon, which means it’s time to start preparing for a few long months of darkness, cold, and itchy skin. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, impacts around 35 million Americans each year, and harsh, dry winter weather tends to only exacerbate the rash. The condition makes the skin red and itchy, and it is often chronic with periodic flares.  

Eczema can be very difficult to treat because its cause is unknown. However, it is thought to be linked to an overactive immune system response to an unknown irritant, sometimes a food, household product, animal dander, or stress. The condition is also common in families with histories of other allergies and eczema. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there are several treatments, including medication, specific moisturizers, and ointments.  

If you experience eczema, you might be on the hunt for a natural medicine to calm symptoms. Studies suggest that primrose oil can calm the rash. Here’s what to know about the natural remedy and how – if at all – you should incorporate it into your eczema care routine. 

A Brief History 

Primrose has a long history of medicinal uses. People native to North and South America used the stem of the plant, juices, and leaves to sooth everything from skin inflammation to swelling and bruises. The use of the oil as a remedy for eczema began in the 1930s, then later for psoriasis and acne. Primrose has also been linked to treatment for arthritis, osteoporosis, breast pain, diabetic neuropathy, and menopausal symptoms, but the research is pretty spotty. As for soothing eczema, a 2013 study found that doses between 160 mg and 360 mg given to children and teenagers were effective.  

How Does it Work? 

Primrose oil is rich in fatty acids, which can help the body grow and develop. These fatty acids are also known to soothe irritated skin, hence the eczema application. The fatty acids typically found include gamma linolenic, linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic. 

How to Incorporate 

Most doctors don’t suggest treating eczema with primrose on its own. Rather, they suggest incorporating primrose oil into a regimen that includes cream moisturizers and/or corticosteroid cream. If you decide to go with a heavy cream moisturizer, we recommend adding primrose oil directly to the moisturizer container before application.  

Primrose oil can be taken orally or topically. If you are pregnant, do not take primrose oil orally, as it can lead to birth complications. 

How to Identify Genuine Manuka Honey

Many people believe that the best honey in the world is Manuka honey. But unfortunately, not all brands of Manuka honey are packing the type of healing powers you’ve read about. So, how can you avoid buying a cheap substitute and find the real deal? If you’ve never had Manuka honey, but you’ve read about it and you’re eager to try this amazing super food, there are a few ways you can avoid buying imitation Manuka.

First, don’t get confused by the numbers listed on the jar. To experience the maximum health benefits of Manuka, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how each brand measures the important compounds found in Manuka.

Total activity or TA based brands measure the amount of hydrogen peroxide activity. This type of measurement is not a stable or reliable way to judge the potency of the honey. Total activity honey just isn’t comparable to genuine UMF certified Manuka.

Some consumers recommend purchasing your honey only from New Zealand based online stores because they’re known to offer only UMF certified honey. The UMF rating is the level of the special antibacterial properties found in the honey.

How can you be sure you’re getting authentic Manuka? Only some brands of honey contain the unique, extra antibacterial compounds that are responsible for the proven benefits of eating Manuka. This additional factor can’t be tasted or seen. Essentially, you’re trusting the accurate and honest labels on the product to determine the honey’s quality.

Jars marked with UMF certification should give you confidence that the honey you’re purchasing is genuine. The UMF labels will only state the levels of the special non-peroxide activity.

What makes Manuka so Special?

All types of honey contain a level of hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide provides some level of activity from enzyme glucose oxidase that’s also found in the honey. However, this can be adversely affected by certain types of enzymes that are found in body tissue and wound fluids. It also reduces over time and isn’t considered stable.

However, with Manuka, this honey also contains a non-peroxide antibacterial compound that has been named the Unique Manuka Factor. It’s the Unique Manuka Factor that’s responsible for creating the special properties including the extra antibacterial properties that are only found in some types of Manuka. The UMF isn’t affected by other enzymes and it’s considered very active and stable in a wide variety of conditions. In order to determine UMF in honey, it must be tested for the level of non-peroxide antibacterial activity. This test is conducted for every batch of honey by independent labs.

All Manuka honey research has been conducted on honey that contains sufficient levels of this non-peroxide activity. These tests determine if a sample of honey is standard Manuka. If the honey contains some of the extra healing properties but the levels are not high enough to qualify for the UMF label, this honey is instead labeled as active honey.

The UMF mark found on labels of honey is only given to brands of honey that contain certain levels of the healing properties. This label ensures consumers that they’re purchasing genuine Manuka honey.

Genuine Manuka should comply with the following list of criteria:

  • It has the UMF trademark stamped somewhere on the label.
  • It has been packaged in New Zealand.
  • If has a UMF rating of five or more.

Dihydroxyacetone, methylglyoxal, and hydrogen peroxide help to make up the UMF. As we have explained, this is the global standard for measuring and identifying the honey’s antibacterial strength. The UMF stamp basically guarantees that the Manuka you purchase is of medicinal quality. After some research and comparison shopping, once you have found a trusted brand stick with it.

Adding Manuka Honey to your Diet

Once you’ve purchased the honey, you’ll probably be excited to start using it in order to enjoy many of the health benefits it has to offer, but you may not know how much to add to your daily diet or what type of effects it can have on the body when consumed

While this honey is commonly used to treat wounds, minor infections, rashes, and other types of skin issues, ingesting the honey daily will come with benefits of its own.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable and bloated, one tablespoon of Manuka honey can help to reduce discomfort associated with stomach ulcers, indigestion, acid reflux, and upset stomach. Simply stir the honey into a cup of tea or hot water.

If you feel like a cold is coming on, try adding a teaspoon of the honey into a cup of hot water with lemon juice. The high antibacterial levels in the honey can help to treat cold sores strep throat and soothe symptoms caused by the common cold. It’s also known to instantly boost the immune system, so it can quickly help your body to fight off a cold.

Are you suffering from mid-day syndrome? Is your energy totally gone and you find it hard to stay productive at work? This honey is also great for a short-term energy boost since it contains glucose and fructose, which are energy sources for the body.

Adding some Manuka to your tea or a smoothie can give you the energy boost you need to get through the rest of your day. Just be careful about how much honey you consume in general, as it does contain quite a bit of sugar.

A Matter of Taste

Did you know that Manuka honey can have a very bitter, tart taste, or it can have a sweet, rich flavor, depending on where the honey was harvested? While essentially one brand of Manuka is the same as any other, the taste can vary greatly depending on a wide range of environmental factors such as the weather, the area it was harvested from and the soil type. Most people can agree that honey that was harvested from the South of New Zealand is often creamier and sweeter, while honey harvest from the North usually has a darker and richer flavor that tends to taste almost medicinal. If you’ve purchased honey that was either too bitter or too sweet for you, you can try diluting the honey with a little water or coconut oil to lessen the flavor.

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