Have you ever heard of Kombucha?
Kombucha is an ancient beverage that was originally consumed in China more than 2,200 years ago for its detoxifying and energizing properties. It gained popularity again in the 1950’s and again in the past few years. But, what is it exactly? Although it’s sometimes referred to as mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom. Basically, Kombucha is made from either a green or black tea base. They add sugar which has been fermented with a type of tree fungus called “Scoby” which is an acronym for “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast”. They ferment this product for 1-2 weeks which creates a drink that is best described as “a sour apple cider, perhaps with vinegary notes” but manufactures have now found ways to make it taste good by flavoring it with herbs or fruit. So why would you want this product? Firstly, anything that is fermented such as kombucha, miso (fermented barley, rice or soybeans), tempeh (fermented soybeans), kimchi (fermented cabbage), kefir (fermented milk), and yogurt are very rich in good bacteria, or probiotics. Basically, these probiotics grow during the fermentation process. They take care of your gut, improving digestion and boosting immunity. Kombucha contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body. Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, has antioxidant effects in your liver and helps to reduce liver toxicity. Kombucha has also shown to help reduce blood sugar levels and improve liver and kidney function, especially when made from green tea as green tea itself is beneficial for blood sugars. In short, kombucha has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties. You can actually make your own kombucha but you need to purchase the active starter culture (scoby). Luckily, you can purchase kombucha already made in tasty flavors such as lemon ginger, coconut, green tea, all fruit flavors and many more. Be sure the label says that it’s a living product. It may say “raw” and it may list the active cultures on the label. If you’re cutting calories or carbs, be sure it is sweetened with stevia and not sugar. Also, be sure it is free of artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Most people know about the wonders of olive oil but have you ever thought about the olive leaf? Olive leaf comes from the leaves of an olive plant and contains an active ingredient (oleuropein) that has been shown to be a very powerful antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a decrease in chronic disease, especially heart disease because the belief is that one of the things they eat is olive oil. However, they not only use olive oil, they also use the fruit and the leaf, and have been using them for centuries. Olive leaf is anti-microbial. This means it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-yeast etc. Because of this it is used for a wide variety of illnesses from the common cold to serious infections. In fact, olive leaf is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial without any harmful effects on beneficial microbes, which means that it will not induce the types of side effects associated with antibiotics (especially secondary infections). Additionally, certain types of bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics but these same bacteria remain vulnerable to olive leaf extract. Olive leaf increases the activity of phagocytes (where white blood cells consume harmful bacteria) keeping our immune system strong and effective. Olive leaf is very heart protective and helps specifically with not only reducing existing high blood pressure but also helps to prevent high blood pressure. It has also shown to be helpful against diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders and even arthritis.
What to Look for in an Olive Leaf Supplement
Not all olive leaf is created equal. It is important to get one that is 500mg and has a standardized dose of Oleuropein of at least 15% or more. This is the active ingredient of olive leaf and the reason you’re taking it. You can also get it in liquid form. If you are coming down with a cold or are fighting any type of infection, take 2 capsules twice daily until you feel better. Then for a maintenance dose, take 1-2 per day. This will help you increase the immune system so you are protected against the microbes coming your way, especially during cold and flu season.
I’m not talking about the mushrooms that have a psychedelic effect…these mushrooms don’t get you high. If you’ve ever hiked in the woods, you’ve probably seen lots of Turkey Tail mushrooms around because they grow abundantly on dead and fallen trees, branches, and stumps. These mushrooms also grow almost anywhere in the world as long as there are trees, making them one of the most common mushrooms found today. It’s called Turkey Tail (aka Trametes Versicolor) because this mushroom resembles the colorful feathers of a wild turkey. Turkey tail mushrooms have been brewed for thousands of years by the Chinese as medicinal teas, in fact as early as the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty in China. The Japanese have also been aware of the powerful health benefits particularly in boosting the immune system and now it is the center of attention for many health professionals for many years. But why are we interested in this and other mushrooms? Paul Stamets, PhD and master mycologist (someone who studies fungi) is well known for his strong belief in the power of mushrooms. He has written numerous books on mushrooms and has been awarded 9 patents with more to come; specifically, he has discovered 9 antiviral molecules that are in the mycelium of the mushroom as it rots in the wood it has inhabited. Many of his studies are on how medicinal mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Red Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms can prevent and cure cancer.
How do Mushrooms Work?
Turkey Tail mushrooms are powerful immune system boosters due to their content of B-glucans and polysaccharides, as well as proteins, minerals, and vitamins B and D. It is loaded with enzymes, antimicrobial agents, and antiviral compounds and helps to neutralize toxins in our immune system. It provides anti-inflammatory properties, restricts blood vessel growth feeding tumors (anti-angiogenesis), causes programmed cell death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and restricts the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Turkey Tail also improves the ability of the immune system’s natural killer cells to attack cancer cells. You can get Turkey Tail in capsule form so you do not have to brew your own. There have been no reports of negative side effects of mushrooms but it is always safe to talk to your doctor first if you are on any medication or are have any health issues. Personally I take Turkey Tail every day along with another mushroom blend that has 17 different mushrooms in it. It can’t hurt to be proactive in your health for prevention of disease, rather than wait till you have something that you have to now fight.
Who doesn’t love a nice cup of hot cocoa especially in this cold, snowy winter to soothe and relax you? Cacao is loaded with antioxidants which helps to protect your body, especially during the cold and flu season. Try this recipe from Dr. Mercola and share it with your family.
- 1 cup organic full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon MCT oil
- 1 teaspoon xylitol or other sugar substitute
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for three minutes.
- Place cocoa mixture in a small saucepan and warm the mixture over low heat. Be sure to whisk often to ensure all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
- If you’d like to, add coconut whipped cream or cacao nibs.
Do you have a voracious appetite? Do you find yourself munching and you’re not even hungry? I just watched this video from a bariatric doctor who talked about Caralluma Fimbriata which is a natural cactus plant extract which comes from India, and it’s supposed to decrease appetite and support weight loss. The plant has been eaten in India for centuries. Although it has been around for centuries, it gained popularity as a diet pill in the last few years.
So what is its mechanism? Caralluma apparently works by blocking a specific enzyme (called citrate lyase) , which is necessary for the formation of acetyl CoA, a basic ingredient of essential fatty acids that become stored in the body as fat. Caralluma blocks the formation of an enzyme (called Malonyl CoA). Caralluma manufacturers claim that blocking these enzymes necessary to form fat will prevent the body from storing fat. This, combined with a purported interference with the brain’s hunger signals will cause you to eat less, and your body will burn stored fat for fuel.
Other health benefits of this cactus include:
Anti-Inflammation: Disease is often caused by inflammation within our bodies. Caralluma fimbriata contains high levels of omega-9 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. It’s also been linked to healthier blood glucose levels, reduced cholesterol, and more regular blood pressure.
Reduce Fatigue: As mentioned above, Caralluma fimbriata can activate stored fat, turning it into lean muscle mass and burning the rest as energy. This makes you feel more energetic while also enhancing results at the gym.
Anti-Aging: Like many plants, Caralluma fimbriata contains high levels of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants target free radicals within the body, which reduces aging in the brain and the body. That means fewer wrinkles and better overall cognitive and physical health.
Having said all of this, the studies are still new. This supplement has only been available for a few years and studies on it are on-going so ones that are released now are still preliminary. You never know…this could turn out to be the most promising weight loss aid in the near future. Keep your eyes out for more studies and weight loss results!
As far as vitamins when cutting out carbs, I will always recommend a good quality multi vitamin. This assures you will get all of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs. There are many multi vitamins that are gender specific as you should be taking women’s multi if you are a woman and men’s multi if you are a man. Also, if you are over 40 you should be taking a vitamin geared to your age group as well as they will have added ingredients to protect you from age related issues like hormonal imbalances, heart protection, cancer prevention etc.
Fish oil is my second recommendation and this will take care of both at the same time. When following a low carb diet it is important to add more good fats. I personally take MCT oil daily. This oil comes from coconut and body builders and dieters use it to help them burn fat and stay in ketosis. In case you are unaware, ketosis means the body is using fat for energy instead of sugar (carbs). You can read more about both ketosis and MCT oil on my previous blogs. You can use MCT oil in your shakes, salad dressings or just take a shot of it with your meals.
Other fats that you should include in your diet are coconut oil, olive oil, butter and avocado’s. Smoothies as a snack is a great way to get in more MCT oil and dense nutrients. My smoothies include a protein powder, MCT oil, a greens powder and berries powder. I also add liquid fish oils. You couldn’t possibly eat all day long and get the amount of nutrients in this shake. Also, I never use fresh or frozen fruit as they are too high in carbs. I literally put water in my shaker cup, add the protein, oils, and powders, shake and go. It’s low carb and easy to make.
Angiogenesis Inhibitors – Cancer Prevention
Everyone knows someone who has had cancer or lost someone with cancer. We know some of the causes of cancer like smoking, poor diet, chemical exposure etc. but do we really know what happens to the body when we get cancer? Know this….cancer cannot survive and grow without blood vessels!
In 1961 Dr. Folkman saw something while doing some medical research that gave him a hunch. “What if cancerous tumors, in order to expand, needed to trigger the growth of new blood vessels to feed themselves? And if that was true, what if a way could be found, to stop that growth? Could cancers be starved to death? Dr. Folkman had ample reason to be self-confident — second in his class at Harvard Medical School, he was already considered one of the most promising doctors of his generation. But even he never guessed that his idea would eventually grow into a multibillion-dollar industry that is now racing through human trials with drugs that show unparalleled promise of being able to control cancer, as well as other deadly diseases.” – Dr Folkman. His book is called Dr. Folkman’s War and it is fascinating information.
‘Angio’-means blood vessel and ‘Genesis’- means growth: Blood Vessel Growth. If we cut ourselves our body sends out signals to create blood vessels to heal the wound which is a good thing but what happens if these signals do not shut off? That’s cancer. Anti-angiogenesis are things that inhibit the blood vessel growth. Foods that are natural angiogenesis inhibitors that you want to include in your daily diet (which will strengthen your immune system and should be organic) would include mushrooms such as shiitaki, reishi and maitake mushrooms, berries, citrus fruits, red grapes, red wine (yay!), artichokes, turmeric, kale, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and dark chocolate (yay again!).
I personally take Host Defense Turkey Tail mushrooms every day as they have proven to be natural angio-genesis inhibitors. I also take Host Defense “My Community” which is a blend of 17 different mushrooms.
I strongly recommend watching this video by Dr Li. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjkzfeJz66o It is from Ted Talks and is called “Can we eat to starve cancer”? It is fascinating and you will want to share it with your friends. Know that mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi are natural angiogenesis inhibitors but the film lists many foods good for anti-cancer. It’s a must see and once you watch it you will want to share it with your friends. I hope so anyway!