Happy Valentine’s Day! Bring on the Chocolate! Wait…is chocolate ok?

Valentine’s Day allows you permission to eat chocolate right?  Right!  And, chocolate is actually good for you, depending what type of chocolate you’re eating so, you can eat it guilt free.  Whew…  Chocolate got a bad rap due to it’s high calorie and fat content and its link to obesity, diabetes, acne and heart disease but recent studies show that chocolate actually has many health benefits.  This is due to cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate.  Cacao contains biologically active ‘phenolic’ compounds, giving it a very high antioxidant profile.  Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content, (as in dark chocolate) the more benefits there are. Dark chocolate may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.  Look for dark chocolate with no less than 70% cacao but getting closer to 90% is even better.  Cacao can have a strong bitter taste so the higher the cacao content the more bitter it may be.  OR…you can make your own chocolate!  I have posted my chocolate recipe before but since it is Valentine’s Day, I thought I would post it again.  This is the yummiest, healthiest chocolate you could possibly eat and there are so many variations in making it to suite your taste buds.  So here is the basic recipe and some great ways to spice it up!  Go ahead and enjoy your chocolate, without the guilt!

KETO CHOCOLATE RECIPE:  

1 cup cacao powder

½ cup melted coconut oil

(This is the basic recipe but if you add the powders and other ingredients you will need to add more coconut oil)

½ cup powdered peanut butter

3 heaping Tbls greens powder (to make it even healthier)

3 Tbls phytoberry (this is what I use to sweeten it, if you don’t use this you can add stevia or xylitol or anything to taste)

½ cup Hemp seeds

Crushed nuts of your choice

½ tsp Cinnamon

½ tsp Cayenne (I add a bit more as it gives it a nice kick)

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

You can basically add anything you want….like fruit but it makes it chewy.

Melt the coconut oil, add the cacao powder and mix all ingredients together.

I put them in ice cube trays but you can pour it on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet

Freeze until firm and store in fridge or freezer as the coconut oil will melt if you don’t.

Thought:  Since it is Valentine’s day you can use a cookie cutter in the shape of a heart or buy a heart shaped ice cube tray and pour the chocolate in them to have heart shaped chocolates.

PSK: Popular Japanese Cancer Treatment STILL Not Approved in the U.S.

I just had to share this article from “The Truth About Cancer” site written by Ty Bollinger.  I hope you take the time to read this as it is another article about Turkey Tail.  If you are interested in this, you can get the Turkey Tail mushroom from Host Defense.  I take it every day for prevention.  This is a great article!

What the Japanese Have Known for Decades: Turkey Tail Mushrooms Fight Cancer

Polysaccharide K, also known as PSK or by the trade name Krestin™, comes from the mycelium varieties Trametes versicolor (also known as Coriolus versicolor or turkey tail mushroom). PSK has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years under the name Yun Zhi. In the 1980s, the Japanese government approved PSK as a treatment for several types of cancer. By 1984, it was 19th on the global list of the “most commercially successful drugs” (with annual sales around $255 million). In Japan, turkey tail extract also goes by the name Kawaratake.

Today PSK is available for use for cancer patients in Japan. In that country, it is commonly prescribed as a cancer treatment, sometimes in conjunction with more traditional methods such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. In fact, for the Japanese, turkey tail mushroom extract is one of the most widely-used and well-known medicines for cancer. The global research community has studied Polysaccharide K for years, with hundreds of published studies to show for it.

In the United States, Polysaccharide K is still considered an “alternative” nutritional supplement, with limited availability to consumers. In 2012, however, the United States did allow the first clinical trial of turkey tail extract in combination with chemotherapy drugs to see how the combination effects women with breast cancer. The trial was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with other studies set to follow.

Canadian Researchers Conclude PSK Beneficial for Lung Cancer

Of the hundreds of studies conducted worldwide on Polysaccharide K’s effects on everything from pulmonary disease to digestive tract disturbances to cancer, one of the latest was a 2015 “systematic review” of PSK’s effectiveness and safety on lung cancer. The review, sponsored in part by the University of Toronto and the Canada Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, analyzed results from 28 other studies.

The majority of the studies the Canadian researchers analyzed found that PSK had an effect on inhibiting cancer tumor growth by boosting immune system activity as well as by changing immune system responses directly. The ramping up of the immune system also had an effect on cancer metastasis, or the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

The review also concluded that survival rates for lung cancer patients were much improved at the 1, 2, and 5 year mark with ongoing use of PSK. Health factors that led researchers to this conclusion were: immune system function, blood function, weight, and cancer-related fatigue levels.

In general, the majority of the studies under scrutiny concluded that PSK can extend survival rates of lung cancer patients. This even included those who are also undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

FDA-Approved Trial for Stage 4 Breast Cancer Patients Underway

Prior to the massive Canadian review, which was published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies, other studies had come to the same conclusion. In 2012, the FDA approved a clinical trial to test the healing properties of Trametes versicolor on Stage IV breast cancer patients.

The study is being conducted in part by Bastyr University in Washington state. As of 2014 reports, researchers claim that turkey tail extract was restoring immune system function for all the women who had gone through radiation therapy. They also found that PSK supplementation was increasing the number and effectiveness of “natural killer” (NK) cells as well as other cytotoxic T-cells.

NK cells are especially important for cancer healing, since it is their job to hunt out tumor cells and destroy them. The researchers also found that the higher the dosage given, the higher the number of cancer-fighting T-cells seen in the women’s immune systems after four weeks of use. There were no noticeable negative side effects of the treatment.

Polysaccharide K Can Affect Cancer Stem Cells

“Shrinking a cancerous tumor may offer temporary relief…but it will not offer a long-term cure if the cancer stem cells are not eliminated,” say researchers at Stanford School of Medicine.

This is, in fact, one of the main reasons why (besides how detrimental it is to the immune system) traditional cancer therapies often do not prevent a cancer from returning months or even years later. According to 14-year-long study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the overall 5-year survival rate for cancer patients who utilize cytotoxic chemotherapy alone is only 2.1%.

Healthy stem cells are needed for the health and well-being of every part of the body’s functions. They can be viewed as “blank slates” that have the ability to turn into many different kinds of cells, such as an organ tissue cell or a brain cell.

Cancer stem cells, on the other hand, are found within tumors (or in the blood for cancers such as leukemia). They also possess the characteristic ability to change form. However, they give rise to different forms of cancer cells and are major contributors to cancer metastasis.

Turkey tail mushrooms may have the ability to destroy cancer stem cells as well. A study conducted in 2011 by the Queensland University of Technology in Australia found that the substances polysaccharopeptide (PSP), extracted from turkey tail mushroom, appeared to target prostate cancer stem cells in mice. Study organizers said that the compound was “100% effective in suppressing prostate tumor development.” The Bastyr University researchers mentioned above have also seen similar results with breast cancer stem cells.

Will FDA Approval for PSK Become a Reality Someday?

Despite the ongoing success of study after study when it comes to PSK, gaining U.S. FDA approval for PSK as a cancer treatment may be difficult in the long run.

“The FDA wants to know what the ‘mechanism of action’ is,” says Bastyr University’s Masa Sasagawa, ND, one of the lead researchers with the university’s ongoing breast cancer trial. “But it’s very difficult to determine, because turkey tail is a natural product and not a single compound.”

Unlike a synthetic drug, mushrooms contain thousands of elements. Each of these elements may have a potential effect on the immune system—and the combined effect of how they all work together will have an effect on healing as well.

Luckily, turkey tail extract can still be obtained in the United States through specific labs and select health food stores. The research confirms that PSK from turkey tail extract has a profound anti-cancer effect. Many experts agree that Polysaccharide K from turkey tail is a must-have for anyone who is serious about fighting cancer.

Dandelion Tea

Why is Dandelion Tea So Popular?

Working in the health food industry, you get to see what products are very popular and sell quickly in the stores.  Dandelion Root tea is one of those. We simply can’t keep up with it…but why?  You may consider dandelion as a type of weed, but its root has a long history of therapeutic use. Dandelion has been used since ancient times for its healthful properties such as a powerful antioxidant to an effective liver support.  Dandelion root supports the gallbladder and aids in digestion by helping to increase bile production and bile transport which breaks down fats and proteins.  It supports and cleanses the liver, especially from stressors such as toxicity caused by over-use of drugs like Tylenol due to its antioxidant activity against free radicals.  Dandelion root improves the heath of your kidneys and has natural diuretic effects helping to reduce bloating and flush out toxins, salt and excess water through increased urine production.    Dandelion helps to regulate heart rate and blood pressure levels as it is a great source of potassium which is an essential mineral for your heart.  Additionally, it may help normalize blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, fight cancer and is a good anti-inflammatory which will help with pain associated with inflammation such as arthritis.  Dandelion is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, K, E, Folic Acid, some B Vitamins, Iron, Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium and Potassium.

Tea or Coffee Substitute:

If you are trying to cut down on your coffee (caffeine) intake, roasted dandelion root tea may just be what you’re looking for.  It tastes similar to coffee but provides much better health benefits.  Simply add boiling water to your tea bag and let steep for 3-5 minutes.  You can leave the tea bag in your cup or you can take it out.  To sweeten or flavor the tea, you can add some honey or other natural sweetener such as Stevia and you could add some flavor such as cinnamon.  Drink 2-3 cups per day for best health results.  If you don’t like drinking hot tea, you can drink it cold.  If you don’t like tea altogether, you can purchase dandelion root capsules.

Kombucha Tea

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.

The Wonders of Olive Leaf

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.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

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.

Creamy Keto Hot Cocoa

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Procedure

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for three minutes.
  2. 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.
  3. If you’d like to, add coconut whipped cream or cacao nibs.