Cranberry – Tiny Fruit With Huge Health Benefits

Cranberries are perhaps best known for their effects on urinary tract health.


Cranberry
Cranberry

However, recent research indicates that these tiny berries are also great for your tummy, skin, gums and teeth because they are packed with powerful antioxidants and organic acids, including ellagic acid, citric acid, malic acid, quinic acid, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. Several studies have shown that cranberries may even play an important role in reducing cardiovascular risk and preventing cancer.

Cranberries for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

UTIs are usually caused by E. coli, a type of bacteria that is normally found in the digestive tract. They can also be found on the skin around the rectum, and may even make their way up into the bladder. Although UTIs are often associated with women, men and children can suffer from UTIs too. Symptoms of UTIs include an urgent desire to empty the bladder, frequent urination, burning sensation during urination, the feeling of having to urinate(even though little or no urine actually comes out), lower abdominal pain, and cloudy or foul-smelling urine. If left untreated, bacteria can travel up to and infect the kidneys, causing serious complications.

Due to the fact that strong antibiotics can irritate the stomach and kill off the friendly bacteria in the gut (and that more E. coli strains are becoming resistant to them), antibiotics are no longer the best solution for UTIs. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), cranberries can offer great protection and relief from UTIs — including the ones that are resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Studies show that cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) which are more effective in inhibiting the adhesion of E. coli to the urinary tract epithelium than the B-type proanthocyanidins found in other sources. When E. coli bacteria are unable to stick to the urinary tract walls, they are unable to cause any mischief. The beneficial effects start within two hours after intake and can last up to 10 hours in the urine.

Canberry extract inhibits UTI
Cranberry extract inhibits UTI

Other Benefits of Cranberry

Improves gastric ulcers

Helicobacter pylori infects up to 60% of the world’s population, causing gastric and duodenal ulcers and increasing the risk of gastric cancer. Although there may not be any obvious symptoms until a gastric ulcer has reached an advanced stage, some of the earlier symptoms include bloating, frequent burping, nausea, change in appetite, or a burning pain in the stomach. Helicobacter pylori is transmitted through saliva, so sharing food or eating out may pose a risk if the food or eating utensils are contaminated. Fortunately, studies show that cranberries can effectively stop Helicobacter pylori bacteria from attaching to the stomach crevices that can protect them from stomach acids. When exposed to stomach acids, the bacteria are destroyed, flushed out and expelled from the gastrointestinal tract.

Encourages healthy gums & teeth, & keeps breath fresh

Cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth, keeping teeth cleaner longer. This helps to prevent the formation of plaque, tooth decay and bleeding gums. Cranberries have the power to crush offensive-smelling bacteria that can build up in the mouth and lead to bad breath.

Encourages healthy heart & reduces stroke damage

Cranberries contain significantly high amounts of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds that help prevent the oxidation of LDL (‘bad cholesterol’). This reduces the risk of plaque formation that would otherwise restrict blood flow. Studies, including one by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, concluded that cranberries may reduce the brain cell damage associated with stroke. These findings suggest that cranberries can reduce the severity of stroke, and aid in recovery, particularly during the earliest stages, when the most severe damage occurs.

Reduces the risk of kidney stones

The quinic acid in cranberries reduces ionised calcium, thus, reducing the risk of kidney stone formation, even among those prone to recurring kidney stones.

Promotes a fairer & more youthful-looking complexion

Free radicals destroy collagen in the skin, causing wrinkles and sagging skin. They can also cause skin to appear dull, red or inflamed. Cranberries have a very high ORAC value (which means that they have potent antioxidant capabilities and can effectively quench free radicals for fairer, more youthful skin)

Alleviates gout

Cranberries help to eliminate uric acid that could otherwise crystallise around the joints and cause the painful symptoms of gout.

Improves anaemia & relieves tiredness

Cranberries are naturally rich in vitamin C and aid the absorption of iron, which is crucial for the red blood cells in the body. Without sufficient iron, one can feel persistently tired, due to a lack of oxygen caused by low haemoglobin levels.


Your Personal Firewall Against An Acidic Body – Part 4 – Transform Yourself

If you regularly consume food that is high in calories and mainly consists of fat and protein, have inadequate physical exercise and high stress levels at work, you are likely to have a sluggish citric acid cycle and a huge accumulation of lactic acid in the blood stream.

You are also highly susceptible to obesity, muscle aches, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. You might have to rely on medication if you do not start adjusting your diet, exercise, and lifestyle soon. However, you can easily bring your health back on the right track by improving your citric acid cycle with the introduction of natural acetic acid (vinegar) into your diet.

Vinegar – Your Personal Firewall Against Diseases

1. Eliminates fatigue & reduces muscle aches

Lactic acid tends to accumulate in the body after strenuous exercises or from consuming too much meat. This build up of lactic acid causes tiredness, fatigue, stiff shoulders, natalgia / sore lower back, inflammation of the joints and shoulders, sciatic nerve pain / pelvic pain, neuralgia / aching nerves, knee neuralgia / sore knees, shoulder neuralgia / spinal aches, etc. Lactic acid also causes poor blood circulation, resulting in blood acidity, which is one of the main causes of neuralgia. Lactic acid combines with protein to form lactic protein, which causes shoulder soreness and neuralgia / lower back pain, as well as arterial hardening if it is allowed to accumulate in the blood.

2. Transforms an acidic body

All patients suffering from chronic diseases and cancer have an acidic body, which is also the case for those who consume a large amount of meat in their diet. This is probably why people who consume large amounts of meat are more prone to cancer. The risk of disease is reduced when we reduce acidity in the body. Vinegar might taste sour (acidic) but it becomes alkaline once it enters the body, and taking it frequently will make the blood slightly alkaline which is the body’s healthy and natural state.

3. Revitalises cells, supports blood flow

The poly amino acids in vinegar cause red blood cells to be more flexible and able to pass smoothly through narrow capillaries to transport oxygen to all parts of the body, aiding cell revitalization. Smooth blood flow can help prevent high blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke. It also alleviates edema and varicose veins that are caused by poor blood circulation.

4. Cleanses blood, prevents arthritic pain

Clean blood is slightly alkaline and lower in viscosity. When we consume a lot of meat, our blood and body fluids become acidic and more waste products are produced during metabolism and energy output. This increase in waste matter puts additional stress on the kidneys and can lead to uremia in serious cases. Arthritic pains happen when there is too much uric acid in the blood stream; the waste increase in the blood also leads to higher blood viscosity which can result in hardened arteries. V inegar helps maintain a healthy alkaline level by preventing uric acid build up and body fluid acidification. It also promotes the excretion of deposited uric acid, reduces the burden on kidneys, prevents gout and solves each kind of fearful cardiovascular disease.

5. Relieves gastrointestinal discomforts

Nowadays, people often suffer from autonomic nerve abnormalities due to extreme pressure. Autonomic nerve abnormality results in an over production of gastric acid which lead to intestinal mucosal membrane injury, stomach wall hemorrhage, and gastric and duodenal ulcers. Acetic acid (also found in vinegar) is mildly alkaline so taking acetic acid can neutralize strong acids and alleviate ulcers caused by excessive gastric juice.

In times of low gastric acid production, the acetic acid in vinegar can play the role of gastric acid and help in the digestion and absorption of food. At the same time, its antibacterial properties promote the healing of the affected areas.

6. Facilitates calcium absorption

The smell, taste and composition of vinegar can stimulate alimentary organs / digestive system and enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients in food. Vinegar also improves the breakdown of food into its nutritious components for easy absorption by the body. For example, calcium and vinegar can combine into calcium acetate that is easily absorbed by the body. In this way, vinegar helps the body absorb more calcium. The citric acid in vinegar enters the body and promotes the full utilisation of calcium by the body; the results are stronger bones, less mood swings, and a better night’s sleep.

7. Fights obesity

Most weight loss medications on the market fight obesity by suppressing the absorption of calories, but this can lead to poor nutrient uptake and have adverse effects on health. Consuming vinegar assists calorie burning while maintaining adequate nutrient intake. When food is consumed, the digestion process converts sugar into glucose, oil and fat into fatty acids, and protein into amino acids. These nutrients require acetic acid (available in vinegar) to act as a catalyst before they can enter the citric acid cycle to be converted into energy for the body. In the absence of acetic acid as a catalyst, these nutrients will turn into fat and be stored in our body. Consuming vinegar not only improves digestion and nutrient absorption, but it also boosts metabolism and caloric expenditure for optimised energy – so no excess calories are left to be converted to fat.

8. Eases constipation

Vinegar improves metabolism and promotes the excretion of waste from the body. It also supports intestinal elasticity and the production of carbonic acid that facilitates bowel movement. Some people who consume highly concentrated vinegar are even known to excrete oil from their body during bowel movement, and this phenomenon can be attributed to the ability of vinegar to break down fats.

9. Beautifies the skin and improves complexion

Lipid peroxidation refers to the oxidative degradation of lipids. It is the process whereby free radicals “steal” electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage and causing signs of ageing . Vinegar helps prevent lipid peroxidation, promote skin metabolism and prevent the production of brown spots, keeping skin fair, young, and healthy.

In short, vinegar can alleviate a host of skin conditions including dermatitis, brown spots, acne , eczema, etc . by improving metabolism, blood circulation, and fat metabolism in the skin.

10. Prevents diabetes

The number of diabetic patients is rising in many countries all over the world. The major reasons for this are an imbalanced diet, insufficient exercise as well as poor lifestyle habits and increasing stress at work.

Sugar, protein and fat that our body absorbs are burned to produce energy. Insulin is needed for the absorption of glucose (converted from sugar) into cells. However, when there is insufficient insulin, this glucose remains in the blood stream instead of being absorbed into cells and is then excreted from the body via urine, causing excessive sweet urine (glycosuria) or diabetes mellitus.

Consuming large amounts of vinegar (acetic acid) on a regular basis can increase the activity of acetic acid in the body. This enhances the citric acid cycle and converts glucose into energy for full utilisation by cells. In this way, vinegar helps solve diabetic problems caused by incomplete glucose metabolism in the body.

11. Prevents cold & flu

The best way to prevent a cold or flu is by strengthening the body’s immune system. The abundance of vitamins found in vinegar can help prevent cold and flu and reduce fatigue. Vitamin A is closely related to the formation of glycoprotein which helps moisten the mucous membrane and prevent the invasion of filterable viruses. Vinegar’s preventive powers are enhanced when taken in conjunction with a diet high in yellow-green vegetables. Vinegar is also rich in Vitamin C that is good for suppressing the flu virus and the spread of infection. The Vitamin B1 in vinegar reduces fatigue, fights cold and flu and maintains optimal bodily functions.

12. Reduces hangovers

As vinegar can accelerate the citric acid cycle, taking concentrated vinegar before and after drinking alcohol helps prevent drunkenness and cure hangovers. The consumed alcohol is rapidly broken down in the citric acid cycle, relieving your liver from the stress of breaking down alcohol.

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Nutrition Intelligence – Glossary – Antioxidants, Vitamins, Phytochemicals

Glossary of Terms you may find useful. Got something you can add? Just post a comment with the details.

A

Antioxidants Group of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phyto-nutrients, phyto-chemicals) which help protect your body from free radicals (caused by normal body functions, aging, pollutants, pesticides, antibiotic use and other factors).

Adaptogen – That which helps boost, balance and normalize functions in your body.

B

Bioflavanoids – Sometimes referred to as Vitamin P, these help to enhance the absorption of Vitamin C. The human body does not produce these so they must be supplied by your diet. They help to promote circulation, stimulate bile production, and act with Vitamin C to preserve and protect the structure of capillary blood vessels.

D

Demulcent – Helps to soothe and relieve internal inflammation.

E

Emollient – Helps to soothe and soften inflamed tissue

F

Free Radicals – A single or group of unstable molecules/atoms that can cause damage to cells, leading to breakdown and disease. Visualize and apple – when you cut it and leave the cut surface exposed to air.It turns brown, almost like it’s rusting. Oxidization has occurred. In a similar way unstable oxygen molecules in your body are the free radicals that cause your unprotected organs to “rust” and breakdown.

P

Phytochemicals – Literally meaning “plant chemicals”, phytochemicals are protective food factors derived from a variety of plant sources. Phtyochemicals have powerful health benefits. Whenever there is plant life, phytochemicals protect plants from attack by their enemies in the environment, like bacteria, viruses, radiation and insects. Research is now showing that we can benefit from these life-sustaining qualities as well. Good news for us. Plants have been in existence much longer than man and know much more about survival. Research indicates that phytochemicals can provide protection against some types of cancer.

T

Tonic – A product that is strengthening and invigorating.

V

Vitamins really deserve there own glossary! Vitamins are organic chemicals that are necessary for growth, metabolism, and overall health and well-being. Vitamins originate in food, and are categorized as either fat soluble (meaning they can be stored in the body for long periods of time) OR water soluble (these pass easily through our bodies, cannot be stored, must be replenished daily).

Vitamin A – Also known as Beta Carotene, a fat-soluble vitamin essential for cell growth, development, reproduction, and immunity. It is stored primarily in the liver and is considered one of the most potent antioxidants.

Vitamin B1 – Also known as Thiamine, a water-soluble vitamin, beneficial to the nervous system. It helps to convert blood sugar (glucose) into energy.

Vitamin B2 – Also known as Riboflavin, a water-soluble vitamin which helps with energy production. It must be replaced constantly. It is the most common deficiency.

Vitamin B3 – Also known as Niacin, a water-soluble vitamin, a major player against heart disease. It helps to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Vitamin B6 – Also known as Pyridoxine, this water-soluble vitamin goes through the body in only 8 hours. It is needed for red-blood cell production and cellular growth. It also plays a key role in the immune system and antibody production.

Vitamin B12 – Also known as Cyanocobalamin, a water-soluble vitamin known for its energizing capabilities. It is essential for nerve tissue, promotes growth, memory and regenerates red blood cells.

Vitamin B15 – Also known as Pantothenic Acid, this water-soluble vitamin helps protect against cardiovascular disease as ell as helping with symptoms of arthritis. It helps encourage healing, protects the liver and immune system.

Biotin -This water-soluble vitamin is essential for the metabolism of vitamin C, fat and protein. It helps with healthy hair, skin and nails.

Vitamin C – This water-soluble vitamin is essential for formation of collagen (exists between cells to hold tissue together). It is necessary for growth and integrity of bones, blood vessels, teeth and gums. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and has many powerful properties; anti-cancer, prevention of blood clots.

Vitamin D – This is a fat-soluble vitamin that the skin can produce on its own when exposed to direct sunlight. In only 15 minutes a day, your body can manufacture all it needs. It is not very abundant in food, and is stored in the liver for future use.

Vitamin E – This fat-soluble vitamin is stored in many places; the heart, liver, reproductive organs, fatty tissue, and muscles. It basically works for the nervous system. It is a potent antioxidant, and helps to combat heart disease, by keeping good cholesterol (HDL) high, blood thin and blood pressure low.


Nutrition Intelligence – Free Radicals & Antioxidants – Part 4

Antioxidants have become part of our vocabulary in the last 10 years. Before that they were little known, understood or appreciated. Even today you will find pockets of people who do not believe in the benefits. Oh well, their loss!

To fully understand the role of antioxidants you need to know about free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules which “steal” parts of our cells to stabilize themselves. This means our cells become damaged:-

  • Free radicals damage cell membranes and disrupt their function in transporting nutrients, water and oxygen into your cells and in removing wastes from the cell. Cellular function becomes sluggish.
  • Our cells genetic material can be damaged, causing the cell’s ability to replenish and repair itself to be impaired.
  • Your immune cells can be attacked, rendering them incapable of defending your body from infections.
  • Free radicals also oxidize LDL (Bad cholesterol) causing arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).
  • Oxidization of proteins and lipids in the body cause a build up of lipofuscin. Accumulations of lipofuscin can accelerate the aging process and damage your organs. Lipofuscin can be observed in the form of visible age spots.
  • Free radicals are also the cause of AGE – Advanced Glycation End-Products – The accumulation of AGE is the main cause of visible premature aging, like wrinkles and brown spots on the skin.

Sources of free radicals are:-

  • Normal bodily functions, like breathing and energy production
  • Toxins from environmental pollution in the air, water, cooking processes and our food
  • Electro magnetic radiation – from TV, computers, ovens, refrigerators and other electrical equipment.
  • UV radiation – from sunlight and fluorescent lamps.
  • Stress factors, like work stress, infections, trauma. Aging itself accelerates the body’s production of Free Radicals.

Since, it’s very difficult to avoid most of the factors which generate free radicals our only option is to ensure we get a regular supply of antioxidants to minimize their effects.

Symptoms of free radical damage are:-

  • Premature aging signs such as age spots, wrinkles, sagging of the skin
  • Degenerative diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cancer, vision problems, cataracts etc.

Antioxidants are compounds found in nature (food) which disarm free radicals in your body. They are a complex group of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phyto-nutrients, and phyto-chemicals that help protect your body from free radical damage.