Get these Anti’s

A new born baby has an absorbent mind, like a sponge!  This allows the baby to easily learn the language spoken by the people around them.  It does this learning so effortlessly it might appear that it was destined by its DNA just like the colour of its hair.  But this is not the case!  Language does not grow like hair and teeth.  Acquiring a language is a learning skill that involves lots of interaction between the brain and the outside world.  The child’s mind is particularly suited for this task.  Amazing as this is, acquiring language doesn’t end with childhood.  Have you noticed that when you embark on a new project, interest, area of study or line of work, there is a whole new language that goes with it?  It dawns on me sometimes when I’m happily listing off the health benefits of a particular food, saying it’s anti this that and the other, that perhaps people don’t really get it.  As adults we have a tendency to skim past what we don’t immediately understand.  It’s like a foreign language, you just blank it out.  So, I’d like to pause and explain a couple of very important ‘anti’s’ as they relate to nutrition and health.

Getting the Anti’s

Oxidation, inflammation, cancer, bacteria and viruses etc. are enemies to the health of the body which needs supportive nutrients and other factors to fight back.  Simply put, if you wanted to address a bacterial threat you would choose anti-bacterial properties.  So, in general, ‘anti’ as a prefix is a good thing!  It is pretty obvious what anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-histamine, anti-aging and anti-cancer mean.  Foods, supplements, essential oils, remedies etc. that have these ‘anti’ properties support the body in fighting that particular threat.

Inflammation and oxidation are less easily understood.  We loosely associate inflammation with pain.  We seek out anti-inflammatories at the Pharmacy for this, yet the harmful effects of inflammation go way, way beyond aches and pains!   And, when it comes to oxidative damage, unless you have studied nutrition or biochemistry, you might easily glaze over with this one too.

So, if you want to read on, I will explain a little bit more about the insidious effects of inflammation and oxidation on the body, how it gets there and why we all need the support of anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants.

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Spice Aid Cabinet

Mankind has sought out plants with medicinal properties since time immemorial.  Even today when there have been great developments in the field of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and medicine, these medicinal plants have lost none of their importance.  Botanical drugs are at the birth place of the current pharmaceutical industry, for example, the ancient Egyptians used the bark of the Willow tree for the relief of aches and pains.  The willow tree yields ‘salicylic acid’ which is the active pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory component that is used to make the aspirin of today.  Probably because big pharma don’t really want you to know that some of your inexpensive household herbs and spices could be the answer to your aches, pains and other health conditions, this information has become generally suppressed and instead we are encouraged by media advertising to believe that pharmaceutical drugs are the only solution.  The general public has consequently lost trust in natural remedies while big pharma secretly know their benefits.  Plant based medical practices like traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicine, for example, are often viewed as a last resort when conventional medicine offers us no solution.  Ideally the reverse would be the case, where natural remedies are used first and pharmaceutical drugs, with their known side-effects, are a last resort.  In this blog I am sharing my knowledge of some of the spices that are ‘hot’ in the world of nutrition.  You may already have them in your spice cabinet.  They offer a relatively inexpensive way of stacking some health benefits in your favour with little effort!   Mother Nature’s flavour favours. Many spices have health benefits, too many to cover here, so I have narrowed them down to some of the most popular and widely used today in the prevention and treatment of the chronic diseases.  I have checked each spice for known interactions {A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions}. There are none for those mentioned and so they are completely safe to use.  So, what are these little pots of magic dust??  Read on to find out!

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The Sunshine Vitamin D

As part of my Nutritional Therapy course I had to complete a scientific review of current research on the impact a single nutrient might have on a specific disease.   I chose Vitamin D and Osteoporosis [OP].  I wanted to answer the question ‘does current research show that adequate levels of Vitamin D have a positive impact on OP’?   Turns out that it does!   Not surprising I hear you say!  Most of us already know from TV commercials that Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and to absorb calcium.  But how much is adequate?   I discovered there are many and widely differing opinions on this and just when I thought I had this bit figured out, I learned that no vitamin works in isolation in the body anyway.   Plus, there are so many factors other than nutrients involved in disease progression.   I found out Vitamin D is not even a vitamin really!   It was designated a ‘vitamin’ based on its role as a dietary factor that aided in the cure of rickets.  It is now understood to be more ‘hormone like’ in its action.   Did you know, it is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D through diet alone?  Vitamin D is not even required in the diet if there is sufficient sunlight to allow its production from pro-Vitamin D molecules in the skin.  It is made in the body with its own Vitamin D receptors [VDRs].  For this reason it could be classified as a hormone rather than a vitamin (a vital amine).  Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic across all ages, genders and geographic locations with multiple implications on human health, due to its role in various bodily systems.   Even if you can avail of adequate year round sun-exposure on bare skin, the time of day, the colour of your skin and your age will also influence how much Vitamin D your body can produce.   A Nutritional Therapist seldom recommends a single vitamin but Vitamin D could be the exception to that rule.  Deficiency has an impact on so many body systems yet symptoms of deficiency are not very obvious.  The only way to really know if you are deficient is to take a 25(OH)D blood test.   Are you getting enough of the ‘Sunshine’ Vitamin?  Let me help you figure it out!

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