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Reviews of healthy products, articles and news about healthMon, 29 Apr 2013 17:29:35 +0000en-UShourly1An Oat revelation: Country Products Organic Oatshttp://www.e-health-hub.info/an-oat-revelation-country-products-organic-oats/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/an-oat-revelation-country-products-organic-oats/#commentsMon, 29 Apr 2013 17:27:29 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=244

A staple breakfast item oats are packed full of nutritional benefits for the whole family and can be enjoyed au natural or dressed up like a dessert to delight the taste buds.

There are different levels of processing oatmeal. Oatmeal can come as ground oats, steel cut oats, crushed oats or rolled oats. The larger the flake, the less processed the oats are and the more nutrients the oat retains, although it will cook more slowly, such as steel cut oats which can take around 20-30 minutes to cook.

The health benefits of oats include:

Potentially reducing asthma risk in children.

Boosting the nutrition profile of gluten-free diets.

Improving immune system defences due to the presence of oat beta glucans.

Provides high levels of fibre, low levels of fat and high levels of protein.

Contains lignans which protect against heart disease and cancer.

Contains antioxidants beneficial for heart disease.

Not all oats are made equal and I’ve been scouring the internet for oats that make a rich, creamy porridge that retains its flavour and tastes equally delicious cold soaked in water or milk, or transformed into a bircher with a bit of low fat yoghurt and home-made fruit juice. I’ve tried numerous offerings and prefer my oats organic.

I am very particular about my oats and they always seem to be too thick, or too fine and the flavour is lost after cooking. That was until I stumbled across Country Products, suppliers of a range of dried fruits, nuts, snack products and other fine foods. The company was established in 1983 by Mark Leather, who upon returning from living overseas saw a niche market for quality, ready packaged goods for the health industry. The company supplies a variety of outlets and sell goodies such as nuts, dried fruits, confectionary, rice and grains and snacks.

I opted for their organic porridge oats and was hugely impressed by the taste. On their own soaked in some raw goats milk the oats were truly delicious and cooked for a few minutes and scattered with some bananas, blueberries, flaked almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup they made a truly wonderful, nutritious and energy-giving breakfast. I’m normally left a tad sour-faced after a bowl of porridge, but these oats have really inspired me and I will be definitely sticking with the brand. Country Products is from now on a store-cupboard staple for me.

For more information or to purchase Country Products items see www.countryproducts.co.uk. 

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/an-oat-revelation-country-products-organic-oats/feed/0Natural beauty brands con consumershttp://www.e-health-hub.info/natural-beauty-brands-con-consumers/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/natural-beauty-brands-con-consumers/#commentsFri, 26 Apr 2013 18:04:52 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=237Manufacturers of ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ labelled cosmetics are just as guilty of duping consumers as mainstream manufacturers. Research conducted in 2008 by US Organic Consumers Association (OCA) found traces of the carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-dioxane in 50 products produced by popular ‘natural’ brands including JASON, Origins, Ikove, Avalon Organics, Stella McCartney’s Care line and Giovanni Organic Cosmetics. Manufacturers also dupe consumers by using choice phrases aside synthetic chemicals, such as “derived from coconut oil,” or “derived from plant extracts.” Something that has undergone chemical processing is not natural, regardless of what it’s derived from.

Another common claim made by brands marketed as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ is that their products are ‘chemical free’. Everything contains chemicals. It is the demarcation between a natural and synthetic chemical that’s the issue, not whether it has chemical content.

Some companies offering products certified by some of the weaker standards ply synthetic cosmetic formulations with floral water to boost their organic credentials. Because ingredients have to be listed in descending order of weight the floral water appears first on the ingredients list and makes a formulation that is fundamentally plain old water and synthetic chemicals – with a few flower residues – appear to be organic. Brands also often claim to have certification for their products, when in reality some of their ingredients are certified but the product as a whole is not and may contain other synthetic chemicals.

The word ‘natural’ is a further source of confusion because it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘organic.’ It should mean that an ingredient has been derived from mineral, plant or animal matter and undergone minimal processing, but in the cosmetics world this does not automatically mean that it was grown without the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers, residues of which may be present in the formulation. Some ‘natural’ ingredients such as shea butter and beeswax are commonly treated with toxic synthetic preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) – a suspected human carcinogen.

Consumers are definitely in a predicament but my advice is to:

Opt for products that are certified organic (100 percent organic to food grade standards where possible. If you can’t eat it why should you put it on your skin?).

Streamline your beauty products down to the bare necessities.

Don’t be fooled by misleading marketing claims, such as “hypoallergenic” and “contains botanical ingredients,” and

Make your own beauty products so you know precisely what’s gone into them. You can buy organic raw materials for your own concoctions from vendors such as the Sydney Essential Oil Company (www.seoc.com.au).

Be aware that there are genuinely organic brands that do not have certification due to prohibitive costs, so don’t be afraid to question a brand on their suppliers.

I’ve included a few simple natural recipes below, along with ten organic brands available in Australia to try.

Blend the ingredients together and rub into your hair and scalp. Cover your hair with a shower cap or wrap and leave the conditioner on for 15 – 20 minutes before rinsing.

Mix all the ingredients together in an ovenproof glass container and place in a pan containing one to two inches of water. Put on a low heat to melt the oils and waxes together. Pour into a clean jar and once cool stir the mixture. Massage into your body for super soft skin.

Make your Own – Bath and Body Wash

Mix the ingredients together and keep stored preferably in a glass container with a lid. Pour under running water.

1)     Dr Bronners – www.drbronner.com.au

5)     Riddells Creek – www.organicformulations.com.au

7)     Third Stone Botanicals – www.thirdstonebotanicals.com.au

9)     Elly B – www.ellyb.com.au

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/natural-beauty-brands-con-consumers/feed/0Are cosmetics compromising your health?http://www.e-health-hub.info/are-cosmetics-compromising-your-health/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/are-cosmetics-compromising-your-health/#commentsFri, 26 Apr 2013 17:52:29 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=232As part of their daily ritual women and men, particularly of the developed world apply all manner of cosmetic and personal care products to their bodies in a bid to maintain cleanliness and often hoping to preserve their youth. Cosmetic companies spend billions every year advertising their products in order to maintain the perception that we need all these lotions and potions. This seemingly innocuous daily routine exposes us to hundreds of different synthetic chemicals, and that’s without including other potential sources of exposure from our environment and other consumer items.

Why is this all a problem? Our skin is not an impenetrable barrier but in fact absorbs up to 60 percent of what we apply to it. We can also absorb chemicals through inhalation, ingestion, the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and mouth, the placenta and breast milk. Many synthetic chemicals are lipophilic (fat loving) and concentrate in our body fat, accumulating over a lifetime. Babies are exquisitely sensitive to toxic chemicals and concentrations of toxic chemicals that would be tolerated by an adult can cause much greater damage to little ones.

Synthetic chemicals are so ubiquitous that even Arctic inhabitants are polluted with a range of obsolete toxic chemicals such as PCBs from old electrical equipment. Despite this thousands of chemicals are registered for use every day and it is left in the hands of cosmetics manufacturers to conduct safety evaluations.

Bearing this in mind it’s no surprise that the majority of ingredients used in beauty products have not been thoroughly evaluated for safety. The European Union is more vigilant in this area than the United States, having banned around 1,000 chemicals compared the U.S. FDA who have banned a mere 11 percent of the 12, 000 ingredients used in beauty products in the last 30 years.

We should be able to rely on regulatory authorities to protect us from toxic chemicals in consumer products, but Dr. Peter Dingle, Environmental and Nutritional Toxicologist at Murdoch University Australia says,

Cosmetic products are not completely safe. There are severe limitations on all the tests done and very few of the toxicological tests have ever considered the modern day use patterns of multiple chemicals applied multiple times every day. In fact most authorities would have no idea about the use patterns let alone the validity of the toxicological studies which have been done. The best way to judge whether consumers should be worried or not is that a significant percentage, property around 15-20% of people react on a regular basis to some of the products some of the time. And this is just the acute reactions it does not include all the other issues from xenoestrogens to allergies and cancer.

Structurally many of these synthetic chemicals are similar to natural chemicals, which means they are easily absorbed by our bodies but due to their synthetic nature (meaning they are often tampered with structurally to increase shelf-life and stability), they are not so simple for our bodies to break down. Sometimes they mimic or block our body’s natural hormones, damaging our hormonal system. Such chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors and they have been linked with falling sperm counts, increases in testicular and breast cancer, premature breast development, the feminisation of fish and the bizarre appearance of penis-like stumps on Arctic female polar-bears.

A recent example of the powerful affects of endocrine disrupting chemicals comes courtesy of research conducted at Imperial College in the UK and published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.  Dr Paul Elliot and his team of researchers found that women exposed to high levels of hairspray during pregnancy were twice as likely to have babies born with hypospadias (where the opening of the urethra is abnormally positioned somewhere along the underside of the penis, between the base and just below the tip). The study authors also suggested that other substances in hair sprays may have toxic affects when inhaled, including polyvinyl alcohol, polyvinylpyrolidone, hydrofluorocarbons and propylene glycol.

Why aren’t the regulatory authorities doing more? According to Dr. Peter Dingle,

Our regulatory authorities are archaic and historic. They were created in the days when DDT was an issue. Although regularly altered most of the legislation is just tweaked around the edges, rather than going back and having to look at the whole process. One example might be the susceptibility of kids to chemicals. Most research shows that kids may be anywhere from 3-10 times more sensitive than adults. Unfortunately a lot of the marketing is also directed at kids. The old legislation takes many decades for it to consider issues such as neuropsychological toxicity, foreign oestrogens or any other new bit of information. Then you also need to consider that decisions are never made in isolation. Most authorities around the world have a very strong influence from lobby groups who have a vested interest in protecting their turf.”

Aluminium compounds or salts – Some studies have linked the use of aluminium containing antiperspirants with breast cancer. Aluminium from a mother can enter her unborn baby via the placenta and breast milk.

Artificial Colours – Some artificial colours used in cosmetics are carcinogens or contain carcinogenic impurities. Others may cause contact dermatitis, sensitisation or irritation. Colours are identifiable by the prefix CI (standing for colour index) followed by a five-digit number relating to its chemical structure e.g. CI12490.

Diethanolamine (DEA) – Diethanolamine compounds are used as emulsifiers and foaming agents in cosmetics and dishwashing detergents. DEA interacts with nitrite preservatives or contaminants in a product or with nitrogen oxide in the air to form the carcinogen NDELA on the skin. It is readily absorbed through skin and accumulates in organs.

Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen, a contact allergen and common skin and eye irritant. Some ingredients used in cosmetics and other products degrade into formaldehyde, but contaminants do not have to be listed on cosmetic labels, so avoid the following ingredients which are formaldehyde releasers: Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol), sodium hydroxymethylglycinate and benzylhemiformal.

Fragrances – Many substances used by the fragrance industry result in poor indoor air quality and can potentially cause neurological problems, respiratory and skin irritation, migraines, asthma, cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, allergic reactions and multiple chemical sensitivities. The law does not require a list of fragrance ingredients in chemical products, merely the inclusion of the term ‘parfum,’ ‘fragrance’, or ‘aroma,’ which could mean anything up to 200 different fragrance chemicals.

Hair dyes – In 2005, the Scientific Committee on Consumer products (SCCP), which advises the EU Commission on questions related to the safety of consumer products concluded that some studies suggest increased risks for hair-dye users of developing acute leukaemia and chronic lymphoid leukaemia and an increased risk of bladder cancer for U.S. women using hair-dyes repeatedly over a prolonged period of time.

Parabens – A number of studies have found parabens (commonly used in cosmetic products and deodorants as preservatives) to be oestrogenic (mimic oestrogen in the body) and certain parabens have been detected in the breast tissue of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Reportedly, the main influence in the onset of breast cancer is exposure to oestrogen over a lifetime.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) – Polyethylene glycols (PEG) compounds can become contaminated with the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, along with other toxic impurities such as ethylene oxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals, including lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium and arsenic. They are readily absorbed through damaged skin.

Phenylenediamines – Dye intermediates used in permanent and semi-permanent hair colourants. Para-phenylenediamine (p-phenylenediamine) is a potent cause of allergic contact dermatitis. Permanent hair dyes containing phenylenediamines have also been associated with an increased risk of various types of cancer in hairdressers, particularly the dark brown and black hair dyes.

Phthalates – Phthalates, used as plasticisers and fixatives in cosmetic products and ubiquitous in consumer products, have displayed endocrine (hormone) disrupting properties in animal studies. Research has shown that they have an additive effect and can block the male hormone testosterone.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) -  An anionic surfactant used in a range of household products including bath and shower products. It is a frequent cause of eye irritation and can cause contact dermatitis. Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), touted as a milder alternative, can be contaminated with the probable carcinogen 1,4-dioxane.

Sunscreen agents - Many chemical sunscreens can cause irritant reactions. Some of them have been associated with the production of free radicals, which can harm DNA and even cause endocrine disruption. Sunscreen ingredients such as para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), avobenzone (parsol 1789), oxybenzone (benzophenone 3) padimate O (octyl dimethyl PABA) can cause photosensitivity and phototoxicity (cellular damage under UV or sunlight).

Talc – Used to help products stick to skin and for spreadability and translucency. Can become contaminated with toxic asbestos fibres. Research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention in 2008 suggests that women should not use talcum powder around their genitals as particles of talc may travel to the ovaries, instigating an inflammatory process that promotes the growth of cancer cells.

Toluene – Added to Californias Proposition 65 list of substances toxic to reproduction because it was found to cause spontaneous abortions or offspring with birth defects. According the US government Department for Health and Human Services, toluene targets the central nervous system, when inhaled, with low to moderate levels being found to cause symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, colour vision loss, sleepiness, headaches and nausea.

Triclosan – Found in toothpastes, deodorants, liquid soaps, mouthwashes. Stored in human breast milk and fish. May promote resistance to certain antibiotics. Breaks down in water to produce a dioxin. Although  the dioxin generated is not one of the dioxins that have prompted safety concerns, repeated exposure to chlorine in the wastewater treatment process could chlorinate triclosan, which might then be converted to more dangerous dioxins under sunlight when released from the treatment facility.

You can learn more about toxic beauty products by purchasing my book Toxic Beauty.

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/are-cosmetics-compromising-your-health/feed/0Adagio High-End Teas with Health Propertieshttp://www.e-health-hub.info/adagio-healthful-teas/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/adagio-healthful-teas/#commentsThu, 25 Apr 2013 18:39:00 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=216Cup of high-end tea anyone? Think Adagio Teas, skilled producers of a range of delicious teas in exotic and interesting flavours, as well as conventional black tea, Oolong, decaf and other varieties. The company presents a bewildering array of choice of loose leaf teas and tea bags. Adagio even sells a nifty ingenuiTEA, which is my new tea-making hero. You Simply steep your tea leaves with hot water in a nifty jug, place the jug on top of your tea and hey presto a delicious, flavoursome beverage.

Of tea brands I’ve sampled this is one of my hands-down favourites. This isn’t tea without taste, this is an intense tea-drinking sensation. Even coffee lovers might defect!

The pina colada with it’s sweet aroma, evocative of it’s drink namesake and beautiful rose coloured hibiscus flowers has a vibrant flavour, a wonderful tang and no added sugar. This tropical number is blended with hibiscus flowers, rose hips, apple pieces, dried coconut, natural coconut flavour, pineapple pieces and natural pineapple flavour.

Green Rooibos is harvested from the same South African plant as the traditional red rooibos but is processed differently. The green leaves go through a special process to ensure they are not oxised and so are closer to their natural strate, containing higher levels of antioxidants. Rooibos also assists with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. They have a low tannin content and are naturally free from caffeine.

The Green Rooibos provide by Adagio has a wonderfully earthy, grassy taste and doesn’t require any additions. It’s a soothing brew and well deserves the many grateful testimonials from its users. I will certainly be drinking the tea again and a hint of mint makes a nice addition, or liquorice tea if you would like it sweetened.

The Vanilla Chai has a wonderful rich aroma of vanilla that evokes a sunny afternoon indulging in a delicious vanilla ice cream. It contains only rooibos vanilla tea, cinnamon bark, ginger root, orange peels, cloves and cardomom pods. It’s certainly one of the best decaffinated chai teas I’ve tried and has a nice hint of spice. Chai spices derive from the Indian Ayurvedic idea of combining specific herbs and spices to promote health and well-being. What I like about this tea is the sense of decadence without the caffeine content of other teas. Again, this tea is extremely soothing and calming to the senses.

Adagio’s Rooibos Caramel Tea is hand-made in South Africa and another caffeine-free brew that has a hint of caramel flavouring. With an earthy mild caramel scent, this tea tastes more like a conventional rooibos and the caramel flavour is very subtle and not overwhelming. Some will be disappointed that the flavour isn’t stronger, but I applaud the use of less flavouring and a dash of honey can easily be added by those with a sweet tooth.

Overall I am really pleased with Adagios teas and will certainly be recommending them to others. You can of course purchase the tea bags, but I highly recommend purchasing the loose leaf tea and buying their nifty IngenuiTEA for a hassle-free tea-making process that is richer in flavour and aroma.

For more information see www.adagio.uk.com in Europe and www.adagio.com for the US. 

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/adagio-healthful-teas/feed/0Raw Chocolate Company Coconut Palm Sugarhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/the-raw-chocolate-company-coconut-palm-sugar/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/the-raw-chocolate-company-coconut-palm-sugar/#commentsWed, 24 Apr 2013 07:59:29 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=210Referred to as coconut sugar, palm sugar, coco sap sugar or coconut syrup, coconut palm sugar is the latest coconut must-have sugar substitute, touted as a healthier alternative to sugar and promoted as low in the glycaemic index (therefore having less of an impact on blood sugar levels)and packed full of vitamins, nutrients, minerals and amino acids.

The sugar is derived from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm and has been used as a sweetener in South East Asia for thousands of years. It consists mostly of sucrose and the GI index is 35 (compared to brown cane sugar with a GI index of 70), hence the classification as a low GI food. It’s said to be a great source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron and contains a variety of B vitamins. Coconut sugar contains 36 times the iron as sugar and increased amounts of other valuable nutrients.

Many coconut sugars sold in Asian markets or stores are not pure coconut palm sugar but contain other fillers, including white cane sugar, however organic versions are available. In fact, The Food and Agriculture organisation of the UN has labelled coconut palm sugar the single most sustainable sweetener in the world.

Various companies produce organic coconut sugar and I chose to review The Raw Chocolate Company’s. Founded in 2006, the company are raw food chocolatiers and producers of other popular raw and health food items such as goji berries, cacao nibs, acai powder and lucuma powder.

The Raw Chocolate Company’s organic coconut sugar is sourced from Indonesia, harvested three times per year by tapping the coconut palm flower in the tree top and collecting its nectar. After collection the nectar is boiled and granulated. Coconut palms are not cut down in the process, so it’s a much more sustainable alternative to cane sugar.

The coconut sugar has a very granulated texture, heavier than sugar and a beautiful golden colour. The aroma is of a rich, deep caramel, which is very pleasant and the taste is akin to caramel or butterscotch, with a hint of molasses. It’s much more like a darker brown sugar than one of the lighter varieties. It isn’t as sweet as conventional sugars and can be used as a replacement for white and brown sugar.

The Raw Chocolate Company use the coconut sugar in a lot of their raw chocolate bars, which having previously reviewed these are a welcome substitute to conventional chocolate and contain only a few ingredients, in comparison to their calorie-laden, processed counterparts.

I am convert to the sugar substitute stevia and now coconut sugar is one of my absolute favourites. It was delicious scattered over my steel cut oat porridge with banana and toasted almonds and I will certainly be using it again along with recommending The Raw Chocolate Company as a supplier.

For more information about The Raw Chocolate Company see www.therawchocolatecompany.com.

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/the-raw-chocolate-company-coconut-palm-sugar/feed/0Shizuoka Decaffeinated Green Teahttp://www.e-health-hub.info/shizuoka-decaffeinated-green-tea/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/shizuoka-decaffeinated-green-tea/#commentsWed, 17 Apr 2013 19:00:31 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=182

For those seeking a healthier alternative to conventional teas and coffees antioxidant and polyphenol rich green tea is touted as a powerful boon to health and well-being. Originating in China it’s been used as a medicine for thousands of years and boasts benefits such as lowering blood pressure and regulating blood sugar levels.

Other Chinese teas do not possess the same health-giving properties because green tea is processed differently. The leaves are steamed preventing the catechin compound responsible for the health-giving properties from being oxidised. Black and Oolong teas are produced from fermented leaves, which result the compound being converted into substances not nearly so effective at battling illness and disease.

Better than your average brew green tea has been linked with the following:

· Weight loss – green tea increases the metabolism.

· Preventing heart disease by helping the lining of the blood vessels stay relaxed.

· Delaying deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s.

· Destroying bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections, dental caries and other dental problems

· Reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

There are a variety of green tea offerings and my favourite is Matcha, superior to other green teas, with higher levels of beneficial antioxidants, in fact ten times more than other green teas. For the purposes of this review though, I decided to sample decaffeinated green tea powder, as not everyone wants their tea with a kick and it’s nice to have a powdered decaffeinated green tea, which is not easy to come by in the UK.

I stumbled upon Green Tea Merchant, a host site for Kagoshima Tea and Shizuoka Tea, providers of Japanese green tea from Shizuoka and Kagoshima Prefectures, the two largest tea growing regions in Japan, accounting for around 70% of total annual production.

Worldwide shipping is available on these high-quality green teas.

Courtesy of Shizuoka tea, the decaffeinated green tea powder contains less than 1% caffeine and has the typical grass-like taste, with a hint of sweetness. It dissolves immediately and unlike many other decaffeination processes, high temperature steam is used, so the process is natural and free from chemicals. It has a very smooth taste and makes a wonderful alternative to its caffeinated cousins and you feel like you are receiving the benefits without too much of a caffeine high.

It’s infinitely superior to the oxidised versions available in the United Kingdom that have a more sour and bitter taste. I’ll definitely be purchasing more!

To purchase visit www.greenteamerchant.com and for information about Shizuoka visit www.shizuokatea.com. 

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/shizuoka-decaffeinated-green-tea/feed/0Buy Whole Foods: Stevia and Macahttp://www.e-health-hub.info/buy-whole-foods-stevia-and-maca/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/buy-whole-foods-stevia-and-maca/#commentsSun, 14 Apr 2013 09:34:34 +0000Dawnhttp://www.e-health-hub.info/?p=147Superfoods are di rigueur and none more so than those which sweeten foods without harming the body as much as conventional sugar. Products on offer vary in their nutritional value. Many brands use artificial sweeteners chock  full of synthetic alternatives, such as aspartame, that are actually an inferior alternative to sugar, particularly unrefined sugars.

Taking aspartame as an example, aspartame is an artificial sweetener commonly known as Nutrasweet® or Canderel®, which is used in many food products and soft drinks. Aspartame is made up of 50 % phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid and 10% methanol, which in isolation enter the central nervous system in high concentrations acting as excitotoxins in the brain, potentially causing cell death. Some of the breakdown products of these substances are also considered to be carcinogenic.

Michael Schachter M.D says that 80-85% of all complaints received by the FDA in the US are due to aspartame. The most common symptoms believed to be linked to aspartame include: headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, hyperactivity, severe depression, aggression, phobias, blurred vision, blindness, hearing impairment, palpitations, diarrhoea, itching, hives. Aspartame has also been linked to brain tumours, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and birth defects along with many other conditions.

So with that in mind, I bring you stevia and maca, alternatives that have many purported health benefits, sweeten foods and don’t have such a deleterious impact on the body.

Stevia is a plant native to South America and has been used as a sweetener there by the native people for hundreds of years, with the leaves being used to produce medicine. It’s widely available as a sweetener in numerous countries and it’s only fairly recently that it was authorised as a sweetener in the UK – many brands now produce sweeteners with stevia extract but tend to add other fillers such as inulin or maltodextrin, rather than the herb in its pure form. Prior to this the herb was widely used as a sweetener in other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. It is said to present a range of health benefits, including:

Increasing the strength of muscle contractions that pump blood from the heart.

However, more research is required to substantiate these claims.

The sweetener contains an extract called stevioside which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you need a much smaller amount and you can purchase the extracted form, or the natural herb – in a fine green powder form. This has a slightly bitter after taste. You can also purchase liquid stevia. It can be used as a substitute for sugar in baking and any other recipes calling for a sweetener of some kind.

Buy Wholefoods Online sell a range of healthy foods, superfoods, nutritional supplements and healthy oils. They’re prices are very reasonable and it’s great to be able to purchase in bulk. I decided to try their whole green stevia powder, which comes in a range of sizes and is more natural than the extract form. This lurid green powder doesn’t look appetising, but it’s a far healthier alternative to sugar. I was slightly worried it would make my herbal tea the same shade of green and it didn’t quite blend in so I had to give it a good mix. It is indeed a very sweet powder and you only require a small amount. It does have a very bitter after taste, which is an acquired taste that you do get used to after a while. It’s certainly not the same consistency or flavour as sugar, but does provide the element of sweetness individuals are often looking for. Although I wasn’t overly enamoured with it in my herbal tea I really enjoyed the stevia in my morning muesli and I think with repeated use I will certainly grow to love it.

Maca is hailed as a libido enhancer. It’s a root vegetable growing in central Peru in the Andes Mountains and smells somewhat like butterscotch. The plant is hailed as a wonder-food and is an adaptogen – a biological substance which helps the body to adapt to change and stress. The powder is around 10% protein and contains an array of amino acids. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It is said to have been taken by Inca warriors prior to going into battle to improve strength, stamina and endurance.

Health benefits of maca are said to include:

Improving energy, stamina and athletic performance.

May ease joint and arthritis pain.

In foods it is traditionally eaten baked or roasted and also made into a soup. It has become a popular superfood among the raw food movement and is added to cakes, chocolates and other sweet dishes to add a lovely, rich caramel-like flavour. It comes in root, powder or capsule form when purchased, so it can be taken as a supplement rather than consumed.

Buy Wholefoods Online sell organically produced maca powder that is a mixture of black, red and yellow maca. The powder is available in different sizes and they stock a few different brands. It has a rich caramel-like scent and I detect a hint of coconut when I smell the powder. I have to say after initially trying the powder in my muesli, I’m a convert. It’s deliciously sweet and has an usual but pleasant flavour. I have tried maca before and sometimes when you taste it from particular brands it can taste a little smoky or burnt, but this one had a delicious flavour. It’s wonderful to add to desserts, particularly home-made cakes, biscuits, fudge and other recipes. It’s taste is very distinctive and my boyfriend absolutely loathes it. It’s certainly not quite a substitute for sugar because it has such a distinct taste, but it does have a great nutritional profile and give you an energy buzz for the day. I wouldn’t say it was a huge impact, but it does have a discernible effect and I’ve heard reports from others of maca having a wonderful impact on their health and well-being. Overall, I’m sold on this nutrient rich superfood and sweetener and can highly recommend Buy Wholefoods as a stockist of these and other good quality natural, healthy products.

To purchase stevia or maca from Buy Wholefoods see www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk.

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/buy-whole-foods-stevia-and-maca/feed/0Coffee: Hero or Villain?http://www.e-health-hub.info/coffee-hero-or-villain/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/coffee-hero-or-villain/#commentsSun, 14 Apr 2013 08:17:24 +0000Dawnhttp://e-health-hub.info/?p=136A steaming cup of coffee may give you a kick start in the morning but how much good is it really doing you?

Coffee is our drug of choice and although it may seem to provide a short-term energy boost researchers have found that coffee drinkers are no more alert than those who shun the caffeinated beverage. Coffee behaves like a drug and as you become more tolerant to its effects, greater amounts are required to generate the same high. A surge in energy is quickly followed by a crash in energy levels and a subsequent craving for more coffee. This amounts to an addiction and caffeinism is said to occur if your intake of caffeine exceeds 600mg to 750mg per day. This equates roughly to six cups of ground coffee or eight to 10 cups of instant coffee.

Coffee triggers the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones via excess neuron firing in the brain. This puts the body in a “fight-or-flight” state, which is only useful if preparing to fight or escape from a dangerous situation. If you drink several cups of coffee or more this state is maintained and your body can respond with adrenal exhaustion. Symptoms of this include fatigue, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, nervousness, vomiting, flushed face, sleep disturbance and depression. In a constant state of emergency the adrenals can become depleted of vital vitamins.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that caffeine causes short-term increases in blood pressure and sympathetic nervous activity that could trigger a heart attack. The risk of having a heart attack was increased by 60 percent for moderate coffee drinkers.

Research published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology found that women who consumed 300mg of caffeine (one cup of coffee), were twice as likely to miscarry as those who do not consumer caffeinated beverages. Other researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim found a link between caffeine consumption and low birth weights.

Drinking caffeine also increases blood sugar levels. When the body’s blood sugar levels are too high hyperglycemia can occur, which if left untreated can cause nerve and organ damage, chronic gastrointestinal problems and neuropathy. Diabetics should be especially careful to avoid drinking coffee.

Coffee consumption decreases levels of the feel-good and calming neurotransmitter, serotonin, which can lead to depression and constricts blood vessels in the brain.

Non-organic coffee also contains toxic chemicals. Coffee growers use hazardous chemicals such as aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane and heptachlor.

It’s not all bad news, Harvard researchers analysed data on 126,000 people for as much as 18 years and found that drinking between one and three cups of coffee daily can reduce the risk of diabetes. This is thought to be due to the presence of quinines, which increased insulin sensitivity when administered to rats, thereby improving the body’s insulin response. Coffee also contains other antioxidants such as trigonelline, magnesium and tocopherols.

Other studies have indicated that regular coffee drinkers are 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease and 25% less likely to suffer from colon cancer. Caffeine may also boost athletic endurance.

However, if more caffeine than your body can tolerate is consumed adverse effects are more likely to occur.

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/coffee-hero-or-villain/feed/0The Detox Dilemmahttp://www.e-health-hub.info/the-detox-dilemma/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/the-detox-dilemma/#commentsSat, 13 Apr 2013 17:38:11 +0000Dawnhttp://e-health-hub.info/?p=117Detoxing is a new year priority for many but just how safe is it? Dawn Mellowship asks The Food Doctor, Ian Marber.

As the bikini’s come out for summer, many women dread baring their bodies and spend a couple of months throwing themselves into all manner of detox diets, in the hope of shifting a few pounds and feeling healthier. The question is; are we actually do ourselves any good? Leading nutritionist Ian Marber also known as ‘The Food Doctor’ suggests that a detox may not be all its cracked up to be.

I don’t really believe that detoxing is that healthy to be frank. It is exactly like yoyo dieting telling your metabolic rate that famine is coming. I think we use it as an excuse to overindulge and unless one takes in a massive amount of alcohol and God knows what else, your liver is busy detoxing all the time. Of course it is no bad thing to eat less and have plenty of hydration but if you do it short term, this feast and famine type thing does not actually breed a good relationship with food.

So should we all be running for the hills when we hear that fatal word, ‘detox?’

I don’t think there are any dangers as long as you are sensible. There are one or two detoxes out there that are bizarrely extreme and claim all sorts of things. Those can cause some unpleasant side effects. With a lot of the side effects of detox people think, ‘I feel awful, oh it must be working.’ We understandably get confused. You don’t know if are you feeling bad because it’s God’s way of telling you to stop, or actually because the detox is working. There will always be someone, and I think they are quacks and extremists that will tell you its the detox working.

I have a mini 7 day detox in one of my books and it is absolutely says categorically, no more than 7 days, don’t do it a second time, here is what to expect, here is the extreme and here is what to do when this happens and really that is the only responsible way to do it.

For me the concept of detox instantly brings to mind the maple syrup diet that Beyonce Knowles used to shed pounds for a film. Suddenly sales of maple syrup skyrocketed despite Beyonce’s statement that it wasn’t something she would recommend as a sensible way of eating.

We have to remember that to get headlines in magazines and newspapers you have to be extreme and we have suffered in the last few years with extreme headlines and now hopefully there seems to be a return to more pragmatic and practical thinking.

The Food Doctor’s Everyday Diet is a low carbohydrate plan that promises to make weight loss easy and enjoyable. The key is portion sizing and food combining says Ian and where as many detox plans are just short lived exercises, Ian’s is merely a precursor to a long term healthy eating plan.

It gives you a template so that you don’t get overly hungry. You have something from every food group so you are meeting your nutritional requirements. You don’t fall into the trap of detox retox, lose weight, gain weight, you just lose weight slowly if you need to lose weight at all. It is based on portions, food combinations and frequency of meals. People overload their plates and don’t tend to do it equally either so they put too much of what they like the best, which is never the vegetables!

If you concentrate on healthy eating, weight loss will follows as a matter of course otherwise it will always be elusive.’

For those who are still keen to detox Ian explains how to avoid the most common pitfall.

There are two areas, one is emotional and one is physical. Emotionally or psychologically what happens is when we know we are going on a detox we tend to eat and drink far too much because we know we can overcompensate for it afterwards. That is the main pitfall. Don’t tox up in advance.

Another thing to consider is taking supplements whilst detoxing.

Sometimes a good multi-vitamin is worth taking but a lot of these detoxes give you chronic diarrhoea and so you will be losing a fair amount of nutrients, especially the water soluble ones.

Some detoxes incorporate what have come to be known as ‘superfoods,’ that we associate with high doses of antioxidants and valuable nutrients. The problem is when people eat unhealthily and merely rely on one superfood for a quick fix, according to Ian.

On this whole thing of superfoods some foods do have slightly more in the way of nutrition than others but it is unfair to the other foods. The best superfood is a variety of foods because if you only eat berries all the time for instance, you won’t be getting some of the other spread of nutrients you get from other fruits.

So it would seem, the best way to stay healthy and trim is the simplest one, eat healthily most of the time and allow the occasional treat. Et voila!

Ian’s Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips

1) Don’t be fooled into instant weight loss

2) Find a template that you can follow week in, week out.

3) Accept that we are all fallible so you are going to fail every now and again, so build some treats into the whole thing.

4) Be practical about how long things are going to take, don’t shove it all into a small space of time.

5) If you have a healthy relationship with food you don’t have to worry about detoxing or dieting.

Any foods that contain Vitamin C, B5 and Magnesium, ‘simply because they will help the adrenal glands respond appropriately to stress.’

1) Vitamin C – Sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, berries.

2) Magnesium- any dark leafy green vegetables

3) B5 – found in most foods, especially wholegrains.

For more information on The Food Doctor, his diet plans and products visit www.thefooddoctor.com.

]]>http://www.e-health-hub.info/the-detox-dilemma/feed/0Essential oils for health and homehttp://www.e-health-hub.info/essential-oils-for-health-and-home/

http://www.e-health-hub.info/essential-oils-for-health-and-home/#commentsSat, 13 Apr 2013 17:21:27 +0000Dawnhttp://e-health-hub.info/?p=113

If you’re feeling below par it can be tempting to pop a pill but essential oils may be a solution for some. They’re also great for household cleaning and skin care.

Clove oil is a natural analgesic and antiseptic that can ease toothache by applying it to the infection site. If household mold is a problem dilute 2ml of clove oil in 1 litre of water and spray on the mold infested area. It can also be used for acne, scars and parasites.

Jojoba oil produced in the seed of the jojoba plant is a fantastic facial moisturiser that doesn’t clog pores and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also doubles up as a make-up remover.

Lavender oil can help relieve the pain of tension headaches when breathed in as vapor. It may also be used to aid sleep, as a mosquito repellent and an antiseptic and pain reliever when applied to insect bites and stings.

Don’t go overboard with certain essential oils and slather them on your skin as there are contraindications, for example lavender can cause sensitivity to sunlight when applied topically and damage skin cells. It’s also been implicated in the abnormal growth of breast tissue in young boys. Do your research first to make sure you’re using the oils correctly.

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