Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Curcumin’s Impact on Systemic Health- The Golden Spice! By Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD, Certified Health & Wellness Coach

One spice used for thousands of years in Asian countries for medicinal purposes, but not discovered by modern science until two centuries ago, when Vogel and Pelletier reported the isolation of a “yellow coloring-matter” was named curcumin, derived from the rhizomes of the Curcuma longa, the herbaceous perennial plant, from the ginger family, turmeric.  Decades later in 1910, chemists Milobedzka and Lampe identified curcumin’s chemical structure as a polyphenol, diferuloylmethane.  Predominantly grown in South India, and native to South Asia, India and Indonesia, curcumin is responsible for the yellow color and for the majority of the therapeutic properties of turmeric.   

This nontoxic spice for health, curcumin, coined by researchers as “Indian Solid Gold” possesses pleiotropic activities, being anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and a potent antioxidant, to name a few.  Used as a supplement across the world, including Turkey, Thailand, India, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Nepal, Pakistan and the United States, curcumin has been investigated in extensive in vitro and in vivo studies along with clinical trials.  Efficacy has been observed on the remarkable effects from supplementing with curcumin for potential anti-inflammatory, anticancer, analgesic, and antimicrobial activities; cardiovascular protective support, an aid for healing gastric ulcers, gingivitis and periodontitis relief, antiplatelet aggregation, hepatoprotective effects, supporting gallbladder health, and immune support as a potent antioxidant.   

Curcumin contains terpene derivatives, a class of hydrocarbons occurring commonly in plants that aids in inhibiting the accumulation of toxins and helps remove existing toxins via the liver and kidneys.  Also, curcumin predominantly consists of sesquiterpenes and zingiberene (predominant constituent in the oil of ginger), monocyclic hydrocarbons that are natural antioxidants with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.  Further, curcumin contains oxygenated derivatives, including turmerone, an aromatic ketone that exhibits potential anti-proliferative and antitumor activity. Curcumin has been identified as a powerful anti-oxidant, as a free-radical scavenger, with its phenolic hydroxyl group, significantly reducing the metabolic pro-oxidants homocysteine and hydrogen peroxide, as well as inhibiting lipid peroxidation.   

With even more benefits, this curcumin spice also has anti-inflammatory properties, significantly inhibiting the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-18 (an inflammatory protein), thus is helpful for preventing joint inflammation and has been shown to be an effective nutritional supplement for arthritis and osteoarthritis.  Further, curcumin has been found to be potentially cytotoxic to tumor cells, suppressing the growth of numerous cancer cells, including those of the prostate, biliary, pituitary gland, oral, and uterine leiomyoma.  Curcumin has also displayed antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, specifically against Candida strains.  As well, curcumin could be an effective adjuvant therapy for individuals with type II diabetes, due to its possible anti-hyperglycemic effect and results showing improved insulin sensitivity.  Additionally, curcumin supplementation has demonstrated evidence for maintaining circulatory health by showing a reduction of lipids in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Add turmeric in your cooking: To scrambled eggs, in vegetable soups, sprinkled on top of organic kosher chicken, or on top of your steamed vegetables.  As a supplement, choose a curcumin vegetable capsule that is bound with phosphatidylcholine (lecithin), providing optimal absorption and bioavailability (1 capsule per day with food).  Enjoy adding nourishment wealth to your body with this multi-faceted beneficial, healthful gold spice!

Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M., Dugall, M., Pellegrini, L., Ledda, A., Grossi, M., Togni, S., & Appendino, G. (2010). Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients.  Alternative Medicine Review; 15(4), 337-343.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Want to Be Pro-Active to Support YOUR Health? Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods! By: Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Author of "The 200 SuperFoods That Will Save Your Life"

Help yourself live younger and healthier longer, by focusing on reducing inflammation!  Prolonged chronic inflammation has been linked to increasing risk of disease, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, due to promoting cell damage.  When the body is inflamed for too long, the immune system has a hard time maintaining homeostasis (a healthy balance).  High levels of the inflammatory biomarkers, which are called “pro-inflammatory cytokines,” can influence both the onset of a disease and how long it will last.  One common risk factor for increased chronic inflammation is having excess belly fat.  Our body can get inflamed in response to overeating, leading to abdominal obesity.  Compared to individuals who maintain a normalweight, people who are obese have been shown to have higher circulating levels of those inflammatory markers; cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP).  At your next annual physical blood test, ask for C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP) to be measured to know what your level is of this common inflammation marker.

Thankfully, nutrients play a key role in combating the inflammatory action.  Following a predominately Mediterranean based diet: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, has shown anti-inflammatory effects, compared to the North American & Northern European dietary patterns, higher in red meat and whole-fat dairy products.
A Healthful Action Plan: Eat Anti-Inflammatory Power Foods!  Choose to support disease prevention and give yourself inflammation-fighting antioxidants!
        Vegetables and Fruit: Aim to eat 4 to 5 servings a day each of fruits and vegetables.  One serving: A medium (2-inch across) fruit, ½ cup canned or frozen fruit, ½ cup fruit juice, ½ cup cooked vegetable, and 1 cup leafy raw greens.  Best to eat your fruit or have a blended drink, rather than a juice, to get fiber for slowing the absorption rate of sugar, preventing those sugar highs and lows. 

        Omega-3 Fats: Cold-water fish (aim for 2-3 times/week: Wild salmon-has more omega-3’s than farmed, sardines, herring, mackerel), ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, shelled hemp seeds, leafy green vegetables, walnuts, butternuts (aka white walnuts), pecans, extra-virgin olive oil (use for salad dressing), omega-3 eggs (via the flax seeds the hens eat), and seaweed.

        High-Antioxidant Sources (providing vitamin C, beta-carotene, and/or vitamin E): Yellow, Orange & Red vegetables (Peppers, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Yams); Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, Chard), Citrus Fruits, Black & Green Teas, Allium Vegetables (onions, garlic), Berries, Dark Chocolate, Nuts, and Seeds.
        High-Fiber Foods: Instead of those white, low fiber carbs, eat whole grains (oats, barley, brown rice), artichokes, yams, sweet-potatoes, winter squash, quinoa, sugar snap peas, green peas, legumes (e.g., lentils, splitpeas, edamame, black, pinto…beans).
        Spices Containing Anti-Inflammatory Compounds: Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Rosemary, Turmeric, Oregano, Cayenne, Clove, Nutmeg.

        Prebiotics and probiotics can decrease the activity of those disease promoting proinflammatory cytokines. Prebiotic Sources: Chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, asparagus, and raw honey.  Probiotics: Cultured dairy foods, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, chutney, sourdough bread and kombuchu tea.
Also, keep yourself well hydrated, sip lots of water throughout the day, squeeze in some fresh lemon too for added vitamin C, giving you an antioxidant boost for a stronger anti-inflammatory punch!

References: Franz, M. (2014). Nutrition, inflammation, and disease. Today’s Dietitian, 16 (2), 44-56.
Galland, L. (2010). Diet and inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 25(6), 634-640.
Rakel, D. & Rindfleisch, A. (2005). Inflammation: Nutritional, Botanical, and Mind-Body Influences. Southern Medical Journal, 98 (3), 302-310.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Gut Power, You've GOT IT- To Get or Keep Your Gut Lean! By Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD, Certified Health & Wellness Coach

Gut Power! #HealthyGut #LeanGut Just by choosing certain foods, you can make an impact on the health of your gut and in turn help reduce body fat.  A healthy microflora promotes a lean body!  Everybody has a microbiome, made up of 100 trillion bacteria (microorganisms), which equate to about three pounds worth, lining the intestinal tract.  The way our microbiomes respond to what we eat can vary.  A poor mix of microbes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has been linked to obesity, possibly promoting weight gain. 

        Carbohydrates, for example have gotten a “bad rep” as being unhealthy and fat promoting, but in actuality having some high fiber carbs are beneficial for improving our gut health.  Include some
starchy vegetables in your day as your high fiber carb, such as a baked yam, ½ cup winter squash, sugar snap peas, quinoa, or an artichoke, to have a positive effect on the amount of probiotics (friendly bacteria) in your GI tract (gut).  
        Actually eating too little carbs, can decrease the amount of beneficial bacteria, such as the important health promoting Bifidobacteria.  Aim to eat veggies and fruit twice per day (veggies with lunch, dinner and fruit at your snacks) to increase your fiber and antioxidant intake, helping strengthen the GI tract and nourish overall digestive health.  Add those light green, dark green and yellow colored vegetables, e.g., zucchini, chard, kale, yellow summer squash.  
        In addition to eating organic high fiber carbohydrates, fermented foods also help improve the overall beneficial microflora balance.  Add yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, chutney, sourdough bread and kombuchu tea into your week.
        Eating predominately vegetarian, plant-based protein foods, including beans, shelled hemp seeds, nuts and seeds, rather than mostly animal products, has been associated with reducing the particular microbes that are correlated with obesity. 

      Also eat the food that nourishes the natural growth of probiotics, called prebiotics, which is an excellent source of soluble fiber, found in foods including bananas, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, honey, leeks and onions.  Food products with prebiotics most often contain inulin (a natural source of soluble dietary fiber extracted from chicory root) that is added in yogurt, kefir, & multigrain crackers.
        Lastly, eat a variety of foods and MOVE to promote a more diverse microbiome, which contributes to leanness!  Choose a rainbow of organic, whole food based colors when you’re at the grocery store and dining out.  Change up your fruit and vegetable choices on a weekly basis and schedule that exercise time in your day, for a healthful diverse microbiome environment!