When we think of nutrient-dense foods, brightly colored fruits and vegetables come to mind. Just because a vegetable is white, however, doesn’t mean it’s devoid of nutritional value—and cauliflower is no exception! Check out below the many benefits you could be reaping from this cruciferous vegetable.
Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Antioxidants and Vitamins
Cauliflower is packed with antioxidant-providing vitamins and minerals. This cruciferous vegetable is particularly high in vitamins C and K, as well as folate and magnesium. It also contains antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin and more.
Vitamin K, one phytonutrient found in cauliflower, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. A study from Tufts University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that high intake of vitamin K decreased levels of 14 inflammatory markers. Cauliflower also contains phytonutrients known as glucosinolates, which can be converted into anti-inflammatory compounds.
Those same glucosinolates that help cauliflower battle inflammation can also help protect against cancer by inhibiting carcinogens’ ability to damage DNA or by altering hormone activity that can lead to the development of some cancers. Cauliflowers’ antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detox properties also make it useful in cancer prevention, especially for bladder, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers.
Cauliflower is often seen as a main ingredient in many detox recipes and detox diets. Glucosinolates in cauliflower can help the body’s natural detoxification processes by activating detox enzymes and helping the body cleanse itself of carcinogens. Additionally, cauliflower contains significant levels of fiber, which can help remove solid waste from the body and keep the flow of toxins moving through and out of the gastrointestinal tract.
Cauliflower contains high amounts of fiber—nearly eight grams for every 100 calories. Fiber helps move food easily and quickly through the digestive track. Cauliflower also contains a compound called sulforaphane (derived from glucosinolates) that protects the lining of your stomach by preventing growth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers.
Healthy Cauliflower Recipes
Add more cauliflower to your life with these recipes!
• Lemony Leek and Cauliflower Soup
• Roasted Cauliflower Capellini
• Cauliflower Curry
• Cauliflower Casserole
• Mashed Cauliflower
For more nutrient-dense white foods, check out the article White Foods for Your Health.
Images (top to bottom): Photo By alex/Fotolia; Photo By Printemps/Fotolia
Spring is officially here. In addition to the birds, flowers and sweet-smelling air, spring is also the season for allergies. If you suffer from a wide array of seasonal allergy symptoms such as fatigue; sinus congestion; itchy eyes, nose or throat; or watery eyes, don’t let a high pollen count get you down this season. Here are 10 natural remedies for allergies from my book Allergy-Proof: Over 60 All-Natural, Drug-Free Ways to Beat Allergies.
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1. Build Your Defenses with Bacteria
Research by scientists at the Osaka University School of Medicine found that certain probiotics were effective in the treatment of nasal and sinus symptoms linked to allergies. According to their study, published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, the specific strains that are effective include: Lactobacilli casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, L. acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium longum. Supplement your diet with a high-quality probiotic taken on an empty stomach.
2. Drink More Alkaline Water
Drink at least 8 to 10 cups of pure alkaline water daily to support the natural cleansing systems in your body. Research even shows that staying well hydrated helps 38 percent of women relieve allergy symptoms. Most tap or bottled water is acidic. Acidity has been linked to allergies (The Ultimate pH Solution). By switching to alkaline water, you’re helping to further reduce allergies. Read my post The Healing Power of Alkaline Water to learn more.
3. Supplement with Sea Buckthorn
If spring pollens aggravate asthmatic symptoms, you might want to supplement with sea buckthorn. Sea buckthorn has been used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for lung conditions and asthma. Its use for asthma and chronic coughing are recorded in the Tibetan and Mongolian Pharmacopoeia. Learn more about sea buckthorn on my website.
4. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is packed with a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that blocks histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE). Both of these naturally-produced chemicals are linked with uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Because EGCG blocks their production, allergy symptoms are reduced. If you don’t like the taste of green tea, add matcha powder, which is simply powdered green tea, to your dairy-free fruit smoothies. (Dairy products are mucus-forming and can aggravate allergies). Drink two to three cups of green tea daily for the best results.
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5. Take Quercetin to Quell Allergy Symptoms
Quercetin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine phytonutrient. Quercetin has an excellent ability to reduce allergy symptoms and to improve lung function. Apples and onions are excellent sources of quercetin. Some studies show that people who eat a lot of apples have improved lung function and reduced risk of lung conditions. Other good sources include: berries, cabbage, cauliflower, nuts, and black, green or white tea.
6. Choose Nettles for Allergies
Native Americans used stinging nettles for thousands of years to treat many health conditions, including allergies. Now, science has proven what these wise people knew from experience: that nettles are an effective allergy treatment. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which cause heart problems or drowsiness, nettles do neither. Nettles are conveniently available in the dried form for making tea, liquid tinctures to take as drops, or in capsule form.
7. Pick Pineapple Enzyme for Allergy Relief
Extracted from pineapple, when taken on an empty stomach, the enzyme bromelain treats sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory disorders; acts as an anti-inflammatory; and reduces lung swelling. I usually suggest one or two capsules containing 5000 mcu each on an empty stomach, three times daily.
8. Select Homeopathic Allium Cepa
If you have allergy symptoms that are worse indoors, at night or in warm rooms, along with red and burning eyes and a clear, burning nasal discharge, the homeopathic remedy Allium Cepa may be best for you. Start with a 6X or 30X remedy if you can find it. Let three pellets dissolve under the tongue every 15 minutes for the first hour or two. Then take three pellets, three times daily.
9. Flush Your Nasal Passages
Using a neti pot, which is a small ceramic dish shaped a bit like a gravy boat, you can flush your sinuses with a salt-water solution. Most health food stores sell neti pots and saline packets ready to mix with water. You can either follow the package directions or you can purchase sea salt and mix it with pure warm water. Start with one-quarter teaspoon of sea salt to one cup of water. Simply lean over a sink and tilt your head to the side to pour the water into one nostril and allow it to run out the other nostril. It may take some practice but it is an excellent way to cleanse and eliminate mucous and microbes. Over time, you can increase to one-half a teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water and cool down the temperature of water you use.
10. Eliminate Sugar
Sugar is highly acid- and mucus-forming, helping to aggravate allergies. I put my clients on a minimum 30-day low sugar diet (and no that doesn’t mean adding artificial sweeteners), and most of them see dramatic improvements in their environmental allergies even if they do nothing else.
Adapted with permission from Allergy-Proof: Over 60 All-Natural, Drug-Free Ways to Beat Allergies from Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, ROHP, is an international best-selling and fourteen-time author and publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on her site HealthySurvivalist.com, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.
Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that occurs when the skin rapidly produces new cells at ten times the normal rate. Because the skin cells still slough off at their normal rate, this creates a buildup of cells, leading to patches of dry, itchy and occasionally swollen skin with thick silvery or whitish scales. The cause of psoriasis is unknown, although scientists think that it’s a genetic disorder (as cases of psoriasis often run in families) and possibly connected to immune system. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that runs in cycles with periods of remission.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, it can be treated at home with natural remedies and improved through lifestyle changes.
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Home Remedies for Psoriasis
Diet: Poor diet and food allergies can worsen psoriasis. Poor digestion can create toxins that contribute to skin proliferation. As with many skin conditions, focusing on natural elimination of toxins through the digestive track, instead of through the skin, can significantly help. For a healthy, toxin-eliminating diet, focus on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains. For protein, choose easier-to-digest vegetarian sources or lean cuts for meat eaters. Cold-water fish is an excellent protein source as it also provides essential fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and low levels of which have been associated with psoriasis. Avoid foods that promote inflammation or are hard to digest, such as red meat, dairy, fatty or fried foods, alcohol and foods high in refined sugar. Food allergies can also trigger episodes of psoriasis.
Sunlight exposure: Light therapy is a helpful treatment for psoriasis. While many doctors offer UVA and UVB treatments at their office, you can also obtain ultraviolet rays from controlled sun exposure. The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends starting small with just five to 10 minutes of sun exposure daily, preferably around noon, then adding 30 seconds each day to find the right amount of exposure for your skin. Be sure to fully expose any patches of psoriasis and wear sunscreen over any patches of skin not afflicted to protect them from sun damage.
Hydration: For those with psoriasis, it’s important to keep the skin moisturized. Showering, soaking in a tub, swimming and other water-immersing activities can hydrate skin and help remove patches of scales, if done correctly. For an easy treatment, soak in a lukewarm or tepid bath (not hot; hot water can strip skin and leave it itchy), pat skin dry and immediately apply a thick emollient or body oil to help lock in moisture. Salves can also be beneficial, especially if they contain skin-soothing herbs such as calendula. Soap can dry out and irritate skin; instead, consider a gentle cleanser designed for dry skin.
Supplements and Herbs for Psoriasis
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for treating psoriasis. Take a standardized dose daily.
Milk thistle helps the liver remove toxins from the body, aiding in the body’s natural detox process. Take 250 mg three times daily.
Aloe vera can be taken internally or applied topically to treat psoriasis. Drink a quarter cup of aloe vera juice or apply pure aloe gel, taken from the leaves of the plant, to affected skin to benefit from this plant’s cooling, anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory effects that make it beneficial for treating psoriasis, and some studies have even shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can alter gene expression, including a particular type that can minimize psoriasis flares. Turmeric also enhances detoxification. Take 1 gram of dried turmeric in capsule form daily, or add liberal amounts of turmeric to your cooking.
Discover more home remedies for psoriasis.
Although inflammation is a natural reaction and helps with the body’s healing process, chronic inflammation can be damaging and even play a major role in the development of many diseases: arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, various cancers and more. Tackling chronic inflammation may require major lifestyle changes—managing stress, exercising more, eating right. While a proper diet can be crucial to managing inflammation, don’t discount the benefits of other kitchen ingredients. Many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in tackling chronic inflammation—many of them inexpensive as well. Try supplementing your diet with these seven anti-inflammatory herbs for a start.
Green tea and ginger both have anti-inflammatory properties. Photo By Brebca/Fotolia
7 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs
Turmeric: Curcumin, the active in ingredient in turmeric and the substance responsible for its yellow color, has strong anti-inflammatory properties. A clinical trial in the Journal of Neurochemistry found that treating patients with turmeric led to a 30 percent reduction in Alzheimer’s-associated brain plaque. A recent Italian study also found that taking turmeric led to a 58 percent reduction in pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, and a 63 percent reduction in reliance on standard painkillers. Take 400 to 600 mg of standardized powder three times daily; or use liberally in cooking.
Devil’s claw: Widely used for joint pain and inflammation in Europe and the United States, devil’s claw has been shown to reduce osteoarthritis pain and even be as effective as certain prescription painkillers. One small study also showed that devil’s claw may be useful in treating mild-to-moderate lower back, neck and shoulder pain. Take 600 to 1,200 mg of a standardized dose three times daily.
Boswellia: Boswellic acids in this Ayurvedic herb, sometimes called Indian frankincense, bind to enzymes that cause inflammation. Studies have shown boswellia to be useful in treating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease. (For a more in-depth look at how boswellia treats arthritis, check out the article Soothe Aching Joints with Frankincense.)
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Cayenne: Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, has been shown to inhibit certain substances associated with the inflammatory process, helping to reduce pain and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis and diabetic neuropathy. Studies have also shown this anti-inflammatory herb to be beneficial for heart health and immunity. Use a capsaicin cream as directed for affected areas (never on broken skin), or take 30 to 120 mg in capsule form three times daily.
Garlic: Compounds in garlic inhibit inflammatory messenger molecules, which has shown to be particularly effective in helping to promote heart health. In addition, garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties can benefit our respiratory system (in the case of inflammation in airways), help with arthritis, and maybe even inhibit some changes in fat cells that are critical to the development of obesity. Use garlic liberally in cooking. You can also eat the cloves raw and whole. Cutting or crushing the garlic before consumption amplifies its health benefits.
Ginger: Anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger called gingerol suppress pro-inflammatory compounds. Ginger is particularly effective at treating arthritis; a study published in Osteoarthritis Cartilage found that long-term use of ginger led to less pain, swelling and inflammation in arthritic patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that ginger may help prevent heart disease, another inflammatory condition, by helping lower cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Take 250 mg of ginger extract four times daily.
Green tea: Polyphenols in green tea act have anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that green tea can reduce inflammation and help with conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach cancer and more. Drink at least two cups a day.
Winter means it’s time for root vegetables. Suitable for being grown in cold weather and stored for months at a time, root vegetables are a staple winter food. High in fiber and low in calories, they’re also a nutritious choice. Sweet potatoes are a common root vegetable, and like other roots, they’re chock full of beneficial compounds.
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3 Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene—the antioxidant responsible for the hue of the orange varieties—found in nature. Several African studies have found sweet potatoes to have 100 to 1,600 micrograms of vitamin A for every 3.5 ounces and to be an excellent way for school-aged children in Caribbean and African countries to get enough vitamin A in their diet. But beta-carotene isn’t the only antioxidant in rich supply in sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes contain high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin. And unlike other foods, which contain the highest concentrations of and nutrients in their skin, purple sweet potatoes have ample amounts of anythocynins in their flesh. Sweet potatoes also have high levels of vitamin C and sporamins, which are “storage proteins” that help the vegetable to heal itself if physically damaged.
Blood Sugar Benefits
Unlike other starchy root vegetables, sweet potatoes can actually have a positive effect on blood sugar levels—even for those with type 2 diabetes. Eating sweet potatoes can raise levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate insulin metabolism, and low levels of which are often seen in people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, sweet potatoes contain a moderate amount of fiber (about 3 grams) and have a low glycemic index rating.
Studies have shown that eating sweet potatoes decreases formation of substances that can lead to inflammation, thanks to anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants that can offset inflammation triggers. In animal studies, animals that consumed sweet potato had less inflammation in their brain and nerve tissue. One important component of sweet potatoes’ ability to fight off inflammation is beta-cryptoxanthin, which helps prevent the formation of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
How to Eat Sweet Potatoes
Although most people will think of the orange variety, sweet potatoes come in a variety of shades ranging from white and cream to yellow, pink and purple. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways. For inspiration, check out these recipes:
• Sweet Potato Colcannon
• Caramel Sweet Potatoes
• Southern Sweet Potatoes
• Savory Vegetable Stew with Lentils, Sweet Potatoes and Kale
• Sherried Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Sage
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch Topping
• Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree
To derive the maximum health benefits from your sweet potatoes, be sure to eat them with fat-containing foods, as fat helps the body absorb more beta-carotene from the sweet potatoes.
Some of us tend to celebrate the season overzealously, and any time you overindulge there is a consequence. So if you’re not looking forward to that post-New Year’s Eve hangover, you’ll be pleased to know there is a sweet, simple, quick hangover cure tucked away in your cupboard—honey. Honey is acclaimed by scientists for its ability to aid the body in quickly breaking down all the alcohol you consumed (and are most likely regretting when your head is pounding the following morning).
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So what is a hangover anyway?
A hangover is your body's reaction to toxicity. When alcohol breaks down in your liver it produces acetaldehyde. This byproduct of alcohol metabolism is more toxic than alcohol itself. Fortunately, its effects on the body are short lived—that is if you only have a few drinks every now and then. Excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time produces enough acetaldehyde to cause serious liver damage, so drink wisely. Women tend to have longer-lasting hangovers than men as they produce less of the enzyme that breaks down the alcohol. (So ladies, don’t try to match your man drink for drink. He’ll be eating lunch while you're still hiding in the bathroom.)
Other contributors to the dreaded hangover include lack of deep sleep caused by glutamine rebound. Because it’s a depressant, alcohol inhibits the natural stimulant glutamine, causing the body to increase production of glutamine and causing the brain to remain active even after you have already passed out—hence the fatigue you feel the following day. As for the vomiting, that’s your body's way of telling you that your stomach is producing too much hydrochloric acid and it’s time to rid the body of some of that alcohol gunking up the works.
How can honey help my hangover?
Because of its antioxidant properties, honey neutralizes the toxins created by consuming alcohol. Dr. John Emsley, UK Popular Science writer and chemistry academic, claims the natural fructose in honey helps the body rapidly metabolize alcohol. According to Dr. Emsley, “the fructose in honey is an essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.” The body uses the fructose found in honey to convert the acetaldehyde made during alcohol metabolism into acetic acid, a substance that is “burned up naturally by the body.”
According to a statement made to Reuters Health by the headache expert Dr. Merle Diamond, president and managing director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, eating honey could help you avoid the hangover headache altogether: “Honey on a cracker or piece of toast, before or after drinking, may prevent a hangover. Honey, as opposed to some other sugar stores, has fructose, which competes for the metabolism of alcohol. This competition prevents the rapid change in alcohol levels that causes the 'bang' headache in the morning. Tomato juice, another good source of fructose, also helps to burn alcohol faster, but honey works best.”
Basically honey provides a buffer by giving the body a little sugar to metabolize and preventing the sudden change in blood sugar levels, as well as increasing the alcohol metabolism processes in the body.
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How to use honey for a hangover
You’ve finished off that last bottle of champagne and brought in the New Year with a bang. Before you turn in, stir a couple of spoonfuls of honey into a glass of hot water and drink it down. In the morning, spread some honey on a piece of toast. Toast can provide you with little potassium and sodium, both of which aid in the task of digesting all that alcohol. Remember, according to Dr. Emsley, that hair of the dog cure only works if you drink so much alcohol regularly that you suffer from withdrawals. So don’t make things worse. Have a glass of water with some honey instead.
Kate Hunter enjoys organic gardening, whole food cooking, crafting, making natural products, and following up on politics and the latest health food news. After changing her major from art to biology to English, she finally obtained a B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from Southern Oregon University and has been writing about nutrition, healthy living, cooking, and gardening for over nine years. Kate is a published author both online and in print and has owned, operated, and published a literary journal. She is a mother of three, speaks sarcasm, some Spanish, but mostly English and spends her time baking, taking pictures, canning, growing and drying herbs, reading, selling natural products and homemade crafts in her Etsy store HomemadeByKate, and checking food labels of course.
Headaches are one of the most common ailments. No matter your age, gender or health status, you’re likely to be plagued with these occasionally. Headaches generally fall into three categories: cluster, tension and migraine. Knowing which type of headache plagues you will help you find a treatment.
• Cluster headaches generally affect one side of the head and can cause intense pain for a few days before disappearing and reappearing later.
• Tension headaches are often described as creating a “tight band” of pain around the head. Tension headaches are often accompanied by pressure or a feeling of throbbing in the head or neck. The pain can be mild to moderate, changing with intensity during the day.
• Migraine headaches cause severe pain, usually one just one side of the head. Migraine headaches are characterized by impaired vision, sensitivity to light and nausea.
If you’re used to popping an aspirin every time a headache springs up, consider the dangers of taking over-the-counter painkillers—and consider one of these natural approaches instead.
Natural Home Remedies for Headaches
Magnesium can be relaxing to the nervous system and can help relieve migraine headaches and prevent tension headaches. While you can take 200 mg of magnesium two to three times daily, magnesium is best absorbed through the skin, so consider taking an Epsom salt bath for headaches that won’t go away.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that our bodies create and then turn into serotonin. Many headache drugs work by affecting serotonin, and preliminary research shows that taking 5-HTP might help prevent migraine and tension headaches. Serotonin affects circulation in the brain and can help increase levels of endorphins—natural painkillers—in the body. Take 50 to 100 mg three times daily. 5-HTP should not be combined with antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
Capsaicin, an active compound in cayenne peppers, can help relieve pain by interfering with the transmission of pain signals between the brain and the body. Try rubbing a bit of capsaicin cream on the inside of your nostrils to relieve pain from migraine headaches.
Cut out processed foods. Food additives MSG (monosodium gluatamate), nitrates (found in processed meats) and artificial sweetener Aspartame have all been linked to headaches. To reduce your chances of getting a headache, stick with whole foods. For more on dangerous food additives, check out the article “5 Most Toxic Food Additives to Avoid.”
Keep a headache diary. It’s easier to find a cure for your headache if you can track when and where they occur, as well as what kind. When you feel a headache coming on, make a note of the day and time, as well as what you’ve had to eat within the past 24 hours, how long (and well) you slept the night before, and other details such as any unusual stress or circumstances in your life. Once the headache has passed, record how long it lasted, where the pain occurred and what techniques you used to make it stop.
Acupuncture or acupressure can help with pain relief from all three types of headaches. Acupuncture involves inserting very tiny needles at strategic points on the body to relieve pain. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but does not use needles. To find an acupuncturist near you, visit the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. Massage can also relieve pain from tension headaches.
Practice good posture. Poor posture can trigger all three types of headaches, but sitting up straight can help keep strain off your muscles and prevent them from tensing up.
For more natural solutions, check out the post “Natural Headache and Migraine Relief.”
Images: Photo By Yuri Arcurs/Courtesy Fotolia