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Archive for Fruits and vegetables

June

Overview:
Awareness: Dairy, Headache, Women’s Healthcare
Flower: Rose
Gemstone: Pearl
Trees: Ash, Hornbeam, Fig, Birch, Apple

Flag Day:
In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. It was declared that the flag shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field. Thus, in honor of Old Glory, I will use this day to talk about red, white, and blue foods.

Many red fruits and veggies are loaded with powerful, healthy antioxidants such as lycopene, anthocyanin, vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. These antioxidants soak up damaging free radicals. Thus, red foods may aid in fighting heart disease and prostate cancer. They may decrease the risk for stroke and macular degeneration.

  • Strawberries: They are in season May and June. They are a good source of folate, which helps heart health and is helpful for women in their childbearing years. Folic acid is known to decrease the risk of certain birth defects called neural tube defects. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which boosts immune system function among other things.
  • Cherries: They are in season in June and July. They are high in fiber because of their skin. They are also rich in vitamin C as well as potassium, which can help maintain lower blood pressure. They also relieve insomnia due to containing the hormone, melatonin. They also facilitate weight loss, lowers hypertension, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote healthy hair, maintains a pH balance, and promote energy. They also contain anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cranberries: They are in season from September to December. They have been shown to cause the death of cancer cells in lab studies. They can stop bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls and may even prevent H pylori, the bacteria responsible for many stomach ulcers, from sticking to the stomach walls and causing ulcers. The nutrients responsible for this anti-sticking mechanism are called proanthocyanidins. They are also rich in vitamin C.
  • Tomatoes: They are in season during the summer. They are a good source of lycopene, which is strongly connected with prostate cancer protection. There is also some evidence that lycopene may protect against breast cancer. They are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C, which makes them heart-healthy.
  • Raspberries: They are in season from August through mid-October. They are high in fiber, which helps lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol.
  • Watermelon: They are in season May through September. They are a great source of lycopene. Lycopene may decrease the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol. And it decreases the risk for certain cancers, primarily prostate, as well as the risk of macular degeneration. It also improves blood vessel function and lowers stroke risk.
  • Pink Grapefruit: They are in season October and May. The pink grapefruit has higher levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C. It’s also a good source of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. If the choice is between red and white grapefruit, go red because pink or red grapefruit is rich in lycopene and white grapefruit is not. Just be sure to check with your doctor if you’re on medication as grapefruit juice does interfere with some drugs.
  • Red Bell Pepper: They are a phenomenal source of vitamin A, which helps with skin, bones, and teeth. They are a decent source of iron. They also have as much vitamin C as an orange; which aids in the absorbing of the iron. They are a great source of vitamin B6 and folate. They help support healthy night vision. One can burn more calories by adding red peppers to their diet.
  • Beets: They are in season from June through October. They are rich in folate, lycopene, and anthocyanin. They help keep blood pressure in check. They can improve athletic performance. They may help fight inflammation, improve digestive health, help support brain health, have anti-cancer properties, and help one lose weight.
  • Red Apples: They have quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, flu, and allergies. They may be good for weight loss, be good for the heart, and help prevent cancer. They’re linked to a lower risk of diabetes. They may have prebiotic effects and promote good gut bacteria. They contain compounds that can help fight asthma.

Blue purple represents the anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that protects the blood vessels from breakage and prevents the destruction of collagen, a protein needed for healthy, radiant skin. These foods are also good for memory boosting as well. Aside from fruit, one can also find nutrients in vegetables of the color blue purple, such as radicchio, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots, which are rich in vitamin A and flavonoids.

Resveratrol is an antioxidant with anti-aging and disease-preventing properties. Also, good for heart health as it helps in reducing inflammation in the body along with bad cholesterol. Several studies have concluded that this antioxidant also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s. The resveratrol found in blue and purple foods such as eggplants can terminate cancer cells. Many studies suggest that wines like pinot noir have the highest amount of resveratrol and can be consumed to remain healthy. These should be savored in moderation to keep one’s weight in check.

The antioxidants found in blue-purple foods prevent oxidation and boost the immunity and activity of other antioxidants that are naturally present in the body. Other than this, blue-purple foods like black rice are also known to be good for the liver as they are helpful in reducing damage to the liver done by alcohol. Pairing them up with red foods like tomatoes and capsicum will provide you with wholesome nutrition.

  • Water-Considered a blue food, water regulates body temperature and provides the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. It also transports oxygen to cells, removes waste, and protects joints and organs.
  • Blueberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with essential micronutrients, such as manganese and vitamins C and K. They are also high in anthocyanin which are potent antioxidants that help defend your cells against harm from unstable molecules called free radicals. The antioxidants provided in about 2 cups (300 grams) of blueberries may immediately protect one’s DNA against free radical damage. Additionally, research indicates that diets high in anthocyanin may help prevent chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.
  • Blackberries-A single cup (144 grams) of blackberries packs nearly 8 grams of fiber, 40% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for manganese, and 34% of the DV for vitamin C. The same serving also provides 24% of the DV for vitamin K (necessary for blood clotting and plays an important role in bone health), making them one of the richest fruit sources of this essential nutrient. Scientists believe that a lack of vitamin K may contribute to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and fragile.
  • Elderberries-This blue-purple fruit may help defend against the cold and flu by boosting the immune system. It’s also been shown to help people recover from these illnesses faster. In one study, taking 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of concentrated elderberry syrup daily helped people with the flu recover an average of 4 days quicker than those who did not take the supplement. Just 1 cup (145 grams) of elderberries provides 58% vitamins C and 20% B6, two nutrients known to promote a healthy immune system. Raw elderberries may cause an upset stomach, particularly if eaten unripe.
  • Concord grapes-They can be eaten fresh or used to make wine, juices, and jams. They’re packed with beneficial plant compounds that function as antioxidants. In fact, Concord grapes are higher in these compounds than purple, green, or red grapes. Some studies show that Concord grapes and their juice may boost your immune system. One study which had people drink 1.5 cups (360 ml) of Concord grape juice daily observed increases in beneficial immune cell counts and blood antioxidant levels, compared with a placebo group. Several other studies suggest that drinking Concord grape juice daily may boost memory, mood, and brain health. Concord grapes may boost immunity, mood, and brain health.
  • Black Currants-They can be eaten fresh, dried, or in jams and juices. You may also find them in dietary supplements. A single cup (112 grams) of fresh blackcurrant supplies more than two times the DV of vitamin C. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect against cellular damage and chronic disease. In fact, some population studies note that diets rich in this nutrient may offer significant protection against heart disease. Additionally, vitamin C plays a key role in wound healing, the immune system, and the maintenance of skin, bones, and teeth.
  • Damson Plums are often processed into jams and jellies. They can also be dried to make prunes.
  • Prunes are a popular choice for digestive problems, including constipation, which is an ailment that affects an estimated 14% of the global population. They’re high in fiber, with 1/2 cup (82 grams) packing an impressive 6 grams of this nutrient. They also contain certain plant compounds and a type of sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which may help loosen the stools and promote more frequent bowel movements as well.

A number of white brown foods, such as white onions, garlic, and leeks, serve up nutrients in vegetables. White represents allicin, a sulfur-containing compound that protects against atherosclerosis and heart disease, lowers cholesterol and increases HDL, and has an antibacterial effective against Candida Albicans and bacteria. They are high in potassium, fiber, beta-glucans, lignans, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These nutrients are good for heart health, cancer prevention, immunity boosts, digestive tract health, and metabolism. Some healthy vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips, which include vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber. Nuts and seeds include cashews, sesame seeds, and pine nuts. Meats include white fish and poultry. Dairy items include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Some other foods include egg whites and coconut. Potassium is used to control the electrical activity of the heart and muscles and promotes heart health. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive tract. Nutrients like beta-glucans, lignans, and ECGC activate the natural B and T cells killer which reduces the risk of colon and prostate cancer. They are packed with the flavonoid quercetin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular health benefits.

  • Garlic and Onions-They contain the phytochemical, allium, which is known to help reduce the risk of stomach, colon, and rectal cancer.
  • White Beans-They are full of fiber, which is known to lower blood cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of protein and keeps one full for a longer time, thereby preventing snacking.
  • Potatoes-Many believe that if we eat potatoes, we may put on weight, due to the starch content. But this is not true. Instead, the potato can help lower blood pressure and is packed with potassium. There are several types of potatoes that don’t seem to affect one’s blood sugar.
  • Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and are low in sodium. They also provide us with important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D.
  • Cauliflower-It contains antioxidants and is also beneficial for pregnant women, as it is rich in folate and also vitamins like A and B, which helps in the growth of cells. It is also a good source of vitamin C which again is beneficial during pregnancy. It also contains calcium which helps to make bones and teeth stronger and prevents osteoporosis.

The No White Foods Diet is an eating pattern founded upon the notion that eliminating processed white-colored foods from one’s diet can help one lose weight and improve one’s blood sugar control. Proponents assert that most white foods are unhealthy, as many have been heavily processed, are high in carbs, and contain fewer nutrients than their more colorful counterparts. Thus, by removing the white foods one is said to set themselves up for a more nutritious diet that promotes weight loss, restores blood sugar balance, and aids in destroying Candida. Notably, some versions of the No White Foods Diet make exceptions for certain white foods, such as fish, eggs, and poultry, but others do not. Therefore, it’s important to take a critical look at which foods one’s eliminating and why, as some of them may actually help one reach their goals.

  • White bread-One of the primary foods eliminated is white bread, as well as closely related foods made from white flour, including crackers, pastries, and breakfast cereals. When bread flour is refined, the germ and bran of the grain are removed, along with most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals housed within them, during the milling process. This results in a product that’s rich in carbs but lacking in other important nutrients like fiber and protein. Research suggests that a higher intake of white bread is associated with weight gain, which may be partially due to its reduced nutritional value. Try swapping them for whole-grain versions instead.
  • White Pasta-It is similar to white bread in that it’s made from refined flour that contains fewer total nutrients than the unrefined version. Interestingly, white pasta has not been shown to increase weight in the same way white bread does-provided it’s eaten it alongside a diet comprising other nutritious foods. However, the serving sizes of pasta in Western diets tend to be very large. If one is not mindful of your portion size, it can be easy to eat too much at once, which may contribute to excess calorie intake and subsequent weight gain. Choose a whole grain pasta or try those made from legumes for even more fiber and protein.
  • White rice-It starts out as a whole grain, but the bran and germ are removed during the milling process, which transforms it into the starchy, fluffy white rice you’re probably quite familiar with. White rice is not an inherently bad or unhealthy food, but it doesn’t contain much in the way of nutrition apart from calories and carbs. The absence of fiber and protein also makes it very easy to over-consume white rice, which may contribute to weight gain or blood sugar imbalances. Whole grains like brown rice also boast more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice.
  • White Sugar-It’s unsurprising that the No White Foods Diet eliminates white sugar. Still, most versions of the diet also prohibit more colorful forms of sugar, including brown sugar, honey, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, and agave nectar. These types are often collectively referred to as added sugars. Aside from calories, they offer very little in terms of nutrition. Because they’re primarily made up of simple carbs, added sugars require very little digestion. They’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can contribute to rapid blood sugar fluctuations. Added sugars pack a lot of calories, even when portion sizes are kept relatively small, so it’s easy to accidentally over-consume them. They have also been linked to negative health outcomes, such as unwanted weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For a more nutritious option, choose whole food sources containing naturally occurring sugar like fruit instead.
  • Salt-Most are familiar with table salt as a white food, but it also comes in other colors, such as pink, blue, and black. While some salt is essential for health, many people following Western diets eat entirely too much of it, with the majority coming from ultra-processed foods. Excess salt intake is associated with a variety of negative health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and kidney disease. Using more nutrient-rich herbs and spices to flavor your foods is a great way to cut down on salt without compromising flavor.
  • White Potatoes-White potatoes are not inherently unhealthy. Still, they have earned a reputation for being unhealthy, largely because of the ways in which they’re often prepared. When white potatoes are prepared in less nutritious ways, such as frying or serving them with salty, high-calorie toppings like gravy, they’re more likely to contribute to weight gain and other negative health outcomes. Furthermore, many modern dietary patterns rely on these types of white potato preparations as a vegetable staple while excluding other types of vegetables. Thus, if one routinely consumes white potatoes as their main vegetable, trading them out for different types of colorful vegetables can help one add a more diverse array of nutrients to their diet.
  • Animal-based fats-Most versions of the No White Foods Diet consider animal-based fats to be white foods and recommend that they’re limited. White animal-based fats primarily refer to fats that come from meat and dairy products, most of which are saturated fats. As with many of the other white foods, saturated fats aren’t inherently unhealthy. However, a high intake of them may contribute to increased cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease in some people. The No White Foods Diet recommends sticking with very lean meats and only fat-free dairy products if they’re included at all.

There is more to a healthy diet than just red, blue, and white foods. It is recommended one chooses foods of every color in the rainbow. The deeper, the darker, and the richer the color, the better. Aim for eating nine a day, and have one from every color group. Remember that it’s always better to eat whole foods than take supplements of specific nutrients. Eat the nutrients, don’t just rely on taking them in a pill form. It’s the combination of everything in these foods, not just one miracle nutrient.

Orange foods include butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches. These fruits and vegetables are loaded with the antioxidant vitamin C, like citrus fruits, and some, such as carrots, with vitamin A (beta-carotene) for improved eyesight. They also contain potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6 for general health support.

Bananas are usually the first yellow food that comes to mind, and with plentiful fiber for good digestion, potassium for preventing cramps, and vitamin B6 for a variety of health benefits, they pack a big punch. Healthy vegetables in yellow include spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers. The nutrients in vegetables such as these include manganese, potassium, vitamin A, fiber, and magnesium.

Virtually all greens are healthy vegetables and worth adding to one’s daily diet. Focus on spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. Lutein helps with eyesight. Folate helps in cell reproduction and prevents neural tube defects in infants.

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere): I am using this day to discuss herbal first aides, as we spend more time outdoors. Electrolytes are minerals found in your blood that help regulate and control the balance of fluids in the body. These minerals play a role in regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction, and keep your system functioning properly. The big three electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The right number of electrolytes in your body is needed for optimal health and physical performance. If you lose a significant amount of these minerals (either by intense exercise, sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea), you’re going to experience dehydration and feel pretty lousy. You might also experience muscle cramping and spasms.

Most of us have felt the effects of being dehydrated at one point or another-dry lips and tongue, headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, cramps. The main sign of dehydration is thirst. How many electrolytes one loses during exercise depends on weight, fitness level, intensity, duration of the activity, humidity, and how much one sweats. The primary electrolyte we lose through sweat is sodium.

The most common way to replace these lost minerals is through electrolyte drinks. Not all electrolyte drinks are created equal though, so it is recommended reading the label first. If you’re working out for an hour or less, plain water will do. But if you’re exercising upwards of 75 minutes or more, then an electrolyte drink is a good idea during or after the workout. A typical 8-ounce electrolyte drink has approximately 14 grams of sugar, 100 milligrams sodium, and 30 milligrams potassium. There are even specialty electrolyte drinks for endurance and ultra-endurance athletes with greater potassium and sodium, plus additional minerals like magnesium and calcium. If you’re a naturally heavy sweater or looking to replenish hydration after you’ve been sick, focus on choosing zero or low-calorie options. Coconut water is a good option if you’re looking for a more natural electrolyte drink, just be aware some brands add sugar.

Some simple insect-repelling ideas are: Rub vanilla extract on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version. Plant insect-repelling herbs in the yard and in pots on the patio. These include lavender, thyme, mint, and citronella. One can use these fresh plants as bug repellent in a pinch. Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on the skin, especially on hot parts of the body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc.) to repel insects. Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over the skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc. or citronella, lemongrass, etc.). Basil also helps repel mosquitoes.

There are many herbs that can be used in first aid. Some of these include:

  • Aloe Vera gel: Cooling and healing, Aloe Vera soothes the inflammation of sunburn and common kitchen scalds and burns. It is also helpful in healing blisters.
  • Arnica: Arnica (Arnica Montana) flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties; the gel or cream is excellent for sore muscles, sprains, strains, and bruises or any type of trauma. It’s been found that it greatly reduces healing time or bruises and sore muscles when used topically right after an injury. Not for internal use or use on open cuts and broken skin.
  • Calendula: The bright yellow-orange blossoms of calendula (Calendula officinalis) have astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties.
  • Comfrey: Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) contains allantoin, a compound that stimulates the growth of new tissue and helps heal wounds. It is an external herb that promotes broken bones. A poultice made with plantain and comfrey that is placed on a wound can greatly reduce the healing time and helps prevent and reverse the infection.
  • Chamomile: With its distinctive flavor, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) makes a tasty tea. Gentle enough for children, chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It promotes relaxation, relieves indigestion, and, when applied topically, soothes skin irritations. The tincture works on teething gums. The dried flowers can be made into a poultice with some gauze and placed on an eye for 15 minutes every hour to reverse pinkeye rapidly (usually works in a couple of hours). The tea can be cooled and rubbed on the stomach of colicky infants to help soothe them. However, many people may be allergic to it, especially if they have are allergic to ragweed.
  • Citronella: Most herbal repellants contain citronella, a pungent citrus-scented essential oil distilled from an aromatic grass that grows in southern Asia. Herbal insect repellants work well, as long as they’re applied liberally and frequently (as often as every two hours).
  • Cayenne: Though this is a good addition to many foods, it is even better to have in a medicine cabinet. Topically, cayenne powder helps stop bleeding rapidly. It can be taken internally during heart attacks to increase blood flow and help clear blockage. It is also a useful remedy to take internally during illness as it increases blood flow, breaks up mucus, and speeds recovery.
  • Echinacea: Rich in immune-stimulating chemicals, Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) can be used for any type of infection. Liquid extracts are the most versatile because they can be used both internally and externally. It is helpful in prolonged illnesses. And, it can increase both red and white blood cells.
  • Elderberry: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is used for stopping a cold or flu. The berries contain compounds that prevent cold and flu viruses from invading and infecting cells.
  • Eleuthero: An excellent adaptogen, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help prevent jet lag.
  • Eucalyptus: A potent antibiotic and antiviral, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is excellent for treating colds, flu, and sinus infections when used as a steam inhalation. Use eucalyptus in a face steam for congestion or sinus troubles and in a chest rub for coughing and respiratory illness. The essential oil can be applied externally to the feet to help open nasal passageways. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil or witch hazel extract before applying to the skin, and do not take internally.
  • Ginger: The antispasmodic and gas-relieving properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) soothe digestive upsets such as nausea, reflux, stomach trouble, and morning sickness. Ginger also has been used to relieve motion sickness. It helps soothe the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning.
  • Goldenseal: A powerful antimicrobial, goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) is effective against a variety of microorganisms that cause traveler’s diarrhea. The powder has antiseptic properties and can be sprinkled onto cuts or wounds to stop bleeding. Do not take goldenseal internally during pregnancy.
  • Grindelia: Grindelia (Grindelia camporum), also known as gumweed, contains resins and tannins that help to relieve the pain and itching of plant rashes. It’s available as a tincture and also as a spray specifically for treating poison oak/poison ivy rashes.
  • Plantain: It is a natural remedy for infection, poison ivy, cuts, scrapes, stings, and bites. In a pinch, picked a leaf, chew, and put it on a bee sting for instant pain relief. When used on a confirmed brown recluse bite a combination of plantain and comfrey in a poultice may keep the bite from eating away the tissue and help it heal completely.
  • Lavender: Virtually an all-purpose remedy, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. It’s helpful for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, bites, scars, wounds, and burns. It also can be used as an insect repellant.
  • Slippery Elm: It is helpful for sore or irritated throat or when you lose your voice.
  • Senna: Travel constipation is a common complaint. Most herbal laxative teas rely on senna (Cassia senna), which contains compounds called anthraquinones that stimulate intestinal activity. Because senna has a bitter, unpleasant flavor, it’s often combined with tasty herbs such as cinnamon, fennel, licorice, and ginger.
  • Peppermint: With its high concentration of menthol, peppermint (Mentha X Piperita) soothes an upset stomach, clears sinuses, and curbs itching from insect bites. The essential oil applied behind the ears and on the feet helps alleviate headache or nausea and a weak tea made from the herb and rubbed on the skin can help soothe a colicky baby. It can also be used as an insect repellant. If you have sensitive skin, dilute peppermint oil before applying. Taken internally, peppermint may aggravate heartburn.
  • Valerian: The sedative properties of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) make it useful for relieving anxiety, insomnia, and tension; it’s also a mild pain reliever.
  • Witch hazel: Distilled witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has mild astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for insect bites, skin irritations, cuts, scrapes, and in cosmetic uses. It makes a great skin toner. And, it aids in healing hemorrhoids, and postpartum bottoms. It’s also an excellent base for diluting essential oils for a variety of simple, topical herbal first-aid remedies. Do not take it internally.

Additional first-aid essentials include alcohol which helps remove poison oak/ivy oils from the skin. Cosmetic clays who’s drying and drawing properties are useful for healing skin rashes and insect bites. Activated charcoal is used for food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ingestion of toxins, and hangovers. Apple cider vinegar with “the mother” is useful for digestive troubles, indigestion, food poisoning, and more. When taken in a dose of 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water every hour, it helps shorten the duration of any type of illness. Epsom salt is good as a bath soak for sore muscles. Dissolved in water, it can also be a good soak to help remove splinters.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used for cleaning out wounds. It can help prevent ear infection and shorten the duration of respiratory illness. At the first sign of ear infection or illness, a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide can be put in the ear. Leave the peroxide in for 15 minutes or until it stops bubbling and repeat on the other side.

The natural gelatin in homemade chicken soup (from the bones and tissue) is one of the things that makes it so nourishing during illness. After surgeries or when there especially bad cuts that might scar, it speeds skin healing. There is evidence that it is also effective in improving blood clotting when used externally on a wound.

Baking soda is also a good remedy to keep on hand. For severe heartburn or urinary tract infections, 1/4 tsp can be taken internally to help alleviate quickly. It can also be made into a poultice and used on spider bites.

From skin salve to diaper cream, to makeup remover, to antifungal treatment, coconut oil can be for almost everything. It may be added to remedies to be taken internally, to use to apply tinctures and help absorption externally and for dry skin and chapped lips. There is also growing evidence that daily consumption of 1/4 cup or more of coconut oil can help protect against Alzheimer’s and nourish the thyroid.

Quick Natural Remedies for Common Conditions:

  • Anxiety: Drink chamomile tea, 3 cups a day. Take valerian tincture, 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times daily. Take a bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil or place a drop of lavender oil on a tissue and inhale as desired.
  • Blisters: To dry a blister, soak a gauze pad in witch hazel, lay it over the blister and cover with an adhesive bandage. After blister has broken, wash with a mixture of Echinacea extract diluted with an equal part of water. Finally, apply calendula-comfrey salve and cover with an adhesive bandage.
  • Bruises: Immediately apply ice to relieve pain and swelling. Apply arnica cream or gel twice daily.
  • Burns: Immediately immerse the affected area in cold water until the burning sensation subsides. Then apply aloe vera gel mixed with lavender essential oil (5 drops of lavender oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel). For sunburn, soak in a cool bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Colds and Flus: Take 1 dropperful of Echinacea extract four times a day until symptoms subside. Take 1 dropperful of elderberry extract four times a day until symptoms subside. To relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat, drink hot ginger tea with honey. To ease congestion, add 2 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to hot water; inhale the steam vapors. Add 1 dropperful of Echinacea extract to 1⁄2 cup of water as an antiseptic wash. To stop bleeding, sprinkle goldenseal powder directly into the wound and apply pressure with a clean cloth. Apply a salve made from calendula-comfrey-only after a scab has formed, to prevent trapping bacteria.
  • Diarrhea: Replenish lost fluids and soothe the digestive tract with chamomile or ginger tea. For diarrhea caused by infectious microorganisms, take 1 capsule of goldenseal three times daily for up to two weeks. To boost immunity and fight infection, take 1 dropperful of Echinacea four times daily.
  • Headache: Drink chamomile tea as often as desired. For more severe headaches, take 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of valerian root extract; repeat every two hours until pain abates. Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Massage 2 drops of diluted peppermint essential oil onto temples, forehead and neck. Keep away from eyes.
  • Indigestion: Sip warm chamomile, peppermint or ginger tea. Chew on a piece of crystallized (candied) ginger.
  • Insect bites and stings: Cleanse the bite with Echinacea extract. Apply a drop of undiluted peppermint or lavender oil to relieve itching and as an antiseptic. Mix clay with enough water to make a paste, and apply to the bites to relieve itching and draw out toxins. Mix pipe tobacco, baking soda, activated charcoal together and add a few drops of lavender essential oil to form a paste; apply on bite and cover with a bandage; change it out twice a day.
  • Insomnia: Drink a cup of warm chamomile tea. For stronger sedative action, take up to 1 teaspoon of valerian tincture before bed. Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Jet lag: Take eleuthero (100 mg of standardized extract) three times daily for one week or more before traveling and for one week or longer following the flight.
  • Nausea: Take 1 to 2 capsules of dried ginger every 15 minutes until symptoms abate. To prevent motion sickness, take 6 to 8 capsules of powdered ginger about 45 minutes before departing. To calm a queasy stomach, chew on a piece of crystallized ginger.
  • Poison oak/ivy: Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cool water, or sponge with alcohol to remove the oily resin. If a rash occurs, spray with grindelia extract several times a day.
  • Strains and sprains: Immediately elevate and apply an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation. After 24 hours, apply hot compresses to increase circulation and speed healing. Soak in a hot bath with 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Apply arnica cream or gel to the affected area three times daily.

Father’s Day: In men, the symptoms of aging are often the result of a growth hormone and testosterone decline. After age 20, a man’s growth hormone falls about 14% every 10 years. By the time he reaches 40, he’s lost almost half the growth hormones he had at 20 years old and by the time he reaches 80, men are left with just 5% of their original growth hormones. These imbalances can happen at any age. Fortunately, there are male treatment options available.

Some of the most common hormonal imbalances in men include: Andropause, also known as the male menopause, occurs as men grow older and their testosterone levels decline. Adrenal fatigue occurs when one’s stress levels remain high for a prolonged period of time and the adrenal glands can’t produce enough of the stress hormone cortisol. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is underactive. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid gland results in high levels of thyroid hormones and increased metabolism.

Many of the symptoms of male hormonal imbalances come on very gradually. One may not notice them at first, but as more symptoms appear and become worse over time, they do become apparent. These symptoms of male hormone imbalance are some of the most common: erectile dysfunction, hair loss, low libido, fatigue or lack of energy, night sweats or hot flashes, memory loss, mood swings or irritability, heart palpitations, muscle loss or weakness, sleep apnea or insomnia, depression or anxiety, constipation or increased bowel movements, increased body fat, and gynecomastia (development of breasts in men). People often mistake the symptoms of imbalanced hormones in men with signs of aging. The good news is that these hormone losses and imbalances are easily correctable. And with treatment, these symptoms will often disappear and bring about a healthier, younger self.

Sex hormones, like all hormones in the body, are regulated through the endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, testes/ovaries, pituitary, pancreas). Stress plays a big part in causing an imbalance in this sensitive balancing act. Fortunately, there are many botanicals (known as adaptogens) that are well known for supporting and nourishing these glands in their important work.

Another important part of this picture is liver health. The liver is vital in its role in regulating and normalizing hormone production. Therefore, the liver must be addressed when looking at hormonal challenges. Let’s look at some herbs that can help:

  • Vitex (aka Chasteberry): Vitex may reduce fertility in males. The flavonoid fraction of Vitex Negundo, a species related to Vitex agnus castus, has been shown to diminish citric acid in the prostate, fructose in seminal vesicles, and epididymal α-glucosidase activity. These changes were also associated with a decrease in sperm count and motility. Vitex is also known as monk’s pepper, a name that stems from the use of its peppercorn-like fruits to help maintain chastity in men’s religious orders. It has a long history of use in formulas to treat male gynecomastia.
  • Wild Yam: Great for endocrine and liver health, this herb is a great hormone precursor (particularly for progesterone). It also is helpful in formulas for male hormone balancing.
  • Dong Quai: Used a great deal in Chinese medicine, this herb exerts a regulating influence on hormone production through its work with the liver and endocrine system. There is a cream containing dong Quai, Panax ginseng root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, clove flower, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom that may improve premature ejaculation when applied to the penis.
  • Black Cohosh: There is intriguing data that shows black cohosh extracts may be useful in both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. And, male-pattern baldness, which is often hormone-related, might be combated by the estrogen effects. However, too much estrogen can reduce male libido, decrease energy levels, and contribute to gynecomastia.
  • Dandelion: Dandelion is specific for the liver, and it benefits the reproductive system by helping to regulate hormone production.
  • Saw Palmetto: For men, this herb assists in raising sperm count, motility, and libido. In this same category, I cannot forget to mention Ho Shou Wo (aka Fo-Ti).
  • Licorice: An adaptogenic herb, licorice nurtures the adrenals (and hence the entire endocrine system). It also is a great balancer in formulas. A little goes a long way.
  • Maca: It is showing great clinical results as an endocrine modulator; helping with libido, hormone modulating, etc.
  • Rhodiola: An adaptogen that may improve erectile dysfunction.
  • Ashwagandha: Known for centuries as an adaptogenic herb for libido, low sperm count, and sexual debility.
  • Schisandra: Tones sexual organs, as an adaptogen.
  • Honey: It contains boron which is a natural mineral that can be found in both food and in the environment. It is associated with helping to increase testosterone levels and is also useful for building strong bones and for building muscles, as well as improving thinking skills and muscle coordination.
  • Garlic and onion: They contain a compound called allicin which can be useful for lowering one’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland, which is where testosterone is produced. When one’s body is under stress it produces cortisol and this has an impact on other bodily functions, including the production of testosterone. Therefore, by reducing the amount of cortisol in one’s system one allows testosterone to be produced more effectively by the adrenal gland. So whilst garlic doesn’t itself act as a testosterone boosting food, it is a cortisol reducer and by association boosts testosterone levels. They may also help ward off benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called prostate gland enlargement.
  • Eggs: They are a fantastic source of protein, cholesterol, vitamin D, and omega-3s, all of which aid in the production of testosterone. Eggs are very versatile ingredients and not only do they help increase testosterone levels, but the protein in them also helps with muscle-building too.
  • Almond: They contain high levels of the mineral zinc which is known to raise testosterone levels in people who are zinc deficient. If one’s low in zinc this could stop the pituitary gland from releasing some of the key hormones for stimulating testosterone production. By eating zinc-rich foods, one can help make sure this doesn’t happen and avoid a reduction in testosterone levels.
  • Oyster: They are commonly known as an aphrodisiac. Testosterone increases your libido and oysters are naturally high in zinc. As mentioned above, zinc is very important for the healthy production of testosterone.
  • Spinach: It has long been considered one of the best testosterone-boosting foods around. It is a natural source of magnesium which has been shown to correlate positively with testosterone levels. It also contains vitamin B6 and iron which are both excellent testosterone boosters.
  • Porridge oats: They are an excellent source of B vitamins which are key for good testosterone production. There are a number of different B vitamins, many of which are found in testosterone boosting foods. Vitamin B6 suppresses the production of estrogen, thereby helping testosterone levels to rise. Oats are an excellent source of a variety of B Vitamins and therefore is one of a range of excellent testosterone boosting foods.
  • Lemon: They, along with other citrus fruits, are great testosterone boosting foods. Much like garlic, they help to lower the levels of cortisol which means testosterone can be more readily produced. Not only that but they contain vitamin A which is required for the production of testosterone and can help lower estrogen level which means testosterone can be more effective.
  • Salmon, sardines, and trout: These fish are an excellent addition to the list of testosterone boosting foods because it contains magnesium, vitamin B, and omega-3s which all help increase testosterone levels. Not only this though, but it also helps lower the levels of the ‘Sex Hormone Binding Globulin’ (SHBG is a protein made by the liver. It binds tightly to three sex hormones-estrogen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone. SHBG carries these three hormones throughout one’s blood.) which makes testosterone non-functional. If SHBG is lowered testosterone can have more of an impact on one’s body. Omega-3 essential fatty acids also benefit the prostate by reducing inflammation.
  • Tuna: It is an excellent source of Vitamin D which can help boost testosterone levels by up to 90%. Vitamin D helps to maintain sperm count and tuna is an excellent way to get this particular vitamin, especially if one isn’t able to spend much time outside.
  • Banana and Pineapple: These two fruits contain an enzyme called bromelain which is known to help boost testosterone levels. They are also excellent for maintaining energy levels and reducing antioxidants.

Specific foods known to benefit the prostate include:

  • Tomatoes: They are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that may benefit prostate gland cells. Cooking tomatoes, such as in tomato sauce or soup, helps to release the lycopene and make it more readily available to the body.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, which help to remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are the byproducts of reactions that occur within the body and can cause damage and disease over time.
  • Broccoli: This and other cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, contain a chemical known as sulforaphane. This is thought to target cancer cells and promote a healthy prostate.
  • Nuts: They are rich in zinc, a trace mineral. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the prostate and is thought to help balance testosterone and DHT. Besides nuts, shellfish and legumes are also high in zinc.
  • Citrus fruit: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are all high in vitamin C, which may help to protect the prostate gland.

Foods that aid conception:

  • Oysters and pumpkin seeds: Both are very high in zinc, which may increase testosterone, sperm motility, and sperm count.
  • Oranges: They contain lots of vitamin C, and studies have proved it improves sperm motility, count, and morphology. Other foods that contain vitamin C include tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
  • Dark, leafy vegetables: The folate (also known as vitamin B) in spinach, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, and asparagus can help produce strong, healthy sperm.
  • Dark chocolate: It contains l-arginine, an amino acid that can improve sperm count and quality over time.
  • Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seafood-especially salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines-helps improve the quality and quantity of sperm.
  • Pomegranate: The antioxidants in pomegranates may improve testosterone levels.
  • Brazil nuts: The selenium found in Brazilian nuts can help increase sperm count, sperm shape, and sperm motility.
  • Water: Staying hydrated helps create good seminal fluid.

Another area important to men is how to help them achieve their gym goals. The hormones IGF-1, growth hormone (GH), testosterone, and cortisol all respond to the intensity of weight training. Insulin and glucagon are also influenced by exercise and diet, often in contradiction to the anabolic hormones. With respect to bodybuilding, the goal is to keep anabolic hormones (muscle building-up) high and catabolic hormones (hormones which are muscle wasting) low. While some bodybuilders will try to shortcut the process by using illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), there is increasing evidence that they not only harm your health but may be far less effective than previously thought.

While some supplements manufacturers have tried to take advantage of the WADA ban by marketing “natural” supplements to bodybuilders, most of these products underperform. Examples include Tribulus Terrestris, zinc-magnesium supplements, ginseng, bovine colostrum, beta-alanine, and DHEA (a prohormone banned in most sports). Contrary to what some may tell you, there are no non-food supplements other than creatine that exhibit anabolic-like effects. Even with regards to creatine, the actual effect on muscle growth is limited. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine supplements increase endurance capacity in high-intensity training rather than inducing physiological changes in the muscles themselves

There are several approaches to diet and training that can enhance the anabolic response while mitigating the catabolic response. The foods you eat before, during, and after exercise can make a big difference in your training. For example, eating carbohydrates before and during exercise can help minimize increases in cortisol. The reason is simple: when your blood glucose supplies are maintained, cortisol does not need to be released and muscle tissues won’t get burned up.

It is important to note that exercise also increases testosterone levels. Once exercise stops, testosterone will invariably drop as cortisone levels rise. To mitigate this effect, one needs to eat protein after a workout to balance the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio in the bloodstream. Consume 20 grams of easily digested protein up to 45 minutes before a workout. Around 20 fluid ounces (600 milliliters) of skim milk with a little sugar will do. Sip a sports drink during workouts at regular intervals, especially if one goes beyond 60 minutes. Within 30 minutes of completing a workout, consume another 20 grams of protein with around 40 grams of carbohydrate. Again, skim milk with sugar works just fine. Choose a favorite protein-carb powder or protein-fortified milk drink. The carb-to-protein ratio should be between 3:1 and 4:1 if one has had a heavy workout. Avoid cortisol-reducing supplements regularly marketed to bodybuilders. There is no proof that they work and one can seemly do better by eating strategically during exercise.

Eating a diet that’s neither too low in fat nor too high in protein can help enhance one’s testosterone output. According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, body-builders should be consuming enough calories so that bodyweight losses are about 0.5 to 1% per week to maximize muscle retention. Most but not all bodybuilders will respond best to consuming protein at a rate of 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass per day, 15-30% of calories from fat, with carbohydrates making up the rest. By contrast, ultra low-fat diets or high-protein/low-carb diets are not advised when bodybuilding. Some bodybuilders endorse diets comprised of 40% protein. Not only is there little evidence to support this strategy, but it may also cause harm over the long term, increasing the risk of kidney damage and proteinuria (excess protein in urine).

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Canadian dietitian governing body recommend athletes consume daily between a little more than one gram (1.2) and up to two grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight to build muscle, depending on how hard the athlete is training. In addition, creatine and zinc are potentially important components of an anabolic diet. Creatine builds bulk, while zinc is necessary for testosterone production. Meat protein is a good source of both of these nutrients.

High-intensity training raises testosterone, GH, and IGF-1 levels but also promotes spikes in cortisol. While diet can temper cortisol production to a certain extent, how one exercises may also help. High-volume, high-intensity workouts with short rest intervals tend to produce the greatest increases in testosterone, GH, and cortisol, while low-volume, high-intensity workouts with long rest intervals tend to produce the least.

Contrary to what one may think, it is usually more beneficial for bodybuilders to rest for 3-5 minutes between sets rather than the 1-2 minutes endorsed for regular fitness programs. Doing so appears to restore a high-energy compound known as phosphagen that is stored in muscles and excreted during strenuous activity. It also promotes the production of testosterone with less of the mitigating effects of cortisone. So, in a way, one can get more out of their training by pushing less strenuously.

Aerobic training, like running or anaerobic interval training, should be done on separate days from one’s bodybuilding training. Doing both on the same day promotes inflammation and the adverse effects of cortisol. Evening workouts are preferable to early-morning workouts since cortisol levels tend to peak in the early hours of the day. Alcohol consumption increases cortisol production and should be avoided during heavy training and competition. Improved sleep hygiene, including maintaining a regular sleep schedule, enhances the production of GH, which peaks during deep sleep and can persist well after waking. By contrast, irregular sleep contributes to drops in GH levels.

King Kamehameha Day (Hawaii):
The Hawaiian word for health and life is “ola”. Hawaiians obviously believed one could not have health without life, nor life without health. The ancient Hawaiian health system was well developed. They had a medical profession, medicines, treatments, a lengthy apprenticeship program for medical specialists (kahuna), and training facilities located in special healing heiau (temples). They also had designated places of healing such as Coconut Island (Mokuola) at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, famous for its curative spring waters.

Similar to the organization of today’s medical profession, the traditional Hawaiian healers were Kahuna haihai iwi (skilled in setting broken bones), Kahuna haha (who diagnosed illnesses by feeling with the fingers), Kahuna hoohanau keiki (who delivered babies), Kahuna hoohapai keiki (who induced pregnancy), Kahuna laau lapaau (who treated patients with herbs; they were the general practitioners), Kahuna lomilomi (who were physical therapists and also skilled in massage), and Kahuna paaoao (who diagnosed and treated illnesses of infants).

To ancient Hawaiians, mana (spiritual power) was necessary to be a truly successful practitioner. Education was sacred as knowledge was a way of achieving this power. If a parent sensed a child had a “healing spirit” enabling them to become a doctor, the child would be sent to live and study with a kahuna from as young as five years of age and they would spend upwards of fifteen to twenty years in training. During this time, they studied anatomy, learned how to diagnose disease, how to choose the right cures or medicines (particularly the use of medicinal plants), and learned sacred prayers. They also learned how to perform simple surgical procedures, set bones, and perform autopsies. They employed the use of steam baths, massage, and laxatives and undertook empirical research.

Since the Hawaiians viewed the body, mind, and spirit as one, Hawaiians believed that the body could not be healed without healing the spirit. Accordingly, they used a combination of psychic, spiritual, and natural treatments to cure illnesses. In particular, before a patient was treated, the kahuna performed a ritual of hooponopono (making things right), a type of counseling with the aid of prayer to cleanse the mind and heart of negative thoughts and feelings.

Today the traditional Hawaiian healing programs now being implemented by Hawaiian Health Care Centers serving Native Hawaiians include: hooponopono (traditional Hawaiian family problem solving process making things “right”), limuloid (traditional, spiritual and physical muscle stress relaxation by licensed therapists), lau lapaau (healing with the use of compounding herbs and other traditional remedies), pale keki (mother and child care, before, during and after birth), laau kahea (spiritual or faith healing through prayer and chants, a form of exorcism). The vast majority of Hawaiian remedies consists of plants. A sampling of traditional botanical based remedies is given below:

  • Aalii (Hopseed Bush): The leaves are used to treat a rash, itches, and other skin diseases.
  • Awa (Kava): Used in the treatment of headaches, muscle pain, and to induce sleep. It is also a treatment for general debility, chills, colds, and other lung problems, such as bronchitis and asthma.
  • Awapuhi (Shampoo Ginger): Ashes of the leaves are used to treat cuts and sores. The root is used in the treatment of ringworm and sprains and bruises. The root is also used in the treatment of headache, toothache, and stomach ache.
  • Kalo (Taro): It is the single most important plant in Hawaiian culture. The cut raw rootstock is rubbed on wounds to stop bleeding and the cut raw petiole is used to relieve the pain and prevent swelling of insect bites and stings. The corm is used to treat indigestion and as a laxative. The leaves are used in the treatment of asthma.
  • Mamaki: The inner part of the fruit is used to treat thrush and to cure general debility. The leaves are sold as a tea in Hawaii and an infusion made from the leaves is used to treat generalized weakness.
  • Noni (Indian Mulberry): The leaves and bark are prepared as a tonic, and to treat urinary disorders and muscle and joint pain. Either the ripe fruit or the leaves can be used as a poultice for boils, wounds, and fractures. A tonic prepared from the immature fruit is used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and loss of appetite.
  • Ohia lehua: The flower is used to ease childbirth and leaf bud tea is used as a tonic and to treat colds.
  • Olena (Turmeric): The root is used to treat earache, and nose and throat discomfort.
  • Pia (Polynesian Arrowroot): The raw starch was used in water for diarrhea and when mixed with red clay for dysentery. The starch was also applied to wounds to stop bleeding.
  • The sap of Ko (sugarcane) is commonly used to sweeten herbal preparations and the juice from the shoot is used to treat lacerations. Belonging to a grass family, sugarcane has no fats. It is, in fact, a 100% natural drink. It has about 30 grams of natural sugar. Hence, you do not have to add extra sugar for sweetness. Sugar extracted from sugarcane juice contains only 15 calories. Sugarcane juice is a mix of sucrose, fructose, and many other glucose varieties. Raw sugarcane juice contains a total of 13 grams of dietary fiber per serving, which is essential in carrying out a lot of body functions. Sugarcane juice aids in the following areas: skin benefits, cures acne, protects the skin from aging, instant energy booster, ensures safe pregnancy, prevents bad breath and tooth decay, facilitates the development of bones and teeth, cures febrile disorders, aids liver functioning, good for jaundice, acts as a digestive tonic, combats cancer, aids people suffering from diabetes, treats sore throat, heals wounds, strengthens body organs, prevents DNA damage, aids weight loss, eliminates toxins from one’s body, beneficial in treating UTI, treating kidney stones, ensures proper functioning of the kidneys, good for nail health, increases muscle power, reduces fever, treats acidity, and boosts immunity. Sugarcane juice also exhibits laxative properties.
  • Fresh coconuts can be young or mature. Young coconuts either have a green shell or a white husk (where the green shell has been removed). Young coconuts contain more water, is one of the highest sources of electrolytes, and soft gel-like meat, whereas mature coconuts have firm meat and less water. The water in the young coconut electrolytes is responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves can function appropriately. Therefore, it is more beneficial to drink the water from a young coconut after an intense workout rather than the commercial sports drinks we see advertised. Coconut water is also low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars, and almost completely fat-free. In addition, it is high in ascorbic acid, B vitamins, and proteins. The soft meat inside the coconut helps to restore oxidative tissue damage and contains a source of healthy fats, proteins, and various vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are also an excellent source of some trace minerals. They include magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Zinc and selenium are essential nutrients for maintaining thyroid function. Iron is needed in the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is a nutrient necessary for electrolyte balance. Potassium takes care of nerve function, while copper reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases, joint health, and osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle. Another of the benefits of coconut is it contains capric acid.
  • Coconut oil has been used as both food and medicine for many centuries. Despite its natural healing wonders, a lot of people are still confused as to whether or not coconut oil is good for our health because of its high content of saturated fats. However, do not mistake hydrogenated coconut oil with pure cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. Pure coconut oil is derived from the mature coconuts which contain harder flesh. The white flesh is shredded, collected, and then cold-pressed at 90–100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unprocessed, unrefined virgin coconut oil is not hydrogenated and is a safe choice for consumption. Although coconut oil is saturated fat, it is unlike the high-calorie, cholesterol-soaked, long-chain saturated fat. It is rich in a medium-chain fatty acid that can help boost metabolism and aid in fat loss. It is metabolized quickly and instead of fat sticking to one’s belly, it gets burned off as energy. It also helps detoxify the body and balances the digestive tract. Instead of bathing one’s skin with synthetic toxic lotions and creams, coconut oil can be used to nourish and moisturize the skin, scalp, and hair. One of the better-known uses of coconut oil is for cooking food. Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils when cooking in high heat. It does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperatures like other vegetable oils do. In addition, it can be used as a spread for baking and for making delicious raw, vegan desserts.

Medicinal uses for coconuts include:

  • Supports immune system health: it is anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasite,
  • Provides a natural source of quick energy and enhances physical and athletic performance
  • Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
  • Improves insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Helps protect the body from cancers through insulin reduction and removal of free radicals that cause premature aging and degenerative disease
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and improves good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Restores and supports thyroid function
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infection
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps keep hair and skin healthy and youthful-looking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and provides sun protection

Coconuts are a creative culinary delight. Due to its health advantages and natural low-glycemic index rating, coconuts have replaced some everyday ingredients:

  • Coconut Flour: It is simply dried, ground-up coconut meat. Coconut flour is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and ideal for baking.
  • Coconut Milk and Cream: Milk is made by mixing shredded fresh coconut meat with water and then squeezing it through a sieve or cheesecloth. The thick creamy liquid that comes out is coconut milk. It can be used for curries and stews. Coconut cream, on the other hand, is basically coconut milk without all the water. It is thicker and pastier. The cream can be used to make dairy-free whipped cream or make one’s own coconut yogurt.
  • Coconut Sugar: It is derived from coconut sap. It is the sweet juice extracted when the budding flower is just about to grow. This process offers a delicious, sweet taste similar to brown sugar with a hint of caramel, with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is considered a low-glycemic food and is diabetic-friendly. Use coconut sugar as one would commonly use other sugars and sweeteners.

Coconut is being used as a staple for those doing the keto diet. Also known as the ketogenic diet plan, it is a program wherein one induces ketosis-a state when the body burns fat instead of sugar for energy. To do it, one needs to eat foods low in carbs but high in fat.

One of the benefits of coconut is it can help one get into ketosis due to its medium-chain fatty acids. Sometimes called MCTs, these are triglycerides that go straight to the liver. The liver can then quickly convert the fats into ketones (chemicals the liver creates when insulin production is low), which then becomes one’s energy source. In turn, one may be able to lose weight without feeling lethargic.

Some tips to including coconut to the keto diet are topping vegan muffins with shredded coconut, adding raw coconut meat to a salad as a topping, dried coconut is great when paired with oatmeal, and blend classic protein power with the protein-rich coconut for a creamy, delicious shake.

Bananas are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. In addition to being rich in vitamin B6, bananas are also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and virtually sodium-free. Vitamin B6 from bananas is easily absorbed by the body and a medium-sized banana can provide about a quarter of the daily needs. A medium-sized banana also will provide about 10% of one’s daily vitamin C needs, approximately 13% of one’s daily manganese needs, and around 320-400 mg of potassium-which meets about 10% of one’s daily potassium needs. In addition, bananas are low in sodium. The low sodium and high potassium combination help to control high blood pressure. Bananas contain three natural sugar-sucrose, fructose, and glucose-giving one a fat and cholesterol-free source of energy. As such, bananas are ideal, especially for children and athletes, for breakfast, as a midday snack or before and after sports.

A medium banana will provide about 10-12% of one’s daily fiber needs. It is recommending a daily dietary fiber intake of 20g for women and 26g for men. Soluble and insoluble fibers play an important role in one’s health. Soluble fiber helps the body control blood sugar level and get rid of fatty substances such as cholesterol. Insoluble fiber adds weight and softness to stools, making it easier for regular bowel movements. This helps to keep the gut healthy and safe from harmful bacteria. Bananas, especially newly-ripened ones, contain starch that does not digest (resistant starch) in the small intestine and is able to pass into the large intestine. Such bananas help one manage their weight better. That said, bananas can help gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, stomach ulcers, and heartburn.

Pineapples are delicious, low in calories, and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Their nutrients and compounds have been linked to impressive health benefits, including improved digestion, a lower risk of cancer, improved immunity, relief of arthritis symptoms, and improved recovery after surgery and strenuous exercise. Pineapples are also incredibly versatile and can be consumed in a variety of ways.

Recipes:

  • Lemon-pomegranate electrolyte drink : Yield: 32 ounces; Serving size: 8 ounces. Ingredients: 1/4 tsp. salt; 1/4 cup pomegranate juice; 1/4 cup lemon juice; 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut water; 2 cups cold water. Additional options: sweetener, powdered magnesium, and/or calcium, depending on needs. Directions: Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a container, chill, and serve.
  • Banana Guava Pie: 1-1/2 cup sliced bananas; 1-1/4 cup guava nectar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 3 tablespoons cornstarch; 3 tablespoons cold water; 1 baked pie shell. Directions: Combine guava nectar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Bring to boil over low heat. Mix cornstarch and water to a smooth paste and stir into mixture. Stir until thickened and clear. Cool. Combine with bananas and pour into baked pie shell. Serve with whipped cream.
  • Haupia (Sweet coconut cream custard cubes): Yield:1 standard 9 x 13 baking pan. Ingredients: 2 coconut milk, 16 oz cans; 3 cups water or fruit juice; ½ cups cornstarch; 1 cup sugar. Directions: Mix 2 cups water with cornstarch. Set aside. Bring coconut milk, sugar, and remaining water to a rolling boil on high heat. Pour cornstarch mixture into boiling coconut milk and cook till the mixture thickens, blending with a whip. When the mixture is smooth and thick pour into a clean baking tray. Cool to room temperature, then chill until cold. Cut into 1-inch squares. Serve on ti leaf lined trays.
  • Huli Huli (Grilled Chicken): Serves 10- 12. Ingredients: 9-12 lbs chicken wings, thighs, and breast pieces; 1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate; 1/3 cup white wine; 1/2 cup chicken broth; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/4 cup ketchup; 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger or a pinch of fresh ginger; 1-2 drops Worcestershire sauce. Directions: Wash chicken parts and pat dry with paper towels. Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Brush over chicken parts. Grill over barbecue for about 40 minutes. Turn and baste with sauce until chicken is done.
  • Sugarcane Juice: Sugarcane (medium-sized), fresh; water; ginger (optional); lemon juice (optional); peppermint (optional); black salt; ice cubes. Directions: Wash the sugarcanes well and peel the hard outer layer of the cane with a big knife. Now cut them into small pieces and blend them along with a ginger piece (optional). Add some water and grind it again. Make sure you have ground the sugarcane well. Pour the sugarcane extract along with the juice in a big container. Take another container and place a muslin cloth or strainer on it. Squeeze the juice out of the extract pressing through the cloth or strainer. If you don’t find it easy, squeeze the juice with your hand. Take some of the extract in your hand and press it well till the juice comes out. Strain the juice again as it may still have some extract. You can add some lemon juice and a dash of black salt along with ice cubes and serve chilled. Notes: While you can add sugar powder in the juice, it is advised to avoid as the juice is already sweet. Tea or coffee filters also work well for straining the juice.
  • Beard Oils: 1)Healthy Mix-1/2 oz jojoba; 1/2 oz coconut oil; 12 drops lavender oil; 12 drops rosemary oil. 2) Woodsy-1 oz of jojoba oil; 6 drops cedarwood essential oil; 2 drops lavender essential oil; 2 drops tea tree essential oil; 1 drop rosemary essential oil; 1 drop lime essential oil. Directions: Mix all ingredients in a 1-ounce bottle. Shake. Apply. No rinsing needed.
  • Healing Salve: Makes: 2 cups. Ingredients: 2 cups carrier oil; 1 tsp echinacea root (optional); 2 tablespoons comfrey leaf; 2 tablespoons dried plantain leaf; 1 tablespoon calendula flowers (optional); 1 teaspoon yarrow flowers (optional); 1 teaspoon rosemary (optional); ¼ cup beeswax pastilles. Directions: Infuse the herbs into the carrier oil: Either combine the carrier oil and herbs in a jar with an airtight lid and leave 3-4 weeks, shaking daily. OR heat the carrier oil and herbs over low heat in a double boiler for 3 hours (low heat) until the oil is very green. Make the salve: Strain the herbs out of the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze give the herbs a squeeze to get the remaining oil out. Discard the herbs. Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a double boiler. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the wax is melted. Pour into small tins, glass jars, or lip chap tubes and use them as needed.
  • First Aid Poultice: 1 part marshmallow root; 1 part Oregon grape root; 1 part yarrow herb; 1 part bentonite clay; 1 part echinacea root; 1/4 part cayenne fruit; lavender essential oil (optional). Directions: Mix all herbs together in the blender until they are powdered. Store in a glass container in a cool dark place until needed. Add warm water until the mixture forms a paste. 10 drops of lavender essential oil can also be added. Apply to stings, bruises, infections, injuries, and rashes. Rinse off and reapply as needed.
  • Headache Oil: 10 drops lavender essential oil; 10 drops peppermint essential oil; 10 drops marjoram essential oil; 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Directions: Add essential oils to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub on temples, forehead, and back of the neck. Avoid the eyes.
  • Burn Rescue: 5 ml lavender essential oil; 1 ml Helichrysum essential oil; 5 drops Rescue Remedy; 1 ounce of aloe vera gel; 1 ounce of witch hazel extract (optional). Directions: Mix ingredients together and apply topically to burns, sunburns, and wind burns. This cooling and healing formula will reduce pain, inflammation, and scarring. Add the Witch Hazel if you would like to apply the formula as a spray.
  • Garlic-Mullein Earache Oil: 400ml olive oil; 1 whole bulb garlic, chopped; 1 oz mullein flowers, Vitamin E oil. Equipment: 2 empty jars, 454ml (16 oz) size; 1 square of muslin or cheesecloth, about 6 cm square. Directions: Place the finely chopped fresh garlic and mullein flowers into the jar. Add olive oil until the jar is full. Stir with a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to release air bubbles. Cover the jar and place it in the sunlight for 3 weeks (2 weeks in warm weather). Strain through the muslin square into a clean jar (discard plant material) and store it in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to two years. To use: Place 3-7 drops of the oil into the affected ear. The oil should be at room temperature or slightly warm. To warm it, put the drops in a spoon or a glass eyedropper and briefly hold a lit match close to it. Test the oil against the underside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. Rest with the affected ear up for 5-10 minutes, keeping a warm hot water bottle on the ear. After this time roll over and rest on the hot water bottle for as long as this brings comfort. Repeat on the other ear if necessary. This treatment can be repeated 2-3 times a day but may only be necessary once or twice as it is very effective. Caution: NEVER put anything into the ear if you suspect the eardrum has ruptured or if there is any drainage from the ear.
  • Essential Oil Bug Spray: 30 drops geranium; 30 drops citronella; 20 drops lemon eucalyptus; 20 drops lavender; 10 drops rosemary; 1 tablespoon vodka; ½ cup natural witch hazel; ½ cup water (or vinegar); 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional); vanilla extract (optional). Directions: Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine. Add vanilla extract. Add ½ tsp vegetable glycerin if using. (This is not necessary but helps everything stay combined.) Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as it will naturally separate some over time.
  • Herbal Bug Spray: Distilled water; witch hazel (or vodka); dried herbs-peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, orange peel, clove, bay leaf, thyme, cedar leaf; vanilla extract (optional). Directions: Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 tablespoons of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. Mix well, cover, and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in.) Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or vodka. Add vanilla extract. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place. Use as needed. Note: To make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead, and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.
  • Vinegar Tick and Insect Repellent: 1 bottle of apple cider vinegar, (32-oz ); 2 Tablespoons each of dried sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and mint; vanilla extract (optional). Equipment: Quart-size or larger glass jar with an airtight lid. Directions: Put the vinegar, vanilla extract, and dried herbs into a large glass jar. Seal tightly and store on the counter. Shake well each day for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out and store in spray bottles or tincture bottles, preferably in the fridge. To use on skin, dilute to half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed. Note: It has a very strong odor when it is wet, though the smell disappears as it dries. This mixture is very strong and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for any illness. For adults, the dose is 1 tablespoon in water several times a day. For kids over two, the dose is 1 teaspoon in water several times a day.

—-Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ—-
Jolene Grffiths, Master Herbalist