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    Archive for the ‘phenolics’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Ginger

    ginger-root1I love, love, love ginger.

    I make my own juices at home three or four times a week and always add one or two hefty chunks of ginger.

    I feel fine, but should I be concerned about so much ginger doing something to my intestinal tract?  One of my friends says I should be careful because since ginger is spicy, so much of it could cause ulcers.

    — Jordan Yeats
    (City withheld), FL

    Ah, the “spicy foods cause ulcers” myth.

    The vast majority of ulcers are actually caused by h. pylori bacteria.  Stress and spicy foods don’t play any role in ulcer formation.  They can, however, make existing ulcers more painful.

    FYI: The h. pylori connection was first made by Australian doctors Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in the early 1980s — and garnered them the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine!

    Ulcers aside, there is no need for you to be concerned about the amount of ginger you are eating (provided you don’t have certain health conditions such as gallbladder disease or taking cardiac or diabetes medication).

    Healthy individuals can reap plenty of health benefits from fresh ginger!

    Ginger is not only a powerful anti-inflammatory food (remember, cellular inflammation is the principal factor behind the development of most degenerative diseases), it has also been shown to significantly slow down the reproduction of tumor cells and be a powerful weapon against free radicals.

    Ginger is so good at reducing inflammation that it is a wonderful natural remedy to help alleviate arthritis symptoms (as long as it is consumed consistently, of course).

    Ginger is also an excellent source of curcumin, the antioxidant in turmeric that helps significantly reduce the risk for a variety of cancers.

    Another bonus?  Ginger has been shown to help reduce blood platelet aggregation (thereby helping lower atherosclerosis risk).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Inflammation

    My mum asked me to look into foods that increase or decrease inflammation and related chronic pain conditions.

    I don’t know if such a thing is even possible, and Google leads me to thousands of quacks and charlatans. Can you help?

    — Rachelle T.
    Location Unknown

    Nutrition plays an important role in promoting — and reducing — inflammation.

    Before we even get to actual foods, though, it’s important to address weight.

    Excess body fat heightens inflammation, so working towards shedding any extra pounds is the first step in my book.

    Foods that I suggest your mother eat sparingly include refined carbohydrates (mainly white flour and added sugars), trans fats, and Omega-6 fatty acids (found in most processed plant oils)

    A point of clarity regarding Omega-6 fatty acids: although they absolutely serve a purpose (and are essential, meaning we can only get them from our diet), the traditional U.S. diet is overly abundant in them.

    Moving on, then. There are also many foods that help manage — and even decrease — inflammation.

    These include whole grains, monounsaturated fats (think avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, and almond butter), Omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, tofu, wheat germ, and some legumes) and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

    In the case of fruits and vegetables, the more variety the better.

    Why? Research suggests that different compounds (i.e.: anthocyanins in blueberries, carotenoids in sweet potatoes, and phenolics in tart cherries) can aid in the reduction of inflammation.

    Keep in mind, though, that for optimal results, these foods should be consumed on a daily basis for a prolonged period.

    Additionally, the above mentioned foods should not be consumed with excess calories or sugars (putting a spoonful of walnuts into a Coldstone ice cream bowl or having a Reese’s peanut butter cup are not effective ways to manage inflammation.)

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