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What You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal

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Activated charcoal has taken the modern-day food industry abuzz not just for its mystery and intrigue but also for its health benefits. Did you know it is found in the most ubiquitous foods such as ice cream, donuts, and coffee? Although activated charcoal is starting to become popular, it was widely utilized as a popular product in natural healing around the world. It was used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for generations, and there are recorded uses of activated charcoal that date back to 1550 BC.

What Does Activated Charcoal Look Like and How is it Made?

In terms of its looks, activated charcoal usually comes in the form of black powder. It is usually produced by burning a substance without oxygen that builds a deep char. The substances can include anything from bamboo to coconut shell charcoal. When synthesized in the lab, the char is heated to a high temperature and exposed to various gases to activate the charcoal.  This leads to a porous end product that is safe for consumption.  Once the activated charcoal has been activated, it can bind to a substance and eventually gets absorbed. Activated charcoal is tasteless, odorless and completely non-toxic.

What are Some of Its Health Benefits?

  • Removing Poison and Toxins: Activated charcoal is considered one of the most effective G.I. tract decontaminants on the market. It can quickly absorb 50-60% of unwanted elements that are found in the intestines and the stomach; in fact, these absorption effects can last for up to 2 hours. The positive effects of activated charcoal can continue to last up to two hours after it’s ingested. Many emergency rooms regularly use activated charcoal for handling certain types of poison. Charcoal can bind to and remove substances even after they enter the bloodstream.
  • Oral health: Activated charcoal can be particularly powerful at removing materials from the digestive system and your teeth. It doesn’t directly neutralize toxins, but it can bind to them and quickly remove harmful substances from your mouth. Activated charcoal can quickly remove stains from the teeth and whiten teeth in just a few uses.
  • Skincare: Activated charcoal also has many uses in beauty products. It’s commonly found in many facial scrubs and it’s widely effective at removing chemicals, dirt, and bacteria that can often build up along your skin. Regularly treating your skin with activated charcoal can be an excellent anti-aging solution. It will regularly remove toxins that can make you age faster.
  • Regulating Cholesterol Levels: Activated charcoal can work to remove bad cholesterol and increase the incidence of good cholesterol just as you would receive from any prescription medication.
  • Reduces Bloating: It can be extremely beneficial in removing gas caused by byproducts in food items. Taking 500 mg of activated charcoal can help to reduce bloating and gas regularly after a meal that contains these items.

Is Activated Charcoal Safe?

Activated charcoal is non-toxic; however, if you have any health risks, you should consult your primary care physician before internal use.

Sources:

  1. https://wellnessmama.com/247/activated-charcoal/
  2. https://www.homeremediesnaturalcures.com/2018/11/25/activated-charcoal-can-be-used-to-remove-years-of-toxins-poisons-and-mold-buildup-in-your-body/

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Fitness/ Diet

7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

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Inflammation refers to your body’s method of protecting itself against things that harm it, including infections, injuries, and toxins. One way to treat inflammation could be a prescription for pain medication. Another way to combat inflammation can come from your local grocery store. Here are seven food items you can find at your local grocery store to help fight your body’s inflammation.

1. Broccoli 

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is low-calorie and rich in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Research has shown that consuming the right amount of cruciferous vegetables can decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. The vegetable’s high amount of antioxidants is related to its anti-inflammatory effects. Broccoli is high in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that combats inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which leads to inflammation

2. Avocados

Avocados are loaded with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. This superfood also contains carotenoids and tocopherols that helps lower the risk of cancer. One study found when people ate a slice of avocado with a hamburger, and they had lower levels of the inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6. Other participants who ate the burger without avocado had higher levels of the inflammatory markers. 

3. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks you can find on the market. This tea reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and other medical conditions. Most of its health benefits derive from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, including the substance epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG helps to reduce inflammation by decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells 

4. Peppers

Bell peppers are not just known for their delicious flavor but are loaded with vitamin c along with chili peppers. Both peppers contain antioxidants that have substantial anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Bell peppers contain the antioxidant quercetin, which may reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease Chili peppers have sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which can lead to healthier aging and reduce inflammation.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with a rich, earthy flavor that has a bitter taste and is often used to season or color curry powders, mustards, etc. The flavorful spice has received a considerable amount of attention for its content of curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient. Turmeric lowers inflammation associated with arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.

6. Cherries

Sweet and sour cherries are packed with antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, that help fight inflammation. Although the effects of tart cherries have been studied more, sweet cherries also provide health benefits. In one study, participants who ate 280 grams of cherries per day for 1 month, had lower levels of the inflammatory marker CRP and remained low for 28 days after they stopped consuming cherries 

7. Dark chocolate and cocoa

Dark chocolate is supplied with antioxidants that reduce inflammation and can decrease the risk of disease and lead to healthier aging. Flavanol-rich cocoa is responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects and keeps the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy. Be sure to choose dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa; the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better to obtain these anti-inflammatory benefits.

Incorporating healthier options onto your plate won’t provide you with an instant cure for inflammation, but it could help reduce your flare-ups or lower your pain levels. Including anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a more holistic way of addressing pain and inflammation, as opposed to taking medication.

Sources: 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods#section6
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22100562
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20370896
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17584048
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18188410
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569207
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20944519
  11. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-tart-cherry-juice-benefits
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16549461
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877960

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Fitness/ Diet

The Rundown of the Impossible Burger

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Photo Credit: pexels.com

With the human population immensely increasing each decade, the concern of utilizing all of our resources and making the Earth uninhabitable has loomed over our heads. Fortunately, back in 2011, Impossible Foods Inc. seemingly achieved the impossible, creating a plant-based burger that mimics the color, smell, and flavor of the meat. By replacing meat with plant-based “meat,” Impossible Foods Inc. hopes to reduce the harmful effects of animal agriculture on the Earth to restore natural ecosystems. Food scientists at Impossible Foods Inc. discovered that heme is the ingredient that gives meat that “meaty” flavor that people crave. Heme, located in hemoglobin, plays a vital role in animals by allowing the bloodstream to carry oxygen throughout the body. 

 A common reason why many people switch to being vegetarian and vegan is to live a healthier lifestyle. However, are these plant-based “meats” really healthier compared to their meat counterparts? The answer is not really. One of the main ingredients in the Impossible Burger is coconut oil. Although it is perceived as a “healthy” fat, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association also advises against consuming coconut oil. Upon comparing the Impossible Burger to its other burger counterparts, we see the following: 

  • Impossible burger: 240 calories with 8g of saturated fat 
  • Beef burger: 280 calories with 9g of saturated fat 
  • Veggie burgers are not meant to mimic meat: 150-160 calories with 4g of saturated fat 

 The Impossible burger has fewer calories and grams of saturated fat than the beef burger; however, it contains more sodium than its meat and veggie burger counterparts. Even though the Impossible Burger may be better for the environment, they are not necessarily nutritionally healthier for consumers. The Impossible Burger is a good alternative for people who are vegetarian to reduce the consumption of animal-based foods. However, a traditional veggie burger is a healthier choice due to its low-fat content. Overall, Impossible Foods Inc. has created a viable alternative to classic burgers, striving to achieve what seems to be impossible. 

Sources: 

  1. https://medium.com/impossible-foods/the-mission-that-motivates-us-d4d7de61665
  2. https://medium.com/impossible-foods/heme-health-the-essentials-95201e5afffa
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/09/health/plant-fake-meat-burgers-good-for-you-or-not/index.html

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Fitness/ Diet

Studies Show That Healthy Food Can Help Combat Depression

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The most common medical solutions to treat depression include antidepressants and SSRIs. However, rather than turning to medication, changing the way you eat can help you combat depression. Research has shown that a nutritious diet not only prevents depression but also treats it once it has started

Epidemiologist Felice Jacka led research that examined whether or not diet plays a role in improving mood. In a group of 67 people with depression, one group was being treated for antidepressants, another group received psychotherapy, and some individuals were treated with both. Half of the individuals were advised by a dietician regarding how to incorporate a healthy diet, while the other half was given social support. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that those that received nutritional counseling showed significantly happier moods compared to those who received social support. 

With other studies showing similar results, we have seen the genesis of nutritional psychiatry. This discipline, pioneered by Jacka, aims to demonstrate the role of diet in mental health and to develop nutrition-based strategies to combat brain disorders. Traditional medical education generally does not consist of a well-rounded insight into nutrition; therefore, fields such as nutritional psychiatry are working on adding another layer to medical curriculum because food can apply to other parts of the body. For example, this research study notes that a bad diet affects our microbiome, which consists of gut bacteria that are housed inside of our intestines. Gut bacteria essentially create molecules that affect the production of serotonin in the brain. 

You might be asking: what foods can I eat? The research points out to a Mediterranean diet composed of “olive oil, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, and seafood.” Ultimately, this diet would increase good gut-bacteria and enhance our inflammatory responses. Here are some nutrients to consider: 

  • DHA: Also known as Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA helps in producing BDNF, which is brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes the formation of new neurons in the brain. It is also the primary omega-3 fats in the brain. 
    • Sources of DHA: Wild salmon, oysters, mussels
  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin is crucial in serotonin production, which influences sleep and mood. Decreased serotonin is linked to depression, and a daily intake of vitamin B6 is recommended. 
    • Sources of Vitamin B6: Sweet potatoes, pistachios, chicken
  • Probiotics: These are crucial to cultivating good gut-bacteria within the microbiome.
    • Sources of Probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, kimchi
  • Prebiotics: It is essential for the gut bacteria to have prebiotics to stay alive. 
    • Sources of Prebiotics: Onions, Garlic, Oats

A proper diet may not completely eliminate medications or therapy. However, “it can act as a supplemental treatment” with no detrimental side effects unlike antidepressants, and in the long run, it acts as a source of prevention for chronic diseases. 

Source: 

  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-food-that-helps-battle-depression-1522678367
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43504125

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