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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Homemade Salves

The herbs used here are those which have been successfully used down through the centuries for their skin healing benefits. Three of these are calendula, comfrey (not for internal use), and chickweed.

Salves are useful for dry, chapped and work-worn skin.

Making a salve takes a little bit longer than making creams, but is somewhat easier. The difference is that the herbs for salve are steeped directly in the oil and the recipes contain no water. The shelf life of salve is a lot longer as well.

Steps for Making Salve:


Electric skillet
The top of a double boiler pan (or a pyrex bowl)
Cooking thermometer
A suitably sized jar to hold the salve
Wide-mouth 4-oz canning jars are particularly suitable and can be easily sterilized.

Step 1: Powder the herbs in a blender or coffee mill.

Step 2: Combine the oils and herbs in the double boiler or bowl.

Step 3: Place 3/4 inch of water in the bottom of the electric skillet to protect its finish. Turn the skillet control to where the control light just comes on, then keep raising it little-by-little until the temperature of the water reaches about 100º F.

Step 4: Place the double boiler pan (which hold the herbs and oils) in the center of the skillet and switch the thermometer from the skillet to the inside of the double boiler pan.

Step 5: When you are sure that the temperature of the combined herbs and oils is constant at 95-98 degrees F., allow to remain uncovered for 12 to 14 hours or until the herbs look used up.

Step 6: Strain the herb-oil mixture through muslin or fine cheesecloth and get out as much oil as you can.

After the initial straining, you may wish to do it again in order to remove as many of the herb particles as possible. Do the second straining into a measuring cup and have a salve jar standing by.

Step 7: Take note of the amount of oil you have and pour into your cleaned double boiler pan. (Write it down so you don't forget). Raise the temperature of the skillet so the oil is at 150º F., (Beeswax melts at approximately 148º F).

Step 8: When 150º F has been reached and maintained steadily, add the grated beeswax and vitamin E (if desired). Stir while wax is melting.

Step 9: When wax is completely melted, remove from heat and add 1 drop Tincture of Benzoin (or grapefruit seed extract) for each ounce of liquid you measured. Test the consistency of your product by dripping a couple of drops onto the bottom of the salve jar (or onto a plate).

Allow a minute for it to harden and then test the consistency. If suitable, pour contents into your jar. If it is too loose, add a bit more grated beeswax (a tiny bit at a time). If too firm add a teaspoon of oil. Any more should not be necessary.

In the past, herbs were simmered in lard to make a salve and can still be done that way to cut costs. Some herbalists believe it is still a superior method of delivery to the body.

The usual method is to combine lard and herbs in a large pan in the oven on low heat (about 125º F. for 12 hours). Lard can still be used in the skillet method.

3-C Skin Salve:

1/2 oz. chickweed
1/2 oz. calendula petals
1/2 oz. comfrey leaf
6 oz. sweet almond (or other vegetable oil such as olive)
1/3 oz. grated beeswax

Powder herbs and combine with oil in double boiler. Proceed as per instructions above.

Barrier Salve:

A useful salve for skin which has taken a beating or to protect skin while doing really tough work (like gardening!) This salve is both protective and healing.

3/4 oz. calendula petals
1/4 oz. chickweed
1/2 C. non-petroleum gel
1/2 tbsp sweet almond oil

Powder herbs and combine herbs, gel and oil in top of double boiler. Place double boiler pan in electric skillet and proceed with Steps 3 through 7 for making salve.

Once the mixture has been strained, pour it into a waiting sterile jar.

An alternative method is to proceed exactly according to the salve recipe.

Combine the powdered herbs together with 1/2 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp of oil and allow to simmer for 12 to 14 hours. Strain and return to cleaned double boiler pan with 1/8 oz. grated beeswax. Test for consistency, adjusting if necessary, pour into jar and allow to set up.

Vapor Rub:

This is a homemade version of that old medicine-shelf staple Moms' have used to rub on our chests since time immemorial whenever we had a cold or flu.

Never apply it (either the purchased one or your own homemade one) directly on the skin. Spread some on a clean, soft cloth, fold it over and place it over the chest.

1/2 C. non-petroleum gel
1/2 Tbsp sweet almond or other vegetable oil
1/2 tsp essential oil of Eucalyptus
2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil (optional)

Combine NP-gel and almond oil in top of double boiler. Melt the two ingredients together, blending well, and remove from heat. Blend in the Eucalyptus (and the tea tree oil if using).

Pour into a jar and allow to set up. A small amount for immediate use can be poured out thinly onto a saucer and be ready in a few minutes.

Herbal Oils:

Two of the most useful oils are Calendula oil, for skin care, and St. Johnswort oil, which is used for a number of neurological complaints such as neuralgia, as well as for burns, bruises and sprains.

A third oil with a long history of use for earache is Mullein oil.

To make Calendula or Mullein oil, harvest a handful of Calendula petals or Mullein flowers. Place in a sealable glass jar and cover with olive oil. Cap the jar and allow to sit in the sun for several days or until the herbs look well 'used up'. Strain and bottle being sure to label and date your bottle.

A shortcut method is to use the electric skillet method as described above for infusing herbs in oil (the beeswax is omitted).

St. Johnswort oil is made by harvesting a handful of flowers and placing in a sealable glass jar. Cover with olive oil, cap the jar, and place in the sun until the oil has acquired the characteristic red color of St.Johnswort oil. Strain and bottle and label.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

35 Wonderful Uses For Baking Soda

Baking soda! There is probably a box or two in your pantry with many of your other cooking spices.

For those who know the many uses and benefits of baking soda probably always keep a few boxes on hand.

Arm and Hammer Baking Soda is the popular brand that many are familiar with. Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a naturally occurring substance that is found in all living things.

Baking Soda is made from soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate. The soda ash is mined in the form of an ore called trona. The soda ash is then dissolved into a solution through which carbon dioxide is bubbled and sodium bicarbonate precipitates out, forming Baking Soda.

For those who are not aware of this simple and inexpensive cooking additive, here are 35 amazing uses for baking soda.

For personal care baking soda can be used to:

1. Freshen up your mouth- Put one teaspoon in half a glass of water, swish, spit, and rinse. Odors are neutralized, not just covered up.

2. Make a toothpaste- make a paste of baking soda and a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution. You can also just dip your toothbrush with toothpaste into baking soda for an extra boost.

3. Use as a facial scrub- Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub in a gentle circular motion to exfoliate the skin. Rinse clean. This is gentle enough for daily use.

4. Soak oral appliances- Soak oral appliances in a solution of 2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in a glass or small bowl of warm water. The baking soda loosens food particles and neutralizes odors to keep appliances fresh.

5. Use as a deodorant- Pat baking soda onto your underarms to neutralize body odor.

6. Use as an antacid- Baking soda is a safe and effective antacid to relieve heartburn, sour stomach, and/or acid indigestion.

7. Hair treatment- Vinegar is amazing for your hair, but baking soda has its place in the shower too. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into your palm along with your favorite shampoo. Shampoo as usual and rinse thoroughly. Baking soda helps remove the residue that styling products leave behind so your hair is cleaner and more manageable.

8. Clean brushes and combs- Remove natural oil build-up and hair product residue by soaking combs and brushes in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small basin of warm water. Rinse and allow to dry.

9. Treat insect bites and itchy skin- For insect bites, make a paste out of baking soda and water, and apply as a salve onto affected skin. To ease the itch, shake some baking soda into your hand and rub it into damp skin after bath or shower.

10. Make a hand cleanser and softener- make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water or 3 parts baking soda with gentle liquid hand soap. Gently scrub away ground-in dirt and neutralize odors on hands then rinse clean.

11. Bath soak- Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your bath to neutralize acids on the skin and help wash away oil and perspiration. It also makes your skin feel very soft. Or just focus on soothing your feet. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a tub of warm water and soak feet. Gently scrub.

For cleaning baking soda can be used to:

12. Make a surface soft scrub- For safe, effective cleaning of bathroom tubs, tile, and sinks sprinkle baking soda lightly on a clean damp sponge and scrub as usual. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry. For extra cleaning power, make a paste with baking soda, coarse salt, and liquid dish soap — let it sit then scour off.

13. Freshen up sponges- Soak stale-smelling sponges in a strong baking soda solution to get rid of the mess (4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of warm water).

14. Cleaning the oven- Sprinkle baking soda onto the bottom of the oven. Spray with water to dampen the baking soda. Let sit overnight. In the morning, scrub, scoop the baking soda and grime out with a sponge, or vacuum, and rinse.

15. Cleaning the microwave- Baking soda on a clean damp sponge cleans gently inside and outside the microwave and never leaves a harsh chemical smell. Rinse well with water.

16. Polishing silver flatware- Use a baking soda paste made with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub onto the silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry for shining sterling and silver-plate serving pieces.

17. Cleaning coffee and tea pots- Remove coffee and tea stains and eliminate bitter off-tastes by washing mugs and coffee makers in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. For stubborn stains, try soaking overnight in the baking soda solution and detergent or scrubbing with baking soda on a clean damp sponge.

18. Cleaning the floors- Remove dirt and grime (without unwanted scratch marks) from no-wax and tile floors using 1/2 cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water — mop and rinse clean for a sparkling floor. For scuff marks, use baking soda on a clean damp sponge, then rinse.

19. Cleaning the furniture- Clean and remove marks (even crayon) from walls and painted furniture by applying baking soda to a damp sponge and rubbing lightly. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.

20. Boosting liquid laundry detergent- Give your laundry a boost by adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your laundry to make liquid detergent work harder. A better balance of pH in the wash gets clothes cleaner, fresher, and brighter. Or you can add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle for fresher sheets and towels or to neutralize gym clothes and odoriferous clothing.

21. Removing oily stains- Use baking soda to clean up light-duty oil and grease spills on your garage floor or in your driveway. Sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush.

22. Cleaning batteries- Baking soda can be used to neutralize battery acid corrosion on cars, mowers, etc., because it's a mild alkali. Be sure to disconnect the battery terminals before cleaning. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water and apply with a damp cloth to scrub corrosion from the battery terminal. After cleaning and reconnecting the terminals, wipe them with petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion.

23. Cleaning the car- Use baking soda to clean your car lights, chrome, windows, tires, vinyl seats, and floor mats without worrying about unwanted scratch marks. Use a baking soda solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Apply with a sponge or soft cloth to remove road grime, tree sap, bugs, and tar.

For stubborn stains use baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge or soft brush. Eliminate odors by sprinkling baking soda directly on fabric car seats and carpets. Wait 15 minutes (or longer for strong odors) and vacuum up the baking soda.

For deodorizing use baking soda to:

24. Deodorize your refrigerator- Place an open box in the back of the fridge to neutralize odors.

25. Remove odor from carpets- Liberally sprinkle baking soda on the carpet. Let set overnight or as long as possible (the longer it sets the better it works). Sweep up the larger amounts of baking soda, and vacuum up the rest. An added bonus: You'll also deodorize your vacuum cleaner.

26. Deodorize trashcans- Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your trashcan to keep stinky trash smells at bay.

27. Deodorize drains and garbage disposals- To deodorize your sink and tub drains and garbage disposal and keep lingering odors from resurfacing, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain while running warm tap water. This will neutralize both acid and basic odors for a fresh drain. This a good way to dispose of baking soda that is being retired from your refrigerator.

28. Deodorize and clean dishwashers- Use baking soda to deodorize before you run the dishwasher and then as a gentle cleanser in the wash cycle.

29. Freshen your closets- Place a box on the shelf to keep the closet smelling fresh.

30. Freshen stuffed animals- Keep favorite cuddly toys fresh with a dry shower of baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on and let it sit for 15 minutes before brushing off.

31. Deodorize pet stuff- Cover the bottom of your cat box with baking soda, then fill as usual with litter. To freshen between changes, sprinkle baking soda on top of the litter after a thorough cleaning. Eliminate odors from your pet's bedding by sprinkling liberally with baking soda, wait 15 minutes (or longer for stronger odors), then vacuum up.

32. Deodorize stinky sneakers- Keep odors from spreading in smelly sneakers by shaking baking soda into them when not in use. Shake out before wearing.

A few other uses for baking soda:

33. Care for the septic system- Regular use of baking soda in your drains can help keep your septic system flowing freely. One cup of baking soda per week will help maintain a favorable pH in your septic tank.

34. Scrub fruits and vegetables- Baking soda is the food safe way to clean dirt and residue off fresh fruit and vegetables. Just sprinkle a little on a clean damp sponge, scrub and rinse. Here’s another way to clean your vegetables as well.

35. Extinguish grease or electrical fires- Baking soda can help in the initial handling of minor grease or electrical kitchen fires, because when baking soda is heated, it gives off carbon dioxide, which helps to smother the flames.

For small cooking fires (frying pans, broilers, ovens, grills), turn off the gas or electricity if you can safely do so. Stand back and throw handfuls of baking soda at the base of the flame to help put out the fire. Never throw baking soda into a deep fryer. This may cause the grease to splatter on you.

There are many more uses for baking soda. The fun part is researching and experimenting to find more useful benefits.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Important Fiber Facts

Research has shown fiber to be powerful toward a healthy diet and lifestyle, but many people aren't taking this nutrient seriously.

Here are 9 important facts about fiber:

1. Fiber can actually help with overeating. All high
fiber foods will take longer to chew and digest,
making you feel satisfied longer.

2. Fiber fights diseases. A diet high in fiber can
help to prevent colon cancer and heart disease. High
fiber helps the body to eliminate cholesterol by
binding it in the digestive tract.

3. More fiber needs more water. In order to keep
fiber moving through your digestive tract, you'll
need to consume a lot of water. With your fiber, you'll
need eight or more glasses of water every day.

4. Grains offer the most fiber. Dietary fiber is
actually plant matter that we cannot digest. The best
sources are whole grains and concentrated grain

5. Kids need fiber as well. Children that are older
than 2 years of age should consume a daily intake of
fiber. Kids are most receptive to fiber found in
fruits, vegetables, and even fortified breakfast

6. Most popular foods don't have enough fiber. If
you like the more popular foods, you probably need
to increase your intake of fiber.

7. You can get enough fiber. If you eat more than
50 grams of fiber in a day, you can get diarrhea
and bloating, which can interfere with your body's
absorption of other key minerals.

8. Fiber cannot be cooked out. When you cook
your fruits and vegetables, don't worry about cooking
the fiber out, as it stays. The fiber found in
fruits and vegetables aren't just in the skin or
in the peel.

9. Getting the right amount of fiber in your diet
doesn't have to be hard. Even though you may think
so, getting the amount of fiber you need isn't very
hard to do. All you have to do is eat the right
foods and you'll be well on your way to a fiber
rich lifestyle.

Fiber is something you don't want to skip, as it is one of the key components to eating healthy.

Fiber can serve many different purposes, which are listed above. If you aren't getting enough fiber in your diet you should do something about it now instead of waiting until it is too late.


4th of July Cookout- Vegetarian Style

Fourth of July is quickly approaching. This is a time when many enjoy a holiday cookout. Whether you’re expecting vegetarian guests, you’ve just became vegetarian yourself, or you’d just like to add more meatless recipes to give some variety to your cookout menu, there are all kind of ways to prepare meatless options.

A clean and well lubricated grill is important for vegetarian style cookouts. This is because vegetarian foods are more fragile than meat and do not contain as much fat. You would not want your veggies sticking to the grill.

Traditionally, vegetables have been considered a side dish in most meals, but at a cookout they can take center stage as the entrée. Almost any kind of vegetable is great for grilling.

Complement your meal by serving them over pasta, rice or polenta. You can also make them into extraordinary sandwiches with a soy-based cheese and some freshly baked rolls or bread.

Cut the vegetables lengthwise into thin slices in the case of zucchini and eggplant, or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes and peppers. If you'd rather have your veggies in handy bite-size pieces for serving with pasta and the like, try using a special pan for the grill with small holes that keep the veggies from falling through the grill and being lost. And probably the easiest way to grill vegetables on the grill is shish-ka-bob style!

A veggie shish-ka-bob recipe that I came up with is arranged by putting a slice of yellow bell pepper, mushroom, chunk of potato, slice of onion, slice of carrot, slice of red bell pepper, slice of jalapeno, chunk of pineapple, chunk of potato, mushroom, slice of onion, slice of carrot, chuck of pineapple, slice of green bell pepper, slice of jalapeno. I then brush on a thin coat of honey, sprinkle on pepper spices and roast on the grill.

Don’t forget to balance out those grilled vegetables with some fresh fruit salads, perfectly chilled and juicy. Watermelon, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits all complement one another well in a delightful fruit salad prepared with non-dairy whipped cream.

Also use fruits to experiment with some fun smoothies and slushies for the kids – they’re fun and better for them than sugary sodas.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Homemade Organic Fungicides and Bug Repellants

If you are growing your own herbs for teas or spices or for natural home remedies, it is important to keep your plants healthy and protected from those little pests that like to destroy your hard work.

Since we are working toward keeping everything eco-friendly and healthy, that last thing we want to use on our plants are chemical sprays.

If you are going to use a commercial pesticide for your plants, ensure that it is organic in composition. If you want to stick to the format of home remedies and making things yourself, below are a few popular home concotions that will get the job done.

The following ingredients should be mixed in a spray bottle so that the solutions can be sprayed directly onto your plants to control fungus and disease:

Hydrogen Peroxide Spray: Mix 1 tablespoon per gallon of water.

Oil and Baking Soda Spray: 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of cooking oil mixed in a quart of warm water.

Listerine Spray: 1 teaspoon of Listerine mixed into a quart of warm water.

The above sprays should be applied to your plants every ten days. It will help with the disease and fungus problems.

To help control insects, use the following recipes:

Insects can be controlled with a solution of soap and cooking oil. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and a 1/4 teaspoon of cooking oil into a quart of warm water. Spray the underside and top of all the leaves. This will help stop most of the common pests that love to destroy your plants.

The spray should be applied every 10 days.

Insecticide Garlic Spray:

Ingredients: 1 Garlic Bulb, 2 Cups Water, 1 Gallon Water

To make take an entire garlic bulb and two cups of water and blend in blender. Mix at high speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour mixture into a container and set it aside for up to one day. Strain the liquid through a cheese cloth. Mix the liquid with one gallon of water. Apply liberally on top and bottom of leaves.

Tomato Leaf Insecticide:

Ingredients: 1 oz. tomato leaves; 1 quart water

Take one ounce of tomato leaves and add to one quart of water and blend thoroughly. Strain the resulting liquid and use to repel insects. This works well on white cabbage butterflies too.

There are hundreds of natural insecticides and fungicides that work just as well as their toxic chemical counterparts. So why use chemicals?


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Drying Your Herbs

A simple process which takes us back in time is the technique our mothers and grandmothers used. They would use attic rafters or a back room on the north side of the house to dry their herbs. Their home was their work place and every possible space was used. All that was needed was an area with low light and an opened window for ventilation. Air conditioning, if available, was a bonus because it sped up the drying process by removing humidity.

Leaves should be dried while on the stems. Bundle your material and wrap a string around the bottom of the stems and then hang them upside down for drying. The bundles should be small for faster drying time and can be hung from rafters or on the wall using push pins. Large bundles take longer to dry and can collect a lot of dust or can become moldy.

Another method is to place the plant material loosely in a paper sack into which a good number of holes have been punched in the sides for ventilation. Tie the top with a string and hang to dry. This serves to keep the dust from the plant material and allows for something suitable for labeling.

Attach an identification tag on your materials that are drying so that you can identify them later. Some herbs can look the same once they have been dried.

Another great idea for drying small amounts of material is to place it into a wicker style basket that has been lined with paper towels. The basket can be placed on a table out of direct sunlight. The material should be fluffed every now and then to prevent settling.

Once dried, leaves are easily removed by stripping them from the stems. Sometimes you may have to grind the stems along with the leaves, such as the case with thyme. It can be tedious to strip its tiny leaves, so the dried stems and leaves are both ground for use. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

To harvest seeds, such as dill, place a paper bag over the seed head, then snip from the plant. You should attempt to get the seeds just before they have turned completely dark, and they are still attached to the plant. Once they begin falling, they go rather quickly. If a few seeds fall from the head when it is gently tapped, then it is time to harvest.

Another method of drying a lot of material at one time is to do it in an electric oven. If your oven can maintain a temperature between 80-90 deg. F, then you can dry your herbs on a cookie sheet. I do not prefer this method because of the cost involved of running an electric oven. But, if you need to dry a lot of material quickly, then this method may be for you. The herb is dry and ready for storage when the leaves crackle between your fingers.

Ideally, you should invest in a dehydrator if you plan to store a great many herbs. This is almost essential for roots. Cut the roots into small pieces, or sliced thin. It also makes the whole harvest ready for storage in a very short time. Try to get one that will operate without heat or has a thermostat.

After approximately one year, dried herbs begin to lose their potency and flavor, so they should be replaced by a fresh harvest every year. Some herbs can last longer than one year. Most herbs can be placed in plastic bags and fresh frozen. Basil will develop a dark color, but the taste will be unaffected.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Metabolic Syndrome Management

Body Composition and Markers of Metabolic Health Improvement from Internet-based Program

A cluster of risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease is known as Metabolic syndrome.

Abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, atherogenic dyslipidemia and insulin resistance or intolerance to glucose are a few of these risk factor. As the rates of overweight and obesity increase, metabolic syndrome becomes more common.

In August 2009 a research was published in the Obesity and Weight Management journal confirming the effectiveness of a lifestyle changing program, which is hosted on the internet, that supports the improvement in cardiovascular and metabolic health.

The study consisted of a 12 week online intervention program that studied sixty individuals with metabolic syndrome. Tests were taken before, during and after the 12week program.

The Healthy for Life program was conducted, via the internet, and involved using standard weight loss tools, to include meal replacements, low-glycemic diets, behavioral change strategies, and self-monitoring.

USANA Health Sciences supplied the meal replacement shakes, pharmaceutical grade nutritional supplements, and snack bars used in this program study.

Results of the intervention program:

1. Average weight loss- 5.4%
2. Fasting insulin reduced to 32.3%
3. Insulin sensitivity increased to 31.6%
4. Improvement on triglycerides, total cholesterol, and blood pressure
5. Nearly half the subjects no longer met the criteria for metabolic syndrome

This study shows that an internet-based lifestyle change program can and does result in meaningful weight loss, as well as, improved cardiovascular health in overweight people with metabolic syndrome.

The researchers noted that given the need for strategies to help large numbers of obese individuals achieve weight loss, these results are significant.

(Source: Wyatt, et al. Successful internet-based lifestyle change program on body weight and markers of metabolic health. Obesity and Weight Management 2009 August; 5(4): 150-153.)


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Meal Replacement and Nutrition

Dietary supplements and fortified meal replacements help ensure nutritional adequacy during energy-restricted diets for weight loss.

Weight control strategies that are both safe and effective are needed to reduce the rate of the current obesity epidemic. A recent study compared the macronutrient and micronutrient levels in the foods chosen by women following two different weight reduction programs.

Ninety-six generally healthy overweight or obese women randomly placed into two treatment groups:

Traditional Food Group (TFG) or a Meal Replacement Group (MRG).

The MRG included the use of 1-2 meal replacement drinks or bars per day. Both groups aimed to restrict energy levels to approximately 1,300 calories per day.

After one year, weight loss was not significantly different between the groups, and both groups had macronutrient (Carbohydrate:Protein:Fat) ratios that were within the ranges recommended.

Both groups experienced an improved dietary pattern with respect to decreased saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, with increased total servings/day of fruits and vegetables. However, the TFG had a significantly lower dietary intake of several vitamins and minerals compared to the MRG and was at greater risk for inadequate intake.

Although both groups successfully lost weight while improving overall dietary adequacy, the group incorporating fortified meal replacements tended to have a more adequate essential nutrient intake compared to the group following a more traditional food group diet.

This study supports the need to incorporate fortified foods and/or dietary supplements while following an energy-restricted diet for weight loss.

(Source: Nutr J. 2007 Jun 25;6:12)


Aging Skin and Nutrients

Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women

Here is a study result from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted in 2007.

Using data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I), scientists examined associations between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4,025 women between the ages of 40 and 74 years. Clinical examinations of the skin were conducted by dermatologists.

Skin-aging appearance was defined as having a wrinkled appearance, dryness associated with aging (senile dryness), and skin atrophy (shriveling or shrinking).

Higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance. Higher linoleic acid (an omega-6 essential fatty acid) intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of senile dryness and skin atrophy.

A higher than average fat and carbohydrate intake also increased the likelihood of a wrinkled appearance and skin atrophy. These associations were independent of age, race, education, sunlight exposure, income, menopausal status, body mass index, supplement use, physical activity, and energy intake.

Elevated intakes of vitamin C and linoleic acid and reduced intakes of fats and carbohydrates are associated with better skin-aging appearance. Promoting healthy dietary behaviors may have added benefit for the appearance of skin in addition to other beneficial health outcomes in the population.

Resource: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, No. 4, 1225-1231, October 2007


Friday, June 4, 2010

Herbal Tea- Grow Your Own

When it comes to good herbal tea, the fresher the better. Herbal teas are better tasting and more potent when they are at their peak of freshness. Growing your own herbal tea ensures not only that you have the freshest tea available, but you control the growing, the fertilizing and making sure it is organic, meaning you are not using poisonous pesticides in your growing process.

Herbal teas are used in many ways from soothing sore throats to easing digestion, and not to forget relaxation. Herbal teas can be planted in a garden in your yard, in flower pots in the house, on window sills, on the porch. Just about any place you can put a planting pot, you can grow herbal tea.

Herbal tea can be grown from seed or you can purchase them as starter plants, which is a little more expensive, but makes growing faster. I would rather grow them from seed so that I have control on what is used in the process.

You need approximately 4-5 of each herbal tea plant in order to grow enough herbal tea to keep you in a good supply of tea. Growing is easy, just read and follow the instructions on the seed package. Herbal tea seeds can be purchased from several online stores. Just use you favorite web search engine and you can find several sources to purchase from.

When ever you fell the need for a cup of herbal tea, you can take it fresh from the plant as it is growing. When harvesting your tea, try to use it with two days for the best results for potency. If you have an over abundance of herbal tea at the end of the growing cycle or season, you can always harvest the tea and dry it for later use.

To dry the herbal tea, tie a small bundle of stalks or stems together and then hang them upside down in an area away from moisture. When the material is dry and has a crispy texture, you can then store the herbal tea in an air tight container.

Some herbal tea plants bloom every season after they have been planted (perennial). For these plants do not cut the stalks too low or they may not bloom or grow next season. Once the tea is dried and properly stored, it should last for about two years.

Good Herbal Teas To Grow:

Lavender- helps you relax, boosts immunity and is anti-bacterial
Chamomile- helps you relax, aids digestion, and is anti-inflammatory (German species)
Calendula- helps the lymph system and is anti-inflammatory
Hops- helps you relax and aids in digestion
Mint- helps with headaches, digestion and sinusitis
Passionflower- helps you relax and calms the nerves
Lemon Verbena- helps with sleep, concentration and digestion
Rosemary- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Marjoram- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Basil- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Thyme- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Herbal teas can be mixed together to produce exotic flavors and healthful uses. For example, you can combine chamomile, passionflower and lavender for a calming nightime blend.

Sip your way to good health!