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magnesium

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honey

Honey, which is also known as Madhu or Shahad, it is an important food and medicine in Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, it belongs to the categories of food which can be eaten daily for good health. However, it has very particular and strong properties and should be taken carefully. It is gold if taken properly under right conditions. It is also known as healing nectar because of it’s strong healing powers.

“Nothing is so troublesome as ama [indigestion] caused by the improper intake of honey.’
– Charaka Samhita

Nature’s gift to the mankind

Honey is an excellent nature’s gift to the mankind. Because of it’s sweet taste, one of the prominent use of honey is as a natural sweetener. Besides that, it has high nutritional value. It can also be used as a natural medicine. Honey has sugar such as fructose, maltose, glucose with added proteins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and fats.

How is honey produced?

Bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers and carry it to the beehive. In their stomachs, these combine with enzymes and proteins to produce honey. In the beehive, the honey is released into the beeswax comb. This process continues until the combs are full. Honey has long history of use since antiquity.

What is raw honey?

Pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized natural sugar made by the bees from the nectar of flowers. Most of the honey consumed today is processed honey that’s been heated and filtered since it was gathered from the hive. Unlike processed honey, raw honey contains incredible nutritional value.

Kinds of Honey

Honey can be found in many forms. The main kinds of honey commonly found are:

  1. Comb Honey
  2. Liquid Honey
  3. Granulated Honey
  4. Creamed Honey
  5. Chunk Honey
1. COMB HONEY

As the name suggests, this kind of honey is taken directly as it is from the bee wax. Once taken, it is stored with the same comb as it is.

2. LIQUID HONEY

To extract liquid honey, the wax cappings are cut and wax combs are processed in an extractor which is known as honey centrifuge extractor.

3. GRANULATED HONEY

This kind of honey is frozen which makes the water elements separated from the honey and leaves the granules of honey behind.

4. CREAMED HONEY

Creamed honey is the combination of liquid honey and granulated honey. 1 part of granulated honey is mixed with 9 parts of liquid honey; it is then stored at 57 degrees until it becomes completely firm.

5. CHUNK HONEY

Chunk honey contains comb honey and liquid honey. A jar is taken and comb honey is placed in it. Liquid honey is then poured over the comb honey in jar, resulting in chunk honey.

Benefits of Honey

When used under right conditions, honey has numerous benefits. Some of them are listed below:

  1. It helps to relieves cough.
  2. It has amazing healing power and helps to heal wounds.
  3. When combined with turmeric, it is an amazing mixture to heal burns externally.
  4. It reduces Kapha dosha.
  5. It helps to remove congestion.
  6. It helps to reduce weight.
  7. It helps to soothes a sore throat.
  8. It removes unwanted toxins from the body.
  9. It helps to get rid of cholesterol and fat.
  10. It has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  11. When taken with herbs it increases the potency of herbs.
  12. It is an amazing treatment for diseases like, diarrhea, vomiting, worm infections, etc.
  13. Honey contains iron, manganese, and copper which helps to build hemoglobin in body. Because of which honey aids to treat patients with anemia.
  14. Honey works wonderfully on dry skin to moisturize it.
  15. It helps to treat various eye ailments.

Properties of Honey

  1. It is for Dosha VK
  2. It tastes sweet 
  3. It energetics heating 
  4. It contains vitamins and minerals. It has vitamins B, vitamin C, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, chromium, and manganese

The Ayurvedic Rules for Honey

Honey is widely used in Ayurveda. However, there are a few rules to get maximum benefit of using honey. Some of them are:

  • The number one rule is to NEVER heat honey(above 40 °C) because heating honey directly creates toxins which are bad for the body.
  • Honey is an excellent medicine for Kapha types, because of it’s quality lekhana. Lekhana scrape away the toxins, fat, and cholesterol from the body.
  • When taken with herbs it increases their potency making them more effective.
  • Avoid eating ghee and honey in equal proportions by weight (not by volume).
  • Those who have Pitta type or Pitta imbalance should avoid taking honey.
  • Honey should be used/consumed with hot foods.

How to test the purity of honey?

It is advisable to use raw honey to get the maximum benefits. There are a few methods to check the purity of honey.

  • When put in the water, the honey should not spread quickly.
  • When added in the water, the honey should settle at the bottom of the jar.
  • The taste should be sweet and astringent, giving the tongue a drying sensation.

 

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Written By: Syeda Saira

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Magnesium is a mineral we should be paying more attention to! It is part of over 300 biochemical reactions and the fourth most abundant mineral in our body, with 65% of it in our bones and teeth and 35% in our brain, hearth, blood, and cells. But many of us can have low magnesium levels, and this can lead to many common symptoms.

Causes of deficiency

-Intake of coffee, alcohol, smoking
-Long term use of diuretics               
-Birth control pills
-Poor nutrition
-Diarrhea, dehydration                                  
-Hyperthyroid           
-Kidney disease – Since the kidneys are regulators of magnesium homeostasis
-Celiac and IBD (due to impaired absorption of minerals)
-Antibiotics                           
-Stress
-Sweating                                          
-Exercise

As you can see, many things affect magnesium absorption. Food processing in itself reduces magnesium, up to 80% in milling of wheat for example. Phytic acid and oxalic acid found in many greens and grains also reduce magnesium. Absorption also depends on stomach acid level, diet, and our bodily requirements.

Effects of Low Magnesium

Many of us can have any of the following symptoms, but don’t always connect this to magnesium deficiency:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Nausea, GI disorders, constipation
  • Muscle cramps, especially in the legs at night, restless legs
  • Excessive body odour
  • Hypersensitivity to noise, startle reactions
  • Cravings for chocolate
  • Poor coordination
  • Insomnia, hyperactivity, irritability
  • Poor memory

Sources of Magnesium

  • Seeds – pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
  • Green beans
  • Spinach and other leafy greens – Magnesium is at the centre of the chlorophyll molecule which is the green pigment found in green vegetables.
  • Figs
  • Avocados
  • Lemons, grapefruit
  • Nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts
  • Apples, bananas
  • Soybeans
  • Seafood
  • Dark chocolate
  • Whole grains – wheat germ and bran, millet, brown rice

Bones

Our society focuses a lot on Calcium for bone health, but magnesium is also very important. Studies have shown that excessive calcium intake, as well as phosphorus, iron, copper, and zinc will lower magnesium absorption. Since 65% of our magnesium is in our bones, it is important for bone and teeth health. It has a structural role for bones, as well as being essential to osteoblasts and osteoclasts (bone cells), and needed for ATP (energy) formation in cells. Magnesium also is required by enzymes that metabolize vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health. Studies show that restricting magnesium intake results in osteoporosis!

Cardiovascular health

Magnesium relaxes smooth muscles found around blood vessels, reducing artery spasms and keeping heart rhythm regular. It also dilates blood vessels to reduce blood pressure. It works with calcium to regulate muscle tone of the heart. It is a cofactor to many enzymes, it is needed for ATP production (cellular energy), regulates ion channels, myocardial contraction, vascular tone, and thrombosis. Magnesium taurate is one form of magnesium specifically for improving cardiac function, contraction, and reducing blood pressure.

Muscles

Magnesium regulates muscle contractions and is a muscle relaxant. It is a great supplement for restless legs, muscle spasms, cramps, and sore muscles. It is also useful for PMS cramps and athletes who suffer from cramps. One form of magnesium: magnesium bisglycinate is a very well absorbed form. Another form, magnesium sulfate, is found in Epsom Salts, and is beneficial as a bath for muscle relaxation.

Digestive Tract

Due to its relaxant function on smooth muscles around the digestive tract, it can cause loose stools especially in the Magnesium Citrate form. It is helpful when you have constipation. Magnesium also activates enzymes involved in metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Relaxation and Nervous System

Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral, popular as a supplement before bed to calm, relax, and help you sleep. It is a natural muscle relaxant. Deficiency of magnesium results in neurological symptoms, as magnesium is important for nervous system health. In terms of supplements, it was shown that Magnesium threonate actually enters the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) and brain, and has effects on learning and memory and is neuroprotective.

To get more magnesium in your diet, Consicous Health has many plenty of foods/recipes with magnesium-rich foods! Check out Cacao, Kale Salad, or Zucchini Noodles

 

References:

Sara Castiglioni et al. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions. Nutrients. 2013 Aug; 5(8): 3022–3033.

Tangvoraphonkchai K, Davenport A. Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2018 May;25(3):251-260.

Jan Philipp Schuchardt and Andreas Hahn. Intestinal Absorption and Factors Influencing Bioavailability of Magnesium-An Update. Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2017 Nov; 13(4): 260–278.

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“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson

Chocolate is the “Food of the Gods” for a reason: it not only tastes good, but has impressive health benefits.

Chocolate comes from cacao beans which are actually seeds of a fruit from the Theobroma cacao tree. It is native to Mexico, Central and South America, but now also grown in West Africa, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. It grows well in rich tropical soil. Cacao was used by ancient civilization in Central America such as the Aztecs, Mayas, and Olmec. They used it in religious ceremonies, as currency, in beverages, and food. Columbus then brought the cacao bean to Europe but it was in the 1800s that chocolate was actually manufactured. Then various ingredients were added such as milk and sugar, turning it into modern chocolate.

Cacao Powder

Raw, unsweetened cacao powder is high in antioxidants. Various brands/types vary based on the cacao bean used, the roasting, grinding, and quality. To produce raw cacao powder, the cacao seeds and surrounding pulp are fermented in boxes. Unprocessed cacao beans are very bitter due to alkaloids so they need to be fermented. The seeds are then dried in the sun or ovens and shipped to cacao processors to be milled into chocolate liquor. Then the fat (cocoa butter) is mechanically pressed to produce powder.

Cacao powder is different than cocoa powder. Cacao is:

  • The purest form, raw, and the least processed.
  • High source of antioxidants such as flavonols, catechins, and beta-carotene
  • It is a superfood of nutrients, including a high source of magnesium as well as zinc, iron, calcium.
  • Has more fibre and monounsaturated fats
  • It has protein and amino acids

Cocoa powder:

  • Cocoa powder is a heated form of cacao, by undergoing a higher temperature processing
  • It is less expensive
  • It still contains some antioxidants
  • It may be mixed with more sugar
  • Dutch-cocoa is darker cocoa is alkalized and less acidic and richer in taste

Antioxidants

Cacao powder is one of the richest sources of antioxidants and there are many studies confirming the benefits of cacao powder or dark chocolate.

  • Dark chocolate was shown to have more than double the amount of catechins than green tea which is an antioxidant superfood.
  • A cup of hot cocoa had double the antioxidants than a glass of red wine.
  • Cacao powder has more antioxidants than blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate

Cacao powder and dark chocolate contain high levels of polyphenols such as flavonols and proanthocyanins which are antioxidants. Flavonols are a class of phytochemicals found in plants. Cacao powder and unsweetened dark chocolate contains the most flavonols. Milk chocolate has less than half of its flavonols available since the milk protein binds the antioxidants, making them less absorbable. Milk chocolate also contains sugar and is more heavily processed, therefore making it less healthy. Therefore, to ensure you get the most health benefits, choose raw cacao powder or dark chocolate without additives!

Cardiovascular Health

Many studies show that cacao powder and dark chocolate improve cardiovascular health in the following ways:

  • Flavonols protect the epithelial cells lining the arteries which produce nitric oxide that dilates the arteries, increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.
  • Magnesium in cacao is a vasodilator that reduces blood pressure
  • Dark chocolate reduces LDL oxidation (being a strong antioxidant). Lipid peroxidation is a factor in atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Dark chocolate consumption reduces C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation
  • A meta-analysis showed that dark chocolate reduces the risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Failure, and stroke

Blood Sugar

Choosing cacao powder or dark chocolate (without sugar added) can help lower blood sugar. Studies show cacao reduces blood sugar levels and improves liver enzymes. It also helps protect against insulin resistance. Cacao consumption has shown to have an inverse relationship with incidence of diabetes.

Mood and anxiety

Cacao powder and dark chocolate were shown to increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the levels of stress hormones. They also improve mood and contain magnesium which is relaxing. Cacao contains tryptophan which enhances relaxation. It contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which improves memory and mood as it induces acethylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin release. Cacao contains anandamide which improves mood and anxiety.

Cancer

Cacao procyanidins and catechins are shown to inhibit carcinogenesis. Cacao’s antioxidants also lower free radical damage that can contribute to cancer. Cacao also reduces inflammation which is associated with carcinogenesis.                         

Quality

Chocolate is popular in many countries, with European countries consuming half of the world’s chocolate. The Ivory Coast in Africa is the largest producer of cocoa. Cacao bean plantations employ locals to harvest the beans, dry them, and then are transported to companies. However, undercover investigations have discovered illegal child labour, therefore you should look for chocolate that is Fair Trade or organic.

Usage

You can use cacao powder in smoothies, baking recipes, raw desserts, pudding, smoothie bowls, homemade ice cream, cookies, oatmeal, coffee.

Try my delicious Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies.

References:

Healing Spices, Baharat Aggarwal 2011

Food Science: Death By Chocolate   Elaine B Feldman, PhD   Nutrition Today 33(3): 1998

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tricks: 5,000 Ingenious Kitchen Hints, Secrets, Shortcuts, and Solutions, David Joachim, 2004

SJ Crozier, AG Preston, JW Hurst, MJ Payne, J Mann, L Hainly, DL Miller. 2011. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chem Cent J. 5: 5.

Lee Hooper et al. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb 1.

Brian Buijsse et al. Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults. Eur Heart J. 2010 Jul;31(13):1616-23.

Jia-Yi Dong et al.  Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke among men and women: A large population-based, prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis. 2017 Mar 4 ;260:8-12.

Sansone Roberto et al. Cocoa flavanol intake improves endothelial function and Framingham Risk Score in healthy men and women: a randomised, controlled, double-masked trial: the Flaviola Health Study. Br J Nutr. 2015 Sep 9:1-10.

Maria Monagas et al. Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;90(5):1144-50.

Dirk Taubert et al. Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007 Jul 4;298(1):49-60.

Zubaida Faridi et all. Acute dark chocolate and cocoa ingestion and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jul;88(1):58-63.

Sheng Yuan et al. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients. 2017 Jul 2 ;9(7).

Fei Gong et al. Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 20 ;9(4).

Susanna C Larsson et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of myocardial infarction: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Heart. 2016 Jul 1 ;102(13):1017-22.

Georgina E Crichton et al. Habitual chocolate intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study: (1975-2010): Prospective observations. Appetite. 2017 Jan 1 ;108:263-269.

Chisa Matsumoto et al. Chocolate consumption and risk of diabetes mellitus in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb ;101(2):362-7.

Kang N, et al. Cocoa procyanidins suppress transformation by inhibiting mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase. 2006. J Biol CHem. 283(30): 20664-73.

Yamagishi M, et al. Chemoprevention of lung carcinogenesis by cacao liquor proacthocyanidins in a male rat multi-organ carcinogenesis model 2003.. Cancer Letters. 191(1): 49-57.

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