Apple Cider Vinegar for Colds, Acid Reflux, Diabetes, and More

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is to me an under-appreciated wellness-booster in American households. Studies have yet to be conducted to prove ACV’s effectiveness however many people for hundreds, if not thousands of years, have found numerous benefits from internal consumption of apple cider vinegar.* In addition, good quality ACV is easy to find and relatively inexpensive. [1]

apples, vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from apples that are crushed and allowed to ferment. The best kind to use in the remedies outlined herein is organic unfiltered, unpasteurized ACV such as Bragg brand.* This type of ACV is a bit cloudy and may have some things floating in it. These are good bacteria and safe to consume, not unlike the particles you will find in kombucha, a fermented tea beverage now widely available in stores throughout the country.

Here are 3 ways a shot or two of apple cider vinegar a day can benefit your health:

1. AVC can help dry internal damp conditions: excess mucous, Candida, fungus, some fibroids or tumors. These ailments fall within the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) category of damp presentations. The theory is that an excess of fluids are not properly being released or cleared from your body leaving your body vulnerable to viral, bacterial, or fungal overgrowths as well as masses that are fueled by fluids. ACV’s bitterness is drying and the good bacteria that grow as a result of its fermentation process can help fight off the bad guys. [2]

2. AVC acts as an antacid for mild acid reflux. This may sound counterintuitive because apple cider vinegar is so acidic but some believe it to have alkalizing (meaning antacid) effects on the body and it can help as part of a larger regimen for addressing occasional, mild cases of acid reflux as well as some cases of chronix reflux, or GERD. The reason for this has not been proven but I can say from firsthand experience that I was able to kick my antacids to the curb as a result of my daily ACV shot. (Check out RefluxMD for their theories.) [3] This is particularly noteworthy for women because chemically produced antacids, while often helpful and sometimes irreplaceable can have long-term side effects including our ability to absorb important nutrients and they can lead to more serious conditions such as kidney stones. [4]

3. ACV regulates blood sugar and supports some diabetes treatments. This is an application for ACV that has been scientifically studied and proved that ACV effectively prevents some starches from entering the bloodstream thus regulating blood sugar. A secondary outcome of these studies shows the ways that ACV consumed prior to meals leads to weight loss. [5]

The dosage and recipe for each of the ailments is essentially the same: 1 tsp. to 1 tablespoon of ACV in 6 to 10oz of room temperature water, before each meal, 1 to 2 times/day. If you are wary of the sour taste, I strongly recommend you start with one teaspoon in 10 oz of water and see how your body reacts. Immediately chasing it with half a teaspoon of raw honey can help or you can stir the honey into your drink. If you’re not into the shot, try using ACV in a salad dressing or within another raw recipe that contains several ingredients. As always, feel free to be in touch with questions or comments or to share your favorite ACV recipe. Good luck!

*A few disclaimers:

  • Always check with your doctor before beginning treatment or remedies especially if you have chronic or acute issues and receive a diagnosis.
  • Do not take ACV straight as it can damage the esophagus. Always dilute in another non-acidic liquid such as water.
  • AVC is not advised for people who are generally frail or weak as it has a detoxing effect.
  • Some health practitioners believe pregnant women should only consume pasteurized apple cider vinegar.
  • ACV is not meant for daily consumption for lengthy periods of time as it is quite powerful and can lead to dependency. Symptoms may return when you stop regularly consuming ACV. Paul Pitchford, a nutrition expert and TCM practitioner, rather suggests dietary changes as a more moderate and sustainable method for maintaining long-term health. [6]

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[1]  At time of publication in January 2015, a 32 oz bottle that can last for several months is available online for $4.69.

[2]  Paul Pitchford. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 3rd edition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2002, p. 205.; “Apple Cider Vinegar Cure?” on Candida-Cure-Recipes.com.

[3]  “Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux” on RefluxMD.com.

[4]  “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease In-depth Report.” on TheNewYorkTimes.com.

[5] Carol S. Johnston, PHD, Cindy M. Kim, MS and Amanda J. Buller, MS. “Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care. January 2004, vol. 27 no. 1, pp. 281-282; Andrea M. White, PHD and Carol S. Johnston, PHD. “Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care. November 2007, vol. 30, no. 11, pp. 2814-2815.

[6] Pitchford pp. 108, 205, 314.

A Luscious Pre- or Post-Workout Smoothie to Build Muscle

SmoothieAccording to many professional trainers and sports doctors, working out may not be enough to build muscle. When we eat and what we eat pre- and post-workout can impact how much muscle we build or don’t build. Some of the things recommended for exercise lasting 45-minutes or more are:

— Eat within one hour of exercising, both pre- and post-workout

— Eat proteins and some carbohydrates that digest quickly in order for the muscle-building nutrients to reach your muscles quickly. Muscles are made of proteins and amino acids which start to break down during intensive workouts so if you do not do this, your body may draw on existing muscle to replenish itself after exercise. [1]

The smoothie recipe below includes whole foods that can help build muscle. Just throw everything into a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds.

  1. Quickly absorbed proteins: Yogurt and Milk (1½ cups total combined) Not only does this contain the essential proteins touted by all as essential muscle-builders, but the good bacteria in the yogurt will help quickly breakdown all of the goodness in your smoothie. The yogurt to milk ratio depends on how thick the yogurt is because if the yogurt is very thick, the smoothie can start to taste like banana bread batter. If your yogurt does not contain pectin, use 1 cup cow yogurt and ½ c. cow milk. Cow milk contains the most amount of protein of the milk options. In addition, I could not find non-dairy cultured products that contain sufficient protein except for cultured soy but I cannot in good conscious recommend these soy products because of their effect on hormones. (Stay tuned for that blog…) If you are lactose-sensitive and/or trying to reduce your carbon-footprint, you might try cultured goat milk with almond milk. There is one in the New York City-area from Coach Farm that is delicious in this smoothie when combined with Pacific Food’s Organic Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. The cultured goat milk is thin though so add an extra ½ banana if you go that route.
  2. Quickly absorbed carbohydrate: Banana (2 medium-sized bananas) Glycogen is derived from glucose, a sugar molecule, and it is the primary fuel for exercise. It depletes as you work out and is one of the primary things you want to consume in order to restore your energy. Bananas are an excellent source of easily accessed glycogen for your body according to personal trainer and exercise writer, Mike Samuels. [2] While loaded with nutrients, the fiber in whole grains can take a while to breakdown and can slow down the breakdown of proteins. Bananas however are a good source of carbohydrate post-workout because they provide the needed sugars of a carbohydrate without a lot of complex fibers. Bananas are also an optimal carb because they contain potassium which is said to support heart health. Some believe bananas prevent muscle cramping as well. [3]
  3. Vitamin B6: Pistachios (1 tablespoon) Vitamin B6 helps break down proteins and carbohydrates and help get these things to your muscles quickly. It is also said to reduce inflammation in addition to supporting the nervous system which is activated during workouts. [4]
  4. Anti-inflammatory: Turmeric powder (1 tsp.) This powerful powder typically used in curry blends is derived from a root similar to ginger. It has long been used for its inflammatory properties and a 2009 study showed that turmeric’s pain-relieving effects comparable to ibuprofen. [5] Part of what enables turmeric to work its magic is that it thins the blood. This may be of concern for some people who have blood-clotting issues or who have recently had surgery or will have surgery. Turmeric is also contra-indicated for gallstones. If this is you, check with your doctor about regular turmeric consumption.
  5. Electrolytes: Salt (a small pinch) As is commonly known, you lose essential salts through your sweat so adding a pinch of salt will not only replenish your eletrolytes but it will also make you subtly thirsty for more fluids. [6]

 

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[1] There seem to be much debate about the precise window within which one should eat as well as the precise ratio of proteins to carbs but it seems clear that eating within one hour cannot hurt and waiting may hurt. Will Brink, “The Latest on Pre-Post Workout Nutrition” (2003); Alan Albert Aragon and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. “Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2013, 10:5.

[2] Mike Samuels, “Should I Eat Bananas if I Want to Build Muscle?Livestrong.com, June 18, 2014.

[3]Bananas.” The World’s Healthiest Food.

[4]How to Help Your Body Absorb Protein.” Golden Gate Obstetrics and Gynecology blog. September 25, 2013; “Pistachios.” The World’s Healthiest Food.

[5] Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine August 2009;15(8):891-7; Anahad O’Connor, “The Doctor’s Remedy: Turmeric for Joint Pain.” New York Times, Oct 19, 2011.

[6] Marie Spano. “Postexercise Recovery—Proper Nutrition is Key to Refuel, Rehydrate, and Rebuild after Strenuous Workouts.” Today’s Dietitian. Vol 15 No 11, p. 18.

 

 

 

Corn Silk: A Natural Remedy for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Green corn field growing upFresh corn-on-the-cob may be a favorite grilling vegetable but don’t toss its outer shell too quickly. Indigenous Americans and communities throughout Latin America and Central Europe have long used corn silk as a remedy for urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder infections, bed-wetting, as well as prostate problems. A 2012 article published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmocology reports scientific evidence for corn silk’s healing properties as well.

While many people in the US turn to cranberry juice or cranberry supplements when they have signs of a UTI, cranberry juice most often contains processed sugar and additives and can sometimes irritate the bladder or aggravate preexisting acid reflux. Like cranberries, corn silk is a diuretic but it also contains unique anti-inflammatory compounds as well as Vitamin K and potassium, which support blood circulation. Note that corn silk’s high amounts of potassium can interact with some blood pressure medication so you should check with your doctor if you have questions about this.

The tea that is made from corn silk is very mild: It tastes like sweet corn water. It generally resolves mild UTIs within a day or two. According to many herbalists, small amounts of corn silk tea are safe to drink during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and for children but, as with any herbal remedy, consult your physician if you have concerns.

It is important to note that most corn in the US is sprayed with chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Many studies have shown that these toxins can negatively affect human cells. Use non-GMO corn or organic corn if possible.

Cornsilk Tea
For Adults
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Ingredients
  1. 1-2 tbsp of freshly peeled corn silk
Instructions
  1. Bring approximately 10 oz of water to a boil.
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of freshly peeled corn silk.
  3. Turn off heat and cover.
  4. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Strain and enjoy.
Notes
  1. Herbalists generally recommend drinking 1-3 cups per day. Note that this does not last in the refrigerator beyond more than a day or so.
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From the Garden: Dandelion Greens

Foraged edible dandelion flowers and greens in bowlMay marks the beginning of fresh greens season in the Northeast, and top on the list of nutrient-rich, super foods are dandelion greens. Rich in calcium and iron, Vitamins A & K, amongst many other nutrients, they can be helpful for restoring minerals during and after your period. Herbalists recommend drinking an infusion of dandelion greens starting in the third trimester of pregnancy to increase milk production. Dandelion greens also deep clean the liver, they are a diuretic and are used to break up kidney stones, and they regulate blood sugar so they are great additions to a spring detox.

This super food has a bitter bite that can be mellowed by combining the leaves with something a bit richer, like nuts, or something sweeter, like beets.

To eat, wash the leaves and cut off the bottom stems, then mix some of them raw into a rich basil pesto or your favorite salad mix, sauté them lightly with your favorite healthy oil and garlic, use them instead of spinach in cooked dishes, or incorporate them into your morning juice.

 

 

A Japanese Condiment to Swear By

Ume fruit and Umeshu wine Japanese aperitif and dessertUme plum vinegar. It will change your life as well as your steamed greens, scrambled eggs, salads, brown rice, and pretty much anything. It is a Japanese condiment made from ume plum, shiso leaf and salt. It is salty and sour and totally addictive. It can also be great for your body and energy levels because it stimulates your digestion and helps break down lactic acid, which builds in the body as a result of stress as well as some exercise. Eden Foods makes an organic version that you can find in most health food stores or online. The salt levels are pretty high though so use sparingly and only if you do not otherwise consume much salt throughout your day.

Squash Sugar This Holiday Season

pumpkin baked with herbs and spices on a plateCrowd out processed sugar by eating sweet vegetables for dessert instead, like butternut or kabocha squash or carrots that have naturally caramelized in the oven or on the stove. In addition to reducing sugar cravings and maintaining more balanced energy levels, eating squash or carrots provides your body with beta carotene which can be helpful for your eyes and skin because it helps rebuild tissue. This can be especially good for those of you in your third trimester or who have just had a baby.

If you must have more sweet flavor drizzle a small amount of high quality maple syrup on your veggies (less than you think you need). Then try to decrease the amount of maple syrup you use each time.

PMS: Managing the Body’s Preparation for Cleansing

Woman with stomach issuesStress and busy times can exacerbate your bodies’ preparation for menstrual cleansing and spark emotional and physical roller coasters. However, certain foods can help calm PMS symptoms.

In addition to cutting out processed foods that inflame cell walls, food rich in Vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids, and iron can balance your hormones. One hard-boiled egg a day for example, provides Vitamin A and essential fatty acids. They are also really easy to make and can last in your bag for several hours if you’re on the go. Delicious on their own, with a little salt, or if you want to spice it up Moroccan-style, dip the egg in salt and cumin powder. The cumin provides iron that is helpful to integrate into your diet in advance of the iron loss you will sustain during your period.

If you do not eat eggs or want to switch it up, try a sweet potato. One medium size sweet potato contains over 400% times the recommended daily value of Vitamin A and has twice the amount of calcium as a regular potato.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds which are packed with B vitamins, magnesium which helps absorb calcium, iron, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or cultured butter and a pinch of salt for a delicious breakfast or side dish.