Tag - Digestion

#TBT – Plantain – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. This week we discuss plantain, a “weed” that has many benefits!

 

You’ve probably seen plantain (the plant variety, not the fruit related to the banana) growing in your backyard and dismissed it as a weed. However, this plant has been used for thousands of years by native peoples as a source of nutrition and healing. Plantago major or common plantain can grow almost anywhere, sprouting up even through cracks in asphalt and concrete and it can thrive in nearly any climate.

Related to spinach, plantain leaves provide iron, beta carotene, calcium, ascorbic acid and contains vitamins A, C and K. It can be added raw to salads but adult leaves tend to be stringy. It can be cooked just like spinach and the seedpods are edible as well, a bit like asparagus. Plantain is a little more bitter than spinach or asparagus and are great to use in stews or soups and stir-fries. They also have gentle astringent properties which help to dry up excess secretions in the respiratory and digestive tracts and can be helpful in treating chest colds and diarrhea.

Plantain is also commonly used as a natural poultice to draw out toxins and stingers from bug bites and stings and to alleviate other irritations. Crushed and added right to the problem area like a paste, it’s anti-inflammatory properties make it useful on wounds, burns and even removing splinters. Even if you don’t plan on harvesting the plant for use from your own backyard, it’s good to keep this information in your mind when camping or hiking in the woods!  Plantain can also help to cool and heal sunburns and because it contains a phytochemical called allantoin it generally promotes healthy skin by stimulating new cells and healthy tissue.

While you may be able to find plantain in your own backyard, if it’s been sprayed with chemicals and fertilizer you may want to find it from a different source. It is invasive so if you are thinking about planting some in your yard, be forewarned. Also keep in mind that while young shoots are more tender, the larger leaves contain more of the beneficial phytochemicals.

Whole Foods Spotlight: Sweet Peas

How many times did you hear, “Eat your peas!” when you were growing up? That piece of parental wisdom is definitely one to follow because sweet peas are tiny little powerhouses of nutrition. Today we share some reasons why you should put another spoonful of peas on your plate.

Packed with anti-oxidants including flavenoids, carotenoids, phenolic acid and polyphenols, peas provide protection to the immune system and protection against the effects of aging. Pisumsaponins and pisomosides, primarily found in peas, are two anti-inflammatory phytonutrients providing protection against heart disease. Also at work to keep the heart healthy? Generous levels of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and folate which lower homocysteine levels linked to a risk factor for heart disease.

While peas are low in fat, they are jam packed with fiber and only have 100 calories per cup making them a great choice for weight management. They contain a phytonutrient called coumestrol which has been linked to stomach cancer prevention. The high fiber content helps stave off constipation and keep the bowels running smoothly.

For optimum bone health and osteoporosis prevention, getting enough Vitamin K and B is key. Once cup of peas contains over 40% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K.

Peas are one of the best plants you can have in the garden to maintain healthy soil. The plant works with bacteria in the soil to replenish nitrogen levels. The plant easily breaks down into the soil after a crop has been harvested. They are also able to grow with minimal water, saving that valuable resource as well.

Soon after harvesting, much of their sugar content rapidly converts to starch so it’s best to consume them as soon as possible after they are picked. They can be kept in the refrigerator for two to three days, which helps to keep the sugars from turning to starch. If you are looking to freeze them for later use, blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes prior to putting them in the freezer where they can last from 6 months to a year.

Whole Foods Spotlight – Strawberries

 

While many folks today would list strawberries as their favorite fruit, this now beloved berry has gone through periods of history where it was practically shunned. Technically, it’s not truly a fruit since the seeds are on the outside surface. Botanically speaking it’s related to the rose.  We know that early peoples enjoyed strawberries as the seeds have been found at Mesolithic, Neolithic and Iron Age sites. However, the fruit was not cultivated until the 14th century.

The strawberry is mentioned in early Roman writings, including Virgil who warned children to keep an eye out for snakes when picking the wild, low growing fruit. This caution toward the berry stuck and strawberries became associated with danger, with 12th century Saint Hildegard of Germany declaring them unfit for eating because snakes and toads and other slithery creatures could crawl on and among the fruit. Finally in the 14th century, the French put an end to its undeserved bad reputation and began cultivating the plant.  The first 1200 strawberry plants were put in the gardens of the Louvre on the command of King Charles V.

As European settlers arrived in Americas they discovered that native people had also cultivated a wild strawberry with much more success in size and flavor. In the 18th century, the American and Chilean varieties were crossed, resulting in the first of all cultivated strawberries known today Fragaria x ananassa. The word “strawberry” more than likely derives from the practice of growing the cultivated fruit upon straw and some Native Americans called them “wuttahimneash” which translates to “heart-seed berry”.

High in fiber, the strawberry helps to improve digestion, especially if you are suffering from constipation or irregular stools. They help to improve cardiovascular health as the ellagic acid and flavonoids provide antioxidant effects. Strawberries also help to lower LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol which leads to plaque build-up in the arteries and the potassium found in the berry helps to counteract the negative effects of sodium, regulating pressure and preventing high blood pressure. They are also wonderful for skin care as the salicylic acid exfoliates dead skin cells, brightening and softening the skin and tightening pores.

 

Strawberry Oatmeal Face Mask

 

Strawberry Salsa
Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Chicken

Gut Health/Healthy Mind Connection

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Research into the connection between gut health and the brain has exploded in recent years. Although 100 years ago, Russian immunologist Ellie Metchnikoff put forth the idea that keeping the gut environment healthy could play a part in warding off senility, the push to examine the idea has grown slowly. Research is now expanding rapidly to focus on the role of bacteria in our digestive tract and how what we consume can alter that environment and affect not just digestion and metabolism but brain function as well. Scientists have even begun to call the gut’s nervous system our “second brain”.

We know that intestinal microbes interact with the immune system, which connects to the brain. The gut also releases hormones and neuroactive compounds that travel throughout our blood stream. In fact, our digestive tract forms about 70% of our immune system and contains more neurons than the entire spinal cord!

Here are some of the mental health conditions that scientists are discovering have connections to gut health. . .

Depression/Anxiety

Researchers are focusing on how what’s going on with our gut health may play a role in depression and anxiety. More than ⅓ of people who suffer from depression are also suffering from “leaky gut” where bacteria seeps into the bloodstream due to the permeability of the gut lining. Studies are also showing that prebiotics can have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.

Autism

Research indicates that as many as 9 out of 10 people who are autistic also suffer from “leaky gut” or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and there is growing evidence that intestinal microbes exacerbate and may even cause some of the symptoms of austism.

Parkinson’s

Scientists have found that there is a link between a family of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and the severity of symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. Those patients with high levels of the bacteria also had more difficulty with motor functions such as walking and balance.

For further reading on the connection between gut health and a healthy mind, we’ve provided links to a few more in-depth articles below. . .

The Verge – Gut feelings: the future of psychiatry may be inside your stomach

Prevention Magazine – Your New Antidepressant Goes Remarkably Well With Blueberries

Scientific American – Gut Bacteria May Play a Role in Autism

Turmeric – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today we learn about the treasure that is turmeric!

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The people of India have long known what a treasure turmeric is and have used it in their cooking, sacred rights, in their beauty routines and as a healing helper for many ailments. Pottery discovered near New Dehli contained residue from the spice used as early back as 2500 BCE. It’s botanical name is Curcuma longa and it produces both flower and rhizome, a stem that grows underground, similar to ginger. The rhizome is the part of the plant that gives us golden hued turmeric. Indian curry gets its yellow coloring from it and it’s long been used in many other dishes, favored for its ability to aid in digestion and improve circulation.

Turmeric was also used in India and other surrounding countries in sacred ceremonies. In southern India, an amulet made of the turmeric rhizome was believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits. Saffron colored Buddhist robes are achieved by using the spice as a dye. Hindus also view it as sacred. During a wedding, a string dyed yellow with turmeric is tied around the bride’s neck by the groom. The mangala sutra, as the necklace is called shows that the woman is married and capable of running a household.

It’s sacred standing is owed to its remarkable healing properties as well. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian practice of natural healing and these discoveries of turmeric’s abilities by these ancient peoples benefit us still today. They discovered that burning turmeric could relieve congestion and that the spice was also helpful in healing wounds, bruises and a variety of other skin problems.

Turmeric is prized for its many benefits in a skin care/beauty regimen. It’s been used successfully to aid in inhibiting facial hair growth, smoothing and evening out skin tone and lessening dark circles under the eyes. Its wonderful as an exfoliant and in treating dandruff of the scalp. Many swear by it’s ability to naturally whiten teeth and it’s also known to be effective as a treatment for cracked heels and softening the skin of the feet. Head to toe, turmeric has a myriad of benefits for the human body.

This includes internally. Turmeric is a potent natural anti-inflammatory and painkiller with abilities that have been shown to be as effective as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects. This makes it very helpful in dealing with arthritis and muscle pain. Numerous other studies are being done on its possible powers in treating some forms of cancer including melanoma, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s by removing amyloid plaque buildup in the brain and its abilities to aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

There are so many different ways and good reasons to incorporate more turmeric into your diet and beauty routine. Below you’ll find a few links to ways to do just that!

Top Ten Best Beauty Remedies Using Turmeric

Golden Turmeric Milk Recipe

Healing Carrot Soup with Turmeric and Ginger

#TBT – Sage – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. This week we focus on the herbal savior, sage!

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“How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden?” is an old proverb quoted throughout much of Europe, China and Persia. During the 17th century, sage was so valued by the Chinese that Dutch merchants discovered that they would trade three chests of Chinese tea for just one chest of sage. The word sage derives from the Latin word salvare which means “to save” bestowed for it’s many healing and curative properties.

Native Americans called the sagebrush “spirit caller” and used it in the cleansing and purification of their dwellings. Still today, people looking to cleanse their home of bad vibes or just to refresh the air will burn a smudge stick made of sage. Some even find relief from the smoke for sinus congestion or pain as well as migraines. Sage contains saponins which improve circulation and its been used for over a thousand years in the treatment of Cerebrovascular disease. Like its family member rosemary, it is also known for improving memory and many studies are showing that it may even help treat and prevent Alzheimer’s. With these benefits, it’s no wonder we use the word “sage” to describe a very wise person!

The herb  is prized for it’s strong flavor and for many people the smell of it evokes the holidays. Which is perfect, as the herb is known for its ability to assist the body in digesting all those fatty foods we enjoy this time of year! Also, red sage has been used traditionally as a treatment for inflammation of the mouth, throat and tonsils so it’s one to turn to for relief during cold season.

In the garden, sage is a fragrant and often overlooked spring flowering plant. There are dozens of varieties; some for cooking, some for medicinal purposes and some ornamental. Most are very hardy and prefer well drained soil. Common sage, which is most often used in cooking, produces beautiful purple flowers which attract bees and other beneficial insects to the garden.

We’ve collected a few useful DIY’s for you that take advantage of sage’s many wonderful offerings. Enjoy!

Sage Tincture for Colds and Sore Throats (scroll to bottom of article)

Homegrown Smudge Sticks

Fresh Sage Wreath

Lactobacillus Acidophilus – The Friendly Bacteria

At re:iimmune we want to help our customers feel better faster as they are recovering from illness, help restore hydration and assist in boosting immunity. When we don’t feel well, there’s sometimes a disconnect between our minds and our bodies and we feel powerless to do anything. But knowledge is power! When one understands how different elements in our product, like Lactobacillus, aid in digestion and overall wellness, it helps to create a connection. When we know how our bodies work, we gain a sense of control in being an active participant in our own health. 

Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a bacteria but it’s a friendly one! It normally lives in our digestive, urinary and genital systems without causing disease. In fact, the bacteria is a pretty good friend to have on our side. It assists in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients and fighting off organisms that cause very unfriendly problems such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and yeast infections. Lactobacillus produces Vitamin K and lactase which is the enzyme that breaks down the lactose (sugar) in milk. Therefore, when it is included in foods such as yogurt, kefir and soy products it can help people who are lactose intolerant.The bacteria becomes the lactose intolerant person’s best buddy, doing much of the work in breaking down the lactose and making it easier to digest.

We include probiotics like Lactobacillus in re:iimmune to support our body’s natural immunity, 70% of which is our digestive tract. Think of your body as an ecosystem. When all things are in balance, the ecosystem flourishes. However when the ecosystem of your body is bombarded with pathogens like E. coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, Salmonella or Candida it compromises that natural immunity and throws your system off kilter. Probiotics help to restore order in the ecosystem and get our immunity back on track!

Travel Bug-Get Better, Better

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Vacation. Whether it be a tropical spring break trip, a honeymoon to the Virgin Islands or a guy’s ice fishing trip in the frigid Pacific Ocean—we all have fond thoughts and eager expectations of what we call “vacation”. The last thing you want to think about after spending hundreds of dollars on flights and accommodations, not to mention, numerous hours daydreaming about the sound of waves lapping outside your cabana, is a round of the stomach flu or an unexpected sinus infection interrupting your moment of bliss. The unfortunate news is, travel related sickness is far too common for comfort. From crowded airports, unfamiliar foods, abnormal sleep schedules, and stress caused by unexpected delays–your immune system takes a hit!

 

Needless to say, if you’re planning a trip, it’s time to step up your health game.

 

Hydration: Often times it’s difficult to stay well hydrated when you’re traveling. Rushed commutes, hot beaches, and extra activities can leave you depleted. Not only is dehydration often accompanied by a long list of uncomfortable side effects, but it also inhibits your cells from healing properly and ultimately damages your immune system.

 

Digestion: Rich foods, extra desserts, and foreign bacteria all play a part in most of our travels. Since 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, it’s vital to give your digestive system some extra attention. Ginger is a powerful digestive aid, it has been known to help soothe your gas pains, digest and metabolize fats and even relieve common stomach pains.

 

Immune Booster: When you’re in the business of protecting your sacred getaway, you want to come at it with all of your guns blazing. Beefing up your immunity with some extra supplements, such as zinc, adds just the right amount of power behind your punch. Zinc is a supplement that is helpful with reducing inflammation–that often leads to infection–and is thought to be the most important micronutrient, as well as a key co-factor of the immune system.

 

Ultimately, the goal is to catch nothing more than a healthy glow and an extra pep in your step on your upcoming venture. So, next time you start packing your bags, don’t forget to add re:iimmune® to the top of your travel list. With its clinical strength hydration, blend of pre and probiotics, a dose of zinc, and 275mg of ginger extract, you’re on your way to healthy and happy travels!

 

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Information on this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this blog for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.