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Take better care of your heart by eating more almonds
April 02, 2019 02:00 PM
A recent study showed that nuts are good snacks that can improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels. This study was done with 837 people and showed that the people who benefited the most were those with overall elevated total cholesterol. The results support the idea that eating nuts will lower the risk of heart disease. Other heart healthy snacks recommended include carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks and hummus, along with fruits such as whole apples, pears, peaches or bunches of grapes, oatmeal, and soy protein were listed.
"Among participants who consumed at least 45 grams (g) of almonds per day, a 0.212 mmol/L decrease in total cholesterol was seen. Furthermore, those who have high levels of total cholesterol and consumed at least 45 g of almonds every day experienced a 0.271 mmol/L in total cholesterol."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-01-28-take-better-care-of-your-heart-by-eating-more-almonds.html
Probiotic for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
October 04, 2017 10:14 AM
There is a probiotic that you can take for irritable bowel syndrome. Visbiome is the name of this new supplement. It is a very high potency. It has recently secured Health Canada approval and will help many people relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps with gas and bloating as well. 5 million Canadians are affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so this is a very important probiotic. The gastrointestinal tract of humans is very complex.
"IBS is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, cramps, constipation and general abnormal bowel function."
Read more: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170927005254/en/Health-Canada-Approves-Visbiome®-Probiotic-Irritable-Bowel
5 high-fibre foods that help fight constipation
September 13, 2017 12:14 PM
There are 5 high fibre foods that help to fight constipation. One in four Canadian people suffer from constipation. Canada is the ninth largest market in the world for over the counter laxatives. It represented almost three percent of the world's market in 2008. It is a market which has grown 1.73 times since 2003. There are many different factors that can cause constipation. Medication and medical conditions are two things that can cause constipation.
"Avocado has sometimes been referred to as some sort of super food, and with good reason."
Read more: http://globalnews.ca/news/3734859/5-high-fibre-foods-that-help-fight-constipation/
Cancer-killing Dandelion Tea Receives $157K Research Grant
May 18, 2017 08:44 AM
Chronic monocytic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood, has been shown to respond to respond to dandelion root extract in clinical studies. Siyaram Pandey, a biochemist at the University of Windsor, began studying its effects after an oncologist pointed out to him that patients of hers who drank dandelion root tea, were getting better. He developed a formula concentration the roots into a potent tea that has shown to treat cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. His team has received a substantial research grant to continue their research.
"After other medical treatments for his leukemia failed he tried the tea. Four months later, he returned to the clinic in remission and has been cancer-free for three years."
Read more: http://www.healthnutnews.com/cancer-killing-dandelion-tea-receives-157k-research-grant/
How Do Dietary Cholesterol and Sterols Impact Your Cholesterol Levels?
May 10, 2017 11:44 AM
The Medical News Bulletin addresses the issue of cholesterol and its impact on the body. Many of the cholesterol levels in the human body can be attributed to the diet habits a person has on a daily basis, as well as plat sterols. As many people already know, cholesterol levels can be significant indicators of overall cardiac health among adults and controlling it seems to be key in longevity. According to the author of the article, the use of plant sterols assist greatly in reducing cholesterol levels.
"A new research study by Canadian scientists revealed that variations in cholesterol absorption and synthesis at an inter-individual level have a significant influence on plasma lipid levels in healthy individuals."
Read more: https://www.medicalnewsbulletin.com/dietary-cholesterol-vs-plant-sterol-intake-cholesterol-metabolism/
Can a blood test determine whether you'll be alive in 5 years?
December 11, 2016 08:59 AM
If you could find out your approximate age of death, would you want to do so? Soon to be available in the U.K , the test measures the length of telomeres, a DNA structure which controls the longevity of dividing cells. The shorter the telomere, the faster you are aging. A very specific blood test can determine telomere length and, based on the length can use an algorithm to assess longevity based on current lifestyle.
"There is growing evidence that a simple blood test could determine your risk of dying in five years."
Screen time, phone use linked to less sleep for teens
October 31, 2016 12:09 PM
As smartphones and computers permeate the world the effect they're having on teenagers grows. Studies found that young adults who spend more than two hours talking on a phone or playing video games will have less sleep than those who do not. They also report that they are sleepier during the day than those who play or talk less than two hours each day. Alternatively, these problems do not affect those who watch TV for the same amount of time. The lack of sleep some are getting can increase the risk of depression, attention problems, and cause weight gain.
"Researchers found that kids who used computers and videogames for more than two hours per day slept 17 and 11 minutes less, respectively, than youth who used screens for less time."
What's So Special About Bentonite Clay?
March 09, 2014 10:46 PM
What is bentonite
Bentonite Clay is mined around Fort Benton, Wyoming, from whence it got its name. Really Bentonite is found in ample supply in the northwest of the United States around Wyoming and Montana. Bentonite has been utilized by Indians and locals for a long time to cure a mixture of maladies by detoxifying the form.
Bentonite is really simply regular earth from the beginning. It is 61% silica additionally holds 18% aluminum, and little measures of iron, sodium, and magnesium. It is basic, with a ph of 8.3 to 9.1.
Bentonite works inside by drawing in a mixed bag of toxic substances from the gastrointestinal tract. The Bentonite Clay has a negative charge while the toxins have a tendency to have a positive charge. Along these lines there is the fascination of the toxins to the dirt. When these are assimilated, the figure wipes out the earth and toxins and you are healthier
Cranberry The Best Solution For Bladder And Urinary Tract Problems
October 26, 2013 11:28 PM
What is cranberry
Cranberries are among the healthiest and most nutritious fruits in the world today. They are small red berries commonly grown in Canada, Europe and the United States of America because of the nature of the climate in these regions that support the cultivation of these berries. Cranberry is loaded is rich in antioxidants and other essential nutrients required by the body. The following are the many health benefits of cranberries.
Helps in the treatment of urinary tract diseases
Cranberry juice is known for its healing properties as far as urinary tract and bladder infections are concerned. This juice contains proanthocyanidins that prevent bacteria from sticking to the uterine walls and the walls of the bladder. For effectiveness you are advised to drink a single glass of this juice on a daily basis.
Effective in dealing with kidney and bladder problems
Cranberry is rich in citric acid among other nutrients that can help in preventing kidney stones the cause of many kidney problems including kidney failure. It is also helpful in treating bladder problems.
Boosts your immune system
Cranberries are very rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants that are responsible for boosting your immune system. Antioxidants are very essential in the removal of harmful toxins from the body. This means that you will have a very strong immune system that will help in fighting of other diseases.
Enhances mental health
Studies show that cranberries are also important when it comes to mental health. This is because they have the ability to boost your moods, suppress anxiety and deal with depression. On top of that cranberry juice helps in improving your memory. It is therefore recommended that you include a glass of this juice in your diet.
Helps in fighting cancer
A recent study shows that cranberry extracts can help in fighting breast cancer by preventing the cancer cells from spreading or the growth of tumors. For a healthy body you are encouraged to drink a glass or two of the juice made from cranberry.
In summary, if you have bladder infections or urinary tract problems simply drink a glass of cranberry juice or simply eat the fruits and you will no longer experience these problems.
Cascara sagrada and constipation
November 09, 2010 05:27 PM
Cascara Sagrada is a large deciduous herbal tree. It is found in the specific area of the western coastal regions of the North America, mainly along the bottomlands in the valleys, along canyons and forested mountain slopes. It is also found growing along the Pacific Northwest from the Canadian province of British Columbia down to the northern parts of the California state. It reaches to the height of twenty to thirty feet and circumference of one and a half feet in diameter at maturity. With slender branches having many leaves, the bark of the tree is reddish brown is colour.
The leaves are green and yellow in colour and elliptical in shape with finely toothed edge, rounded base and sharp or blunt tips. Along the slender branches, the foliage tends to be guided by the crowding of the leaves at the tips of the branch lets. During the months of May to June, it bears greenish white flowers which are borne in clusters along the axils of the leaves. The flowers by the month of September gives rounded black fruits, which bear two or three smooth seeds. The various parts of the tree were used by the Native Americans in their traditional folk medicine.
The Spanish on observing this named the tree as Cascara Sagrada, meaning the “Sacred bark”. In the traditional Indian medicine it was used in preparing various herbal medicines. In the autumn season the bark of the tree would be stripped, dried and then be left to a slow aging process at least for a year. The prepared bark was then kept in water and boiled to the steep. The boiled water was cooled and drunk as a potent herbal medicine to alleviate the symptoms of constipation in affected patients.
In the year 1877 the American physicians recognized and accepted its many medicinal benefits. From the year 1894 they started listing Cascara Sagrada in the books U.S. Pharmacopeia for the significant medical benefits it provided. It is believed to be one of the world’s most naturally available laxatives and is still marketed as a natural plant based laxative. The wave like contractions it causes along the musculature in the walls of the intestine for alleviating constipation is the ultimate medicinal ability It possess which no other modern medicine has.
It is known for the peristalsis forces that it creates to tone the relaxed intestinal muscles of the affected patients. It shows great results by irritating the intestinal tissues. In old and weakened people is shows potent laxative action when properly diluted, providing great relief. The honey made from the flowers of this tree also show laxative action but is mild in nature. It is believed that the milder laxative action produced by the combination two related European species of Cascara is safe and beneficial to patients.
This herbal tree is widely used in patients with chronic constipation. Many commercial laxatives contain the bark of this herbal tree as the key ingredient of the product. If you suffer from constipation please contact your health care provider. Laxatives are a temporary fix for constipation and should not be taken for long periods of time. Lack of bowel movement is usually due to low fiber diets. Adding additional fiber to ones diet can boost bowel function and reduce constipation.
Phytoestrogen - Plant Estrogen
September 25, 2008 05:57 PM
Phytoestrogens mainly belong to a group of phenolic compounds known as flavonoids: the coumestans, prenylated and isoflavones are three of the most active in estrogenic effects. Phytoestrogens are not considered as nutrients because the lack of in the diet will not produce any characteristic deficiency syndromes nor do they participate in any essential biological function. Phytoestrogens are considered archi-estrogens (naturally occurring) and as dietary phytochemicals they are considered as safe and effective in its estrogenic activity.
Phytoestrogen content varies in different foods, and may vary significantly within the same group of foods due to the way these foods are grown such as soil content. Phytoestrogen when consumed as a treatment for menopause was well tolerated and caused no changes in liver enzymes, creatinine levels, body mass index, or blood pressure. Phytoestrogen is found in a wide variety of edible plants and generally display both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties.
Canadian researchers examined the content of nine common phytoestrogens foods in a Western diet, foods with the highest relative phytoestrogen content were nuts and oilseeds, followed by soy products, cereals and breads, legumes, meat products, and processed foods that may contain soy, vegetables, fruits, alcoholic, and nonalcoholic beverages. Researchers are also studying if phytoestrogens can prevent prostate cancer, preliminary results are promising. Researchers focused primarily on the compound isoflavones because of its greater abundance in soy plus it exhibit estrogenic properties in the same strength as the other phytoestrogens compounds..
Isoflavones are structurally similar to the estrogen in human body’s, and thus have been shown to possess both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity. Isoflavones may directly inhibit bone re-sorption and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. The weak estrogenic effects of isoflavones have been postulated as being protective against various forms of cancer as well. Being that isoflavones are chemically similar to estrogen, one can take isoflavones as an estrogenic replacement with little to no side effects.
Two other clinical trials suggest that over the short term, soy isoflavones may reduce lumbar spine bone loss in peri- and postmenopausal women. Red Clover contains all four estrogenic isoflavones: biochanin formonoetin daidzein Genistein. Much research has been performed on soy and red clover based phytoestrogens sources. We do not eat much red clover and so we will focus more on soy sources.
Soybeans contain large amounts of isoflavones or phytoestrogens such as genistein, daidzein, glycitein, and isoflavones. Soybeans display a biological effect when ingested by humans and animals. Soybean oil is the most commonly used vegetable oil in the United States and Europe. Soybean oil contains approximately 61 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids making it a healthy alternative to other oils currently available on the market for cooking.
Soybeans contain high levels of phytoestrogens and are the most widely used oil in the United States, and is sold as either pure soybean oil or as a main ingredient in vegetable oil. Most of the supplements on the natural foods market contain isoflavones derived from soybeans or red clover and some contain botanicals such as black cohosh.
Phytoestrogen flavonoids and lignan exhibit significant antioxidant activity which is great for those anti-aging minded individuals. The antioxidant activity in flavonoid and lignan helps support breast, heart and bone health. Antioxidants can reduce free radical damage in the body as well as reduce oxidative stress which causes aging. We all know that over time we age, phytoestrogens might help one age more gracefully.
Finally, phytoestrogens, sometimes called "natural estrogens", are a diverse group of naturally occurring non steroidal plant compounds that, because of their structural similarity with estradiol (estrogen), have the ability to cause estrogenic or/and anti-estrogenic effects in the body. Isoflavones are found in high concentration in soy bean and soy bean products changing ones diet to more soy based foods or taking a phytoestrogens supplement can help reduce estrogen related cancers and maybe even prostate cancer.
July 31, 2008 02:46 PM
Feverfew is most commonly used in the treatment and prevention of migraine headaches. Migraines are extremely common and can be very difficult to treat. Other methods of relieving pain have been explored because, for many migraine sufferers, conventional treatments have not been successful. Feverfew is one of the most successful forms of alternative treatments that have been found for treating migraines. Many studies have been conducted which have validated the already existing knowledge of many herbalists: feverfew is a great tool for helping to prevent migraines in many cases.
Although feverfew had long been used for treating headaches, its popularity declined with the advent of modern medicine. The herb has resurged into medical interest after the wife of a doctor who worked for the British National Coal Board had been suffering from migraines and was told by a coal miner to trey chewing on two feverfew leaves a day. After trying the herb, the woman noticed improvement, with fewer and less severe migraines. Her husband then urged a migraine specialist in London, Dr. E. Stewart Johnson, to test feverfew, with the results of several studies now showing it to be effective.
Dr. Johnson agreed to try the herb because he had many patients who had been suffering from migraine pain for years and had yet to find a successful treatment. Originally, he tried the herbal remedy on only ten of his patients. The results of this trial were so promising that it led to a study of another 270 of his patients, with seventy percent reporting that they received significant improvement when receiving feverfew for their headache pain.
Following this, a group of researchers in the City of London Migraine Clinic were led by Dr. Johnson to conduct a study, which was reported in the British Medical Journal, investigating seventeen patients who had already been using feverfew for at least three months. All were asked to discontinue use of their original method of treating with feverfew. Eight patients were given a capsule of feverfew, while the other nine were given a placebo.
Those that were given a placebo had an increase in frequency and severity of headaches, nausea, and vomiting, while those that were given feverfew capsules had no increase in frequency or severity of their migraines. This research has led to the belief that feverfew is advantageous in the prevention of migraines. Many other studies have been done to further test the effects of feverfew. It has been concluded that feverfew treatment is effective and there were always definite improvements in the group that used feverfew. Additionally, there were no serious side-effects that appeared to exist.
Feverfew seems to have similar properties as NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Also, the parthenolide that is found in feverfew is the main inhibitor for the formation of compounds that promote inflammation. Parthenolide reduces the secretory activity of blood platelets and white blood cells. This is important because migraines are thought to be associated with abnormal platelet behavior, as they are responsible for the release of serotonin, which constricts blood vessels and leads to migraine pain.
Feverfew is now recognized by the British and Canadian governments as a migraine treatment and is often prescribed by doctors. Many physicians and pharmacists have recent began to take more interest in the use of herbal remedies, especially since patients are beginning to become more interested in natural methods of healing.
The Growing Organic Market Place
June 26, 2007 01:51 PM
It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock that the market for organic produce is growing—estimated by various sources at about 20 percent a year. What may be surprising is that the organic food market, which generated about $13.8 billion last year, represents only about 2.5 percent of the total U.S. food consumption.
While those of us involved in the natural products industry or natural healthcare take for granted the advantages of organic products over “traditional” ones, there is a pressing need to mobilize resources in order to meet the consumer demand for pesticide-free foods.
Currently, only 0.2 percent of the U.S. farmland is organic. The other 99.8 percent produces food utilizing the high-production, low-nutrient and flavor lacking industrial chemical methods we grew up with—the same tradition that drove consumers to seek out organic produce in the first place. The picture isn’t any better in Canada, according to the Canadian Organic Growers Association, where only 1 percent of the food grown there is organic.
This of course raises the question as to how we are going to satisfy this increasing consumer demand. In a word: imports. We already import more than 10 percent of the organic food we eat. But perhaps the figure of greater interest is that we consume 42 percent of the worldwide organic food supply, leaving only 58% for world’s non-U.S. residents.
In this enlightened era in which we understand the downside of processed foods, chemical residue and the portent of global warming, it’s hard to understand why we don’t muster our great resources and legendary spirit to launch a program to address these issues—like JFK’s Apollo Project, which put a man on the moon in under a decade using computers less powerful than are commonly found on our desktops today.
While we ponder the question, there are people of good will and strong conviction who are working, albeit with limited resources, to do something about it. one group is working on remineralizing the earth. We are proud to be supporters and friends and we think you will find their concept as exciting as we do. -Peter Gillham – editor.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: CAUSE FOR WORRY
July 15, 2005 12:26 PM
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: CAUSE FOR WORRY
Among some of the most troubling food additives that we routinely ingest are artificial sweeteners, also referred to as non-nutritive sweeteners. Having received the FDA stamp of approval, they are liberally ingested with little thought to what their actual health risks may be. Andrew Weil, M.D., in his book Natural Health Natural Medicine, writes: More worrisome than preservatives are artificial sweeteners. Saccharin, a known carcinogen, should be avoided. Cyclamates, banned some years ago for suspected carcinogenicity, are not being reconsidered for use in food. They taste better than saccharin but cause diarrhea in some people. Avoid them too. Recently, aspartame (NutraSweet) has become enormously popular. The manufacturer portrays it as a gift from nature, but, although the two component amino acids occur in nature, aspartame itself does not. Like all artificial sweeteners, aspartame has a peculiar taste. Because I have seen a number of patients, mostly women, who report headaches from this substance, I don’t regard it as free from toxicity. Women also find that aspartame aggravates PMS (premenstrual syndrome). I think you are better off using moderate amounts of sugar than consuming any artificial sweeteners on a regular basis. A natural sweetener that may cause some people problems is sorbitol, originally derived from the berries of the mountain ash tree. Sorbitol tastes sweet but is not easily absorbed form the gastrointestinal tract and is not easily metabolized. It is a common ingredient of sugarless chewing gums and candies. If you eat a lot of it, you will probably get diarrhea. People with irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis should avoid sorbitol.
Ann Louise Gittleman, in her book, Super Nutrition for Women, writes: In 1977, a Canadian study indicated that when pregnant rats were fed large doses of saccharin, their male offspring developed bladder cancer. As a result, the Canadians banned saccharin and the U.S. Congress ordered warning labels on all saccharin products like Sweet ‘N Low. The national Academy of Sciences in 1978 evaluated the evidence and concluded that saccharin was primarily a promoter of other cancer-causing agents, a cocarcinogen. In the meantime, G.D. Searle developed aspartame, a combination of two amino acids and methanol (wood alcohol) . . . Few long-term studies of the effects of aspartame have been done. However, reports to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control indicate that, as more people consume the substitute in large quantities, health may be affected. In some circumstances, individuals may be getting high levels of methanol; for example, it is estimated that on a hot day after exercise, an individual drinking three 12-ounce cans of diet cola could easily consume as much as eight times the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit for methanol consumption. The most common complaints are dizziness, disorientation, tunnel vision, ear buzzing, loss of equilibrium, numbing of hands and feet, inflammation of the pancreas, high blood pressure, eye hemorrhages and seizures. Artificial sweeteners can stimulate hunger or cause additive allergies, just as sugar does. In other words, we get the disadvantages of sugar, along with the proven or suspected disadvantages of artificial sweeteners. While thousands of Americans continue to consume aspartame in unprecedented amounts, controversy surrounding its safety lingers. Dr. Richard Wurtman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has reported that abnormal concentrations of neurotransmitters developed when he fed laboratory animals large doses of aspartame. He believes that the phenylalanine content of the sweetener actually manipulates and alters certain brain chemicals which could initiate behavioral changes and even seizures. He also purports that while small quantities of aspartame may be safe, the cumulative effects of the compound—particularly if consumed with high carbohydrate, low protein snacks—could be serious (Wurtman I, 799-801, Wurtman II, 429-430, Wurtman III, 1060).
In spite of serious concerns, saccharine and aspartame packets sit in restaurant sugar bowls all over our country, while in Japan, natural stevia powder enjoys popularity as one of the best and safest non-caloric sweeteners available.
STEVIA (Stevia rebaudiana)
July 15, 2005 12:24 PM
STEVIA (Stevia rebaudiana)
SYNONYMS: sweet herb, honey leaf
PARTS USED: leaves
Stevia is a small perennial shrub with green leaves that belongs to the aster (Asteraceae) or chrysanthemum family of plants. They grow primarily in the Amambay mountain range of Paraguay but over 200 various species of stevia have been identified around the globe. Stevia rebaudiana is the only species at present which possesses an inordinate ability to sweeten. Its common form is known as stevioside, a fine white powder extracted from the leaves of the plant. Phytochemistry STEVIOSIDE/REBAUDIDOSIDE COMPOUND DUO: The leaves of the stevia shrub contain specific glycosides which produce a sweet taste but have no caloric value. Stevioside is the primary glycoside involved in this effect. Dulcoside and rebaudioside are also major glycosides contained in the herb. Glycosides are organic compounds which contain a sugar component (glycone) and a non-sugar component (aglycone). The glycone constituent may be comprised of rhamnose, fructose, glucose, xylose, arabinose etc. The other portion may be any kind of chemical compound such as a sterol, tannin, carotenoid, etc.
Stevia leaves also contain protein, fibers, carbohydrates, phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, sodium , magnesium, rutin (flavonoid), iron, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin A. Human physiology cannot metabolize the sweet glycosides contained in stevia leaves, therefore they are eliminated from the body with no caloric absorption. Stevia, unlike aspartame, can be used in baking because its sweet glycosides do not break down when heated. Definition Stevia is an herb with incredible sweetening power. Its ability to sweeten is rated between 70 to 400 times that of white sugar. Typically, it has a mild licorice-like taste and is completely natural in its biochemical profile. What makes stevia so intriguing is that unlike other natural sweetening agents, its is completely calorie-free, never initiates a rise in blood sugar, and does not provide “food” for microorganisms like bacterias and yeasts.
Stevia may well be the most remarkable sweetener in the world and yet its recognition in this country remains relatively low. Consider the extraordinary attributes of the stevia plant and its extracts:
A Brief History
Stevia is a plant indigenous to mountainous regions of Brazil and Paraguay. For centuries, this herbal sweetener has been used by native cultures to counteract the bitter taste of various plant-based medicines and beverages. The Guarani Indians of Paraguay have used this potent sweetener in their green tea for generations. The name they designated for stevia leaves was “sweet herb.” In addition, these native peoples have historically used stevia as a digestive aid and a topical dressing for wounds and other skin disorders.
In the sixteenth century, Europeans became aware of the herbal sweetener through the Spanish Conquistadors. In the late 1880s, Moises S. Bertoni, director of the College of Agriculture in Asunción, Paraguay, became extremely intrigued by the stevia plant. Its reputation was that it was so sweet that even just a small leaf part could sweeten an entire container of mate tea. Be rtoni wanted to find out if this was true. After several years of studying the plant, he wrote about it in a local botanical publication. In 1905, Bertoni published an important article about the incredible sweetening power of the stevia plant, which he considered superior to sugar and extremely marketable. Other articles written by Bertoni note that stevia is unquestionably superior to saccharine because it is nontoxic and has significant therapeutic benefits. It sweetens with unprecedented potency and can be used in its natural state.
The first stevia crop was harvested in 1908 and subsequently, stevia plantations sprang up in South America. In 1921, the American Trade Commissioner to Paraguay, George S. Brady, wrote that although the herb is an extraordinary sweetener with remarkable properties, little had been done to commercially cultivate the plant. He suggested that stevia may be an ideal sugar product for diabetics and strongly advised that American companies pursue its importation.
During the decade of the 1970s, the Japanese developed a new method which could better refine the glycosides contained in the stevia leaf. The result was a compound called ste-vioside which is from 200 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. The Japanese approach artificial sweeteners with great caution and they believe stevioside to be safer and more effect i've than other non-nutritive, chemical products. Stevioside is considered superior in its ability to sweeten; however, it does not exhibit some of the other therapeutic actions found in whole stevia leaves .
Stevia enjoyed substantial popularity during the 1980s as a natural sweetener and was found in a variety of consumer products. In 1986, however, the FDA abruptly seized stevia inventories and in 1991 claimed it was not suitable as a food additive. Advocates for stevia claim this happened because the herb is a natural, powerful, inexpensive and non-patentable sweetener, and therefore poses a threat to pharmaceutical sweeteners and sugar-alcohol sweeteners like mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. At this writing, stevia has received approval by the FDA to be sold only as a dietary supplement, not as a sweetening agent.
Currently, stevia is commercially grown in Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Central America, Israel, China, Thailand, and the United States. It is considered an important natural sweetener in both Japan and Korea, and has been safely used in these countries for decades. Extracts of stevia and related products make up a considerable portion of the Japanese market for natural sweetening agents. They use stevia in sweet sauces, pickles, beverages, etc., making Japan one of the largest single consumers of stevia in the world. Today, because the demand for stevia is escalating, several Paraguayan organizations are looking to expand the commercial cultivation of the plant. Currently, Canadian researchers and chemists are working to provide even better stevia supplements and may even end up teeming with governmental agencies to raise stevia crops as economic replacements for tobacco leaves (Bonvie, 64). Stevia has not been officially approved by Canadian agencies, but it is still available for purchase in tea form.
June 25, 2005 08:13 PM
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Take Your Vitamins: Reviewing Scientific Approaches to Selecting Daily Multiple Supplement
June 21, 2005 05:10 PM
By Adina Licht, MS
Adina Licht, M.S. is a Nutritional Scientist and Science Writer who works as a Marketing Specialist for Source Naturals. She has a B.A. in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley, an M.S. in Nutrition and Food Science from San Jose State University, and training in Technical Communication from Cal State Hayward. Her work has appeared in publications such as Advances in Packaging and Development, Health Supplement Retailer and Delicious Living.
Americans Need More Nutrients
The U. S. population is drastically malnourished. According to the latest A. C. Nielsen survey, only 12% of Americans claim to eat the 5 recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day (Warner, 2004). And approximately 1/3 of the calories that people do consume are from nutrient-poor foods such as alcohol and soda (Yang, 2004). This combination has led to a population that consumes too few nutrients, which according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Fletcher, 2002) puts people at risk for long-term health concerns. With Americans eating fewer healthy foods, taking a daily multiple is one way for people to increase their intake of nutrients. But the search for what defines a good multiple can be confusing, even to health care professionals.
The Confusing U.S. Government Standards
Scientists first recognized the need for vitamins in the early 1900s (Levenstein, 1993). But setting U. S. government standards for vitamins and minerals didn't start until healthy soldiers were needed to fight World War II. And when a committee of scientists was asked to determine the levels of nutrients needed to maintain good health they could only agree on "recommended allowances" to prevent deficiency with a wide margin of safety. In 1941, these allowances became the first Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for the nation (Levenstein, 1993). In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used latest RDAs to set the new Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) standards, which included Adequate Intakes (AIs) for when there was insufficient evidence to determine an RDA, and Upper Intake Levels (ULs) as the safe daily upper limit. To simplify the information, food labels express nutrient information as a percentage of the Daily Value (DV), which includes RDA values for a healthy adult who consumes 2000 calories per day (Whitney, 2002). However, these values do not include AIs or ULs and many individuals need different levels of nutrients than these.
Confusing Standards equals Confusing Recommendations
The RDAs and subsequent DRIs are the basis of the nutrient standards for at least 40 different nations and many professional health organizations. Currently, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends that people who cannot reach the DRIs through diet take a multiple with nutrient levels that do not exceed the RDAs (JADA, 2001). And in 2002, the American Medical Association (AMA) published a paper that included a recommendation for all adults to take RDA levels of vitamin supplements in their Journal of the American Medical Association (Fletcher, 2002). Despite the benefits of having guidelines, most people only hear about the RDAs and DVs, which may be too low for preventing deficiencies while the ULs and AIs, which can be much more beneficial are rarely discussed. For example, the Daily Value of Vitamin E to prevent deficiency is 30 IU while the daily Upper Intake Limit is 1,467 IU. But, according to the ADA, as many as 75% of cardiologists recommend vitamin E to their patients to promote heart health, usually at a dosage of 400 IU (ADA, 2001; Meydani, 2004; & Whitney, 1998). And the Daily Value for Vitamin C is 60 mg while the daily Upper Intake Limit is 2000 mg, but in clinical studies it took 500 mg per day to help maintain healthy blood pressure (Whitney, 1998, & Hendler, 2001).
Lyle MacWilliam is a biochemist and former health advisor to the Canadian Ministry of Health, who decided to research, analyze and publish the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. In this book, the individually published recommendations from seven nutrition experts (Phyllis Balch, CNC, Dr. Michael Colgan, Ph.D., Dr. Earl Mindell, Ph.D., Dr. Michael Murray, N.D., Dr. Richard Passwater, Ph.D., Dr. Ray Strand, M.D., and Dr. Julian Whitaker, M.D.) were combined to create an ultimate blended standard of recommended median intakes for 39 nutrients to promote health. Those nutrients include vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other supplements, that span 14 different health categories and are much closer to the Upper Intake Limit government standards. The guide also includes information about recommended forms, safety, purity and quality (MacWilliam, 2003). One of the most profound differences between MacWilliam?s compiled recommendations and the DRIs is the difference in the number of supplements: 39 vs. 26 respectively. The Comparative Guide standard includes additional nutrients, including many more antioxidants, based on decades of clinical research about their benefits. For example, the fat-soluble antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 that your body manufactures less of as you age is included. So is the fat and water-soluble antioxidant alpha lipoic acid that helps recycle other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E (Hendler, 2001).
Top Ranked Multiples for Optimal Health
In the latter half of MacWilliam's book he uses this ultimate blended standard to rank and compare 500 manufactured multiples. Of the five top-ranked multiples, only the Source Naturals multiples, Life Force and Élan Vitàl, are widely available at natural product stores and health outlets. And the new and improved Life Force formulation now rates higher than any of the products evaluated in the current edition of this guide (MacWilliam, 2004; & Mac-William, 2003). The ingredients that can be found in today's multiple supplements can vary greatly. But multiple choices don't have to lead to confusion. Health professionals, such as Lyle MacWilliam, understand the importance of remaining curious, evaluating the available research, and conferring with other scientists to determine the nutrients that support optimal health.
American Dietetic Association. 2001. Vitamin E: Disease Prevention for your Good Health. American Dietetic Association Website. Available at: Public/Other/index_nfs1001.cfm Fletcher, R. H., & Fairfield, K. M. 2002. Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults. JAMA. (23)287:3116-3129. Hendler, S. S., et al. 2001. PDR for Nutritional Supplements. Thomson Healthcare: Montvale. Pages 11-12, 17-21, 60-62, 103, 416-421, 486-498. JADA (Journal of the American Dietetic Association) 2001. Vitamin and mineral supplementation. J AM Diet Assoc.101: 115 Available at: Public/NutritionInformation/92_8343.cfm Levenstein, H. 1993. Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America. Oxford University Press: New York. Pages 13-15, 64-67. MacWilliam, L, et al. 2003. Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. Northern Dimensions Publishing: Vernon. Pages 62-70. MacWilliam, L. 2004. Comparative Guide Individual Assessment of New Life Force Formulation. Warner, J. 2004. Few Follow '5 a Day' Fruit and Vegetable Rule. WebMD website. Available at: ent/Article/93/102158.htm Whitney, N. W., & Rolfes, S. R. (1998). Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, 5th ed. Page 358. Whitney, E. N., & Rolfes, S. R. 2002. Understanding Nutrition. 9th ed. Wadsworth Thomson Learning: Belmont. Pages A, B, Y, 13-20, 55-56, 307, 331, 335-341, 401. Yang, S. 2004. Nearly one-third of the calories in the US diet come from junk food, researcher finds.
America's Most Wanted
June 14, 2005 05:23 PM
America's Most Wanted
by Brian Amherst Energy Times, January 6, 2000
The United States eats well, a little too well, according to experts. Amply supplied with a large supply of high-calorie food, our diets might seem to be chock full of every conceivable nutrient. Well, to the question "Getting all the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients?" the most appropriate answer seems to be "Not exactly." Eating a lot doesn't equal eating a lot of the most important vitamins and minerals. So, which vitamins and minerals are likely to show up in short supply in the typical American diet? Calcium certainly sits at the top of list. According to the most recent Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals, which is conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), women and girls age 12 and up are not consuming adequate calcium from their diet. Research reveals that about 1200 mg. day suffices for those over age 50 and 1000 mg a day should be adequate if you're between the ages of 19 and 50. Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Stanford University, ". . .osteoporosis is a pediatric disease." For long-range protection against that bone-weakening disease, kids should eat calcium-rich, low-fat dairy products and plenty of leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, kale) as well as salmon (with bones), seafood and soy. But the calcium campaign does not end in early adulthood. Bone mass begins to deteriorate at about age 30. Menopausal hormonal changes can exacerbate bone brittleness. Medical conditions, including cancer, liver disease and intestinal disorders; prescription drugs; tobacco and alcohol indulgence; or a decline in activity, especially the weight-bearing kind, also jeopardize bone strength. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about one in every two American women will break a bone after age 50 due to osteoporosis. That translates into about half a million fractured vertebrae and more than 300,000 shattered hips. Frequently, those breaks are life-threatening.
The critical role of calcium in many body functions is perhaps the most extensively clinically documented among nutrients. Researchers in the Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, reviewed epidemiological and clinical studies conducted over the past two years on the relationship between dietary calcium and blood pressure (J Am Coll Nutr October 1999: 398S-405S). "Nearly 20 years of investigation in this area has culminated in remarkable and compelling agreement in the data," the researchers report, "confirming the need for and benefit of regular consumption of the recommended daily levels of dietary calcium." Investigators at the State University of New York, Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, presented results of their studies of calcium and vitamin C and gum disease at the June 26, 1998 meeting of the International Association for Dental Research. Two separate inquiries revealed that people who consumed too little calcium as young adults, and those with low levels of vitamin C in their diets, appear to have nearly twice the risk of developing periodontal disease later in life than folks with higher dietary levels of either nutrient.
Calcium: Much Documented Researchers offer extensive evidence of calcium's benefits on many fronts: n Osteoporosis poses a threat to older men as well as women, according to Randi L. Wolf, PhD, research associate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Wolf presented her award-winning study to an October 3, 1999 meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Dr. Wolf suggests that men increase their consumption of calcium, particularly after age 80, to avoid age-related declines in the amount of calcium absorbed. According to Dr. Wolf, "It appears that the hormonal form of vitamin D, which is the main regulator of intestinal calcium absorption, may have an important role. We are conducting more research to better understand the reasons for why calcium absorption declines with age in men." n Scientists at Tufts University in Boston did some earlier work on the calcium-vitamin D connection and reported it in the September 4, 1997 New England Journal of Medicine. Using the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) increased recommended daily intake of 1200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 international units of vitamin D for people over 50, the Tufts researchers found that with supplementation of the nutrients, men and women 65 and older lost significantly less body bone and, in some cases, gained bone mineral density. n Two studies published in American Heart Association journals show that atherosclerosis and osteoporosis may be linked by a common problem in the way the body uses calcium. The September 1997 Stroke revealed that, in a group of 30 postmenopausal women 67 to 85 years old, bone mineral density declined as atherosclerotic plaque increased. Researchers reporting in Circulation (September 15, 1997) advanced the theory that the osteoporosis-atherosclerosis connection may be related to a problem in handling calcium. n For people who had colon polyps removed, taking calcium supplements decreased the number of new polyps by 24% and cut the risk of recurrence by 19%, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine. The study, published in the January 14, 1999 New England Journal of Medicine, was a first in crediting calcium with anti-cancer properties.
The D Factor
Without adequate vitamin D, your absorption of calcium slips and bone loss can accelerate, increasing the risk for fractures. Fifty percent of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fractures at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston had a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency (Journal of the American Medical Association, April 28, 1999). University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers told participants at the April 14, 1997 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research that vitamin D "significantly inhibits highly metastatic, or widespread, prostate cancer in animals," suggesting its potential for treating men with similar conditions. Few foods that Americans eat, except dairy, contain much vitamin D, but we can usually synthesize sufficient amounts from as few as five minutes' exposure to the sun. But as skin ages, its ability to act as a vitamin D factory decreases. According to Michael F. Holick, the director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center, upwards of 40% of the adult population over age 50 that he sees in his clinic are deficient in vitamin D. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences (the official body that decrees the required amounts of necessary nutrients) increased the daily recommendations of vitamin D to 600 IU for people over 71, 400 IU for those aged 51 to 70 and 200 IU for people under 50. The best dietary sources, apart from dependable supplements, are dairy and fatty fish like salmon. Four ounces of salmon provide about 300 IU.
The Facts About Fats
The American lust for low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets filled with sugary foods has exploded into nothing short of "obsession," according to experts at the General Research Center at Stanford University Medical Center (Am J Clin Nutr 70, 1999: 512S-5S). That mania oftens robs us of the crucial balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids typical of the Mediterranean diet that protect us from heart disease by controlling cholesterol and making blood less likely to form clots. These fatty acids cannot be made by the body but are critical for health: n Omega-3 fatty acid (linolenic acid) comes from fresh, deepwater fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and vegetable oils such as canola, flaxseed and walnut. n Omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) found primarily in raw nuts, seeds and legumes and in saturated vegetable oils such as borage, grape seed, primrose, sesame and soybean. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat consumption to 30% of daily calories. Saturated fats like those in dairy and meat products as well as vegetable oil should comprise 10% of total calories; total unsaturated fat (fish oils, soybean, safflower nuts and nut oils) should be restricted to 20 to 22% of daily calories.
Be Sure About B12
Vitamin B12 presents a particular problem for the elderly because older digestive systems often don't secrete enough stomach acid to liberate this nutrient from food. (The elderly have no problem absorbing B12 from supplements, because it's not bound to food.) Vitamins generally moderate the aging process but, ironically, that process and the diseases that frequently accompany it affect vitamin metabolism (Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 83, 1994: 262-6). And because of those changes, we need more of certain vitamins. This is the case for vitamins D, B6, riboflavin and B12. Crucial for health, B12 is necessary to prevent anemia, and, according to recent studies, needed (along with folate and B6) to help stave off heart disease. B12, with thiamine and niacin, boosts cognition (Adv Nutr Res 7, 1985: 71-100). Screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and thyroid disease is cheap and easy and can prevent conditions such as dementia, depression or irreversible tissue damage (Lakartidningen 94, 1997: 4329-32). In the January 5-12, 1999 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA urged doctors to screen levels of homocysteine (the amino acid byproduct of protein digestion that damages arteries, causes heart disease and, possibly, strokes) in patients at high risk for heart disease. They also recommended all Americans to up their daily levels of vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid. Since fruits, vegetables or grains lack B12, vegetarians need B12 supplements. And they're a good idea for the rest of us, too.
Folic Acid Benefits
Folic acid made headlines in the early 1990s when the U.S. Public Health Service declared that "to reduce the frequency of neural tube defects [spina bifida, or open spine, and anencephaly, a lethal defect of the brain and skull] and their resulting disability, all women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume .4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid per day." This recommendation followed voluminous research that showed taking folic acid was associated with a significantly reduced risk of birth defects. (The advisory is based on the fact that nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. If you think you are pregnant, consult your health practitioner for supplementary advice.)
A Team Player
Folic acid's efficacy intensifies when it works with other nutrients. Among many studies on the preventive powers of folic acid on birth defects, one published in The New England Journal of Medicine (327, Dec. 24, 1992: 1,832-1,835), disclosed an even greater decrease in neural tube defects when supplements of folic acid contained copper, manganese, zinc and vitamin C. As a warrior against homocysteine, folic acid joins the battalion of B12 and B6 in detoxifying this harmful protein. At the University of Washington's Northwest Prevention Effectiveness Center, researchers recently analyzed 38 published studies of the relationship between folic acid, homocysteine and cardiovascular disease and, according to associate professor Shirley A. Beresford, MD, folic acid and vitamin B12 and B6 deficiencies can lead to a buildup of homocysteine.
Canadian researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (275, 1996: 1893-1896) that men and women with low folic acid have a 69% increase in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease. This 15-year study of more than 5,000 people stressed the need for dietary supplementation of folic acid. Folic acid also has been credited with the potential to protect against cancers of the lungs, colon and cervix. It appears to help reverse cervical dysplasia, the precursor cells to cervical cancer, especially for women taking oral contraceptives, which may cause a localized deficiency of folic acid in the cells of the cervix. According to Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning, authors of The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery), folic acid derivatives work with neurotransmitters, the chemicals that permit signals to be sent from nerve fiber to nerve fiber. A lack of folic acid can cause some nervous-system disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia and dementia; it also may be related to some forms of mental retardation. Other supporting roles of folic acid, according to researchers: the formation of normal red blood cells, important for preventing the type of anemia characterized by oversized red blood cells; strengthening and improving white blood cell action against disease; limiting production of uric acid, the cause of gout.
The Best Sources
Many foods are rich in folic acid: beef, lamb, pork and chicken liver, spinach, kale and beet greens, asparagus, broccoli, whole wheat and brewer's yeast. But experts believe that only 25 to 50% of the folic acid in food is bioavailable. Processing also reduces an estimated 50 to 90% of its content. Folic acid supplementation overcomes these obstacles with little risk, as it has no known toxicity. Women taking folic acid who are current or former users of oral contraceptives may require additional zinc. And be sure to augment your folic acid supplement with its synergistic counterpart, vitamin B12.
Focus on Fiber
The American Heart Association came out squarely behind fiber in a June 16, 1997 issue of its journal Circulation: Double your daily intake to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. The American diet is consistently low in fiber, notes Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, author of the article. Twenty-five to 30 grams a day from foods (or supplements) are not only heart healthy but seem to aid weight control.
Getting enough iron? An estimated 25% of adolescent girls in the United States are iron deficient, according to an October 12, 1996 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, which reported that girls who took iron supplements performed significantly better on verbal tests than those who took a placebo. "Teenage girls should be regularly tested for iron deficiency because rapid growth and the onset of menstruation during puberty increase the body's need for iron," says Ann Bruner, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and a lead author of the study.USDA data reveal that women up to age 50 also tend to get much less than recommended levels of iron, a lack of which leads to anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells, hemoglobin or volume of blood. For kids, deficiency is more common from six months to four years and during the rapid growth spurts of adolescence when the body is growing so quickly that the body's iron stores may sink to dangerous levels. Vegetarian women run the greatest risk for deficiency, as meat is iron-rich; foods like beans, grains and vegetables also contain some iron. Supplements, of course, supply easily absorbable iron. And to absorb iron from vegetarian sources, take vitamin C with your meals. That boosts the amount of this mineral you will take in. Bear in mind, however, that certain folks-older men and post-menopausal women-generally have adequate dietary supplies of iron. Of greater concern, in fact, is excessive iron, and for these folks iron-free multivitamin and mineral supplements are available.
Ante Up the Antioxidants
Antioxidant nutrients help protect the body from oxygen-scavenging molecules called free radicals. The products of pollution, the body's own metabolic processes and other sources, free radicals are linked to heart disease, cancer and other chronic health problems. The most important antioxidants, which include vitamin C, E, beta carotene, and selenium, are often lacking in the American diet. Plus, optimal amounts of vitamin E cannot be consumed from food. You need supplements. The bottom line: even though we live in a land of plenty, you can still miss vital nutrients. So make sure to consume these vital substances.
Source of Missing Nutrients In the search for the nutrients missing from America's diet, one big help is the sprout. The sprout is truly one of nature's heavyweights: fresh, tiny and moist, its power punch of vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll and disease-busting phytochemicals land it in a weight class far beyond that of its full-grown competitors. Size does NOT matter to this nutritional giant. A championship belt currently wraps around the miniscule broccoli sprout, catapulted into the ring by Paul Talalay, MD, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Talalay discovered that the seedlings contain substantially more of the cancer-fighting substance sulforaphane than mature plants (Proc. Natnl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94, 10367-10372). Sprouts, the quintessential health food of the Sixties, provide a wonderfully varied and versatile way to get your daily greens. Raw or cooked, strong or mild, vegetable and grass sprouts and their algae cousins add low-calorie texture to recipes and a rich, diverse complement of nutrients and fiber.
Ancient Asia to the Modern Lab
Asians stir-fried sprouts as one of the earliest fast foods as long as 5,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese relied on sprouts for year-round vegetables in colder regions of their vast country. Today, researchers studying sprouts and adult plants have identified their important chemoprotective and other health-bolstering substances. In Paul Talalay's research project at Johns Hopkins, scientists found that three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times more sulforaphane than mature plants, which prompts the body to produce an enzyme that prevents cancer tumors from forming. Uniform levels of the compound saturate the shoots, unlike the chemically uneven adult plants. The Brassica family of broccoli and cabbage is richly endowed with phytochemicals that also help reduce estrogen levels associated with breast cancer. Other phytochemical compounds in the Brassica family are associated with the prevention of stomach and lung cancers. Most of the initial landmark work on phytochemicals' cancer-fighting powers has taken place since 1989 under the aegis of the National Cancer Institute's "Designer Food Program," which isolated, for example, the isoflavones in beans that seem to neutralize cancer-gene enzymes.
Strong Suit: Soy and Spirulina
The isoflavones and phytosterols in soy produce an estrogenic effect that appears to relieve menopausal symptoms and help prevent breast cancer. Soy foods expert Mark Messina, PhD, has done extensive work on the subject, some of which has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-6. Researchers also have synthesized a bone-strengthening form of soy isoflavones called ipriflavone, following impressive clinical trials in the treatment of osteoporosis (American Journal of Medicine, 95 [Suppl. 5A] (1993): 69S-74S). Spirulina and other micro-algae are fascinating organisms that inhabit a niche between the plant and animals kingdoms. Named for its tiny spirals, spirulina, a blue-green algae, grows in saline lakes but is cultured for maximum nutritional content. In her book Whole Foods Companion (Chelsea Green), Dianne Onstad notes that spirulina contains "the highest sources of protein, beta carotene and nucleic acids of any animal or plant food." Its nucleic acids, she says, benefit cellular regeneration; its fatty acids, especially GLA and omega-3 acids, make it one of the most complete foods. Sprouts, like any other produce, should be rinsed thoroughly before serving. People at high risk for bacterial illness-young children, the very elderly or folks with weakened immune systems-should limit their consumption of raw sprouts. But no matter how you eat them, you may find more spring in your step from these tiny, sprouting nutritional wonders.