Posts tagged: Integrative Medicine

Garlic: Big Benefits, Small Package

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Garlic’s reputation as a miracle cure goes back to antiquity.  Bulbs decorated the walls of Egyptian tombs dating from 3000 B.C., presumably as part of some religious ritual.  Hippocrates and Plato praised garlic for its medicinal properties, and folklore refers to it as the remedy for warding off everything from parasitic infections to vampire attacks.  As part of the Allium family of vegetables (along with onions and leeks), garlic is known as much for its culinary qualities and distinctive aroma as it is for its therapeutic benefits.  Today, garlic is grown worldwide, and used to season all sorts of dishes.

Therapeutic & Healing Powers:***

More so than almost any other vegetable, it’s tough to separate fact from fiction when it comes to defining garlic’s therapeutic properties.  In general, however, most agree that garlic’s nutritional benefits fall into three fundamental categories.

Cardiovascular: One of the most impressive benefits brought to us by the mighty garlic plant is the impact it has on cardiovascular health.  Allicin, along with other health-promoting compounds found in garlic, have been shown to help lower total cholesterol and reduce triglycerides in the blood. This, in turn, supports healthy blood chemistry and helps protect against hardening of the arteries — and that’s just the beginning!  Garlic helps thin the blood and prevent the formation of blood clots, thereby decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and naturally lowers blood pressure by increasing the elasticity of blood vessels.  Considering its cholesterol-lowering, triglyceride reducing, anti-clotting, anti-hypertensive effects, garlic has a well-deserved reputation for promoting a healthy heart.

Anti-Infectious: Despite all of the cardiovascular benefits, garlic is best known for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal characteristics.  Garlic has been called the “Russian Penicillin,” based on its anti-bacterial properties; the Japanese have popularized kyolic, a liquid extract of cold-processed garlic, as a treatment for bacteria and viruses; and a wide array of plant compounds in garlic have been shown to have anti-fungal activities as well.  Whether it’s protecting the body against bacteria, viruses, or fungi, garlic’s anti-infectious properties help fortify the immune system and defend against all kinds of outside intruders.

Anti-Cancerous: In addition to supporting heart health and warding off infections, garlic is being linked more and more to lower risks of all types of cancers.  Garlic is rich in anti-cancer compounds that are being studied for their ability to inhibit cancer growth and protect the body against dangerous carcinogens.

Nutrient Value:

Garlic is rich in health-promoting sulfur compounds, such as allicin, which are largely responsible for its therapeutic benefits, its distinctive taste, and its sharp odor. It’s an excellent source of minerals — such as manganese, selenium, and calcium — and is also a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C.

Selection and Care:

Look for firm bulbs with tightly packed cloves encased in thin, papery skin.  Avoid garlic that has begun to sprout, or that is graying, soft, and decaying in spots.

Optimal Use & Combining:

Roasted or raw garlic adds a flavorful and therapeutic punch to almost anything: mashed potatoes, pasta, salad dressings, soups.  It can even be used as a spread on whole grain bread (in its roasted form)!  Make sure to chop or crush the garlic, particularly before heating, as this activates enzymatic processes that convert the health-promoting compounds found in garlic into a form that is usable by the body.

***This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.

Carrots: Nature’s Energy Enhancing, Immune Boosting, Super-Root

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Carrots are energy foods.  They animate, activate, and embolden the life-giving processes of the body that keep us vital, youthful, and well.  Carrots revitalize the master glands that enliven our mind, body, and mood; strengthen immune function and increase our body’s resistance to aging and disease; and shelter our vital systems from the ongoing wear and tear of daily living.

In their early incarnation, these root vegetables were unpleasant tasting and purple-black in color.  It wasn’t until the 16th century that the sweeter, more appealing orange carrots were cultivated—thanks to Dutch horticulturists.  In the world of clinical nutrition, it’s easy to root for the modern version of this nutrient-rich root.  It’s full of nutritional and therapeutic values that help us build, maintain, and protect our long-term wellbeing.

Therapeutic & Healing Powers:*

Carrots are considered to be an anti-cancer vegetable.  In fact, they are so rich in cancer-fighting compounds that they have the distinction of having their own antioxidant named after them—beta carotene!  Beta-carotene is a powerful plant compound from the carotenoid family of antioxidants that has been shown to help lower risk for lung cancer and other smoking related cancers (this applies to eating beta-carotene rich foods, such as carrots, not beta-carotene supplements**).  Studies have suggested that beta-carotene may also be helpful in preventing skin, breast, prostate, and other cancers.  It is also important to note that in addition to beta-carotene, carrots provide a wide array of anti-cancer compounds—such as lutein and polyacetylenes—that further equip the body to combat and prevent cancer.

In addition to their cancer-inhibiting qualities, studies have shown that carrots support a healthy heart and help prevent cardiovascular disease.  Carrots help purify the blood, protect the cardiovascular system from antioxidant damage, and are currently being studied for their anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet-aggregatory properties.

And that’s just the beginning!  In my experience, I’ve found that:

  • Carrot, carrot-celery, and carrot-celery-beet juice are all excellent tonics that help combat liver stress and detoxify the liver.
  • The carrot’s fiber content helps regulate the bowels and, when steamed, can be helpful in treating diarrhea.
  • Carrots help revitalize the thyroid and adrenal glands, and in so doing, help combat fatigue, stress, and burnout.
  • Carrots are helpful in preventing upper respiratory infections and inflammatory lung problems.

With all of these nutritional and therapeutic benefits, it makes sense to add carrots to your daily or weekly routine.

Nutrient Value:

As mentioned above, carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene and other cancer fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients.   Since beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A (as needed) by the body, carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A.  They are also a good source of many B vitamins, vitamin C, soluble and insoluble fiber, and important minerals such as potassium and calcium.

Selection and Care:

Select firm, smooth roots. Avoid carrots that are rubbery, wrinkled, or split.  Carrot greens should be bright and upright.

Optimal Use and Combining:

Raw carrots add color, taste, and crunch to leafy green salads and mix especially well with romaine lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous veggies. In addition, don’t forget about carrots when putting together some healthy snacks at parties.  Try combining fresh carrots with cruciferous vegetables for an anti-cancer crudités plate and add a side of salsa and guacamole for dipping!  When juicing, carrots taste great alone or combined with celery and beets.

*This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.

**Whereas beta-carotene consumed as part of a whole food, such as a carrot, has been shown to lower lung cancer risk, some studies have shown that high doses of beta-carotene supplements have actually increased lung cancer risk.  For this reason, it’s best to get your beta-carotene by eating beta-carotene rich foods, not by consuming beta-carotene supplements.

Red Cabbage: The Queen of Cruciferous Veggies

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Previously we crowned broccoli the “King of Cruciferous Veggies.”  This week we turn our attention to red cabbage, the “Queen of Cruciferous.”  Although cabbage is not quite as popular as broccoli — its royal cruciferous counterpart — the disease-fighting faculties of red cabbage (and cabbage in general) should not be overlooked.  In fact, I like to think of red cabbage as a longevity food.  It’s full of revitalizing phytonutrients and cancer combating antioxidants that protect the mind and body from aging and disease.  Interestingly enough, these same nutrients that fortify our defenses against unnecessary aging and illness are also responsible for the plant’s vibrant reddish / purple pigment — nature’s way of grabbing our attention and helping us identify nutrient-rich foods full of nutritional and therapeutic benefits.

Therapeutic and Healing Powers:***

Like all cruciferous veggies, cabbage is best known for combating cancer.  The cabbage plant, and red cabbage in particular, is full of cancer-fighting phytonutrients such as indoles and isothiocyanites that block cancerous cells from forming and help eliminate dangerous carcinogens from the body.

As an added benefit, red cabbage is also an excellent source of polyphenols.  Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals, accelerated aging, and disease.  Not only are polyphenols known for their preventive effects on cancer, but they are also being studied for their role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases.

It’s also important to note that red cabbage is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C — two important antioxidants that boost the immune system and increase the body’s cancer-fighting capacity.  Red cabbage has a nutritional edge over green cabbage in that red cabbage is a more concentrated source of polyphenols, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

In addition to helping prevent cancer, red cabbage is a great food for the detoxification and elimination of harmful chemicals and hormones found in food, water, and air pollutants.  The vegetable’s waste removing abilities are particularly beneficial to the liver, the digestive tract, and the colon.

Nutrient Value:

In addition to the wide range of phytonutrients and antioxidants mentioned above — namely the isothiocyanites, indoles, polyphenols, vitamin A, and vitamin C — red cabbage is a great source of fiber, vitamin K, and many B-vitamins such as folate, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6.  It’s also a notable source of potassium, calcium, and a variety of other minerals that are essential for your health.

Selection and Care:

Select fresh, firm, crisp cabbages with compact heads, heavy for their size, and tightly wrapped leaves free of discoloration at the edges.

Optimal Use and Combining:

Red cabbage is a colorful, crunchy, and nutritious addition to any vegetable salad.  In fact, adding red cabbage to your salad is a great way to make sure you have a wide variety of colors represented — a good indication that you are getting a plentiful supply of immune-boosting phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Cabbage, cauliflower, and the rest of the cruciferous family mix well with beets, carrots, leafy greens, and other root vegetables.  It’s best to eat red cabbage raw (or if you are going to cook it, steamed) to preserve the full range of life-giving nutrients.

***This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.

Broccoli: The King of Cruciferous Veggies

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Among cruciferous vegetables — and the plant kingdom as a whole — broccoli is king!  A “crown” of this nutrient-rich super-veggie is packed with cancer-fighting compounds, stress-fighting phytonutrients, and essential vitamins and minerals that keep your body energized, fresh, and alive.  In fact, I like to think of broccoli as the ultimate “ready” food.  It activates the brain, enlivens the nervous system, and bolsters the adrenals.  In this manner, it makes sure that the mind and body are prepared to deal with whatever physical or emotional demands are at hand.

Therapeutic and Healing Powers:

As a member of the cruciferous family — which also includes veggies such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and turnips — broccoli is best known for its anti-cancer characteristics.  So what is it about broccoli that helps protect against cancer?  For starters, it’s naturally endowed with powerful cancer-inhibiting compounds, such as isothiocyanates, that bolster the body’s defense against dangerous carcinogens.   Isothiocyanates, for example, play an important role in neutralizing, counteracting, and removing cancer-causing carcinogens from the body.

Meanwhile, some of the other phytonutrients found in broccoli, such as sulforaphane, are known for identifying, attacking, and destroying cancerous cells.  It’s important to point out that they’re able to do this without damaging healthy cells!  But that’s just the beginning.  Broccoli is also a nutritional powerhouse when it comes to vitamin A and vitamin C — two potent anti-oxidants that boost the body’s immune system and help defend against damaging free-radicals.  Given all of these anti-cancer qualities, it’s no wonder that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk for all kinds of cancer including breast, lung, esophageal, and prostate cancer.

In addition to building your body’s cancer-fighting capacity, broccoli is a highly alkaline green vegetable that is good for the liver, kidneys, and spleen.  I’ve also found steamed broccoli to be useful in boosting the adrenal glands and alleviating fatigue (thanks, in part, to the adrenal building powers of its pantothenic acid).  Its energizing capacity helps counter stress, depression, and metabolic burnout.

Nutrient Value:

In addition to all of the phytonutrients and antioxidants mentioned above, broccoli is a great source of fiber and is chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals.  It’s an excellent source of B vitamins — particularly folate, which is necessary for synthesizing and repairing DNA and has been shown to lower breast cancer risk — and is a notable source of vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6.  It’s rich in potassium, blood-boosting iron, and many other minerals that help maintain biochemical balance in the body.

Selection and Care:

Choose dark green broccoli.  Buds should be tightly closed.  Florets that have begun to soften and yellow are no longer ripe.  Look for fresh green leaves and firm stalks.  Broccoli can be steamed or enjoyed raw.

Optimal Use and Combining:

Given all of its nutritional benefits, I encourage my patients to eat cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, four to five times a week, if not daily!  Broccoli can be eaten raw with your vegetable salad or can be steamed as a side dish with your lunch or dinner.  It also adds a wonderful crunch to pasta primavera and makes a tasty partner for a baked potato.

3 Principles You Need to Know to Protect You & Your Loved Ones from Breast Cancer

Did you know that nearly 40% of women will develop cancer in their lifetime, 1 in 3 of which is breast cancer?

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to protect you and your loved ones from this dangerous disease?

Make sure to join us for a FREE WEBINAR and learn the 3 Principles You Need to Know to Protect You and Your Loved Ones from Breast Cancer.

“Greetings, I’m Dr. Barnet Meltzer and I specialize in Preventive & Integrative Medicine, and I’m here today to invite you and your loved ones to participate in our upcoming webinar on the future of breast cancer awareness. Now, of course it’s a very important subject. What is the state of the union? The state of the union is there’s a lot of attention being paid to breast cancer, but what’s alarming to me is breast cancer rates are at historic highs. Why 40% of women in their lifetime are expected to get cancer, 1 of 3 of which is expected to be breast cancer. So here’s the point, here’s what you need to know, and here’s what I’m going to ask you. Do you know what steps you can take, what steps must be taken to protect you and your loved ones from breast cancer? That’s what we’re going to be covering in the webinar. There are 3 things you must know. The first thing is about prevention. Is there a way to prevent breast cancer? The answer is yes! You have the ability to influence your lifestyle risk factors–we’ve studies lifestyles, and we’ve studied risk factors–you have an ability to influence your risk factors to decrease your risk for breast cancer. In addition to that, your immune system is like a muscle–it has the capacity, the potential to get strong enough to protect you and defend you against breast cancer. So in our seminar, the #1 thing we are going to talk about and really drive home is the prevention of breast cancer. Because to me, the least complicated case of breast cancer is the one that never occurs. #2, we need everyone to be tuned in to early detection. Why? The sooner you find a breast lump, the sooner you find breast cancer, the better the long term result. In other words, early detection means early treatment, and we decrease the risk of breast cancer becoming a life threatening condition. The third thing I need you to know –in addition to prevention, in addition to early detection–is the integrative treatment of breast cancer. Combining the best of traditional care–whether it’s chemo, radiation, or surgery–with the best of complementary and alternative care: nutrition, stress management, attitudinal healing, emotional healing, and all the things that go into making a person whole. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about. The future of breast cancer awareness. I want to encourage you to sign up. Don’t leave it to chance, make it a choice. I want to encourage you, your loved ones and friends to join us for this webinar and find out how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it early, and how to treat it from the whole person’s point of view, and let’s join together and spread the cause of wellness.”