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Health Conscious
It is a rare person who is not faced with the pressure of health problems. We are surrounded with pollution in our environment and toxins in our foods. Our fast-paced lifestyle keeps forcing higher and higher levels of stress on us and we claim we don’t have time to eat properly or exercise. While nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night, more than one and a half billion go to bed having overeaten. (1) But they have eaten the wrong kinds of foods. The modern diet is too high in fats and low-fiber carbs and too low in prebiotics and fiber. Obesity has now overtaken hunger as the biggest threat to global health. (2)

Billions of dollars are spent on gimmicky diets rather than true nutrition education, and on technofixes such as liposuction and food advertising, instead of addressing the poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles that underlie obesity. (3) 

Americans eat 31% more processed food than fresh food, which is one of the cases of increasing food allergies. And 15% of the food we eat is imported, but the FDA only checks about 1% of imported foods. We also eat six to nine pounds of chemical additives each year. Is it any wonder that every year, more than 25% of Americans get sick from the foods they eat. (4)

Prebiotics: the New Food of the Twenty-First Century

Most people do not eat sufficient prebiotics, the food that feeds probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, referred to collectively as the microbiome. Probiotics help to keep our intestines healthy, and also aid in ridding the kidneys of toxins, so if they are not fed properly, they die off and we suffer intestinal distress.  Exposure to antibiotics, as well as diet and nutritional habits influence the bacteria mix in your microbiome. The type of food you eat determines which type of bacteria—healthful or harmful—you feed and build. You need foods containing probiotics, such as yogurts and kefirs which contain live and active cultures, and supplementation with a prebiotic.

Prebiotic fructans feed your probiotics, change the environment in the gut and kill or force out hamrful bacteria. Fructans are found in a variety of foods, but not in a quantity that can spark rapid microbiome changes.

Our research and patents allow us to prepare prebiotic fructans as a natural food in sufficient quantity and with such quality that you can rapidly gain a very healthy balance in your microbiome.

Footnotes:
(1)There are Now More Obese People Than Hungry People, Forbes, 9/22/2011
(2)More People Obese Than Hungry Around the World, Newsmax, 12/14/2012
(3)Chronic Hunger and Obesity Epidemic; Eroding Global Progress, World Watch Institute, March 4, 2000 
(4)Nursingschools.net, May 25, 2010.

Sweet Fiber for a Healthy Gut

(2/17/17)

A lot of companies are trying to find ways to lower the sugar content of their foods while still giving consumers that sweet taste they want. Some, of course, are using chemical sugar substitutes, such as Aspartame. But health-conscious Americans don’t want chemical substitutes. Many would rather stick with natural sugar, in spite of its health consequences. Some consider honey a good alternative, but while honey has many good properties, it is not something diabetics can turn to as a sugar alternative. A tablespoon of honey actually has more carbs and calories than table sugar. Dietician Toby Smithson, a spokesperson for the American Diabetic Association, says, “One of my favorite quotes is ‘a sugar is a sugar’ when it comes to diabetes.”1

Some companies are starting to turn to other natural sweeteners that don’t have the side effects of sugar, but still offer the sweetness consumers like. Even Coca-Cola has a new product out called Coca-Cola Life, a reduced calorie soft drink sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia leaf extract.


The FDA has recently released new mandatory nutrition labeling regulations which will require companies to include a line for “added sugars” on products, in addition to the current “total sugars” line. “Total sugars” will include sugars naturally occurring in a product, such as lactose in milk and fructose in fruit. “Added sugars” would include any caloric-carbohydrate sweeteners. The new requirement is intended to help Americans make healthier dietary choices.

“Intense focus on added sugar consumption and links to obesity, diabetes and heart disease is motivating consumers to not only reduce total sweetener consumption, but to also switch to sweeteners perceived as more healthful,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md.2

Stevia is becoming a commonly used natural sugar substitute. But while stevia may be somewhat healthier, its bitter aftertaste has to be masked by mixing it with something else—something like sugar, which we want to eliminate as much as possible. Other products mix stevia with erythritol, another zero-calorie plant-based sweetener. Erythritol lacks the bitter aftertaste of stevia, which makes one wonder why these companies don’t just use erythritol. Why bother with the stevia?

The answer is probably a cost one. Being 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar, less stevia needs to be used for the required sweetness. On the other hand, erythritol is only about 60-80% as sweet as sugar, so more of it is needed.

But although stevia may be healthier than regular table sugar, it has its disadvantages. Dental caries is one of the major complaints against sugar. Stevia also can cause dental caries. But erythritol does not. In fact, a study published in the May 2014 issue of “Caries Research” found that erythritol may even help prevent cavities. 3

There are other problems with stevia. The FDA established an acceptable daily intake of stevia at 4 milligrams per kilogram (about 2 pounds) of body weight. So for a person weighing 150 pounds, that would be 300 milligrams. However, most stevia sweetening packets contain 1 gram (or 1,000 mg.), which far exceeds the FDA allowance. The NYU Langone Medical Center advises that anyone with liver, kidney, or cardiovascular disease, or women who are pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before using stevia.4 Stevia can also cause adverse reactions with some medications. The use of stevia by people taking diabetic medications can cause hypoglycemia, with blood sugar levels falling abnormally low. Those on blood pressure medications should also avoid stevia as it can cause significantly lower blood pressure. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center also warns that high doses of stevia may be mutagenic. And a warning to women who want to get pregnant—whole stevia leaves were traditionally used by natives in Paraguay as a contraceptive. There are no such warnings concerning erythritol.

Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation, Innova Market Insights, Arnhem, The Netherlands, says, “The quest to combine taste and health is driving new product development, as the industry faces the challenge of balancing public demand to reduce added sugars and create indulgent experiences, while at the same time presenting clean label products.”5

Sweet-tasting fiber may also help reduce added sugars in some food products. One of the most common fiber food ingredients is chicory root fiber, also known as fructan.

Life Energy Food’s Frē ® is a prebiotic fructan fiber product sweetened with erythritol. It has no calories, does not cause cavities (and may even prevent them), is non-carcinogenic, and won’t cause your blood pressure or blood sugar to drop. And it has no bitter aftertaste. 
One of the most important benefits of Frē ® is that it will not only sweeten your foods naturally and healthily with erythritol, but the prebiotic fructan fibers will add additional sweetness and feed the probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut to give you better intestinal health.
Fiber is not only an important part of our diet, it is essential to optimum health. A recent study from the University of Illinois shows that dietary fiber promotes a shift in the gut toward different types of beneficial bacteria. Fiber promotes good intestinal health and helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. A high-fiber diet also lowers the risk of developing some cancers, especially colon and breast cancer. And it can help lower cholesterol, especially the LDL cholesterol. High-fiber foods are also lower on the glycemic index, a great help to those with Type 2 Diabetes.

Eating a lot of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes has linked to an increase in short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs are associated with many health-promoting effects, including a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. They also aid in lowering the concentration of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, stabilize blood glucose levels, and protect the colon lining from bacterial infections.

Another really important role of fiber is that some fibers are prebiotics—meaning they are fermented in the colon by the healthful beneficial bacteria that feed on them.

Both soluble and insoluble fibers are undigested. They are therefore not absorbed into the bloodstream. Fiber content is often listed under "Total Carbohydrates" on a Nutrition Facts label. Because it is undigested, it provides 0 calories. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from our bodies. Soluble fibers dissolve and break down in water, forming a thick gel. Insoluble fibers, also known as roughage, do not dissolve in water or break down in your digestive system. Insoluble fibers, such as the tough skins on foods and brans and seeds, pass through thee gastro-intestinal tract almost intact. We need both types of fiber, and most high fiber foods have combinations of these. Take an apple, for example--the skin contains insoluble fiber and the juicy flesh contains soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps to reduce constipation and keep the overall digestive process moving along.


Soluble fibers prolong the stomach emptying time so that sugar is released and absorbed more slowly, providing a longer period of energy. They also help to control diarrhea and lower “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL).


Together both types of fiber help to regulate bowels, control cholesterol and blood sugar, protect against colon cancer, and help prevent diverticulitis.

If you’ve looked at labels lately, you’ll notice that foods give you the total amount of fiber, but don’t break it down into soluble or insoluble. So how do you know what kind you’re getting? The best strategy for getting more fiber is to try to eat whole foods—that is, whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans rather than processed foods (like crackers and chips). Like the apple, most of these have both types of fiber.

Good sources of soluble fiber are: barley, beans, blueberries, oatmeal, pears and psyllium—as well as Life Energy Food’s products, Frē® and Vim®.

For insoluble fiber, eat plenty of carrots, celery, seeds, whole grains, whole wheat products, and zucchini (which your neighbors with gardens will be happy to give you free).

One thing you must remember, though, when you increase your fiber, you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids (especially water). This is especially true of soluble fiber. If you increase your fiber intake, but don’t drink enough, you may get constipated, which kind of defeats the purpose of eating more fiber in the first place.

Sources:
1.http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/medicinal-uses-of-honey
2.http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Supplier-Innovations/2017/01/Sweetening_dairy_products_natu.aspx?ID=%7B05A570C4-A266-4704-B260-66DC8CDE4D4B%7D
3.http://www.livestrong.com/article/497773-erythritol-vs-stevia-vs-xylitol/
4.http://www.livestrong.com/article/497773-erythritol-vs-stevia-vs-xylitol/
5.http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Supplier-Innovations/2017/01/Sweetening_dairy_products_natu.aspx?ID=%7B05A570C4-A266-4704-B260-66DC8CDE4D4B%7D

A Healthy Gut Can Lead to a Healthy Brain

4/14/2017

We’ve talked a lot about the need for a healthy microbiome (gut) and how the prebiotic fructan fibers in our Frē® and Vim® products feed the probiotics (healthy bacteria) in your gut. It’s important to have a healthy digestive system to keep us feeling well and fit.

But recent studies have suggested that a healthy microbiome may lead to a healthy brain as well. Those probiotics not only control our physical well-being, but also regulate how we think and feel.


Dr. Emerson Mayer, a gastroenterologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been studying this topic for years. "I'm always by profession a skeptic," he says. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains."

Although most of the tests so far have been on mice, Mayer did conduct a study at UCLA using female subjects. The women were divided into groups, one group eating yogurt containing the probiotics thought to have a positive effect on the gut--bifidobacterium, streptococcus, lactococcus, and lactobacillus— twice a day for four weeks, while others did not. Even Mayer himself was surprised at the significant differences between the groups. 

Before and after the study, MRI scans looked at the subjects’ brains in a state of rest and in response to a series of images reflecting happiness, sadness, anger, etc. The yogurt eaters reacted more calmly to the images than the control group. “The contrast was clear,” Mayer said. “This was not what we expected, that eating a yogurt twice a day for a few weeks would do something to your brain.” He thinks the bacteria in the yogurt changed the makeup of the subjects’ gut microbes, and that this led to the production of compounds that modified brain chemistry.

“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways,” said Dr. Kirsten Tillisch of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. “Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment.”

It is well-known that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows that signals travel the opposite way as well.“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,” Tillisch said. “Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”

Although a lot more research needs to be done, UCLA’s study should give us enough incentive to improve our microbiomes. Eating a cup of yogurt twice a day certainly can’t hurt us, and if it can help to give us mental as well as physical well-being, it’s certainly worth a try. 

But don’t buy the sweetened yogurts. Instead, save on that sugar by using regular yogurt and add your own sweetness with fresh berries or fruits and adding Vim® or Frē®. Remember that Vim® and Frē® not only add sweetness, but also the prebiotic fructan fibers that will feed the probiotics in the yogurt, making that tasty snack even more nutritious. Watch the recipe section of our website and our Facebook page for some fun flavor combinations you can use to make your daily yogurt intake fun, delicious, and exciting.


 Sugar Exposed  


    On Monday, September 12, 2016, researchers published some astounding information. Way back in the 1960s, when some studies were starting to show that sugar was a cause of coronary heart disease (CHD), The Sugar Research Foundation paid Harvard nutritionists to downplay those studies and declare that saturated fats and cholesterol were primarily to blame. Although studies continue to show a correlation between sugar consumption and CHD, the sugar industry steadfastly denies such a relationship. “Sugar does not have a unique role in heart disease,” the group (now called the Sugar Association) says.
      The primary author of this exposé, Dr. Cristin Kearns of the University of California, San Francisco, is a former dentist who quit her job after the keynote speaker at a dentistry convention stated that there was no evidence linking sugar to chronic disease. She now devotes herself to researching the sugar industry’s influence over public policy and science.
      Her new paper, which was published in the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) , discusses how the sugar industry decided in the 19600s to begin a campaign to address “negative attitudes towards sugar.” As a part of this effort, the group worked closely with two respected Harvard nutritionists, Dr. Frederick Stare and Dr. Mark Hegsted, paying them to write a literature review that would counter research linking sucrose to CHD. These two men tore apart the studies that implicated sugar and stated that the only dietary modification necessary to prevent CHD was to lower fat and cholesterol intake. Their work was published in 1967 in the New England Journal of Medicine. However, although they mentioned several funding sources for their study, they neglected to state that their initial impetus and funding had come from the sugar industry as a part of their efforts to make sugar more marketable.
      Trying to dismiss studies that sugar is involved in CHD is not the sugar industry’s only attempt to make sugar look good. Dr. Kearns published an earlier study in 2015 showing how the sugar industry influenced a federal dental research program to shift its attention from showing how sugar causes dental caries (a fact even the sugar people cannot deny) to finding a vaccine for tooth decay.
      Sugar is big business. But it is increasingly important, especially with the abundance of processed food on the market, to look out for our own health and to avoid as much as possible those ingredients, such as sugar, that can have an adverse effect on our health.
      Life Energy Food offers healthy alternatives to sugar. Its products Frē® and Vim® use natural, plant-based sweeteners erythritol and xylitol, and do not lead to coronary heart disease or dental caries. Combined with prebiotic fructans, Frē® and Vim® can help you lower sugar intake. Frē® has one-ninth the calories and Vim® has one-half the calories of sucrose (table sugar). 
      Frē® and Vim® increase prebiotic soluble fibers in your diet. Prebiotic fructans, combined with probiotics, give you a much healthier microbiome. A healthy microbiome builds and strengthens your immune system.
Candida Albicans

    Candida albicans is a yeast that most people have to some degree in their systems. However, overgrowth of candida is something you want to avoid. The overgrowth happens when your immune system is compromised or when you consume large amounts of sugars or other refined carbohydrates. Stress can also cause your candida to get out of control. And diabetics are prone to the problem.  
    If you are bothered by an overgrowth of candida, there are foods you should avoid and foods you can use to help eliminate it. 
    First, void sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and caffeine.
    Then, anti-fungal and other Candida fighting foods can easily be added to your daily diet.
    Coconut oil is a one of the most useful antifungals there is. It contains Lauric acid and Caprylic acid, which both help prevent Candida overgrowth and strengthen your immune system. I Heat stable and inexpensive, it’s an ideal oil to use for frying and cooking. Look for a cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
    Garlic not only has powerful antifungal properties to attack Candida, it also boosts the good bacteria in your digestive system. Garlic stimulates the liver and colon, contributing to your body’s own detoxification processes.
    Onions have strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties. They are particularly useful because they are very easy to integrate into many recipes. 
    Ginger detoxifies the liver and stimulates the immune system. It helps reduce intestinal gas and has a soothing effect on inflammation from the Candida.
    Lemon and lime juices help cleanse the liver and stimulate the colon, increasing the efficiency of your digestive system, helping to rid your system of Candida overgrowth.
    Apple Cider vinegar contains enzymes that help break down Candida.
    Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, cabbage, and radishes, contain compounds that attack Candida.
    Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and nuts, have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties.     
    Cinnamon and cloves are both powerful anti-fungals that can damage the Candida cells, causing them to die off.
    One of the best things to do is add more fiber to your diet, as well as probiotics—and prebiotics to feed those probiotics.
    This writer’s mother suffered from Candid many years ago. At that time, most doctors knew nothing about the affliction, telling women who suffered from it that it was “all in their heads.” Fortunately, my mother’s doctor was a man who had made himself familiar with Candia—because his wife had it. So he was able to properly diagnose and treat Candida in his female patients. (Some males contract Candida, but it is primarily a female ailment.) My mother was on a strict diet—no sugar, no refined carbs, no yeast breads (fortunately, there was a local bakery that made very good yeast-free whole-grain bread). She conquered her Candida—and you can, too. It may not be easy, but it is doable. 
    To lower your intake of sugar, you must find a product that does not feed the Candida. Since sugar alcohols are often used in diabetic diets, one might think that these products would be good to use on a Candida diet. However, most sugar alcohols do feed the Candida, just like regular sugar. But there are two sugar alcohols that Candida sufferers can safely use: xylitol and erythritol. In fact, studies have shown that xylitol can actually fight Candida.
    Energy Foods products such as Vim® (which contains xylitol) and Frē® (which contains erythritol) also contain prebiotic fructan fibers to help the probiotics in your gut combat the overgrowth of Candida. 

Blood Pressure\

    For years, we’ve been taught that salt is a substance that contributes largely to high blood pressure. Seniors and people with heart problems have been told to cut down on their sodium intake.
    But what if the real culprit is not salt, but another white crystal—sugar?
    Actually, neither salt nor sugar, in high amounts, is very good for anyone's heart. And if you already have heart disease or high blood pressure, you should probably keep an eye on both.
    But it’s sugar we’re concerned with at this time. And authors of a recent study in Open Heart argue that sugar consumption may be considerably worse for blood pressure than salt intake. According to study author James DiNicolantonio, a heart disease research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, “Consuming sugar increases insulin levels, which activates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate and blood pressure.” According to the study, high levels of sugar affect a key area of the brain called the hypothalamus which causes the heart rate to quicken and blood pressure to rise.
    Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, a campaign group, said people underestimate the public health risk posed by sugar. He feels there is growing evidence it is an independent risk factor for many diseases.
    Another study, from the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found that people who consume a diet high in fructose, a key ingredient in high-fructose corn syrup, are more likely to have high blood pressure. Drinking 2.5 cans or more of non-diet soda per day increases your risk of hypertension by at least 30 percent. So although sugar consumption in general should be reduced, it is fructose, as in high-fructose corn syrup, that is of particular concern.
    "High-fructose corn syrup is very prevalent," says Dr. Michel Chonchol, M.D., the senior author of the study and a blood pressure specialist at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, in Aurora. "If you go to grocery stores, it's everywhere."
    Still another study, this one published recently in the journal "Circulation," suggested that cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages may lower blood pressure.
    One of the most effective diets for controlling high blood pressure consists largely of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, low sodium content, and low sugar/fructose content.
    Check out sugarscience.org, a new website that uses graphics, videos and science to show you the many links between excess sugar and chronic disease. It was developed by medical professors at the University of California San Francisco, who have reviewed more than 8,000 independent studies on sugar and its role in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and more.
    But it is hard to get people to give up their sugar. Cook County, Illinois’ new penny per ounce tax on sweetened beverages, which began August 2, 017, has people planning to drive to nearby counties to load up on their sodas. One woman said, “I have a teenager, I mean, c'mon.” They would be better off saving their money and drinking water. It is nice, however to occasionally have a drink with flavor. The suaghrscienec.org website, in their FAQs, has the following suggestion:
    How do I get my kids to stop drinking soda?
    The best alternatives for kids are water and milk, but if those are unappealing, there are other options. Try keeping a bottle of water in the refrigerator with lemon or cucumber slices in it, to meet their need for a cold drink with some flavor. If you need to make a gradual switch, start by giving them bubbly water mixed with 100% juice and gradually decrease the amount of juice. Also, make sure sweet foods are only served as a treat after meals and offer fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks. Every little bit helps.

We might make a further suggestion. Add a little lemon or lime juice to water and sweeten it with Life Energy Food’s prebiotic fructan fiber sweeteners, Vim® or Frē® for a refreshing beverage that gives you the sweetness you want and health benefits as well. Or check out the smoothie recipes in our Recipes section.

Your Liver

    The liver is a very important organ in the body. There is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver function, as no one has come up with a way to transplant a liver.  
    The liver has a lot of functions—about 500. We won’t list them all, but her are a few important ones:
It regulates the amounts of sugar, protein, and fat that enter the bloodstream.
It removes toxins from the blood.
It processes most of the nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and converts them into forms that can be used by the body.
It stores Vitamin A and some minerals, including iron.
It makes cholesterol, vitamin A, blood-clotting substances, and certain proteins.
It regulates a wide variety of high-volume biochemical reactions, including the synthesis and breakdown of small and complex molecules, many of which are necessary for normal vital functions.
    As you can see from just these few functions, liver is pretty important. Yet millions of people are poisoning their livers day by day through overconsumption of just one little product. You’ve got it—sugar! And specifically fructose, as in high-fructose corn syrup, also known as HFCS.
    HFCS was developed in the 1960s by scientists at the Clinton Corn Processing Company in Iowa. It was approved by the FDA in 1976, at which time it began being used as the sweetener in soft drinks. The reason—it’s way cheaper than sugar, and also easier to produce.
In 1982, the FDA decided the recent heavy-duty increase in obesity and cardiovascular disease meant people were eating too much fat, so they began suggesting people limit their fat consumption. Low-fat diets became the craze, but what happened? People were still gaining weight and having heart attacks.
    Foods that normally have quite a bit of fat in them taste good (everything’s better with bacon, right?), so when you take the fat away, you also take away the flavor. In order to make low-fat foods palatable, food processors decided to add sugar—lots of it. And to be economical, they turned to that cheaper, easier to handle HFCS.
    Okay, remember when HFCS started being the sweetener of choice for soft drink manufacturers? 1976. And that’s when the rise in obesity and cardiovascular disease began. So when people lowered their fat intake and upped their sugar intake, the result was—a greater increase in obesity, a greater incidence of cardiovascular problems.
    So, how does sugar make us fat and what does this have to do with the liver?
    Table sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose/50% fructose. HFCS comes in several different ratios, but the one most commonly used in soft drinks and other processed foods is 45% glucose/55% fructose. Glucose is metabolized throughout the body, but fructose is metabolized only in the liver. So the more sugar you consume—especially HFCS—the harder your liver has to work. Your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize the fructose. It can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day. But the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar (350 calories worth) a day. All that excess sugar is turned into body fat.
    Let’s take a look at how much sugar 22 teaspoons adds up to: 141 pounds/year. That’s a lot of sweet! And a good percentage of it is HFCS. The largest source of calories in the American diet is soft drinks. Annual per capita consumption of sodas increased from 350 cans to 600 cans in just two decades. That’s a lot of pop! Especially when you consider that there are probably others like me who generally stick to water and may drink two or three sodas per year. The average teen’s intake of fructose is 15% of their daily calories. 
    Keep up the high added sugar consumption and your liver could develop non-alcoholic cirrhosis (or fatty liver disease). Not a good idea.
    Another problem with fructose is that it shuts down the functioning of leptin, the hormone that tells your body you're full. You will eat more when you don't know you're full.
    There are two programs I’d like to recommend you watch. One is a British made documentary, which has been shown in the US on PBS, called The Men Who Made Us Fat. You might even be able to find it online. The other is a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig, of the University of California San Francisco, called Sugar: the Bitter Truth. It’s available on youtube.
    Lowering you sugar intake is vital to your health. It’s not easy, It requires a lifestyle change. Start drinking water instead of soft drinks, stop using processed foods and turn to using fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. For sweets, use Life Energy Food’s prebiotic fructan fiber products, Vim® and Frē®.

Dementia

It is amazing how many parts of the body sugar has a very negative impact on. It affects your blood sugar and blood pressure. It makes cavities in your teeth. And it is really, really bad for your liver—especially fructose, as in high-fructose corn syrup. As if that weren’t enough, studies have also found a relationship between sugar consumption and the brain—leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s. 
A joint Group Health/University of Washington (UW) study of 2,000 Group Health patients age 65+ found that higher blood sugar levels are associated with higher dementia risk, even among people who do not have diabetes.

According to author Paul K. Crane, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine, "The most interesting finding was that every incrementally higher glucose level was associated with a higher risk of dementia in people who did not have diabetes.”

The risk is, of course, even higher for diabetics.

Another study found that even if you're not diabetic or insulin resistant, sugar consumption can still disrupt your memory.
Long term, sugar can lead to the shrinking of your hippocampus, one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Since the brain does not require glucose for energy, researchers feel that excess glucose in the brain is part of the problem, leading to not only dementia, but other brain disorders as well. In fact, Alzheimer’s was once termed “type 3 diabetes.”

Neurologist David Perlmutter, MD insists that being very strict in limiting your consumption of sugar and non-vegetable carbs is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent Alzheimer's disease. He cites research from the Mayo Clinic, which found that diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89 percent increased risk for dementia.

Since one in nine people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s (now thought to be the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer), doing everything possible to keep our brains healthy is extremely important. That means eating a healthy diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and low in processed carbohydrates and added sugars. 

You can lower your sugar intake easily by using Life Energy Food’s Vim® and Frē®, prebiotic fructan fiber products using natural plant-based sweeteners xylitol and erythritol. 

Your Heart

Let’s face it. Your heart is a pretty important organ. It stops beating and whammo—unless someone’s around who can get it going again—you’re dead. Sometimes it stops beating because you’re old and it’s just worn out and it’s time for you to go anyway. But sometimes, it’s because your heart is diseased.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, accounting for almost 1 in every 4 deaths. That’s a pretty high number. And it means that YOU have a good chance of dying from heart disease. 

So how do you keep your heart from being in that 25%? Well, one of the factors linked to heart disease is obesity. And, as we’ve shown in other articles, mounting evidence clearly shows that added sugars, and processed fructose particular, is a primary participant in the rising tide of obesity.

Refined fructose damages your liver in the same way as alcohol and can, indeed, cause cirrhosis of the liver. You don’t need to be an alcoholic to cause significant damage to your lover. Just be a soda-holic, since most sodas are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Refined fructose is more readily metabolized into fat than any other sugar. The fact that refined fructose is far more harmful to your health than other sugars was recently highlighted in a meta-review published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that there’s “a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.”

In another study, Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that "The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar."

The results of still another study showed that those who consumed the most sugar — about 25 percent of their daily calories — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to seven percent of their total calories. In fact the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of added sugar in the diet regardless of the age, sex, or physical activity levels.

Study after study all come to the same conclusion: sugar kills.

Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont, says, "Now we know that too much added sugar doesn't just make us fat, it increases our risk of death from heart disease." She says people need to cut back on added sugars. "I continue to be amazed at the added sugars that Americans are consuming.”

The average American consumes one-third of a pound of sugar per day, half of which is processed fructose. That’s more than 120 pounds of sugar in a year. But a lot of people consume half a pound—more than 225 grams, per day! That’s a whopping 900 calories of sugar! If we consider a normal daily calorie count of 2,000 calories, that’s nearly 50%. And didn’t we just cite a study that said that people whose sugar consumption was 25% of their diet were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who only consumed 7%of their daily calories in added sugars? So how much more at risk are those whose sugar calories are a third or half of their daily calorie intake?

Even children get far too much sugar. An average 8-year-old consumes about 64 pounds of sugar a year, enough to make a life-size statue. In mid-August 2017, a towering block of sugar boxes was placed in Times Square surrounded by statues of small children made completely out of sugar, in order to demonstrate the sugar problem. It’s mind-blowing! Around 12.5 million children in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, due to the high levels of added sugar in the majority of snacks and dinners for toddlers and adolescents.

To lower your risk of obesity, the World Health Organization recommends dramatically reducing your added sugar consumption to 10 percent of daily calories or less. This equates to about 12 teaspoons or 50 grams of sugar for most adults (based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet). But if you want to prevent heart disease, they suggest limiting your added sugar consumption to a maximum of five percent of your daily calories. That would be about 25 grams of sugar.

So, let’s just look at what we need to cut out of our diets to keep within that 25 gram guideline to save our hearts.

Major sources of added sugars in our' diets are sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, fruit drinks, ice cream, and candy

Sugar content of soft drinks varies, so we’ll just look at one. A 12-ounce can of Coca Cola contains 39 grams of sugar. If you’re one of those super-thirsty types who prefers the large, 32-ounce fountain drinks, you’re looking at 91 grams of sugar (that’s considering 28 ounces of drink and four ounces of ice). Fruity soft drinks, such as orange or grape, are higher, and cream soda is really high.

Although the sugar content of ice cream will vary between brands and various flavors, a cup of ice cream will average about 28 grams of sugar. And beware of “light” ice cream. It may be lower in fat, but generally contains more sugar—about 34 grams.

Candy bars run between 20 and 35 grams of sugar per bar, with some going as high as 40 grams (read the labels). But it’s not just chocolate bars we need to be wary of. Just four pieces of strawberry Twizzlers have 19 grams of sugar. And there are 33 grams of sugar in a ¼ cup of Starburst jelly beans.

Almost everything you buy—especially processed foods—has loads of added sugars. It may be more time-consuming to cook from scratch, but it is much healthier and could save your life. 

But don't think switching to diet sodas or sugar-free candy will help. Artificial sweeteners are also bad news.

Consider drinking water instead of soda. It’s a better thirst-quencher, anyway.

To satisfy that sweet tooth, make your own desserts using Life Energy Food’s prebiotic fructan fiber sweeteners Vim® and Frē®. (We have some great recipes on this web site.) Your heart will thank you.

Fighting Cancer

We’ve talked about sugar’s deadly effect on the heart, on the liver, blood pressure, blood sugar, candida, even dementia. And there is considerable evidence that sugar, due to its harmful effects on metabolism, can contribute to cancer.

I have lost some really good friends to cancer—two of them just this year alone. It is not a fun disease to deal with. But there are increasing studies that show there are ways to prevent this deadly disease.

One of those ways is to decrease our sugar consumption. I know it’s hard. I have a bit of a sweet tooth myself from time to time. But most of us eat way too much of it. Let’s face it—it’s in pretty much everything. Getting away from it entirely is a bit impossible. But limiting the amount we eat is possible.

First, let’s look at how sugar contributes to cancer.

Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. One of the key hormones in regulating such growth is insulin. This has led many scientists to believe that elevated insulin levels, due to sugar consumption, can contribute to the growth of cancer cells. 

A recent study conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center concluded that the high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical Western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs. 

The findings showed dietary sugar's effect on an enzymatic signaling pathway.

"We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable to levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared to a non-sugar starch diet," said Peiying Yang, PhD, assistant professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. 

Co-author Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, also a professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine, stated, “We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis production… in breast tumors." He added that the data suggested that dietary sugar induces the enzymatic signaling to increase risks for breast cancer development and metastasis.

With the per capita consumption of sugar soaring to over 100 pounds per year, primarily through high-fructose corn syrup sweetened beverages, the researchers feel it is critical that we moderate our sugar consumption if we are to quell the worldwide epidemic of obesity, cardiac disease, and cancer.

This study was published in the Jan. 1, 2016 online issue of Cancer Research.

Another study, done a few years ago by Swedish researchers, including Par Stattin, MD, PhD, of Sweden's Umea University Hospital, found that people with high blood sugar may be more likely to develop cancer, even if they aren’t diabetic. The researchers concluded that keeping blood sugar levels within the normal range could reduce cancer risk.

The study involved nearly 64,000 non-diabetic nonsmokers, who were followed by the researchers for eight years.

The result: participants with the highest blood sugar levels upon joining the study were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer before its end, compared with those with the lowest blood sugar levels. The results held when other factors, such as participants' weight and age, were considered. Stattin’s team concluded that keeping one’s blood sugar under control could not only help in preventing diabetes and heart disease, but could also make cancer less likely.

Their study appeared in Diabetes Care.

The American Institute of Cancer Research suggests that it is the excess fat that develops from over-consumption of sugar that leads to cancer and recommends eating a diet rich in nutritious and filling foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans and replacing sugary beverages with low- or no-calorie drinks. They suggest drinking flavored sparkling water without added sugar instead of soda, adding colorful fruits, such as berries or citrus, to your water, and eating healthy snacks like fresh fruits, nuts, or whole grain crackers with cheese instead of sugary snacks.

Lowering your sugar intake is not the only way to keep cancer at bay. A healthy microbiome is also critical. Probiotic supplements or foods may lower the risk of cancer development. Probiotics are good bacteria in your gut that may suppress the growth of bad bacteria that transform procarcinogens into carcinogens. Procarcinogens are chemical substances that become carcinogenic after being altered by metabolic processes. By improving gut health, probiotics boost the body's immune system, so it is better able to fight infections, including those that can cause cancer.

Recent studies suggest that probiotics may be very useful as part of an anti-cancer diet. In 2009 at the 3rd International Immunonutrition Workshop in Spain, fermented milk containing the probiotic strain Lactobacillus helveticus was demonstrated to delay the growth of breast tumors by reducing inflammation. 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there is evidence that probiotics are helpful in preventing and/or treating diarrhea and other intestinal problems, urinary and vaginal infections, and eczema. In addition, Lab and animal studies suggest that probiotics may slow the growth of breast cancer cells.

The Medical News Today online newsletter of September 14, 2017, quotes James Versalovic, M, PhD, Milton J. Finegold Professor and Vice Chair, Pathology & Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, as saying, “We are on the cusp of harnessing advances in microbiome science to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of human disease. By simply introducing microbes that provide missing life substances, we can reduce the risk of cancer and supplement diet-based cancer prevention strategies."

So adding a probiotic to your diet is very helpful. Yu can get probiotics from foods, such as yogurt and other fermented milk products, as well as sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso, but that would be in small amounts and you need to be sure the cultures they contain are alive. Your best bet is to find a good probiotic supplement. Check with your local nutrition store. Since these supplements contain live organisms, most of them must be refrigerated. 

Probiotics need to be fed. They are living creatures, so take good care of them and feed them with prebiotics. We’ve discussed prebiotics before. They are basically indigestible carbohydrates that are food for the microbes in your gut.

Life Energy Food’s products Vim® and Frē® are made with prebiotic fructan fibers and sweetened with plant-based low or non-caloric sweeteners, so can kill two birds with one stone. You can feed the probiotics in your gut that help to fight cancer cells and lower your intake of sugar at the same time. Look for great recipes using these products in the Recipes section of our website, LifeEnergyFood.com.

Ah—choo!

    I read an interesting quote on the internet the other day: "If you plant Twinkies in your body garden, how do you expect to harvest health?" ~Terri Guillemets
    In case you’re wondering who Terri Guillemets is, she is not a health professional or a sugar expert. She is a quotation anthologist, which means she collects interesting quotations from many different sources and sometimes makes them up herself. The above quote is one of hers, but I thought it was really apt for our study of how sugar affects our health.
    A few weeks ago, my fall allergies began. You know the symptoms—runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, scratchy throat. And for me, although it may not be true for everyone—a really bad cough. So, since I have been researching sugar’s nasty effect on various health problems, I decided to see if sugar was a bad guy where allergies are concerned.
    Well, of course it is. Sugar is a problem where pretty much everything else is concerned. Why should allergies be any different?
Studies show that allergies affect about 20% of people worldwide—up to 50% of people in developed nations such as here in the US. In fact, according to the CDC, allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the US. Now I doubt that pollens are all that different in other countries, so why do we have more allergies? Do you think it could possibly have something to do with our diets? Hmmm.
    Let’s look at what an allergy is. What causes them? Why can one person smell a pretty flower and enjoy its fragrance, while another who smells the same flower ill immediately be reaching for the box of tissues. Why does eating one shrimp or a few peanuts send one person into anaphylactic shock while another person can eat a seafood dinner every night and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch with no problem at all? 
    Allergies result from an immune response to a generally harmless threat—pollen, animal dander, food—that the body somehow sees as dangerous, causing symptoms that range from mildly irritating (runny nose, itchy eyes) to life‐threatening (anaphylaxis). Nobody knows for sure why some people are allergic to one thing and others allergic to something else. But in every case, it is because of a weakened immune system.
    For some allergies, your only recourse is to avoid the allergens. That’s true of some food allergies. Avoid the food that causes the problem, or have an EpiPen handy. Otherwise, o could die. But airborne allergens—pollens, molds, pet danders—are a different story. Unless you are going to hide yourself away from the world, there is no way to avoid seasonal pollens or molds. They are there, and if your body doesn’t like them, too bad.
    But since the allergic response is an immune system thing—keep those allergies under control by strengthening your immune system. During allergy seasons, your immune system has to work overtime to stop your particular allergens in their tracks. This can weaken the immune system. By strengthening your immune system, you can keep these allergies from developing into full-blown hay fever.
A weakened immune system is more susceptible to bad bacteria and allergies. If the immune system is depressed for long periods of time, auto-immune diseases may become a problem and sinus infections may occur on a regular basis.
    One of the best ways to strengthen your immune system is to avoid foods that suppress it, such as processed foods, foods that trigger inflammation, and sugar. These foods can can weaken your immune system over time, making you less able to combat seasonal allergens. According to a study done by Loma Linda University, when you eat 100 grams of sugar, your white blood cells are 40 percent less effective at killing germs. That’s about the amount of sugar in a Big Gulp! This can cripple your immune system for up to five hours!
    Remember way back in the 1970s when Linus Pauling discovered that white blood cells need Vitamin C to fight bacteria and viruses? Well, the problem is that sugar and Vitamin C are similar in chemical structure, so when you eat sugar, it wants to take up the space in your white blood cells that should belong to Vitamin C. The more sugar you eat, the more it pushes that virus-consuming Vitamin C out, compromising your immune system. Vitamin C helps your immune system fight infection; sugar DOES NOT.
    A blood sugar level of 120 reduces your immune system by up to 75%! That is not an uncommon level. For those without diabetes, a blood sugar level between 70 and 139 after eating is normal. So pretty much anyone could end up with a 75% decrease in their immune function just by eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
    So what does this mean? It means if you’re putting sugar on your cereal for breakfast, if you’re drinking sodas every day and eating dessert for lunch and dinner—and maybe a candy bar for a snack, it’s time to STOP—even if you’re only doing a couple of those things. Sugar isn’t just going to reduce immune function, it will also contribute to all the other health problems we’ve been discussing.
    It’s time to take back your body and boost your immune system. You can start by cutting way back on sugar by switching to Life Energy Food’s prebiotic fructan fiber products, Vim® and Frē®. These products will not only give you the sweetness you crave (just check out our recipe section for lots of delicious ways to use Vim® and Frē®), but give you some added fiber as well as prebiotics to feed the probiotics in your gut.
    Your next step would be to eat more of the foods that boost your immune system. We will discuss that in a future article.

Chicken Soup

    Remember when you were little and you had a cold or an upset tummy and your mom would bring you a bowl of fragrant, steamy chicken noodle soup and you’d feel a little better? Well, it wasn’t entirely your imagination. Chicken soup is good for you—and can give your immune system a boost.
    Way back in the 12th Century, healers started to prescribe "the broth of fowl" for their ill patients. Egyptian Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides wrote extensively about the benefits of chicken soup, stating, "The meat taken should be that of hens or roosters and their broth should also be taken because this sort of fowl has virtue in rectifying corrupted humours." Although he used his soup to treat a lot of various ailments, he particularly believed in its power to heal respiratory illnesses, such as the common cold.
    But chicken soup’s amazing healing power kind of remained an “old wives’ tale” right up until the latter part of the 20th Century, when Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, decided he wanted proof that it really did work. He thought that maybe it had some anti-inflammatory action.
     So Dr. Rennard tested his theory by adding his wife's homemade chicken soup to white blood cells. He found that chemicals in the soup slowed the white blood cells and were able to clear a stuffy nose by inhibiting inflammation of the cells in the nasal passages. Since that time, several studies have agreed with his results, and show chicken soup as a relief for the common cold, in that it helps break up congestion, eases the flow of nasal secretions, and inhibits the white blood cells that trigger the inflammatory response (causing sore throats and the production of phlegm.)
        Hey, mom was right! Chicken soup really can ease your symptoms and may help you get well sooner. Homemade is best, of course. Most store-bought soups end to have an overabundance of sodium. However, if you don’t have time to make your own, researchers have found that most commercial chicken soups will have the same beneficial effect.
    University of Nebraska researchers tested 13 brands and found that all but one (chicken-flavored ramen noodles) blocked the migration of inflammatory white cells—an important finding, because cold symptoms are a response to the cells' accumulation in the bronchial tubes. The soup's broth keeps mucous thin the same way cough medicines do. And all of the added vegetables can increase soup's immune-boosting power (more about them later).
S    o how does chicken soup work? Well, a cold is the result of a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine and slows the gathering of white blood cells in the lungs. It helps to loosen mucous in the lungs and nasal passages, so it is easier to cough it out and blow your nose. The soup also keeps you hydrated. Fluid intake is important when you’re unwell. On a less scientific note, the steam from the hot soup opens up stuffy nasal passages and the hot broth is soothing to a sore throat.
    In our next article, we’ll be talking about other foods that help boost your immune system—many of which you can use in your homemade chicken noodle soup. We’ll be giving you a recipe or two as well. Check our website regularly for updates.

Boosting Your Immune System, I

Chicken soup maybe good on its own, but it is even better when you add lots of yummy immune-boosting veggies. These are items you’ll want to have in your regular daily diet, not just in your chicken soup, but definitely put them there. We’ll be providing a recipe for your chicken soup, using these ingredients, in a future post. Watch our Recipes section.

Mushrooms
    Mushrooms have been considered a boon to the immune system for hundreds of years. Button mushrooms give you the mineral selenium and the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin. Selenium helps protect you from a bad case of the flu. Riboflavin and niacin play a role in a healthy immune system. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch. A recent study showed that a concentrated extract of shiitake enhanced immune function in women with breast cancer.
    Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC, tells us, "Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection.”
    So put lots of mushrooms in your chicken soup, for both flavor and their immune-boosting properties. You can also add them to pasta sauces. I like to sauté them a bit and add them to scrambled eggs.

Broccoli
    Broccoli is one of those vegetables that a number of restaurants like to use as a side dish. And that’s a good thing, as it is very good for your immune system and one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. You could consider it as an immune-boosting basic. My personal attempts to grow it have not had the greatest results, but it's easy to find at the grocery store. Broccoli is full of nutrients that protect your body from damage. It has vitamins A, C, and E, and the antioxidant glutathione, as well as plenty of fiber.     Add some to your chicken soup, or just serve it lightly steamed as a side dish, maybe with a cheese sauce (yummy). It’s even better raw in a salad.

Spinach
    Spinach has long been considered a “super food” (remember Popeye), and for good reason. Spinach is full of nutrients. It is very low in calories (100 g of raw leaves provide just 23 calories). Also, its leaves hold a good amount of soluble dietary fiber. 100 g of fresh spinach contains about 25% of daily intake of iron, an essential trace element required for red blood cell production .Fresh leaves are a rich source of vital antioxidant vitamins A and C, and other antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, both important for your eyes, helping to protect them from age-related macular degeneration.
    Spinach leaves are also an excellent source of Vitamin K, which plays a vital role in strengthening bone mass, as well as good amounts of many B-complex vitamins and important minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc, all crucial to a healthy immune system. 
    Eat spinach raw in salads, lightly cooked as a side dish, or chop up a few leaves to add to your chicken soup.

Garlic
    Queen Elizabeth may have banned garlic from her kitchen, but he is the one who is missing out. Found in almost every cuisine in the world, this amazing little bulb not only adds a bit of zing to your meals, it also gives a good boost to your immune system. Practically from the dawn of time, people recognized garlic’s value in fighting infection from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Garlic contains a heavy concentration of allicin, which is a compound with numerous health benefits including antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. 
In addition to its immune-boosting powers, garlic can also lower your blood pressure, lower your bad cholesterol, improve brain function, help protect your body heavy metal toxicity, and promote healthy digestion. In a British study, researchers gave people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. 
    Forget the garlic powder, though. You want to use the real stuff. It’s inexpensive and a little goes a long way. Mince a few cloves into your chicken soup, add to pasta sauces, or, if you’re not going out that night, put a little raw garlic on your salad. Because heat deactivates a key active ingredient, add it to cooked foods just before serving.
    Can you do anything about garlic breath? No, not really. Mints or mouthwash might work temporarily—like for a few minutes, but garlic breath doesn’t come from bacteria, like most bad breath problems. Garlic’s odor-causing substances are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, then the scent seeps out through the lungs and pores. You’ll smell like garlic for a few hours. So, if you’ve got a hot date, have your garlic for lunch and the odor should be gone by the time you head out in the evening.

Orange vegetables
Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin have beta-carotene. In your body that turns into vitamin A, which helps bolster the immune system and may even improve the aging process. Vitamin A is also great for your skin, the first line of defense against bacteria and other undesireables.
    "Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin," explains Prevention advisor David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, CT.
    It’s a simple thing to grate a few carrots into your chicken soup, or chop up a sweet potato or some squash. Carrots are also great in a salad or as a cooked side dish. Watch for a recipe to come in our recipe section for Copper Penny Salad. This was a favorite of my dad’s, who was not normally a salad lover. You can also bake a sweet potato just like a regular potato and serve it up with butter and a little salt and pepper. Just don’t go making candied “yams” like lots of people do for Thanksgiving. (What most people call yams in the U.S. are really sweet potatoes.) Remember, you want to avoid sugar.

Ginger
    Ginger is more than a pungent spice to add to Asian foods. It has been has been in use since ancient times for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a great antioxidant, and it decreases nausea, helps decrease chronic pain, and according to recent research, may lower bad cholesterol. 
    Ginger is also a good source of several B vitamins and minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. 
    Spice up your chicken soup with a little grated ginger root, or use it in stir-fries. You can also boil it in water, maybe with a little added lemon or orange juice, to make a soothing tea to reduce cold symptoms.

Bell Peppers
    No need to reach for that glass of orange juice for your daily dose of Vitamin C. Just one cup of bell peppers will give you more than your daily quota of Vitamin A and C! Red bell peppers will give you the highest concentration of these vitamins. And since bell peppers are low in calories, that cup will give you just 45 calories. Vitamin A is great for both eye and skin health and has lots of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system, it also helps maintain a healthy skin.
    Studies show that the capsaicin in bell peppers reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.
    Bell peppers are a great addition to your chicken soup. Chop up some red, green, yellow and orange for a colorful confetti effect. You can do the same thing with salads—or use as a healthy topping for a pizza.

Turmeric
    Turmeric is a spice used as a key ingredient in many curries. But it has long been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines for its demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. It is also rich in dietary fiber, which helps to control blood LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels. Turmeric also contains several essential B vitamins, as well as Vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium.
    So add a little turmeric to your chicken soup and use it in curries and other sauces. Turmeric is also used in making pickles—both as a flavoring and a coloring agent. 

Barley
    Barley contains beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities. It boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.
    Barley also contains eight essential amino acids the complete protein requirement in our diet. Recent research says that consuming whole grain barley can help regulate blood sugar. 
    In addition, it is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Since it is rich in insoluble fiber, it actually helps you reduce bile acid secretion, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering the levels of triglycerides. 
    Barley is rich in immune-boosting minerals phosphorous, copper, iron, manganese, and calcium.
    Consider using barley instead of the traditional noodles in your chicken soup for greater immune-boosting benefits.

Boosting Your Immune Sysrem, II

In Boosting Your Immune System, I, we discussed various vegetables that could be used in a tasty, heathy chicken soup. We hope you noticed our recipe that then appeared in our recipes section. This article features some fruits that are great for boosting your immune system. In the future, we will be testing and adding some recipes utilizing these fruits. In the meantime, if you use these fruits yourself in desserts, remember to use Life Energy Food’s prebiotic fructan products Vim® or Frē® instead of sugar.

Acai Berry
    Used for centuries as a healing, immune-boosting fruit, the acai berry is one of the healthiest berries known to man. The berries grow on palm trees indigenous to the rain forests of the Amazon. They are antioxidant-rich, having more antioxidant content than other commonly eaten berries, such as cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.  
    Its dark color is a sign that it's got plenty of nutrients called anthocyanins, a flavonoid that acts as an antioxidant. Anthocyanins may also offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. They are also useful in treating high blood pressure, colds, and urinary tract infections.
    Acai is high in dietary fiber, so aids in keeping the digestive system clean and functional. 
    Enjoy these berries in juice or smoothies, or try them dried and mixed with granola. I personally have not seen the berries available in supermarkets, but you might look for them in some specialty stores. The juice is available, however, often combined with blueberry juice.

Blueberries
    A great immune-booster, as well as great tasting, blueberries have been long used by Native Americans to treat coughs. They rank way up there with acai in their antioxidant levels, including anthocyanins, and are loaded with fiber and Vitamins C and K. They also contain those good-for-your-eyes nutrients, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. And blueberries are an excellent source of manganese, which plays an important part in bone development and converting carbohydrates and fats into energy. In fact, blueberries are considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. 
    Studies suggest that blueberries may reduce the risk of heart disease. Other researchers have studied the effect of blueberries on brain function. In a study led by Robert Kirkorian at the University of Cincinnati, researchers found that older adults who were given blueberry juice scored higher on memory tests than those receiving a placebo. 
    Studies have also shown blueberries can lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
    Watch for some delicious blueberry recipes to come in our recipe section.

Citrus fruits
    Citrus fruits are a well-known source of immune-boosting Vitamin C. But they also have other nutritional benefits. They are high in dietary fiber and contain flavonoids that are good for your heart. In a study of patients who had undergone bypass surgery published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that antioxidant-rich red grapefruit helped lower "bad" LDL cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels. 
    Citrus fruits are packed with potassium, which is important for fluid regulation, mineral balance, and muscle contraction. Potassium also helps your body flush out sodium. They also contain calcium, folate and Vitamin A.
    Since your body doesn’t produce or store Vitamin C, it’s important to include Vitamin C-rich foods in your daily diet. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and clementines are usually available year round (eat the whole fruit rather than the juice to get the fiber). Use lemon and lime juices in salad dressings.

Elderberry
    Elderberries are an important fruit for boosting your immune system. They contain Vitamins A, B and C, and the minerals iron, potassium, phosphorous and copper, as well as dietary fiber. Like acai and blueberries, they are also loaded with antioxidants. They’re great for alleviating allergy symptoms, will give you protection from bacteria and infection, aid in the digestive process, help fight inflammation, and lower blood sugar.  
    Some lab studies showed it may block flu viruses. But don’t pass on your annual flu shot. More studies still need to be done.

Kiwi
    Kiwis contain many essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C (it contains more Vitamin C than oranges), Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. It is also high in antioxidants and the eye-healthy nutrient lutein.
    A number of studies have shown kiwi helps reduce complications related to irritable bowel syndrome, as well as inflammatory bowel disease. 

Papaya
    Papaya is an amazingly nutritional fruit. IN addition to being another great source of Vitamin C, papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects and aids in digestion. Another active enzyme, fibrin, helps prevent blood clots. Papaya also helps treat indigestion, constipation, acid reflux, heart burn, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and gastric problems. Papayas also contain potassium, B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial nutrients.

Pomegranate 
    Antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice was used by the ancient Egyptians to treat infections, so its health benefits have been known for hundreds of years. 
    It is a good source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber. Studies suggest that the ellagitannin compounds Granatin B and Punicalagin, found abundantly in pomegranate juice, can be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also help your body fight bacteria and several kinds of viruses, including the flu. 

Watermelon
    Watermelon? Come on, isn’t it just good-tasting sugar water? How could it be a healthy immune booster? Well, actually, it's not only delicious and refreshing, even though it’s 90% water, watermelon is actually a nutrient dense food, providing high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and just a small number of calories. When it's ripe, it's also got plenty of an antioxidant called glutathione that strengthens the immune system so it can fight infection.
    Because of its high water and fiber content, watermelon is a good digestive and regulatory aid.
    A study published by the American Journal of Hypertension found that watermelon could help lower blood pressure levels.
    The lycopene found in watermelon may help protect against heart disease. 
    So enjoy that big slice of watermelon at your summer picnics. Or add it to a smoothie. It also is a great addition to a summer salad. Watch for some watermelon recipes to come in our recipe section. 

Boosting Your Immune System, III

There are other foods besides fruits and vegetables that are good sources for the nutrients needed to boost your immune system. Some of them may surprise you.

Oysters
    People have been eating oysters for hundreds of years—both raw and cooked. Everyone has heard of oyster’s fame as an aphrodisiac, but that isn’t really what you would consider a health benefit. However, oysters are loaded with the minerals iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. In fact, they contain more zinc than any other food. Zinc has some virus-fighting powers and assists your immune system in healing wounds and repairing tissue. 
    They also contain high levels of Vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D. Oysters are a good source of beneficial cholesterol, immune-boosting antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
    Because of the nutrients they contain, oysters are great for your heart, lower bad cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, improve blood circulation, and increase bone strength.
    One of my favorite ouster recipes is cornbread and oyster stuffing for turkey. Mmmm. The recipe is available in our recipes section—just in time for Thanksgiving.

Other Fish and Shellfish
    Seafood is an important part of your diet. Its immune-boosting properties are enormous. 
    Shellfish can give a boost to your immune system as they are packed with zinc and many other essential vitamins and minerals. Our bodies need zinc so that our immune cells can function as intended. You can find plenty of zinc in clams, crab, lobster, mussels, and shrimp.
    Omega-3 fatty acids, which are involved in immune system responses, are one of seafood’s most important nutrients. Although you can find small amounts of omega-3s in other foods, such as flaxseed, walnuts, avocados, Great Northern beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and soybeans, seafood the primary source of dietary Omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood rich in Omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, tuna, rainbow trout, red snapper, tilapia, orange roughy, clams, crab (even imitation crab), lobster, shrimp, scallops, canned salmon, and canned tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower the level of the bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. 
     Shellfish is also rich in choline, essential for cell membrane structure, cell signaling, fat transport and nerve transmission.
    Iron is also found in most fish and shellfish.
    Vitamin C, an essential immune system-boosting antioxidant is found in crab, shrimp, cod, salmon, and rainbow trout.
    Much seafood also contains Vitamins A, D, B12, and niacin.
    Seafood is a good part of a healthy diet. Watch for recipes to come in our Recipes section. I’m thinking a nice, hearty bouillabaisse.

 
Yogurt
    Probiotics, found in yogurt and other fermented products, may ease the severity of colds and stimulate your immune system to help fight disease. Look for labels that say "live and active cultures." Probiotics also help balance out the bacteria in our stomach, helping us to digest food better.
    Also look for added vitamin D. Studies show that people with low vitamin D levels may be more likely to get colds or the flu. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system.
    Yogurt also contains other essential vitamins and minerals that help regulate blood pressure and are heart healthy. 
    Buy plain yogurts rather than the kinds that are pre-flavored and loaded with sugar. Instead, add your own fruits. There are several recipes in our recipe section for flavorful combinations sweetened with Vim® or Frē®, which will not only give you the sweetness you want, but will provide prebiotic fructan fibers to feed the probiotics.
    Kefir is another dairy product that contains probiotics. Again, look for unsweetened and add Vim® or Frē®. Both yogurt and kefir are great in smoothies.

Miso 
    You’ve probably had miso in soups at Japanese restaurants without realizing its health benefits. Made of fermented soybeans, it has probiotics, the "good" bacteria found in yogurt. Because they give your immune system a lift, they can help fight colds and flu.
    Other fermented foods containing probiotics are sauerkraut and kimchee. Just be sure the products you purchase are fresh and have not been heat-treated. Cooking kills the probiotics.

Wheat Germ
    Wheat germ is rich in zinc, antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, protein, and some healthy fat.
    Substitute some of the regular flour with wheat germ when baking bread.

Nuts and seeds
    We usually think more about Vitamin C than Vitamin E when it comes to fighting colds and flu. However, this vitamin is key to a healthy immune system. Nuts and seeds are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. They are also rich in immune-boosting anti-oxidants, B vitamins, and essential fatty acids that help control cholesterol. 

Avocados
     The avocado is the only fruit that provides any substantial amount of healthy Omdega-3 fatty acids, and are the best non-seafood source of this immune-boosting nutrient. 
    Avocados are a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and several B vitamins, as well as the minerals magnesium and potassium. They also provide the beneficial eye nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin.
    Use avocados in salads, guacamole (of course), or smashed onto toast. Mash together hardboiled eggs and avocado and spread on bread for a tasty sandwich, or mix with cottage cheese for a healthy snack.

    It’s not hard to eat healthy. And with all the immune-boosting foods available, you can easily keep colds and flu to a minimum by making good eating choices.
    But a healthy diet is not the only way to boost your immune system. In Boosting Your Immune System, IV, we will discuss other ways to keep healthy.