Boost Immunity with Shiitake Mushrooms
Native to Asia, shiitake mushrooms are packed with vitamins and minerals and have been cultivated for thousands of years for culinary and medicinal purposes. The latest research published April 11 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition confirms that shiitake mushrooms boost immunity.
Strengthen Your Immune System with Shiitake
Researchers from the University of Florida gave 52 healthy adults between the ages of 21 and 42 a four-week supply of dried shiitake mushrooms. Participants then ate one 4-ounce serving of shiitake mushrooms every day for four straight weeks. Researchers controlled for several variables:
- No vegans are vegetarians were studied
- Subjects could not drink tea or take antioxidant vitamins or probiotics before the study
- Participants were instructed to limit alcohol to 14 or fewer glasses per week so that immune-enhancing activity wasn’t adversely impacted
- Volunteers were allowed no more than 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
At the end of four weeks participants displayed better gamma delta T-cells and fewer inflammatory proteins.
Lead researcher Sue Percival explains: “If you eat a shiitake mushroom every day, you could see changes in their immune system that are beneficial. We’re enhancing the immune system, but we’re also reducing the inflammation that the immune system produces.”
Fight Cancer with Shiitake
Shiitake mushrooms are also celebrated for their cancer-fighting properties. They are rich in the polysaccharide lentinan, which scientists have isolated and used to treat various cancers, including stomach cancer. In addition to its anti-tumor properties, lentinan has also been shown to protect the liver, alleviate stomach problems like gallstones and ulcers, and help treat anemia. In fact, shiitake mushrooms are one of the most bioavailable sources of iron.
In short, shiitake mushrooms are an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal powerhouse that can even help protect against atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease when eaten regularly. An easy way to start adding shiitake to your diet is to use it to create a base for soups or stocks for making rice or quinoa. Add in some nuts, peppers, chicken, or tofu, along with your favorite seasonings
The Oil Many People Overlook that can Boost your Health
How “Forgotten Oil” Can Dramatically Boost the Health of Your Entire Body
Treasured for its healing properties throughout the Roman Empire, flax seed oil benefits was one of the original natural remedies used by Hippocrates. Nearly every bodily system can benefit from this “forgotten oil,” including the cardiovascular system…immune system…circulatory system…reproductive system…nervous system…and joints.
What is Flax?
Flax (usitatissimum) is a blue flowering plant that grows on the Western Canadian prairies. Flax oil (also known as linseed oil) is considered to be nature’s richest source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for the health of the whole body. In addition to omega 3’s, flax oil benefits also provides omega 6, or linoleic acid (LA).
In the 1970s, flax oil benefits gained popularity among the most committed natural health aficionados. However, it fell out of fashion when oil manufacturers deemed nutritional oils less profitable.
You see, those same omega 3’s and omega 6’s that give flax is extraordinary health benefits are also highly sensitive to heat and air. This means flax oil has a short shelf life and is more costly to produce, transport, and store than many cooking oils.
In spite of this hurdle, flax oil benefits are making a fast comeback thanks to an avalanche of scientific studies that support its long list of health benefits. Indeed, many nutritionists, researchers, and scientists praise flax as one of the most important health supplements you can consume.
Medical Research and Flax– A Host of Health Benefits For Heart, Colon, Immunity, Brain, Skin, Blood Sugar, and Waist Line
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol and blood triglycerides and prevent clotting in the arteries. This is important, because clotting can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Flax oil benefits also boosts cardiovascular health by helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Further, flax oil benefits are 100 times richer in lignan than most whole grains—and risks is lower for both breast and colon cancer in populations whose diets are rich in lignan.
Flax oil benefits also promotes colon health. In addition to relieving constipation, it has proven anticancer benefits.
Numerous research studies have proven that this forgotten oil may provide myriad valuable health benefits, including its potential to do the following…
- Shorten recovery time for muscles after exercise
- Increase energy and stamina
- Accelerate healing of sprains and bruises
- Aid weight loss
- Stimulate brown fat cells and increases the metabolic rate (making it easier to burn off fat)
- Enhance calcium absorption
- Strengthen finger and toenails
- Improve eyesight and perception of colors
- Improve liver function
- Relieve the side effects and stop development of many forms of cancer
- Relieve asthma and allergies
- Improve eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff
- Relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Improve blood sugar and diabetes symptoms
- Prevent atherosclerosis (accumulation of fatty deposits inside the blood vessels)
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Relieve depression
- Improve mental function
- Help in the treatment of multiple sclerosis
- Relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Flaxseed Oil for Hair Growth
Yet another impressive trait of flax oil benefits comes from using it externally for hair growth. Flax oil encourages growth by increasing the circulation in the scalp. Plus, its rich stores of vitamin E work to nourish the scalp and promote healthy cell production.
Experts say benefits can be achieved by puncturing 3 to 5 flax seed oil capsules and massaging the oil into the scalp completely and then waiting at least 30 minutes before shampooing.
Flax Oil vs. Flax Seeds—Both Have Benefits
Flax oil is a nutritional wonder, but consuming the whole seeds may be even more powerfully beneficial. This is because the seeds themselves are loaded with nutrition, including the following essential nutrients…
- High quality protein for your diet
- Soluble fiber (the oil and fiber of whole flax seeds makes them an excellent and safe laxative)
- Vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E, carotene, iron, zinc, and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium
- The phytonutrient lignan. As mentioned, lignans are thought to protect against breast and colon cancer. Researchers believe this may be because lignans flush excess estrogen from the body. Eliminating excess estrogens helps prevent estrogen-related cancers (such as breast cancer). Lignans may also protect against infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Tips for Purchasing and Using Flax Oil and Flax Seeds
Flax can be purchased as whole or preground seeds, as extracted oil, or as oil in capsules. Health experts advise that whole flax seeds should be ground prior to consumption (which can be done with a simple coffee grinder).
As for flax oil, the short shelf life is an important consideration when purchasing and using. Flax oil turns rancid relatively quickly (often within 6 weeks of processing). In addition, its health benefits can be negatively affected by heat and air (or maximized by combining with other foods). Therefore, the following tips for purchasing and using flax oil are advised by natural health practitioners:
- Choose flax oil that is stored in black containers and kept in the store’s refrigerator section.
In your own home, make sure to refrigerate your flax oil and minimize air exposure by keeping the lid tightly closed.
- Purchase flax oil small quantities of 8 to 12 oz, depending on how much you intend to use (recommended daily dose for most people is at least 1,000 mg taken 1 to 3 times daily).
- Don’t cook with flax oil (heat can turn essential fatty acids into harmful substances). Instead, add flax oil to foods after cooking and just before serving.
- Consider taking flax oil with your meal, because doing so can actually increase the nutritional value of your food.
- The benefits of flax oil can take from a few days to as many as 6 weeks to emerge, depending on your health status. Therefore, experts recommend committing to at least 6 weeks of consistent use in order to judge effectiveness for specific health issues.