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    News — cleanse

    How to Boost the Absorption of Curcumin + Immune-Boosting Turmeric Shot Recipe!

     

    Last week we posted an article on turmeric and the healing properties that are associated with its active ingredient, curcumin. We focussed particularly on the potential role of dietary turmeric in cancer prevention (if you haven’t read it yet, click here to be taken to the article). We mentioned briefly at the end of the article that using black pepper with turmeric can enhance the bioavailability of the curcumin, and we wanted to delve into that more here.

    We know that turmeric has been used extensively in Indian and other South Asian cuisines, and has often formed part of a “curry powder blend” alongside other spices and black pepper. These spices are then typically combined with onions and garlic, some sort of protein and vegetables, and a fat such as coconut milk.

    Well, it seems that this traditional style of cooking and ingredient combining is actually beneficial for our health and can help with the absorption of the curcumin compound present in turmeric.

    There is a particular plant in South Asia that was traditionally used to treat asthma, whereby the leaves of the plant were steeped with black peppercorns before using them to make tea. In 1928 scientists investigated this ritual and discovered that adding black pepper actually increased the anti-asthmatic properties of the plants leaves. It was important to note that black pepper didn’t work alone, more so it was the combination of the pepper with the leaves.

    Approximately 5% of black pepper consists of a compound called piperine, which is actually the cause of the strong pungent flavour of pepper. Usually, the liver banishes foreign substances by making them water soluble so that they can be excreted easily. The piperine present in black pepper actually inhibits that process, instead contributing to the increase in absorption of the substance.

    An investigation by scientists in 1998 revealed that taking ¼ tsp of black pepper with curcumin boosted the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%, and even just a tiny pinch of pepper significantly boosted levels.

    Further findings in the area of curcumin bioavailability have showed that fat can also help to boost absorption. Consuming curcumin as a whole food (fresh as turmeric root or dried and powdered) naturally enhances the bioavailability of curcumin due to the natural oils found in the turmeric. Fat from the turmeric oil helps the curcumin to be directly absorbed into the blood stream and into the lymphatic system.

    However, when curcumin is extracted from turmeric (for example to make supplement capsules), it loses its oils and bioavailability. For this reason, a healthy fat (e.g. some whole nuts or seeds) alongside a curcumin supplement may help to improve the absorption rate.

    If you like to consume your curcumin fresh in the form of turmeric root, then rejoice because turmeric root has all the oils necessary for absorption. Simply combine the turmeric with some black pepper (like in this wellness shot recipe below) and you will truly be harnessing the potential of this amazing golden spice pigment.

    In the Wholesomeness kitchen we love to maximise nutrition, that’s why we often add turmeric and a tiny pinch of black pepper to our vegan protein blends.

     

    Responsible health advice: There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition or the healing properties of food.  If you are unwell please seek professional advice.

    References:
    Gupta, P. K. Prajapati. A clinical review of different formulations of Vasa (Adhatoda vasica) on Tamaka Shwasa (asthma). Ayu. 2010 31(4):520 - 524.
    Shoba, D. Joy, T. Joseph, M. Majeed, R. Rajendran, P. S. Srinivas. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 64(4):353 - 356.
    Anand, A. B. Kunnumakkara, R. A. Newman, B. B. Aggarwal. Bioavailability of curcumin: Problems and promises. Mol. Pharm. 2007 4(6):807 - 818.

     

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma

    The Healing Properties of Turmeric: Could Curcumin Play a Role in Cancer Prevention

     

    It seems that not only is Curcumin a powerful anti-inflammatory, it may play a role in protecting us against cancer.

    The study of plant-derived substances has evolved in the last 200 years, after the discovery that different active compounds can be derived from plants and studied for their health benefits. One such compound that has gained a lot of attention is the polyphenol curcumin, which is present in the yellow-orange turmeric spice powder.

    Curcumin was first isolated in 1815 by two scientists from Harvard College Laboratory. Since then, it has been studied extensively for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antiviral activities. In particular, it was found that curcumin could influence a wide range of molecules that play a role in cancer, and this unsurprisingly sparked a new area of interest among researchers – the study of curcumin and its anti-cancer potential.

    Since 1987, the National Cancer Institute has tested over 1000 different agents for their potential chemopreventative activities (meaning the ability to reduce the risk of, or delay the development of cancer). Only about 40 of those ever moved to clinical trials, with one of those being curcumin.

    Chemopreventative agents are usually grouped into three different subgroups:

    1. Antiproliferatives (substances used to prevent or slow cell growth, particularly malignant cells, into surrounding tissues)
    2. Antioxidants (compounds that protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals)
    3. Carcinogen-blocking agents (agents that disrupt the mechanisms that drive carcinogenesis, such as DNA damage)

    As identified by researchers in a 2013 review, curcumin is found to belong to all three of these subgroups, and appears to play a role in helping to slow and/or block every stage of cancer, findings which help shed light on the potential powerful anticancer capabilities of curcumin.

    Back in 1987 an interesting study examined the effects of curcumin on the DNA mutating ability of several toxins, and found that it was a successful anti-mutagen (an agent that helps to prevent the mutations of a compound) against several environmental carcinogens (however this was conducted in test tubes, not on humans).

    Following on from this, a 1992 study was conducted studying the effects of eating less than 1 tsp of turmeric every day for a month, on a group of non-smokers vs smokers. After the month was over, the smoker group saw significant decreases in DNA mutagens in their urine (however it still exceeded that of the non-smoker group, so it’s better not to smoke at all).

    There have been many more studies and systematic reviews conducted since then, focusing on the potential health benefits of dietary turmeric, with findings showing the inhibition of cell growth in many types of cancerous cells, shedding light on curcumin as an anti-mutagen and its potential usefulness in chemoprevention.  There’s certainly a lot of exciting research out there in the world of “food as medicine”.

    Tumeric has many other benefits and properties, particulary acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.  We love using it in our meals and our vegan protein powder blends.

    Turmeric can be purchased in powder form from the spice aisle of the supermarket, or as fresh turmeric root (looks a little like ginger root), which is also usually available from most grocery stores in the fresh produce section.  For enhanced bio-availability use pepper with turmeric.

    Do you have turmeric in your spice cabinet? If so, how do you like to use it? 

    Responsible health advice: There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition or the healing properties of food.  If you are unwell please seek professional advice.
     
    References:
    -Anand, P., Sundaram, C., Jhurani, S., Kunnumakkara, A. B., and Aggarwal, B. B. (2008). Curcumin and cancer: an “old-age” disease with an “age-old” solution. Cancer Lett. 267, 133–164. 
    -Nagabhushan M, Amonkar AJ, Bhide SV. In vitro antimutagenicity of curcumin against environmental mutagens. Food Chem Toxicol. 1987;25(7):545-547. 
    -Park W, Amin AR, Chen ZG, Shin DM. New perspectives of curcumin in cancer prevention [published correction appears in Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Jun;10 (6):371]. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013;6(5):387-400. 

     

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma

     

    Lighten up Detoxing, Fasting and Cleansing... what you need to know first...

    Detoxing

    lighten up with a detox

    Let’s start with detoxing. We have all come across the term ‘detox’ at some point in our lives and we can’t deny that we have been at least a little curious. The concept of detoxing has become so popular in recent years that you can’t open up a health magazine without running into it.

    And who doesn't agree that you certainly do feel "lighter" after a good "detox".

    What you might not know already is that our bodies are designed to detoxify themselves; in fact the body does this constantly, through excretion, secretion, urination, exhalation and defecation. Some of the organs that are particularly vital for “cleansing” your system are your kidneys, your liver, your lungs, your lymphatic system and your colon. In today’s society we are constantly exposed to different harmful toxins, from our food, water and air. When these toxins begin to build up, the body can become overwhelmed and can stop functioning as well as it should be. This is when a ‘detox’ is said to be beneficial.

    Detoxing usually involves decreasing the amount of toxins we are exposed to for a certain amount of time. This can be for 3 days, or even 30 days.  A detox diet can vary, but usually it involves cutting out refined sugar, caffeine, preservatives, artificial flavourings and additives, wheat, dairy, red meat, alcohol, processed foods, animal fats and salted nuts. So what’s left you might ask? Fruits, vegetables, brown rice, gluten-free grains, vegan proteins like beans, pulses, soya (tofu), seeds, nuts, sprouts and lots and lots of water and herbal teas. Water helps to flush out all of the toxins in your body and you should be drinking at least 2 litres per day whether on a detox diet or not. Usually after a certain amount of time you can start to expand your diet and slowly add in other foods. This is to ensure you maintain the detox-benefits and don’t overwhelm your body.

    The purpose of detoxification is to assist your organs in eliminating the toxins in your body by either metabolising them or excreting them, and decreasing your total toxin overload so that your body can "get through it's backlog" so to speak.

    Some benefits you might experience include a decrease in cravings for sugary or salty foods, higher energy levels, brighter skin, sometimes weightloss and a new found experience in eating whole, nutritious foods.

    The Wholesomeness ‘detox’ stretches over 4 weeks. It is dairy free, gluten free and there is an option for vegan or low FODMAP.  We don't use nasty oils, we don't use cane sugar in our meals.

    Detoxing is wonderfully beneficial but remember detoxing is not the solution to an unhealthy diet.  It would be a mistake to think you can eat what you want for 350 days of the year and detox for a week or two and think that that will cure everything. Rather focus on how you can improve your current diet in small ways that are sustainable. Then, if you feel like you need to detox, use it as a way to refresh your system, kickstart a new health regime, or relieve stress and increase energy levels.

    Fasting

    Fasting refers to the voluntary withdrawal of food as opposed to starving or starvation, the involuntary withdrawal of food. Essentially though, as far as your body is concerned, not eating for a prolonged period or even just a day puts your body into a "starvation state". Your body is forced to mobilise secondary fuel stores (protein in muscle and fat in adipose tissue) because it has depleted its glucose stores. 

    People may fast for many different reasons; it may be for religious or cultural reasons, to protest for a specific cause, or to simply detox the body. Some believe it to be beneficial for getting rid of harmful toxins in the body, for colds, arthritis, gallstones, mental illness and many other conditions (Moffat, 2015).

    Fasting often has a range of symptoms and tends to vary between individuals and also depends on how practiced you are at fasting. Research suggests that people can experience feeling depressed, nausea, weakness, headaches, weight-loss, insomnia and more (in both long and short fasting periods) (Moffat, 2015). But just like a detox, a fast can go on for any period of time. Prolonged fasting can have serious effects on the body, and it is recommended that if you wanted to do a prolonged fast that you seek advice and support before doing so. 

    Prolonged Fasting

    The points below summarise what happens in the body during extended fasting:

    • In the first day of fasting, your body would have exhausted the glucose and fatty acids that were readily available so it will go looking for stored glycogen (in the liver or muscles).
    • A few hours later your liver glycogen will be all used up and your blood glucose will be low (meaning tiredness, weakness and cravings).
    • Because there’s no glycogen, glucose or fatty acids left, your body will go looking for protein. The breakdown of protein to glucose is a very expensive process. If the body continued to use protein for energy, death would ensue within three weeks (Witney et al, 2002). Fortunately, your body finds a way to use its fat to fuel the brain.
    • The body will start breaking down fat at an incredible rate, using it for cells and for glucose production.
    • It is at around this point that your body will start to produce ketone bodies. High concentrations of keto acids cause a drop in blood pH and the body then enters ketosis. This signals that your body’s chemistry is going awry. Symptoms include fruity breath and ketones in the urine.
    • As the body uses ketone bodies, energy output is reduced and fat and lean tissues are preserved. This is because the muscles will be wasting, putting less demand on energy. Metabolism is slowed to ensure body tissues are preserved for as long as possible.

    The symptoms one will see on a prolonged fasting diet include energy deprivation, wasting, slowed metabolism and a reduced resistance to disease. Extended periods of fasting presents many hazards, and while the body may learn to keep on living during a long fast this does not mean the body is healthy in any way.

    Even so, the evidence out there on fasting is controversial. One study conducted on children in the US found that overnight and morning fasts causes slower stimulus discrimination, increased errors and slower memory recall (Pollitt, Cueto, & Jacoby, 1998). An example of a fasting diet that is popular at the moment is the 2:5 diet.

    Some say it facilitates weight loss and improves health biomarkers, while it has also been suggested that it might increase the risk of becoming malnourished over time, if it is not done properly. People may overindulge in unhealthy food in non fasting days, and fail to get their basic nutrition needs met over the course of a week. Of course, more experimental studies need to be conducted in this area. The main message that we want to get across here is that there may be benefits to fasting but it is not necessary for everyone and not without risk factors. 

    We also recommend focusing on a "stick to it" diet.  Adopt a healthy eating regime or healthy habits you can stick to the longest. 

    There is some evidence that intermittent fasting along with other forms of dieting  can activate feelings of deprivation while exposed to an environment where highly salient food cues are present (in other words restricting eating food, while access to food is plentiful).  In our modern world it is impossible to avoid food marketing, junk foods, the smells of food, food advertising on TV, billboards, food advertising on the radio, someone eating healthy or unhealthy food around you everyday.  You body and mind get mixed messages.  On the one hand they are receiving physical cues to say there is no fuel and they are hungry and to eat or to make fuel because they are in fasting or starvation state, and at the other side they are being bombarded with messages that say, food is plentiful and they are having to say no over and over again, which leads to decision fatigue, feelings of deprivation, hyper arousal... and often a rebound or binge eating, post fast.

    Cleansing

    A ‘cleanse’ and a ‘detox’ are quite similar. The main difference is that a detox usually involves not only dietary modifications but also lifestyle modifications, therapeutic sweating (in baths or saunas) and sometimes herbal supplements. A cleanse is more like a ‘spring clean’ of your insides. It involves eliminating foods that may be triggering allergies, intolerances and digestive issues (e.g. wheat, egg, soy, dairy, caffeine, refined sugar, processed foods and alcohol). More common than not a cleanse involves drinking mainly juice (fresh fruit and vegetable) for a few days to a week. 

    A cleanse might help you lose weight but typically all that weight is just water weight, so you can usually expect it to return post cleanse. So a cleanse is a good prelude to a healthy diet change. e.g. if you were going to clean up your diet and use whole, unprocessed foods as a longer term to lose weight rather than relying on a cleanse, fast or detox.

    Clean Eating

    ‘Clean eating’ is a quite deceptively simple concept. It’s easier to understand if you think of it as eating more foods from the healthy food groups and less from the unhealthy food groups. So basically this means fostering a diet (or more a lifestyle) rich in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains and limiting intake of processed foods, alcohol and refined sugars. Lean cuts of meats and fish are good additions to the diet too. Eventually, clean eating becomes a lifestyle and ideas for meals and recipes come naturally. There are so many delicious and wonderful things you can do with fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and lean meat. Once your body gets used to this way of eating, the cravings for sugar, salt and fat are significantly reduced and you will feel like the best version of yourself! Rather than relying on detox pills, vitamins and fasting periods, the clean eating approach is one that is long-term, sustainable and realistic.

    References:

    Pollit, E., Cueto, S., & Jacoby ER. Fasting and cognition in well- and undernourished schoolchildren: a review of three experimental studies. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67. Retrieved from http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/67/4/779S

    Boggiano, M. UCTV. MAY 2010. University of Alabama at Birmingham explores the psychobiology of non-regulatory eating which characterizes binge-eating disorders and obesity. 

    Moffat, D. (2015). Fasting for the health of it. Retrieved from http://naturalhealthtechniques.com/

    Whitney et al, Clinical Pharmacology