We all know that oxygen is essential for all life…
But did you know that, as well as being an absolute necessity for our survival, its use in the body can also result in the production of certain unwanted by-products? They are known as oxidants. Some of these oxidants will act as free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage DNA and cell structure. They cause harm because they are constantly trying to stabilise themselves by attempting to ‘steal’ electrons from nearby molecules. This, in turn, damages those molecules and makes them unstable too, causing them to also seek out other electrons in order to become stable again. And so, a vicious circle is created.
Free radicals are produced as a result of both internal (endogenous) and external (exogenous) factors. Endogenous free radicals are produced as a result of normal biological processes, like aerobic respiration, metabolism and inflammation. In contrast, exogenous free radicals are produced as a result of environmental factors, like:
Unfortunately, in our modern age, filled with ever-present pollutants and toxins, both in the environment and in the foods we eat, the levels of free radicals within our bodies are higher than they have ever been before. It is impossible to avoid damage from free radicals, and our body’s own defences against it are not foolproof.
When the levels of free radicals within our bodies exceed the protective capabilities of those defences, it results in a phenomenon known as “oxidative stress” which means that the defence system is no longer able to readily detoxify or to repair the occurring damage.
As the time goes on, cell parts which have become damaged by process of oxidation accumulate, contributing to the toxic load of the body as well as speeding up the processes of ageing and causing a further stress on the immune system.
Our bodies are really amazing in terms of being capable to run many complex processes which keep us healthy and in a harmonious balance. One of the main keys to staying healthy revolves around providing our bodies with as much nutritional support as we can, in order to fuel our natural defences. Our primary line of defence against free radicals are antioxidants – substances that help counteract the damaging effects of oxidation in tissue.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, polyphenols and other phyto-chemicals), as well as enzymes (proteins in the body that assist in chemical reactions). While it is not entirely clear how antioxidants work, their most important characteristic in terms of supporting the body against free radicals is that they are stable with or without the extra electron, so they can help to stop the chain reaction (or the vicious circle) referred to above. These beneficial compounds are present in many natural, whole foods (such as fruit and vegetables).
In many cases, it is possible to identify antioxidant-rich sources through their distinctively bright colours. For instance:
the deep red of cherries;
the deep purple of beetroot;
the bright orange of carrots;
the yellow of turmeric;
and the blue-purple of blueberries, blackberries and grapes.
Vitamin C and vitamin E are two of the most potent antioxidants found in nature, present in high levels in foods such as parsley, rosehips, elderberries, blackcurrants, citrus fruits, broccoli, nuts and whole grains (like oatmeal, rye, barley). Foods that have exceptionally high levels of antioxidants are often referred to as “superfoods” or “superfruits”, for that reason. The most common examples of those are: green tea, acai berries and wheatgrass.
How to support the level of antioxidants within your body?
Our bodies produce metabolic enzymes that are extremely effective antioxidants but their capability of sufficient production drops dramatically in our twenties. Likewise, if we are adding to the free radical production though our lifestyles, it is a good idea to support the antioxidant levels through external (dietary) sources.
However, if you feel that you need additional support due to your life and health circumstances, a more concentrated intake, or a more convenient and reliable source, food-based antioxidant supplements can be the perfect solution.
You can find plenty of antioxidant options to suit your lifestyle and healthcare needs in our eBay shop.
Having the right kinds of bacteria (often “friendly bacteria”), in appropriate quantities, is essential for virtually everything from healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, to immunity and defence against infections. It’s no wonder that more and more people say that health starts within your gut- it really does!
What can disrupt gut flora?
The delicate balance of healthy gut flora can be disrupted by a range of circumstances, which may include:
excess alcohol consumption,
diet high in sugar,
exposure to toxins and environmental pollutants.
For the purposes of this article, we will look in more detail at one of the most common causes of the imbalance of bacterial flora within the gut – the long-term or frequent use of antibiotics.
How do antibiotics affect the digestive tract?
In present times, antibiotics have been arguably prescribed and used far more than they should have been and, a result, antibiotic resistance is, unfortunately, now a fairly common problem.
If that wasn’t enough, one of the most notable effects of antibiotics is their negative impact on the digestive system and the fine balance of gut flora since antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria within our bodies, with no differentiation between them.
Antibiotics work by either killing bacteria or by preventing bacteria from growing – which great news in terms of ‘bad’, pathogenic bacteria, but really bad news in terms of our ‘good’ bacteria, which help to keep us healthy!
It is somewhat ironic, when you consider that people start taking antibiotics in the first place because they are ill, often not realising that the medicine is destroying one of their bodies primary lines of natural defence.
The most important part of our Immune System resides in the gut, where Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (special antibody-producing cells) works hard to prevent unwanted micro-organisms (such as bacteria or viruses) from entering our body.
I’m not completely dissing antibiotics, they do have a very significant role to play and can certainly be highly effective in resolving bacterial infections but there should be a time and a place for them, when there is no other, less drastic and more natural alternative at hand. It is so important to use antibiotics sensibly and to support your levels of beneficial bacteria both during and after antibiotic treatment, in order to ensure that they won’t cause any longer term damage. This can be done through a specialised detox treatment which can deal with any residual after-effects whilst helping your body to regain the optimal balance.
If your levels of good bacteria fall, you provide opportunistic ‘nasties’ (like bacteria, parasites and yeasts) with an excellent environment in which to thrive and spread. An overgrowth of harmful gut flora (called dysbiosis) increases gut toxicity and can result in a number of unpleasant symptoms and conditions, which may include:
abdominal pains after eating
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Leaky Gut Syndrome
and Candida overgrowth
This is one of the main reasons why antibiotic programmes often result in thrush (an infection caused by overgrowth of Candida which is an opportunistic yeast).
Stanford University researchers in America analysed the levels of friendly bacteria in 3 healthy adult women both before and after each of two cycles on the antibiotic Cipro. Following the first cycle, they found that the drug had altered the population of the subjects’ friendly gut bacteria significantly, perhaps even permanently. Following the second cycle, six months later, they discovered that the effect was exponentially greater. As such, antibiotics should never be used as a regular “quick fix” for minor problems and, wherever possible, long courses should be avoided. Where a course of antibiotics is really unavoidable, you may consider a detox therapy or support your levels of friendly bacteria through diet and probiotic supplements, at the very least.
Cultures around the World have observed the health-supporting effects of fermented foods (often referred to as “probiotic foods”) which are often include as a regular part of their diet. These foods include kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tofu and tempeh, to name just a few.
Introducing these foods in your diet on a daily basis is a really good way to promote healthy intestinal flora. However, it is worth noting that most of these foods do not contain strains of bacteria that can actually colonise the digestive tract. Instead, they do good work for a week or two and then pass through. Supplementing with strains of good bacteria that are capable of colonising the digestive tract (such as L. acidophilus, L. salivarius, B. infantis, B. bifidum, B. brevis and B. longum) is arguably a far more effective and powerful means of supporting healthy levels of gut flora for the long term.
In this modern age of processed foods and the widespread use of artificial chemicals to enhance everything from taste and appearance to shelf life, you can no longer take it for granted that you know what is in your food just by looking at it.
A good example of “hidden” ingredients are food additives. Almost everyone has heard of them, but how many people actually take the time to find out what they are, which ones appear in our food and how they might affect our health?
Well, fortunately more and more of us, especially now that the health benefits of natural living (and, more specifically, an organic diet) have become better understood and easier to obtain.
As a result, health-conscious individuals who are seeking to minimise their daily exposure to toxins and pollutants take the trouble to educate themselves about the different types of food additives out there (including their supposed risks and benefits). Over the years, there has been quite a bit of controversy about these chemicals – below are some of the “need to know” basics.
As the name implies, food additives are substances that manufacturers add to foods for any number of reasons (usually to increase profits). For example, to preserve flavour, keep the food fresher for longer and to enhance taste, texture and appearance.
However, not all food additives are bad, despite the negative connotations with the phrase. Some are actually natural compounds – for example, vinegar used for pickling and salt used to preserve meat. These additives have been used for centuries and are natural methods. Similarly, there is a common misconception that processed foods automatically contain food additives, but this is not always the case. For example, long-life milk is processed, yet it doesn’t actually require added chemicals to prolong its shelf life.
Unfortunately, the vast majority now used are synthetic or man-made and have, to a large extent, come about as a result of the increasing time constraints of modern living and the changing palates of modern consumers. For instance, the average person is looking for a snack that is either highly salted or sweetened. Similarly, in this age of competitive advertising and saturated food markets, the brighter, highly coloured food items are normally the ones that get picked. Food needs to be fun to eat, nice to look at and tasty.
The nature of the modern diet and lifestyle has resulted in fewer and fewer home-grown and natural whole foods, and an increase in the number and type of processed / refined foods. In turn, this has led to an increase in the number of additives used in foods – both natural and synthetic. It is therefore important to inform yourself about them, to help ensure the health and vitality of you and your family.
If you are unsure whether or not a product contains additives, check the label. If there are ingredients that sound like an unpronounceable chemistry experiment, they are probably best avoided! It is also important to note that some listed ingredients may contain food additives themselves, without those necessarily being specified. For example, a product may contain margarine, which in turn contains additives, but only ‘margarine’ will be listed as an ingredient on the label.
It is good practice to familiarise yourself with some of the more common food additive names, ready to identify them when out and about shopping. Below we will take a look at some of the most notorious additives – E-numbers.
E-numbers – friend or foe?
E-numbers get a lot of media attention but, once again, the reality is a little different to what is often portrayed. The phrase itself conjures up images of ‘food nasties’, but are they really as bad as we are led to believe? Well firstly, let’s look at what they are.
After an additive has been tested and approved for use in foods in Europe, it is given a classification known as an ‘E-number’ (a number with an ‘E’ prefix, e.g. E100), for the purposes of regulation and to inform consumers. In other words, it is simply a systematic way of identifying different food additives. Countries outside Europe use only the number (no ‘E’), whether the additive is approved in Europe or not.
The important (and perhaps surprising) point to bear in mind, is that even natural additives will be labelled with an ‘E’ prefix – so don’t automatically discount a food which otherwise looks healthy. Knowledge is power, so know your E-numbers!
Are food additives safe?
Common sense should lead us to think that filling our bodies with synthetic chemicals cannot be as healthy as eating a diet rich in natural whole foods . In fact, it may even be detrimental to health, for instance by adding extra burden to our toxic load.
Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been a significant increase in the use of food additives of varying levels of safety. This has, in turn, led to the introduction of a wide range of laws worldwide in order to regulate their use.
The long-term effects on the body of regularly consuming a combination of different food additives are, unfortunately, currently unknown – hence the increased need for regulation. This is largely due to the fact that most additives are tested in isolation, rather than in combination with other additives. However, some of us are more sensitive to them than others and suffer reactions as a result of their consumption which may include:
– skin irritations (itching, rashes, hives etc)
– digestive disorders (including diarrhoea and abdominal pains)
– respiratory problems (like asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis)
– allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock
– behavioural changes (such as mood changes, anxiety and hyperactivity).
Research undertaken in 2007 by Britain’s Food Standards Agency and later published by the British medical journal ‘The Lancet’, provided evidence that a mix of additives commonly found in children’s foods serves to increase the mean level of hyperactivity. Similarly, in 2008, AAP Grand Rounds (the American Academy of Pediatrics) published a study that concluded that a low-additive diet is a valid intervention for children with ADHD.
Bearing all this in mind, it is important to remember that all foods are made up of chemicals, many of which are not always ‘safer’ than those found in food additives. For example, people with food allergies and intolerances are also often sensitive to chemicals found naturally in certain foods, such as dairy, nuts or shellfish. However, it is always a good rule of thumb to opt for natural ingredients over synthetic ones and to adopt an organic lifestyle wherever possible.
Additives to watch out for
Some of the additives most likely to cause reactions include:
– Flavour enhancers: A well-known example is monosodium glutamate (MSG E621). They are commonly found in crisps, instant noodles as well as microwave and takeaway foods.
– Aspartame: This is an artificial sweetener, which is made of phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol (a type of alcohol). When broken down in the body, methanol forms formaldehyde, formic acid (found in the venom of ants and bees) and diketopiperazine – all quite nasty substances! Aspartame is found in diet drinks, yoghurts and sugar-free items (like chewing gum or children’s sugar free drinks).
– Sulphites: This group of additives is often found in dried fruit, desiccated coconut, cordial and wine. They have been known to trigger asthma attacks in sensitive individuals.
– Propionates: This type of additive can occur naturally in foods (e.g. certain types of cheese). They are also common in bread. The effects are dose-related and may range from migraines, bed-wetting, nasal congestion and racing heart to memory loss, eczema and stomach ache.
– Antioxidants: Don’t get confused with the naturally-occurring antioxidants found in whole foods like fruit and vegetables and which are widely used to support good health and immunity! Antioxidants in the context of food additives refer to those that are synthetic chemicals which are added to food, and may therefore have a harmful effect on the body. Examples include Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which are added to prevent fat spoilage. They are commonly found in margarine, biscuits, crisps and muesli bars. They have been linked to health conditions such as insomnia, tiredness, asthma and even learning difficulties.
– Colours: The most common offenders in this category of additives are tartrazine (E102) and annatto (E160b). Synthetic colourings have been linked to allergic reactions, as well as learning and behavioural problems in children.
Categories of additives
Preservatives, colourings and flavourings are some of the best known additives. However, there are actually a number of other categories, each of which is tailored to a specific purpose.
– acidity regulators
– anti-caking agents
– antifoaming agents
– bulking agents
– colour retention agents
– flavour enhancers
– flour treatment agents
– glazing agents
– tracer gas
– and thickeners
I guess it all boils down to one question: does your food nourish you or just fills you?
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berries have become incredibly popular in the form of dietary supplements over the past few years, both in capsule and powder form.
This is in no small part due to the significant media attention they have received, since being more widely recognised in the Western world as a “superfruit”. In other words, a fruit with an exceptionally high nutrient-to-calorie ratio compared to other fruits of a similar kind. For example, in terms of antioxidant, essential fatty acid, vitamin or mineral content.
Although having only just recently entered the wider public consciousness in the West, South Americans native to the Amazon have been enjoying the nutritional benefits of these tasty berries for many years. In fact, they are considered to be an essential food source for three traditional Caboclo populations in the Brazilian Amazon, because they make up a major component of their diet – up to 42% of their total food intake by weight! A fact which reflects their incredibly high nutrient content.
Found only in swampy areas of the Amazon rainforest (Central and South America), acai berries are pretty exotic – which explains why they haven’t ever popped up on the shelves of our supermarkets! They are small and round (approximately 25mm in size) and grow on large palm trees called açaí palms, which can reach over 80 feet in height. The berries grow in bunches (similar to bananas) and an average açaí palm tree can yield between 3 to 8 bunches of berries.
Once ripe, acai berries bear a strong resemblance to grapes and blueberries, except that they are not quite as pulpy. They contain a large, inedible seed, which constitutes as much as 90% of the entire fruit! Although hard to find in their natural whole food form, everyone can now access the nutritional benefits of these berries on a daily basis through the convenience of health supplements, which will often incorporate both acai berry powder and concentrated extract.
But why might you want to incorporate acai berry nutrients into your daily diet?
Immune system support: A big clue to their high nutrient content is given away by the deep blue / purple colour of acai berries. Like most other brightly coloured natural foods, they contain healthy pigments, which support immunity, health and vitality. For example, flavonoids and potent antioxidants (such as anthocyanins). They are also a rich source of Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids (good fats).
Heart health support: As well as containing high levels of anthocyanins, research has also shown that acai berries are rich in phytosterols which may provide cardio-protective support for our cells.
Energy support: Acai berries contain high levels of plant protein. Combined with their high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients, they can offer ideal support for high energy levels, stamina and general vitality.
Weight management support: When trying to shape up, you are obviously looking to decrease your intake of high-calorie unhealthy foods, in favour of nutrient-packed foods that are naturally low in calories. Not only will this encourage a healthy weight, it will also help to ensure that your general health remains strong during any periods of slimming and reduced food choice. In this way, acai berries can provide ideal weight management support.
So now you know why acai berries have been causing a stir in the natural health world! And these are just some of their nutritional benefits. Plus, if you favour an organic lifestyle or are trying to detox, it is worth bearing in mind that acai berries are wild harvested, as opposed to farmed. This means that they aren’t exposed to harmful pesticides and fertilisers.
Acai berries offer great all-round healthy living support – why not try them for yourself?
What does PMS has got to do with Candida, you may ask. Well, in short, it could be the side-effect of Candida overgrowth alongside other very interesting symptoms like:
Now, that is quite a varied list, don’t you think? I bet most of us could tick quite a few of these symptoms.
So, how do you know if you have yeast overgrowth? If you are worried that you might have oral or vaginal thrush, it can be easily tested by your local GP by taking a swap from the affected area. If you suspect that the yeast infection is more insidious, you could try Gut Fermentation Test or Bioresonance.
NOTE: If you suffer from irritating or offensive discharges, seek advice and diagnosis from your GP as your first point of contact before deciding on the best route to deal with your problem.
What is Candida?
Candida is an opportunistic yeast with a quick ability to proliferate if left unchecked, able to increase from just 1 to 100 cells within 24hr period which can then produce another 100 cells within the next 24hrs and so on. We ALL have yeast within our intestines but its growth is usually checked by the bacteria which live in our lower digestive tract. Whenever we go through antibiotic therapy for an acute infection or if we take small doses of antibiotics on daily basis for more chronic health problems, this this yeast vs bacteria balance gets tipped over, allowing for Candida to spread out unopposed in two ways:
through direct invasion of ALL length of the gut and vagina, which is often portrayed as recurrent vaginal thrush- rings a bell?
spread of toxins to other organs via bloodstream- chronic Candidasis can lead to what we commonly know as ‘leaky gut’ and create a whole range of both physical and psychological symptoms
Other factors which may increase risk of yeast overgrowth include:
Use of contraceptive pills- due to changes to body’s natural hormone levels and cycles
Diabetes- due to increase in blood sugar
Steroids- due to their immunosuppressive character
Specific immune-suppressants used during cancer treatment
How to get rid of Candida?
Like I mentioned before, yeasts are a part of our intestinal flora so there is no talk of getting ‘rid’ of it. What we should focus on is how to reduce the levels of Candida and keep them in check so they stop being a problem to our health and wellbeing.
Bad news: no, there is NO magic pill which will go *poof* and make it go away (at least not if you don’t want a yo-yo effect). If you have extensive overgrowth of Candida, it will take some time for it to ‘die off’.
Good news: you can balance the levels of yeasts through low-carb high-protein diet, supplementation and homeopathic treatment, it works really well when dealt with as a part of contraceptive or antibiotic detox therapy.
If you’d like to find out what Nature has to offer in terms of combating the overgrowth of yeast, we have put together a list of Top 10 Herbs:
Aloe Vera- works by soothing and promoting healing of tissue, both externally and internally where it is traditionally used in cases of constipation, haemorrhoids and liver problems. Aloe Vera is believed to display antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and so especially effective against strep, staph and Candida.
Cat’s Claw- displays antimicrobial effects for fungi, viruses, bacteria and parasites
Cinnamon- Displays a powerful antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic and well as drying, warming and tonifying action. Traditionally used in treatment of diarrhoea as well as nausea, vomiting, cramping, gas and bloating.
Clove Bud- Is believed to display antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties, reduce gastrointestinal spasms, expel gas and bloating, improve digestion, relieve constipation and even expel parasites.
Garlic- is high in bioflavonoids and sulphur-containing compounds. Thought to help in lowering cholesterol levels, protecting the liver and nervous system as well as improving brain function and having powerful antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant effects.
Grapefruit Seed Extract- Rich in antioxidants which can help in supporting a healthy immune response, looking after circulatory system, improving collagen formation and protecting bones, brain, kidney & liver function, whilst reducing risk of inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections as well as tissue damage.
Olive Leaf- shows a broad-spectrum of antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral action whilst supporting the immune system Olive Leaf is believed to aid in eradication of yeast and candida and removal of toxic cellular waste
Oregano Oil – is a strong antiseptic, traditionally used in anti-Candida and anti-parasitic treatment, to loose phlegm and help in expectoration as well as improve and soothe digestion and reduce formation of gas.
Rosemary Leaf- Is a potent antioxidant which can help to detoxify the liver and nourish adrenals as well as aid in feelings of panic, heart palpitations and depression. Rosemary leaf is often used to help the feelings of poor health, fatigue and exhaustion, it can assist in recovery from long-term stress or illness and improve brain function. It is said to protect small capillaries that deliver oxygen and nutrients, improve circulation and heart health as well as inhibit the growth of Candida albicans.
Tea Tree Oil- is thought to display a strong antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral action. It’s often used externally for problems relating to athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections, vaginitis and ringworm.
If you are looking for a synergistic combination of herbals, probiotics and vitamins, check out our Canditox Clease Complex
Designed to work alongside Candida diet and homeopathic or detox treatment.