Tag Archives: liver support

Can’t beat a beet!

So you think you know beetroot – the humble root vegetable, so often found in pantries in its pickled form since World War II.

But truly, it is so much more. In fact, it is a nutritional powerhouse now widely regarded as a superfood!

Humble beginnings

The beetroot is no stranger to the average household. Also known as “table beet”, it is one of the many cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris and the most common variety found in Britain, North America and Central America today. In the earliest days of its consumption, the leaves were most commonly eaten by people living in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Romans then began to make use of the root for various medicinal purposes. Over the years, it became popular in Central and Eastern Europe for culinary purposes too. Beetroot, as we know it today, was only cultivated in the 16th century. You may be surprised to learn that modern varieties are derived from the sea beet, an inedible plant that grows wild along the coasts of Europe, North Africa and Asia.

A super-root in disguise

Unlike some of the other, better known superfoods, like wheatgrass, spirulina or acai berry, beetroot is not overtly exotic. But don’t let that fool you! What has traditionally been viewed as a boring, somewhat unappetising vegetable, is really a “super-root” in disguise! It is a rich source of both carbohydrates and plant proteins, along with a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (considered in more detail below). At the same time, it has a very low caloric value and is almost entirely free of fat. It is also a low-GI food – the sugar conversion process is slow, which supports stable blood sugar levels.

Antioxidants

You can’t have failed to notice the vivid colour of beetroot – whether the deep purple, the bright yellow or the lesser seen candy-stripes! Like so many other superfoods, these colours offer a visual clue about the high level of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids found in beetroot.

The notorious red colour compound is called betanin (or beetroot red), a pigment which is a well-known antioxidant and phyto-chemical. However, all beets contain betalain antioxidants – a class of red and yellow pigments found in plants.

Vitamins and minerals

Beetroot is also rich in a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, contributing to its reputation as a superfood. For example, it contains high levels of folate and vitamin C (another powerful antioxidant), as well as riboflavin, niacin and thiamin, vitamin K, calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

Dietary fibre

Beetroot is high in dietary fibre – both soluble and insoluble. A 100g portion “ about two or three small beetroot “ contains as much as 10% of your recommended daily allowance. Fibre is an essential component of healthy digestion and supports everything from stable blood sugar levels to natural cleanse and detox processes in the body.

Dietary nitrate

More recently, much research has been undertaken on beetroot’s capacity to absorb and store exceptionally high levels of nitrate – a nutrient involved in many of the processes that are essential for efficient exercise performance, including blood flow and oxygen usage. In particular, a study conducted by Exeter University in the UK received a lot of media attention when it found that cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice. Since that study, both beetroot and beetroot supplements have been of particular interest to athletes.

Supporting health and vitality

The unique combination of nutrients found in beetroot mean that it can offer ideal support for all-round health and vitality, including:

  • a healthy heart and cholesterol levels
  • detoxification and liver function
  • a strong immune system
  • healthy homocysteine levels
  • normal tissue growth
  • musculo-skeletal health
  • healthy skin, hair and nails
  • stable blood sugar levels
  • stamina and energy levels
  • stable moods
  • and healthy digestion.

Belonging to the same family as two other nutritional titans, chard and spinach, both the leaves and roots of beetroot can be eaten. Incorporate it into your daily diet and your body will thank you!

Dandelion… weed or a valuable herb?

I can’t believe it’s May already; the Spring has come to greet us in a full swing and with it came a mass of flowers. I’m sat here looking at my garden and see the grass speckled with white daisies and yellow dandelions. I can’t help but wonder… why do we consider these amazing plants as weeds when every single part of them can be used to benefit our health?

What are the benefits of Dandelions?

  • Immune system support
  • Increased metabolism
  • Increased production of bile and digestive enzymes
  • Detox
  • Liver function support

As I mentioned above, every single part of Dandelion has medicinal properties which are closely related to the time of year and stage of the plant development.

We tend to harvest dandelion root in Autumn, leaves and green buds in early Spring (before the flowering period), and flowers and stalks in late Spring/ Summer.

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Seeing as most of the dandelions in my garden are in the full bloom, I am going to focus on how we can use that to our advantage.

So… what can we do with flowering dandelions?

You can pick them, wash and separate the flowers from stalks. Now we have 2 ingredients which we can use in multiple ways, some of which I described below:

14 day Dandelion stalk treatment

Slowly chewing on 5 fresh dandelion stalks each day can help with:

  • Liver and gallbladder problems and pain- especially if it extends up your back under your right shoulder
  • Gallstones- it can help to stimulate the gallbladder and liver function in order to dissolve any gallstones
  • Pancreas problems- it can aid in enzyme production
  • Diabetes – you can eat up to 10 stalks a day in order to help with regulation of sugar levels
  • Stomach problems- it increases production of gastric juices as well as cleansing of any leftover material
  • Skin problems- especially if they involve spots, rashes and itching
  • Physical and mental fatigue, especially if it includes feelings of sadness and melancholy
  • Gout, rheumatism
  • Eyesight problems

You can mix the ‘milk’ from the stalks with distilled water in order to soothe irritated eyes, eczema and go over any ‘liver spots’ or other skin discolorations.

What can you do with the ‘leftover’ flowers?

Many, many things! Dandelion flowers are very beneficial in supporting our immune system and liver function. You can use them in salads (but soak them in salty water for 30 minutes beforehand in order to get rid of the bitter taste), use them to make tea, syrup, oil infusion or a tincture.

Dandelion Tea:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of dandelion flowers
  • 2 cups of water

Simmer for 20 minutes before straining and serving. You can drink 1 cup of dandelion tea twice a day.

Dandelion tea is very beneficial for women and can help with:

  • Irregular or scanty periods
  • Inflammation of ovaries or fallopian tubes

Dandelion syrup:

Ingredients:

  • 350-400 dandelion flowers
  • 1litre of water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1kg of sugar (you can use coconut sugar, honey, etc)

Wash the flowers throughouly and add to the cold water. Bring them to boil and add sliced lemon (if you can’t find organic lemon, peel the skin) and continue to boil for another 15 minutes. Leave to cool and sit overnight.

The next day strain all of the flowers with lemon and add sugar to the liquid. Slowly bring everything to boil between 1-2hrs, checking the consistency. Pour the boiling liquid into jars, lid them and cover over with a blanket for approx 30mins.

Dandelion syrup is especially beneficial in:

  • Strengthening immune system
  • Aiding recovery in cold & flu
  • Easing coughs and sore throats

Dandelion Oil:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of dandelion flowers
  • 1cup oilive oil

Wash and dry dandelion flowers then put them in a jar and fill to the top with olive oil. Put the jar in a pan filled with water and slowly heat it up over 1-2hrs. Leave to cool before straining the flowers.

You can use dandelion oil externally in:

  • Rheumatic pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Skin problems


Please note: avoid using dandelions found in parks, on sides of the road, fields and anywhere where you don’t know if they have been sprayed with chemicals. Remember to leave some for our bees, they rely on dandelions as one of their first sources of food before other flowers begin to bloom .