Tag Archives: immune system

Boost Your Health with Asparagus

The name Asparagus comes from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and its name in English evolved from “sperage” to “sparrow grass”, and then back to its original name. The slim green rods with its “braised” tips give you a great health boost.

Asparagus contain compounds that can help fight birth defects, heart disease, cancer, support a healthy skin and strengthen your immune system.

Charged with Folate
One of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century was that the incidence of brain and spiral cord birth defects (called neural tube defects), could be cut in half if women who were of childbearing age, got 400 micro grams of folate a day.

Asparagus are charged up with folate, a B vitamin that is essential to regenerate cells.Five asparagus spears contain 110 micro grams of folate, about 28% of the essential daily value. (DV)  If you’re pregnant, you may want to enjoy a double serving of those green spears.

Pregnant women need 600 micro grams daily, and women who are breastfeeding need 500 micro grams, according to the national Institutes of Health.

Apart from the health benefits for pregnant women, folate also fight heart disease in anyone. Folate may act as a flood gate, controlling the amount of homocycteine, that’s in the bloodstream. Homocycteine is an amino acid that appears to damage the linings of the arteries.) When your folate levels drop, your homocysteine levels rise, which can cause damage to the arteries, supplying blood to your heart and brain.

Research is showing possible connections between folate intake, homocycteine, and the risk of cognitive problems, particularly signs Alzheimer’s disease.

One study on a large group of people found that their risk of Alzheimer’s was
doubled if they had elevated homocysteine levels.

The amount of folate in your diet is also associated with a lower risk of cancer. Studies have shown that people with the most amount of folate in their blood were the ones least likely to develop colon cancer. Asparagus offer powerful protection against cancer.
It contains a number of compounds that essentially double-team cancer-causing substances before they do harm.

Another protective compound in asparagus is glutathione, one of the antioxidants, which is most powerful. It helps to neutralize free radicals, responsible for the development of cancer.
In an analysis of 38 vegetables, freshly cooked asparagus ranked first for its glutathione content.

Bacteria in our GI Tract: The Garden Within

As promised in my last article about “Digestive Health”, I will explain what we mean by
The Garden Within”.According to an estimation , there are between 300 and 1000 different species living inside our GI tract. The majority of micro organisms are bacteria which are present in our gut, and most of them come from 30 to 40 different species.

We also find fungi and protozoa, but its function is less well understood.
We think that these micro-organisms are symbiotic with their host, rather then just existing
together with no affect on each other. Symbiotic means that there are benefits for the host as well as for the bacteria. However, our gut also contains some harmful bacteria.
Because if they increase or become out of balance, they can cause serious problems and
even death to the host.
That’s why the key is balance when it concerns “The Garden Within”.

The gut of a new-born child is sterile or contains no flora. However, within one month
after the child that was born vaginally, their gut micro flora is well established.
At the age of two, the micro flora of the gut looks similar of that of an adult.
This balance appears to stay relatively normal and healthy, as long as our diet is healthy and no antibiotics are used. However, with the use of modern medicine of to-day it is rare to find someone who hasn’t taken some form of antibiotics in the last few months to a year or who is not eating a healthy diet.

When you add the All-American high-glycemic, and high sugar diet to the mix, you begin
feeding your fungi-like yeast much more than you do your bacteria.
Both the use of antibiotics and our poor diet has been shown to change our “Garden Within”, so that it is out of balance. This may have the effect that the yeast will overwhelm the GI flora,  causing a rise in vaginal yeast infections, and even in some cases, systemic yeast.

Antibiotics will destroy the bad bacteria that are the cause of illness, but unfortunately, they also destroy the good bacteria in your bowel. For example, clostridium is a species that is common in the GI tract and normally causes no problems.
However, as antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria, they allow clostridium difficile
(or G.difficile) to grow out of control, causing a heavy diarrhea for the person.
Even the antibiotics we find in our meat, milk and other foods can destroy enough good
bacteria to create an antibiotic induced diarrhea, as more of the good bacteria are destroyed, which allows the pathogenic bacteria to flourish.

We know of several healthy benefits from having a balanced micro flora in your GI tract.
Medical research have shown that the good bacteria in the gut have the following  benefits:

  • Help in the digestion of carbohydrates
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Helps to absorb vitamin k, calcium and iron
  • Stimulates the lymphoid tissue of the gut,
    which also helps the immune system
  • Normally suppresses the grows of the
    bad or
    pathogenic bacteria and fungi
  • Decreases the risk of allergic reactions
  • Has been associated with weight gain
    if it becomes out of balance

There are many other benefits of having a healthy, well-balanced GI flora;
however, there are also some negatives that occur from our GI flora.
They are able to break down certain protein fragments that can potentially be toxic to the GI tract and to the host.

These toxins have been associated with a greater risk of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, auto immune disease , and irritable bowel disease.
This is why consuming adequate fiber in your diet is key in removing any of the toxins produced in the GI tract during digestion.
Fiber causes our bowels to eliminate those toxins much more quickly and much more effectively.