Health By Nature…Where Clean Meets Green!

Alfalfa: The Father of All Foods

Nicknamed the “father of all foods”, alfalfa has been used as herbal medicine for over 1,500 years.  A highly nutritive plant, its approximately 20 foot deep root system has the capacity to absorb minerals from deep within the soil.

In food form, alfalfa sprouts can be added to salads or sandwiches.  Alfalfa also comes in supplement form, and people who supplement with alfalfa do so for a wide variety of health benefits.  Alfalfa’s high manganese content has been shown to slighly lower blood sugar levels. To manage cholesterol levels, alfalfa can be beneficial because its fibers stick to cholesterol, preventing it from remaining in blood or collecting in blood vessels.  It has been known to strengthen one’s immunity.  Those suffering from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions have found their symptoms improve or even clear up entirely through a regimen involving alfalfa, a natural anti-histimine.  It can be a mild diuretic; alfalfa may relieve swelling and water retention, and aid in eliminating urinary tract infections.  Because it mimics estrogen, some find it useful for menopausal symptoms.

Alfalfa has an impressive resume of nutritional content. It contains calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, chlorophyll, bioflavonoids, trace minerals and vitamins.  Its leaves and stems are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals as well.

Alfalfa also detoxifies.  It balances and cleanses the blood, alkalizes and detoxifies the body. It can also relieve gout, a painful foot ailment from excess toxins.

Just about anyone can benefit from the use of an alfalfa supplement.  Visit the Health By Nature store for ordering information.


Going With the Gut May Prevent Allergy, Asthma


Good Bacteria May Help a Child’s Immune System

By Neil Osterweil

WebMD Medical News

Reviewed by Dr. Tonja Wynn Hampton

April 5, 2001 — A new Finnish study


Researchers say they seem to have cut in half a baby’s risk of developing allergic conditions early in life by giving a beneficial bacteria to expectant mothers and their newborns who were predisposed to eczema, hay fever, and asthma.

“Our new insight might provide an opportunity to devise strategies against allergy, the pandemic that affects almost half the population in more-developed countries,” write Marko Kalliomäki, MD, and colleagues in the April 7 issue of the medical journal The Lancet.

The researchers recruited near-term pregnant women who had a family history of allergic diseases — such as asthma, hay fever, or atopic eczema (a type of reactive skin rash) — into a clinical trial in which they and their infants would receive either placebo capsules or capsules containing a potentially beneficial type of bacteria called Lactobacillus GG.

Lactobacilli normally are found in the healthy gut in humans but may be missing or present only in reduced numbers in children born in developed countries, where attention to strict hygiene and smaller family sizes mean that infants are less likely to be exposed to the bacteria once common in the environment.

Some researchers speculate that alarming increases in allergies and asthma over the last few decades may be due to an overactive immune system in the first months of life — a result of children not having enough “good” bacteria like lactobacilli to keep the immune system in check. Such germs prevent the immune system from going into alarm mode when it detects an otherwise harmless intruder, such as pollen, dust, or a specific food, such as peanuts.

“Why is allergy becoming more of a problem? Everyone knows this; the incidence of asthma has gone up, the incidence of atopic eczema has gone up, it’s becoming a huge problem. The prevailing theory is that we’re too clean,” says Sherwood Gorbach, MD, professor of community health and medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who was co-discoverer of Lactobacillus GG (the “G”s stand for Gorbach and Goldin).

Researchers have been investigating whether giving a mixture of “good” bacteria, known as probiotics, would prevent overactivity of the immature immune system.

“There’s been a series of studies [the Finnish group has] published over the last five or six years showing that infants taking probiotics have decreased milk allergies and they have fewer skin complications,” notes Barry Goldin, PhD, professor of family medicine and community health at Tufts University School of Medicine, Gorbach’s colleague, and the other “G” in GG, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

In the current study, Kalliomäki and colleagues gave women placebo capsules or capsules containing Lactobacillus GG to take from two to four weeks before their anticipated delivery dates. After birth, they either took the capsules themselves and passed the bacteria to their infants through breast milk, or gave their infants the bacteria diluted in water. The capsules were given until the infants were 6 months old. Researchers then followed the children until the age of 2 years and determined which had developed allergic diseases The researchers found that 46 of the 132 children who were enrolled in the study had atopic eczema at age 2; six of these children had all the signs of asthma, and one had evidence of hay fever.

Of the 46 children, 15 had received Lactobacillus GG capsules, and 31 had received placebo. In other words, kids who were given the probiotics were only half as likely to have common allergic diseases as those who received the placebo.

“These figures are remarkable and, if confirmed in other studies and applicable to other allergic diseases, probiotics would represent an important therapeutic advance,” writes Simon H Murch, MD, PhD, from the Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology at Royal Free and University College School of Medicine in London, in an editorial accompanying the Finnish study.

In an interview with WebMD, Murch notes, “most people in the field recognize that children today are getting very different infection exposures. I think most of the interest prior to this was in relation to infection exposures in an older age group. What this study suggests is that the very first exposure of the immune system may also be important.”

He cautions that more testing needs to be done and the safety of probiotics in infancy be confirmed before the idea of “allergy-proofing” infants with probiotics becomes routine.


Vitamin B: Why Is It So Necessary?


Vitamin B plays an incredibly important role in the functioning of the human body.  There are 8 water-soluble vitamins identified as B’s, which work synergistically, meaning they are much more useful when combined than alone.  Vitamin B is rapidly depleted in our systems and needs to be constantly replaced; it also does not store well in the body.  For that reason, a quality and complete B Complex supplement is beneficial for just about anyone.

Because our levels of vitamin B get used up quickly, lack of it often results in fatigue, stress, or lack of energy.  B Complex boosts metabolism, strengthens the immune system, assists in maintaining a healthy nervous system, and encourages cell growth as well as healthy skin and muscles.  Although they work together, they have different functions which work in tandem with each other.

Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine.  It can help improve mood, and is also good for heart health and the metabolism of carbohydrates.

Vitamin B2 goes by the name of riboflavin.  It can protect against cancer, and can prevent migraines and cataracts.

Vitamin B3 is called niacin.  Its role is to aid in the release of energy from nutrients.  It plays a role in lowering cholesterol, easing depression, and relieving arthritis.

Vitamin B5, known as panthothenic acid, is found to some degree in almost every food.  It can promote a healthy nervous system and aids in metabolism.  People who can benefit from this vitamin are those suffering from alleries, chronic fatigue and migraines.

Vitamin B6 is referred to as pyridoxene.  It aids in red blood cell production, and can alleviate symptoms of asthma and PMS.

Vitamin B7 is biotin.  It assists in the release of energy from carbohydrates.  It is also essential for hair and nail health.

Vitamin B9 is called folic acid.  This is a very important vitamin for pregnant women, as it helps in the normal development of the fetus.  Folic acid facilitates the formation of hemoglobin and is often used to treat anemia.

Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system and assists in red blood cell formation.  It is only present in animal sources such as meat, fish, milk and eggs, and therefore supplementation is strongly recommended among vegetarians.

Choosing a supplement goes far beyond looking at the front of the label.  The ingredient list can reveal harmful preservatives and fillers.  Beware of toxic solvents that have the prefixes propyl-, ethyl-, or methyl-.  Also avoid supplements that use aluminum as a base.

It’s also crucial to examine the percentage of the RDA present in a supplement.  Many poor-quality supplements will load up on the cheaper B vitamins, like thiamine & riboflavin .  We do not need much of these vitamins, and besides, they are often present in the foods we eat already.  A good quality B Complex will have a high content of the more expensive Bs like B3, B5 and B12.

Learning about the role your supplements will help you understand why you should be taking them, and will empower you to be proactive in your health.  Optimal wellness should be a priority for each and every one of us, to live a long and prosperous life.