Chaga Mushrooms

What is chaga mushroom?

Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a type of fungus that grows in colder climates in the Northern hemisphere on birch trees. The exterior of chaga looks like burnt charcoal, however, the inside reveals a soft core with an orange colour. 

Eastern-European folk medicine has seemingly known about and used chaga since the 1500s. Chaga possesses a strong antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effect.

These mushrooms can not be eaten raw. Before they’re suitable for human consumption, their tough exteriors must be broken down with alcohol and hot water. Chaga mushroom teas and coffees have become popular in recent years and were used during World Wars I and II as an alternative to coffee.

5 benefits of chaga mushrooms

Boosts Your Immune System

Chaga mushrooms are powerful immune boosters. This is because they contain beta-glucans, naturally occurring polysaccharides that “increase host immune defence by activating complement system, enhancing macrophages and natural killer cell function.”

Fights Inflammation

Chaga’s anti-inflammatory effect is thought to be linked to the presence of ergosterol, ergosterol peroxide, and trametenolic acid.

Prevents and Fights Cancer

Folk medicine has used chaga for years to treat non-operable breast cancer, oral cancer, cancer of the digestive tract, thyroid cancer, skin cancer, and Hodgkin disease.

The ability to suppress cancerous growths and mutation-causing factors is linked to the presence of melanin in chaga. Melanin participates in repairing DNA defects, is an electron acceptor in the respiratory chain, and a radiation protector.

Chaga also stimulates macrophage and, in tumours, promotes cell death. A large role in this is attributed to endo-polysaccharides in chaga.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Chaga also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, thanks to inotodiols and terpenoids.

Improves skin and hair health

“Chaga contains more antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD), zinc, and melanin than any other single natural source. You probably know that melanin is responsible for your skin pigmentation, but it’s also important for your overall skin health and is a factor in maintaining healthy eyes and hair.” (Healing Mushrooms)

Are there any side effects?

Chaga mushrooms don’t have any known side effects. However, you should consult with your doctor before taking chaga if:

  • You are on blood thinners. Chaga contains a protein that can prevent blood clotting. Therefore, if you are on blood-thinning medications, have a bleeding disorder or are preparing for surgery, consult with your doctor before taking chaga.
  • You are taking blood sugar-lowering medications. Because chaga lowers blood sugar, it can be dangerous for people taking insulin and other blood sugar-lowering medications.
  • You have kidney disease. Chaga is high in oxalates and may cause kidney problems in some individuals.

What does chaga taste like?

Chaga mushrooms do not taste like button mushrooms or portobello mushrooms. They are usually consumed in a drink. You can drink chaga mushroom straight just like any other herb but, because they have a bitter and earthy taste, it might be a good idea to try blending changa with other herbs or to add something sweet to the mix when drinking it. 

Keep in mind when buying chaga

Chaga is a parasite of the birch tree, so when the tree dies, so does the chaga mushroom. This means that chaga must always be harvested from living trees. It should also be harvested from trees that are found in forests far away from urban areas, sources of pollution and roads. This prevents Chaga accumulating environmental toxins that could be passed onto the end-user. So when buying chaga make sure to ask where it has been harvested from!

Once harvested, chaga is then dried and broken into chunks or ground into powder. While you can find chaga mushrooms in many forms, my favorite way to get the benefits of chaga mushrooms is with Magic Mushroom mix.

Why is Iron Important in Our Diet?

Iron is an essential mineral that helps our bodies to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that makes it possible for them to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron is also important for DNA synthesis, breathing, immune function and energy production. When our bodies lack of iron, we may feel weak, tired, dizzy, cold and irritable. Low iron levels can also cause headaches.

Iron is also essential for the developing brain. Iron deficiency with and without anemia in infancy can have long term negative impacts on brain function and behavior, and even when levels are corrected, those effects may not be completely reversed.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

There are many different types of anemia, but the most common type is caused by a shortage of iron. Iron Deficiency Anaemia is defined as a decrease in the number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. It can be caused by blood loss, insufficient dietary intake, or poor absorption of iron from food. 

Low iron levels can be caused by blood loss, for example during an operation. Girls and women who have heavy periods are more at risk of low iron levels because of their monthly blood loss. Pregnancy can also cause women to have low iron levels. If you’re pregnant, severe iron deficiency may increase your baby’s risk of being born too early, or smaller than normal.

Iron deficiency anemia can be prevented by eating a diet containing sufficient amounts of iron or by iron supplementation.

You can find iron in both animal and plant foods. 

Animal sources are called “heme iron” and include meat, fish and poultry. Our bodies can easily absorb this type of iron. 

Plant sources are called “non-heme iron” and include dried beans, peas, lentils and some fruits and vegetables. 

Vegetarians need almost twice the daily recommended amount of iron compared with non-vegetarians that is because iron from plant-based foods is not absorbed as well by our bodies as iron from animal food sources.

How much iron do we need?

The amount of iron we need each day depends on our age, gender, and overall health.

Iron rich foods

Lean red meat
Turkey and chicken
Liver is rich in iron, but it is NOT recommended for pregnant women
Fish, particularly oily fish
Vegetables: Dark-green leafy greens like watercress, curly kale, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, and collards, potatoes with the skin, lima beans, green peas, and all other beans (e.g. kidney, black, navy, etc.), and tomato sauce.
Fruits: Dried apricots, dried figs, raisins, prunes, and prune juice.
Breads, Cereals Rice & Pasta: Iron-fortified whole-grain breads, pastas, rice, and cereals. Read food labels and look for breads and cereals that have 20% or more of the Daily Value for iron.
Nuts/Seeds: Nuts and seeds such as peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, etc.

Things to keep in mind when trying to increase your iron intake

There are some foods and beverages that increase and some that decrease iron absorption. So, when eating iron-rich foods or taking iron supplements try leaving at least an hour between the foods and beverages that decrease iron absorption.

Foods that are high in calcium will decrease iron absorption. So, do not take an iron supplement or eat high iron foods with milk.

Also coffee, tea, and cola will decrease iron absorption.

On the other hand, foods and beverages that are high in vitamin C will increase iron absorption. So, orange juice (without calcium) is a good beverage to use when taking an iron supplement or eating foods that are high in iron.

Very high fiber cereals, such as All Bran or Raisin Bran will decrease iron absorption. So, do not take your iron supplement at the same time as eating these high fiber cereals.

Iron supplements can often upset stomach and cause constipation so when choosing an iron supplement look for Slow Release form of iron. These often cause less stomach upset and constipation than standard iron supplements.

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What is a healthy diet

A healthy diet is a balanced diet. The purpose of eating healthy is not to starve yourself or to keep yourself deprived of your favourite foods, but to make yourself look and feel better while improving your overall health. A healthy diet helps protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including but not limited to such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Learning to eat healthy isn’t just about consuming the right foods, but also knowing how much and when to eat. A healthy diet will not only help prevent illnesses, but it will help prevent mood swings, forgetfulness and boost your energy levels. Poor diet, on the other hand, can contribute to a bunch of health risks like:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Tooth decay
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis
  • And much more!

You are what you eat!

What you eat goes into your system and affects the “mechanism” by becoming a part of it. Changes can either be good or bad for your health, depending on what you eat. These changes can affect the way you think, the way you feel and the way you act. For example, by consuming a large amount of sugar you are likely to get mood swings as the sugar levels change in your body. After consuming fast food you are likely to feel tired as your digestion slows down and most of your energy goes to digesting the food. Also, fast and fried foods tend to be much lower levels of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients while being higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat in them.

What should be included in a healthy diet?

Water

Drink plenty of water! Water doesn’t just help us to stay hydrated but it also helps our bodies flush our systems of waste products and toxins. Dehydration can cause tiredness, low energy, and headaches. Consuming plenty of water can also be good for our weight as it is common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you to make healthier food choices.

Fibre

We need fibre in our diets is to keep our digestive system in good working order. Fibre also helps us feel fuller for longer, it can improve our cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can also assist in preventing some diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.(4)

Protein      

Protein is basically an important component of every cell in the body. It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Protein provides us with energy and supports our mood and cognitive functions.

Fat

While not all fat is good for us, healthy fats provide us with essential fatty acids (that we can’t make ourselves but need in small amounts) as well as energy. Fat is required for a range of bodily processes and to maintain the normal structure of cells in the body. Fat also carries essential fat-soluble vitamins and is important for their absorption.

Calcium

As well as being good for our bones, not getting enough calcium in your diet can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties.

When putting together your diet plan keep in mind:

Mix up your diet

Eating a variety of different foods has a positive effect on our health. If you continue to eat the same food over and over again, you will miss out on important nutrients. So make sure to mix up your diet!

Eat Small Amounts of Fat and Oils

Since fat is an important part of a healthy diet, rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it’s more important to focus on eating more beneficial “good” fats and limiting harmful “bad” fats. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol and your overall health. These fats can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure, prevent abnormal heart rhythms and so on. Good sources of these kinds of fats are olive oil, avocados, olives, nuts, pumpkin seeds, tofu, soy milk etc.

Eat Moderate Amounts of Animal-Based Foods

Animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheese should all be eaten in moderation. These foods are rich in protein, iron, vitamin B12 and niacin. Red meat is a great source of iron and zinc. Sausages and processed meat should be avoided.

Milk, yoghurt and cheese are rich sources of calcium. They also contain protein, riboflavin and vitamin B12. These foods contain usually quite a high percentage of fat, so the key is to eat in moderation!

Eat Plenty of Plant-Based Foods

Nature provides everything from air and shelter to food. Everything that grows from the ground (fruits, grains and vegetables) and is edible is generally considered good for us. Lots of common foods like bread, pasta, cereals come from things like rice, oats, barley, millet and so on. While some of these products have higher nutritional values than the others, none of these products are bad for us. When making a choice which plant-based products to prefer, keep in mind that wholegrain foods are usually a better choice as they provide us with more fibre, vitamins and minerals. Also, be sure to read the labels as some products that advertise themselves as “healthy” can contain large amounts of hidden salt, sugar or fat in them.

Drink plenty of water!

Things to avoid or consume in moderation

Salt and sugar

In moderation, neither of those two is harmful for us. Unfortunately, most of us tend to over-consume them without realizing. The recommended salt intake per day should remain less than 5 g (1). Keeping it less than 5g per day can help prevent hypertension, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in the adult population. Reducing salt intake to the recommended level could prevent 1.7 million deaths each year (2).

In both adults and children, the intake of sugars should be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake. Consuming too much sugar increases the risk of tooth decay. Excess calories from foods and drinks high in sugars also contribute to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to overweight and obesity. Recent evidence also shows that sugars influence blood pressure and serum lipids, and suggests that a reduction in sugars intake reduces risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (3).

Processed Foods

During the last century, more and more processed food has been entering the market. This has resulted in more and more illnesses and an obesity epidemic. Processed foods are made to enhance the taste of foods, and yes they do carry out their function, but they are not healthy for consumption in the long run.

So what is a processed food? A processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during preparation. Not all food processing is bad and some processed food can be good for us as well. Some foods need processing to make them safe, such as milk, which needs to be pasteurised to remove harmful bacteria. What makes the processed food less healthy is the fact that ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are sometimes added to make the flavour more appealing and to extend their shelf life, or in some cases to contribute to the food’s structure, such as salt in bread or sugar in cakes.

Buying processed foods can lead to people eating more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt and fat as they may not be aware of how much has been added to the food they are buying and eating. These foods can also be higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat in them.

Alcohol

Alcohol is great every now and then, but if you’re having it on a regular basis you may want to reconsider. Drinking alcohol has a wide range of negative effects on a person’s health, both immediately and long-term. Red wine is commonly known to have some health benefits, however, this is purely in moderation! The key here is to ensure you are not drinking heavily or too regularly to have any lasting damage to your health.

So whether you want to lose a bit of weight or are just thinking about taking the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle, keep in mind that a healthy diet is a balanced diet.

References

1. Guideline: Sodium intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2012.

2. Mozaffarian D, Fahimi S, Singh GM, Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, Engell RE et al. Global sodium consumption and death from cardiovascular causes. N Engl J Med. 2014; 371(7):624–34.

3. Te Morenga LA, Howatson A, Jones RM, Mann J. Dietary sugars and cardiometabolic risk: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of the effects on blood pressure and lipids. AJCN. 2014; 100(1): 65–79.

10 amazing benefits of moringa

Moringa or Moringa oleifera is a plant that is native to the sub-Himalayan areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It is also grown in the tropics. It is a multi-purpose herbal plant used as human food and an alternative for medicinal purposes worldwide (1). Moringa has numerous health benefits including nutritional and medicinal advantages (1). It is very rich in healthy antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds.

Almost all parts of Moringa can be used as a source for nutrition. It is a plant that just keeps on giving. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root are all used to make medicine. Oil from moringa seeds is used in foods, perfume, and hair care products, and as a machine lubricant.

Moringa is an important food source in some parts of the world. Because it can be grown cheaply and easily, and the leaves retain lots of vitamins and minerals when dried. Moringa is used in India and Africa in feeding programs to fight malnutrition. The immature green pods (drumsticks) are prepared similarly to green beans, while the seeds are removed from more mature pods and cooked like peas or roasted like nuts. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, and they are also dried and powdered for use as a condiment.

100 grams moringa leaves contain approximately (2):

  • Protein: 27 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 34 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Sodium: 1,361 mg
  • Calcium: 173% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 133% of the DV
  • Zinc: 27% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 126% of the DV
  • Copper: 111% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 176% of the DV
Source: Health benefits of Moringa oleifera

Why you should add Moringa to your diet today?

Moringa tree leaves contain 90 different nutrients and 46 antioxidants. Due to its exceptionally high nutritional value, moringa stimulates the whole body, enhances energy levels and resistance to external influences. Rich in bioactive compounds, moringa regulates, activates, and speeds up the metabolic processes, boosts immunity, and cleanses the body from waste products. The antioxidants found in the plant interfere with the chain reactions initiated by free radicals, thus preventing the onset of diseases caused by over acidic environment. Moringa also slows down the aging processes, lowers cholesterol levels, and atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke risk. Moringa extracts contain properties that might help prevent cancer development, it also contains niazimicin, which is a compound that suppresses the development of cancer cells.

So to conclude how Moringa can be beneficial for your health:

  1. It promotes weight loss
  2. Lowers cholesterol
  3. Reduces inflammation
  4. Protect against heart disease
  5. Helps to prevent and treat cancer
  6. Enhances energy levels 
  7. Boosts immunity 
  8. Slows down aging process
  9. It is very nutritious
  10.  Rich in antioxidants 

How to use it

Moringa powder is easy to find online and in many healthy grocery store chains. As it usually comes in powder form you can add it to anything. The powder resembles matcha, it has a mild flavor with a slightly earthy taste. You can mix it into your morning juice or smoothie, sprinkle it into soups and salads, mix it into guacamole or baked into muffins. 

With so many benefits and such a high nutritional value moringa can truly be called a superfood. It is proven in numerous cases that the Moringa oleifera tree possesses a wide range of medicinal and therapeutic properties. 1 tablespoon of moringa per day satisfies about 14% protein, 40% of calcium, 23% iron and all essential vitamins needed by a child aged between 1-3 years. Just 6 tablespoons a day satisfy nearly all iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and lactation. In fact, the more you read and listen about moringa and its benefits the list how this tree can be good for us seems endless.

If you feel like adding moringa to your diet try Your Super Green Mix. Super Green superfood powder contains chlorophyll, phytonutrients and micronutrients such as: Vitamin A, C, B1-7, B9, B12, E, K, Calcium, Potassium and Iron. Enrich your diet with nature’s most powerful green superfoods and start giving your body the nutrition it deserves.

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12 fibre rich foods you should add to your diet today

Fibre is a type of complex carbohydrate that’s found in all types of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables and grains. It is an essential part of every healthy diet. The main reason why we need fibre in our diets is to keep our digestive system in good working order. Fibre also helps us feel fuller for longer, it can improve our cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can also assist in preventing some diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.

There are three different types of dietary fibre- insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and resistant starch. They all have different functions and benefits for our health, so it’s important to include all of them in our diet.

Insoluble fibre

Insoluble fibre passes through our system without being broken down. It adds bulk to stools and keeps things moving smoothly, thus the regularity benefit of fibre. Insoluble fibre can be found in wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat bran and the skins of fruit and veggies.

Soluble fibre             

Soluble fibre on the other hand dissolves in water, forming a gel which keeps our bowel content soft. It’s the type of fibre that lowers bad cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre can be found in fruits, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes.

Resistant starch

Resistant starch passes through the digestive system to the large intestine, where it ferments. This is where prebiotics come in, promoting gut health. Resistant starch can be found in unprocessed cereals and grains, under-cooked pasta, unripe bananas, potatoes, lentils and rice.

 Age (years)  Recommended intake of fibre
 2-5  15g per day
 5-11  20g per day
 11-16  25g per day
 17 and over  30g per day

Unfortunately, most of us are not including enough fibre rich foods in our daily diets. So what are the 12 fibre rich foods to eat?

1. Chia Seeds34,4 g of fibre per 100 grams
2. Popcorn14,5 g of fibre per 100 grams
3. Almonds12,5 g of fibre per 100 grams
4. Dark Chocolate
(cocoa content of 70–95%)
10,9 g of fibre per 100 grams
5. Oats10,6 g of fibre per 100 grams
6. Artichoke8,6 g of fibre per 100 grams
7. Split Peas8,3 g of fibre per 100 grams
8. Lentils7,8 g of fibre per 100 grams
9. Chickpeas7,6 g of fibre per 100 grams
10. Avocado 6,7 g of fibre per 100 grams
11. Raspberries6,5 g of fibre per 100 grams
12. Banana2,6 g of fibre per 100 grams

To increase your daily fibre intake try following:

1. Choose a high fibre breakfast cereal or porridge and add some fresh fruit, dried fruit, seeds and/or nuts with it.

2. For snacks try fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes, unsalted nuts or seeds.

3. Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.

4. For a sweet pit crab a piece of dark chocolate.

Fibre is an important part of every healthy diet. Benefits of having more fibre to your menu may include weight loss, better cholesterol levels, healthier heart and better digestion. 

As most of us don´t consume the recommended daily Intake, try adding some of the foods from the list above to your diet.

Superfoods That Will Make You Feel Good And Look Great

What could be better than eating specific foods that have proven to be catalysts for overall well-being? Superfoods are nutrient-rich; meaning that they have various body-healing compounds that help optimize your immune system, reduce inflammation, support mental health, boost energy, weight loss, longevity, and much more. If you are not taking green smoothies made from kale, spinach, collard or turnip greens, then you are missing out on high levels of body cleansing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that play an instrumental role in preventing certain types of cancers.

If you are going to drink anything, may as well make Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheatgrass, Moringa, Mint, and Matcha green tea, your go-to powerhouse beverages, why? For starters, Spirulina deserves the superfood crown because not only is it one of the most nutrient-rich foods on earth, but this blue-green alga has body-cleansing properties as it works pretty well in eliminating heavy metals. It also prevents gastrointestinal tract and vagina Candida, fights HIV/AIDs virus, supports weight loss, it has anti-cancer compounds, reduces blood pressure as well as oxidative damage, boosts immunity and memory, offers neuroprotection, increases energy and much more.

Spirulina comes in powder, tablets and energy-boosting powder mixes – you simply have to take the recommended minimum amount of 3 grams daily of this pure, natural food and the richest whole food sources of protein to reap its immunity boosting benefits.

Chlorella is yet another green, nutrient-dense alga that has numerous health benefits ranging from improving cholesterol levels to detoxifying the body, boosting the immune system, improving cholesterol levels, and enhancing aerobic performance during weight loss thanks to its impressive nutritional profile. Because both Chorella and Spirulina have an acquired taste, combine them with beetroot, mint leaves or lemon juice to improve the taste.

Moringa leaves have been found to contain high levels of healthy antioxidants and bio-active plant compounds and by using primarily the powder can prevent oxidative stress and sustained inflammation associated with chronic diseases like cancer, blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and type II diabetes.

Wheatgrass, on the other hand, is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, including essential antioxidants and minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids. It also contains chlorophyll associated with many health benefits ranging from fighting free radicals to reducing oxidative stress, preventing cell damage, improving cholesterol levels, etc. While more studies are needed to confirm wheat grass’s potential as an anti-cancer superfood, however adding it into your favorite green smoothie, the Thylakoids in wheatgrass have proven to enhance satiety and boost weight loss.

In addition to having powerful antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds known to have potent anti-inflammatory effects, Matcha green tea is high in an Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Catechin compound that numerous studies believe it to have cancer-fighting effects and also has the ability to protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes. Unlike regular green tea, Matcha has more caffeine making it an effective weight-loss superfood to have in your arsenal.

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