Tag: Juicing

5 Major Benefits of the Indian Adaptogen Ashwagandha

“5 Major Benefits of the Indian
Adaptogen Ashwagandha”

If you are looking to restore your energy, look younger, and reverse disease then ashwagandha may be the herb you’re looking for.

The Indian herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the most highly regarded botanicals in the 5,000-year-old system of natural medicine known as Ayurveda. It’s known as the “strength of the stallion,” since it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after illness.

Considered a rasayana (life extender), ashwagandha root is used with excellent results for overall vitality. In the Indian Materia Medica, which is a compendium of beneficial botanicals, ashwagandha is described as beneficial for general debility, impotence, brain fatigue, low sperm count, nervous exhaustion and in cases in which general vigor needs to be restored.

Ashwagandha, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, is classified as an adaptogen, meaning that it improves the capacity of a person to adapt to environmental, physical and mental changes by modifying the metabolism and other processes in the body.

Adaptogens improve cell replenishment, which in turn reduces fatigue symptoms and exhaustion, while increasing the resilience of the body and imparting more stamina for physical activities.

Major Benefit #1: Boost Natural Energy (The Kind You Want!)

A lot of people are hooked on the temporary energy obtained from caffeine. Energy from caffeine comes from the stimulation of the central nervous system. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you rely on caffeine alone for energy you’ll eventually experience a crash.

You can also increase energy by enhancing the body’s own energy-producing mechanisms within cells. Notably, the primary unit of cellular energy, which is called ATP.

And that’s what ashwagandha extract does. It causes the cells in the body to produce more cellular ATP. The result is energy–without the jitters.

In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, 25 people were given 300 milligrams of the proprietary ashwagandha extract KSM-66 twice a day, while another 25 participants were given a placebo.

Overall, subjects given ashwagandha extract experienced substantial reductions in blood concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. This resulted in reduced levels of stress and anxiety and at the same time, improved energy levels.

There’s a large body of psychiatric science showing that lower stress levels are linked to a decrease in moderate anxiety and depression.

Reducing stress liberates energy in the body and has a specific enlivening effect in the brain, relieving mental fog and enhancing mental alertness.

Major Benefit #2: Improve Thyroid (The Master Hormone Control) Health

I consider ashwagandha a superfood when it comes to improving the health of your thyroid. Scientists don’t completely understand how adaptogens work, but we know they can be extremely effective, especially at balancing hormones.

One of the most incredible aspects about adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha is that it can help people with both hypo and hyper thyroid issues. It has been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimotos, and has been shown to improve the health of those with an overactive thyroid or Graves disease.

Adaptogenic herbs work with your body to bring you back into balance whether your hormone levels are high or low.

Animal studies reveal ashwagandha has a thyroid hormone balancing effect.

In a 20-day study, mice were give ashwagandha and their T3 and T4 levels were analyzed along with lipid peroxidation (anti-oxidant protection). Significant increases in serum T4 were found which indicates this herb has a stimulatory effect on a sluggish thyroid.

There are currently millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems (many who don’t even know it) and ashwagandha may just be the solution they are searching for.

This hormonal improvement was also accompanied by a noticeable reduction in hair loss.

Major Benefit #3: Skyrockets Brain Health

Emotional, physical, and chemical stress can all have damaging effects to the brain and nervous system. Recent research has proven ashwagandha is more than a stress reliever, it also protects the brain from degeneration and improves symptoms of alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety.

One of the main reasons ashwagandha is so effective at healing the brain has to do with it’s powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals that cause aging. A study published in Phytotherapy Research explain these benefits:

“Several studies have revealed that natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, may help in scavenging free radicals generated during the initiation and progression of this [Alzheimer’s] disease. But we found Ashwagandha afforded lipid peroxidation inhibitory effects more potent than commercial antioxidants.”

Researchers at the National Brain Research Centre found mice with alzheimer’s were unable to retain what they learned, but after 20 days of supplementing with ashwagandha, this improved significantly. The results of the study found a reduction in amyloid plaques (these cause degradation of the brain).

Major Benefit #4: Mood Enhancement

There is also now evidence that ashwagandha is effective at healing both anxiety and depression. In fact, in a recent study its results were comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine–without the side effects.

In the 12-week controlled study, 87 participants with anxiety were given 300mg of ashwagandha two times a day or two placebo pills two times per day. The group treated with ashwagandha resulted in much greater improvements in anxiety as well as focus, reduced stress, and decreased fatigue than the placebo group.

The other major benefit of ashwagandha is that there are no adverse reactions by taking it compared to anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications which can have terrible side effects.

Major Benefit #5: Increases Stamina and Endurance

Studies have shown that ashwagandha can boost endurance during physical activity by sharpening brain function and reducing bodily pain.

Due to its positive calming, yet energizing, effects on the brain and ability to lower stress hormones, ashwagandha showed improvements in concentration, motivation, and stamina in conducted studies.

One particular study found that when lab rats were given ashwagandha, they actually were able to swim twice as long compared to the same type of rats that were not given the supplements.

Researchers believe similar effects take place in humans due to the extract’s ability to balance adrenal hormones that are involved in physical activity. The extract was also shown to reduce bodily pain in the muscles and joints while at the same time keeping energy levels more steady. Another reason it could be a promising supplement for athletes, or for those who find it difficult to be physically active due to pain.

As you can see, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic superstar that can have some tremendous health benefits.

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Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water

Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water

I was recently introduced to the concept of lemon water when I mentioned to a friend that I was having a hard time getting rid of my belly fat even though I was exercising regularly and eating healthy. His instant reply to me was, “drink a glass of lemon water every morning.” I’m already an avid water drinker, so any new spin on my old favorite peaks my interest.  Plus, anything that sounds that simple to do is worth trying…or at least looking into.

After reading up on the matter, I discovered that not only can lemon water help me flush out fat, its cleansing and healing effects have a number of positive health effects that convinced me to start every day with a glass of lemon water.

Why lemons?
Lemons are packed with vitamin C, an essential nutrient that protects the body against immune system deficiencies.  They’re also an excellent and rich source of B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber, and they contain more potassium than apples or grapes!   The high levels of potassium in lemons can help brain and nerve functioning and control blood pressure.  Lemons also contain pectin fiber which is beneficial for colon health and also serves as a powerful antibacterial.

Adding lemon to water not only quenches thirst better than any other beverage, but it also nourishes our body with vitamins, minerals and trace elements which we absolutely need. Lemon with water can be considered the best natural energy booster.

Kick-off Every Morning with Warm Lemon Water

I confess, I love (want, need, can’t survive without) my morning coffee, so replacing my cup of java with lemon water, as some have suggested, just doesn’t seem feasible to me at the moment.  So, I’m going to follow the easiest tip I found which is simply to drink a glass warm lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  All that’s involved is to wake up, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a glass, fill with warm water and drink up.   That’s totally doable!

Why warm water?  According to Amy Myers, MD, author of The Autoimmune Solution ($21, amazon.com), our bodies absorb water more efficiently at that temperature because it’s close to our body temperature.  When we wake up in the morning, our bodily tissues are dehydrated and are in need of water to push out toxins and rejuvenate the cells.  Drinking lemon water on an empty stomach is a great way to eliminate internal toxins, regulating proper kidney and digestive tract functions by forcing them to work as smoothly as possible. Drink it first thing in the morning, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast. This will help you fully receive the benefits.

During the rest of the day, feel free to sip lemon water at a cooler temperature, if you prefer. This will keep you hydrated, and it may also help quench your thirst for calorie-laden soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.  For maximum results, some even recommend a drink of water one hour before meals.

Top 11 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

  1. Strengthens Your Immune System
    The juice of half a lemon in a glass of water is rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and assists the body in fighting colds, flu and other ailments.  Since lemon is a powerful antioxidant, it protects the body from free radicals, which interact with the healthy cells of the body, damaging them and their membranes.  The vitamin C travels through the body, neutralizing any free radicals.
  2. Helps With Weight Loss
    Lemons contain pectin fiber, with creates a feeling of fullness, resulting in the suppression of hunger cravings. By feeling fuller for longer, we’re less likely to snack needlessly or make poor food choices.
  3. Boosts Your Energy
    Water with lemon provides the body with electrolytes which hydrate your body. When our bodies are hydrated, we feel more energetic.  Lemon juice also provides the body with energy when it enters the digestive tract.  It also helps reduce anxiety and depression. (Even the scent of lemons has a calming effect on our nervous system!)
  4. Aids Digestion
    The citric acid in lemon juice not only encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, it helps cleanse the bowel by flushing out waste more efficiently and stimulates the release of gastric juices, which aid digestion and can also help relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and bloating.
  5. Cleanses Your System
    Lemon water cleanses the liver.   Lemon juice enhances enzyme function which stimulates the liver to release and flush out toxins in your body.  The liver produces more enzymes from water with lemon than from any other food.  Lemon juice is a diuretic, meaning it encourages the production of urine. As a result, toxins are released at a faster rate, helping to purify the system and keep it healthy.
  6. Keeps your skin blemish-free
    Water with lemon is good for the skin.  The antioxidants in lemon juice helps to decrease blemishes and create collagen synthesis. The job of collagen and connective tissue is to hold things tight and protect your skin tissue–in other words, it keeps wrinkles at bay and helps maintain your skin’s radiance.
  7. Reduces pain of joints and muscles
    If you drink lemon water on a regular basis, it will decrease the acidity in your body. The buildup of uric acid in your joints is one of the main causes of inflammation, which leads to pain. Water with lemon helps to dilute uric acid, to help ease pain in joints and muscles.
  8. Improves Heart, Brain and Nerve Function
    Lemons are high in potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as proper brain and nerve function. The nervous system needs a sufficient amount of potassium to ensure sustainable signals to the heart. Water with lemon also helps combat depression and anxiety which are often the result of low levels of potassium in the blood.
  9. Freshens Your Breath
    The antiseptic qualities in lemon juice help kill off bad bacteria in the mouth by acting as a disinfectant. It also helps relieve toothaches and gingivitis!
  10. Fights Viral Infections
    Warm lemon water is one of the most effective ways to prevent viral infections of the respiratory tract, sore throats and inflammation of the tonsils due to the anti-inflammatory properties of lemon. Plus, with the lemon juice also boosting your immune system, it’s easier for your body to fight off the infection completely.
  11. Balances pH Levels
    Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body and a good pH level is essential as too much acidity in the body can be inflammatory. If you drink water with lemon immediately before a meal, it creates an alkalizing effect that helps your body maintain a higher level of pH.  The higher the pH, the more your body is able to fight diseases.

Let’s Get Started!

Squeeze the juice of ½ of a lemon into a glass If you weigh more than 150lb, you may want to use a whole lemon to get the most benefit.

Fill the rest of the glass with lukewarm or warm water. 

Drink up.  That’s it!


To get the most juice with minimal effort, I’m going to try the Prepworks from Progressive International CJ-3 Citrus Juicer I found on amazon.com.  It’s inexpensive and over 500 customers give it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars.  And it seems easy enough to use.

prep works citrus juicer

GET ONE HERE >>

Of course, you can get all fancy with something like Epica Powerful Stainless Steel Whisper-quiet Citrus Juicer-70 Watt motor, but that just seems like overkill for my needs.  But  I may be upgrading to this in the future.


Epica Citrus Juicer

GET ONE HERE >>

It can’t get any easier than that, right?  Well, actually it can!  I also found pure organic lemon juice in a bottle and I’m tempted to bypass the squeezing altogether and get the bottle.  I’ve read that you won’t get the maximum health benefits like you would using fresh squeezed lemons, but the bottled stuff will do in a pinch–if you don’t have fresh lemons on hand.  Just make sure you get 100% PURE juice squeezed from real lemons , not concentrate!  And if you go this route, make sure you get the pure juice in a glass bottle–not the plastic bottle–because those in the know say the citric acid could deteriorate the plastic, leeching chemicals into the juice. [UPDATE: I took this shortcut for a little while and found that using fresh squeezed lemons is worth the time and effort after all. I agree with our readers who commented against using the bottled stuff.]


NOTE OF CAUTION!

There is one potential downside to consuming lemons. When undiluted lemon juice comes directly in contact with the teeth, the acid in the lemon can break down your tooth enamel. That’s why it’s important to always dilute lemon juice in water of any temperature (though lukewarm is recommended) before drinking it. If you’re really concerned about the acid harming tooth enamel, rinse your mouth with water thoroughly after drinking lemon juice. But for most of us, it won’t pose a real problem because you would have to drink copious amounts of lemon water to strip the enamel.

But what ever you do, don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon juice. The combination of the acid and the mild abrasives in the toothpaste can really do a number on the enamel. If you’ve been drinking lemon juice, swish your mouth out with fresh water before brushing and use a soft-bristled brush and a non-abrasive toothpaste.

Do you start your day with lemon water? Have you noticed the health benefits? Let us know in the comments below.



SOURCES:
16 Health Benefits Of Drinking Warm Lemon Water from Food Matters
This is What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Lemon Water on An Empty Stomach Every Morning from Practically Viral
Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water by Beth Lipton (health.com)
Kick-start your day with lemon and water by Kirsten Hyam (bodyandsoul.com)

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