MigreLief | MIGRELIEF

MigreLief Category

How to Protect Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke

September 15th, 2020

As devastating wildfires driven by strong winds rage in California, Washington, and Oregon, many people are concerned about protecting their lungs against smoke pollution.

Among those suffering from increased smoke and bad air quality are migraine sufferers.  In general, one of the most difficult migraine triggers to control is air quality.  It is especially important to avoid or filter out as much bad air as possible during these difficult times.

Protect Lungs from Smoke

2020 hasn’t been an easy year for anybody. With the COVID-19 pandemic still posing a serious global public health threat, wildfire season has arrived in the U.S with unrivaled and devastating ferocity, destroying entire communities and burning millions of acres of land up and down the West Coast.

Wildfire smoke can pose a serious health hazard for people in the surrounding areas. Smoke can travel hundreds of miles during a fire, affecting even those who live outside the immediate threat of the wildfire’s path. According to the American Lung Association, people over the age of 65 or under 18, those who work outdoors, and individuals with chronic conditions – particularly respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD – may be at a greater risk of suffering the effects of fire smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

What’s in wildfire smoke, and why is it so bad for the lungs?

When a wildfire burns, billions of particles from burnt trees, grass, bushes, and even objects get suspended high into the air.  Smoke is a complex mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, and trace minerals. These particles can be big, like the ash that’s left after a fire, or incredibly tiny and invisible to the human eye. Smaller particles are the most damaging, as they can reach deep inside the lungs and trigger inflammatory responses.

In addition to particulate matter, wildfire smoke also contains a mixture of volatile chemicals, carbon monoxide, and different compounds that vary depending on what’s feeding the flames. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins, and other polyphenols, oils, fats, resins, waxes, and starches, which produce different compounds that are released as smoke when burned. Wildfires that burn through cities or communities can pick up chemicals from plastic and other synthetic materials. In contrast, smoke from fires that blaze through poison oak or ivy may contain trace amounts of these plants’ irritants.

Short-term exposure to wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, sometimes causing black or brown mucus and phlegm to buildup in the airways. Breathing fire smoke over a prolonged period is more dangerous because it interferes with the blood oxygenation process, raising the risk of lung damage and, in some cases, precipitating cardiovascular events like heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. Short and long-term smoke exposure can worsen respiratory symptoms in people with chronic breathing issues.

One concern of the general public is whether they run an increased risk of cancer or of other chronic health conditions such as heart disease from short-term exposure to wildfire smoke. It is well known that smoke contains carcinogenic components with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) comprising the largest percent and to lesser extent benzene and formaldehyde. People exposed to sufficient concentrations of these types of toxic air pollutants over long periods of time may have slightly increased risks of cancer or of experiencing other chronic health problems. However, in general, the long-term risks from short-term smoke exposures are very low according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Protecting yourself from wildfire smoke

These are some steps you can take to protect you and your family against wildfire smoke dangers:

Check your local air quality reports: If there’s a fire burning nearby, check the air quality reports to make sure it’s safe outside. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website shows you real-time air quality updates based on your zip code.

Stay indoors as much as possible: If the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from wildfire smoke is limiting your time outdoors as much as possible. You may also want to choose a room in your house that you can close off from outside smoke and install a portable air cleaner to filter out harmful particles.

Keep indoor air clean: If you have one, run your air conditioner in the air circulating setting to avoid outside air from getting in. Try keeping all windows, doors, and fireplace hampers closed to prevent smoke from getting inside. According to the American Lung Association, household appliances with HEPA filters can also provide protection from smoke and soot.

Use room cleaners:  It is best to buy an air purifier before a smoke emergency occurs as they are often in short supply during a smoke hazard.  High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter air cleaners and ESPs documented not to produce excess ozone can help reduce indoor particle levels, provided the specific air cleaner is properly matched to the size of the indoor environment in which it is placed.  There are wide ranges of air cleaners and prices to choose from: air cleaners are available as either less expensive portable units designed to clean the air in a single room ($90 – $900) or as larger central air cleaners intended to clean the whole house ($400 – $1500). Central air cleaners can be more effective than room air cleaners because they filter a larger amount of air, although two or more well-placed portable air cleaners can be equally effective and their cost may still be less than the cost
of a large central air cleaner.

The two basic types of air cleaners for particle removal include:

a) Mechanical air cleaners, which contain a fiber or fabric filter. The filters need to fit tightly in their holders, and cleaned or replaced regularly. HEPA filters (and Ultra-Low Penetration Air [ULPA] filters, which are not generally available for residential use) are most efficient at removing particles.

b) Electronic air cleaners, such as electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) and ionizers. ESPs use a small electrical charge to collect particles from air pulled through the device. Electronic
air cleaners usually produce small amounts of ozone (a respiratory irritant) as a byproduct, though some, especially those that are combined with other technologies, may produce substantial levels of ozone (see next section on Ozone Generators). Only ESPs that have been tested and documented not to produce excess ozone should be used. Ionizers, or negative ion generators, cause particles to stick to materials (such as carpet and walls) near the device and are also often a source of ozone. Ionized particles deposited on room surfaces can cause soiling and, if disturbed, can be resuspended into the indoor air. Room air cleaner units should be sized to provide a filtered airflow at least two to three times the room volume per hour. Most portable units will state on the package the unit’s airflow rate, the room size it is suitable for, its particle removal efficiency, and perhaps its Clean Air Delivery Rate, or CADR. The CADR is a rating that combines efficiency and airflow

When choosing to buy an air cleaner, review the list of certified air cleaners from the California Air Resource Board that produce little or no ozone.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) air filters for wildfire smoke.  

 

If you are unable to purchase an air cleaner and need a make-shift option, consider a DIY box fan + filter.  Buy a MERV 13 or FPR 10 furnace filter and tape it to the back of a box fan. The filters sell for about $15-$20. If you can not find one of these filters, buy something similar at your local home improvement/hardware store.  Just line up the filter on the back-side of the box fan (the side that pulls the air in, not the side that blows the air out).  The suction from the fan should make the filter stick to the back, but you can also secure it with regular tape.  To be effective, there does not need to be a perfect seal between the air filter and the box fan.  It is okay to have gaps around the filter.  A typical box fan size is 20 x 20 and filter size is 20 x 20 x 1. Place the fan in an enclosed room (a smaller room is best).  Make sure the windows and doors are closed.  When turned on, the fan will pull the dirty air through the back filtered side and push cleaner air through the front.

Unhealthy air quality: How to keep your pets safe in the haze

“The tape is just helpful to keep it tidy so when you shut off your fan the filter doesn’t just flop off,” Erik Saganic, air resources specialist for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, said.

For those who are not able to obtain an air cleaning machine, there is a DIY option.  Taping an

Cover your face:  Surgical cloth and paper masks will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. Wearing an N95 or P100 respirator can reduce your exposure to smoke. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be hard to find respirators that effectively filter out wildfire smoke particles at your local pharmacy or hardware store.

Anti-pollution masks commonly have valves to help let air out and make breathing easier. Unfortunately, for this reason, the valves make the mask useless in preventing the transmission of viruses – because it is designed to let the air out, along with whatever else might be in that air.  These masks should not be considered for the dual purpose of also protecting against Covid-19 or other virus transmissions.

Avoid exercising outdoors:  Exercising increases your respiratory rate, making you breathe in more air than usual and causing you to inhale more noxious particles. Avoid exercising outdoors when there’s a fire in the surrounding area or if you notice your eyes or throat getting irritated.

Check-in with your doctor if you have a chronic or respiratory condition: People with cardiovascular disease, asthma, COPD, and other lung diseases should check in with their doctors about any changes in their respiratory management plan, including changes in medications to cope with the smoke.

Here are additional general recommendations to protect you and your family from wildfire smoke:

  • Roll up your car windows when you are driving your car through smoky areas.
  • Clean up frequently to reduce dust and soot.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding activities that increase smoke pollution, like smoking cigarettes and burning candles or fireplaces.
  • Prepare to evacuate if directed.
  • Keep house pets indoors as much as possible; smoke can also have a negative effect on animals, especially dogs.

We hope you find these tips useful to ensure you and your loved ones stay healthy and stay safe.

5 Water-Rich Foods to Stay Hydrated in The Heat

September 5th, 2020

Being hydrated is extremely important for your health. When you don’t drink enough water, your body cannot function properly, causing you to experience a host of uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms.

Dehydration happens when a person loses more fluid than they take in, either through natural processes like sweating and urination, when you have a fever or after a vomiting or diarrhea bout. It is more likely to occur when the weather is warm or during periods of profuse sweating, like during exercise or when you spend too much time sitting in the sun.

Dehydration is one of the most common migraines and headache triggers. Many migraineurs and chronic headache sufferers report that, for them, even the slightest hint of dehydration can spiral into a full-fledge migraine attack within minutes. Fortunately, it is also one of the most easily prevented triggers.

Although summer is almost over, staying adequately hydrated is something we should strive for year-round. Here are five water-rich foods that will help you stay hydrated during summer and beyond:

Watermelon

Water content: 92%

Nothing says summer like eating an ice-cold watermelon wedge sitting by the pool or at the beach. This delicious fruit is almost entirely made of water, and it is very healthy, too. A one-cup (155 grams) serving of watermelon contains about 120 milliliters (or half a cup) of water. And as far as fruits go, it is also one of the lowest in calories, with only 46 calories per cup.

Watermelons also have a number of migraine-friendly nutrients, like vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium, making it the ideal on-the-go snack for migraineurs with food sensitivities.

Cucumber

Water content: 96.7%

Although technically a fruit, cucumbers are often regarded as one of the most hydrating and refreshing vegetables there is. They are also one of the most ancient plant foods ever recorded. Cave excavations and anthropological studies have shown that humans have been growing these water-laden veggies more than 3,000 years for food and medicinal purposes.

Often considered to be a “diet food,” cucumbers are loaded with vitamins and minerals that may offer several health benefits. There is evidence that cucumbers may support:

  • Hydration
  • Bone health
  • Cardiovascular health

Lettuce

Water Content: 96%

We haven’t been fair to lettuce. Fresh, crisp, and crunchy, there is almost no dish that doesn’t go well with a refreshing salad on the side. There are five main types of lettuce: leaf, romaine, crisphead, butterhead, and stem, and each provides different levels of nutrition. Generally speaking, lettuce is very low in calories (only ten calories per cup) but high in fiber, and it also has small amounts of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and K, zinc, and potassium.

Celery

Water content: 94%

Some people love it, some hate it, but there’s no denying that these crunchy stalks offer more than a handful of health benefits for very few calories. Just a serving of celery provides almost a third of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, a nutrient closely related to bone health. A cup of celery also has nearly as much potassium as a small banana and packs close to half a cup of water. However, that same cup of celery only contains about 15 calories.

Tip: Don’t toss the leaves! Most of the calcium, vitamin C, and potassium in celery comes from them. Celery leaves don’t store well, so choose stalks with bright, crisp leaves to make sure they are as fresh as possible and eat them right away.

Tomatoes

Water content: 94%

Like cucumbers, despite botanically being a fruit, tomatoes are considered a vegetable by most. They are an important source of several key nutrients, including folate, vitamin C, and potassium. But that’s not where their impressive nutritional profile ends. Tomatoes have a water content of nearly 95%, making them one of the most hydrating non-starchy vegetables. They are also packed with an extraordinary antioxidant called lycopene.

Lycopene is a red pigment and antioxidant known for its health benefits. Studies have shown that lycopene’s antioxidant properties can help regulate free radicals in the body, promote heart health, and may even slow down the progression of some types of cancer.

Used in many cuisines around the world, there are countless ways to prepare and eat tomatoes. Raw, baked, and fried are the most popular ways to make them, but if you are in the mood for something new, try:

  • Stuffing them: with cheese, breadcrumbs, herbs.
  • Grilling them: by themselves or in skewers.
  • Pickling them: in boiled pickling brine.
  • Boiling them: to make sweet or savory tomato jam.

More on dehydration

Best Exercise for People with Migraines

September 5th, 2020

You already know that exercise is good for you. Thousands of studies, big and small, have outlined the physical and mental benefits of moving the body to increase the heart rate and burn calories.

For example, regular physical activity can protect you against countless health conditions, like anxiety and depression, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and many types of cancer. At least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, can also help you feel more energized, sleep better, and even boost your sex life. That is unless you suffer from exercise-induced migraines.

Does exercising trigger migraines?

Although we are well-aware of the health benefits of exercising regularly, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows when you are a migraine sufferer trying to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Unfortunately, exercise can trigger migraines and headaches in some people, especially vigorous or high-intensity activities.

There are at least a couple of theories on what causes exercise-induced headaches. One is that intense physical activity dilates blood vessels in the brain, triggering an inflammatory response that can translate into headaches for those with over-excitable pain receptors. Another possibility is that other triggers, such as light and sound sensitivity, hot weather, and dehydration – and not the act of exercising itself – may play a bigger role in exercise migraines than we thought.

Some research studies have looked into the relationship between exercise and migraines with varying results. An analysis looking at the prevalence of exercise-induced migraines among 1207 headache patients found that physical activity was a triggering factor for 22.1 percent of the participants. A smaller study conducted among 129 New Zealand students suggested that 9 percent suffered from headaches after a vigorous workout.

How exercise may help migraines

While some migraine-prone individuals may experience headaches during or after a workout, regular exercise can, ironically, also reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines. That is one of the reasons why people call exercising “nature’s painkiller.” When you are physically active, your body releases endorphins.

Endorphins are the ‘feel-good’ chemicals responsible for that pleasurable sensation you feel after doing something you quite enjoy, like eating a decadent piece of chocolate cake or have a good belly laugh. They are also behind for that pleasantly relaxed feeling you get after working out or the so-called “runner’s high” that keeps you going long after your legs are singing a different tune.

Endorphins act on opiate receptors in your brain to boost pleasure and reduce pain signals. Some studies have even shown that regular exercise and relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation can reduce the frequency of migraines just as effectively as topiramate, a prescription medication used to prevent them.

Best exercises to try if you get migraines

Yoga

Research shows that people who do yoga as an add-on migraine therapy have fewer and sometimes less intense headaches. A research study published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology with 160 participants found that doing yoga yielded a significant reduction in headaches frequency, duration, and intensity.

Tai Chi

An ancient mind-body practice often described as “meditation in motion,” tai chi is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that has been shown to improve flexibility, strength, and balance, which are important if you experience vestibular symptoms. A randomized controlled trial published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal showed significant positive health effects after 15 weeks of bi-weekly, hour-long tai chi sessions, including reducing the prevalence of headaches.

Walking

Walking is probably one of the most underrated exercises, but research shows that doing something so simple as just placing one foot in front of the other can be just as good a workout – if not better – than running and other more intense forms of exercise. While running, swimming, and cycling are more physically demanding, walking is just as effective for improving your cardiovascular health, burning calories, and improving circulation.

If you are prone to exercise-induced headaches but still want to get your daily dose of sweat, walking is a great option. A good start is to take a short 10 to 15-minute walk every day and gradually increase the pace and duration, always paying attention to and avoiding any potential triggers. The most important thing is to make sure you listen to your body and avoid overexerting yourself, as that can also trigger a migraine.

Also, when working out, always make sure to:

  • Avoid exercising in hot, humid environments
  • Always warm-up and cool down
  • Stay hydrated

 

5 Foods That Strengthen Your Gut Microbiome

September 5th, 2020

Asparagus for Gut Health

Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more.

The human body is teeming with trillions of viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Collectively known as microbes, large communities of these ‘bugs’ exist inside your body to support a number of important functions from the moment you are born. The majority of microbes in the human body are found in the cecum, a sort of “pouch” that makes up the first region of the large intestine. However, over the years, people have come to refer to it as the “gut microbiome.”

Babies are first exposed to microbes during delivery when they pass through their mother’s birth canal. Later, as they come in contact with other sources of microbes, such as breast milk, their gut microbiome starts to strengthen and diversify. A diverse microbiome rich with different microbial species is generally considered a good indicator of a healthy gut.

There are more than 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut microbiome. Most of them are ‘good’ and carry out specific tasks to support health, like absorbing nutrients, promoting heart health, and keeping blood sugar under control, among many others. When you have a robust gut microbiome, these good bacteria outnumber harmful bacteria that may trigger unnecessary inflammatory responses and cause disease.

Each person has their own unique gut microbiome, which is, in part, determined by their DNA and other hereditary factors. But fortunately, the foods that you eat also influence your gut microbiome, allowing you to fine-tune the types of bacteria that live inside you so you can look and feel your best.

Here are 5 evidence-based foods that heal and strengthen your gut:

Sauerkraut

Fermented foods are very hot right now; kimchi, kombucha, miso, tempeh, kefir, probiotic yogurts… the list goes on and on. Fermenting food brings to life vast colonies of healthy bacteria that are hard to obtain in other ways, and these mighty bugs have myriad health effects, like improving digestion, boosting immunity, and supporting weight loss, among others.

Sauerkraut is, according to many, the crown jewel of fermented foods. The name means sour white cabbage in German, and it has been used for centuries as a means of preserving cabbage and extend its shelf life. It has a distinct tart flavor that emerges from the lactic acid released by bacteria when they ingest the sugars in the cabbage leaves. A spoonful of sauerkraut delivers an even higher dose of probiotics and fiber than most yogurts in the market.

Low in calories and high in essential nutrients, just a cup of this superfood fulfills 35 percent of your daily vitamin C needs and 21 percent of your daily vitamin K needs for a scant 27 calories.

Garlic

With the rise in popularity of gut health in the world of nutrition, probiotics and prebiotics have become pretty important topics of conversation. Although they sound similar, probiotics and prebiotics play different roles in the body. Put simply, probiotics are the good bacteria that you can find in food or supplements, while prebiotics are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest, but bacteria can. Essentially, prebiotics are food for friendly bacteria.

Raw garlic is a delicious and accessible prebiotic food loaded with health-promoting compounds like inulin, manganese, selenium, allicin, and sulfur. Research has shown that the inulin in garlic boosts the production of good bacteria in your gut. It also contains antioxidants that may help protect against oxidative stress, a precursor of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Asparagus

Another great prebiotic food, asparagus contain high levels of inulin, the dietary fiber that feeds friendly bacteria, promotes digestive health, aids weight loss, and keeps you full longer. Asparagus are also low in calories but pack an impressive, nutritious punch.

A cupful of asparagus will only set you back 40 calories while offering almost as much potassium as a medium-sized banana and 57 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, which is essential for heart health and circulation.

Kimchi

Many of the pickled and fermented foods that we know and love today were invented hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, as a means to preserve food long before there were refrigerators and stabilizers that extended shelf life. That is also how kimchi came about. A traditional Korean dish made with fermented vegetables and varying seasonings like sugar, ginger, spring onions, and chilis, early versions of kimchi can be traced back almost 3,000 years.

Typically, kimchi is made with cabbage, though it is common to include other vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, parsnips, radishes, beets, and bamboo shoots. It can be eaten fresh, or it can be left to ferment for a few days or weeks – it will become funkier and more acidic the longer it sits.

When left to ferment, the bacterial strain Lactobacillus eats the sugars in the cabbage and turns it into lactic acid, giving kimchi its characteristic tang. This transformation turns kimchi from a spicy, crunchy snack, into a probiotic powerhouse packed with health-boosting bacteria.

Not sure how to eat kimchi? Truth is, you can add it pretty much to anything! But if you still need some ideas, try:

  • Adding it to steamed white rice for a tangy kick
  • Mixing it with pancake batter for savory, crunchy pancakes or waffles
  • Folding it into scrambled eggs for an umami-packed breakfast
  • Eating as is for a funky, gut-friendly snack

Miso Paste (broth, paste, soup, dressing etc.)

Miso is rich in essential minerals and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E, K, and folic acid. Miso is a salty paste made from fermented beans (usually soybeans) that has been a staple ingredient in the Japanese diet for thousands of years. As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy, vibrant and happy; good gut health is known to be linked to our overall mental and physical wellness.

Red vs. White Miso

There are many different miso products available, and several varieties of miso available as well. Two of the most common types are red and white.

White miso paste is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a higher percentage of rice. This results in a lighter color and gives the final product a slightly sweeter taste. Red miso, on the other hand, is made from soybeans that have been fermented for longer periods of time, typically with barley or other grains. It tends to have a deep, rich and salty flavor, plus a darker color that ranges from red to brown.

Sourdough

Provided you are not allergic to gluten or sensitive to gluten, sourdough is your best option for gut health if you enjoy eating bread. Made by fermenting the yeast naturally present in flour and water, sourdough is considerably healthier and tastier – than regular white bread because it is easier to digest.

Making your own sourdough starter to bake your own sourdough bread at home is easy. You just need three ingredients: flour, water, and some patience! Watch this short video to learn how to make it.

Foods to skip

Many factors of our modern life can be damaging to our gut microbiome. Having a frequently upset stomach, sleep disturbances, skin rashes or irritation, autoimmune conditions, allergies, and even migraines are just a few ways an unhealthy gut may manifest. Avoid these foods and drinks as much as possible to keep your gut microbiome happy:

  • Fried foods
  • Alcohol and caffeine in excess
  • Red meat
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sugary drinks
  • Sodas and seltzers (including sugar-free)

Incorporating some of these gut-friendly foods into your diet while eliminating others’ will help you maintain the right balance of microorganisms vital to a strong immune system and your overall physical and mental health.

Migraine Awareness Week U.K. Sept 6-12, 2020

September 1st, 2020

Migraine Awareness Week (MAW) is an annual campaign in the United Kingdom to draw attention to migraine, educate the public, increase understanding and reduce stigma. One out of every 7 people suffer migraine. It is an important public health problem in the UK, associated with very substantial costs.  Increased awareness about the effects of migraines results in better outcomes, increased access to migraine care as well as empowerment and validation for those diagnosed.  There are almost 200,000 migraine attacks every day in the U.K. and migraine sufferers lose 25 million days from work or school each year because of them.  Although it is the third most common disease in the world, affecting an estimated one in seven people globally, migraine remains underdiagnosed and undertreated.  For more information and support for migraines and headaches in the U.K., visit the links below.

To get involved with MAW, increase awareness, or join a meetup… visit the Migraine Trust’s Migraine Awareness Week page.

Organizations concerned with migraines and headaches in the U.K.

The Migraine Trust, a charity which supports sufferers, educates healthcare professionals and funds research into migraine and other headaches.

The National Migraine Center, the only national charity in the UK that offers treatment and support for migraine sufferers without the need for a GP referral.

The British Association for the Study of Headache, a national organization focused on raising the profile of headache and its surrounding issues.

OUCH, an organization focused on raising public awareness of Cluster Headaches, and offering support and guidance to sufferers.

The International Headache Society, a world-wide organisation for those with a professional commitment to headache, publishes the international headache journal ‘Cephalalgia.’

Trigeminal Neuralgia Association UK (TNA UK), a charity providing information and support while raising awareness of TN within the medical community and general public.

European Headache Alliance (EHA): Advocating for the rights and needs of the 80 million people in Europe living with a headache disorder.

European Headache Federation (EHF): Improving awareness of headache disorders and their impact among governments, health care providers and consumers across Europe.

To the Best of Health,

The MigreLief Team at Akeso Health Sciences

Help for children's migraines

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds for Healthy Eyes, Heart, Skin, Hair, Weight Loss & More!

August 30th, 2020

Commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. Nutritionally it is more similar to vegetables than fruits. Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene.

Eye Health:  Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color.  The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A.  Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. One cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.  Studies show that vitamin A can also strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. (1) (2)

High Antioxidant Content:  Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria.  However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.  Pumpkin may lower you risk of cancer. (3)  (4)

Heart Health:  Pumpkin contains a variety of nutrients that can improve your heart health.  It’s high in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, which have been linked to heart benefits.  For instance, studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes appear to have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes which are both risk factors for heart disease. (5)

Weight Loss:  Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer.  It is low in calories as it is 94% water and contains only 50 calories per cup (245 grams).

Healthy Skin:  Pumpkin is great for the skin for many reasons.  Studies show that carotenoids like beta-carotene can act as a natural sunblock. (6)
Once ingested, carotenoids are transported to various organs including your skin. Here, they help protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays (7).
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which is essential for healthy skin. Your body needs this vitamin to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. (8).
Moreover, pumpkins contain lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E and many more antioxidants that have been shown to boost your skin’s defenses against UV. (9) (10)

One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains:

Calories: 49
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
Potassium: 16% of the RDI
Copper: 11% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

When making pumpkin dishes… Don’t throw away the seeds!

PUMPKIN SEEDS ARE POWER SEEDS

Pumpkin seeds were discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico back in 7,000 B.C.  North American Indian tribes were the very first to observe the dietary and medicinal properties of pumpkin seeds.  The nutrition in pumpkin seeds improves with age; they are among the few foods that increase in nutritive value as they decompose. Pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months increase in protein content. They can be consumed raw or toasted, plain or tossed in salads and other fresh or cooked dishes.  Containing a variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are extremely healthy and are a good source of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates), magnesium, iron and protein.  100 grams of pumpkin seeds contains about 30 grams of protein. They are the most alkaline-forming seed.

PUMPKIN SEED BENEFITS

Heart Healthy:  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, fibers and various antioxidants that are beneficial for the heart.  The high levels of essential fatty acids help maintain healthy blood vessels and lower unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.  Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.

Healthy Sleep:  Pumpkin seeds contain Serotonin, a neurochemical which promotes health sleep.  They are also high in Tryptophan, an amino acid that further converts into Serotonin in the body, to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Prostate Health:  High in zinc these seeds are useful for promoting men’s fertility and preventing prostrate problems. The oil in pumpkin seeds alleviates difficult urination that happens with an enlarged prostate.  Pumpkin seeds also have DHEA (Di-hydro epi-androstenedione) that helps reduce the chances of prostate cancer.

Stabilize Blood Sugar – Pumpkin seeds help improve insulin regulation in diabetics and decreases oxidative stress. These seeds are a rich source of digestible protein that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Hair Growth:  Pumpkin seeds consist of cucurbitin, a unique amino that may be responsible for hair growth. They also contain vitamin C that also plays a crucial role in hair growth. Apply pumpkin seeds oil on scalp to see the results or just consume a handful of them daily.

Bone Protection:  High in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis, since zinc deficiencies can lead to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g.

Other benefits:  According to studies, pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.  These seeds reduce inflammation and counter arthritis pain without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.  They are also used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.

Take advantage of the abundance of pumpkins during the fall season and give your health a boost. Enjoy these healthy pumpkin recipes.

 

PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

Tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass and will satisfy all your pumpkin cravings.  It combines pumpkin purée with almond butter, milk, delicious spices, and honey. It’s an excellent source of filling protein and fiber, plus it provides eye-helping beta-carotene. (Can’t get enough pumpkin?

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
4 ice cubes

Directions:  Blend ingredients together, and enjoy! Serves 1.

 

**********************************************************************************************************************************

HEALTHY PUMPKIN MUFFINS (No Flour, Sugar Free, Oil Free, Dairy Free Gluten Free)

Healthy pumpkin muffins are a better-for-you alternative to traditional pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread.
Gluten free, sugar-free, oil free, and dairy free. Your taste buds will love the healthy fall flavors.

Prep Time – 20 min
Cook Time – 20 min
Total Time – 32 mins
Servings: 14 muffins
Calories: 123  calories

 

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (toasted & ground) * 9.3 ounces
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (toasted, 2 Tbsp reserved for muffin tops) * 2.8 ounces
1 1/8 cups pumpkin puree * 10.7 ounces
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
6 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk or dairy milk (full fat, skim or 1 %,)
2 tsp real vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 ½ tsp pumpkin spice (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 ground nutmeg)
½ cup walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325. Place all oats on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring once (about 4 to 6 minutes).
Let cool to room temperature. (If you are in a hurry you can skip this step and use plain old-fashioned oats, however the toasting adds flavor.)
Place 2.5 cups of oats in a food processor and blend/pulse until they reach a rough, flour like consistency.
Combine pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Add both ground and unground oats to wet ingredients and allow to sit for 10-20 minutes (this allows the oats to soak and soften).
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just incorporated. (The batter will be very thick.)

Optional: Fold in approximately 1/2 c walnuts, raisins, chocolate chips, or dried cranberries.

Scoop batter into muffin tin, lined with muffin wrappers (makes 12-14 muffins). Fill the muffin tins 7/8 full.
Bake at 350 for about 23 – 25 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean and the top of the muffin should feel firm.
Recipe Notes
Use parchment muffin liners or lightly spray liners lightly with oil to make the baked muffins easier to remove.

 

GREAT PUMPKIN SOUP

Ingredients
1 small pumpkin
1 onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1.5 cups of vegetable broth
1.5 cups of coconut milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil (to brush on pumpkin flesh)
Pumpkin seeds and fresh rosemary (to garnish)

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F before cutting your pumpkin in half. Spoon out the strings and seeds, saving the seeds for roasting.

2. Using olive oil, brush the flesh of the pumpkin and place the halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately one hour — a fork should be able to pierce the skin. When cooked, allow to cool.

3. On your stove top, saute garlic and onions until translucent — then add turmeric to toast slightly.

4. Add all remaining ingredients (pumpkin flesh, broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper) and bring to a simmer.

5. Once incorporated, use an emulsion blender to create a smoother consistency and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. When ready to serve, garnish with rosemary and pumpkin seeds. If you’d like to roast your own, simply toss seeds in olive oil and salt, baking for around 40 to 45 minutes, or until crispy and golden.

Enjoy!

For more great recipes, visit BrenDid .com

Best Way to Build a Strong Immune System NOW!

August 21st, 2020

strong immune system

A lot has been said about the immune system and how to strengthen it. There are countless books, articles, podcasts, and TV documentaries about it. Some doctors have devoted their entire careers to finding ways to boost and improve this amazing system, which does a remarkable job defending us against disease-causing pathogens. There are diets, herbal preparations, supplements, and vitamins explicitly designed to increase immunity.

But while the idea of supercharging the immune system might be enticing, it is only when you combine these immune-boosting strategies with healthy lifestyle factors that you can keep your immune system healthy and balanced.

Finding the right balance

A common misconception surrounding the immune system is that, in order to ward off disease, one must ‘boost,’ ‘strengthen,’ or make it more robust. But the truth is that an exceedingly strong immune system can be just as bad as a weak one, as too much of an immune response can actually encourage the body to attack itself resulting in an auto-immune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system targets and promotes inflammation in healthy tissue. But when you don’t get enough sleep, you become more vulnerable to diseases.

Instead, we should strive for a more balanced immune system, one that can identify and attack harmful microorganisms without turning against its own cells and tissues. This is where healthy lifestyle habits come in.

The immune system is not an organ or even a collection of organs in and of itself. Rather, it is a network of cells, organs, and tissues that work together to protect the body from external invaders. This means that we must maintain a fine balance between all these organs, cells, and tissues for the immune system to work correctly.

However, when you think about living a healthy lifestyle, what are the first things that come to mind? Most people would say a healthy diet and regular exercise, neglecting one of the most important components of a person’s overall health: sleep. Sleep is a vital function that has been long overlooked by patients and health experts alike, until recently.

Sleep and the immune system

Several studies have looked at the relationship between sleep and immunity, finding that the two might be more connected than originally thought. Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep or are sleep deprived are more likely to catch a cold or get sick after being exposed to a virus. It can also affect how long it takes you to get better and how often you get sick.

A study led by sleep investigators at UC San Francisco reported that people who sleep six hours or less are four times more likely to get sick when exposed to the common cold virus, compared to those who slept seven or more hours per night. Another study, this one conducted in Germany, found that sleep is vital for regulating T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for immune function.

Immune chemicals may also be closely intertwined with your nightly slumber. Every evening as your body shuts down for the night your brain goes through a series of predictable cycles of electrical activities known as the “phases” or “stages” of sleep. During these stages, your body fulfills essential tasks, like regenerating your muscles and tissues, consolidating memories in your brain, and strengthening your immune system. . Cytokine is the general term for a cluster of chemicals that carry out a number of important jobs, like aiding cellular communication during immune responses and mediating and regulating inflammation. When you get a full night’s sleep (i.e., you go through all the stages of the cycle and reach deep sleep), your immune system gets the chance to produce and release cytokines, a type of protein that acts as a chemical messenger and is secreted directly into the tissues and bloodstream. Cytokines bind to immune cell receptors and trigger an immune response targeting infection and inflammation.

The immune system raises certain cytokines in response to infections, stress, inflammation, and trauma. But if you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t get the chance to produce these cytokines, potentially leaving you more vulnerable to harmful pathogens.

Sleeping also increases T cell production, which plays an essential role in protecting you against viruses. T cells contribute to the body’s immune response when a potentially harmful foreign body enters the system. These immune cells recognize pathogens then activate integrins, which are a type of protein that allows T cells to attach to and tackle their targets. In fact, research has shown that quality sleep can increase your T cell’s ability to fight off infections.  In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it.   These are uncertain and confusing times for everybody, and it’s normal if you are finding it harder and harder to sleep at night. But getting a good night’s sleep is more important now than ever, as research shows that poor sleep is associated with increased vulnerability to infectious diseases and viruses.  Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

KEEP YOUR IMMUNE DEFENSE STRONG – GET SLEEP!  (Keep reading to get the list of supplements for building a strong immune system.)

 

In addition to building a strong immune system, the benefits of healthy sleep include

  • Increases longevity
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Protects against cellular damage
  • Lowers risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Lowers risk of obesity and reduces stress
  • Improves cognitive function and memory

The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers and school-aged children need about nine to 10 hours of sleep.

To learn more about getting a good night’s sleep and sleep tips download our FREE Sleep E-book plus Insomnia Whitepaper.

If you are having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, consider taking Akeso’s drug-free dietary supplement, “Sleep All Night” with 7 ingredients proven to help reestablish healthy sleep patterns and promote deep, rejuvenating sleep: Hops, Melatonin, Vitamin B-6, Zizyphus Jujube, Glycine, Valerian Root, and Magnesium

Learn More at MySleepAllNight.com  (Promo Code: BESTSLEEP20 for 20% OFF)



Sleep and Stay Well

Practice good sleep hygiene to support healthy sleep and a strong immune system.

  • Maintain a consistent sleep and wake schedule.
  • Avoid alcohol in the last hour before bed.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine up to 8 hours before bed.
  • Try breathing and relaxation exercises
  • Don’t eat large or heavy meals at night
  • Don’t use screens (computer, iPhone etc.) for an hour or two before sleep.
  • Take a natural sleep aid.

Related Article:  Fortifying Your Body Against the Coronavirus:Learn tips for staying safe, why drinking plenty of water is a must and discover why the following supplements and others are so important:

Vitamin C – 2,000 mg/day
Zinc  – 50 mg/day
Vitamin A – 900 mcg/day
Vitamin D3 1,000 – 1,500 i.u. daily
Elderberry Extract – 500 mg/day (increase to 1,125 mg day if you show symptoms of flu or virus

Pelargonium Sidoides Extract – (Commonly used for upper respiratory infections including bronchitis). P. Sidoides is marketed in the U.S. as Umckaloaba – 1 dropper full twice a day in 2 oz. of water or juice.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
Chief Scientific Officer, Akeso Health Sciences

Avoid Summer Migraines

August 10th, 2020

summer migraines

While there is much to love about summer- longer days, outdoor picnics, trips to the beach, pool time and nighttime barbecues, summer months can also increase the risk of debilitating migraines. Hotter temperatures, barometric pressure changes, and high humidity make many migraine sufferers more susceptible to an attack.

What triggers migraines during the summer?

A host of factors make summer one of the worst seasons for migraine attacks. For example, dehydration, a common migraine trigger, is more likely to occur during the summer months when the weather is warm and during periods of profuse sweating where people lose more fluid than they take in.

Other factors may trigger migraines during the summer months, including:

• High humidity
• High winds
• Longer days (which can change sleeping patterns)
• Typical summer foods and drinks (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, soda, alcohol, pre-made sauces like BBQ sauce, chips, candy, etc.)
• Barometric pressure changes

But even though migraines often rob us of summer’s little pleasures, there are things you can do to minimize your risk and ward off triggers. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding migraines and headaches this summer:

Stay well hydrated.

For many migraine sufferers, even mild dehydration is the quickest way to a migraine attack. To avoid getting dehydrated while you are out and about, carry a water bottle with you at all times and drink 6 to 8 ounces every hour. Drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated: fruits and veggies with high water content like grapes, watermelon, celery, and cucumber are fun and effective hydration options perfect for pool or beach days.

Wear sunglasses.

Many migraine sufferers are sensitive to light before, during, or even after an attack (photophobia). 85 to 90 percent of migraineurs experience photophobia which is why so many migraine sufferers seeking migraine relief, lie down in a dark room.

Some migraineurs swear by dark, polarized, tinted, or FL-41 lenses, but keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way of choosing sunglasses for your migraines. The perfect pair will be the one that sits comfortably on your face, provides adequate UV ray coverage, and reduces discomfort.  It is important to choose frames with good eye-coverage that can help block light that comes from above, that comes from the side, and that causes glare that comes from the back.

You may also need to wear your sunglasses indoors to deal with fluorescent lights, computer screens, etc. However, wearing sunglasses indoors too much can lead to something called chronic dark adaptation, which can make your sensitivity to light even worse.  If you have to wear sunglasses inside, be sure to take them off every hour or so to avoid getting chronic dark adaptation.  Consider decreasing glare and brightness by turning off fluorescent lights or adjusting or tinting your computer screen.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

With longer days and shorter nights, you probably find yourself going to bed later and waking up earlier than usual. Daylight hour changes can be very disruptive to sleeping routines; humans are wired to sleep after the sun sets and wake up when it rises. But during the summertime, the earth tilts on its axis ever so slightly, bringing more daylight hours to most places around the world.

Sleep deprivation is a potent migraine trigger, but you can avoid it by sticking to a regular sleeping schedule, making sure your room is dark, the temperature is pleasant, and limiting your sugar and caffeine consumption before bed.

Before you give in to the inevitability of waking up with a migraine, consider a natural sleep aide to help you reset your internal clock and ease back to sleep. Natural supplements with melatonin, valerian root extract, or magnesium are all safe and effective options.

Avoid Fragrances.

Fragrance loaded summer products like sunscreens are important to avoid if you are susceptible to this migraine trigger. Try to purchase fragrance-free products when possible.

Manage Stress.

Although summer is a carefree time of fun and relaxation, many people may experience what some call a “let-down” migraine because they occur on the first day of vacation or the start of a weekend. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, in the first six hours of reduced stress, a person’s risk of getting a migraine attack increases nearly five times, an effect that lasts up to 24 hours. The researchers found that relaxation following heightened stress was an even more significant trigger for migraine attacks and reduced stress from one day to the next significantly increased risk of migraine onset on the following day.

It is important for people to be aware of rising stress levels and attempt to relax during periods of stress, rather than allowing a major build-up.  Rising temperatures are also known to increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Practicing mindfulness or yoga and taking natural supplements to help maintain healthy levels of cortisol are great ways to manage stress and prevent migraines.

Relax, enjoy your summer, and stay safe.

When your out and about this summer, remember to avoid heat-related illnesses.  Avoid becoming overheated.  While having fun and the sun, be sure to seek out shade occasionally, drink plenty of water and cool down by misting yourself with a spray bottle of water.

Drinking Tea May Improve Brain Health

July 31st, 2020

Legend has it that one day some 5,000 years ago, a leaf was blown into a pot of water being boiled for Ancient China’s first Emperor, Shen Nung, leading to the accidental discovery of tea. Of course, nobody knows if that story actually happened – the origins of tea have always been a hotly debated topic, shrouded in myths and legends. But what we know for certain is that this popular beverage offers a variety of evidence-backed health benefits, including protecting your brain against age-related cognitive decline.

Healthy Tea

Health Benefits of Tea

Although there is evidence showing that Ancient Chinese civilizations were already consuming tea thousands of years ago, Western Europe’s love affair with tea didn’t start until the 1600s. When tea first arrived in Britain, it was sold as a natural remedy for a multitude of ailments, including indigestion, scurvy, and grief. In 1650, tea was brought from British colonies to the United States, where it became an instant favorite of many settlers, who at one point consumed more tea than all of Britain combined.

Today, tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet – right after water. It’s even more popular than coffee, beer, and soda – and it’s a lot healthier, too. Studies have shown that different types of tea may lower “bad” cholesterol, help with some types of cancer and heart disease, and improve gut health, among other benefits. And now, a recent neuroimaging study published in the medical journal Aging is giving tea lovers another reason to stock up on these mighty leaves: people who drink tea at least four times a week have healthier brains than non-tea drinkers.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Singapore, looked at the tea-drinking habits of 36 healthy old adults. Participants were asked to recall how many cups they drank in a day, what type, and other tea-related behaviors and divided them into two groups: tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers. Volunteers also had to undergo neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain function and structural changes.

Results suggested that participants who drank green, black, or oolong tea at least four times a week over a period of about 25 years showed better connectivity between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and better overall functional connectivity. Other studies have shown that well-organized and interconnected brain regions can process information more efficiently and seem to slow down cognitive decline.

But while tea’s seemingly never-ending list of health benefits may be more than enough of a reason to pour yourself another cuppa, remember that how you drink your tea matters. Even though your tea with sugar or honey won’t counteract its health effects, high added sugar intake has been linked with memory and attention issues, cognitive decline, and structural changes in several regions of the brain.

More about tea…

In the US, black tea consumption far outweighs the other two types of tea. In contrast, in Asia, green tea is the more common variety; in Southern China, oolong tea tops the charts.

Black, green and oolong tea are made from the same plant. The unique flavor profiles for each of these teas are due to differences in how the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are processed.  Herbal teas, however, are not made from the same plant. These teas are products of the roots, leaves, flowers and other components from a variety of plants. Chamomile and peppermint are two popular herbal teas. Chamomile is made from the plant’s flowers and peppermint from the leaves of a mint plant.

Caffeine and Nutrients Found in Tea

Black, green and oolong tea all contain caffeine. Black tea has more caffeine than green tea. However, the caffeine content also relates to the brewing process. The longer the tea steeps, the greater the caffeine content. Caffeinated teas typically have less caffeine than coffee:

  • One 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine.
  • An equal amount of black tea has around 48 milligrams.
  • In a cup of green tea, there are only 29 milligrams.
  • Oolong provides about 38 milligrams of caffeine per cup
  • Decaffeinated black, green, oolong teas contain very small amounts of caffeine.
  • Many herbal teas are caffeine-free.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Health Risks of Tea

Though there are lots of good things about consuming tea, overdoing it can put your health at risk.

One risk is a caffeine overload. Large amounts of caffeine may lead to nervousness, restlessness and may disturb your sleep. Some people may also experience loose stools and other gastrointestinal issues. Nausea, abdominal pain, heartburn, dizziness and muscle pain are also possible side effects from consuming too much caffeine.  It may also interact with certain medications and increase the effects of caffeine in the body. Total daily intake of caffeine from all sources should not exceed 400 milligrams.

Popular Herbal Teas for Health

Rooibos Tea  is gaining popularity as a delicious and healthy beverage. Consumed in southern Africa for centuries, it is flavorful, a caffeine-free alternative to black or green tea, and it is praised for its potential health benefits, claiming that its antioxidants can protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Hibiscus Tea is made from the colorful flowers of the hibiscus plant. It has a pink-red color and refreshing, tart flavor. It can be enjoyed hot or iced. In addition to its bold color and unique flavor, hibiscus tea offers healthful properties.
For example, hibiscus tea has antiviral properties, and test-tube studies have shown its extract to be highly effective against strains of the bird flu. However, no evidence has shown that drinking hibiscus tea could help you fight off viruses like the flu.

Ginger Tea  is a spicy and flavorful drink that packs a punch of healthy, disease-fighting antioxidants. It also helps fight inflammation and stimulates the immune system, but it’s most well known for being an effective remedy for nausea.
Studies consistently find that ginger is effective at relieving nausea, especially in early pregnancy, although it may also relieve nausea caused by cancer treatments and motion sickness. Evidence also suggests that ginger may help prevent stomach ulcers and relieve indigestion or constipation. Ginger may also help relieve dysmenorrhea, or period pain. A number of studies have found that ginger capsules reduced pain associated with menstruation. In fact, two studies found ginger to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen at relieving period pain

Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly used herbal teas in the world . While it’s most popularly used to support digestive tract health, studies show it also has antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties.  Evidence also shows that peppermint oil is effective at relaxing spasms in the intestines, esophagus and colon.  Lastly, studies have repeatedly found that peppermint oil is effective at relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Echinacea tea is an extremely popular remedy that’s said to prevent and shorten the common cold. Evidence has shown that echinacea may help boost the immune system, which could help the body fight off viruses or infections.  Many studies have found that echinacea can shorten the duration of the common cold, lessen the severity of its symptoms or even prevent it. However, results are conflicting, and most studies have not been well designed. This makes it difficult to tell if positive results are due to echinacea or random chance. Therefore, it’s not possible to say definitively that taking echinacea will help with the common cold. At the very least, this warm herbal drink may help soothe your sore throat or clear up your stuffy nose if you do feel a cold coming on.

A Nice Cup of Tea

Although more research is needed to pin down all of its benefits, tea can be part of a healthy eating pattern.  It is best to brew it yourself so you can control the amount of added sweetener (sugar, honey, etc.)

The Best Way to Brew Tea

  • Fill your kettle with fresh water. Water that has been previously boiled loses oxygen and can weaken the flavor of your tea.
  • Heat your tea to the proper temperature. (Black:  195-205 degrees F.) Green 175, Herbal 208, Oolong 195)
  • Warm the teapot and/or your mug with the hot water.
  • Add your tea.
  • Pour the water and brew the tea.  Steep black tea for 2-3 minutes.  Green-45 sec to 1 min.  Herbal or Rooibos 5-6 min. Oolong 3 min.  Over-steeping can result in bitter tea.

Enjoy!