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© April 19th 2021 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC.
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Posted on: Sunday, April 18th 2021 at 5:45 am
Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2021
The science has never been clearer: flaxseed deserves to be top of the list of the world’s most important medicinal foods. For just pennies a day it may protect against dozens of life-threatening health conditions
Many of us have been enculturated to think about the nutritional dimension of our food intake in terms of the government’s recommended daily allowances (RDAs), focusing on getting the “right” amounts of carbohydrate, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, I believe this focus on the quantifiable dimensions of food versus the qualitative/informationl elements has profoundly lead us astray. We bear witness to this in the fact that Americans are some of the most overfed yet simultaneously malnourished people on the planet. It is no wonder that we we are dying by the droves, with heart disease and cancer representing the most common (and also most preventable) causes of premature death.
What if there was a nutrient-packed super-food which costs pennies a day that can greatly reduce the risk of dying not only these, but dozens of other life-threatening conditions? Would you take it? The good news is there already is: welcome to the amazing nutritional/medicinal potential of flaxseed!
70 Reasons To Consume Flaxseed Daily
Admittedly, the title of this article is a bit over the top. Wouldn’t five good reasons, or even just one good reason be enough to consume it more regularly? After all, think of the millions of people around the world who take aspirin daily only because it promises to reduce the risk for one condition: namely, prevention of heart attack. A practice, incidentally, that is dubious at best, and for which natural and likely far safer and effective alternatives may exist. If we can establish the preventive value of flaxseed in only one serious condition, perhaps this alone would be compelling enough to convince our readers to start incorporating it into their daily dietary regimen. However, for those nutrition geeks out there who like to read the first-hand research, here’s our flaxseed database page, wherein you will find all the abstracts we have gathered on the topic of this seed’s immense potential in preventing and/or treating up to 70 different health conditions.
7 Flaxseed Healing Highlights
Below you will find our top 7 reports on flaxseed’s immense health benefits, including their role in preventing and/or reversing the #1 and #2 killers, namely, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- They Can Heal Your Arteries
- They Can Contain Beneficial Plant Estrogens
- They Can Reduce Your Breast Cancer Mortality by 70%
- They Can Protect Against Ovarian Cancer
- They Protect Against Radiation Toxicity
- They Can Dilate Your Arteries
- They Can Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
For those who are interested in how best to take advantage of flaxseed’s many health benefits, but are unsure what is the best way to consume it, we address some of the most common questions below.
Should I Eat The Seeds Ground or Whole?
First, keep in mind that flaxseeds are Nature’s ingenious design for preserving the precious cargo inside: highly therapeutic, though fragile polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, and other fat soluble vitamins. This also means that you don’t have to worry about refrigerating it. Once the seed is ground up and exposed to air, light, ambient fluctuations in temperature, and time, it begins to “go bad,” i.e. oxidize and degrade. This is why many make a daily practice of grinding up their own seeds in a coffee grinder to ensure maximum freshness. While I think this is a great idea, not everyone will have the time or desire to adhere to this daily routine. This is why some purchase pre-ground flaxseed. I am not against the practice. My only stipulation is that the buyer make sure the manufacturer has nitrogen-flushed the container so that oxygen didn’t get into the package at the time of manufacture.
The same rule applies to flaxseed oil. The company manufacturing the oil should maintain optimal freshness via nitrogen flushing the container, which will preferably be in non-chemical leaching glass. Also, opt for a high lignan form of the oil when available because you lose this valuable component of the seed material when you produce oil concentrate. Flaxseed has one of the highest levels of naturally occurring lignans known, and this is why if you are consuming the oil you may also wish to supplement with whole or ground flaxseed so that you benefit from these highly therapeutic compounds.
As far as whole flaxseed, make sure that you chew it well, if you primary objective is to obtain the beneficial nutrients, lignans, and fiber from them. Also, consider that flaxseed produces a very soothing mucilaginous gel when exposed and/or soaked in water. You can pre-soak a tablespoon in a glass of water overnight to produce a very good concoction for constipation by drinking it in the morning. Because flaxseed will naturally soak up water, remember not to consume too much dry, whole flaxseed without adequate hydration, as it could be a bit binding – the exact opposite effect that it will naturally have when consumed in the correct manner.
Which is Better? Flaxseed Oil or The Seed?
Hands down, this is the most common question I have fielded. The truth is that one is not better than the other for general preventive health purposes. For optimal protection I would suggest using both. However, there are some important things to consider when incorporating either of these forms into your diet:
- Never heat flaxseed oil: All oils rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are prone to enhanced oxidation (rancidity) when heated. This means that you would not cook with flaxseed oil, opting for naturally saturated (and therefore more heat stabile) fats like palm, coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter) instead.
- Get creative with flaxseed meal: Flaxseed meal is an excellent addition to smoothies or for sprinkling on foods that have a higher glycemic index, e.g. pasta, cereal. The flaxseed meal will slow the breakdown of the starchy carbohydrates and therefore blunt blood sugar spikes and concomitant elevations in insulin. Also, the fiber is excellent for helping to contribute to regularity (it is useful both for going too much and not enough). The key, of course, is to always stay hydrated when using flaxseed, as it can cause significant binding in a dehydrated individual.
- Flaxseed is full of good fats: Keep in mind that flaxseed is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, containing a 4:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. This is a great way to balance out the predominant ratios in the Standard American Diet, which is so heavy in corn, canola, soy, and peanut oils, all of which have several orders of magnitude more omega 6 than omega 3.
How Much Should I Take?
Generally, a tablespoon or two of meal a day is a good dose for ensuring you are getting a physiologically significant amount. The same goes for the oil. I have personally consumed five tablespoons of meal a day without any harm, and have used a good amount of the flaxseed oil in place of olive oil as salad dressing (I happen to like the taste of flaxseed better). Everyone will be different, so go with your intuition if you are just experimenting. If you are sick, consult your health practitioner or dietary coach to obtain specific recommendations. Also, listen to your body. If you aren’t finding flaxseed agrees with you, then back off on the amount or stop it until you find another dietary intervention that does work for you. Another alternative that has many of the same health benefits is chia seed.
Just the Nutritional Facts
We’ll leave you with some nutritional snapshots of flaxseed from the more quantitative perspective, so that it is clear how valuable it is in human nutrition simply as a source of both macronutrients and micronutrients, above and beyond its clearly medicinal function (a reflection of what I would call it’s “therapeutic information” content) in the wide range of health conditions our database shows. The information below is based on 1 cup (168 grams) worth of flaxseed whole.
Flaxseed Protein and Amino Acid Content
Flaxseed Vitamin Content
Flaxseed Mineral Content
Flaxseed Fatty Acids
For more nutritional data on flaxseed, visit the Nutritiondata.com website.
Reproduced from original article:
by: Lori Alton, staff writer | April 15, 2021
(NaturalHealth365) With their lustrous indigo color and sweet-but-tart taste, ripe blueberries are perfect little globes of flavor and juiciness. Not only are blueberries delicious, but they are generally acknowledged as a true “superfood” by nutritionists, natural health experts, and physicians alike. But can the health benefits of blueberries really be confirmed? A steadily accumulating body of scientific evidence says, “yes!”
In a March 2020 review published in Advances in Nutrition, the authors credited regular blueberry consumption with reducing the risk of a host of serious diseases – including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which these succulent berries lower the odds of developing life-threatening conditions.
Blueberries “rule the roost” in anthocyanin content
Anthocyanins – natural plant pigments responsible for the deep purples, blues, and reds in fresh fruits and vegetables – are the primary active constituent of blueberries. These disease-fighting plant compounds have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects – and may even have anticancer and anti-aging properties as well.
When it comes to supplying anthocyanins, blueberries leave other fruits and vegetables “in the dust.”
Red apples, for instance, contain 12 mg of anthocyanins for every 100-gram serving (roughly half of a large apple), while 100 grams of sweet cherries contain 122 mg. By contrast, a 100-gram serving – about two-thirds of a cup – of lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) contains a massive 487 mg of anthocyanins. Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum, the type most commonly cultivated in the United States) clock in somewhat lower, with a still-impressive 387 mg. Blueberries’ nearest competitor in anthocyanin content, blackberries, feature 245 mg per 100 grams.
A DELICIOUS way to avoid the threat of heart disease
The researchers evaluated over 200 studies to perform the review, including observational and epidemiological studies on humans. And, they found plenty of evidence to support their reputation as a heart-healthy food.
Anthocyanins in blueberries excel at scavenging harmful free radicals that cause oxidative stress and trigger disease. And, their anti-inflammatory effects help them act against atherosclerosis, the deposits of calcified plaque artery-clogging plaque. In addition, blueberries support the health of the endothelium – the fragile lining of arteries – and promote the production of beneficial blood pressure-lowering nitric oxide.
In a 14-year study of 87,000 participants, anthocyanin-rich berries cut the odds of developing high blood pressure – a primary risk factor for heart disease – by 10 percent. In one eight-week study, obese people who had a high risk of heart disease noted a 4 to 6 percent reduction in blood pressure after eating a two-ounce serving of blueberries a day.
In addition, a trio of different studies showed that a higher intake of anthocyanins could cut the risk of coronary artery disease by up to 25 percent. When it came to preventing heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, blueberries did even better. In a study published in Circulation, the official journal of the American Heart Association, the team found that higher intakes of blueberries, strawberries, and total anthocyanins were associated with cutting heart attack risk by up to a third!
But wait, your brain can benefit too! Blueberries protect cognitive function and ward off Alzheimer’s disease, according to study
Blueberries’ antioxidant qualities can protect the brain from oxidative stress, which speeds the aging process and impairs brain function.
In one small but influential placebo-controlled study published in Journal of Agriculture, Food and Chemistry, older adults with mild cognitive impairment drank 8 ounces of wild blueberry juice every day for twelve weeks. They experienced improvements in markers of brain function, included paired associate learning and word list recall. As if that weren’t helpful enough, depressive symptoms were reduced. The researchers reported that anthocyanins in blueberries are associated with increased signaling between brain cells, leading to better memory function. In another study, blueberry supplementation for 90 days led to improvements in memory in healthy older adults.
Researchers believe that blueberries’ neuroprotective effects may extend to helping prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well. This is welcome news, as the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 16 million cases in the United States within the next 30 years.
GREAT news: Anthocyanins can also combat type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, which currently affects over 34 million Americans, is verging on epidemic status. But blueberries may be able to help.
In a clinical placebo-controlled trial of 58 patients with type 2 diabetes, an anthocyanin extract improved insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles while reducing oxidative stress markers. In a placebo-controlled study of obese, insulin-resistant adults, six weeks of blueberry supplementation improved insulin sensitivity.
Apparently, blueberries get to work right away on discouraging type 2 diabetes. In yet another study, a single serving of anthocyanins was found to lower blood sugar!
Blueberries also act against diabetes by helping to fight obesity, a primary trigger for the disease. In a promising trial of overweight young adults, replacing 50 grams of carbohydrates with the same amount of blueberries led to favorable reductions in body weight.
Word to the wise: Blueberries are also rich in vitamins and fiber
A cup of fresh blueberries (about 150 grams) contains a healthy 4 grams of fiber, along with a quarter of the recommended daily amount for antioxidant vitamin C and over a third of the RDA for vitamin K. Impressively, blueberries offer up these valuable nutrients at a scanty 84 calories a cup — about the same caloric cost as eating seven (yes, only seven) potato chips. (Obviously, blueberries are the better choice.)
Apparently, it’s not necessary to gobble berries in massive amounts to support health. Researchers report that even modest consumption of blueberries, such as a third of a cup a day, can rack up big health benefits.
If fresh berries are expensive or inconvenient, don’t stress: you can still access many of the benefits of blueberries by using them in powder or frozen form.
And, if berries just aren’t your “thing,” anthocyanins are available as a supplement. Natural healers typically advise amounts ranging from 50 mg to 350 a day – but check with your integrative doctor before supplementing.
While the review’s authors advised more study, they were clearly enthused by the therapeutic benefits of blueberries.
“It can be widely agreed that the regular consumption of tasty, ripe blueberries can be unconditionally recommended,” the scientists declared.
What could be simpler, or more delicious, than that?
Sources for this article include:
Reproduced from original article:
by: Damon Hines, staff writer | April 13, 2021
(NaturalHealth365) There are over 200 species of hibiscus around the world. Hibiscus flowers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. When they are dried and steeped, the unique, sweet-tart flavor is consumed differently across cultures – like hot tea, cold tea, or infused with aromatic spices or alcohol. While hibiscus has been popular for centuries in various tropical regions around the world, it’s become a true favorite among health food lovers in the U.S.
According to FONA International, hibiscus use has shown growth worldwide with a 78% increase in new products since 2014. The hype surrounding hibiscus is fueled, in part, by consumers’ desire for reduced sugar and low-sugar beverages. The trendy flavor is also revered for its numerous health benefits: it’s high in vitamin C and antioxidants, features antibacterial, weight loss, and diuretic properties, and has the ability to lower blood pressure and naturally absorb fat. Hibiscus flowers have long been used in traditional African medicine for their health-giving properties.
From tradition to trend: How one flower fits all
So, where did the hibiscus trend originate? For many Americans, it started in 2012, when beverage giant Starbucks introduced its first hibiscus drink – Very Berry Hibiscus. After the product launch, it was only a short time before hibiscus started showing up as a hip flavor pairing in restaurants and small-batch artisan brewers began making pink-hued hibiscus beers. With its brightly-colored petals and delicate blooms, hibiscus is as Instagrammable as it is healthy, and Instagram helps to promote the food and beverage market.
However, long before Starbucks’ co-opted hibiscus as a drink flavor, Latin America used flor de Jamaica in a diverse category of foodstuffs – from Argentinean coffee to Brazilian confectionery to Mexican street food, not to mention sweet meat sauces and ice cream. In other words, what’s trendy in the U.S. is traditional in Latin America, where hibiscus has been an essential flavor in traditional fresh waters (agua frescas) for decades.
Even beverage behemoth Coca-Cola has hibiscus blends in its global portfolio
Once a food or drink proves to be flavorful, healthy, and Instagrammable, it doesn’t take long before Big corporations want a piece of the market. In 2019, Firmenich tipped hibiscus as the “flavor of the year” because of the growing appeal of florals and botanicals in food and drink. It’s easy to forget in all the corporate jockeying and social media marketing that many cultures consider hibiscus a medicinal plant.
When the hibiscus fad fades, and food media starts obsessing over something new (one day it’s kimchi, the next it’s acai berries), hibiscus tea will still be the national drink of Senegal. Karkadeh, another type of dark red hibiscus brew, will still be used to toast wedding celebrations in Egypt and Sudan, where hibiscus is famous for its potent mix of antioxidants, vitamin C, and minerals, and not as a just “brand” ‘drink with a hip following.
If sweet, tart, tangy tea drinks aren’t your thing, consider using hibiscus in the following way:
- as a dry rub
- in a sweet sauce
- as a garnish for fish
Sources or this article include:
© April 13th 2021 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC.
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Reproduced from original article:
Posted on: Friday, April 9th 2021 at 12:45 pm
Written By: Dr. Diane Fulton
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2021
Pomegranate, with its characteristic red arils, is small but mighty when it comes to substantial benefits to your health as a superfood
Pomegranate has been called an antioxidant superstar. In fact, researchers have confirmed that pomegranate has three times the antioxidant power of red wine and green tea.[i] The antioxidant impact in pomegranate comes from compounds known as polyphenols. Pomegranate includes flavonoids (catechin and anthocyanins), condensed tannins, phenolic acids, hydrolysable tannins (punicalagin), alkaloids and lignans.
From lab studies of pomegranate compounds, scientists have verified that pomegranate has beneficial antioxidant, antidiabetic, antiobesity, anti-hypertensive and anti-inflammatory properties.[ii],[iii] Isn’t it time to add pomegranate to your healthy routine?
Six Therapeutic Qualities of Pomegranate
1. Lowers Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress refers to the imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and antioxidant defenses.[iv] This imbalance is caused by environmental stressors (i.e., ultraviolet light, exposure to radiation, pollutants, pesticides, industrial chemicals, smoking, ozone and heavy metals) and internal factors (nutrition, inflammation, lifestyle, conditions like dementia, cancer, diabetes and chronic illnesses).[v]
Accumulation of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative damage has been linked to multiple pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases,[vi] diabetes, cancer, recovery from overexercise/injuries, skin diseases and premature aging.[vii]
Pomegranate’s antioxidant superpower decreases oxidative stress, which helps to prevent and improve these oxidative related diseases and subsequent symptoms.
2. Prevents Lifestyle Diseases and Lowers Complications
Lifestyle diseases are ailments that are primarily based on the day-to-day habits of people (such as being sedentary, smoking, unhealthy diet and alcohol abuse) and include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory illnesses, stroke and cancer. Precursors can be high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high levels of fat in the blood, high levels of stress and obesity.[viii]
The antioxidant protection of pomegranate polyphenols helps prevent lifestyle related diseases by reducing ROS and increasing antioxidant activity.[ix] A meta-analysis of eight studies regarding pomegranate juice consumption and high blood pressure showed significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after taking pomegranate juice; researchers recommend including this fruit juice in your heart-healthy diet.[x]
Pomegranate was a potent antioxidant in diabetes-induced oxidative stress and fibrosis in a study of rats and partially ameliorated erectile dysfunction, a symptom caused by diabetes.[xi]
Consumption of concentrated pomegranate juice (50 grams per day) had favorable effects on two markers of inflammation (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and IL6) and increased total antioxidant capacity by approximately 75% in a clinical study of 40 patients with Type 2 diabetes.[xii]
3. Reduces Cancer
Researchers found that pomegranate peel extract inhibited growth of prostate cancer cells, particularly in migration and invasion, which are two critical steps in prostate cancer metastasis.[xiii] In a study of hamsters, pomegranate peel extract exhibited significant antioxidant activity in their lung fibroblasts by reducing ROS by 29% to 36%.
In human breast and colon cancer cells, pomegranate extract decreased cancer cell growth both in drug-sensitive cells by 15% to 30% and in drug resistant (doxorubicin-resistant) cells by 5% to 20%, suggesting the potential usefulness of pomegranate extract in people exposed to oxidative stress and as a therapy for human cancers.[xiv]
Compared to juice, the total phenolic content and free radical scavenging potential was significantly higher in the pomegranate extract enhanced in a lab compared to its two fractions (anthocyanins and copigments) and showed the highest radical scavenging activity against galvinoxyl and DPPH radicals, oxidative stress markers in human liver cancer.
Results indicated that anthocyanins and copigments act together synergistically in reducing oxidative stress.[xv] Pomegranate was shown to improve oxidative stress levels in a jaundice-induced animal model.[xvi] Jaundice can be caused by hepatitis, gallstones, gallbladder cancer and pancreatic tumors.[xvii]
Preliminary studies show that pomegranate supplementation could prevent breast cancer by reducing two sex hormones related to breast cancer risk in a study of 64 healthy postmenopausal women who were randomly assigned to drink eight ounces of either 100% commercial pomegranate juice (intervention) or apple juice (control) for three weeks; the intervention group showed significant declines in both estrone and testosterone levels.[xviii]
A pomegranate emulsion containing various bioactive phytochemicals was found to exert substantial chemopreventive effect against induced mammary tumors in rats via antiproliferative and proapoptotic actions, which disrupted the estrogen hormone, signaling a possible breast cancer treatment for humans.[xix]
An oral capsule containing a blend of pomegranate, green tea, broccoli and turmeric, or an identical placebo, for six months was compared in 199 men with localized prostate cancer; the polyphenol food supplement group had 63% lower prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, a marker of progression of prostate cancer, compared to the control group.[xx]
In their comprehensive review of clinical trial studies, researchers confirmed that pomegranate plays a vital role in prevention and treatment of breast, prostate, lung, colon, skin and liver cancers.[xxi]
4. Boosts Recovery and Faster Healing of Injuries After Exercise
Consumption of pomegranate juice over three weeks improved two oxidative stress markers and thus decreased the oxidative damage caused by exercise in a study of 30 high-endurance athletes.[xxii]
Supplementation — 50 milliliters daily for two months — of pomegranate juice in a study of 19 Polish athletes found a significant strengthening of plasma antioxidant potential in the supplementing group measured by the increase of total antioxidant capacity and IL-6 levels.[xxiii]
Watermelon juice enriched with pomegranate and citrulline showed no increase in muscle damage and a significant maintenance of force during exercise and a significant decrease in the rating of perceived exertion and muscle soreness after exercise in 19 healthy men.[xxiv]
In a mice study, pomegranate red peel extract showed high antioxidant activity that significantly enhanced serum biochemical parameters and reduced oxidative stress; scientists recommended pomegranate for a daily animal diet or as a beverage for humans to gain antioxidant protective effects and improve health.[xxv]
Endurance running places substantial physiological strain on the body, which can develop into chronic inflammation and overuse injuries, but supplementation with pomegranate, curcumin and methlysulfonylmethane (MSM) reduced systemic inflammation and oxidative stress without adverse side effects in 15 marathon runners.[xxvi]
5. Improves Skin and Premature Aging
In a review of current studies, researchers found that phenolic compounds in pomegranate may have a protective effect on skin exposed to high levels of air pollution. That effect includes increasing antioxidant activity by reducing harmful ROS related to oxidative stress and lowering inflammatory markers such as cytokines and chemokines in skin diseases and decreased premature skin aging caused by particles in the air.[xxvii]
In addition, pomegranate was shown to be beneficial for reducing harmful effects of solar UVB radiation on animal skin[xxviii],[xxix] and ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) radiation on human skin.[xxx] Daily oral pomegranate consumption (eight ounces of pomegranate juice or 1,000 milligrams of pomegranate extract) enhanced protection from UV photo damage in a study of 74 women.[xxxi]
6. Decreases Inflammation
In a meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials involving 572 subjects, pomegranate supplementation significantly reduced inflammation biomarkers of hs-CRP, IL-6 and TNF-α compared to the placebo group.[xxxii]
High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) indicates your risk of developing coronary artery disease (narrowing of the heart’s arteries) and inflammation in your body. Coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack.[xxxiii] Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a protein that helps regulate immune responses and is used as a marker of immune system activation. IL-6 levels can be elevated with inflammation, infection, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.[xxxiv]
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF- α) is a protein that contributes to inflammation as well. In healthy people, it is an essential part of the immune system, helping the body mount attacks against invading bacteria and viruses and heal damaged tissues; in those having autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, excess levels of TNF- α in the blood can lead to unnecessary inflammation and chronic pain.[xxxv]
Brain inflammation is one of the leading factors in neurological disorders like dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists found evidence that pomegranate peel extract provides preventive and progressive benefits in neural diseases by positively affecting spatial memory and decreasing biomarkers of neuroplasticity, oxidative stress and inflammation in a mouse model of neurodegeneration.[xxxvi]
In a placebo-controlled study of 261 non-demented individuals from 50 to 75 years old, daily consumption of pomegranate juice (230 milliliters) stabilized the treated group’s ability to learn visual information over a year.[xxxvii]
A study of rats with aluminum chloride induced neurotoxicity showed that pomegranate peel extract could inhibit aluminum-induced oxidative stress and pathologies in the brain, possibly related to its anti-apoptotic and antioxidant abilities.[xxxviii]
Super Abilities of Pomegranate
Scientists are increasingly interested in the therapeutic benefits of pomegranate on diabetes, stroke recovery and clogged arteries. To learn more about pomegranate’s ability to improve your health, see GreenMedInfo.com’s article “6 Health Benefits of Pomegranate” and its database on pomegranate (the substance) and pomegranate peel.
[i] Gil MI, Tomás-Barberán FA, Hess-Pierce B, Holcroft DM, Kader AA. Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Oct;48(10):4581-9. doi: 10.1021/jf000404a. PMID: 11052704.
[ii] C Mayasankaravalli, K Deepika, D Esther Lydia, Reuben Agada, Dluya Thagriki, Chandramohan Govindasamy, Veeramani Chinnadurai, Othman Mohammed Othman Gatar, Ameer Khusro, Young Ock Kim, Hak-Jae Kim. Profiling the phyto-constituents offruits peel extract and accessing itsantioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitory properties. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2020 Dec ;27(12):3228-3234. Epub 2020 Oct 6. PMID: 33304128
[iii] Kandylis P, Kokkinomagoulos E. Food Applications and Potential Health Benefits of Pomegranate and its Derivatives. Foods. 2020; 9(2):122. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9020122
[v] Medical News Today, Articles, Effects of Oxidative Stress. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324863#effects.
[vi] Taniyama Y, Griendling KK. Reactive oxygen species in the vasculature: molecular and cellular mechanisms. Hypertension. 2003 Dec;42(6):1075-81. doi: 10.1161/01.HYP.0000100443.09293.4F. Epub 2003 Oct 27. PMID: 14581295.
[viii] Tabish SA (2017) Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control. J Cardiol Curr Res 9(3): 00326. DOI: 10.15406/jccr.2017.09.00326
[ix] Chong Zhao, Takenori Sakaguchi, Kosuke Fujita, Hideyuki Ito, Norihisa Nishida, Akifumi Nagatomo, Yukimasa Tanaka-Azuma, Yoshinori Katakura. Pomegranate-Derived Polyphenols Reduce Reactive Oxygen Species Production via SIRT3-Mediated SOD2 Activation. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016 ;2016:2927131. Epub 2016 Oct 20. PMID: 27840668
[x] Amirhossein Sahebkar, Claudio Ferri, Paolo Giorgini, Simona Bo, Petr Nachtigal, Davide Grassi. Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacol Res. 2016 Nov 23 ;115:149-161. Epub 2016 Nov 23. PMID: 27888156
[xi] E Onal, D Yilmaz, E Kaya, T Bastaskın, N Bayatlı, S Gur. Pomegranate juice causes a partial improvement through lowering oxidative stress for erectile dysfunction in streptozotocin-diabetic rat. Int J Impot Res. 2016 Sep 1. Epub 2016 Sep 1. PMID: 27581707
[xii] Farideh Shishehbor, Majid Mohammad Shahi, Mehdi Zarei, Azadeh Saki, Mehrnoosh Zakerkish, Fatemeh Shirani, Maryam Zare. Effects of Concentrated Pomegranate Juice on Subclinical Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Jan ;14(1):e33835. Epub 2016 Jan 30. PMID: 27279834
[xiii] Deng Y, Li Y, Yang F, Zeng A, Yang S, Luo Y, Zhang Y, Xie Y, Ye T, Xia Y, Yin W. The extract from Punica granatum (pomegranate) peel induces apoptosis and impairs metastasis in prostate cancer cells. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Sep;93:976-984. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2017.07.008. Epub 2017 Jul 14. PMID: 28724216.
[xiv] Helena Moreira, Aleksandra Slezak, Anna Szyjka, Jan Oszmianski, Kazimierz Gasiorowski. Antioxidant and cancer chemopreventive activities of cistus and pomegranate polyphenols. Acta Pol Pharm. 2017 Mar ;74(2):688-698. PMID: 29624275
[xv] Tina Kostka, Johanna Josefine Ostberg-Potthoff, Karlis Briviba, Seiichi Matsugo, Peter Winterhalter, Tuba Esatbeyoglu. Pomegranate (L.) Extract and Its Anthocyanin and Copigment Fractions-Free Radical Scavenging Activity and Influence on Cellular Oxidative Stress. Foods. 2020 Nov 6 ;9(11). Epub 2020 Nov 6. PMID: 33172172
[xvi] E E Yilmaz, Z Arikanoğlu, A Turkoğlu, E Kiliç, H Yüksel, M Gümüş. The protective effects of pomegranate on liver and remote organs caused by experimental obstructive jaundice model. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Feb ;20(4):767-72. PMID: 26957283
[xvii] My Cleveland Clinic, Health, Diseases, Adult Jaundice. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15367-adult-jaundice
[xviii] Rachna Kapoor, Alayne Ronnenberg, Elaine Puleo, Robert Treat Chatterton, Joanne F Dorgan, Navindra P Seeram, Susan R Sturgeon. Effects of Pomegranate Juice on Hormonal Biomarkers of Breast Cancer Risk. Nutr Cancer. 2015 Oct ;67(7):1113-9. Epub 2015 Sep 1. PMID: 26327495
[xix] Animesh Mandal, Anupam Bishayee. Mechanism of Breast Cancer Preventive Action of Pomegranate: Disruption of Estrogen Receptor and Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling Pathways. Molecules. 2015;20(12):22315-22328. Epub 2015 Dec 12. PMID: 26703530
[xx] R Thomas, M Williams, H Sharma, A Chaudry, P Bellamy. A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial evaluating the effect of a polyphenol-rich whole food supplement on PSA progression in men with prostate cancer-the UK NCRN Pomi-T study. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2014 Mar 11. Epub 2014 Mar 11. PMID: 24614693
[xxi] Shahindokht Bassiri-Jahromi. (Pomegranate) activity in health promotion and cancer prevention. Oncol Rev. 2018 Jan 30 ;12(1):345. Epub 2018 Jan 30. PMID: 29441150
[xxii] Fuster-Muñoz E, Roche E, Funes L, Martínez-Peinado P, Sempere JM, Vicente-Salar N. Effects of pomegranate juice in circulating parameters, cytokines, and oxidative stress markers in endurance-based athletes: A randomized controlled trial. Nutrition. 2016 May;32(5):539-45. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.11.002. Epub 2015 Dec 7. PMID: 26778544.
[xxiii] A Urbaniak, P Basta, K Ast, A Wołoszyn, J Kuriańska-Wołoszyn, Ewa Latour, A Skarpańska-Stejnborn. The impact of supplementation with pomegranate fruit (Punica granatum L.) juice on selected antioxidant parameters and markers of iron metabolism in rowers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Jul 24 ;15(1):35. Epub 2018 Jul 24. PMID: 30041701
[xxiv] Martínez-Sánchez A, Alacid F, Rubio-Arias JA, Fernández-Lobato B, Ramos-Campo DJ, Aguayo E. Consumption of Watermelon Juice Enriched in l-Citrulline and Pomegranate Ellagitannins Enhanced Metabolism during Physical Exercise. J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Jun 7;65(22):4395-4404. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b00586. Epub 2017 May 26. PMID: 28513179.
[xxv] D Aboelsoued, F A M Abo-Aziza, M H Mahmoud, K N Abdel Megeed, N M T Abu El Ezz, F M Abu-Salem. Anticryptosporidial effect of pomegranate peels water extract in experimentally infected mice with special reference to some biochemical parameters and antioxidant activity. J Parasit Dis. 2019 Jun ;43(2):215-228. Epub 2019 Jan 14. PMID: 31263326
[xxvi] Tanner EA, Gary MA, Michalik S, Davis AA, McFarlin BK. Optimized Curcumin, Pomegranate Extract, and Methylsulfonylmethane Reduce Acute, Systemic Inflammatory Response to a Half-marathon Race. Altern Ther Health Med. 2020 Jul 1:AT6137. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32619204.
[xxvii] Yong Chool Boo. Can Plant Phenolic Compounds Protect the Skin from Airborne Particulate Matter? Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Sep 6 ;8(9). Epub 2019 Sep 6. PMID: 31500121
[xxviii] Naghma Khan, Deeba N Syed, Harish Chandra Pal, Hasan Mukhtar, Farrukh Afaq. Pomegranate fruit extract inhibits UVB-induced inflammation and proliferation by modulating NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways in mouse skin(†). Photochem Photobiol. 2011 Dec 19. Epub 2011 Dec 19. PMID: 22181855
[xxix] Mineka Yoshimura, Yuko Watanabe, Kouichi Kasai, Jun Yamakoshi, Takuro Koga. Inhibitory effect of an ellagic acid-rich pomegranate extract on tyrosinase activity and ultraviolet-induced pigmentation. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2005 Dec;69(12):2368-73. PMID: 16377895
[xxx] Lisbeth A Pacheco-Palencia, Giuliana Noratto, Lal Hingorani, Stephen T Talcott, Susanne U Mertens-Talcott. Protective effects of standardized pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) polyphenolic extract in ultraviolet-irradiated human skin fibroblasts. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 24;56(18):8434-41. Epub 2008 Aug 22. PMID: 18717570
[xxxi] Susanne M Henning, Jieping Yang, Ru-Po Lee, Jianjun Huang, Mark Hsu, Gail Thames, Irene Gilbuena, Jianfeng Long, Yunhui Xu, Esther HaeIn Park, Chi-Hong Tseng, Jenny Kim, David Heber, Zhaoping Li. Pomegranate Juice and Extract Consumption Increases the Resistance to UVB-induced Erythema and Changes the Skin Microbiome in Healthy Women: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 10 ;9(1):14528. Epub 2019 Oct 10. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-50926-2. PMCID: PMC6787198 PMID: 31601842
[xxxii] Peng Wang, Qiang Zhang, Huijuan Hou, Zhiyong Liu, Li Wang, Reyhaneh Rasekhmagham, Hamed Kord-Varkaneh, Heitor O Santos, Guangtao Yao. The effects of pomegranate supplementation on biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2020 Mar ;49:102358. Epub 2020 Feb 26. PMID: 32147056
[xxxiii] Mayo Clinic, Tests- Procedures, C-Reactive Protein Test, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-reactive-protein-test/about/pac-20385228
[xxxvi] Maressa Caldeira Morzelle, Jocelem Mastrodi Salgado, Milena Telles, Danilo Mourelle, Patricia Bachiega, Hudson Sousa Buck, Tania Araujo Viel. Neuroprotective Effects of Pomegranate Peel Extract after Chronic Infusion with Amyloid-β Peptide in Mice. PLoS One. 2016 ;11(11):e0166123. Epub 2016 Nov 9. PMID: 27829013
[xxxvii] Prabha Siddarth, Zhaoping Li, Karen J Miller, Linda M Ercoli, David A Merril, Susanne M Henning, David Heber, Gary W Small, Randomized placebo-controlled study of the memory effects of pomegranate juice in middle-aged and older adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 111, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 170-177, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz241
[xxxviii] Ahmed E Abdel Moneim. Evaluating the potential role of pomegranate peel in aluminum-induced oxidative stress and histopathological alterations in brain of female rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Dec ;150(1-3):328-36. Epub 2012 Sep 5. PMID: 22945624
Reproduced from original article:
- Astragalus supports kidney function during sepsis by helping to reverse kidney damage and improve biomarkers; it also improves biomarkers in people with chronic kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis
- Astragalus reduces inflammation, has a direct effect on the immune system and may help shrink solid tumors through pro apoptosis
- The herb reduces the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, can help lower blood pressure, improves heart function and helps reduce physical, mental and emotional stress
- Astragalus can interfere with certain medications and should not be consumed or taken as a supplement when you have certain health conditions. Consider all the contraindications to the herb before using it
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a flowering herb that was popularized in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) before being introduced to the Western world. Recent evidence suggests it may help protect kidney function in sepsis.1
According to the Sepsis Alliance,2 sepsis can trigger kidney damage and kidney damage can trigger the onset of sepsis. Kidney damage is among the first organs to be affected during sepsis. Up to 48% of all acute kidney injury is triggered by sepsis.3
During treatment for sepsis, doctors may use dialysis to help filter the blood if the kidneys are not working efficiently. How long a person may require dialysis will depend on the damage to the kidneys and the extent of the infection. In some cases, sepsis survivors will continue to need dialysis to treat lasting damage.
Sepsis is an extreme response to an infection that is present in the body.4 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,5 1 in every 3 people who die in the hospital has sepsis. The symptoms of sepsis may look like something else. It is vital that you recognize the potential symptoms and seek immediate medical attention as sepsis is life-threatening.
Conditions that raise your risk include diabetes, advanced age, chronic illness, cancer and chemotherapy and HIV infections.6,7 New evidence from animal studies suggests astragalus may play a role in preventing kidney damage from sepsis.8
Astragalus May Help Protect Kidney Function in Sepsis
The astragalus plant is native to China and has different names depending on the region where it’s harvested. A direct translation of the Chinese names is “yellow leader,” which the plant earned because of the distinctive yellow color of the roots, the most important part harvested for medicinal purposes.9
Astragalus is a popular herbal medication in Chinese medicine. However, there are several species of astragalus, some of which have a toxin that is linked to livestock poisoning.10 These species are not commonly used in human supplements, but it is wise to have your astragalus plant expertly identified before using the root at home.
Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) is a bioactive water-soluble compound extracted from the dried roots.11 Recently, researchers used APS in an animal model12 to test whether it was protective on induced acute renal injury like that seen with sepsis.
In lab studies, lipopolysaccharide-induced cell injury was used to establish a baseline model for sepsis-induced acute renal injury. Subsequently, experiments in mice found APS was able to reverse the induced kidney damage, which the researchers demonstrated by improvements in serum BUN and measurements of inflammatory and immune function mediators, such as tumor necrosis alpha and IL-1beta.
The results of the study supported past research evaluating APS after polymicrobial sepsis in an animal study.13 Herbal preparations have also been used for the treatment of chronic kidney disease. One study published in the Hong Kong Journal of Nephrology14 evaluated the use of astragalus in 35 patients with Stage 4 and 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The researchers estimated the glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) before starting treatment and again after treatment with astragalus. Three months of supplementation benefited those who were at Stage 4. The researchers found that it was able to “maintain stable levels of eGFR and delay the initiation of renal replacement therapy in patients with progressive CKD Stage 4.”15
Astragalus Supports Kidney Function
A unique medical complication of diabetes is diabetic nephropathy. This microvascular damage of the kidneys is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and edema.16 TCM practitioners have used astragalus membranaceus (AM) for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy (DN).
One study in the Journal of Diabetes Research17 sought to understand the pharmacological mechanisms involved. The analysis of the active ingredients found potential therapeutic targets including quercetin, calycosin, formononetin and 7-O-methylisomucronulatol.
The researchers concluded the multiple components and characteristics of astragalus may provide “a novel approach for further research of the mechanism of AM in the treatment of DN.”18
Scientists have been reporting19 and studying20 the positive effect astragalus has on diabetic kidney function to understand the mechanism of action, including improvement in glucose levels and renal function in diabetic animal studies.21
In a study22 of individuals undergoing continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), physicians had prescribed AM initially to support their general well-being and vitality. In a retrospective look at the data, it was discovered that those taking astragalus improve their residual renal function, which is important to the survival of those undergoing CAPD.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience acute kidney injury from the chemotherapeutic drugs. Cisplatin is a commonly used chemotherapeutic agent for solid tumors, which can induce acute kidney injury. One study23 published in Biomed Research International found astragalus polysaccharide had a protective effect against the cisplatin-induced injury in the lab and in an animal study.
Astragalus Reduces Inflammation and May Help Shrink Tumors
In TCM, astragalus is prescribed for general weakness and to improve overall vitality. In addition, the root compound has demonstrated antidiabetic activity, antiviral actions, immune modulation and anti-inflammatory properties.24
One study25 sought to understand the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of APS on intestinal health, using lab based cellular studies and an animal study. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) were used to stimulate intestinal epithelial cells. They found APS inhibited inflammatory markers and chemokines by activating an inflammatory pathway that was induced by LPS stimulation.
Prefeeding the experimental animals with APS alleviated inflammatory factors and improved the intestinal morphology. Astragalus has been actively investigated for clinical applications in the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancers. Another of the major constituents of AM are saponins extracted from the herb.26
They have a protective effect against gastrointestinal inflammation without major systemic side effects that experts suggest may help “in the battle against inflammatory diseases and cancers of the gut.”27 Traditional cancer therapies may be accompanied by immune suppression, which in turn raises the risk of metastasis.
The active ingredients in AM may help enhance shrinking or stabilization of solid tumors through a pro apoptosis effect, while avoiding side effects induced by chemotherapy. It also ameliorates immunosuppression and improves systemic immunity, which may make it a strong candidate for adjunctive therapy in cancer treatment.28
Health and Beauty Benefits of Astragalus
Yet, there are more benefits from this unassuming herb belonging to the legume family. Because it is rich in antioxidants, there are several studies that have suggested astragalus has cardiovascular benefits. One study29 found the flavonoid concentration in astragalus had a positive impact on the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Intravenous injections demonstrated the ability to improve heart function and reduce the symptoms of congestive heart failure.30,31 In one study32 of 92 people with ischemic heart disease, astragalus reduced symptoms of angina and improved heart rate. In an animal study,33 evidence suggested astragalus could improve the function of the heart and blood vessels.
In addition to reducing the inflammatory response, astragalus has a direct impact on the immune system. When astragalus extract was given to healthy adults it increased blood levels of IGM, IGE and cAMP.34
An herbal tincture demonstrated the ability to stimulate CD4 and CD8 T-cells35 and patients with viral myocarditis36 showed enhanced T3 and T4, suggesting to the researchers there was an improved immune response.
Each of the mechanisms affecting anti-inflammatory response may contribute to the antiaging properties attributed to astragalus.37 The herb is also known as an adaptogen,38 which means it helps reduce physical, mental and emotional stress. This may help contribute to improving your sleep quality.39
Contraindications for Use
Astragalus reduces inflammation and has a direct impact on your immune system. While this is beneficial for most people, those taking corticosteroids or medications to minimize organ transplant rejection should refrain from taking astragalus, since it interferes with the way these medications work.40
Since the herb makes the immune system more active, it is best to avoid it if you have an autoimmune disease, like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other immune system conditions. The same is true for people taking immunosuppressant drugs since astragalus may decrease the effectiveness of the medication.
Astragalus has a diuretic effect, increasing the excretion of urine. This can have an impact on how the body excretes lithium, increasing the amount of the drug in the body with serious side effects. Not enough is known about the mechanism of action, although some animal studies have suggested it could be toxic to pregnant women and their baby. It is wise to avoid using while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Astragalus may increase the risk of bleeding in people taking blood thinners, like warfarin.41 It may also lower blood pressure. Taken with high blood pressure medication, your blood pressure may get too low.
Although not an entirely popular choice in modern medicine, mounting scientific evidence suggests a lab generated variation may soon have a place within the pharmaceutical industry in the treatment of sepsis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Astragalus has been used for decades in traditional medicine. If you don’t have any contraindications, it may be worth considering incorporating astragalus to help maintain or improve your overall health.
- 1, 8, 12 Analytical Cellular Pathology, 2021; 2021: 7178253
- 2 Sepsis Alliance, February 25, 2019
- 3 Sepsis Alliance, Kidney Failure
- 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, What is Sepsis?
- 5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sepsis, Clinical Information
- 6 World Sepsis Day, FAQ, Are there any specific risk factors
- 7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, What is Sepsis? Who is at risk?
- 9, 24 Medicinal Plants in the Northwestern China and Their Medicinal Uses
- 10, 40 RxList, Astragalus
- 11 Frontiers in Pharmacology, 2020; doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020
- 13 Mediators of Inflammation, 2015; 826319; doi.org/10.1155/2015/826319
- 14, 15 Hong Kong Journal of Nephrology, 2012;14(1)
- 16, 17, 18 Journal of Diabetes Research, 2020; doi.org/10.1155/2020/5947304
- 19 Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, 2014;2014(1)
- 20 Chinese Pharmacological Bulletin, 2009;25(11)
- 21 Journal of International Medical Research, 2020;48(5)
- 22 Peritoneal Dialysis International, 2015;35(5)
- 23 Biomed Research International, 2020; doi.org/10.1155/2020/2851349
- 25 Journal of Cellular Physiology, 2020; doi.org/10.1002/jcp.29452
- 26, 27 American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2016;44(1)
- 28 Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2020;258:112797
- 29 Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2021; doi.org/10.1155/2012/282383
- 30 Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi, 2003;23(5)
- 31 Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2005;11(3)
- 32, 36 Alternative Medicine Review, 1998;3(5)
- 33 Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao, 2010;30(1)
- 34 Herbal Immunostimulants, 2003;2(3)
- 35 Phytotherapy Research 2006; doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1938
- 37, 39 NDTV Food, March 7, 2017
- 38 Mount Sinai, Astragalus
- 41 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Astragalus
Reproduced from original article:
by: Damon Hines, staff writer | April 3, 2021
(NaturalHealth365) In a recent interview with James Temple at the MIT Technology Review, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sanctimoniously declared that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.” The $133 billion dollar man’s pronouncement is a lot like Marie Antoinette’s famous decree, “Let them eat cake,” although the queen wasn’t a personal investor in French pastry companies like Gates is in tech-meat giants Beyond Meats and Impossible Meats. In his quest to “innovate in the food space” and avoid a climate disaster, Bill Gates overlooks the important details: synthetic, lab-grown Frankenfoods aren’t good for us and fixing the global food system, which has been broken by capitalism, with a “better,” more innovative form of capitalism isn’t the answer.
Bill Gates has a large investment ($75 million as of August 2017) in Impossible Foods and has partnered with Pat Brown, the California-based company’s founder, CEO, and geneticist, to spread the gospel of “fake farming” and lab-grown meat as a solution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. “It’s game over for the meat industry – they just don’t know it yet,” said Brown at the Web Summit Conference.
The mission of Bill Gates, Pat Brown, and Impossible Foods is to have genetically engineered, synthetic meat substitutes replace the use of animals by 2035.
Let them eat plants, not plant-based meats
Tech-meat titans are quick to point out that every time you eat an Impossible Burger instead of beef from a cow you are using 96 percent less land, 87 percent less water, and 89 percent carbon emissions (CO2). What they don’t tell you, however, is that the soy protein used in most plant-based meats is heavily processed and stripped from its natural, whole form.
According to Sara Keough, an Integrative Eco-Nutritionist, the soy found in many brands of artificial animal products is often genetically modified and grown with toxic pesticides. In fact, soy samples evaluated by the USDA Pesticide Data Program revealed 14 total toxin residues, including the herbicide glyphosate which is linked to numerous conditions such as cancer, immune dysfunction, and disruption of the human microbiome.
Bill Gates, Pat Brown, and the Silicon Valley food futurists also fail to address the following point: why spend millions of dollars “creating meat” out of countless genetically engineered products when you can simply stop eating meat, or make meat a treat, which is the model provided by Indigenous diets.
It’s not the Cow, it’s the How
Bill Gates is the biggest owner of farmland in America, which makes his synthetic beef pronouncement even more alarming. And to make matters worse, both Gates and Pat Brown believe that genetically modified seeds and chemical herbicides, in the right doses – and not land-intensive organic farming – are crucial to curbing carbon emissions.
Does the future of farming and food really need Bill Gates’ vision? We, at NaturalHealth365 say no! It needs agroecology and the redistribution of land and land use; it needs mindful diet practices and good consumer decisions. Are you looking for common sense and a better way to produce REAL food?
Just take a moment to listen to Joel Salatin, an American farmer and Jonathan Landsman, host of NaturalHealth365 talk about the healthiest way to produce food and to stay healthy.
And maybe all of us should tell Bill – with our purchasing power – what he can really do with is “fake meat” idea.
Sources for this article include:
Written by Brenton Wight, Health Researcher
Copyright © 1999-2021 Brenton Wight. All Rights Reserved.
This site is non-profit, existing only to help people improve health
Updated 2nd April 2021
Nightshade foods group are found in many diets, and include many healthy and nutritious foods.
For those with nightshade sensitivity, the side effects such as digestive and inflammatory problems can make life unpleasant.
What Are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshades belong to the Solanaceae family of vegetables.
The most common:
- Peppers, including chili pepper, paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes
- White potatoes
- Goji berries
Note that ordinary Black and White pepper (peppercorns) are a fruit, and NOT nightshades.
Nightshades contain good nutrients such as Vitamin C, antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals.
Why do Nightshades case problems?
Nightshades can cause inflammation, arthritis, or diabetes, due to the alkaloids contained.
Alkaloids contain nitrogen, and act as a natural insect insect repellent to prevent the plant.
In humans, these alkaloids interfere with the digestive system, leading to inflammation, intestinal disorders, and digestive upset, however some people can tolerate these foods with no problem, while others are sensitive and develop severe side-effects.
Leaky gut, where the small intestine barrier function does not operate effectively, may be caused or made worse by nightshades, then made chronic conditions even worse.
Nightshade foods may also aggravate arthritis due to changes in gut bacteria, and may also aggravate those with celiac disease.
Allergies to some nightshades such as itching, swelling, hives, breathing etc are yet another problem for some.
Symptoms of Nightshade Sensitivity
Some nightshade symptoms will be mild, some will be difficult to manage.
These are some common symptoms:
- Irritable bowels
- Nerve problems
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Acid reflux
- Leaky gut
- Autoimmunity or chronic conditions
- Trouble breathing (rare, but serious)
- Mouth swelling (rare, but serious)
It is often difficult to diagnose sensitivity to Nightshades.
Eliminating all nightshades from the diet for 30 days may help determine sensitivity if the symptoms improve.
It is then best to add one food back at a time, allowing a week or so for each.
Some react to one food, others react to all nightshades.
Adding them back in, one at a time, can help to identify if one nightshade is a problem, or if the whole category causes symptoms to return.
Must I Avoid Nightshades Forever?
Symptom severity may determine the likelihood of recovering from sensitivity.
Conditions such as chronic arthritis will take a long time to improve, even if Nightshades are eliminated for years.
Some people only react to a few such as tomatoes and/or potatoes.
Others find raw nightshades alright, but not cooked, or prepared in a different way.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Aim to eat more foods that reduce inflammation:
- Leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables
Substitutions for Nightshade Vegetables
Eliminating nightshades can be difficult because long-time favorites may be on the”NO” list.
However, there are food swaps that become the norm and even preferred after health improves from the change.
I was brought up on white potatoes, but sweet potatoes are not only much healthier, it is an easy swap.
We can also swap for cauliflower, turnips or parsnips, even if mashed. I hated these as a child, but these days I can eat almost anything as long as I know it is good for me.
Strawberries can replace tomatoes.
Pumpkin sauce and squash sauce can swap for tomato sauce.
A sauce made from beetroot (Beets in the USA) with radishes and watermelon can replace a tomato sauce.
Fish sauce, coconut aminos, oyster sauce, or Worcestershire sauce can also replace tomato sauce.
Capsicum (Bell peppers)
Celery and cucumbers can swap for capsicum (bell peppers in the USA).
When cooking, radishes, zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots can swap for capsicum.
Chili and Cayenne Pepper
Black pepper and white pepper are NOT nightshades, andto flavour meals, can be used along with turmeric, cumin, cloves, and ginger, to improve taste of nightshade-free foods.
Onion and garlic powder are beneficialas well as salt.
Portobello mushroom caps can swap for eggplant.
Reproduced from original article:
by: Lori Alton, staff writer | March 16, 2021
(NaturalHealth365) Heart disease, which claims over 655,000 lives every year in the United States, is the number one killer in the nation and the leading cause of death worldwide. While multiple factors contribute to heart disease, natural health experts and forward-thinking dietitians have long suspected that heavy consumption of refined grains plays a role.
In other words: you might want to think twice before having that doughnut. A just-published study in the British Medical Journal revealed that a higher intake of refined grains is associated with a substantially higher risk of major cardiovascular events – such as heart attack and stroke – as well as a higher risk of death from any cause. Over the past few decades, dietary intake of refined grains and added sugar has soared in countries around the globe. The bombshell study helps to “connect the dots” – and illuminates the life-shortening effects of refined foods on people worldwide.
Editor’s note: Heart disease now kills 31% of all people worldwide… and the root causes are NOT what you think! Click here to discover the truth inside the Cardiovascular Docu-Class, hosted by Jonathan Landsman, creator of NaturalHealth365
Shocking study finds 47 percent higher stroke risk with refined grains
The 16-year study, known as the Prospective Urban/Rural Epidemiology Study (PURE), involved over 137,000 participants in 21 different countries. The international team of researchers examined the diets of various populations in low-, middle- and high-income countries worldwide and categorized the daily consumption of refined grains by quantity.
The highest intake of refined grains was over 350 grams a day (about seven to ten servings), while the lowest category involved amounts under 50 grams a day.
More than seven servings a day raised the risk of stroke by a staggering 47 percent – and increased the risk of heart disease by 33 percent (compared to those in lower-consumption groups). Perhaps the most shocking finding was that more than seven servings of refined grains a day were associated with a 27 percent greater risk for early death. (Given the high proportion of refined grains in the standard American diet, it’s clear that many people in the United States meet this unhealthy mark daily!)
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Unsurprisingly, refined grains were also associated with higher systolic blood pressure.
Warning: Refined, processed grains are stripped of micronutrients and fiber
The researchers classified the grains into three categories: refined grains, whole grains, and white rice.
Refined grains are wheat grain products in which the bran (or aleurone fiber layer) and the germ have been removed. Refined grains have lower levels of fiber, which helps protect against cancer, and lower levels of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidant plant compounds.
Refined grains are absorbed quickly from the small intestine and can lead to post-meal blood sugar spikes and increased insulin concentration. They can also stimulate appetite and food intake. (In other words, these inferior foods can actually make you hungrier). Examples of refined grains include white bread, crackers, pasta, noodles, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, and baked goods such as croissants, cookies, and pastries.
Whole grains in the study included steel cut oats, oatmeal, cracked wheat, corn, cornmeal, bulgur wheat, barley, and products made with stone-ground whole grain flours such as wheat, maize, millet, and buckwheat. (Dark bread, such as pumpernickel bread, also made the grade because the grain still contains its original fiber).
White rice is technically a refined grain, but researchers considered it separately because it is a staple food in Asia, where 60 percent of the study population resides. In addition, between you and me, no flour product – even if it’s “stone-ground” or “organic” should ever be considered a “whole grain” product … but, that’s what conventionally-trained researchers tend to think. (unfortunately!)
Researchers: Both whole grains and white rice were “in the clear” when it comes to raising heart disease risk
Natural health experts say that white, processed rice – in which the fiber, husk, and germ have been removed – is nutritionally inferior to brown and wild rice. In fact, brown and wild rice contain much higher levels of disease-fighting nutrients, including B-complex vitamins, antioxidant vitamin E, iron, and dietary fiber.
However, in this study, at least, white rice got a clean bill of health from the researchers regarding raising the risk of major cardiovascular disease and early death.
Somewhat less surprisingly, whole grains were also found to have no adverse association with heart disease or early death.
Slashing your consumption of refined grains is a recipe for longer life and better health
The researchers reported that white bread appeared to be the biggest culprit in heart disease and early death. And they even had a formula for evaluating the harm. For every white bread-induced 200-calorie increase in the daily diet, the risk of mortality increased by 3 percent.
On the other hand, the team noted that switching to the Mediterranean diet (which involves far less bread made from refined grains) is linked with lower weight gain and less abdominal fat. They pointed out that these benefits could also occur because the antioxidant- and fiber-rich foods featured in this diet (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats) tend to have a lower glycemic index.
As natural health experts have been advising all along: the best policy is to drastically reduce or eliminate your consumption of overly-processed refined grains and strive for better-quality carbohydrates (hint: whole, unprocessed grains).
In other words: more millet or quinoa, less Danish pastries, and doughnuts.
Sources for this article include:
Reproduced from original article:
- Evidence from a recent animal study demonstrated how an ultraprocessed diet reduced total body and leg lengths, as well as weakened the structure of trabecular bone, increasing the risk of fractures
- Similar changes to trabecular bone are found in older adults with osteoporosis. Since bone formation continues through age 30 to 40, there is a potential risk that ultraprocessed foods may increase the risk of fracture in older adults
- These same foods impair your gut microbiome and increase your risk for infection and early death
- Ultraprocessed foods, which include chips, pizza, hot dogs, cereals and carbonated drinks, are also associated with cardiovascular diseases and death
Evidence suggests that eating ultraprocessed foods may have a negative effect on bone strength and increase the risk for fracture.1 Osteoporosis is the medical term that describes a loss of bone density and quality of bone as people age. It is a widespread and serious condition that increases the risk of a bone fracture, which is especially problematic for older people.
Evidence suggests that individuals who have an osteoporotic hip fracture have a higher risk of mortality in the following years.2 Researchers have found variables that increased the risk of mortality included age over 75, mild to severe liver disease, heart failure, diabetes and hearing impairment. Statistically, of the people over age 50, about 50% of women and 25% of men will suffer a fracture at some point before the end of their life.3
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “For women, this is equal to the risk of getting ovarian, breast and uterus cancers combined.” There are many factors that contribute to the development of osteoporosis, including age, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and a suboptimal diet.4 Bone loss is a side effect of some medications or can result from the loss of hormones after menopause.
Other modifiable risk factors include a vitamin D deficiency and a lack of exercise. Eating a diet high in ultraprocessed foods is the very definition of a suboptimal diet. A study5 published in BMJ Open found that ultraprocessed foods made up 57.9% of all calorie intake and 89.7% of calories that came from added sugar.
Not only do ultraprocessed foods increase the risk for obesity,6 but they also raise your risk for other conditions including cancer7 and diabetes. Yet, food manufacturers have discovered that many people eating a Western diet cannot get enough of them. However, the effect ultraprocessed foods have on bone development is a relatively new discovery.
Ultraprocessed Food May Slow Growth and Weaken Bones
In a 2021 study published in Bone Research,8 scientists investigated the effect ultraprocessed foods would have on skeletal development using an animal model. There were two study groups, one which received a diet similar to the standard Western diet high in ultraprocessed foods and soft drinks, and the other, a standard rat diet.
The animals were given unlimited access to food and drink for six weeks, during which the researchers measured body weight and total body, femur and lumbar vertebral length. The animals were 3 weeks old when the trial started, which represented the six-week growth period before sexual maturation.
The results revealed that weight gain was lower, and total body and leg lengths were also significantly shorter, in the group eating ultraprocessed foods as compared to the control group. Although growth was underdeveloped in the experimental group, these animals ate significantly more calories. This suggested to the researchers that an ultraprocessed diet stunts growth, but not because of a caloric deficiency.
The NOVA classification system9 splits food into four different categories beginning with unprocessed or minimally processed foods. These are foods you would typically find around the outside aisle at the grocery store such as vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products. They are the basis of what you would use to make food at home.
Group 2 includes processed culinary ingredients that you would use to season or add to unprocessed foods. For example, this group includes honey, salt and oils. Group 3 includes processed foods that have two or three ingredients that may be used to season or preserve the product. For instance, they include canned and bottled vegetables, salted nuts, cured meats and cheeses.
Finally, Group 4 contains ultraprocessed food and drink products, which are the majority of foods found in convenience stores. These typically have five or more ingredients and include carbonated drinks, ice cream, chips, breakfast cereals, energy bars, powdered or fortified meals, and ready-to-eat products such as pizza, chicken nuggets and instant soups and desserts.
Exposure in Adulthood May Increase Risk of Fracture
Additionally, the vertebra and femoral bones were scanned to examine trabecular and cortical bone properties.10 They found that the trabecular bone parameters in the experimental group were inferior when compared to the control group.
Bone volume fraction had decreased significantly when measured at six weeks and again at nine weeks during the intervention. The mean trabecular number and thickness in the femoral bone were also lower. Additionally, they found that trabecular separation was significantly higher in the experimental group when measured at six weeks and nine weeks during the intervention.
This number represents the mean distance between the trabeculae. These findings indicated an increased risk of fracture from poor bone development, and interestingly are some of the same findings in aging bone. The role of trabecular atrophy, as indicated by the reduction in number, thickness and increased separation, has a direct relationship on the strength of the bone and the resistance to fracture.11
In one study where researchers evaluated trabecular bone in older adults, they concluded it was “unlikely that treatment would replace trabeculae that have been removed or would restore biomechanical strength to the skeleton.”12 In the human skeleton, the trabecular bone is surrounded by a dense outer shell of cortical bone.
The proportion of the two varies depending on the location in the body. The trabecular bone has a network of rods and plates that are integral to bone strength. In fact, this architecture is “significantly stronger than an equal mass of solid bone.”13
Although the featured animal study demonstrated poor structural development of the trabecular bone in the femur and vertebra during growth before sexual maturity, it is important to note that new trabecular bone formation continues until a peak bone mass is achieved from age 30 to 40 years in men and women.14 This raises the question of how ultraprocessed foods affect the risk of osteoporosis in older adults.
Ultraprocessed Foods Impair Your Gut Microbiome
Ultraprocessed foods are aggressively marketed by food producers as they are highly profitable. Yet, as outlined in The BMJ following the release of two studies finding an association between ultraprocessed foods and the risk of death and cardiovascular diseases:15
“… packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, ready meals containing food additives, dehydrated vegetable soups, and reconstituted meat and fish products — often containing high levels of added sugar, fat, and/or salt, but lacking in vitamins and fiber … account for around 25-60% of daily energy intake in many countries.”
Past studies have also linked this food group to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.16 These are comorbid conditions that increase your risk of severe disease with COVID-19.17 The basis for these metabolic and health changes may reside in the gut.18
Science continues to reveal the vital effect that your diet has on your gut microbiome, and your gut microbiome’s ability to ward off disease.
Gut microbiome diversity with healthy microorganisms is better able to support your immune system. This has become increasingly important according to Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College in London, as COVID-19 has spread across the world. Writing in The Conversation, Spector says:19
“The immune system is complex and highly responsive to the world around us, so it’s not surprising that many factors affect its function. What’s important to know is that most of these factors are not hard-coded in our genes but are influenced by lifestyle and the world around us.
As well as mounting a response to infectious pathogens like coronavirus, a healthy gut microbiome also helps to prevent potentially dangerous immune over-reactions that damage the lungs and other vital organs. These excessive immune responses can cause respiratory failure and death …
The fine details of the interactions between the gut microbiome and the immune system are not fully understood. But there seems to be a link between the makeup of the microbiome and inflammation — one of the hallmarks of the immune response. Gut bacteria produce many beneficial chemicals.”
Mexico Uses a Unique Strategy to Lower Obesity Risk
As I mentioned, individuals with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity are at greater risk of severe COVID-19 illness. And, the evidence clearly indicates that a diet rich in ultraprocessed, convenience foods contributes to those conditions. In late 2020, parts of Mexico took an unprecedented stance in protecting their youth.
Lawmakers in several states pushed legislation that would ban the sale of junk food to anyone under 18. The first legislature to pass the ban was in Oaxaca, followed closely by Tabasco.20 Magaly López, a lawmaker in Oaxaca’s Congress, commented on the move to a reporter from NPR,21 “I know it can sound a bit drastic, but we had to take action now. The damage of this kind of diet is even more visible because of the pandemic.”
It’s interesting paradox that an infectious disease that disproportionately affects those with obesity and cardiovascular disease is what may lead to better recognition and action against ultraprocessed foods when these same conditions have contributed over the past decade to many of the top 10 leading causes of death.22
Mexico also instituted a food warning label on packaged foods that are high in sugar, trans fats, saturated fat and calories. Businesses had only until December 1, 2020, to add those warning labels to avoid fines.23
As Reuters reports,24 these new warning labels and bans on junk food met with “super-sized opposition” from the U.S. and EU. Mexico consumes more processed foods than any other Latin American country and is the fourth largest consumer in the world.
Mexico took the labeling law one step further, saying that any product “containing caffeine and sweeteners must bear warning labels that they should not be consumed by children, and products with warning labels cannot include children’s characters, animations, cartoons, or images of celebrities, athletes or pets on their packaging.”25
Ultraprocessed Foods Raise Risk of Death
In the first of two studies26 published in The BMJ that linked ultraprocessed foods with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death, researchers concluded that consuming four or more servings of ultraprocessed foods daily was independently associated with a 62% relative increase in the risk of death from all causes and for every additional serving the risk rose again by 18%.
In the second study,27 data revealed eating ultraprocessed food increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, even after adjusting for known confounding factors and second analysis.28 Through a variety of mechanisms, junk food can destroy your metabolism and affect your appetite control.
As detailed in “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food,” your body is designed to naturally regulate how much you eat and the energy you burn. However, manufacturers have figured out how to override your intrinsic control by engineering foods that are hyper rewarding.29
This stimulates such a strong response in your brain that it becomes easy to overeat. Some of the most addictive junk foods on the market are potato chips, which hit all three bliss points: sugar from the potato (and sometimes from added sugar), salt and fat.30
It is likely not a coincidence that as ultraprocessed foods have become a norm for many Americans, so have chronic illnesses. The food you eat is a key factor that determines health and longevity. I believe that eating a diet of 90% real food and 10% processed foods is achievable for most and it could make a significant difference in your weight and overall health, including your bones.
To help you get started, you’ll find more information and suggestions in “Processed Foods Lead to Cancer and Early Death.” To address your gut microbiome, in addition to eliminating ultraprocessed foods and eating primarily whole foods, traditionally fermented foods and probiotics are the best routes to optimal microbiome health.
Healthy fermented choices include lassi (an Indian yogurt drink), fermented, grass fed organic milk (kefir), fermented soy or natto and different types of pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots. For more information and tips on how to make fermented foods at home, see “Flavorful Fermented Foods Have Healing Properties.”
- 1, 8, 10 Bone Research, 2021;9(14)
- 2 Journal of Orthopedic Surgery and Research, 2019;14(203)
- 3, 4 National Osteoporosis Foundation, Bone Basics
- 5 BMJ Open, 2016;6:e009892
- 6 Cell Metabolism, 2019;doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008
- 7 The BMJ, 2018;360:k322
- 9 World Nutrition, 2016;7:1
- 11, 12 Bone, 1987;8(3)
- 13, 14 Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology, 2018;4(12)
- 15 The BMJ, May 29, 2019
- 16 Nutrition Journal, 2020;19(86)
- 17 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 22, 2021
- 18 Nutrients, 2019;11(10)
- 19 The Conversation March 19, 2020
- 20, 21 NPR, September 14, 2020
- 22 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leading Causes of Death
- 23, 25 Mexico News Daily, March 2, 2021
- 24 Reuters, August 11, 2020
- 26 The BMJ, 2019;365:l1949
- 27 The BMJ, 2019;365:l1451
- 28 CNN, May 30, 2019
- 29 Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 2011;4:140
- 30 Metro, May 22, 2017
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Ronnie Cummins March 07, 2021
- The Billion Agave Project is a game-changing, ecosystem-regeneration strategy adopted by several innovative Mexican farms in the high-desert region of Guanajuato
- The system produces large amounts of agave leaf and root stem — up to 1 ton of biomass over the 8- to 10-year life of the plant
- When chopped and fermented in closed containers, this plant material produces an excellent, inexpensive (2 cents per pound) animal fodder
- This agroforestry system reduces the pressure to overgraze brittle rangelands and improves soil health and water retention, while drawing down and storing massive amounts of atmospheric CO2
- The goal of the Billion Agave campaign is to plant 1 billion agaves globally to draw down and store 1 billion tons of climate-destabilizing CO2
The Billion Agave Project is a game-changing, ecosystem-regeneration strategy recently adopted by several innovative Mexican farms in the high-desert region of Guanajuato. With your support, we’ve been the primary group to donate to Organic Consumers Association supporting this crucial project that is now proven to green arid regions and provide both food and income for some of the world’s most challenged farmers.
This strategy combines the growing of agave plants and nitrogen-fixing companion tree species (such as mesquite), with holistic rotational grazing of livestock. The result is a high-biomass, high forage-yielding system that works well even on degraded, semi-arid lands. A manifesto on mesquite is available in English1 and Español.2
The system produces large amounts of agave leaf and root stem — up to 1 ton of biomass over the 8- to 10-year life of the plant. When chopped and fermented in closed containers, this plant material produces an excellent, inexpensive (2 cents per pound) animal fodder.
This agroforestry system reduces the pressure to overgraze brittle rangelands and improves soil health and water retention, while drawing down and storing massive amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).
The goal of the Billion Agave campaign is to plant 1 billion agaves globally to draw down and store 1 billion tons of climate-destabilizing CO2. The campaign will be funded by donations and public and private investments.
Agave plants and nitrogen-fixing trees, densely intercropped and cultivated together, have the capacity to draw down and sequester massive amounts of atmospheric CO2.
They also produce more above-ground and below-ground biomass (and animal fodder) on a continuous year-to-year basis than any other desert or semi-desert species. Agaves alone can draw down and store above ground the dry-weight equivalent of 30 to 60 tons of CO2 per hectare (12 to 24 tons per acre) per year.
Ideal for arid and hot climates, agaves and their companion trees, once established, require no irrigation and are basically impervious to rising global temperatures and drought.
Livestock Feed Source
Agave leaves, full of saponins and lectins, are indigestible for livestock. However, once their massive leaves (high in sugar) are chopped finely via a machine and fermented in closed containers for 30 days, the end product provides a nutritious and inexpensive silage or animal fodder.
This agave/companion tree silage, combined with the restoration of degraded rangelands, can make the difference between survival and grinding poverty for millions of the world’s small farmers and herders.
Agaves require little-to-no irrigation. They thrive even in dry, degraded lands unsuitable for crop production because of their Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthetic pathway.
The CAM pathway enables agave plants to draw down moisture from the air and store it in their thick leaves at night. During daylight hours, the opening in their leaves (the stomata) closes up, drastically reducing evaporation.
A New Agroforestry Model
A pioneering group of Mexican farmers is transforming their landscape and their livelihoods. How? By densely planting (1,600 to 2,500 per hectare), pruning and intercropping a fast-growing, high-biomass, high forage-yielding species of agaves among preexisting (500 per hectare) deep-rooted, nitrogen-fixing tree species (such as mesquite), or among planted tree seedlings.
When the agaves are 3 years old, and for the following five to seven years, farmers can prune the leaves or pencas, chop them up finely with a machine, and then ferment the agave in closed containers for 30 days, ideally combining the agave leaves with 20% of leguminous pods and branches by volume to give them a higher protein level.
In Guanajuato, mesquite trees start to produce pods that can be harvested in five years. By Year 7, the mesquite and agaves have grown into a fairly dense forest. In Years 8 to 10, the root stem or pina (weighing between 100 and 200 pounds) of the agave is ready for harvesting to produce a distilled liquor called mescal.
Meanwhile the hijuelos (or pups) put out by the mother agave plants are being continuously transplanted back into the agroforestry system, guaranteeing continuous biomass growth (and carbon storage).
In this agroforestry system farmers avoid overgrazing by integrating rotational grazing of their livestock across their rangelands. They feed their animals by supplementing pasture forage with fermented agave silage.