HEALTH TIP: Even though diet sodas have ZERO calories, the artificial sweeteners (like Aspartame) tend to trigger more communication in the brain’s “pleasure center” while not providing the brain with actual satisfaction. Since your brain is not satisfied, the result is that you will crave MORE sugar, MORE carbs, and MORE calories. Result: Diet sodas will make you FAT! A recent 10 year study at the University of Texas showed that people who drink 2 or more diet sodas per day had a 500% greater increase in waist size (compared to non-diet soda drinkers)! So, not only is Aspartame (formerly on a Pentagon list of biowarfare chemicals – until the FDA approved it for our food) an excitotoxin, which means that it excites brain cells to death, and not only does it cause brain tumors, strokes, heart attacks, skin disorders, and seizures, but now we have proof that it actually makes you fatter! If you absolutely must have a “soda”, try making your own with club soda and fruit juice.
HEALTH TIP: No other fruit screams “SUMMER” like a subtly crunchy, thirst-quenching, lip-smacking watermelon. That triangular wedge of bright red/white/green, sweet juiciness is enough to make the children jump for joy! Originating in Africa, watermelons were first cultivated in Egypt and were held in such regard that they were actually placed in the tombs of many Egyptian kings. All over Egypt, testaments to their legacy were recorded in hieroglyphics painted on building walls. I’m not surprised that this juicy fruit (92% water) played such an important role in Egypt and the other Mediterranean countries, since water was often in short supply in these areas, and people could rely on watermelon to quench their thirst and provide essential nutrients to keep them alive. Watermelons were brought to China around the 10th century and then to the Western Hemisphere shortly after the discovery of the New World. In Russia, where much of the commercial supply of watermelons is grown, there is a popular wine made from this tasty fruit.
Watermelon is not only great on a sweltering summer day, but this delectable thirst-quencher may also help quench the inflammation that contributes to conditions like diabetes, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and even cancer. Here’s why. Watermelon contains some of the most important antioxidants in nature, such as vitamin C (which boosts the immune system), vitamin A (which maintains eye health), and vitamin B6 (which helps brain function). Watermelon is also a very concentrated source of the carotenoid, lycopene. Well known for being abundant in tomatoes, lycopene is also present in high amounts in watermelons. As a matter of fact, watermelon has the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable! Lycopene has been widely studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. In contrast to many other food phytonutrients (whose effects have only been studied in animals), lycopene has been studied extensively in humans and found to be protective against prostate, lung, colorectal, endometrial, and breast cancer. Lycopene has also been shown to help prevent heart disease.
Watermelons are also rich in electrolytes (sodium and potassium), thus this “wonder fruit” nourishes your body by not only replacing the electrolytes lost through sweat but also by hydrating your cells and maintaining the water balance within the cells. This increase in cellular function, in turn, boosts the metabolism and energizes the body. It appears that citrulline, found in watermelon, reacts with the body’s enzymes and is changed into arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart and the circulatory and immune systems. Arginine is a precursor for nitric oxide, which helps maintain arteries, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular function. And because this “wonder food” has a higher water content and lower calorie content than many other fruits (a whole cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories), it delivers more nutrients per calorie . . . an outstanding health benefit!
I’m constantly amazed at how much JUNK the typical child eats today. I coach little league baseball, and during the games while in the dugout, it’s not uncommon for the boys to constantly eat candy (licorice, lollipops, gummi bears, jawbreakers, etc) which are all chock full of HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP! No wonder the typical child today is obese!
Do your kids a favor… get rid of the candy and sweets and help them form good eating habits that will last the rest of their lives. One good way to do this is to gradually remove the candies and desserts from your diet and begin integrating healthy substitutes. Two amazingly refreshing summer snacks made from watermelon are watermelon smoothies and watermelon pops. For the smoothies, cut up a watermelon into small pieces and remove the seeds. Take about 2 cups of watermelon and put in the blender. Add a cup of frozen strawberries and about a half cup of yogurt or kefir (or almond milk) and a little honey (to taste). If you want it a bit thicker, add a frozen banana. Blend and enjoy. For the watermelon pops, just cut a watermelon into bite sized pieces, remove the seeds, and stick a toothpick in them and freeze. Enjoy!
Interestingly, the quantity of carotenoids from watermelon (particularly lycopene and beta-carotene) increases if the watermelon is stored at room temperature, according to a recent USDA study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
HEALTH TIP: The medicinal powers of garlic have been used by herbalists for centuries. As a matter of fact, there has been more written about the wonderful benefits of garlic than any other food source known. Its history dates back 3,500 years. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was the first to write that garlic was an excellent medicine for eliminating tumors. The Codex Ebers, an Egyptian medical papyrus dating to about 1,550 B.C., mentions garlic as an effective remedy for a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, headache, bites, worms, and tumors.
Recent studies on garlic have shown that it kills insects, parasites, bad bacteria, and fungi. It also eliminates various tumors, lowers blood sugar levels, lowers harmful fats in the blood, and prevents clogging of the arteries. Researchers have also shown that allicin (the organic compound which gives garlic its aroma and flavor) acts as a very potent antioxidant.
It has been discovered that the diallyl disulfide in garlic reduces the formation of carcinogens in the liver. (Cancer Research, 1988; 48:23) Dr. Sujatha Sundaram, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University, found that diallyl disulfide caused human bowel cancer tumor cells to shrink and die when transplanted into mice. The first scientific report to study garlic and cancer was performed in the 1950’s. Scientists injected “allicin” (an active ingredient in garlic) into mice suffering from cancer. Mice receiving the injection survived three times longer than the other mice. Many studies have shown that “allyl sulfur” (another active ingredient in garlic) is effective in preventing cancer and tumor development. In addition, ajoene, another major compound of garlic, has been shown to induce apoptosis in human leukemic cells. (Dirsch VM et al, Molecular Pharmacology, March 1998)
Painful ear infections and earaches drive millions of Americans to doctors’ offices every year. Erase earaches with “garlic oil”! Because it is easy to keep a supply of fresh garlic in the refrigerator and extra virgin olive oil on the countertop, it is simple to make a home remedy to treat ear infections and earaches. How do you make the remedy? To whip up your own garlic oil, simmer 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic in ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil for 3 minutes. Strain and then refrigerate for up to 10 days. To use the infusion for an ear infection, ask the individual to lie with the painful ear facing upwards. Drop a few drops of the warm oil infusion into the ear and gently place a piece of cotton in the ear to keep the oil from running out. Have the individual lie like this for at least 10 minutes. The treatment can be repeated as needed for several days, if necessary. Do NOT place liquids in an ear if you suspect there may be a broken eardrum.
This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription drugs, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria. Garlic also contains vitamin A which helps to repair damaged cell tissue in the ear and to strengthen the auditory nerve. For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in the ear canal.