By Natural Advocate | November 30, 2009 - 11:26 am - Posted in Alternative & Herbal Health News, Foods

As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to limit sugar in our diet. Sugar intake, especially refined sugar, and excess unhealthy carbohydrate intake, can lead to weight gain and obesity, diabetes, and sugar is even suspected to fuel cancer cells and provide instant food for them, making it easier for them to live unencumbered in the body.

But now there is yet another reason to limit the tasty and many times addictive sugars from your diet. Excessive sugar intake can lead to early and accelerated aging skin. The reason for this is that glucose, which all sugar is converted into in the body, is an active agent in providing the breakdown proteins for collagen, that all important connective fiber that keeps our skin smooth and supple and makes it so that wrinkles do not form on the skin.

The reason we have such nice, smooth skin when we are younger is because age has not yet begun to break down this natural connective fiber in our skin, and so our skin is more “filled out” and tough, and it does not show wrinkles as readily. So, when you consume more sugar, you accelerate the breakdown of collagen in your skin, and you are essentially damaging your skin. This is why many people who over consume sugar tend to look older, with more sallow and wrinkled skin at an earlier age.

Not only do we have several health reasons for not consuming sugar, but apparently now also you can enjoy nicer skin from limiting your sugar intake. Heck, if it doesn’t appeal to your sense of well being and health, maybe it will appeal to your sense of vanity, I know for me it appeals a little to both :)

By Natural Advocate | November 28, 2009 - 3:06 pm - Posted in Foods

When it comes to giving up all meat AND all dairy products, most Americans would scoff at the idea, as these two foods, along with starches like breads and pastas, are the staples of the American diet. However, I think that a lot of us really overlook the health benefits that can be garnered by giving up these two ridiculously delicious foods when we consider what it might be like to not eat them any more. I think that not only do we think about giving up the tastes and smells of these popular foods, but we also feel like giving up these foods might somewhat socially isolate us or put the spotlight on us in social eating situations.

I for one, know that it feels a bit awkward when you are in social situations and you are eliminating certain foods that happen to make an appearance in a lot of recipes in the American diet and at a lot of restaurants that serve American style food, unless of course you’re in the Pacific Northwest or west coast communities where vegan foods are popular.

It really makes you realize that there is a lot of socialization that goes on around food here in the US, and how that may be a major reason for our obesity epidemic. The benefits of the vegan diet have been shown to help lower cholesterol, which makes sense if you think about it since high fat dairy foods are pretty much one of the biggest forms of cholesterol known to man, think of the incredible edible egg.

Not only that, but meats are also high in cholesterol if they are one of the ones that is higher in fat, such as a fatty cut of steak of other type of beef, or lamb, or bacon or sausage (both derived from pork, lean cuts of pork, however, are comparable to chicken cuts with how lean they are).

Recently, Dr. Oz, of Oprah fame, had a cowboy who loved meat and dairy go on a vegan diet for several days, and not only did he lose weight pretty quickly, but he also lowered his cholesterol and no longer needed his diabetic medication reportedly. This goes to show the power of eliminating certain foods from your diet, or at the very least, reducing them to almost negligible amounts in the diet, and this will help to immensely lower your rates of certain diseases, and regulate your blood sugar too, apparently!

By Natural Advocate | November 26, 2009 - 11:32 am - Posted in Medical News

There has been a lot of attention focused on the transmission of, and the prevention of this transmission of, communicable diseases, infections and illnesses in hospitals and other health care facilities due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus and the flu and cold season in general. Hand sanitizer and even surgical masks have been flying off the shelves of drugstores in record numbers because people are concerned for themselves and their families in this germ season, and with the added threat and unknowns of the swine flu (H1N1), it’s all that much more important to protect yourself.

A website and organization came to my attention that works on preventing HAI’s, or Healthcare Associated Infections. They want to spread the word about how important it is to take certain precautions if you are a healthcare worker or a patient in one of these facilities, so that we can help to prevent the unnecessary spread of infections in the very places where we go to get treated and get well, our hospitals and other facilities which treat disease and other infections.

The website is, and it has videos and other educational and informational literature on how people can help raise awareness of this problem and help to prevent it from happening. The World Health Organization estimates that at any given time, an estimated 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infections they got at a health care facility, so this problem is pretty serious and deserves attention. The US is on the lower spectrum because we are a developed country, however, third world and under developed countries have the higher rates of infections that are spread in hospitals due to the lower standards of care and lower tech and less clean facilities that they are forced to work with due to lack of funding.

Not only can HAI’s add immensely to the already astronomical cost of healthcare, which ultimately trickles down to us all when you come right down to it, but it also results in almost 100,000 deaths here in the US alone per year. Those numbers are staggering, and to me they were very surprising and helped to raise my awareness of the importance of this issue. It looks like HAI Watch is funded by Kimberly Clark as part of a public service campaign to help educate health care workers on a continuing basis about the most updated protocols to prevent HAI’s.

By Natural Advocate | November 24, 2009 - 7:22 pm - Posted in Foods

There is new and interesting research out on an herb that most of us love to use in our cooking, or maybe I’m being too presumptuous because I love to use it a lot, but I’m talking about garlic.  Not only is this bulb plant easy to grow and cheap to buy, but it is used in thousands of recipes, and tons of different ethnic recipes, ranging from Indian and Mexican food to American and Italian food.  It’s truly one of the most diverse herbs, and that is evident in the amount of recipes this little pungent herb can be found ground, flaked, dried or infused in.

Research has shown that garlic has heart protective effects, however, new research shows that only freshly ground garlic that is not cooked or dried has the most benefits when it comes to heart health. In other words, putting freshly ground garlic OVER your food instead of cooking it into your food or using it when dried, may have immense health benefits that you were not aware of. They say that dried and cooked garlic still does retain it’s antioxidant benefits though, but there is an important chemical process that does not occur when the garlic is dried or cooked that forms a gas that helps the cells to communicate to one another.

Garlic is also a great natural blood thinner, which is why many heart patients like to use it for their heart and circulatory health.  We all know that blood that does not move easily through the body can cause problems ranging from (ultimately) a heart attack, to a stroke.  One of the things I like to do with garlic that would fit this newly discovered attribute of eating it raw for optimum benefit, is to grind some up in my garlic grinder, and put it in my olive oil and vinegar based dressings for my salads.

This way, you are still eating the garlic fresh and without being dried, and you are also not heating it, so it maintains this beneficial gaseous component that the research has indicated has benefits.  Garlic tastes great in so many dishes that it’s easy to incorporate it into any meal, and although incorporating it in the raw may be a little more challenging, there are lots of ways you can find to do this also, just learn to be creative with your meals, and you’ll think of something!

By Natural Advocate | November 22, 2009 - 4:34 pm - Posted in Medical News

Apparently flu mania has struck. Ever since the swine flu was announced as this season’s “epidemic” people have been rushing to get swine flu shots, buying stores out of bacterial sanitizers for the hands and other things like rubber gloves that help prevent transmission of germs, and it seems like we’ve gone all out into a germophobe mentality.  I’ve seen many retail store workers with rubber gloves on even, and while I commend them for taking precautionary steps, I wonder if their glove wearing may not be a little bit of overkill and if they might catch something a little less ominous than the swine flu anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against prevention, in fact that’s the majority of what I write about and study, however, I think that there are way better solutions to helping your body fend off and resist the flu and colds than simply preventing their transmission. Things like keeping your immune system in working order and making sure it’s in top condition, keeping your moods stable which helps to keep your immunity up, and eating a lot of the right foods which help to fend off the bad germs, I think those are the right things to do, not go on some vendetta against touching people or coming into contact with large quantities of people at social gatherings – that I think goes overboard a bit and take the focus off the right ways of preventing infections and getting over them quickly when they are picked up.

One thing I can tell you that helps your immune system is to make sure you avoid stress a lot.  Stress is one of the main things that can compromise your immune system, and so is lack of sleep, so not getting sleep and being stressed out are pretty much a deadly cocktail when it comes to suppressing the immune system from working properly.

You’ve probably noticed this happening to you at some point.  Have you noticed a stressful, non sleeping time of your life, when you seem to pick up a lot more bugs than usual?  There’s more than just coincidence to it, your immune system is reacting to it and you’re picking things up and prolonging them much more easily.

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