Menopause Support: Cinnamon’s Benefits

Menopause Support: Cinnamon’s Benefits

Cinnamon Health – Yep, the list is endless

Expert’s Name: Suzanne Monroe

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices derived from the bark of three evergreen trees belonging to the Lauraceae family. The bark from the trees contains essential oils that penetrate three active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances. Cinnamon’s distinctive health benefits are drawn from the tremendous rate of antioxidant activity and anti-bacterial properties stemming from the essential oils. The benefits are endless by just adding a pinch, stick, or capsule of cinnamon to your everyday foods. Knowing cinnamon has been around since biblical times many remedies have developed.

Natural Healing with Cinnamon

Recent studies in a respected diabetes journal linked adding ground cinnamon to your meal or two capsules daily helped reduce blood sugar, LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and increased natural levels of insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes. Also, for anyone trying to lose weight can benefit from lowering their blood sugar levels and fight off hunger with cinnamon. Try it with peaches, sweet potatoes, apples, or you can even sprinkle it on your cottage cheese.

Fight the common cold with just two ingredients, cinnamon and water. Just add one cinnamon stick to two cups boiling water, remove stick, pour in cup, relax and sip. If you would like more flavor than add your hot cinnamon water to a cup of green tea and enjoy! You can have this remedy cold too, just soak two-three sticks in cold water for about three hours and sip. These two brilliant drinks will defiantly sooth that itchy throat and annoying cough that your cough drops can’t even control.

Toothaches can be complete torture for many, and the painful throbbing persistent aching can be treated effectively with this home remedy. For those willing to try, simply add one teaspoon of cinnamon to five teaspoons of honey to make a pain-relieving paste. Applying the paste directly on the affected tooth 2 to 3 times daily will be the most beneficial.

Rough, cracked, itchy, tired feet are very common, especially with the skin changes that occur during menopause due to changes in hormone levels. Keep your feet smooth, fresh and energized by adding 2 tablespoons of cinnamon to your current foot treatment, soak for 15 minutes, and feel better about showing off those tootsies.

Be smarter with cinnamon? Yes, when chewing cinnamon gum or even the energizing scent acts as a brain stimulant, a memory pick-me-up, and tension reliever. Studies conducted and in progress, have proved that this brain boosting spice will improve test anxiety, alertness, and memory loss in the elderly.

Cinnamon doesn’t stop there. Try it to help these common problems:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood Circulation
  • Indigestion
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Breath Fresheners
  • Perfumes
  • Breastfeeding

 

Cinnamon and Menopause

Peri-menopausal and menopausal women know that your menstrual cycle can begin to become unpredictable and chaotic during these years. Cinnamon supports the uterine muscle fiber making it beneficial specifically for menopausal women. Cinnamon helps with spotting, can help to regulate the menstrual cycle and even relieve cramps. Don’t forget that cinnamon is also a natural way to help reduce your sugar cravings, possibly helping to ward off unwanted weight gain.

What to Look For

You can buy cinnamon in four forms: ground, sticks, capsules, or oil. Cinnamon oil may lead to irritations and allergic reactions, so it is not strongly recommended. Capsules are easier to measure and great for those preferring not to taste the spice. Also, cinnamon sticks last up to one year, and ground last about six months. So, if you thought cinnamon is just for your apple cider, pumpkin pie, or the well-known cinnamon roll, think again. This spice is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the grocery aisle.

Health Benefits of Chocolate

Health Benefits of Chocolate

Is Chocolate Good for You?

Expert’s Name:  Stephanie Ackerman

 

I Love Chocolate

I admit it, I am a chocoholic. I love chocolate – Chocolate Bars, Cocoa, Truffles, Cakes, Shakes, Cookies. You name it, if it is chocolate, I love it. I used to eat all chocolate, dark, white, milk and raw. The sweeter the chocolate, the better; that meant that I was often eating white or milk chocolate which is higher in sugar and milk then dark chocolate.
Once I entered peri-menopause, I started feeling sluggish and gained weight; I cut back on my processed sugar intake drastically. But how could I cut out my simple pleasure, that luscious friend of mine; chocolate? I learned that dark chocolate was healthy and I made the switch. I have been a big supporter and consumer of dark chocolate for the past five years, and now the taste of milk and white chocolate is too wickedly sweet to eat.

What Makes Dark Chocolate Healthy

I jumped for joy when the news came out trumpeting the health benefits of eating dark chocolate. For peri-menopausal women, dark and raw chocolate offers many nutrients beneficial to good health. Now my sneaky little secret of hiding chocolate in my drawers didn’t have to be so clandestine.   First off, when I refer to dark chocolate, I am referring to the cocoa content.    The higher the cocoa content, the healthier the chocolate is. Dark chocolate is made from the cocoa bean, which comes from the fruit of the cacao tree.
Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods that release certain health benefits. Flavonoids have antioxidants called catechins and phenols. Antioxidants eat away at free radicals, which damage cell molecules that can lead to heart disease, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other diseases. Antioxidants can help reverse these diseases as well as cancer, tooth decay. It has been shown that a small bar a day can reduce the bad cholesterol, LDL, up to 10%. Phenols help prevent fat like substances in the blood stream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries.
Raw cocoa has the most antioxidants than any other food in the world. It has two times the amount of antioxidants found in red wine, four times the amount found in tea, and eight times the number found in strawberries. Cocoa is also a good source of the minerals magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese; plus some of the B Vitamins.
Dark and raw chocolate have other wonderful side effects. Chocolate has always been given as a gift of love and for good reason. It is an aphrodisiac. Plain and simple, chocolate makes us feel good. It contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants; it contains serotonin which increases feelings of joy; and it stimulates endorphins, giving us feelings of pleasure. Ah yes, my little guilty daily pleasure is healthy!
The more processed the chocolate is, the less flavonoids they contain. Most chocolates are roasted, fermented, or alkalized. Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of flavenoids after processing. Raw chocolate is the healthiest and is getting easier to find in health food stores. Dark chocolate is low on the glycemic index, which means it does not cause a spike in your blood sugar.
Now of course, dark chocolate has calories, so you must eat in moderation.   Experts recommend eating 3 oz. per day, or roughly 150-200 calories and cutting that same amount from another snack that doesn’t have the same powerful health benefits. If you are buying a processed chocolate, look for one with a cocoa content of 70% or higher. Avoid dark chocolate with caramel, marshmallow, nougat which add more calories and fat with no additional health benefit. Dark chocolate with berries add additional antioxidant power.
There are many brands on the market to enjoy. Have fun exploring new options of chocolate from around the world. Experience new flavors; just make sure you look for raw or dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Bon Appétit!
(Written while eating 3 squares of endangered species 72% dark chocolate with cranberries and almonds, approximately 87 calories)

Menopause Mood Swings: Are you Out of Control?

Could your Eating be Linked to your Menopause Depression?
Expert’s Name:  Lisa Enslow

We all know how diet can affect our physical health, but we don’t always acknowledge the huge impact diet has on our emotional health. Our food affects our energy level, mood, sleep, ability to handle stress, cravings, and more.   Food and mood are really intertwined: eating poorly can lead to mood swings, problems with concentration, fatigue, and anxiety, and in turn those emotions will often trigger a desire for food choices that artificially lift the mood like caffeine and sugar! Once we are in the cycle, it is hard to identify that food is the culprit and equally hard to break out of the negative food/mood pattern.

Building Awareness of Food/Mood Connection

Food can have an immediate effect on your mood. What you eat for breakfast controls how alert your mind will be, how soon you will be hungry and how much energy you will have during the morning.   In fact, each time you eat you are influencing the quality of your time following the meal. What kind of day you have depends on what you put into your body!

A great first step to uncovering the connections between food and mood is to keep a food diary for a week. In addition to recording what you eat, make sure you record your mood when you became hungry AND for the 2 hours or so after you ate. You may begin to see patterns emerge and realize some foods are not serving you well  Becoming aware of these connections is a powerful step in making changes to improve the quality of your food and your mood!

How Food Affects Mood

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are responsible for many mood disturbances.   After eating anything sweet (and many foods contain sugar) you get an initial burst of energy (high blood sugar) which is followed by a feeling of lethargy and flatness (lower blood sugar than before you ate the sugar). Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, or baked goods also create blood sugar spikes because they are metabolized into sugar quickly and have the same effect. This blood sugar roller coaster can contribute to mood swings, depression or extra sensitivity to stress.

Other factors that can affect mood are food allergies or intolerances to types of food such as dairy or gluten, or a state of nutrient deprivation resulting from an overall poor diet.

How to Eat for Your Moods
  • Eat at least every 4 hours, or even every 2-3 hours.
  • Stay away from foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates (like white bread, white rice, white pasta, cookies, cakes and other baked goods).
  • Fiber is helpful as it slows down the absorption of sugar and therefore minimizes the blood sugar highs and lows. Examples of fiber are fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
  • Protein also helps slow down the impact of sugar, and provides a sustained energy source which discourages mood swings. Find protein in fish, lean meats, eggs, nuts and seeds.
  • Treats, such as chocolate (especially dark chocolate!) can be enjoyed in small amounts. Enjoy the food you eat and don’t feel guilty about it.
Fiber Benefits

Fiber Benefits

What is Fiber?   A Natural Menopause Treatment?
Expert’s Name:  Robin Pruitt

We all know that fiber is important for proper digestive function. We see lots of advertisements for an array of fiber supplements to promote “regularity” and reduce cholesterol. But did you know that a high-fiber diet can ease menopause symptoms and reduce the risk of breast cancer?

Fiber Removes Excess Estrogen

During menopause, the ovaries’ production of estrogen is reduced, but their production of progesterone stops completely. The result can be a hormonal imbalance in which estrogen is dominant. Excess estrogen has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, high blood pressure, gallstones and liver problems, and can cause mood swings and suppress thyroid function.

Dietary fiber binds to and helps the body eliminate excess estrogen. Thus, it is no surprise that high-fiber diets have been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer as well as other forms of cancer. Additional dietary fiber also alleviates constipation, reduces cholesterol levels, modulates blood sugar and reduces the risk of gallstones.

There are two forms of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Each plays a different role. Insoluble fiber speeds up the transit time through the intestinal tract, helps relieve constipation and binds to toxins for removal through the colon. Soluble fiber slows stomach emptying time, which makes us feel full helps control weight. Soluble fiber also helps control blood sugar levels by slowing the release of glucose into the blood stream.

Simple Ways to Get More Fiber

Sure, you could just take a fiber supplement to get the benefits of fiber. But fiber supplements don’t contain any nutrients and many of them are loaded with artificial coloring and sweeteners. Why take a fiber supplement when whole, plant-based foods are loaded with fiber and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, not to mention delicious flavor?

Getting enough dietary fiber doesn’t have to be difficult. If you ate the following each day, you’d get almost 30 grams of fiber, compared to the daily average of only 12-15 grams. (The bonus items add even more!):

—A bowl of oatmeal or kasha and a piece of whole fruit for breakfast.

Bonus: add 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds for an additional 3.3 grams of fiber plus a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

—With lunch, have a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and olives and some carrot & celery sticks.

—A mid-afternoon snack of a piece of whole fruit or a small handful of nuts

Bonus: a fruit & greens smoothie is refreshing and delicious and provides approximately 10 grams of fiber!

—With dinner, have a salad—change the dressing for variety—or a leafy green vegetable.

Bonus—adding cooked beans and whole grains to the meal can add approximately 12 grams of additional fiber!

There is no need to worry about which foods contain which type of fiber. If you eat a variety of whole foods, you’ll get plenty of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Increase your fiber intake gradually to allow your body to adjust, and drink plenty of fluids because fiber needs water to do its job.