This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Category Archives: food and culinary

What Is the Microbiome?

The human body is a complex, interconnected ecosystem and the gut is where your body interacts the most with the outside world. Your gut acts acts as the frontline of your immune system, as it is constantly exposed to new microbes and molecules that come from the things you eat and drink. The processes that take place in the gut are involved in the central nervous system, brain, and even influence your mood. But you can’t begin a discussion about the gut’s importance without discussing the organisms that live there.

So, What Is the Microbiome?

The collection of microbes that live in and on the human body is known as the microbiota.[1] The microbiome refers to the complete set of genes within these microbes. Microbial genes significantly influence how the body operates and even outnumber human genes by a ratio of 100:1.[2] Each of us has a unique microbiota and a unique microbiome. The microbes that live in your body are determined by what you’re exposed to and these colonies are constantly in flux. Geography, health status, stress, diet, age, gender, and everything you touch all affect the composition of your microbiota.[3]

Public Health, Germ Theory, and the Microbiome

Scientists have known about microorganisms for hundreds of years. In 1673, Antony van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society of London about his discovery of tiny “animalcules” with the use of his “microscopes.” Leeuwenhoek found microbes almost everywhere he looked,[4] but the discovery was largely ignored until the 1870s when their role in the cause and spread of disease was observed. Previously, doctors believed that bad air caused disease. Robert Koch proved that tiny microorganisms were responsible. His discovery solidified the validity of germ theory—the idea that certain microbes cause specific diseases.[5]

Germ theory created a scientific rationale for cleanliness that became the precursor to it becoming a moral and social imperative. People began bathing daily. Soap, once considered a luxury, became a basic household necessity. Doctors and surgeons started washing their hands and sanitizing their instruments.[6] New laws led to public health initiatives that limited the spread of disease and saved lives.[6]

Until recently, scientists focused almost solely on how pathogenic microbes negatively affect humans. There has since been a realization that some microorganisms are actually beneficial to human health.[7] More attention is now given to the microbiome and its role in health and immunity.[8] Launched in 2008, The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was created to better understand the relationship between health, disease, and the microbiome.[9]

The Makeup of the Microbiome

The microbiota is comprised of a dizzying number of microorganisms. Bacteria make up the bulk—about 30-50 trillion cells.[10] The human body itself contains about 37 trillion human cells.[11] It may be disconcerting to think of yourself as mostly microbial cells, but, by weight, you’re definitely mostly human as microbial cells are significantly smaller than human cells. Bacterial cells range from 0.2-10 microns (micrometers) across; human cells range from 10-100 microns.[12] For reference, the average dust mite, which is microscopic, is 200-300 microns wide.

If you’ve seen the oft-quoted 10:1 ratio (10 microbes to 1 human cell), you might be surprised to learn that it was actually just an estimate that circulated throughout academic and scientific resources as fact. It is now regarded as academic urban legend.[13]

It’s believed that humans carry about three pounds of bacteria in their intestines.[14]Everyone’s individual microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint and comprised of hundreds of different types of bacteria.[15] The specific number of bacteria cells varies throughout the day and is always turning over.[16]

Although bacteria account for most of the mass of the microbiota, viruses are actually the most abundant inhabitants.[8, 17] We tend to think of viruses as harmful, but that’s not always the case. The viruses found in the gut are primarily bacteriophages, meaning that they infect gut bacteria cells but they don’t necessarily harm them. Rather, they have a symbiotic relationship. Viruses can quickly transfer genes—beneficial genes. So, if new bacteria are introduced to your gut, either through diet or probiotics, the viral cells can help the bacteria thrive by transferring the genetic code.[18]

The Role of the Human Microbiota

The role of the microbiome is so central to the body’s operations that it essentially acts as an organ.[18] The microbiome impacts aging, digestion, the immune system, mood, and cognitive function.

Some of the bacteria in the gut produce enzymes that support digestion, especially the digestion of polysaccharides—healthy and complex sugars found in plant foods.[19] These bacteria also provide B vitamins, vitamin K, and short chain fatty acids. The microbiota also influences metabolic rate.[20]

A strong microbiome is the foundation of your immune system. When you were born, your gut was a clean slate, ready to learn.[21] Exposure to microbes provides the education that trains the immune system how to respond to different organisms. In this way, the immune system mediates the relationship between the body and the microbes it hosts.[21] Harmful organisms are dealt with, helpful organisms exist in harmony and contribute to good health overall.[22]

Research has also revealed the important role the microbiome has on mental health. There is a complex relationship between the gut and brain, called the gut-brain axis (GBA). The microbiota interacts with the central nervous system to regulate brain chemistry and mediate stress response, anxiety, and memory.[23]

How Is the Human Microbiota Formed?

It’s generally agreed that the human body is first exposed to microbes during birth.[18, 24] The makeup of the mother’s vaginal microbiota changes during pregnancy and is extremely influential.[25] Babies born vaginally are colonized primarily by the Lactobacillus genus of bacteria. Newborns delivered by Caesarean section are exposed to skin microbes such asStaphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium.[26] Whether the baby was born at home or the hospital can also affect the composition of the baby’s microbiota.[3]

As babies grow, their microbiome will change. In the first few months of life, the body is colonized by relatively few species of microbes—only about 100. By the age of 3, a child’s microbiota possesses closer to 1000 species of microbes and begins to resemble the microbiota of an adult. Puberty and, much later, menopause are two other life events that can significantly change the composition of the microbiota.[3]

The Bacteria in Your Gut Microbiome

Microbiome composition may vary throughout the intestines; most are concentrated in the large intestine. The bacteria in the average adult gut include Bifidobacterium,Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, Clostridium, Escherichia, Streptococcus, and Ruminococcus. Not only will diet influence the microbial composition of the microbiota, the microbiota influences the nutritional value of food.[27] Though specific bacteria vary, they share many of the same genes.[28]

Humans do not have the ability to produce the enzymes required to break down complicated nutrients. However, gut bacteria do have that ability and it’s absolutely essential for proper digestion. Bacteria enable us to eat a diverse diet and receive a broad range of micronutrients and phytonutrients.[29]

Supporting the Microbiome

Your microbiome is constantly changing.[1] You rely on your microbiome for many processes, including digestion and immune system function; the stronger it is, the better off you’ll be. To positively shape your microbiome, eat a diverse diet rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber.[30] Probiotic supplements can also help strengthen the microbiota. Choosing the best probiotic supplement is a whole other subject but, bottom line, the best probiotic supplements contain an assortment of probiotic strains andprebiotics. Prebiotics are food that help probiotics flourish.

Tips To Make Healthy, Natural Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is creamy, versatile, delicious, and it’s an awesome substitute for nut butter. This recipe from Oh She Glows is more than just plain ground sunflower seeds—it also features cinnamon, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. It tastes amazing!

As a great source of fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals, sunflower seeds are one of the healthiest seeds. Half a cup provides vitamin E,[1] B6, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc.[2] Some research suggests sunflower seeds are a heart healthy functional food because they contain phytosterols, phytonutrients that promote normal cholesterol levels.[3]

Sunflower Seed Butter Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 16 ounces

Equipment

  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper (optional)
  • Food processor or blender
  • Spatula

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of organic, raw, unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut (palm) sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic unrefined coconut oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan crystal salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread sunflower seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper) and place in the oven. Seeds are ready once they have a golden hue, about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Watch closely so they don’t burn.
  3. Allow roasted seeds to cool a few minutes, then pour into food processor. Discard any burnt seeds.
  4. Process seeds on high until they have a loose, grainy consistency, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to push the powder down. Add coconut oil in dollops and process until fully combined, about 2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula. Evenly add remaining ingredients to the food processor. Process for 2-4 minutes. The sunflower seed butter will look chunky at first but will get smoother the longer it’s processed. Process the mixture until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape butter into an airtight container and refrigerate for about 2 hours before using (it will remain spreadable). The sunflower seed butter will stay fresh for about two months in the refrigerator.

The Relation Between Meat Consumption and Cance

One of the central philosophies of Global Healing Center is an adherence to a raw, organic, vegan diet. It’s also one of the most controversial. There are many reasons to adopt a vegan diet, such as religious beliefs, a desire to not harm animals, or simply to support one’s health. While we at Global Healing Center do love our animal friends, the reason we promote this lifestyle is because of the health benefits. One of the greatest health benefits of a vegan diet is a decreased risk of many types of cancer.

Meat Is Carcinogenic

There is a strong, well-documented, well-established relationship between the consumption of animal products and many types of cancer. An exhaustive nutritional study involving over half a million people found that those who eat large amounts of meat, particularly red and processed meat, faced a significantly higher cancer risk.[1]

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), processed meat is a carcinogen and red meat is “probably carcinogenic.”[2] Before you think this is fringe science or a new theory, consider that the American Cancer Society recommends that you limit your consumption of red and processed meat and other sources of high-fat protein, including chicken.[3]

The cancer risk from a diet high in animal protein (20%+ of total calories) is now considered to be on par with smoking. Unsurprisingly, a diet high in plant protein shows no such effect. This could be because plant-sourced protein does not stimulate growth hormones, like IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), animal protein does. [4]

IGF-1 in Meat Assists Tumor Growth

IGF-1 is a growth factor that promotes cell division in the body, which is a great thing if you’re a growing child. In adults, however, excess IGF-1 in the body can encourage the growth of tumors. The higher the levels of this hormone, the greater the risk of developing several types of cancer. IGF-1 helps transform normal cells into cancerous cells by both inhibiting normal cell death and stimulating cell division.[4, 5] These corrupted cells then metastasize to other areas of the body.[6]

Of course, there are other factors that promote cancer in the body. Methionine, an amino acid found primarily in animal products, promotes the growth of tumors and cancer.[7] It’s not only animal protein that elevates your cancer risk, however.

Saturated Fat Increases Cancer Risk

Consuming saturated fat from animal sources contributes to common types of cancer and decreases the likelihood of surviving a cancer diagnosis.[8] Pancreatic, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer show the strongest correlation with saturated fat consumption.[9]

  • The saturated fat found in dairy and red meat increases your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.[10, 11, 12]
  • A diet high in saturated fat from foods like beef and cheese is linked to aggressive prostate cancer.[13]
  • Breast cancer risk and mortality increase with red meat and dairy consumption.[14]Survival rates actually dip significantly with high saturated fat intake after a breast cancer diagnosis. Alarmingly, animal product consumption during adolescence seems to predict breast cancer risk years before cancer development and diagnosis.[15, 16]
  • Up to 50% of all cases of colorectal cancer can be attributed to diet and lifestyle, specifically the consumption of dietary fat, red and processed meat, and dairy.[17] In fact, higher consumption of animal products before diagnosis predicts a higher risk of dying from this type of cancer.[18]

Meat and Pediatric Cancer

What a mother eats during pregnancy can increase or decrease the risk of the child developing some types of childhood cancer. Genetic changes linked to cancer can begin in the womb.[19]

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is both the second most common childhood cancer and the second most common cause of mortality for children under 14. The risk of developing ALL is linked to maternal smoking habits[20] and the type of protein the mother consumed while her child was in utero. Eating plant-based protein such as beans, vegetables, and fruit during pregnancy seems to lower the risk of children developing this disease.[21,22]

Brain tumors, which account for 20% of the cases of childhood cancer, are linked to maternal diet during pregnancy.[23] In particular, the consumption of cured meat and sausage seems to significantly increase the risk of brain tumors.[24, 25] Consuming dairy or eggs while pregnant also boosts the risk of the child developing brain tumors. Conversely, a diet high in grains, fresh fish, and cruciferous and yellow-orange vegetables reduces the risk of developing brain tumors.[26]

Lifestyle Is Key to Prevention

Many complex and interconnected factors such as genetics, environment, exposure to hazardous material, and diet determine your cancer risk. Genetics play a significant role but, unfortunately, there’s not a thing any of us can do about the genes we’re born with. Nutrition, however, is something most of us can control. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer is to follow a raw, organic, vegan diet.

If you absolutely cannot go all vegan, you should, at least, reduce your consumption of meat and dairy. Baby steps are an effective way to elicit change. Start by going completely meatless one day a week. After a month of “Meatless Mondays,” add a “Fruitarian Friday” or “Salad Sunday” to the mix. Continue in this manner until you feel comfortable with a primarily plant-based diet. To help, we have many healthy and delicious vegan recipes that include everything from complete dishes to sides and even desserts.

Going vegan will not guarantee that you’ll never develop cancer but it is a strategy that can help reduce your risk.

The Efficient Absorption of Nutrients

Bioavailability is the proportion of a nutrient the human body is able to absorb and use. You might think that when you eat an apple every iota of vitamin A, every antioxidant, and every mineral it contains is used by your body with total efficiency, but that’s not exactly the case.[1]

Bioavailability and Nutrient Absorption in the Body

Digestion is the mechanism by which the human body processes the nutrients from food. Digestion is a complex sequence of events and small inefficiencies can lead to larger problems down the line. Enzymes, organ health status, and even how well you chew your food can affect digestive system efficiency. How well the digestive system operates can directly affect the bioavailability of the nutrients in food, and, in turn, affect important processes like enzyme production and organ function. It’s all interconnected.

Before the body can use a nutrient, it must separate that nutrient from the food it’s contained within. This process begins in the mouth with chewing and is assisted by the enzymatic action of saliva. It continues in the digestive tract where food is broken down into macronutrients and micronutrients. Nutrients are absorbed by the intestinal lining, transferred into the bloodstream, and distributed for use or storage.[2]

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients

Nutrients can be separated into two basic categories—macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and dietary fats. They’re required in large amounts and necessary for tissue growth and providing the body with energy.[3]Macronutrients are highly bioavailable and may be up to 90% utilized.

Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and certain phytochemicals; examples include iron, iodine, vitamin A, and folate.[4] The bioavailability of micronutrients varies widely.[5] Though the body only needs them in trace amounts, they’re critical.[6, 7]Enzymes and hormones are responsible for the body’s most important processes. Imagine the negative health effects if micronutrients weren’t available to facilitate enzyme or hormone production.

Of all the micronutrient deficiencies, magnesium seems to be the most widespread. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to problems such as diabetes, hypertension, dementia, and osteoporosis.[8, 9, 10, 11]

Factors That Affect Bioavailability

Nutrient bioavailability may vary from one person to the next. Two different people can consume the exact same nutrient in the exact same form yet their bodies may absorb and use different quantities of that nutrient. There are a multitude of factors that influence individual absorption. In the case of vitamin B-12, if a person lacks intrinsic factor, a protein in the gut that helps the body absorb and use vitamin B-12, the vitamin will simply pass right through. Other factors that affect bioavailability include…

Digestive Disorders

Because bioavailability is heavily dependent upon the digestive process, a digestive system operating at less than optimal efficiency may not be, and probably isn’t, able to fully absorb and use all the nutrients it encounters. Nutrients in food may be absorbed at a rate as low as 20% or as high as 98%.[12] Crohn’s, IBS, and other inflammatory bowel conditions can severely impact the body’s ability to capture nutrients.

Age

Age is among the most influential factors that affect bioavailability.[13] Unfortunately, at least half of the children worldwide age 6 months to 5 years suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.[14] Without the right micronutrients in the right amounts, development can be affected and early infancy (0-6 months) and childhood (6-24 months) are two of the most critical periods of development. It’s one more reason to encourage breastfeeding; human breast milk is naturally rich in bioavailable nutrients.[15]

Supportive Nutrients

Some nutrients, when consumed together, support each other’s bioavailability. For example, calcium is best absorbed when it’s consumed alongside magnesium. Consumingvitamin C with plant-based, iron-rich food enhances the bioavailability of iron. This is why a varied, balanced diet is so beneficial; a variety of foods equates to a diverse selection of micronutrients that support and enhance each other.[16]

Orotates, which are highly bioavailable natural salts, were described in the 1970s by German researcher Hans Nieper. He recognized orotates as a component of a natural system of electrolyte carriers responsible for distributing minerals throughout the body.[17]Binding dietary minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, lithium, and calcium to orotic acid can improve their bioavailability.[18]

Conversely, some micronutrient combinations interfere with each other. Tannins, which are polyphenols present in tea and wine, reduce the absorption of iron.[19] Found in nuts and seeds, phytic acid is an antinutrient that binds to nutrients and blocks absorption.

Why Is Bioavailability Important?

Bioavailability has an especially big impact on cellular metabolism. Your body has an incalculable number of cells and each of those cells is a living, breathing, functional organism with a metabolism and a purpose. Red blood cells have a different function than lung cells, which have a different function than brain cells. What all those cells have in common, however, is that they need the right nutrients in order to do their job.

Real Nutrition vs. Synthetic Nutrients

Whole, real, organic food is the best source of nutrition. A properly balanced diet should provide all the macronutrients and micronutrients the body requires. It sounds simple but it will require planning and won’t happen by accident. Sometimes, life gets in the way and rigorous adherence to a balanced diet isn’t completely achievable at all times. While they’re not a replacement for food, nutritional supplements can help fill the gap between the nutrients you consume and the nutrients your body needs.

The best nutritional supplements offer plant-sourced nutrients. There is a difference between the vitamins and minerals naturally found in an orange, and the vitamins and minerals synthetically produced in a lab and used to fortify cereal. I only recommend organic, food-sourced supplements made in the United States by reputable brands who are transparent about their methods and adhere to the highest industry standards.

The Secret To Health

To learn more about cultivating a clean, healthy body, check out The Secret to Health. Recorded live in Houston, it’s my seminar that teaches the importance of complete nutrition and how regularly cleansing your body can help you get the most nutritional value from your food.

Ketogenic Fast for Rapid Weight Loss

Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best ways to support your overall health. Excess body fat increases your susceptibility to serious conditions like type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, sleep apnea, fatty liver, cancer, and joint problems.[1] Many fat-loss fads, diets, and pills come and go, and very few yield lasting results. Adopting a ketogenic diet is one strategy for losing fat that’s tried, tested, and proven effective.

Knowing this, I began my research into improving the typical ketogenic diet. People who are familiar with my work know that I’m always trying new cleanses, detox programs, and diet plans in my ongoing quest to discover new ways to improve my health. I kept coming across the many benefits of fasting, and I thought, “Why not combine principles of fasting with the best elements of a ketogenic diet and enjoy the best of both?”

What Is a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a diet that provides fat and protein, but few or no carbohydrates. The body prefers glucose and glycogen, both derived from carbohydrates, as its primary source of fuel and it generally operates in a sugar-burning state known as glycolysis. Depriving the body of carbohydrates, however, forces it to use stored fat for energy. This special fat-burning mode, known as ketosis, quickly burns through fat reserves. It takes about 24-36 hours to completely burn through the glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. The catch? The body tells the brain to refuel on carbohydrates when blood sugar dips. In other words, your appetite kicks in and you feel hungry. This physiological response makes it a challenge for many people to adhere to a ketogenic diet long enough to enter ketosis.

What Is Fasting?

Fasting means avoiding food for longer stretches of time than usual, generally 12 or more hours. You may do this inadvertently if you ever skip breakfast or can’t fit lunch into your schedule. Fasting may support a healthy metabolism, encourage stable blood sugar, promote normal blood sugar, and offer other benefits for overall wellness.[2] There are many ways to fast. True, or absolute, fasting means completely abstaining from eating and drinking for a set period. Water or juice fasting allows for the consumption of certain fluids during the fast. Some people have the misconception that fasting is total starvation, but fasting is not starving—it’s simply committing to eating in accordance with a more regimented schedule.

Dr. Group’s Ketogenic Fast: The Best of Both

Both fasting and following a ketogenic diet prompt the breakdown of fat and encourage thebody to detoxify itself. Many of the worst toxins are stored in fat cells. When the body burns through fat reserves, toxins are released and expelled. And, not only does a ketogenic fast encourage the body to enter fat-burning mode, it discourages the body from storing new fat. This understanding prompted me to combine principles of fasting with a ketogenic diet to develop my 5-day, vegan ketogenic fast.

Many ketogenic diets advocate the consumption of animal-based fat and protein. But, that sort of diet increases your risk of kidney stones, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.[3, 4]Conversely, a low-carb, plant-based diet is incredibly beneficial for overall health and wellness.[2] I constructed this ketogenic diet to be vegan and based it around nuts and fatty fruits like olives, coconut, and avocados—all of which provide fatty acids, fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients.

A ketogenic diet can boost overall wellness. Studies have found that people who follow a ketogenic diet experience better, more stable moods.[5] Some individuals report feeling profoundly happy, peaceful, and at ease.[6] There’s also evidence to suggest that fasting promotes good physical health at the cellular level.[7, 8]

Can Turmeric Support Gut Health?

The innumerable health benefits of turmeric may seem like a recent discovery, but it has a long history in the Ayurvedic tradition, especially for digestive and gut health. In fact, this brilliant gold spice has been appreciated in India for over four thousand years. When used in conjunction with other bioactive herbs, turmeric encourages normal digestion and regulates digestive hormones, bile, and gastric acid.[1, 2]

Traditional Therapeutic Uses of Turmeric

Many of the recent headlines pertaining to turmeric focus on its effects on inflammation and cancer. However, in India and other South Asian countries, there is a well-established history of using turmeric for a wide range of traditional remedies. In Nepal, powdered turmeric root is applied to bruises, wounds, swollen joints, and sprains. Indian folk medicine prescribes turmeric for respiratory and liver health, and to stimulate appetite.[3]The benefits of turmeric are largely owed to a powerful class of antioxidants called curcuminoids, collectively referred to as curcumin, and turmeric is the only source.

Effects of Turmeric on the Gut and Digestive System

The idea of gut health might bring to mind images of probiotic supplements or fermented foods. Those are applicable but there are a lot of different ways to promote gut health, and it seems that consuming turmeric is one of them. The clinically established benefits of turmeric extend throughout the body, and it has specific actions that support gut and digestive health.

Turmeric and the Intestines

Curcumin supports digestion by relaxing the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and gently pushing digested food through the intestines. It also discourages gas and bloating.[3]

Turmeric and the Colon

A healthy, well-balanced colon is essential to gut health, digestive tract comfort, and the growth of beneficial bacteria. Curcumin facilitates balance between the microbiota and the immune response in the colon.[4]

Curcumin encourages the colonic crypts—glands on the inner surface of the colon—to regenerate and heal.[4] This can be especially beneficial when leaky gut or hostile organism overgrowth are present.

Curcumin suppresses EGR-1, a protein that may allow damaged DNA to get coded. In other words, curcumin acts as the quality control agent and ensures that cells replicate proteins properly.[5] Further, curcumin drives apoptosis—the body’s natural method of recycling old, worn out cells.[4]

Turmeric and the Stomach

Turmeric offers a multi-tiered approach to protecting the integrity of the stomach lining. First, turmeric inhibits enzymes that compromise stomach health.[6] It also boosts the secretion of stomach mucous—the primary defense against damage from gastric acid and other irritants.[4]

It’s also worth mentioning that, in animal models, curcumin disrupts the growth of harmful organisms and eradicates them from the body while helping to repair the stomach lining.[2]

Turmeric and the Liver

In the liver, turmeric helps increase cholesterol elimination by boosting bile production.[6]There are a number of ways to encourage normal cholesterol levels and consuming foods that help your body use its cholesterol stores is one of them. Combining regular turmeric consumption with fiber-rich meals even more effectively cleanses your system of cholesterol by trapping and ushering it to the colon for elimination.[7]

Curcumin also protects liver cells from damage caused by toxins such as peroxide, galactosamine, tobacco smoke, and household chemicals.[3]

Turmeric, Digestive Wellness, and Gut Health

Turmeric’s therapeutic value makes it a natural choice for supporting gut and digestive health. There’s no shortage of scientific evidence supporting the link between a healthy gut, a robust microbiome, and overall well-being.

This connection inspired us to combine our best gut health supplements into one comprehensive kit—the Gut Health Kit™. It’s your ticket to complete gut health in just 30 days. The Gut Health Kit will cleanse, balance, and support your gut, and strengthen your microbiota. Optionally, you can add Global Healing Center’s Liquid Turmeric Extract to the kit for an extra, digestive-health boost.

What Are Micronutrients? A Review of Essential Nutrients

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals required by your body. Unlike macronutrients, you only need minuscule amounts of micronutrients to maintain good health. Micronutrients are essential to the production of enzymes, hormones, proteins, and other products created by your body. Some micronutrients have a specialized role, while others fulfill a broad range of functions.

Micronutrients are incredibly important for health and wellness. Mineral deficiencies can have lasting, detrimental health consequences in children and adults of all ages. Unborn children and older adults are especially susceptible to micronutrient deficiencies, which is why many nutritional supplements are optimized for specific age groups and many staple foods, like flour, are fortified with vitamins and minerals.

However, you might be surprised to learn that food fortification can be misleading as it’s often accomplished with synthetic vitamin variants. These manufactured vitamin forms often lack the cofactors and nutrients required for proper absorption in the body. As always, it’s best to obtain naturally occurring vitamins and minerals from quality, whole-food dietary sources to ensure your body can properly utilize these essential nutrients.

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds primarily derived from food that the body needs in small amounts. With the exception of vitamin D, vitamins cannot be produced by the organism that requires them. Vitamins serve a variety of purposes. Some, like vitamins A, C, and E, are antioxidants. Others, like the B vitamins, are vital for fetal brain development and healthy brain aging.[1, 2] There are two categories of vitamins—fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins. Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins in fatty tissues for reserves in case you don’t meet your daily recommended intake. These vitamins are best consumed with healthy fats to ensure absorption.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for eye and brain health. It also regulates growth and keeps the immune system healthy. Plant sources are the safest method of meeting your daily vitamin A requirement. Consumption of vitamin A from animal sources could lead to vitamin A toxicity.[3]

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is both a hormone and a micronutrient. Though it’s famous for its role in preserving and promoting bone health, it also helps keep your respiratory system healthy, enhances your mental and emotional well-being, and keeps your immune system functioning at peak efficiency.[4, 5]

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerhouse antioxidant. The various forms of the vitamin all have similar antioxidant properties, but one in particular, alpha-tocopherol, is what the body prefers most. Vitamin E protects delicate lipids from oxidation and, in the case of food, rancidity. Its actions protect your DNA by stopping free radicals from damaging the fragile structure of your chromosomes.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is named after the German spelling of coagulation (koagulation) because it activates the proteins in blood that are responsible for clotting.[6]

Water-Soluble Vitamins

In humans, the water-soluble vitamins are limited to the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. These vitamins need to be replaced on a daily basis because they are not easily stored in the body. Rather, the body excretes excess water-soluble vitamins in urine.

B-Complex Vitamins

The B-complex vitamins include thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B-12). These vitamins regulate therelease of energy in cells (metabolism), serve as cofactors, and affect mood and immune health. Additionally, a healthy microbiome is essential because some probiotics actually generate B-vitamins in the gut.

Vitamin B-12 and B9 are vitally important to brain health.[7] Research into the role of vitamin B-12 suggests it’s a powerful force in preserving memory and cognitive function as you age.[2]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C’s role as an antioxidant is well known (and highly marketed), but it has other roles, too. Vitamin C is incredibly important for growth and healing. The strength of connective tissue and bones and skin elasticity all depend on sufficient levels of vitamin C. It also enhances the absorption of iron from food in the small intestine.[8]

What Are Minerals?

In general, minerals are inorganic, naturally occurring substances. In your diet, they are important nutrients that enable your cells to carry out essential functions. Minerals are divided into macrominerals and trace minerals, also known as microminerals. Predictably, your body requires macrominerals in much larger amounts than the trace minerals.

Macrominerals

The macrominerals include magnesium, sulfur, and the electrolytes: potassium, calcium, sodium, chlorine, and phosphorous. Most people get much more sodium chloride (table salt) than they need—to the detriment of their health. While some salt is essential, you don’t need nearly as much as most Americans consume. Try to limit your salt intake whenever possible.

Magnesium

Magnesium is not one of the celebrity micronutrients, but it is essential to many vital processes. It plays an important role in metabolism, acting as a cofactor in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is also vital to proper bone formation and the synthesis of genetic material.[9]

Calcium

Of all the minerals, you may be most familiar with calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body. Far beyond bone strength, calcium is responsible for muscle and blood vessel relaxation and contraction, nerve firing, and communication between cells.[9]

Potassium

Most Americans, an astounding 98 percent, fall woefully short on potassium intake.[10]Potassium is responsible for muscle and nerve function, a steady heartbeat, and cell detoxification. It acts as the inverse of sodium, which is why it’s vital to balance your sodium and potassium intake.[11]

Trace Minerals

The body requires significantly fewer essential trace minerals (microminerals) than macrominerals. Macrominerals are measured in grams, while trace minerals are measured in milligrams and micrograms. The top microminerals you need are chromium, iron, iodine,selenium, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, and copper. You also need exceptionally small amounts of nickel, silicon, vanadium, and cobalt.[12]

Though you need less of these micronutrients, they are extremely important to your health. Many of the most pernicious health conditions are related to deficiencies in trace minerals like iodine and iron. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide have a reduced ability to work due to iron deficiency anemia. Annually, nearly 20 million children are born to mothers with insufficient iodine levels—a condition that leads to severe cognitive impairment.[13]

Micronutrients and Nutrition

There are only a few ways to meet your micronutrient needs: a nutrient-rich diet, quality supplementation, and, to a lesser degree, eating some types of clay or cooking in cast iron. Vitamins and minerals are easily synthesized in labs and pressed into tablets, but it’s always best to obtain your nutrition naturally from plant sources like fruits and vegetables.

At Global Healing Center, we focus on isolating the best micronutrients from natural, organic, and wildcrafted plant sources. Some of our favorite micronutrient supplements include:

  • Our Selenium supplement is sourced from organic mustard seeds. It provides the selenium that is essential to the thyroid and overall health.
  • Detoxadine® is an essential nascent iodine supplement produced from natural salt deposits. It’s nutritional support for immune health and the thyroid, and it promotes the detoxification of halogens such as fluoride and bromine.
  • Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is sourced from the sesbania plant; it supports healthy hair and nails at the cellular level.
  • Suntrex D3™ is a vegan, lichen-derived vitamin D3 that supports the nervous system, calcium absorption, and a healthy mood.

7 Incredible Pomegranate Benefits

 Pomegranates have exploded in popularity in recent years and it’s due to their ever-growing list of amazing health benefits. Rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants, pomegranates defend against free radicals, soothe irritated tissue, and promote healthy aging. Best of all, pomegranates are as delicious as they are nutritious. Let’s look at some of the incredible health benefits of pomegranates.

Best Pomegranate Benefits

1. Pomegranates Are a Dense Source of Nutrients

Pomegranates are bursting with vitamins and minerals. Pomegranate seeds, sometimes referred to as arils, are a great source of fiber and micronutrients. Below is a nutritional breakdown for one cup of pomegranate arils.

2. Pomegranates Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Pomegranates contain anthocyanins and punicalagins—both powerful antioxidants.[2] A balanced diet rich in foods that contain antioxidants may help reduce free radical damage. Excessive free radicals can lead to serious health problems and accelerate cellular aging. Some research even suggests that pomegranates support normal tissue growth at the cellular level.[3, 4]

3. Pomegranates Promote Cellular Integrity

The cells in your body are constantly bombarded by chemical and biological agents that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress triggers the release of 8-Oxo-DG—something that you definitely don’t want. High levels of 8-Oxo-DG usually accompany muscle weakness, decreased liver function, skin aging, and reduced brain function. Studies suggest that people who eat pomegranates or supplement with pomegranate extract have lower levels of 8-Oxo-DG.[5]

4. Pomegranates Encourage Healthy Aging

Pomegranates contain polyphenols known as ellagitannins. When ellagitannins are metabolized, the metabolite urolithin A (UA) is produced. Studies reveal that UA can fight the effects of age-related decline and help preserve exercise capacity and muscle function. It’s believed that UA does this by supporting normal mitochondrial function.[6]

5. Pomegranates Support Brain Health and Memory

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) occur when protein and fat molecules bond with a sugar molecule. They occur naturally when foods like meat, eggs, and poultry are cooked at high temperature. Scientists believe AGEs play a role in the onset of neurological decline, type-II diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. The appropriately abbreviated “AGEs” accelerate aging at the cellular level. Remember the punicalagins? They can inhibit AGEs from forming in food or mitigate the effects of AGEs in the body altogether.[7]

6. Pomegranates Help Protect Against Harmful Organisms

Some evidence suggests that pomegranate rind extract may defend against harmful organisms. According to one study, a preparation that included pomegranate improved the outcome of treatment plans that addressed antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[8] Another study found that pomegranate peel contains phytochemicals that encourage fungal balance.[9]

7. Pomegranates Soothe Red, Irritated Tissue

When the tissue inside of your body is red and irritated, it can negatively affect your health and wellness. Some compounds in pomegranates, such as polyphenols, can help soothe irritation.[10] It’s believed that reducing systemic irritation can promote overall wellness and help protect against many serious health conditions. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 48 obese and overweight participants found that pomegranate supplementation reduced systemic irritation.

Are Microwaves Dangerous to Your Health?

 Microwave ovens have been the norm in US households for almost 50 years. If you’re under 40, you’re more likely to have grown up with a microwave than without a microwave. Ever since they were first introduced, microwaves have been a source of controversy. While manufacturers and retailers maintain that microwaves are completely safe, many people still want to know: are microwaves dangerous?

Many of the original concerns about microwave safety, such as radiation leaks and pacemaker problems, have been addressed by modern technology. However, there remain real, potentially serious, health issues that arise from microwave use. Leaks, burns, nutritional concerns, and promoting a culture of laziness and immediate gratification are all good reasons why you may want to consider a different cooking method.

I don’t use a microwave. I don’t have one in my house, and we don’t have one in the breakroom at Global Healing Center. First, I’m not a fan of what they produce—food that’s frozen on the inside, and lava-hot on the outside, not to mention bland and soggy. More importantly, I do not believe that microwaves are the safest, or most nutritious, method of cooking food.

Radiation and How Microwaves Work

Let’s talk about radiation. Since microwaves were first available, the biggest concern people have had is the danger of keeping a household appliance designed specifically to create radiation. Microwaves cook food using microwave radiation, generated by a device called a magnetron. Microwave radiation is non-ionizing. Non-ionizing radiation is relatively low energy and is not hazardous when confined to a microwave, especially compared to high-energy ionizing radiation. However, even with a relatively low output, microwave radiation can still cause burns. If you’ve ever cooked meat in a microwave, you’ve seen what unshielded non-ionizing radiation can do to flesh.

Microwaves are shielded specifically to prevent most leaks. However, the key word is “most.” Even at peak efficiency, domestic microwaves do leak some heat. The US Food and Drug Administration allows for some leakage as long as radiation levels fall below what they consider harmful to humans. [1] Microwaves are regulated to ensure only low levels of radiation escape—most of which dissipates within one or two feet.

That may sound good, but low radiation is different from no radiation. The effects of long-term, low-dose, non-ionizing radiation are difficult to observe, and we don’t yet know the full consequences for the human body.

A 2004 study found that small doses of ionizing radiation over the course of years may increase the risk of leukemia.[2] However, this doesn’t tell us much about microwaves. That study focused on the effects of ionizing radiation—specifically the type found in medical scanners. Because microwaves produce non-ionizing, electromagnetic radiation, the study isn’t applicable. As of this writing, no long-term studies on the effects of microwave radiation on humans have been completed.

Furthermore, the risk is only minimal if you use a well-maintained appliance according to manufacturer’s exact instructions. That risk grows considerably if the door, hinges, latch, enclosure, power supply, or seals are damaged. If the shielding is compromised, radiation can leak out. Units with damaged seals, which is especially common in older units, can present a hazard. If your microwave shows signs of damage, send it to the recycling center. Even with an undamaged microwave, dirty door seals can create gaps that allow radiation to escape. Check your seals after every use.[3]

An old concern about microwaves was that the waves they use to cook food could disrupt the function of pacemakers. That’s why microwaves used to have pacemaker warnings on them. Both pacemakers and microwaves these days are shielded well enough to avoid these complications. However, if you have a pacemaker, you should still exercise caution around microwaves. If you feel dizziness or discomfort, get away from the machine immediately and consult your healthcare provider.

Microwave Burns and Superheated Water

Even a brand new microwave carries a small risk of causing burns. Microwaves heat unevenly, and larger portions of foods may not cook all the way through. A food item that seems cool to the touch might scald your mouth when you bite into it.

A lesser-known danger of microwaves is the phenomena of superheated water. When water is heated in a perfectly smooth container, it can actually be heated past the boiling point without actually boiling. Once water is superheated, any slight disturbance, such as picking up the cup, can cause the water to boil all at once, resulting in a violent eruption of scalding water. [1] Impurities make it easier for water to boil, so pure, clean water, like distilled water, is far more likely to experience superheating.

To avoid superheating, never heat water in a microwave for excessive periods of time. Be especially careful with distilled water. A simple way to prevent superheating is to leave a nonmetallic object, like a wooden stir spoon, in the water while you heat it.

How Microwaves Affect Food Quality

While I remain concerned about the burn risks of microwaves, the real health concerns lay in how they affect nutrition.

Microwaves do alter the nutritional content of food; this fact is not in debate. (This is one reason why I advocate for a mostly raw, vegan diet.) The real question is if microwaving food alters its nutritional content differently than other forms of cooking. All cooking changes the chemical structure of food to some degree, but different types of heating alter the nutritional content in different ways. For example, broccoli loses about 74 to 97 percent of its antioxidants when boiled,[4] but retains its nutrients when steamed.

So what nutrients are specifically affected by microwaving? Alliinase, found in garlic, is one. Alliinase is an enzyme with significant benefits for the immune and cardiovascular systems.[5] Unfortunately, it’s sensitive to heat. Forty-five minutes in an oven will render alliinase inert. That’s bad, but there’s a lot you can cook in under 45 minutes. In a microwave, it takes just 60 seconds.[6]

Do you have a breastfeeding infant? Never warm breastmilk in a microwave. Microwaving destroys the essential disease-fighting, baby-protecting agents in breast milk. In one study, breast milk microwaved for just 30 seconds destroyed natural antibodies, paving the way for the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. [7]

There are more examples of compromised nutrition. An Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.[8] If you have a choice, you want your proteins properly folded. Protein nutrition depends on its structure—when it unfolds, it becomes just a strand of amino acids. You lose the nutritional functionality of the protein. Microwaves are also capable of extensively fragmenting and destroying bacterial DNA, doing so to a far greater degree than heating alone.[9]

Microwaving Food in Plastic and Other Unsafe Containers

Another danger of microwaves comes from the type of cookware you use. If you heat food in a plastic container, some of the chemicals that make up the plastic can leak into your food. Toxic chemicals, like acetyltributylcitrate and dioctyladipate, are common components of plastic food containers. Whenever you heat plastic containers, utensils, or wrap, they release a small portion of these chemicals into your food.[10]

The rate of chemical absorption depends on a number of factors. Temperature, duration of heat, plastic type, and food composition all affect chemical transfer.[10] Old, scratched, or damaged containers are more likely to release harmful particles.[11] Regular use, including cleaning, increases the rate at which the plastic degrades. Heating increases the rate of chemical transfer by 55x.[12] While all methods of heating increase the leach rate, microwaves seem to cause a higher transfer rate than other methods.[10]

Microwaving plastics that aren’t rated microwave-safe is an especially bad idea. Containers made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE, or plastic #1), such as most soda bottles, can leach carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting phthalates after repeated use. Commercial-grade cling wrap (commonly found in delis) is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC, or plastic #3). PVC can release cancer-causing dioxins. Polystyrene (PS, or plastic #6, Styrofoam) is another troublemaker. The base component, styrene, has been associated with skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, depression, fatigue, compromised kidney function, and central nervous system damage.[13]

OK, so you won’t microwave plastics that aren’t microwave-safe. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately, no. “Microwave safe” is not a particularly strict term. For example, #7 polycarbonate is a durable plastic found in some Tupperware containers and baby bottles. It’s usually labeled as “microwave safe.” The National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences, however, warns that microwaving causes polycarbonate plastic to break down.[14] Polycarbonate releases hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA), especially when heated.[12]

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did an analysis on “microwave safe” products. The study found that products marketed for infants release toxic doses of bisphenol A when heated. In a lab, the containers were heated in a microwave or conventional oven. All of them released toxic amounts of BPA—enough to cause neurological damage in lab animals.[15]

In another study, The Washington Post put hundreds of plastic products through “real world” scenarios, including microwave warming. Results showed that hormone-disrupting chemicals seeped from 95% of the products. Worse, that only accounts for the chemicals we already know are dangerous. As lead scientist Deborah Kurrasch, pointed out, “A lot of the alternative chemicals have not been adequately tested because they don’t have to be… A compound is considered safe (by the FDA) until proven otherwise.”[16]

Prepackaged Meals and Microwave Mentality

One final concern I have with microwaves isn’t the appliance themselves, but the unhealthy habits they encourage. While you can certainly use a microwave to steam broccoli, the fact remains that most microwavable food is terrible for your health. The standard microwavable food is processed and premade. We used to call them TV dinners, but as that term became synonymous with cheap food, they’ve been rebranded as prepackaged meals, ready-made meals, frozen dinners, or microwave meals. Regardless of what you call them, they’re terrible for your health.

To stabilize these products for long term freezer storage, manufacturers add unhealthy ingredients like stabilizers and preservatives. As the freezing process ruins the flavor, these meals tend to be loaded with extra salt, unnamed mystery flavorings, and unhealthy fats. These prepackaged, frozen meals are universally less nutritious than fresh food.

Further, if you grow up using microwaves to cook, it fosters impatience and desire for immediate gratification. Cooking is a labor of love. It takes time, sometimes a great deal of time, to properly prepare nutritious food for yourself and your family. If you grow accustomed to hot food being ready in 2 minutes at the push of a button, then the time and effort it takes to make a healthy meal can seem downright unreasonable.

The truth is that there are better options. Even if you’re too busy to spend all day over a hot stove, there are simple, delicious, nutritious meals that can be prepared in about 10 minutes.

Mitigating Reliance on Microwaves

Over the years, many dangers have been attributed to the microwave oven. Some have proven to be unfounded. That doesn’t necessarily mean that microwaves are the healthiest way to cook. I’m not willing to sacrifice nutrition or taste to save a few minutes on meal prep. Weigh the risks and decide for yourself what’s the best choice for you and your family. If you do choose to keep your microwave, then please follow some basic safety tips.

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not stand directly in front of a microwave while in use.
  • Do not microwave plastic, especially plastic bags or wrap.
  • Make sure that the door seals are clean and free of debris.
  • Have all repairs done by a qualified service person only.
  • Never use any microwave if the seals are damaged or if the door is damaged in any way, especially if the door won’t close tightly or if the oven continues to operate with an open door.

Whether you’re concerned about burns or simply poor nutrition, there are simple steps you can take to wean yourself off microwaves and unhealthy microwavable food. The risks of poor habits and poor nutrition are far greater than that of radiation, but a minor risk is still a risk. If you are concerned about the effects of long-term, low-dose radiation poisoning,

6 Lemongrass Benefits to Support Your Health

 Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a perennial herb with a distinct, lemony aroma and flavor. It’s a staple of both Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Though the plant is native to India, it’s grown all over the world today. Lemongrass is a rich source of nutrients that offer many therapeutic benefits.

Benefits of Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a source of beneficial phytochemicals and specialized nutrients that support the body’s response to harmful organisms, boost the immune system, and promote overall wellness. Although the balance of nutrients may vary slightly from one variety to the next, in general, lemongrass provides antioxidants like isoorientin, orientin, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid; all of which help halt the damaging action of free radicals. Caffeic acid, in particular, may neutralize free radical action up to 85%.[1]

1. Supports the Body’s Response to Harmful Organisms

Some of the phytochemicals found in lemongrass are resistant to harmful organisms. Two of which, geraniol and nerol, are effective against a broad spectrum of harmful organisms. Another, citral, targets candida, specifically.[2, 3]

Lemongrass may also be effective against entire colonies of organisms known as biofilms.[4] A biofilm is a thin, slimy, continuous collection of organisms that adheres to a surface with the help of proteins and sugar. Dental plaque on teeth is a common example of a biofilm.

2. Promotes Normal Immune System Response

Lemongrass encourages a normal, balanced immune system response—not one that’s over reactive and ends up doing more harm than good. In that way, lemongrass may protect healthy cells and help soothe irritated tissue.[5] Lemongrass contains twoantioxidants, geranial and nerol, that belong to a class of phytochemicals called monoterpenes. These phytochemicals influence the immune response. Citral also affects immune response by discouraging the body from producing cytokines—proteins that cause inflammation.[6] Geraniol and citral also work in tandem to discourage the proliferation of malfunctioning cells, and encourage the body to detoxify itself of them.[7, 8]

3. Stomach Protection

Your stomach features a protective lining called the mucosal layer that prevents acidic, gastric juices from damaging the interior of the stomach.[2] It’s not uncommon, however, for alcohol or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin to upset this protective layer. According to Brazilian folk medicine, lemongrass essential oil may help protect the mucosal layer of the stomach.

4. Encourages Normal Cardiovascular Health

Lemongrass offers a multi-tier approach for supporting cardiovascular health. First, as a source of antioxidants, lemongrass may disrupt the oxidation of fat in the arteries.[10]Second, the citral in lemongrass helps to relax overstressed blood vessels.[9] And, lastly, although more research is necessary to quantify the effects in humans, the results of some animal studies suggest that lemongrass promotes normal cholesterol levels.[11]

5. Deters Insects

Topical or environmental application of lemongrass essential oil has long been used as a mosquito deterrent. You’re probably familiar with the outdoor citronella candles designed to keep mosquitoes at bay. The citronella in those candles is usually sourced from theCymbopogon winterianus or Cymbopogon nardus varieties of lemongrass. In fact, the mosquito-deterring effects of lemongrass oil are comparable to many chemical repellants such as DEET.[12, 13]

6. Encourages Restful Sleep

Night owls rejoice! If you struggle falling or staying asleep, lemongrass can help. Studies have found that lemongrass may increase sleep duration,[14] encourage dream remembrance, and promote restful sleep.[15]

Tips for Growing Lemongrass

Lemongrass does best in regions 8-11, but you can still grow it indoors if you live in a colder region. Take a stalk of lemongrass and peel off the dry outer layers and discard. Place the skinned stalks upright in a tall glass or jar. Add about 1-2 inches of water to the jar to cover the base of the stalks. Place in a window or another sunny area to encourage root growth. Change the water frequently—about once a day—over the next month. Delicate roots should sprout from the end of the stalks. Once they reach 2 inches, they’re ready to plant.

To plant, dig a hole either in a container or the ground. Gently fill the space around the lemongrass stalk with soil, being careful not to break the roots. Make sure to keep the soil around the plant well hydrated, but not soaked. In 3-4 months, when the plant is well established, you can start harvesting. Cut fresh stalks as needed for tea or recipes. Keep your lemongrass well pruned to encourage consistent harvests. To store, peel off the tough, dry sheath around the harvested stalks, cut to size, and store in a plastic bag in the freezer until needed.

Using Lemongrass

Lemongrass is available fresh, dried, powdered, or as an essential oil. Your intentions will dictate the best form to select. Fresh lemongrass is best for cooking, extracts are commonly found in supplements, and the essential oil has many aromatherapy applications.

Lemongrass Tea Recipe

Lemongrass tea is an easy and excellent way to add lemongrass to your diet. To make a tea with fresh lemongrass stalk, roughly chop three whole stalks, pour 6 cups of almost-boiling water over the fresh lemongrass, and steep for at least 5 minutes. Add raw honey to taste if you prefer a sweet flavor. You can also use dry stalks if you smash them with a tenderizer first and steep for longer—about 10 minutes.