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Turmeric Herb Benefits and Uses

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Most people are familiar with turmeric (scientific name: Curcuma longa1) as a yellow spice that’s used in Indian cuisine, and has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor.2 Traditionally called “Indian saffron,” turmeric comes from a rhizome with rough brown skin, dull orange flesh3 and an earthy scent said to be more pungent than ginger.4 However, there’s more to this vibrant spice than meets the eye.

Through the years, studies have been extensively conducted on the potential health benefits of turmeric, and the results were consistently positive. As a result, turmeric was given its well-deserved nickname: the “Spice of Life.”5 There are many ways you can incorporate this spice into your daily life. Learn more about turmeric and its benefits, and how they can help improve your health and well-being.

Turmeric’s Health Benefits

The health benefits turmeric offers can be attributed to curcumin, a well-studied bioactive compound that may:

Help maintain a healthy digestive system by facilitating proper digestion6

Modulate some of your genes7

Positively control various physiological pathways8

Make your cells’ membranes more orderly9

Affect signaling molecules, because curcumin can directly interact with inflammatory molecules, cell survival proteins, DNA and RHA, carrier proteins and metal ions10

As mentioned earlier, turmeric is known as the “Spice of Life,” and curcumin has a role to play in making this spice earn this moniker. Curcumin was proven by studies to help combat diseases such as:

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease — Curcumin is a known antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agent, and is said to promote lipophilic action and improved cognitive function, potentially helping people with these conditions.11,12

Osteoarthritis — A 2016 animal study showed that curcumin may help slow down the rate of osteoarthritis progression and address related pain.13 Another study from the same year also revealed that curcumin assisted in improving quality of life and addressing pain and other osteoarthritis symptoms, by improving your body’s physiological pathways.14

Cancer — Numerous studies have been conducted regarding curcumin’s potential anticancer capabilities.15,16,17 According to Dr. William LaValley, whose clinical work mostly focuses on the treatment of cancer, curcumin appears to be useful for just about every type of cancer, because it can affect multiple molecular targets via many pathways. Curcumin is also nontoxic, and does not target healthy cells — instead, it selectively targets cancer cells.

The antibacterial properties of curcumin are nothing short of extraordinary as well, as it may be effective against gastritis, peptic ulcer and gastric cancer, which are all caused by Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) bacteria.

This was proven in a 2009 study, wherein curcumin effectively inhibited the growth of H. pylori in vitro in mice, regardless of the genetic makeup of the bacteria strains.18 H. pylori is a group 1 carcinogen19 that affects more than half the global population.20 Some of the other health benefits linked to curcumin include:

Supporting healthy cholesterol levels21

Enhancing wound healing22

Preventing low-density lipoprotein oxidation23

Protecting against cataracts,24,25 liver damage,26 pulmonary toxicity and fibrosis,27 and radiation-induced damage28

Reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis29 and multiple sclerosis30

Lowering risk for thrombosis,31 myocardial infarction32 and possibly Type 2 diabetes33

Turmeric’s Many Uses

Turmeric has a long history of medicinal use for Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Evidence showed that turmeric may help alleviate wounds, sprains and swelling, liver disorders, skin diseases and respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.34 Aside from being a common ingredient in Indian dishes, turmeric is used for making mustard. In fact, the distinct yellow color of this condiment comes from this spice.35

Turmeric also works as a dye for textiles and other articles of clothing.36 It’s said that Hindu and Buddhist monks who traveled all over the world used this spice to dye their robes.37 During early times, the children from Kerala, a state in southwest India, were given turmeric-dyed clothing to wear during the Onam Festival because the spice’s color was said to be associated with Lord Krishna, a prominent figure in Hinduism.38

In a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, the groom ties a turmeric paste-dyed string called a mangala sutra around the bride’s neck, signifying that the woman is married and can run a household. Most Hindu weddings today still continue this tradition, and it’s considered the equivalent of exchanging wedding rings. People living in some parts of Southern India also still wear a piece of the turmeric rhizome as an amulet to protect themselves from evil spirits.39

Growing Turmeric at Home

You can grow turmeric in your backyard or in indoor containers from rhizomes or root cuttings, but not from seeds. To grow turmeric, you need high-quality soil or growing material with high amounts of organic material-like manure, and a turmeric rhizome.

The plant will benefit from good-quality organic fertilizer or compost, especially when administered during growth of turmeric shoots. Just make sure that when you apply the fertilizer, it does not directly touch the plant. The fertilizer’s nutrients should reach the soil, but without touching the stems. Follow this simple step-by-step method if you want to grow turmeric:40,41

How to Grow Turmeric

Procedure:

1. Cut rhizomes into smaller sections with two or three buds each.

2. Fill 3-inch pots or containers with good-quality potting soil.

3. Place rhizome flat onto the soil, and cover with more potting soil.

4. Water the plant and place the pots or containers into clear plastic bags.

5. Move the pots or containers to a warm location of around 86 to 95 degrees F. Take note that colder temperatures may cause the turmeric to grow very slowly and possibly rot.

6. Once the turmeric rhizome is planted, avoid watering until you notice shoots rising out from the soil.

Edible turmeric rhizomes take around eight to 10 months to mature. Once rhizomes are fully grown, you can harvest them. Ideally, matured roots should be harvested all at once. You’ll know the turmeric is ready to harvest if the plant’s flowers fade and the leaves turn yellow. Home Guides SF Gate demonstrates how to harvest fresh turmeric:42

” … [C]ut off the tops of the plants with shears to make harvesting easier — this isn’t required, but it allows you to get to the underground rhizomes without having to dodge the large leaves. Water the area thoroughly to soften the ground, then dig up the rhizomes using a trowel. Each plant should have a small handful of rhizomes …”

If you want to grow turmeric the following season, save a few rhizomes for planting.43 Turmeric is best planted in tropical areas where it may receive high amounts of warmth and moisture,44,45 particularly in USDA zones 8 to 11. When you should be planting turmeric depends on your area. Good Housekeeping notes that in most parts of the U.S., turmeric will flourish if you plant it indoors, although if you live in Zones 8 to 11, you can plant turmeric outdoors for the entire period.46

If you live in areas with cooler climates, plant turmeric indoors and then move it outside once the threat of frost is gone. This reduces the risk of the plant becoming dormant.47 After moving the plant outside to a warm area, keep the soil wet and moist, and provide partial shade to protect leaves from sunburn.48

Cooking With Turmeric

Want to add turmeric into some of your dishes? Take your pick from either fresh or dried turmeric. Fresh turmeric rhizomes look like gingers. The Kitchn notes that you can find fresh turmeric root in your grocery’s produce section, as well as in health stores and Asian or Indian grocery stores. Pick firm roots and avoid soft, dried or shriveled pieces.

Fresh turmeric, depending on the root’s maturity or tenderness, can be peeled before chopping, cubing, grating or even juicing it. If you won’t be using turmeric immediately, store them properly. Place turmeric in a glass jar or storage dish or other airtight container for at least a week, or freeze for several months.

Dried turmeric is usually sold ground or whole, and is made by peeling, boiling and drying rhizomes. Buy them from ethnic and specialty shops, which usually have fresher stock and a faster turnover time compared to grocery stores.

When buying dried turmeric, make sure to smell it, as aroma is a good indicator of freshness. Keep it in an airtight container and store in a cool and dark place for up to a year. While it has the flavor and color the spice is known for, one major caveat is that the drying process reduces its pungency and the quantity of essential oils in the spice.49

You can use fresh or dried turmeric for rubs or marinades, just like in these Satay Chicken Skewers and Turmeric Cauliflower recipes. You can also chop fresh turmeric and add it into a salad, similar to what I did with my lunch recipe. Turmeric can be even made into healthy beverages, such as this ginger and turmeric latte, which combines the earthy flavors of these related root herbs:

Ginger Turmeric Latte Recipe

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon fresh, grated turmeric or dried turmeric spice

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

2 teaspoons coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt

1 cup of almond milk

Procedure:

1. Combine the grated turmeric and ginger, coconut sugar, coconut oil and sea salt in a blender.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the almond milk over medium heat until it’s just simmering.

3. Pour the hot almond milk into the blender and whirl until smooth and frothy.

Try Turmeric Essential Oil, Too

Research has shown that turmeric essential oil exhibits anti-inflammatory,50 antimicrobial,51 antifungal52 and antiseptic properties.53 To make this oil, the turmeric plant’s roots can be steam-distilled or powdered until fluid is extracted from the substance.54 Some of the chemical compounds in this oil include:55

  • Turmerone
  • Ar-turmerone
  • Turmerol
  • Limonene
  • Cineole
  • Curcumene
  • Zingiberene
  • Bisabolene
  • Beta-phellandrene

Turmeric oil may be help alleviate arthritis.56,57 However, if you plan on using this essential oil topically, I advise you to take a skin patch test first to check for allergic reactions and talk to your doctor to determine whether this oil is appropriate for you.

Can Turmeric Cause Side Effects?

Consuming excessive amounts of turmeric can predispose you to some side effects. For instance, turmeric may cause nausea, upset stomach, dizziness or diarrhea. It also may interact with:58,59

Anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs like warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix) and aspirin and raise bleeding risk

Stomach acid-reducing drugs such as cimetidine (Tagament), famotidine (Pepcid), ranitidine (Zantac), esomeprazole (Nexium), omeprazole and lansoprazole (Prevacid) and lead to increased stomach acid production

The following groups of people must avoid taking turmeric or related products because they have a high risk for side effects:60

Pregnant and breastfeeding women — High amounts of turmeric may trigger a period or stimulate the uterus, resulting in health risks for a pregnancy. There is also very little research about turmeric’s possible effects on breastfeeding women.

People with gallbladder problems such as gallstones or a bile duct obstruction — Turmeric can worsen these conditions.

People with bleeding problems or disorders — Turmeric may slow down blood clotting and increase both bruising and bleeding risk.

People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — Turmeric may worsen stomach problems in GERD patients.

Diabetes patients — Reduced blood sugar levels may be caused by curcumin abundant in this spice.

Iron deficiency — Consuming high amounts of turmeric may negatively affect the body’s iron absorption.

People with hormone-sensitive conditions like breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids — WebMD reports that the curcumin in turmeric possibly could act similarly to the estrogen hormone, and  exacerbate some hormone-sensitive conditions.

However, with certain hormone-sensitive cancers, there are studies showing that turmeric can decrease estrogen’s effects in those cancer cells and may be beneficial for people diagnosed with hormone-sensitive breast cancer.61,62,63 Err on the side of caution and reduce turmeric consumption if you have been diagnosed with hormone-sensitive conditions.

 

Men who consume turmeric excessively may be prone to reduced testosterone levels and lessened sperm movement. If you’re scheduled to undergo surgery, reduce or avoid turmeric consumption, as it can slow down the blood clotting process and trigger excessive bleeding during and after the procedure.64


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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it

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Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.
 

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes

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In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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Homemade Miso Soup With Vegetables

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homemade miso soup

Sometimes when the weather is chilly or you’re simply feeling under the weather, there is nothing better than a warm brothy soup. This miso soup combines nutrient-rich bone broth with the probiotic benefits of miso. And you get the benefits of vitamins and minerals from vegetables too. Make a big batch for the whole family or just one bowl for you!

What Is Miso?

Miso is a potent paste made out of fermented soybeans. But isn’t soy bad for you, you ask? Yes and no. Soy beans, like any legume, contain a large amount of phytic acid which interferes with nutrient absorption. They also contain phytoestrogens, which have their own negative side effects.

However, miso is fermented soy. Fermented foods contain bacteria which has eaten the sugars and starches present in the food. This process preserves the food and also gives it probiotics, enzymes, and additional vitamins. It makes the food more easily digested and the nutrients easier for the body to use.

There are several different colors of miso available, and all of them are just fine for soup making. Generally, the darker colored the miso, the stronger the flavor. I can usually find miso in the ethnic food section of my grocery store, but there are also some good organic options available online.

How to Make a Quick Miso Soup

To make miso soup, add a few teaspoons of miso paste is to a broth with spices and vegetables. Traditionally, dashi, the broth used for miso soup, is made with dried bonito (a type of fish) flakes and kelp. While you are welcome to do it this way, you can also use a good chicken bone broth like the one sold at Kettle and Fire.

Then, just top with additional seasonings, some vegetables, the miso, and sometimes a hard-boiled egg.

One note on adding the miso — it works best if you remove about ¼ cup of the warm broth from the pan and whisk in the miso paste with a fork before returning it to the rest of the soup. Once you add the miso, just warm the soup gently. Don’t boil it or you’ll destroy all the gut healthy bacteria in the miso!

If you’d like to try your hand at making dashi, the traditional fish and kelp broth for miso soup, this video is a good one.

No Time to Make From Scratch?

If you want to make life even simpler, Kettle and Fire also sells a delicious miso soup that’s all ready to go. Just heat it up and add any vegetables you like.

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Homemade Miso Soup Recipe

It’s easy to make miso soup at home using a good chicken bone broth, miso paste, and vegetables.

Ingredients

  • cup chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ginger (grated)
  • 3 mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 TBSP miso paste
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 1 egg (optional)

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the broth, minced garlic, onion powder, grated ginger, and sliced mushrooms.

  • Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.

  • Allow the broth to cool slightly.

  • Remove ¼ cup of the warm broth to a small bowl and whisk in the miso paste.

  • Return the broth/miso mixture to the pan with the rest of the broth.

  • Turn the heat on low and add the spinach, heating just until warmed.

  • Top with the green onion and hard boiled egg if desired.

Notes

Other vegetables you can add: baby bok choy, daikon, cabbage, kale, chard

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 820mg | Potassium: 675mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 35.3% | Vitamin C: 10.5% | Calcium: 5.4% | Iron: 14.7%

Have you ever used miso? What do you do with it?

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