A Natural Way to Decrease Inflammation
600px-Cherry_Stella444This is information that drug manufacturers do NOT want you to know.  Tart Cherries and berries produce the same anti-inflammatory benefits as Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve).  ~But without the nasty side effects.

Cherry growers were threatened by the FDA in 2005.  They were to face penalties if they did not remove written evidence on cherry packaging that described health benefits.  Bob Underwood, a cherry distributor explained,  “We have the government telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables, and we have the U.S. Department of Agriculture funding some of these fruit studies, and now we have another arm of the federal government that says you can’t use the research.” (Associated Press, 2006). The Department of Agriculture fruit studies proved that dark red fruits can be used medicinally to improve certain ailments.  The growers just aren’t allowed to make any claims in marketing.  We’re on our own to consider our options.

Tart Cherries contain high levels of an antioxidant compound called anthocyanins–  Literally, ‘flower blue’.  Acai berries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blood orange, eggplant, concord grapes, purple corn and red cabbage also contain high levels of the molecule.  Anthocyanins block the enzymes COX-1 and 2, which produce inflammatory compounds called prostaglnadins.    In easy to understand terms:  Dark purple and red plants are an important part of our diet.  They help our bodies regulate inflammation.  When we have lower amounts of inflammation, we see  benefits to our health.

Tart cherries have cardiovascular benefits and help lower cholesterol.  They have been proven to decrease inflammation and pain. Especially in osteoarthritis patients.

They boost muscle recovery in athletes.

“A study conducted at the University of Vermont gave 12 ounces of cherry juice or a placebo twice a day for eight days to 14 college men. On the fourth day, the men were asked to perform strenuous weight lifting of two sets of 20 repetitions each. Strength loss after exercise was only 4 percent with the juice compared to 22 percent with the other beverage, and pain significantly decreased after cherry juice consumption. The researchers concluded, “consumption of tart cherry juice before and after eccentric exercise significantly reduced symptoms of muscle damage.” (www.choosecherries.com).

And still, the FDA doesn’t want the news to get out that a natural food could have the same effects as a drug.  Their stance is that only drugs can treat or cure a disease or ailment.  Cherries have not gone through the appropriate testing to become a ‘drug’ and therefore cannot be marketed to mimic drug effects.  Of course, drugs are a big business in the US and the FDA won’t let cherry farmers have it.

Adding tart cherries or anthocyanins to you diet could make a difference in your health or pain control.  With no side effects, what do you have to loose?  Well, except for the giant 1000 tablet bottle of Ibuprofen on your shelf!

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I’ve always thought of Calcium as an important part of my diet.  Growing up I was told of its importance.  We all heard the slogan, ‘Milk, it does a body good.’ When my mom was diagnosed with osteoporosis I started taking inventory of my calcium intake.  I wanted to make sure I’m getting enough to keep my bones strong as I age.  That’s all fine and good, but no one ever mentioned Magnesium as an important mineral to have in my diet.  Why emphasize one piece of a good diet and overlook others?

Today I complained to my physical therapist of moderate joint pain.  This is to be expected in a knee that I shattered 5 months ago. (See WT blog ‘Broken Leg Blues, March 3)  I have been taking ibuprofen, tylenol, and hydrocodone as needed to dull the pain during the night.  At this point I’m open to new ideas.  To my surprise, she recommended taking a Magnesium supplement as an alternative to help with the aches and pains.   I went home eager to learn more.

What I found was very informative.  Magnesium is very important to our bodies and works as a ‘gatekeeper’ for calcium absorption.  Especially with our highly processed foods today, many of us are potentially deficient.   This can cause amplification of pain, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, muscle pain and spasms, and other severe health issues.  Personally, I’m currently concerned with decrease of muscular and skeletal pain.  Magnesium might be a good holistic solution which could have added benefits down the road.

Of course, moderation is key.  A supplemental dose of more than 350mg per day is not recommended.  A safer way to be sure to get enough magnesium is from dietary choices.  After all, I’m not a huge fan of taking a handful of supplement vitamins in the form of big white pills.  They hurt my stomach, and personally I would rather eat foods to give the same benefit.

Good sources of magnesium are nuts (especially almonds and cashews), seeds like pumpkin, sesame or sunflower, beans, dark greens like swiss chard and spinach, halibut,  and whole grains.

Making this change is pretty easy, and inexpensive.  A great breakfast idea is oatmeal with coconut almond milk.  Toss in some pumpkin seeds, nuts, raisins and/or bananas and peanut butter and mix.  A quick and easy way to get some good vitamins and minerals!  I am an avid bacon eater, but I’m willing to branch out to bring me pain relief.  Bacon on the side? 😉

As always, ask a doctor to see if diet alterations and/or supplements are right for you!

A great website with magnesium milligram (mg) amounts in different foods—

https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Documents/CP0403MagnesiumRichFoods.pdf

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