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7 Effective and Readily-Available Herbal Remedies for Modern Ailments

7 Effective and Readily-Available Herbal Remedies for Modern Ailments

Nowadays, it always seems like everywhere you turn there is someone trying to sell some herbal concoction. From feature-length TV commercials to hyped websites and persuasive email campaigns – herbal supplements[1] form the basis of a highly competitive business environment.

Most of the herbal remedies advertised are often made by combining different exotic herbs that promise to treat everything from a simple cold to things like cancer and diabetes. The herbs will normally originate from some tropical region like Asia or South America and come with hefty price tags.

For the most part, herbal remedies[2] can be effective for a good number of diseases and ailments. However, for many of them, a trip to the tropical jungles of Brazil or India isn’t usually necessary. A good number of these herbs can be found locally and often at a fraction of the price. Check out some of them below.

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera[3] has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of skin conditions. Egyptians used it over 6,000 years ago as a remedy for sunburn and to help maintain smooth, younger-looking skin. The leaves of the plant can be used to treat wounds, burns, and skin allergies. The plant’s juice is effective against constipation, digestive problems, ulcerative colitis, asthma, diabetes, and other diseases.

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    Best of all, you can grow aloe vera in your yard as long as the plant gets some sun and moist soil.

    2. Ginseng

    Ginseng is a medicinal herb native to North America and parts of Asia. Chinese healers have used ginseng as part of Chinese traditional medicine for centuries, which makes it an important medicinal herb. Ginseng[4] roots are often used to boost immunity, improve blood pressure, increase metabolism, and prevent against some nervous disorders.

      Both American and Asian ginseng seeds can be bought on eBay for most of the year. Most of the seedlings will even come with planting instructions for backyard farmers.

      3. Common Sage

      Sage is a popular herb whose species are used for a wide variety of purposes. For instance, white sage is popular with Native Americans in the US, who use it in traditional ceremonies. Red sage and common sage are mostly used as medicinal herbs, though the common sage is also used for cooking and for ornamental purposes.

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        Common sage is widely available around the world, including in the US.

        4. Cannabis

        Where would the world be without good old weed? The cannabis plant has been at our disposal for centuries until many countries around the world made it illegal in the 1930s. In recent years, however, many countries have made it legal to grow and use for medical purposes.[5] In many states around the US, medical marijuana can be found in marijuana dispensaries across the country. There are even a good number of apps and tools that smokers can use to locate dispensaries, compare prices and strains – all from the comfort of their homes.

          5. Peppermint

          Peppermint is a standard component in many consumable products – from toothpaste, insect repellent, and peppermint oil to chewing gum, mint chocolate, and candy. Peppermint is also a powerful medicinal herb[6] with a long history of use in aromatherapy, folk medicine, and recently as a probable treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

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            The plant grows quickly and spreads like wildfire in most ecosystems, so there is nothing that stops you from growing your own supply in your backyard.

            6. Milk Thistle

            Milk thistle[7] has been used for centuries to treat problems affecting the liver and the gallbladder. Like many other herbs on this list, milk thistle was originally native to Europe and Asia before becoming popular globally. Milk thistle is popularly used to treat some cancers and liver diseases. It is a potent antioxidant and can be used when conducting a detox from alcohol or drugs.

              7. Marshmallow

              Marshmallow is perhaps more popularly known for the confection marshmallow (made from the roots of the marsh mallow plant) than it is as an herbal remedy. As a medicinal herb, marshmallow[8] is normally very effective at treating ulcers and sore throats. It can also be grown in a wide variety of environments, including your yard – as long as it gets some sun and moisture.

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                Most medicinal herbs, like every other regular plant, will grow in any environment that satisfies their nutrient and sunlight needs. So before you go backpacking through Asia or Europe looking for ancient herbs, always check to see if what you need is available locally or if it can be grown in your yard.

                ____

                Image Credits:

                Aloe Vera, Ginseng, Common Sage, Cannabis, Peppermint, Milk Thistle Via Pixabay, Marsh Mallow Via Maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

                Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                Last Updated on July 28, 2020

                14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

                14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

                Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

                What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

                The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

                Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

                It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

                Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

                In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

                Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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                Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

                1. Quinoa

                GI: 53

                Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

                2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

                GI: 50

                Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

                3. Corn on the Cob

                GI: 48

                Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

                4. Bananas

                GI: 47

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                Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

                They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

                5. Bran Cereal

                GI: 43

                Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

                6. Natural Muesli

                GI: 40

                Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

                7. Apples

                GI: 40

                Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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                8. Apricots

                GI: 30

                Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

                Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

                9. Kidney Beans

                GI: 29

                Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

                10. Barley

                GI: 22

                Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

                Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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                11. Raw Nuts

                GI: 20

                Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

                12. Carrots

                GI: 16

                Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

                13. Greek Yogurt

                GI: 12

                Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

                14. Hummus

                GI: 6

                When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

                Bottom Line

                If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

                More Tips on Eating Healthy

                Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

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