DIY After-Sun Antioxidant Spray

After reading about the benefits of applying green tea and antioxidant vitamins to the skin after exposure to UV rays, I decided to devise my own aftersun (or anytime) antioxidant spray. I’ve been using my custom green tea/vitamin c/vitamin e blend for several months now and it works great!  Even though I rarely get burned, every once in a while I overdo it a bit and get pink.  When this happens, I always spray on liberal amounts of my antioxidant solution, and it provides quick recovery from my burn!  Of course, I spray it on whether I get sunburned or not, because I want to give my skin all the nutrition I can.

The reason I chose to use green tea and vitamins e and c in my solution is that they all provide researched benefits. Several studies, looking at both rat and human skin, found that after exposure to the sun or artificial UV rays, topically applied green tea reduces inflammation and can even reduce the incidence of skin cancer.  Green tea contains powerful polyphenols that protect green tea plants from UV damage and provide a number of benefits to humans as well.

Other plants use vitamin C and Vitamin E to protect their cells from UV damage.  One study using a vitamin C and Vitamin E solution found that when applied to the skin daily, it provided progressive protection from sunburn and UV damage.

With all these benefits, it’s surprising that there aren’t many antioxidant sprays out there.  Thankfully, it’s easy to make an antioxidant solution at home.

Here’s what you’ll need: an 8 oz spray bottle, vitamin C powder, green tea, water, and liquid vitamin E.

Directions:

  • blendinggreenteaFirst brew an extra potent cup of green tea (with about 7 oz of water).  Use 4 tea bags of green tea or 8 grams of loose green tea. Steep in hot water for about four minutes, then drain.  You can also grind the green tea extremely finely with a coffee grinder, shake it with 7 oz of warm water and then filter the water with a french press.
  • Pour the green tea solution into your spray bottle.
  • Grind 4 grams of vitamin C into very fine powder using a coffee grinder (i’ve used both tablets and powder – powder works best), then add to the spray bottle.
  • Add a teaspoon of Liquid vitamin E to your spray bottle.
  • After all the ingredients are added, shake the spray bottle vigorously to mix
  • Use liberally every day, especially after exposure to the sunshine!

Recommended products:

Sources: Vitamin C and Vitamin E Solution, Topical Application of Green Tea

Originally posted 2013-06-02 02:57:29.

Natural Relief from Nasal Allergies – Researched and Rumored

natural remedies for allergiesAbout 20% of us suffer from hay fever or nasal allergies (rhinitis) this time of year.  Why is it that our bodies respond so vehemently to seemingly harmless pollen, dust, or mold particles?  Genetics, diet, and environment work together to cause our bodies to think that certain inhaled particles are intruders that should be eliminated.  When this happens, the mast cells (immune response cells) in the nasal passage release histamines.  Histamines are organic nitrogen molecules that act on nerve endings to initiate inflammatory responses like sneezing, itching, and mucous release. Herbs and nutrients used for natural allergy relief work by stopping one of these three mechanisms.  They either prevent the mast cells from responding to inhaled particles as dangerous intruders, block histamine from activating nerve endings, or lessen the body’s inflammatory response.

I, for one, have had fairly bad symptoms of hay fever every spring for most of my life, and I don’t wish it on anybody!  If you’ve had allergies so bad that you can barely function, you know what I’m talking about.  I’ve tried nearly every over-the-counter allergy medicine out there, but hardly any of them work for me (most of these are anti-histamines).  When I find one that does work, I usually have to take twice the recommended dose, and I don’t like doing that to my liver!  In my search for natural relief, I’ve discovered a few things that work for me, such as high doses of quercetin, but everyone is different.  Based on research and word of mouth, I’ve compiled a list of the most successful supplements for natural relief that are out there.  You might have to try a few different ones to discover what works best for you.

Stinging Nettle: The phytochemicals in stinging nettle act on the mast cells to prevent the release of histamine.  Stinging nettle also contains phytochemicals that block the histamine receptors on nerve endings.  One double blind, controlled studied found that 58% of people who took two 300 mg capsules of freeze dried stinging nettle during the day found it effective at relieving allergy symptoms, and 48% found it equal to or more effective than their previous allergy medicine.

Quercetin: This flavanol is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, such as apples, onions, and berries.  It’s usually attached to a sugar molecule (called a glycoside), which also gives it a higher rate of absorption. Quercetin works as both a mast cell inhibitor and an anti-inflammatory.  One study found that quercetin was more effective at inhibiting mast cells than chromolyn, a common asthma treatment.   Quercetin in supplemental form has a relatively low rate of absorption, so common doses range from 250-600 mg, three times daily.

Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in providing allergy relief is often debated, but one Japanese study found that supplemental Vitamin C, compared with other anti-oxidants, was associated with fewer allergy symptoms. Another study found that a vitamin C solution sprayed into the nose three times daily greatly reduced nasal secretion.  Vitamin C probably provides relief by acting as an anti-inflammatory.

Bromelain: This powerful enzyme is found in pineapples and stimulates the production of plasmin.  Plasmin is an enzyme that helps provide allergy relief by opening up clogged nasal passages.

Local Honey: The research on the efficacy of local honey is limited, but it’s probably one of the more popular folk remedies out there.  It seems like nearly everyone I mention anything about allergies to suggests trying local honey.  I’ve tried eating local honey and it seems to work for me.  There’s also at least  one randomized, controlled study that indicates local honey may have scientific validity.  In Japan, researchers gave birch honey to patients suffering from birch pollen allergies, and the patients who ate the honey had significantly fewer allergy symptoms than those using traditional anti-histamines.  Hey, it’s honey we’re talking about here — it’s worth a try!

Do you know of any folk remedies or research on natural allergy relief that we missed?  What works best for you?  We’d love to read your comments below.

References: Birch Pollen Study, Quercetin Study, Vitamin C and Rhinitis Symptoms, Alternative Allergy Relief, Stinging Nettle Research

Originally posted 2013-04-30 22:03:31.

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamin C

vitamin cWhile generally, unprocessed foods are healthier than manufactured ones, science is often successful at manufacturing exact replicas of micronutrients (like vitamin C).  Synthesization in a lab, rather than through natural biological processes in God’s creation, does not automatically make something unhealthy or inferior.  Manufactured versions of naturally occurring micronutrients can still be considered “natural” when they integrate seamlessly with natural biological processes.  The evidence suggests that such is the case with vitamin C.

Every so often people tell me that synthesized vitamin C is not as effective as naturally occurring vitamin C or vitamin C “complexes.”  All current studies, however, indicate that synthesized vitamin C and naturally occurring vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) are identical; they have no difference in molecular structure or bioavailability.

It’s true that vitamin C occurs in plants as part of a nutrient “complex”  and that the nutrients in that complex may provide additional benefits, but the ascorbic acid component in the complex is the same as synthesized ascorbic acid.  Moreover, most mammals (other than humans) are capable of producing vitamin C internally, and when they do, it’s as pure L-ascorbic acid, not a complex of any other nutrients.  The L-ascorbic acid that these mammals produce is effective at carrying out all the important functions of vitamin C, like collagen and carnitine synthesis.

That being said, it’s clear that vitamin C isn’t the only health promoting factor in vitamin C rich foods.  Vitamin C in whole foods works synergistically with a number of other nutrients for increased health benefits.  For example, a study that compared vitamin C supplementation to consumption of orange juice with an equal amount of Vitamin C found that orange juice provided superior anti-oxidant protection.  Whole foods like oranges contain hundreds of healthy phytonutrients that researchers are only just starting to understand.  There’s no debate that a diet rich in whole foods offers tremendous benefits over a diet of processed foods that depends heavily on micronutrient supplementation.  Yet, in and of itself, synthesized vitamin C is exactly the same as natural occurring vitamin C and functions the same in the body.

Synthesized ascorbic acid can have a valid place in a creation-based diet.  Vitamin C supplementation is an affordable and easy way to ensure that the body is getting enough of one of the most important nutrients for optimum health.  In addition to being a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system, normal metabolic function, and collagen production (one of the most abundant proteins in the body).  When applied topically, synthesized vitamin C is also affective at reducing UV ray induced skin damage.   The benefits of supplemental vitamin C, specifically, are also supported by an ever growing number of studies.  Thus, when it comes to my personal health, I’ll keep eating a creation-based diet, high in natural sources of vitamin C, as well as supplementing with at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily.

References:

Originally posted 2013-03-13 23:00:47.

Water Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins are essential nutrients (i.e. nutrients that we need for basic function, but cannot produce on our own). There are two classifications of vitamins: Water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 (cobalamin), and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A (retinol), vitamin D, vitamin E (tocopherol), and vitamin K.

Solubility refers to one substance’s (the solute) ability to dissolve into another (the solvent). Thus, a water-soluble vitamin dissolves in water. Because of this, they are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins. They must be replenished every day.

The B vitamins and vitamin C are found in many different kinds of food, both plant and animal products. Unfortunately, modern-day grain processing has made many of our grains deficient in most of the vital B-complexes. Food companies have been fortifying grains for this reason. Fortification is the processes of placing synthetic vitamins back into the food that has lost nutrients due to processing. Just another good reason to eat whole foods!

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Functions: Used in energy and alcohol metabolism; promotes a healthy appetite
Dietary Sources: Nutritional yeast, pork, organ meat, whole-grain, sesame seeds, wheat germ, bran, dried herbs and spices, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, blackstrap molasses
Notes: This was the first B vitamin for scientists to discover.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism
Dietary Sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese, liver, almonds, dried herbs, spices, peppers, edamame, bran, sun-dried tomatoes, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast
Notes: B2 is destroyed by ultraviolet light, which is why a lot of milk is bottled in opaque jugs instead of clear jugs.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism; digestion aid; lowers triglycerides
Dietary Sources: Peanuts, liver, veal, paprika, avocado, bacon, bran, fish, some mushrooms, poultry, milk, eggs, legumes, nutritional yeast, nuts
Notes: High doses of the synthetic form of this vitamin can be dangerous.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism; production of hormones
Dietary Sources: Wheat bran, avocados, caviar, cheese, whey, tomatoes, mushrooms, oats, chicken, beef, nutritional yeast, potatoes, liver, egg yolk, broccoli
Notes: Many skin and hair products contain pantothenic acid.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Functions: Amino acid metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, helps make red blood cells
Dietary Sources: Fish, dried herbs and spices, garlic, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, molasses, hazelnuts, pistachios, bran, meat, starchy vegetables, noncitrus fruits, liver, soy, legumes
Notes: Vitamin B6 may help to ward of colorectal cancer.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Functions: Used in energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and glycogen synthesis
Dietary Sources: Egg yolks, liver, fish, oats, soybeans, wheat germ, lentils, split peas, bran, avocados, strawberries, raspberries, almonds, pecan, peanuts, walnuts
Notes: Adequate vitamin B7 helps a person have beautiful hair and nails.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Functions: Used in DNA synthesis and new cell growth
Dietary Sources: Leafy green vegetables, nutritional yeast, dried herbs, edamame, liver, bean sprouts, pinto beans, lentils, asparagus, sunflower seeds
Notes: Folic acid is extremely important to a growing fetus. If pregnant, be sure to eat food rich in this B vitamin.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Functions: Needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine; blood formation; fatty acid synthesis; DNA synthesis
Dietary Sources: Clams, oysters, mussels, liver, fish eggs, fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb, eggs, cheese
Notes: Consuming excess vitamin B12 will not give you energy.

Vitamin C
Functions: Antioxidant; collagen synthesis; immune support; helps in iron absorption
Dietary Sources: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, red and green chili pepper, dark leafy greens, kiwis, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, fresh herbs, papayas, strawberries, cantaloupes, mangoes, potatoes
Notes: If you have a cold, don’t take a lot of synthetic vitamin C. Vitamin C doesn’t cure the cold, it’s preventative! Through a whole foods diet, you should get plenty of vitamin C and, in turn, have a stellar immune system.

References:
Understanding Nutrition, 12th Edition (Whitney & Rolfes 2010); USDA

Originally posted 2013-09-16 14:21:49.