HEALTH: Health Foods You’ve Never Heard of (Until Now)

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By Dr. Lydia Thurton

New health foods hit stores shelves every day. It can be overwhelming to keep up with all of the new products, let alone know how to use them. Let’s discuss some hidden gems that you might want to purchase next time you are perusing the aisles of your local health food store.

Have you ever heard of nutritional yeast? For centuries yeast has been a part of humanity’s food supply. Beer to bread, these little organisms help make some of our most delicious foods. There are thousands of different types of yeast, some are good for us and some are not. Saccyromyces cervicea is what is known as a nutritional yeast. This yeast can be sprinkled on food and has a mild cheesy, nutty flavor. It can even be sprinkled on popcorn as a cheese powder substitute. Nutritional yeast is a source of selenium, potassium and all of your B vitamins, except for B12. Beta- glucans are special carbohydrates that can stimulate your immune system and these are also found in high quantities in nutritional yeast. Bio-Strath is a unique yeast-based product from Switzerland that is widely carried in Canadian health food stores. Sold as a liquid, a tablespoon can be mixed into smoothies for a quick and natural vitamin boost.

Month after month, I watched lonely bottles of beet root juice collect dust on the shelves. None of our dispensary customers knew how or why to use this extremely healthful drink. Beets, the naturally sweet and richly colored vegetable, contain nitrates. Your body can use nitrates to make nitric oxide and this chemical tells your blood vessels to relax and dilate. When your blood vessels open up, your blood pressure goes down. Beet root juice can help athletic performance help treat and prevent hypertension.

The health properties of honey have been known for thousands of years. This sweet food is made from the nectar of flowers, and depending on the flower, the honey can take on different properties. This leads us to our third underappreciated health food: manuka honey. This honey is so amazing that it can be applied topically to wounds and burns as an antibacterial agent.
Antibiotics, while very helpful, if used in excess can lead to resistant strains of bacteria. Bacteria that are unresponsive to antibiotics are a major public health concern. Manuka honey has been shown to be active against MRSA, the most serious form of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

From healing wounds to lowering blood pressure, these hidden health gems offer a wide range of benefits. While these products are generally safe for regular consumption, it is always advisable to check in with your naturopathic doctor or health care provider before beginning a new health regimen.

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