Friday, September 23, 2016

Doug Ward appointed member of the Order of Canada

By Kevin Perkins, FRI Executive Director
Today I had the honour of celebrating our friend and Farm Radio’s chair Doug Ward at the official ceremony for his appointment as a member of the Order of Canada. His appointment is fitting recognition for his lifelong contribution to using radio broadcasting to build a better world. Doug always had a penchant for improving people’s lives. From organizing student marches in the '60s to empowering northern indigenous communities to create radio programming in their own languages — it’s never been about Doug, but always about helping as many people as possible. As I’m sure you have heard Doug say, that’s why he loves radio so much — the reach and impact are virtually boundless. Now retired from the CBC, Doug is as active as ever in public service radio, helping to build Farm Radio International to what it is is today: a voice for rural communities in Africa, serving over 20 million people with life-changing communication services. To say that Doug is a dream board chair is a tremendous understatement. Doug is involved in so many aspects of our work, yet always the last one to take the credit for a project well done. He continues to write broadcaster training materials daily. He personally calls and knows most of our supporters. He comes up with new ideas and new ways to improve radio services for African farmers. And he employs his impressive skills as our chairperson, running board affairs smoothly and productively. He often starts working at 4:30 in the morning so he can connect with our African offices to learn more about the needs of the broadcasters and farmers we serve. For his service here in Canada and abroad, please join me in saying congratulations to Doug on his appointment to the Order of Canada — we can’t think of someone who deserves it more. Click here to send your congratulatory note to Doug now. With thanks, Kevin Perkins Executive Director, Farm Radio International

Friday, September 16, 2016

Carole Leuwe Receives FRI George Atkins Communication Award 2016

By Helen Ayamba,
The Focal Point of Farm Radio International Cameroon, James Achanyi-Fontem, who doubles as the Executive tor of CameroonLink presided over the official handing over of The George Atkins Communication Award 2016 ceremony at Nostalgie FM Radio located in Akwa-Douala, economic capital on Tuesday, 13th September. In his address to the audience at the ceremony, Mr. Achanyi-Fontem presented a brief history of Farm Radio International, the George Atkins Communication Award and the 2016 winners. He said. it was a privilege and honour for him to preside over the Farm Radio International George Atkins Communication Award Ceremony in Cameroon and that it was important to realize Cameroon was honoured as well as Cameroon Link, Nostalgie FM Radio and the winner, Carole Leuwe. He added that a few weeks ago, Mrs.Blythe McKay, .the Director of Broadcaster Resources at Farm Radio international Canada was delighted to announce this year's George Atkins Communications Award winners , who are: 1.Carole Leuwe of Radio Nostalgie in Douala, Cameroon 2.Gideon Sarkodie, of ADARS FM in Ghana and 3.Sarah Adongo of Mega FM in Uganda The other nominees, according to the director, were recognized by FRI as runners-up for the award and all received certificates. The runners-up are: 1.Privat Tiburce Martin Massanga of Radio MUCODEC in Congo 2.Soumaïla Gado of Radio Dar Es Salam in Nigeria 3.Winnie Onyimbo of Trans World Radio in Kenya It should be noed that the winners were selected based on their performances by FRI staff and board members voting. Each winner received a cash prize equivalent to CAD $ 500.00 and the country offices in Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda were authorized to organize small celebration/award ceremonies to recognize the winners in their respective countries. The in-country celebrations are to be posted on farm radio website along side with short descriptions of the winners. Carole Leuwe was congratulated with the other winners and runners-up for demonstrating their passion and commitment to developing high quality radio programmes for their farming audiences! Farm Radio International established by a Canadian broadcaster, Dr. George Atkins, in 1979, started as Developing Countries Farm Radio Network before becoming Farm Radio International (FRI). It is the only organization in the world focused exclusively on serving African farming families and communities over the radio. It has three main areas of work: 1. Distribution of RADIO RESOURCES: It sends broadcasters research resources on farming issues, sample scripts, and farming news by African writers, and provides training to help broadcasters create high-quality, farmer-centred programmes. It currently serves more than 640 radio partners across 39 sub-Saharan countries. 2. FRI promotes RADIO FOR RESULTS: Its impact projects are designed to tackle specific agricultural, health, and social challenges, such as soil erosion, marketing produce, nutrition, and gender inequalities. It has major projects in Tanzania which Carole Leuwe had the opportunity to visit, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and Niger. 3.FRI promotes RADIO INNOVATIONS Combined with newer technologies, which makes radio become a two-way interactive communications tool.This innovation leads to finding new ways to enhance the power, and reach of radio is the focus of its team. Cameroon Link has been Focal Point of Farm Radio International in Cameroon since it won the George Atkins Communication Award in 1996. Since then, it has received materials from Farm Radio International and distributed to over 100 registered broadcasting partners in all ten regions of the country. There are 36 English Speaking community radio stations and 44 French Speaking Community radio stations inmeroon that receive Farm Radio International materials to facilitate farmers’ story design programming and script adaptation during broadcasts. Carole Ngueyep Leuwe was born on the16th March 1979. She has a first degree in journalism and worked at Nostalgie FM Akwa-Doual, Cameroun for ten years. She is not married but is mother of two children. Her fields of competence are radio communication and farmer-interactive involvement in programme design , production, news coverage and broadcasting. She is bilingual and serves as translator in English and French languages. She is a defender of the rights of handicapped persons and promotes gender equality. She started her broadcasting career in 1995 and has climbed up to the position of Editor-in-Chief at Nostalgie FM Radio since 2012.. Carole is computer literate and has good knowledge of conference moderation, human rights, and cooking. Her hobbies are travelling, meeting people, cooking, singing, dancing, photography, footing and reading of newspapers.. Carole Leuwe’s Impressions after the award
Pour ceux qui me connaissent ils seront surpris de me découvrir dans ce domaine.....En effet je ne couvre pas que la culture et la santé......mon troisième sujet et le plus remarquable c'est l'agriculture. Merci à Mathias Mouendé Ngamo qui suit mon évolution. Merci à Farm Radio International qui décerne ce prix , merci à James Achanyi-Fontem Blythe McKay #GeorgeAtkinsCommunicationAwards2016 #Cameroon #Agri237 coming soon #96fm #LoveMyjob Some congratulatory messages received
Mathias Mouendé Ngamo: La terre ne ment pas. La terre nourrit le monde. Alors nous devons tous contribuer à l'amélioration des conditions de vie des agriculteurs. Tous, chacun dans son secteur d'activité. Soyons tous des agri-citoyens. Bravo à toi Carole Leuwé Quand les jeunes et les journalistes s'intéressent à l'agriculture, ça donne ceci... Lionel Ligick REVERENCE: Lgr et comme tu aimes le titre autant que l'auteur, c'est l'occasion aussi de te décerner heuh non plutôt, te dédicacer (et pourquoi même pas faire les deux!), ce tube de Mister Richard Bona Alexis Nwafo: Bravo ma soeur chérie voilà toute la famille gratifié et au podium grâce a toi a tes efforts merci de tout coeur que le Seigneur te guide et te donne encore plus de force Edwige Noel: tu as beaucoup d'énergie la mère de nathan Inoussa Maïga: Felicitations et bon courage pour la suite King Foguito: Congratulations sister you deserve it Richard Eboa: Hum... Toi avec les prix ces temps ci, Dieu seul sait. Carole Xtiane Bille: Je suis ta voisine j'attends la célébration ooooo Alexis Nwafo: Bravo ma soeur chérie voilà toute la famille gratifié et au podium grâce a toi a tes efforts merci de tout coeur que le Seigneur te guide et te donne encore plus de force Rose Bika: Tu es une bosseuse c'est ce que je sais Inoussa Maïga: Felicitations et bon courage pour la suite King Foguito: Congratulations sister you deserve it Michel Mombio: Congratulations! Seul le travail paie ! Ndja Maàveun Yomi Elise: Mes felicitations ma fille cherie Carole Leuwé muammmm tu es adorable Dbg Manka'a: Great!!! Keep it up. #Girlpower Tatiana Dirane: OUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Tu es une bosseuse c'est ce que je sais Solange Petjin: Tu mérites Arlette Mafopi L'étoile: Papa Paul doit etre fier de toi, hein! Je me souviens qu’il nous a tous recommande d’entrer au champ Handing over of George Atkin Award 2016 in Cameroon Carole Leuwe’s Impressions after the FRI Award in English Carole Leuwe’s Impressions after the FRI Award in French Interview with Carole Leuwe onFRI George Atkins Award 2016 George Atkins Communication Award Ceremony in Cameroon

Sunday, September 11, 2016

How to Use Watermelon As a Medicine

By Jenny Hills Food & Nutrition
Watermelon is one of the fruits most associated with summer, but next to the delicious sweet taste that we all know, it also contains medicinal properties: lowering blood pressure, treating edema, skin fungus and more. Watermelon contains considerable amount of beta-carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iodine and manganese. It contains only 29 calories per 100 grams, which is another good reason to eat watermelon. How to use watermelon as a medicine? There are a lot of reasons to eat watermelon: watermelon seeds expand the blood vessels, lower blood pressure and improve kidney function. For kidney cleansing it is recommended to do a watermelon fast for a whole day. Cut small cubes of watermelon and eat several pieces every fifteen minutes. Fasting is beneficial to those suffering from stones and kidney infections and urinary tract. Watermelon is a good diuretic and therefore good for edemas. Watermelon is also beneficial for constipation as it is a mild laxative. Kidney cleansing: watermelon fasting for a day. Watermelon is a natural diuretic while ridding the body of excess fluids. There are many ways to enjoy the benefits from watermelon. Simply slice or juice your watermelon and consume it whenever you are hungry. Kidney infection: the same. A kidney infection is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that occurs when bacteria enters your kidneys. After you receive a medial treatment for it, a healthy diet can help you to recover and help protect your body from developing further infections. Drink lots of fluids including fruits and vegetables with a high water content such as watermelon, cucumber and apple. Kidney stones: make watermelon seed tea by pouring a pint of boiling water over a tablespoonful of watermelon seeds (ground or cut) and allow it to steep. Let it cool, then strain and drink three glasses per day. For more information on how to treat kidney stones naturally click here. Liver cleansing: drink 3 cups daily watermelon juice. A watermelon cleanse helps the liver to process ammonia, a waste from protein digestion, and convert it into a molecule known as urea, a component of urine that is safely excreted from the body. To learn more about detox concept, you can find more useful information in my e-book The Detox Guide. This guide will teach you how to use detox to cleanse and energize your body naturally and safely. Colon cleansing – A common problem amongst people with colon issues is dehydration. Incorporating more liquids into your daily routine is key in achieving a cleaner colon and more proper digestion. It lubricates the digested food and provides it with the right hydration to break it down. Water, fruit juices and eating fruits and vegetables high in water content, like watermelon, will help. You can find here more food to cleanse your colon. Constipation: Eat a slice of watermelon to help restore the colon and intestines. It’s all about high water content and fiber, and within a short time the body seems to go into the elimination process moving the waste out. Don’t consume too much watermelon otherwise it can cause diarrhea. Read more about natural remedies for constipation here. Skin fungi: rub the watermelon rind on the skin several times a day. Apparently the rind contains anti-fungal properties. Skin pimples: the same. Rub watermelon rind directly onto your affected area and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing off. By rubbing a watermelon rind on your face you are releasing the nutrients directly onto your skin and cleaning up bacteria-prone areas. To read more about natural homemade skin treatment to stop breakouts click here. Edema: Drink 3 cups watermelon juice a day (watermelon has diuretic properties). High blood pressure and problems in the arteries: A small study by Florida State University published in the American Journal of Hypertension, found that watermelon is loaded with an amino acid called L-citrulline which helps improve circulation, relaxes arteries and lowers people’s systolic blood pressure by as much as nine points. You can also find here more information on how to reduce blood pressure naturally. Gout: Watermelon is an especially alkaline fruit with high water content, which are important factors in dissolving and flushing out the sharp uric crystals that cause gout pain. Click here for more information on how to treat gout naturally. Diabetes: According to Livestrong website, If you have diabetes, you are encouraged to eat watermelon as part of a healthy diet. Although watermelon has few carbohydrates and natural sugar per serving, it is also low in calories and loaded with nutrients. Just make sure that you follow the guidance of your health care provider. To read about 12 more excellent foods to control diabetes click here. Heartburn: eHow website recommends to eat 4 to 6 chunks of watermelon slowly and to repeat throughout the day. The quantity and how often you eat them will depend on how much discomfort you have.

11 Healthy Reasons to Eat Avocado and What to Do With the Pit

By Jenny Hills Food & Nutrition
I just love it when I can eat food that not only tastes delicious, but is also nutritious and healthy. That’s how I would describe avocado. It is a superfood, but unlike some other superfoods that are hard to consume unless disguised as something else, avocado is yummy and can be prepared in so many different ways. For a long time many people counted calories indiscriminately and feared fats, so they avoided this wonderful fatty fruit. But now the verdict is out – the fats avocado contains are healthy for you, and calorie counting is overrated. So it’s official: I can eat avocados to my heart’s content. Here are some good reasons why: 1. Avocados are rich in carotenoids and also help their absorption from other fruits and vegetables Carotenoids are natural plant pigments. They are very powerful antioxidants and some types can be turned into vitamin A, which is essential for the health of your eyes. Carotenoids are soluble in fat, so they need a fatty environment to be absorbed. If you eat a fat-rich avocado together with other fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids, the body will be able to use these antioxidant better. Adding a few slices of avocado to your salad should do the trick. You can learn more about antioxidants in my previous article about 9 amazing antioxidants for great health. 2. Avocados make you feel full and help you lose weight This fact might come as a bit of a surprise, considering the fruit’s caloric value (half a medium-sized avocado contains 138 calories). However, because avocado makes you feel full, you actually tend to eat less. Also, avocado contains oleic acid, which activates part of the brain responsible for feeling full. What’s more, recent research shows that eating healthy unsaturated fats can help with your dieting efforts. You can also find here the best foods that help fight belly fat. 3. Avocados are good for the heart and reduce the risk of heart attack Since avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, they boost your good cholesterol levels – the high density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. For HDL, higher numbers are always welcomed. HDL prevents heart disease and stroke. So if you have a family history of heart attack, make sure that you stock some avocados in your kitchen. 4. Avocados lower your bad cholesterol levels Just as avocados increase HDL or ‘good cholesterol’, they reduce LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’. The oleic acid helps reduce your overall cholesterol levels, and particularly the damaging LDL cholesterol, which is blamed for cardiovascular disease. If you are battling with high cholesterol levels, avocado might be your perfect savior. Find here more simple and effective ways to reduce cholesterol. 5. Avocados are high in folate and reduce the risk of birth defects This one is particularly interesting for pregnant women, who need to take folic acid supplements during their pregnancy. It turns out avocado is very rich in folate – a vitamin which prevents birth defects. One cup of avocado contains a quarter of your daily recommended intake. Folic acid is important for the health of your cells, as it prevents cell changes that could lead to cancer, so everyone should consume enough of it. 6. Not many chemicals can touch avocados so they are safe to eat If you’re worried about the pesticides in your food, you’ll be happy to hear that due to their thick skin, avocados are very resistant to pesticide contamination. Also, bugs don’t attack them so much, so fewer pesticides are used in the first place. And indeed avocados were on the top of the list of fruits and veggies with the least pesticides for 2014. So who said that having thick skin is a bad thing? 7. Avocados have anti-cancerous properties Avocados contain plenty of phytonutrients. These increase the amount of antioxidants in your body which fight free radicals, which have the potential to cause damage to cells, including damage that may lead to cancer. Avocados may inhibit oral cancer and prostate cancer, as well as some other malignant diseases. Find here more foods that protect against cancer development. 8. Avocados are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals Did you know that avocados contain more potassium than bananas? They are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin B5 and vitamin B6. They hide a substantial amount of vitamin C inside their rich meat. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and it’s important for the upkeep of your immune system. 9. Avocados are rich in dietary fibers Consuming enough fibers is essential for your gut and overall health. With avocado, constipation can become a worry of the past. Dietary fibers also help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The good news is that one avocado contains almost half of your daily recommended intake of fiber. 10. Avocados improve brain function and might help prevent dementia I saved my favorite avocado healthiness for the end. Who would think that eating guacamole can improve your brain function? Well, according to research, avocados are up there with blueberries in promoting brain health. They contribute to healthy blood flow and reduce blood pressure, so your brain gets nourished without any interruptions. High blood pressure is often associates with cognitive decline, so keeping it within normal values will keep your little grey cells in optimal shape for old age. You can find here more ways to improve your brain function naturally. 11. Avocados have anti inflammatory properties Avocado helps to prevent inflammation in the body, especially problems involving arthritis, due to several factors. It contains phytosterols that are a major portion of avocado fats. These phytosterols are important supporters of our inflammatory system that help keep inflammation under control. Also its high content of carotenoids, as well as other nutrients, is a key factor in the anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit. Find here more foods to reduce inflammation in your body. Eating avocado and using the seed is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. How to eat avocado pits for nutrition You might be as tempted as I am now to live on avocados only, but remember that no extreme is good for you. A half to one avocado should be your daily dose. And if you were thinking of discarding its hard pit after eating your delicious treat, think again. Avocado seeds not only grow into beautiful plants, they can also be used in your kitchen and are increasingly recognized for their healing potential. Some indigenous cultures have been using avocado seeds for medicinal purposes for centuries, especially as a digestive remedy to cure diarrhea and dysentery. Add the whole pit to you other smoothie ingredients and use a super strong and heavy duty food processor such as Vitamix. The seeds contain flavonols that give them anti-cancerous properties. They are also rich in antioxidants, soluble fiber and potassium. If you want to focus on its potassium value, go for the immature fruits – as the fruit ripens, the levels of potassium decline. So enjoy your next avocado-enriched meal – it’s a healthy pleasure worth indulging in! Avocado is also one of the superfoods mentioned in my e-book about superfoods which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition and weight loss goals.

7 Health Issues That Bananas Can Solve

By Jenny Hills Food & Nutrition, Health
Banana is one of my favorite fruits, and I don’t need to be convinced why I should eat them, but for all the others there are 7 good reasons why you should eat this healthy fruit and you only need to eat as little as two bananas a day to maximize their health benefits. Health Benefits of Bananas: 1. Banana is the best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure, heart health and bone strength. One banana contains 450 mg of potassium, four times higher than cereal, bread and more. Eating two bananas a day will contribute to the prevention of hypertension, atherosclerosis and building our bones. Bananas also reduce the risk of stroke. 2. Bananas are low in sodium, and contain one mg per unit. Much of our daily diet sources, such as cereals, crackers and bread contain hundreds of milligrams of sodium. Reduction in sodium consumption is important in preventing high blood pressure, heart disease and blood vessels and loss of calcium from the bones. 3. Bananas contain prebiotic fiber that contributes to the digestive system. This helps to prevent diarrhea resulting from infection in the intestine, strengthen the immune system, protects against colon cancer and more. Prebiotic fibers also contribute to increased mineral absorption from the intestine, reducing cholesterol absorption and balance sugar levels. 4. A Swedish study showed that whole fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, help protect against kidney cancer. It was found that women who consumed more vegetables and fruits, decreased their risk of the disease, and those who consumed four to six bananas per week reduced the risk of kidney cancer by about half. 5. Bananas contain substances that help operate the cells that make up the lining of the stomach, and thus they form the protective mucous barrier against acidity. Other compounds in bananas called protease inhibitors, help destroy bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. 6. The high potassium content of bananas helps improve the health condition after consuming much alcohol, and helps prevent the feeling of a hangover. 7. Banana contains tryptophan, an amino acid that makes serotonin, an active ingredient in the nervous system. Among other functions, it regulates sleep and appetite and aids in creating a sense of relaxation. Therefore it is recommended to eat banana with the slight appearance of hunger during the day. Read also my article about the best foods to get better sleep. Eating a banana a day is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

10 Amazing Reasons to Eat Papaya and What to Do with the Seeds

By Jenny Hills Food & Nutrition
Papaya is a special fruit – loved by some, an acquired taste for others. The lucky ones can pick it from their gardens, but the majority will probably need to venture to a supermarket to get one. We live in the age when the first thing we need to check is the origin of the food we’re about to buy. Sad but true. Papayas are naturally very healthy, but the goodness is somewhat diminished when we buy from an unsustainable source. It’s even worse if we go for the genetically modified fruits, which have had their genetic-code changed in order to resist viruses and increase production numbers. Genetically modified papayas have been approved for consumption both in the USA and Canada, while Europe is still resisting. If you want to avoid a snack full of potentially harmful substances, pay attention to the fruit’s label. Most genetically modified papayas come from Hawaii, where they have been grown since 1999. When you get hold of a good-old-non-GMO papaya, these are the benefits you can look forward to: 1. Papaya is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B complex, and is rich in magnesium, copper and potassium. Vitamin A and vitamin C are both powerful antioxidants, so the ‘fruit of the angels’, as Christopher Columbus called it, destroys free radicals in the body – the villains behind many chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. You can read more about antioxidants and their role in our body in my previous article about these 9 amazing antioxidants for great health. 2. Papaya lowers your cholesterol levels. It inhibits the harmful LDL cholesterol and prevents it from sticking onto the walls of blood vessels and causing problems in the circulation that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you suffer from high cholesterol levels, you can find here 10 simple and effective ways to lower cholesterol naturally. 3. Papaya is rich in fiber and promotes digestive health. To keep your bowels happy and moving, your diet should be rich in dietary fiber. Papaya has loads, and one serving can satisfy a quarter of your daily recommended intake. Increasing your fiber intake is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. Also, if you just underwent antibiotic treatment, make sure to eat some papaya, or drink papaya juice. The fruit does a good job at re-balancing your intestinal flora after an aggressive course of antibiotics. Papaya is one of the ingredients in this delicious digestive detox smoothie as the digestive enzyme papain helps to ease the burden of the complicated process of digestion. 4. Papaya contains unique enzymes that can lower inflammation. Chymopapin and papain are papaya’s protein-digesting enzymes that can help lower the body’s inflammatory reaction. Since rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that presents as an inflammation of the joints, eating papaya can assist with symptom control. Also, eating vitamin C rich papaya can reduce your chances of developing arthritis in the first place. You can find here more foods that help to reduce inflammation in the body. 5. Papaya boosts your immune system. Vitamin A and vitamin C, which both generously occur in papaya flesh, strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. You can also learn about other 10 quick life hacks to improve your immunity. 6. Papaya has anti-cancer activity. The antioxidants in papaya are praised for effectively fighting cancer. Papaya reduces a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, especially if combined with drinking green tea. It might also prevent cancer in your blood and bone marrow, by stopping the cells from oxidizing. The wonderful papaya enzyme, papain, can help relief side effects of chemotherapy. It is being studied for its beneficial effects on swallowing and mouth sores. This fruit has been shown to be a good protective measurement against colon cancer. With a little help from papaya, colon cells don’t suffer DNA damage that could lead to new, potentially dangerous, growths. I recommend you to read my other posts about this subject: The best cooking methods for cancer prevention and the top 5 cancer causing foods to avoid. 7. Papaya can protect your eyesight. Beta carotene and vitamin A help to protect sight and can improve vision. A study published in Archives of Ophthalmology has pointed out that eating fruit can do a lot to prevent age-related macular degeneration. Three helpings of fruit a day are recommended, and papaya is a very suitable candidate due to its nutritional content. You can get more information in my post about the top 9 secrets to prevent eyesight problems and improve your vision naturally. 8. Papaya helps to prevent blood clots. Blood clots can narrow or block blood vessels, or sometimes they can dislodge and travel to the heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke. Papaya contains fibrin, which prevents blood coagulation and enables the blood to flow freely. So make sure to put a slice of papaya in your morning cereal or in your breakfast shake. Of course, to prevent blood clotting, you will need to remove other risk factors from your life too, starting with smoking. You can also eat turmeric every day to prevent blood clots – read more about it here. There are also a number of herbs that can improve your blood circulation and you can find more information about them in my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide. 9. Eating papaya reduces your stress levels. A papaya snack not only fills your stomach, but it can also make you feel more relaxed. Vitamin C regulates the flow of stress hormones and can bring you back to your balanced zen-state. Well, it might take a bit more than just a slice of papaya for that, but it’s a good start. If you want to reduce your stress, read my post about 14 effective natural remedies for stress and anxiety. 10. It is good for your skin. Have you noticed that papaya often features in cosmetic products,such as creams, face masks and hair softeners? It is renowned for its beauty benefits. Papaya’s vitamin E and beta carotene prevent cell damage through their antioxidant activity. Vitamin E also supports collagen production, which is the substance that keeps your skin firm and elastic, in other words young-looking. Beta carotene further smoothies away the wrinkles and makes you look fresh. Try a face mask and expose your skin to the magic ingredients. Essential oils can also be used for maintaining healthy skin and for treating certain skin conditions. You can find more information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy which will help you to discover the most effective ways to use essential oils to unlock their amazing healing power. The benefits of papaya seeds and how to use them When you cut a papaya, the insides look very inviting, and the seeds can easily be scooped out. They are high in fat and protein, and contain plenty of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Think twice before you discard them, as they can be used in many ways. According to Maryland Medical Center and Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical medicine, papaya seeds are great for getting rid of intestinal parasites. A recent study showed that people who were taking honey together with papaya seeds, cleared their stool of parasites in 23 out of 30 cases. Papaya seeds are also credited with anti-cancerous properties. The seeds have a distinct, slightly peppery flavor. They can be eaten as they are, or you can sprinkle them over salads and other dishes, just as you would use pumpkin seeds. Those who are not afraid of the spicy flavor, can try them in a smoothie.

Most Amazing Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

By Jenny Hills Food & Nutrition
Dragon fruit is an exotic fruit which is also known as cactus fruit or pitaya. If its exotic-sounding name wasn’t enough to grab your interest, the health benefits of dragon fruit are sure to get your attention. Dragon fruit can boost your immune system, improve digestion, control blood sugar levels and may even prevent cancer and diabetes. It has high nutritional value and it is a good source of antioxidants and many vitamins which are needed to keep your body in top health. Dragon fruit offers a delicious addition to a healthy diet. What Is Dragon Fruit? Dragon fruit first originated in South and Central Americas and it is now found throughout Asia and Oceania. The fruit is fist-sized with red skin and green scales that give dragon fruit its fitting name. The most common variety has white flesh with black crunchy seeds. Less common types have red flesh and skin as well as yellow skin with white flesh. But despite its odd appearance, dragon fruit is a mildly sweet fruit. It has a taste and mouth feel of something like a cross between a pear and a kiwifruit. Both the seeds and the pulp have high nutritional value and some people even consider dragon fruit to be a tropical superfood. The seeds of dragon fruit contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids). The flesh contains fiber, carbohydrates and high level of vitamin C (equivalent to 15 percent of the daily recommended value) which can boost your immune system. It also contains some B complex vitamins (B1, B2, and B3) along with the minerals calcium, phosphorus and iron. The antioxidant lycopene present in dragon fruit is known to help prevent certain types of cancer. Let’s look at the many health benefits of dragon fruit. Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit Digestive Health Dragon fruit provides a good source of dietary fiber, which means that it can improve your bowl movements, prevent constipation and improve the general health of your digestive system.1 In addition to supporting good bowel health, a diet rich in dietary fiber can provide other health benefits. The soluble fiber that dragon fruit supplies can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar. It can also lower your cholesterol by reducing levels of the so-called bad cholesterol or LDL. Because fiber tends to fill you up, you may find that you’re eating less too, so dragon fruit can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Blood Sugar Control Dragon fruit is one of the best foods for diabetes because of its low glycemic index (GI).2 In addition, it may even reduce your risk of developing diabetes. At 14 g per serving, dragon fruit has a low carbohydrate content which makes it a tasty addition to low-carb diets. In a study done with mice, researchers found that dragon fruit juice reduced insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.3 Insulin resistance occurs when your body doesn’t respond to insulin properly. This can lead to higher levels of blood sugar or glucose and it is an early sign of pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. It is also one of a group of risk factors called metabolic syndrome that can increase your risk for other conditions such as heart disease. Cardiovascular Health Dragon fruit can significantly reduce heart disease risk due to its flavonoid content. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring chemicals in plants. A review of studies looking on flavonoids found that eating foods, like dragon fruit, which are rich in these chemicals, significantly reduced heart disease risk.4 Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Dragon fruit can support good cardiovascular health in other ways as well. Another study examined the effects of feeding dragon fruit pulp to diabetic rats. Researchers found that the rats showed improvements in blood vessel flexibility after five weeks of treatment.6 As you age, your blood vessels become stiff. So these findings suggest that a diet that includes dragon fruit may help keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Cholesterol Control Dragon fruit can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels due to its betalain content. Betalains are pigments that give dragon fruit its color and also offer exciting health benefits. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that eating foods containing betalains, like dragon fruit, could keep LDL or bad cholesterol levels from increasing.7 Dr. Suzanne R. Steinbaum on WebMD says that high LDL levels increase your risk of heart disease.8 When LDL levels are high, plaque builds up on the inside of blood vessels. Then, high amounts of plaque can cause serious and sometimes fatal blood clots. Cancer Prevention Dragon fruit is a rich source of antioxidants and anti cancerous nutrients which can help to prevent cancer. Much research has focused on antioxidants and their role in cancer prevention and treatment. The concern lies with free radicals and their effects on the body. Free radicals occur as by-products during normal body processes. Other external factors such as pollution may also produce free radicals,9 The risk of free radicals comes from their potential to cause cell damage and thus, cancer. Antioxidants can reduce this risk. And this is where the health benefits of dragon fruit come in. Dragon fruit contains several powerful antioxidants including flavonoids and phenols.10 An article titled Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry explored the role of antioxidants extracted from dragon fruit as a possible cancer treatment.11 Researchers identified several antioxidants found in a wide variety of foods. As they pointed out, over 60 percent of anti-cancer drugs come from plants including fruits and vegetables. Different antioxidants appeared to target certain cancers. Knowing how antioxidants target cancers can lead to more effective treatment options. Dragon fruit is a delicious addition to the many foods containing good sources of antioxidants. You can find more foods that protect against cancer development in my previous article as well as in my article about the best cancer fighting smoothies. Reduce Stroke Risk Dragon fruit can reduce your risk of stroke due to its high vitamin C levels. A single serving of dragon fruit provides 15 percent of your RDA of vitamin C which is a great addition to a healthy diet.12 But did you know that vitamin C may also reduce your risk of a stroke? The American College of Clinical Nutrition found that high concentrations of vitamin C in plasma could lower your stroke risk. Immune System Support Dragon fruit can boost your immune system due to its vitamin C content which is needed for a healthy immune system. According to Cleveland Clinic, vitamin C is one of several nutrients that can help to boost your immune system.14 And with a yummy source of vitamin C, like dragon fruit, you’ll have no problems getting adequate amounts of this important nutrient in your diet. Dragon Fruit and Your Skin A diet that includes dragon fruit can give your skin a healthy glow, reduce the effects of sun exposure and may even slow down the aging process of your skin. This is due to the good nutrients found in dragon fruit like vitamin C. Vitamin C protects your skin in many ways including wound healing. It helps your body produce collagen which is a protein that forms the structure of various tissues in your body including skin, tendons, and ligaments. In fact, your body cannot make collagen without vitamin C. A study examining the effects of vitamin C found that this nutrient may also prevent skin aging and skin damage from UV radiation exposure.15 It is effective for both the UV exposure that causes sunburns and skin cancer. Dragon Fruit and Pregnancy Dragon fruit offers health benefits for your baby too, so it’s an excellent food to eat if you are pregnant. It is packed with nutrients to support your pregnancy including iron, calcium, protein, and potassium.1 In addition, the seeds of dragon fruit are a good source of healthy fats including oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat. A study published in the Journal of Lipid Research found that oleic acid inhibits fat and cholesterol formation.16 Because it is a monounsaturated fat, it can also help you keep your LDL in check. For your baby, these healthy fats are important for brain and nervous system development. How to Eat Dragon Fruit All this talk about the health benefits of dragon fruit probably has you wondering how to eat it. Dragon fruit is eaten raw. While the peel isn’t edible, the juicy pulp has a firm but creamy texture. When buying dragon fruit, choose fruits that are firm. Then let them ripen a bit if they are too firm. To get to the yummy flesh, slice the dragon fruit in half using a spoon to remove it from the skin.17 Then eat it as it is including the seeds. You can enjoy dragon fruit in a shake or as a healthy dessert.18 For an extra special treat, mix up a batch of dragon fruit salsa to serve as an accompaniment with seared scallops for an elegant meal worthy of date night.19 Its great taste and alluring look add to the many reasons to indulge yourself with some dragon fruit. Its sweet flavor is a bonus to the many health benefits of dragon fruit.

A Guide to Cutting Sugar Out of Your Diet

By James Achanyi-Fontem, Let’s face it: we are seriously addicted to sugar.
Since the 1950s, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) informs us that our per capita consumption of sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup, has increased 39 percent. Each American consumes an average 152 pounds of sugar annually – the equivalent of 52 teaspoons of added sugars every day. That amount does not include naturally-occurring sugars found in fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains. While sugar manufacturers continue to feed off our addiction, claiming it is harmless—it’s not.
Here are some of the reasons why this highly-addictive white stuff is dangerous: It has been linked to osteoporosis: In a study published in the medical journal Archives of Oral Biology, researchers found that sugar consumption caused osteoporosis and reduced bone strength in animals. It has been linked to cancer: According to research in the medical journal Cancer Research, consumption of white sugar at levels comparable to the amount consumed in our Western diet led to increased breast cancer tumor growth and metastasis (movement of cancer throughout the body), when compared with a non-sugar starch diet. It has been linked to more than other 100 conditions: According to Nancy Appleton’s research on sugar consumption in her classic work on the topic, Lick the Sugar Habit, sugar is linked to over 100 health symptoms or conditions, including: allergies, anxiety, depression, migraines, insomnia, infections, liver problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes and of course tooth decay. Sugar takes many forms, from white table sugar (sucrose) to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or sometimes just fructose. There is maltose, dextrose and many other “-oses.” If sugar is listed on the nutritional label of the foods you select, look for ingredients ending in “ose.” In addition to the many reasons to avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup presents its own unique problems. Check out my blog “9 Reasons to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup Like the Plague.” How to Cut Down on Sugar Skip the soda: The fastest and most effective way to significantly cut your sugar consumption is to forego the soda. That’s because a single can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar. Cutting just that one item out of your diet is a huge reduction in sugar. Choose water or coconut water over sports drinks: Forget the artificially-colored and sugar-laden sports drinks that typically contain between 12 and 40 grams of sugar. Choose water or coconut water instead. Don’t start the day with sugar: Breakfast is an essential meal, but it can be a sugar trap. Avoid muffins, granola bars, high-sugar yogurts, pastries or cereals. Check the nutrition label on any packaged breakfast item. And watch the serving size since many companies sneakily use extra small serving sizes to make their products appear nutritionally better than they really are. The typical muffin has about 20 grams of sugar. Compare that to 1 gram of sugar in one-half cup of plain, cooked oatmeal. If you need something sweet, add a spoonful of fresh or frozen blueberries. Switch your latte to a regular coffee or tea (sweetened with stevia if needed) and you’ll save more than 40 grams of sugar every day. That’s because many beverages like the Starbucks Chai Latte contains 42 grams of sugar in a single, 16-ounce beverage. And the White Chocolate Mocha has 59 grams of sugar in a single, 16-ounce beverage. Switch to the herb stevia: Keep a small bottle of stevia in your purse or pocket. Stevia is a naturally sweet herb that doesn’t contain any sugar. Use a few drops or a tiny amount of the powder in place of sugar in your coffee or tea and you’ll reduce your sugar intake by 4 grams for every teaspoon of sugar you normally take. That adds up over the course of a year. Pay attention to labels as many stevia manufacturers hide unwanted sugars and other additives in their stevia products. Go Greek: Switch from flavored yogurt to plain Greek yogurt and you’ll save about 20 grams of sugar daily. That’s because most 6 ounce servings of yogurt contain 20 to 26 grams of sugar. Be sure to check out my blog “5 Yogurts that are Worse than Doughnuts” for more information. Scrap the Hidden Sugars: Sugar is hidden in many surprising places, including: bread coatings, hamburgers, canned fish, packaged meat and poultry, salt (shocking but true), luncheon meats, bacon, canned meat, bouillon cubes (and therefore soup), peanut butter, cereals, ketchup, cranberry sauce and other condiments. These hidden sugars add up every day and every year. How to Kick Cravings for Good When you eat sugar, you end up craving more thanks to the spikes and surges in blood sugar levels. By satisfying cravings or low blood sugar levels (such as those in hypoglycemia) with sugar, you set yourself up for a blood sugar and energy crash an hour or two later. And, of course, that crash means more cravings. Choosing healthier options that regulate blood sugar levels helps to nix cravings for good. Here are some simple ways to help give your cravings the boot: -Snack on nuts or seeds between meals since they are high in healthy fats, fiber and protein, all of which help keep blood sugar levels stable. That translates into fewer sugar cravings. Choose raw, unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or walnuts, almonds or other favorite nuts. -Drink water before satisfying any sugar craving. Many of my clients over the years have found that this simple trick often halts a craving in its tracks. -Spice up meals with saffron: Research in the medical journal Nutrition Research found that an extract of the spice saffron (Crocus sativus) reduces snacking and increases the feeling of being full, thereby reducing cravings. Study participants used 176.5 mg of saffron extract daily. Follow package instructions for products you select. -Power up with protein: Because protein foods tend to break down slowly, they gradually release energy to the body as needed, keeping blood sugar levels stable. Keep in mind that protein does not equate with meat, contrary to popular belief. There are many excellent vegan protein foods, including: chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, avocados, quinoa and many others. -Monitor your chromium levels: Many people are deficient in the mineral chromium, which helps to balance blood sugar levels, mood swings and weight gain. Chromium is naturally found in many whole grains, romaine lettuce, onions, beans, legumes and ripe tomatoes, but supplementing with 200 to 500 micrograms of chromium daily may be needed to reduce cravings. -Switch to Fruit: Grab a piece of your favorite fruit whenever you crave sugar. While fruit contains natural sugars, it also contains other nutrients that help boost your health and keep you full.

Study Links Cell Phones to Brain Cancer

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook
A new landmark study released by the National Toxicology Program, a part of the National Institutes for Health, found that cell phone radiation may be more dangerous than previously believed. The animal study assessed the effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) imparted by cellphones to determine whether there is a link to cancer. The study found a link between cell phone radiation and brain cancer as well as cancerous tumors of the heart. The partial evidence links cell phones to low occurrences of these cancer types and tumors–which, even at low levels, is worrisome for everyday cell phone users. The animals were exposed to radiation as early as in utero and throughout their lifetime to determine the possible ramifications of cell phone exposure. While I don’t endorse the study’s methodology, I think it’s important that we know the radiation risks for humans. The results link a type of brain cancer known as glioma as well as cancerous heart tumors to cell phone radiation exposure. This information is just one part of a multi-year study that is still ongoing. Additional animal studies assessing the radiation-cancer risk are currently underway at the National Institutes for Health. According to the study scientists: “Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR could have broad implications for public health.” The study supports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration that cell phone radiation is a “possible carcinogen”—an announcement the organization made five years ago. At that time, the WHO found an increased risk of glioma, a type of brain cancer, in those exposed to cell phone radiation. Some of the possible symptoms of glioma include: headache; seizures; weakness in the arms, face or legs; numbness; or speech problems. Additional studies link cell phone radiation exposure to lower sperm counts and damaged sperm in men. More research outlining the health effects of cell phone radiation is needed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions if you use a cell phone. While there are no known ways to completely remove the health risk from cell phone radiation, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), here are some suggestions to reduce the damaging effects of cell phone radiation exposure: •If you’re going to use a cell phone, text more and talk less, to cut down on the amount of radiation to which you’re exposed. •Use your phone when there are more bars indicating a stronger cell phone signal. Research shows that radiation exposure increases when cell phone signals are weak (fewer bars). •Use your phone in speaker mode rather than against your head or in your ear. Of course, it’s still a good idea to use common courtesy when your cell phone is on speakerphone by going outside or finding a spot away from restaurant, café, or other public venues. •Limit cell phone use if you are pregnant. •Avoid using “radiation shields” as they reduce the quality of the phone connection, thereby forcing the phone to transmit with greater energy and higher amounts of radiation. •Don’t keep your phone in a pocket or clipped onto a belt.

How to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk by 25%

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Many people think that cancer is like a ticking time-bomb waiting to strike without reason, but increasing amounts of research show that our dietary habits are far more important than we may think. And exciting new research proves that we can significantly impact breast cancer risk by making healthy dietary choices. According to a new study by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that teenagers who had higher fruit consumption had a reduced risk of breast cancer while those who drank alcohol had an increased risk. The Harvard researchers used data that followed over 90,000 nurses for more than 20 years. The data also included their early adulthood nutritional habits. While many studies have explored the role of improved dietary habits in adult years on breast health, few examine the connection between teenage and early adult eating habits and breast cancer. The study considered 2.9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to be high consumption of these foods, although it is still much lower than the 5 daily servings recommended by most nutritionists. Those who ate at least 2.9 servings of fruits and vegetables had a 25 percent reduced risk of breast cancer in their middle age years. Of the foods assessed, consumption of apples, bananas and grapes during adolescent years and oranges and kale during early adulthood, appear to be most beneficial when it comes to reducing breast cancer risk. Drinking fruit juice had no effect on breast cancer risk. The scientists believe that the nutrient alpha carotene is responsible for the protective effect from these foods. Continuing to eat these foods during adulthood is also beneficial; however, this study focused on the eating habits of adolescents and young adults on the breast cancer risk later in life. Another study of over 22,000 post-menopausal women also published in the BMJ found that alcohol consumption significantly increases a person’s breast cancer risk, after factors like age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, physical inactivity, Mediterranean diet score, elevated cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. The study found that those women who increased their alcohol consumption by 2 drinks a day for 5 years had a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer. Those women who drank less alcohol had a much lower risk of breast cancer. For most people following these two simple strategies to reduce breast cancer risk is easy and affordable. Let’s face it: it’s not that hard to add more vegetables and fruits to meals and to skip the alcoholic beverages most of the time. Obviously it’s up to you to pass on the alcohol in favor of non-alcoholic beverages. As for fruits and vegetables, here are some ways to eat more every day: -Start early. You’re more likely to eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables every day if you begin in the morning. Throw in a handful of vegetables in your omelette or top your cereal or yogurt with berries or chopped peaches, apricots or other fruit. -Make vegetables, rather than proteins or starches, the priority in your meals. You’ll eat a lot more veggies if they are the star of the meal rather than just a side dish. -Add a couple of handfuls of fruits and/or greens to your smoothies. -If you have a sweet tooth, choose fruit first. A banana, apple, a handful of cherries, or a bowl of berries is often sufficient to quell the cravings. When it comes to breast cancer, you are what you eat so it’s important to make healthy choices. Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 19-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking (New World Library, 2016).

9 Ways to Give Your Life a Social Detox

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Is it just my observation or are people getting increasingly annoying? I’ve asked myself this question lately after a string of socially irritating situations, the most recent of which involved my neighbor deciding to trespass on and vandalize my property. I came outside one morning to find her chopping the tops off my cedars, without my permission. When I calmly and politely asked her to stop she stormed off like a petulant child, refusing to discuss the situation. After this and several other social irritations, I told my husband, “What I really need is a social detox” to reduce the number and frequency of irritating or stressful social encounters. There must be a lot of people out there, particularly as the planet becomes increasingly crowded, who are feeling the same way. Actually, overcrowding is a mechanism employed by scientists who conduct studies to assess the effects of social stresses. In one study published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers found that unpredictable, mild, chronic stress linked to overcrowding was sufficient to alter gene expression and increase the amount of fat hoarding in the body. That made me wonder, “just how much of our obesity problem might be linked to our growing overpopulation?” Another overcrowding study among mice ended in social hierarchies, violence and ultimately, extinction. But regardless of the outcomes for mice, I think most people would agree that social stress is a real and growing problem in our society. Ways to Give Yourself a Social Detox While a cabin in the middle of the woods sounds great right about now, going into full social isolation may not be possible. And, for me, it might actually be more stressful as I wonder what my property might look like upon my return. Joking aside, here are some ways to give yourself a social detox: 1. Turn off your cellphone, tablet and other electronic devices whenever possible to give yourself a break from social interactions. 2. Honor your need for peace and quiet. If you need to spend time alone or with your significant other for a whole day, weekend, or week, then go for it. 3. Give yourself a break from social media for as long as you need. While Facebook, Twitter and other services enable us to keep in touch, sometimes it can be excessive. 4. If you live in a busy city or town, head to the nearest park or woods to give yourself a “nature fix.” Research shows that spending time in nature helps boost our mood and gives us that much-needed break from people. 5. List all of the social stresses you are currently experiencing. Sometimes seeing them in writing can help give insights into ways to address or eliminate them altogether. 6. Sometimes, as hard as it may be, we may simply need to let certain social connections go by the wayside. Obviously that is not possible for every social situation, but some, particularly emotionally or physically abusive ones, may demand it. 7. Head to a quiet spot in your home where you can get away from it all. That might be a bedroom, a bathroom complete with bubble bath, or somewhere else you consider a private sanctuary. 8. If you have a backyard or rooftop garden, maybe spend a little time alone in that space to help clear your mind and ease some tensions. 9. If you have kids and just need a short break, hire a babysitter so you can spend even a small amount of time in your own company. Social detox requires taking matters into your own hands. As for my vandal-neighbor she is well aware that her law-breaking activities will not be tolerated. Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim: Balance Your Body Chemistry to Burn Fat Fast

How to Get Vitamin B12 on a Vegan Diet

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
If there was ever a controversial topic in the field of nutrition, vitamin B12 is it. For every blog or website claiming to have found vegan or vegetarian sources of the nutrient another claims that these plant-based foods are useless. So what’s a vegan to do? First let’s explore some of the vegan foods that may contain vitamin B12, which include: spirulina, other algae, barley grass, sprouts, nori, other types of seaweed, tempeh, fortified milk substitutes, other fortified packaged foods (meat substitutes and breakfast cereals), mushrooms, miso, fermented foods and nutritional yeast. But, most of these sources are considered controversial because their vitamin B12 is not truly vitamin B12 but analogs that are believed to block absorption. While the debate on this front continues, here’s what you need to know to get adequate amounts of B12 in your diet. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient (that’s actually the definition of a vitamin!) that is necessary for good health. Like most B vitamins, it’s involved in energy metabolism, which means it helps to supply the body with the energy it needs for all of its other functions. It is necessary for DNA production, brain and nervous system health, healthy bones and cardiovascular health. Since B12 requires adequate amounts of gastric juices for absorption, the argument as to whether meat sources are superior to vegan ones is really a moot point after about the age of 50, since by that time most people’s gastric juices seem to be insufficient to absorb it anyway. From that point, it really is best to obtain vitamin B12 from a supplement, in the form that it is most absorbable in the body (methylcobalamin). Vitamin B12 requires minute amounts of the metal cobalt (hence the nutrient’s other name cobalamin). In addition to strong gastric acid to absorb the nutrient, it requires a strong and healthy liver to convert it into its usable form of methlycobalamin. Nutritional yeast tends to contain vitamin B12 that can be absorbed, making it a potentially good source of the nutrient. However, since the vitamin is light-sensitive, be sure to choose nutritional yeast products that are in opaque packages rather than clear plastic packages or in clear bulk bins. That helps to ensure that the vitamin content of the nutritional yeast remains intact. Nutritional yeast can be added to soaked nuts or seeds to add a cheese-like flavor or to make cheese sauces or vegan cheese alternatives. Be sure to check the label to determine the product’s vitamin B12 content, since it can vary widely. One and a half tablespoons of a good quality nutritional yeast can meet your daily needs. While the jury is still out on spirulina, other algae, barley grass, sprouts, nori and other seaweeds, there are numerous vegan sources of vitamin B12 that are reliable, including: foods fortified with the vitamin, mushrooms and fermented foods. The primary foods that are fortified with B12 are almond milk, rice milk, soy milk (be sure it’s organic since most soy is genetically-modified), hemp milk and oat milk, along with fortified breakfast cereals and vegan meat substitutes. Be sure to check the label to see if the products you choose are fortified. One cup of crimini mushrooms supplies about 3 percent of your daily B12 needs. Keep in mind that B12, like other water soluble nutrients, can be depleted in cook water, so avoid boiling foods. Just a light sauté is superior. Many websites claim that bacteria cannot make vitamin B12. Actually, many bacteria manufacture vitamin B12 (that’s actually the reason why animal protein contains B12—the bacteria that reside in their intestines manufactured it!). Actually, bacteria are employed in the manufacture of vitamin B12 supplements as well. A growing body of research demonstrates that lactic acid bacteria (lactobacilli) make vitamin B12, making fermented foods like miso, tempeh and others valuable in the quest for enough of this nutrient. Most people need at least 3 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. Based on the absorption and conversion issues I mentioned earlier, most nutritionists recommend supplementing with at least 10 micrograms daily or a single 2000 microgram supplement on a weekly basis. Ideally, choose methylcobalamin lozenges or drops since they are absorbed sublingually (under the tongue) and bypass most of the digestive tract. Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet: 3 Weeks to Supercharge Your Health and Get Slim with Enzyme-Rich Foods