And now herbs are more clearly demonstrating their benefits in the modern world. For example, the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia has found that consuming a half to one clove of garlic daily may lower cholesterol up to nine percent. Aged garlic extract also has been associated with anti-clotting and reducing blood pressure.
Herbs also are important sources of flavonoids with high antioxidant concentrations that have the potential to prevent artery-clogging plaque from LDL (“bad”) cholesterol as well as offering many other health benefits.
Certain phytochemicals from herbs even have been shown to inhibit various stages of the cancer process. For example, compounds in garlic can “defang” cancer-causing carcinogens so they can’t kick off cancer development in the first place.
In addition, flavorful herbs may protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, risk factors for many diseases. Ginger, for example, has been shown to reduce arthritic knee pain. In addition, study participants decreased their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs when they were taking ginger extract.
Reliv’s FibRestore® dietary supplement has been formulated with particular attention to the many healthy benefits of herbs. In addition to garlic and ginger, FibRestore contains 19 other herbs in a patented blend to promote overall digestive health.
- • A Greek physician, botanist, pharmacologist and surgeon, Pedanius Dioscorides, published the first plant monograph around the first century. The monograph included 600 herbs and described how to choose, store and apply plants for a range of health benefits.
- • Hippocrates used more than 300 herbal remedies that included garlic, cinnamon and rosemary. He also reportedly treated uterine cancer with garlic, while the licorice herb was used for its anti-inflammatory actions and for asthma, chest problems and mouth ulcers.
- • During the 19th century, Louis Pasteur found that garlic killed bacteria. Garlic was even used during World War I to treat wounds and prevent gangrene.
- • Studies have indicated that populations that consume foods rich in specific polyphenols, such as ginger, have lower incidences of inflammatory disease.
- • Getting enough of the phytonutrient selenium may be beneficial in containing viral epidemics because of the compound’s ability to enhance immunity to infection, prevent the spread of the virus, and build a healthier response to infection or severe inflammation.
- • One study indicated that women who ate the most soy products and other foods rich in isoflavones reduced their risk of endometrial cancer by 54%.
- • A review of 38 controlled studies on soy and heart disease concluded that soy is effective for improving one’s cholesterol profile.
Planting Good Health with Phytonutrients
“Phytonutrients” is an umbrella name for a host of plant- based nutrients such as carotenoids, polyphenols including isoflavones, and several more. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas are rich sources of phytonutrients. These important natural compounds have been shown to protect against many diseases, from cancer to diabetes to heart disease. Phytonutrients, plentiful with antioxidants, also support and could strengthen immune functions — an important benefit during cold and flu season.
Research shows antioxidant phytonutrients, such as curcumin, resveratrol, green tea catechins and others, can also help prevent various forms of cancer. For example, curcumin is beneficial in preventing colon cancer because it was found to significantly inhibit the gene expression that leads to colon cancer.
Carotenoids may be the most researched phytonutrient to date. These phytonutrients are the red, orange and yellow pigments in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots and watermelon. Some better known caratonoids include beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene. Carotenoids help to prevent heart disease and heart attack by inhibiting harmful LDL cholesterol from forming. They also offer protection against developing certain cancers, macular degeneration, cataracts, and other health conditions linked to free radical damage. In addition to being antioxidants, carotenoids promote the growth of healthy cells and inhibit the growth of unhealthy ones.
Isoflavones: The ‘Do-It-All’ Phytonutrient
Isoflavones, key phytonutrients, are found in many foods but the best-known source is the soybean. Soy isoflavones may be responsible for most of soy’s health benefits.
Studies have shown isoflavones are true multi-taskers, tackling everything from promoting heart health to cancer prevention to helping to control menopause symptoms and increase bone density.
Soy isoflavones appear to reduce cardiovascular disease risk by inhibiting the growth of cells that form artery-clogging plaque, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In addition, studies show that isoflavones in soy improve cholesterol.
Another study has demonstrated that isoflavones have potent antioxidant properties that can reduce the long-term risk of cancer by preventing free radical damage to DNA. Isoflavones also seem to act against cancer cells in a way similar to many common cancer-treating drugs.
Taking Health Beyond the A, B, Cs: A Letter from Dr. Carl Hastings
It wasn’t too long ago that Western science thought good daily nutrition consisted of a simple mixture of alphabet vitamins and a few minerals. Today, we take a broader view of nutrition learned from native herbalists throughout time — that the real power of nutrition lies in the whole, rather than its parts.
For example, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, but it’s the phytonutrient lycopene found in their red pigment that turns a healthy snack into a disease-fighting superstar. Phytonutrients, combined with the more traditional vitamins and minerals, take nutrition to a whole new level.
Vast research into the benefits of phytonutrients gives added credence to your doctor’s recommendation that you eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. However, as “fast-food” diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity continue to spiral out of control, it’s clear we are having difficulty ending our love affair with the drive-thru lane.
Broad-spectrum supplements can go a long way to bridging the nutritional gap. And Relìv offers an array of high-quality synergistic supplements that deliver nutrition the way nature intended.
You can take control of your future by making a few lasting lifestyle changes right now. Get up, get moving, and feed your body what it needs.
To Your Health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings, Reliv Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer
Sources are available on PDF version.