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Medicinal Uses of Honey

Honey is a simple sweet treat that can be enjoyed on its own or as a sweetener for cooking and baking. While honey is high in sugars, including fructose, it has a complex composition that includes enzymes, amino acids, proteins, flavonoids and phenolic acids among other components (Ahmed 2018). These compounds give honey potent antioxidant effects and are likely at least part of the reason honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years.

Interest in honey as medicine has been increasing with numerous studies supporting a number of beneficial effects. The medicinal effects of honey appear to include (Ahmed 2018):

  • Wound healing properties
  • Antimicrobial effects
  • Heart Health benefits
  • Possible benefits for blood sugar and diabetes

Wound Healing

Honey has long been used topically on wounds to help them heal. Recent research appears to validate its healing potential. In children requiring tooth extraction, honey helped the extraction site to heal faster than placebo (Mokhtari 2019). Another study using honey as a surgical wound dressing found superior benefits with less scarring (Goharshenasan 2016).

Patients with diabetes have poor blood circulation. As a result, they often get ulcers on their feet that are difficult to heal. Honey-based wound dressings were shown to be more effective than standard care with diabetic foot ulcers. Honey treated ulcers healed in 18 days compared to 29 with standard care (Imran 2015).

Antimicrobial Effects

Honey kills many types of bacteria. Using honey as a wound dressing also has the added benefit of treating and preventing infections. In women with severe surgical site infections after giving birth by cesarean, topical honey was compared to alcohol and iodine antiseptic. Honey cleared the bacterial infections and healed the wounds more than twice as fast (Al-Waili 1999).

When patients have kidney failure, they may need dialysis treatment, where a machine filters the blood in place of the kidneys. Due to the need of frequent access to the bloodstream, a semi-permanent tube called a catheter may be installed to provide access. This catheter often becomes infected with life-threatening consequences. Typically, antibiotic ointments are used to prevent infection, however, these encourage the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In a study using honey versus standard antibiotics, honey was just as effective in preventing infection without encouraging resistance (Johnson 2005).

Heart Health Benefits of Honey

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Reducing heart disease is still a major goal of modern medicine. For helping to reduce heart disease, honey might be able to provide some support, although the evidence is preliminary.

A recent study of cardiovascular effects in postmenopausal women showed significant reduction in blood pressure and blood sugar levels after supplementing a tablespoon of Tualang honey daily for a year, although cholesterol levels were unchanged (Wahab 2018). A separate study on healthy young adults showed that just over 3 tablespoons of honey a day was able to significantly improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels (Rasad 2018). Similar cholesterol reducing effects in conjunction with anti-inflammatory benefits were seen in an earlier study from 2008 (Yaghoobi 2008). Notably, none of the studies showed weight gain in people consuming honey.

Blood Sugar and Diabetes

While evidence is mixed, it does suggest that reasonable consumption of honey may be neutral or beneficial for blood sugar control. In a small 12 week study in type 1 diabetic children, modest honey consumption (the equivalent of a tablespoon a day in an adult) decreased blood sugar and improved cholesterol response (Abdulrhuman 2013). In a separate study of type 2 diabetics consuming honey versus sugar, honey only raised blood sugar half as much as pure glucose (Nazir 2014).

To get the benefits of honey, moderation might be key. A separate study on type 2 diabetics using honey showed problematic increases in blood sugar (Bahrami 2009). The study slowly increased honey consumption, having diabetic patients consume up to half a cup of honey per day. While honey may have some benefits, it is still largely composed of sugar. It’s not surprising that if too much is consumed it can still create problems.

To comfortably recommend honey for diabetics, more research is required. If honey is introduced into a diabetic's diet, blood sugar should be monitored carefully to make sure it’s not producing negative effects. I also recommend limiting consumption to one tablespoon of raw honey per day.

Honey Quality

There are numerous types of honey that may vary somewhat in their medicinal effects. It’s also worth noting that there is significant honey fraud, where cheap commercial honey may be nothing more than corn syrup or another cheap sweetener (Economist 2018). Buying local unprocessed honey, or honey from a known supplier is typically recommended to ensure a quality product.

In addition, there are a number of specific types of honey that have been researched for medicinal benefits, including manuka and tualang honey. It’s likely that most unprocessed honeys produce similar medicinal effects for less money. Because of the research, you will typically pay a premium for manuka or tualang products.

Honey is a wonderful sweet treat to enjoy on occasion. It also can be a powerful medicinal tool to keep in your natural medicine cabinet. Enjoying honey in reasonable quantities may provide some significant health benefits.

This article was written by contributing author Dr. Scott Buesing, a naturopathic doctor at The Refinery Integrated Wellness Center in Palm Desert. Dr. Scott's clinical experience includes working with patients with mental health conditions, along with more recent work in pain medicine. Dr. Buesing has positively impacted the lives of many through integrated medicine. For more information about his practice, see buesingnaturopathic.com.


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Should I filter my tap water?

Tap water isn’t exactly “clean.” It has journeyed through miles of pipeline and has likely picked up contaminants and runoff along the way.

When traveling to another town or city, you may have noticed the difference in taste in tap water. This could be due to the amount of chlorine used to treat the water (which is used to kill germs), the pipes the water has traveled through, how long it is in the pipes and the distance it has traveled. Put simply, you might be getting more than just water out of your tap.

What should I drink instead of tap water?

While bottled water is filtered and tastes good, it can end up costing you a pretty penny over time (it could be nearly 2000 times more expensive per gallon). There's also the high possibility of the bottles ending up in landfills. Before you fork out money on something that you already have in your home, it’s worth looking into ways to filter your water.

Do water filters really work?

Yes. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, filtration is a good way to improve this. Water filters can also improve the smell and appearance of tap water and are effective in removing some contaminants, including chlorine and residue of pesticides and herbicides.

Notably, not all filtration systems do exactly the same thing and there are some things that a filtration system can’t remove, such as bacteria or viruses.

Ways to filter your water at home

There are a few different methods to filter tap water and they all have pros and cons.

Under-the-counter filters connect right on your water line and they’re great because they’re hidden away. They may not be the easiest to install and the initial cost plus price per gallon can be higher than some alternatives. They generally work very well though.

Countertop or faucet water filters are perfect for people who move a lot and want to avoid installation and maintenance issues. They easily mount to your kitchen faucet without the use of any tools. These filters typically remove more contaminants than standard pitcher systems and they take up minimal counter space. They can typically be installed in less than five minutes.

Water pitchers are portable, don’t require installation and are inexpensive. They fit nicely in the fridge and do a decent job of filtering out major contaminants but not to the extent of many under-the-counter and countertop options. These filters need frequent replacement, which could end up costing more per gallon over other alternatives.

What is the best type of water filtration system?

To determine the best water filtration system for you, you need to figure out what your needs are and choose accordingly. Here are some considerations:

  • What needs to be filtered out of your water: If you have a reason to be concerned about your tap water, your county health department could assist with testing it, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Ease of installation: from none to some, there are varying installation requirements.
  • Maintenance required: consider the manufacturer’s estimated life span of the product (and parts).
  • Cost of replacement filters: consider how often these need to be changed.

There are many ways to filter water but they all have one thing in common: they are a way to support your healthy living.


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How Stress Affects Your Immune System and Ways to Cope with it

Unfortunately, stress nowadays is pretty commonplace. As we follow social distancing practices, our work life, social life and home life are profoundly affected. Along with the obvious stress of potentially getting sick, the increased financial, work and social stress are challenging.

So what does stress do to our immune system? And are there ways we can help normalize our response to stress?

Immune response to acute stress

Generally, acute stress appears to increase inflammation. Some of the same molecules in the brain that signal the stress response also promote inflammation (Black 2002). This inflammatory response is measurable in the blood and saliva (Slavish 2015). It’s very likely that this inflammation is part of the reason long-term stress is a major contributing factor to most chronic diseases.

For example, one study exposed subjects to a public speaking and arithmetic challenge, a very reliable technique for inducing a strong stress response. Within just 10 minutes, NF-kB, an inflammatory signalling molecule increased by a whopping factor of 3.5 (Bierhaus 2003).

Does that mean there’s nothing we can do?

In a word, no. The research also shows that we have a significant measure of control over our body’s inflammatory response to stress. Self-compassion can help mitigate the effects while anger and anxiety appear to increase inflammation (Breines 2014, Barlow 2019, Moons 2015, Boylan 2015, Smith 2014, Michopoulus 2014). In addition, dietary strategies to reduce inflammation are known to help decrease disease as well (Veronese 2020).

Meditation and immune function

Mindfulness meditation has shown some potential benefits for lowering inflammation (Sanada 2020, Ng 2020). In one study, the inflammatory marker NF-kB mentioned earlier, had a 33% reduction in activity with mindfulness based stress reduction (Creswell 2012). In a separate study, just 12 minutes daily of a yogic style meditation reversed increased NF-kB inflammatory expression in stressed individuals (Black 2013).

Another marker of immune function, salivary IgA can indicate susceptibility to colds and flu. With a few weeks of training, individuals using an integrative meditation technique were shown to be able to significantly raise their salivary IgA after a stressful situation with 20 minutes of meditation (Fan 2010).

Compassion training may also have benefits for stress resiliency, although the research is preliminary. Loving Kindness Meditation and Compassion Meditation, both linked here with examples, have been shown to have potentially large effects sizes on stress and burnout in a study on nurses (Delaney 2018).

Diet and stress

While it’s easy to want to eat poorly when stressed, it may make things worse. One of the more consistent findings in dietary observational studies is that individuals that eat more fruits and vegetables appear to have lower self-reported stress (Algren 2018, Barrington 2012, Nguyen 2017, Richard 2015). A whole foods diet can yield a multitude of health benefits, potentially even stress reduction.

I know it can be challenging to eat healthy, especially when stressed. I crave comfort foods when my stress levels go up. However, there are ways to make healthy comfort foods: use whole grain products, make your own sauces from scratch, cut sugar in half and add stevia to make up the difference. Have fruit as a sweet treat rather than other processed desserts. Find foods that you enjoy that are healthy and turn to those. I love salmon. After a stressful day at work in Seattle, sometimes I’d swing by the local grocery store and buy some salmon as a treat for dinner.

It took me time to learn how to eat healthy in a way that I enjoy. However, once I figured out what I like, I don’t think I would be happy going back to eating a more processed food based diet.

With all of the stress we’re under, it’s important to incorporate strategies to help mitigate its effects. Working to find time for simple, daily mindfulness exercises and incorporating healthy food choices can both be strategies to reduce stress, improve immune function, and maintain a positive long-term outlook.

This article was written by contributing author Dr. Scott Buesing, a naturopathic doctor at The Refinery Integrated Wellness Center in Palm Desert. Dr. Scott's clinical experience includes working with patients with mental health conditions, along with more recent work in pain medicine. Dr. Buesing has positively impacted the lives of many through integrated medicine. For more information about his practice, see buesingnaturopathic.com.


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Simple Wellness Shot for Immunity

Looking for a wellness boost that is both tasty and full of health-promoting ingredients? This citrusy, delicious concoction is rich in vitamin C. It has anti-inflammatory benefits, is immune-boosting and we can't get enough of it.

This six ingredient wellness shot is the perfect balance of flavors.

A natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, ginger is known to support digestion and relieve nausea (source).

The source of the delightful citrus flavour in this shot, lemon is naturally detoxifying and alkalising in the body. It's most renowned for its high vitamin C content, which helps boost immunity (source).

Research suggests that vitamin C reduces the duration of colds in the general population. A review of several dozen studies revealed that vitamin C supplements taken during a cold can reduce the duration of the illness by 8 per cent in adults and 14 per cent in children.

Turmeric adds some bitterness and may have anti-inflammatory properties (source). It is well-balanced by the sweetness of the raw honey, which has wonderful anti-bacterial properties.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x Lemon, juiced
  • 1 x Orange Turmeric Root (about an inch)
  • 1-2 inches Ginger Root
  • 1 x tbs Raw Honey (We recommend Zebra Organics Rainforest Honey)
  • Pinch of Salt (Celtic is best for this)
  • 3-4 inches of Water

Instructions:

1. Add all ingredients into a blender (We prefer Vitamix).
2. Blend for 15-20 seconds on high setting.
3. Serve in a short glass.

If you try this recipe, let us know how you enjoyed it! Share it on Instagram with #zebraorganics.

Cheers to good health!


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Cold and Flu Prevention

This time of year, it’s not unusual for people to get sick. While hand washing is important to help prevent colds and flu, there are some natural approaches with research backing their use in reducing the incidence and/or severity of colds and flu.

Supplements for Prevention and Treatment of Colds and Flu

  • Probiotics
  • Garlic
  • Zinc
  • Elderberry

Probiotics

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that stimulate our immune system in beneficial ways. While I’ve written on probiotics previously, it’s still worth noting their benefit as a preventative for getting sick.

A recent review showed that taking a probiotic could decrease your risk of getting sick by about half. If you do get sick while on a probiotic the duration of the cold or flu is almost cut in half as well (Hao 2015).

Garlic

Garlic is well known to have antimicrobial and immune stimulating effects. While the evidence isn’t robust, a study in 2001 showed more than half as many colds in individuals taking allicin, (the garlic extract) in the form of a garlic supplement. Additionally, the duration of the cold was drastically reduced, from an average of five days to one and a half days (Josling 2001).

A more recent study using aged garlic extract decreased the average length of a cold by more than half. In addition, the severity of the colds were also significantly reduced (Nantz 2012).

Garlic comes in many forms. The first study utilized standard garlic which has a strong odor. The second study used aged garlic which generally reduces the smell. More research will help to understand the different forms of garlic and which is most effective for reducing colds and flu.

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral crucial for immune function (Wessels 2017). It’s also a fairly common deficiency with about 1 in 12 people in the United States not consuming the recommended amount (Fulgoni 2011).

With this data in mind, it’s not too surprising that zinc appears to help fight off colds. A recent review of the research exploring zinc gluconate or zinc acetate lozenges for colds showed that cold duration could be reduced by one third in people that started taking lozenges at the beginning of symptoms (Hemila 2017). Zinc dosage should be about 75 mg daily to achieve the benefits.

Elderberry

Elderberry is an herb with a long history of use for helping colds and flu. While the raw berries are toxic, once cooked the toxin is removed. A recent meta-analysis explored the use of elderberries for treating colds and flu. Their conclusion was that elderberry substantially reduces the duration of illness. They even recommended the use of elderberry over antibiotics as a potentially safer, effective option (Hawkins 2019).

In the winter, upper respiratory infections are common. Having additional, safe tools to help prevent and treat colds and flu is welcome. The current research appears that there are a number of options emerging that may help with reducing the incidence and symptoms of these common infections.

This article was written by contributing author Dr. Scott Buesing, a naturopathic doctor at The Refinery Integrated Wellness Clinic in Palm Desert. Dr. Scott's clinical experience includes working with patients with mental health conditions, along with more recent work in pain medicine. Dr. Buesing has positively impacted the lives of many through integrated medicine. For more information about his practice, see buesingnaturopathic.com.

At Zebra Organics, we carry numerous supplements mentioned by Dr. Scott:

Probiotic All Flora by New Chapter is packed with probiotics and postbiotics to replenish good bacteria in the gut and to support overall gut health.

Consisting of live probiotics, New Chapter's Zinc Food Complex supplement is made with complementary herbal blends like Elderberry and organic Astragalus. If you prefer liquid Zinc that is highly absorbable, see Mother Earth Minerals and Liquid Zinc Assay by Premiere Research Labs.

Allicidin by Premiere Research Labs offers high quality immune support. The capsules contain a wild European garlic that has been used for thousands of years to help boost immunity.

If you would like to know more about any of our products, or need assistance placing an order please email us or call us at 760-459-5177.


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5 Ways to Combat Stress & Promote Sound Mental Health

In June 2019 we shared a wonderful, educational evening with Dr. Scott Buesing of The Refinery Integrated Wellness Services in Palm Desert, California. Dr. Scott joined us at our Artisan Kitchens and Wellness Centre to share his perspective on naturopathic medicine and care in relation to stress and mental health.

Naturopathic medicine blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. As a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Scott is guided by the six core principles that make up the foundation for naturopathic medicine: 1) The Healing Power of Nature, 2) Identify and Treat the Causes, 3) First Do No Harm, 4) Doctor as Teacher, 5) Treat the Whole Person and 6) Prevention.

Naturopathic medicine can help individuals prevent and manage stress in a day and age when stress is more prevalent than ever. Stress is a normal response to situational pressures or demands. Some people may cope with stress better than others but any level of stress comes with a range of physical and mental health issues. Symptoms can range from headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability. People under long-term or chronic stress are more prone to the flu or common cold. The bottom line is, stress doesn’t do us any favors.

If you’re committed to living a stress-free life, you can start today. Here are the top five recommendations Dr. Scott has for combatting stress and promoting sound mental health.

1. Determine Vitamin/mineral Deficiencies

Vitamins, minerals and other deficiencies are common among people who are depressed and anxious. Magnesium is lost during times of stress, often making magnesium crucial for helping with stress. Blood testing can be helpful to identify more severe deficiencies, but sometimes a trial of certain nutrients can be necessary.

  • Minerals: iron, magnesium and zinc
  • Vitamins: B-vitamins, vitamin-D
  • Omega-3 (also anti-inflammatory)
  • CoQ10: an antioxidant naturally produced by the body
  • Carnitine: recent evidence even supports carnitine as a potential diagnostic marker for depression in the blood

2. Reduce Inflammation

Every type of mental health condition from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia has been shown to have elevated levels of inflammation. Excess inflammation is also known to worsen the outcomes in people struggling with mental health conditions. Targeting inflammation can help people bring balance and reduce symptoms, along with helping treat and prevent a multitude of other chronic health conditions.

Many anti-inflammatory supplements have evidence for benefitting mental health, including curcumin, green tea and St. John’s Wort.

3. Good Nutrition

Did you know 90% of serotonin is made in the gut? Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, digestion, sleep and more. Following a healthy diet that fosters gastrointestinal health is very important when it comes to reducing stress. A poor diet can profoundly influence mental health. Potential triggers are sugar, processed foods, gluten and dairy.

An anti-inflammatory diet is something Dr. Scott often recommends to his patients. While the diet is often individualized, it typically includes whole foods, lots of vegetables and is low in sugar and simple carbohydrates (avoiding white bread, white flour, fruit juice, high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars).

To learn more about the importance of gastrointestinal health, we recommend watching Warren Peters’ engaging TedTalk on “Microbiome: Gut Bugs and You.”

4. Ensure Your hormones are Balanced

Thyroid dysfunction is a standard rule-out for anyone struggling with fatigue-based depression. In addition, it is not unusual for thyroid problems to get missed due to reliance on screening tests. The thyroid gland sets the pace at which your body functions. If it’s too slow, everything is sluggish and slowed down.

The sex hormones can play a role in affecting a person’s mood as well. In men there are significant correlations between low testosterone and depression. In women, premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder can also negatively affect mood and often have roots in reduced progesterone levels.

Blood sugar balance/insulin is also crucial for optimal hormone levels and often is the first hormone to get dysregulated. Poor blood sugar control lowers testosterone in men and raises testosterone, while lowering progesterone in women. Any time a person is having hormonal issues, keeping blood sugar balanced needs to be a part of treatment.

5. Adaptogens for helping maintain balance

Adaptogens are herbs that help to restore balance in the body and improve stress tolerance. They are known to “adapt” their function depending on the specific needs of the body. The following herbs are commonly recommended to combat stress in naturopathic medicine.

Ashwagandha: This plant has a storied history in Ayurvedic medicine and is known to help with depression and anxiety. It reduces cortisol and has significant anti-inflammatory effects, with new animal studies suggesting benefits may exist for arthritis as well.

Rhodiola: A renowned Taoist brain tonic, Rhodiola is a root extract that has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine. Containing more than 140 active ingredients, human studies may suggest Rhodiola use in chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as for depression and anxiety.

Ginseng: Highly valued as a spiritual and medicinal herb, Ginseng is considered one of the most valuable herbs on earth. It has been proven to effectively regulate the immune response and hormonal changes in the body that stress causes. Animal studies suggest antidepressant effects.

Maca: A plant native to Peru, Maca is a natural energizer and hormone balancer that has been shown to reduce blood pressure and depression in this study.

When working with patients, Dr. Buesing’s passion is to help others discover and understand why they are experiencing their current health challenges. Then, working together, it is possible to help improve and restore a person’s wellbeing. You can contact Dr. Scott here.

At Zebra Organics, we carry a number of the adaptogens mentioned by Dr. Scott:

Ashwagandha: Sun Potion sources their Ashwagandha from small organic farms in Northern India. This is an Organic Cold-Water Extract of the Ashwagandha Root, which is generally believed to be the most potent part of the plant. You can get it here.

Rhodiola: Sun Potion offers the extract in powdered form. Instead of a morning coffee, stir a quarter of a teaspoon of Rhodiola into a large glass of water to start your day. Get it here.

Zebra Organics Premium Grade Maca Root powder is sustainably harvested by artisan farmers in Peru. The nutty powder can be scooped into your morning smoothie or coffee, and incorporated into baking recipes. If you prefer the capsule form, New Chapter offers fermented maca tablets.

Tocos and He Shou Wu are other adaptogens that can also help to effectively combat stress. You can read about them in our blog post Five Adaptogens to Help Relieve Stress.

If you would like to know more about any of our products, or need assistance placing an order please email us or call us at 760-459-5177.


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One Powerful Way to Restore Healthy Gut Flora

Keeping your gut in check is important for overall heath and wellness. The gut microbiome, also known as gut flora, controls the digestion of food, your immune system, central nervous system and other bodily processes. There’s a common saying that goes, “when your gut is happy, you’re happy.”

According to the National Institutes for Health, approximately 60 to 70 Americans are affected by digestive disease, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That’s a lot of people… that’s why we feel it’s important to raise awareness about maintaining good gut health.

Harvard Medical School refers to gut bacteria as “vast and mysterious like the Milky way.” This is a great analogy, as it's believed there are about 100 trillion good and bad bacteria inside our digestive system. Research suggests that certain bacteria in your gut can prevent and treat many common diseases, including Rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Eating more fermented foods and using probiotic supplements can be great ways to support the restoration of the probiotic diversity in your gut. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on one of our favourite fermented foods – miso soup.

Photo credit: Minimalist Baker

Miso is traditionally considered to be a food that promotes good health and a long and happy life. Its origins can be traced to China as far back as the 4th century BC. It is high in essential amino acids and is loaded with beneficial bacteria and living enzymes that aid digestion and assimilation.

The Minimalist Baker has a great recipe for a classic (and vegan) miso soup that only requires six ingredients. It only takes 15-minutes to make from start to finish. We like this particular recipe because it’s bursting with miso flavour and is more filling than you would expect with the greens.

Tips to get the most out of your miso:

One of the most important things when dealing with fermented, living miso is to add it to warm, not hot, water so as not to “kill” the miso and its probiotic benefits.

Don’t just use any ol’ miso. It’s important that it’s real, fermented, alive miso preferably from Japan, where they know how to do miso. This is very much a “you get what you pay for” scenario. Using high quality, nutritional ingredients will be the most impactful to your health.

We offer one of the finest organic fermented barley miso from Japan that is made by the Ohsawa company, who has made miso or the Japanese Royal Family for centuries. They also make Nama Shoyu soy sauce, and Ume Vinegar, all of which we offer.

Making miso soup can sometimes be deceptively simple. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when you’re giving it a shot.

Miso soup is a warm, warm, comforting and savory dish. Give it a go and let us know how you like it!

To learn more about the gut microbiome, watch this TedTalk: Microbiome: Gut Bugs and You

Feature image credit: Minimalist Baker


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Boosting Your Immunity With Zinc

Peak season for common colds are the winter and spring. A sore throat and running nose are often the first signs of a cold coming on, followed by sneezing and coughing. Nobody wants to be that person in bed with a fistful of tissues gazing out at the blue sky and sunshine. That’s the opposite of fun!

Next time you sense a cold coming on, try attacking it with zinc. Zinc is the most common mineral found in your body and is used to help produce white blood cells, which fight infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking a zinc supplement shortly after the onset of a cold may shorten the length of it. It can help to boost your immune system and metabolism. It also fosters the healing of wounds and is important for maintaining a strong sense of taste and smell. It’s not intended as a long-term supplement, but one that should be taken as required.

We are now offering New Chapter’s amazing organic Zinc Food Complex tablets, which consist of fermented zinc and include copper to offset the potential of copper deficiency. New Chapter's Zinc Tablets only contain 15 mg of zinc, which is 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of zinc. (This is in line with the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions of daily allowances and avoids the higher doses, which can cause the copper deficiency). The tables are taken once daily and can be taken anytime, even on an empty stomach.

Whole food cultured Zinc means it’s cultured in live probiotics. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt, tempeh, kefir, and sauerkraut. By culturing vitamins and minerals in a probiotic matrix of fermented organic soy, fruits, and vegetables, we create whole-food complexes that the body can easily recognize and digest because they’re food. New Chapter has a great video that talks about the benefits of the fermentation process used in their zinc and other products. Check it out here.

As a bonus, Zinc is also great for our skin. It supports skin resilience and helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes.

Note that The Mayo Clinic cautions against using nasal zinc sprays, as they can actually cause a loss of smell and taste. Stick to taking zinc orally when you need it.

Are you a New Chapter fan? We offer a wide variety of New Chapter vitamins and dietary supplements. View the selection. New Chapter have been in the wellness game for more than 35 years. We are big supporters of their natural, sustainably sourced products.


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Cultured Food Festival Round-Up

Organic Raw Brazilian Rainforest Honey

Our team was delighted to have shared our gourmet and organic foods at the Cultured Food Festival at the Highland Springs Ranch and Inn on February 23 and 24, 2019.

But hang on, what are cultured foods, you ask? "Cultured" essentially means "fermented."

Cultured foods have undergone a process through which they are broken down, usually by bacteria, yeasts or fungi. There are so many different types of cultured food, including yogurt and cheese. Initially produced as a way to preserve foods, cultured foods not only enhance flavor; they have an array of additional health benefits, including fostering gut health by strengthening your gut microbiome. They are packed with good bacteria and they are becoming more and more popular today.

We were honored to be invited to present our organic Brazilian Rainforest Honey and organic Black Botija Dried Olive at this year's festival. These are two of our favourite and most popular cultured foods that we offer. High quality ingredients such as raw, organic honey is key to some cultured foods and beverages, like Kombucha. Our Brazilian Rainforest honey is rich in flavor, aroma and nutrients that result from bees harvesting the diverse heirloom blossoms of the forest.

Organic Peruvian Black Botija Olives

Our olives are in the same league as our honey. Our heirloom variety, organic, Peruvian, black, cured olive is unique and likely different from most olives you’ve tasted. It is cured using the old-world style method of processing, which is so special and unique. Check out our post on The Lost Art of Artisan Olive Curing to learn more.

To create a delicious appetizer that’s quick and easy, you only need four simple ingredients. Slice up a cucumber and serve with a slice of Manchego cheese (a Spanish sheep cheese), an olive, a small slice of avocado and a dash of course culinary sea salt. And voilà! You have a tasty and healthy snack for your friends and family to enjoy.

Thank you for everyone that joined us for our talk and tasting or swung by our pop-up shop. Even if you missed it, we hope we've inspired you to create a delicious snack using a few simple ingredients that you can prepare and enjoy at home.


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Raw Chocolate by Sacred Chocolate: Interview with Founder, Steven Adler

We had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Adler, CEO and founder of Sacred Chocolate. In 2006, Sacred Chocolate introduced the first raw chocolate bar in the world. (Raw, in this case, means you’re taking the cacao seed—the primary ingredient of all chocolate—and not roasting it or grinding it at temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit).

What strikes us about Steven’s story is that he’s a rocket scientist turned chocolate scientist! Applying his passion for engineering, raw foods and spirituality to chocolate making, Steven, along with his partner David Wolfe, were able to create one of the finest organic chocolate factories in California and perhaps the United States. Sacred Chocolate’s commitment to create organic, high-quality, clean, healthful and tasty chocolate is impressive… we wanted to know more. Here’s what we learned, after talking with Steven.

Sacred Heart Chocolate | Zebra Organics

ZO - All the chocolate produced by Sacred Chocolate is raw. What’s so special about raw chocolate?

SA - Raw, organic chocolate contains higher levels of nutrients than that of processed commercial chocolate bars. Milk chocolate typically contains only about 30 percent cacao; the balance of the bar is made up of milk powder and cane sugar. The chocolate industry usually calls cacao “cocoa”; but, in reality cocoa is mainly used in reference to cocoa powder or cocoa butter, which are both derivatives of the cacao seed or “bean”. Botanically, cacao is actually a nut and not a bean. The botanical name of the cacao tree is “theobroma cacao”, theobroma meaning “food of the gods”.

Most cacao is roasted over 250 degrees F for 30-90 minutes. When chocolate is cooked at high temperatures, the antioxidants are degraded, as the chemistry changes and heat sensitive nutrients such as phenylethylamine (PEA) are destroyed or diminished. These nutrients, naturally present in chocolate, or more specifically cacao, are beneficial to the human body. A lot of plant chemistry is heat sensitive, and once you start cooking things the nutrients are diminished. The idea behind raw food is to preserve the nutrients and enzymes that naturally occur in the plant or food.

Our raw chocolate has twice the antioxidant content compared to a cooked, roasted and or otherwise high temperature processed chocolate bar at the same cacao content. There was a lot of trial and error involved in mastering our process, which involves slowly stone grinding the cacao below 115 degrees Fahrenheit. This is really special.

ZO - What makes Sacred Chocolate different from other chocolate?

SA - The main difference is we’re willing to do things other chocolate makers aren’t willing to do. We are the only chocolate maker that includes the nutritious husk of the cacao bean in its chocolate. There are a lot of phytonutrients in the husks, which are normally sold off as chicken feed or fertilizer by traditional chocolate makers.

Our cacao beans are cleaned in a special proprietary manner that maintains the nutrients and allows us the ability to include those nutritious husks in Sacred Chocolate. If you look at images of our cacao beans, you’ll see they look like almonds because they are so clean. No other chocolate maker is cleaning beans in the way we are. Cacao beans used by traditional chocolate makers are dirty after fermentation and drying, which forces them to roast them and winnow away the nutritious husks to avoid microbial contamination. We’re the only chocolate maker that takes the extra time and necessary steps to make truly “whole bean” chocolate.

There’s a lot of energy, electricity and gas just in the cooking process of making chocolate.

Cooking alone causes so much greenhouse gas, it’s unbelievable. Sacred chocolate is made in a certified organic, certified vegan, certified kosher, carbon balanced, and 100 percent renewable energy facility in California. Our ingredients are always raw where possible and always of the highest quality in terms of nutritional content, flavor, and food safety.

I’m adamant about praying over the chocolate, too. This is done in a sacred space.

ZO - What do you use to sweeten your chocolate?

SA – Our primary sweetener of choice is organic, eco-friendly maple sugar. It’s sustainably sourced from Canada and the USA, and is actually four to five times the cost of cane sugar, a common sweetener in chocolate. Maple is a wild crop which makes it very eco-friendly. Maple is around 55 on the glycemic index, and it is relatively low in free fructose.

The University of Tokyo found in a lab rat study that maple was the only commercial sweetener that improved the liver function of rats. They found it didn’t put stress on the liver of the rats. The University of Rhode Island isolated quebecol in maple, which may help mitigate type II diabetes. Maple is also very high in certain trace minerals such as manganese.

We also use erythritol and inulin (from Jerusalem artichoke) as diabetic friendly sweeteners. All of the ingredients we use are sustainable, eco-friendly and of the highest quality.

According to Steven, cane sugar has caused an environmental disaster around the world because forests have been cleared on a massive scale to grow cane sugar.

Fun fact: Maple trees need to be in the ground for 30 years before they can be tapped for maple syrup and sugar.

Sacred Heart Chocolate | Zebra Organics

ZO - We’ve heard there’s something special about the heart shape of your chocolate. Can you tell us more?

SA - Yes! It has a special characteristic: It’s built from sacred geometry. Each half of the heart is built out of a perfect, logarithmic curve growing at the rate of phi, which creates the perfect spirals. This reflects the Fibonacci sequence of numbers that show up everywhere in nature (conch shell, galaxies, sunflowers, etc.). That natural rhythm of life has been built into Sacred Chocolate: a good reminder to live from your Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart Chocolate | Zebra Organics

ZO - Where do you source your cacao bean?

SA - We source most of our cacao beans from a cooperative in Ecuador, known for its prized heirloom Arriba Nacional variety of cacao. We also source from Sri Lanka and Hawaii.

ZO - Hybridized cacao is causing deforestation around the world. Some people are aware of this issue around coffee, but many are not aware of the impact that commercial cacao growing is having in contributing to this agricultural disaster. What should consumers look for when buying chocolate?

SA - It’s truly a nightmare – particularly in West Africa. There are satellite images confirming all of this. Most of the chocolate industry is focused on the bottom line, in maximizing their profits using the smallest amount of land. When choosing chocolate you should make sure:

1) It’s organic.

2) It’s fair trade.

3) The cacao bean is heirloom or shade grown in a natural jungle environment. You need to talk to the company directly for this, as you won’t often find it on the packaging.

4) If you’re really health conscious, makes sure it’s raw.

Zebra Organics wholeheartedly supports Sacred Chocolate

After chatting with Steve, it’s evident that he is a smart, passionate, creative guy who cares deeply about the product he produces, the land that it comes from, the people that supply it to Sacred Chocolate, and the customers that end up enjoying these special chocolates. We fully support Sacred Chocolate’s mission to continue to produce the most exceptionally tasting and nutritious chocolate in the world.

All of Zebra Organics’ brand cacao and chocolate products are from heirloom variety, shade-grown trees that come from environmentally and socially responsible sources. One hundred percent of our Zebra Organics brand products are eco friendly, non-GMO, certified organic, and fair trade certified.

We carry some of the most delicious flavors of Sacred Chocolate; Twilight Dark Chocolate (69%), India Sunset Heart Bar (61%), Mylk Chocolate (58%) and the dairy-free white chocolate, White Passion. We look forward to hearing how you like them!


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